In Which Kid1 Is 16 And I Tell Kid1′s Story

September 8th, 2011 by Jules 1 comment »

Today, as if this moment (1205 PM PDT), Kid1 is 16. Last week at GeekMom, I wrote about what turning 16 means. Today, I thought it would be neat to share the story of his birth, like I did when Kid2 turned 12. This story is published in my first book. For privacy reasons, I edited out the names. If you want names, you’ll have to purchase the book.

Kid1′s Story

Kid1, you and your brother have always been very unique individuals. You two are like day and night, and I am grateful for that. I always knew before I had children that they would be different and unique. Just how different and unique, I was very much unaware. You each reflect a part of me. Where as Kid2 has always reflected my joker, artistic, dreamer, lighthearted side, you reflected my serious, scientific, thinking, pragmatic side. I am so very thankful for this.

Unlike your brother, you have not been curious to hear stories about you as you grew up. They did not interest you. Of course, there are a few exceptions such as the story of when you were 7-months-old and scared the crap out of me when you decided to climb my bookshelf. Or the time you were two, had climbed up to the top of the fridge, waited for me to come into the kitchen and called out, “Mum! Catch me!” as you flew off the fridge, having faith I would catch you, and then proceeded to break the wrist I had broken when I was 10.

One of my favourite memories of you was when you told me you had finally decided what you wanted to be when you grew up, a psychologist. I was and continue to be so very proud. I still laugh when I told you how cool I thought that was, as that is what my degree was in and you responded with, “You have your degree in psychology?” I asked you what did you think I was taking when I was in university and you said, “I don’t know. Stuff. Well that’s… that’s interesting.” No matter what others may tell you, no matter what your barriers are because of your ADHD and learning disabilities, this is something you can do. Do not give up on your dreams and remember there is nothing you are not capable of. You are one of the smartest and wisest people I know.

On your 2nd birthday, I wrote you the following letter:

I hope your days are full of happiness and life. Never let your beautiful smile leave your lovely face. You are my little man. Your possibilities for the future are endless. Never let your dreams die. Follow them to the very end. And if you need help, I’ll always be here for you.

Love you always, Mum.

You will receive this letter one day.

I think however, my favourite memory of you happened on your 11th birthday. You had already been going through the “wonderful” period that is puberty for over half a year. You had grown half a foot and your voice had dropped. I figured it was time to have another one of those talks about the joys of growing up. I had asked you if you knew what nocturnal emissions aka wet dreams were. You said no. So I explained to you what they were and what to do if they happened, told you different ways of hiding your erections while at school and gave you a few other tips that I thought would be helpful. And that is when it happened. After I was done, you asked me to tell you the story of your birth. It was the first and the last time you asked. My heart soared. I got to share Kid2′s story with him a bunch of times but you were never curious. Finally you were and in my opinion, it was the best way we could ever celebrate your birthday; going from talking about puberty to the story of your birth. Without this story, there would be no other stories to share. I will now tell it again.

On December 10, 1994, I found out I was pregnant. The way I found out was unusual. I had to go into the emergency room because I was having huge pain in my abdomen. We had to leave a birthday celebration because I could no longer stand up due to the pain. The doctor asked the normal routine question, “Could you be pregnant?” I responded with, “Well, of course I could. But I do not think I am. We have been trying to have a baby for months but we have not yet been successful.” He asked me when my last period was and I replied with, “I think sometime in November.” He did a pregnancy test, and sure enough I was pregnant.

He then did a pelvic exam. That is when he found some type of mass near my ovary. The doctor thought that maybe I had a tubal pregnancy. This scared me. My mum had a tubal pregnancy, which ended up rupturing and she almost died as a result. This was not the news I needed right before Christmas. I would require an ultrasound to see what was going on.

I had to wait through Christmas for the scan. A couple days after Christmas, I went in for the scan. The ultrasound technician looked at it puzzled and said, “Are you sure you are pregnant? Because there is nothing on the scan. Not even a dot. It most certainly is not a tubal pregnancy.” Relieved it was not a tubal pregnancy but concerned there was no sign of a baby on the scan, I replied that yes I was sure, it was the hospital that tested me. So she sent me off for another pregnancy test and sure enough I was pregnant.

Because I was unsure of the dates for my last period and the “rules” regarding how hormones work and how pregnant you have to be to test positive, I was given an initial due date of August 20, 1995. For the next 9 months, I had a very uneventful pregnancy. Well, it was uneventful right up until 2 weeks before Kid1 was born.

A couple weeks before he was born, I experienced a TIA. That was very scary. Nothing to freak you more than all of a sudden not being able to see or speak, understand speech or read and have the left side of your body go dead right before you are about to pop. I went to the emergency room where they treated me and talked about doing an emergency c-section. They decided since the episode resolved itself, I would try to carry to term. Other than that episode, I was happy and healthy. I did not experience any of the negative things associated with pregnancy. The summer seemed hotter than normal but overall I had nothing to complain about. Well nothing to complain about until August 26 when there was still no baby.

I went to the doctor and said the baby is a week overdue, shouldn’t we be inducing or something. So my doctor sent me across the street to the OB/GYN to see about being induced. Back then it was the OB/GYN who induced and not your family doctor. He told me that he would look over my chart, and if there were no issues, he would be happy to induce. I would hear from him within the next 24 hours to find out what steps would be taken next. Later on that night, he gave me a phone call. He said, “I am sorry but we cannot induce yet.” I asked him why and he said, “Because you are not even due yet. I do not know how this was overlooked but you are not due until September 1.” I asked him how that was possible as I tested positive for being pregnant on December 10, so at that point I would have had to be at least a month pregnant. He did not know the answer for that, however judging by the ultrasounds taken from the first moments where nothing was detected and the two routine ultrasounds, I was not due until September 1. However he felt sorry for me and told me that since I had a true 9 month pregnancy (meaning I knew I was pregnant for the full 9 months) that if the baby was not born by September 4, he would induce on the 8th.

September 4 came and went and no baby. So I went back to the OB/GYN where he booked my appointment to be induced. The way it was done then was very different from when I had Kid2. I had to be admitted into the hospital the night before. They would put the gel on my cervix the night before, monitor me overnight and then if needed, do a second dose in the morning. What was similar was that I was not allowed to eat after the gel was applied in the event they would have to do a c-section. The night of the 7th, I was admitted into the maternity ward. They applied the gel and within an hour it started to work its magic.

I had the worst sleep of my life. The cramping was unbearable. Because I was having such a hard time with it, they decided to move me into the delivery room so that I was free to toss and turn or roam and not disturb the ladies that needed their sleep who just had their babies. A lot of babies were born that night. When I was not being kept awake because of the cramping, I was being kept awake listening to women scream and curse as they were delivering their babies. I needed to sleep damn it! I had my own baby to deliver soon.

Morning came around. I maybe managed to get 1 hour sleep and I was starving. I had not eaten anything since dinner the previous night. The OB/GYN came into the delivery room to check my progress. Over night I had managed to dilate 2 cms and become 50% effaced. There was no need for a second application of the gel. It was time to break my water and get this show on the road. Kid1′s dad showed up at 7:55 am and at 8:00 am, the doctor broke my water. I immediately went into labour. And it was not the nice little “ooo I think that was a contraction” type of labour that happens for 30 seconds and you have 10 – 15 minutes until the next contraction. It was the “OMG THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR” transitional period of labour.

20 minutes later I was at 6 cms. Kid1′s dad decided he was then going to lose his mind. The months of labour and delivery classes we took flew out of his brain. He rushed to the phone to phone his family and my family and say, “She’s at 6 cms. Gotta go. Bye.” Would rush back into the delivery room for other update and then rush out once again to make phone calls. I was left there alone, freaking out as this was my first pregnancy that was carried to term and I needed support.

10 minutes later I was at 7 cms. Not only was I at 7 cms, but Kid1 was impatient and wanted to come out. Now! His head went down the birth canal and he started to crown. The nurses had to push him back up. That is when I was informed that I would have to have an epidural because my labour was progressing so fast and my contractions were so strong, that they were pushing out the baby before it was time. I did not want the epidural; I wanted and had signed up for a natural birth. I wanted to feel the contractions even so they were not happening in the way they told us they did in the books and prenatal class. The nurses told me they didn’t have time to give me a full epidural anyway because of how quickly I was progressing. What they were going to do what give me a walking epidural. I would still feel the contractions, I would still know when to push, and the contractions would not be as strong. That is when once again, Kid1′s dad lost his head and went rushing for the nearest phone.

When he returned a minute later, I was frantic and ordered him out of the room. He was stressing me out. I did not need to be stressed out while I was trying to squeeze my legs shut to keep this baby, who was impatiently trying to get out, in until the anesthesiologist could make his way up stairs. He told me he did not have to leave that it was his right to be there. That is when the nurse stepped in and said, “At this moment, you do not have any rights. We need to think about the mother and the baby first and what her wishes are. You are clearly stressing her out. You are stressing us out and causing a disturbance. If you do not leave now, we will have security escort you out of here and you will miss the entire birth. However, if you leave quietly on your own now, we will call you back in when it is time to deliver the baby.” With that, he left.

When the anesthesiologist arrived 10 minutes later, I was at 8 cms and fully effaced. They had just pushed Kid1 back up the birth canal for the 6th time. He gave me the epidural. It was the most wonderful thing that could happen. My contractions slowed right down. I had time to finally relax before it was time to push. In the first 40 minutes of labour I went from 2 cms to 8 cms dilated. For the next 3 hours, things progressed nice and slowly.

When they checked me at 11:30 am, I was 10 cms dilated and fully effaced. They called my doctor and told him it was time for me to deliver the baby. He arrived 20 minutes later, checked my progress and told me it was time to have a baby. We called Kid1′s dad back into the room. On the next contraction, I was told to push. Being as I was a little numbed up, the first push was not effective. The nurse had to show me how to push. Another contraction came, which meant it was time for another push. I pushed again and this time progress was made. The contraction ended and I took a few cleansing breaths waiting for the next one. The next contraction came, I pushed, the baby began to crown and that is when I heard my doctor say, “Uh. Oh.”

I sat bolt upright and said, “Uh OH?!?!? What do you mean UH OH?! I am about to push a baby out of me. This is not the time for you to be saying UH OH!” My doctor then said, “Well since you only gained 22 lbs., we were expecting a small baby. He is not small. His head is very big. I am going to have to use forceps.” I then informed him, ”No. You will not be using metal forceps on my baby’s head. Use the vacuum extraction if you have to, to help him out, but no forceps are going to touch his head!” My doctor replied, “His head is too big for vacuum extraction. If we were to use it, it would just end up ripping off a piece of his scalp. I have to use the forceps otherwise you may tear.” I then told him I did not care if he had to cut me from ass to teakettle, he was not going to put forceps anywhere near my baby’s head. My doctor told me, “Okay, I will make a very small incision and we will try it your way. But if after the next push, his head is not delivered, we are doing it my way.” An agreement was reached and it was time for me to push again.

The next push and his head was successfully delivered. One more push and his shoulders were delivered without incident. As I was delivering his shoulders, I noticed the lunch cart being wheeled past the delivery room doors. On September 8, 1995 at 12:05 PM, weighing 8lbs on the nose and measuring 22 inches, with dark brown hair and blue eyes, Kid1 was born. They took Kid1 to do the Apgar tests while my doctor delivered my placenta and gave me the 3 stitches necessary because of the episiotomy. After he was done, he shook my hand and congratulated me on such an effortless labour and delivery. He told me despite outward appearances, I was built to have babies. One of his easiest deliveries ever, which is surprising since this was my first time.

After, they handed me Kid1. He did not look like a newborn at all. He was not wrinkly and ugly and pink and covered with gross afterbirth. His head looked as if he was a c-section baby, which was odd especially given the fact he had a large head at 36 cms. He looked like a little old man trapped in the body of a 1 month old. He was already wise beyond his years. He took to the breast immediately. Then it was time for him to go get cleaned up at which point I demanded I get something to eat. I was starving!

My mum and my sister arrived about 30 minutes later. My mum was surprised to find me sitting up and eating and she did not believe she missed the whole thing. When she got the phone call earlier that day, she thought I would be in labour for days as she was in labour with me for close to 72 hours. She could not believe that I was eating, I should have been exhausted. I told her how easy it was and that I had not eaten for close to 24 hours. Food was all I could think of at that point.

Food, laying down with my brand new baby and sleep.

The day Kid1 was born, I finally had the job I always knew I would have since the time I was at least 5 and that was being a mum. I had never been so happy in my life. I had my baby. I had my purpose. It took a long time to get pregnant with him but it happened and he was here and he was real.

He was my first reason.

 

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You Can, Once Again, Say Faggot On Canadian Radio

August 31st, 2011 by Jules No comments »

Earlier this year, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that the Dire Straits’ song Money For Nothing was inappropriate for air-play on Canadian radio. This caused a lot of buzz and outrage. In my opinion, a lot of the criticism was unfounded. People were saying our free speech was being threatened, especially as there is not much that is censored in Canada. We do not have a list of words that can’t be said in the media. Every thing is looked at on an individual basis. Even so I do not agree with censorship, I did support this decision. If you haven’t read my original post on this subject, you can do so here.

Today, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council reversed their decision. Well, in a round-about sort of way. What they are now saying is the follow:

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled Wednesday that a homosexual slur in the Dire Straits hit Money for Nothing is inappropriate but has to be taken in context and suggests individual radio stations choose whether the song is acceptable.

The CRTC had asked for a review of the council’s January ban on the song, which created a public backlash.

The outcry occurred after the council ruled the 1985 song was unfit for radio because its lyrics include an anti-gay slur.

On Wednesday, the council released its review and said the original decision was correct in deeming the song inappropriate.

But it added that the context of the tune must be taken into consideration.

The majority of the council’s panel felt the song used the word satirically and not in a hateful manner.

It noted alternative versions of the song are available and suggested broadcasters choose which to play based on the sensitivity of listeners.

The panel deemed the Grammy-winning 1985 rock tune unfit for Canadian radio in its unedited version, after a listener of CHOZ-FM in St. John’s complained about the use of the word “faggot” in the song’s lyrics.

 

I consider this another win for free speech in Canada. I consider this a win for artistic integrity. I also think this somewhat reversal will spark a different set of controversies. But we live in a country that allows you to speak freely about such things. And if you don’t want to listen to this song in its original format, if you are one who finds it offensive, then don’t listen. Turn off the station and find another one that suits your needs. Nobody is forcing you to listen, just like nobody is forcing you to watch blue movies on network television or forcing you to hear profanity during interviews on the news. You have choice. Take advantage of it. And be happy that your right to free speech and artistic expression is being upheld.

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Are All Religions Created Equally?

August 28th, 2011 by Jules No comments »

Are all religions created equally? The church I grew up in would answer that question with, “Yes. As long as those beliefs are not doing harm to others.” Other churches would tell you quite differently and want to tell you that you are going to go to hell unless you believe what some man has decided is “the WORD.”

The last few days I’ve been rather disgusted by some of the things I’ve seen and read, said by “men of faith”. These range from calling for the creation of a Registry Of Atheist, comparing Atheists to terrorist, pedophiles, the KKK and more. More examples are those who are blaming homosexuality for the recent bursts of earthquakes and hurricane Irene.

Yeah… disgusted is an understatement to how I feel about such things. It makes me want to vomit. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, on any of my various social things, you will see me speaking out against religion, quite often. Because of this, many people assume I am an atheist. I’ve even received death threats as a result of this. And this is where some may be surprised to learn that I am not an atheist. I have a very strong faith. The church I grew up in played a huge role in shaping my current world views. And not in the way some may think.

I grew up in the United Church of Canada. I grew up in a church that has always been the center of great controversy for its very liberal and socialist views. We experienced a huge split in 1988 when we started to ordain openly homosexual ministers. The United Church testified in favour of gay marriage during the House of Commons Justice Committee hearings, when Canada was deciding whether or not to recognise gay marriage across the country, instead of leaving it up to individual provinces. The controversy does not end there.

The United Church helped draft dodgers from the US during the Vietnam War. During the 60s, the church took a pro-Palestinian stance. Over the residential school issues, it was the first to apologise and offer to make reparation, while the rest of the churches were trying to get out of their responsibility and live in denial. We had one Moderator (he’s kinda like the Pope but not) said that he did not believe Jesus literally rose from the dead; he believed that story was just another fancy metaphor, the same as the stories from the OT.

It is because of the church that I believe a women have the right to choose, premarital sex is not bad and is even encouraged, women should have the right to birth control and proper sex education, and the list can go on. God is both male and female, and hymns are sung to both aspects of the Divine. The church also taught me that all religions are equal, that the Holy Spirit is at work in all religions, we have a very limited understanding of what God is but choose to try and find some sort of understanding through Jesus. The bible is not to taken literally but is inspired by faith and written by man.

Very recently, the church came under more fire because we welcome Atheists as members of the church. Why? Not to convert. That has never been the churches role, except during the dark part of Canadian history when we had residential schools, but even then, we closed them soon after inheriting them from other denominations. The role of the church is to be a guide and to answer your questions in order to help you find the answers for yourself. In the United Church, faith is a very personal matter; it is a journey between the person of faith and their God, whatever that God may or may not be. Nobody has the ‘real’ answers. We all could have it wrong.

I am the first to admit that what I believe (I’m not a Christian, by the way. I label myself as an Abrahamic Spirtualist because the ‘big three’ resonate the most with me) could very well be wrong. There could very well be no God. I was never under the belief that Adam and Eve were “the first.” What I was taught was that in the Jewish faith, when giving the story of a family, you start so many generations before the person you are wanting to talk about. Because Abraham was the ‘father’ of the big three, the first to convert from poly to monotheism, you had to begin his story at Adam and Eve. They were not the first people but the first of this faith. This is even recognised in the OT when Cain leaves and finds “the others”, one of whom later becomes his wife. I think I am going off on a tangent again.

The point of all this? I just want to say that not all Christians are hateful and not all Christians believe you have to believe in Jesus to gain acceptance in Heaven or the afterlife or whatever you want to call it. There is a good number of us who are the first to admit, “We don’t know. We could be wrong. But we believe the lesson of Love taught by Jesus are valuable lessons. We will continue to have our faith until something demonstrates otherwise. Science and the law of your country come first. Faith is something else and very much a private relationship.”

It is because of this that I stand up for my Atheist friends. It is because of this that I stand up to anything where people are using their faith as an excuse to do harm to others or to refuse medical care, etc., for their children. It is because I’ve had Sunday School students come to me in tear, after I’ve encouraged them to spend a few Sundays in other churches, asking, “We were told we are going to hell because the United Church has fag ministers. Is this true?” that I speak out against such hate. No-one should ever be left in tears or feel guilt and shame because of who they are. That isn’t what Jesus taught me. Jesus taught me to love and accept every one.

Anyway, the point as I went on a tangent yet again, not all of us people of faith are bigoted and mean. A lot of us are quite secular and don’t care what you believe as long as it isn’t harmful. Unfortunately, because religion is such a political thing in the US, I find myself having to hide some of my beliefs. After seeing all the hate spewed these last few days, I just wanted to say that some of us are quite groovy and are fighting for the same things you are.

Also, if you are curious about the United Church of Canada, if you want more information, FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY, then read this fairly accurate wiki article on the United Church or ask a question in the comments and I’d be happy to discuss it, as long as you remember I’m sharing for information purposes only. I don’t want to change your beliefs and I don’t need you to change mine. I’m capable of changing my beliefs, on my own, as things are presented to me.

Also, anything hateful said, I will not respond to. I’ll leave them in the comments for the world to see, but I will not engage you in hateful or mean dialogue.

 

 

 

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My Thoughts On Jack Layton: A Personal Canadian Hero

August 22nd, 2011 by Jules No comments »

I don’t know if it is a Canadian quality or just a me quality, but my heroes have always been people who have given me hope and caused me to aspire to be something better than I am. My grandma and my dance teacher were my heroes. Astronauts are my heroes. Terry Fox is a hero. Jack Layton was one of my personal heroes. And his memory will continue to be my hero.

This morning, I woke up to the news that he lost his second battle with cancer, less than one month after announcing that he had to temporarily step down as the leader of Canada’s Official Opposition. He had hoped to return to Parliament in the Fall. I have been in tears ever since.

One of the definitions of hero is:

A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for hisbrave deeds and noble qualities.

In less than a decade, Jack did what many thought was impossible. He turned the NDP from a party that had lost its official party status, and became a running joke, into a party that would go on to make a lot of history in our last Federal election. Jack made me believe in politics, once more.

When I was a teen, I couldn’t wait for the day that I could vote. I looked up to my politicians. They were role-models. And then in my adulthood, things changed. At election time, our leaders had forgotten what it meant to be Canadian. The campaigning started to look American. Fear tactics were used. Name calling became the norm. Respectful debate stopped. I became disgusted and disenchanted. I had lost hope. I felt as if our leaders had forgotten what sets Canada apart and made her truly unique and loved, not only by Canadians, but by countries around the world.

Then Jack Layton stepped into the scene. He was a gentleman. He was soft-spoken but spoke with such power, enthusiasm, integrity, dedication and love for his country and its people that he renewed my faith in the leaders of this country. He made me believe that our political system was not becoming corrupt and that we still had people of integrity willing to stand up for Canada and her people. He had courage. Not only did he battle a system that was beginning to become disenchanted with itself but he battled cancer, twice, whilst doing so. He was never afraid to stand-up for his beliefs. He never stopped believing in Canada and the ability of Canadians. He never stopped being a champion for the disenfranchised.

In less than a decade he turned Canada from a country that was Red and Blue into a country that was Blue and Orange, in the process, making the Liberal party and the Bloc a former shadow of itself.

Even when facing death, Jack though of Canada and Canadians first. If you haven’t already, read Jack’s letter to Canadians, written two days before his death.

Jack Layton made me proud, once again, to be Canadian.

My heart goes out to his wife. My heart goes out to Canada. I hope the NDP honour Jack’s memory and legacy and continue to make many of us proud to be Canadian. You have mighty big shoes to fill.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

RIP Jack.

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RIP, Dear Departed Souls

July 23rd, 2011 by Jules No comments »

Today, I’m sad. And it may not be for the same reasons that a lot of people are sad today. As I’ve been looking at the world today, through my weird eyes and processing it in my bizarre brain, I’ve been trying to figure out if I should write about what is troubling me or just stuff it inside of that place things go when I’m looking at the events of the world and human interactions which result in me becoming rather dismayed and disheartened.

In the last 24 hours, the world went to shit. People lost their lives at the hands of an act of terrorism. And if I hear one more person say it wasn’t terrorism… my reaction will not be pretty. Also, a single person lost her life as the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, due to having a tortured soul. Both of these situations have me in a state of grief. Each of these lives were unique and precious. Many people lost their children and family members.

For me, it isn’t so much they are dead. We all die. What has me grieving is looking at it from the eyes of a parent. One day, your child is alive. The next day, through very tragic circumstances, they are gone. Regardless of how you want to look at what brought on these situations, regardless if you want to attribute them to terrorism or a random act of violence or unhealthy lifestyle, many families are grieving for the sudden loss of a loved one. My heart goes out to them. If it were my child, I would go mental. That is if I survived the want to be dead myself.

Also, in some weird way, I feel a bit of survivor’s guilt. Just when you thought I couldn’t be more bent, I’m about to show another level of my particular brand of peculiarity.

These last week, I’ve been such an entitled fuck. I’ve been complaining and moaning about dying microphones; trolls coming into chat during my show; websites not functioning as they should; programs crashing while working on important, past due work, setting me back six hours in work; being way too busy and having no ‘me’ time; having a never-ending mountain of things that must be done; and my lupus still being a major pain in my arse. I’ve been waking up extremely irritable and cursing life and just wanting every thing and every one to go away because they are taking way too many of my resources and I have nothing left for myself. This is where the survivor’s guilt comes in.

In some ways, I am entitled to piss and moan about such things. Because part of the reality of my life is that if I do become to buried in stress and stuff to do, it could very well make my lupus worse, which could result with me being back in hospital… or worse. But there is another reality, I’M FUCKING ALIVE! Part of my life may be tortured. Part of it may not go the way I want it to. But I’m alive and doing some pretty awesome shit. And the awesome crap, the stuff with the biggest rewards, never comes easy. If it came easy, I’d probably not appreciate it.

So, this morning I woke up, grumpy and irritable, after working until 2 am in the morning because I had to fight with technology so that all my stuff would work. And then I read the terrible news about Olso and Amy Winehouse, and thought to myself, “Man, I thought I had problems. Thank bob, I’m still alive to piss and moan. My heart goes out to all the families who are currently grieving.”

No sooner did I begin making my mental checklist of all the things I should be thankful for, the whole finding the silver lining in the stupid little shit I am currently having to deal with, no sooner was I starting to feel better about my current circumstances and the survivor’s guilt was dissipating, that is when the things started which caused me to be sad.

I saw people on Twitter fighting over what is more important: The deaths in Olso or a the death of celebrity, one who some say deserved to die. Aside from some trying to make light of Amy’s death or worse, tying to completely negate how tragic it is, I saw people trying to spin the whole Oslo thing into something less tragic and trying to downplay it. People are bloody dead! Suddenly! Gone out of their families lives, forever! And there people are, living and breathing with the ability to continue doing and living and telling their loved ones, “I love you”, fighting with each other over which deaths should be talked about and are more important.

People suck. As I said on Twitter, you’re making me sad today. I don’t understand why people can’t grieve both the atrocities in Oslo and Amy Winehouse. The loss of a life, whether it is 1 tortured soul or 92 people, is a sad affair. Each life was equally precious. Just my two cents.

Now, I’m going to go grieve for those families who suddenly lost their loved one. Because I’m sad, you may find me making some very inappropriate comments and jokes, because that is how I deal. Finding humour in the most horrible of things keeps me somewhat sane. Others will be grieving through anger. Others will be grieving in silence. But I think it is safe to say, many people are grieving today. Who is anyone to judge what is more important to feel sadness over? Maybe, just maybe, you need to take your head out of your arse and ask yourself how you’d like to be treated if you were sad about something. Do you want people to shit on your grief or do you want them to make an attempt to be empathetic? Just something to think about.

While the world decides to be petty and fight over who’s death is more important, I’m going to be thankful that I woke up this morning and am still breathing. I’m going to be thankful that I still have the opportunity to piss and moan over stupid, inconsequential shit. I’m going to be thankful that I can still hug my boys and tell them that I love them.

I’m also going to be grieving for all the parents who no longer have that opportunity.

/rant

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Such a beautiful place it is, to be with friends

July 14th, 2011 by Jules No comments »

Tomorrow, Kid1 will be taking Kid2 and me to see Harry Potter 7 Part 2, his treat. This is such a bitter-sweet experience for me and I’m not sure I could ever truly articulate why. But I am going to try anyway.

10 years ago, on opening night, I took Kid1 to see the first Harry Potter movie. Kid2 was not yet old enough. And if my memory is serving me correctly, it was the first movie I had taken him to see in the theatre. We arrived at the theatre a couple hours before curtain, waiting in a huddled mass with loads of other people.

It wasn’t until Harry Potter mania had started to build around the first movie that I read the first two books. I had heard the name in the media and how it was supposedly the next best thing since sliced bread, but it wasn’t a ‘thing’ in my small town. I knew no-one who had read the books or even cared to. The third and fourth books were already published as well, but I wasn’t going to purchase any of them until I had read the first two books, which were given to me to read by my mother.

I had decided to read them first, alone, in order to decide if this was even something my children would enjoy and to help me decide if it would be appropriate to bring my then 6-year-old child to see. I was immediately hooked.

It wasn’t because it was a great work of fiction. The books are not exactly literary works of art. But they were magic nonetheless. When I would talk with other adults who had read them, they would complain about how childish and simply written they were. Without trying to show my anger and snobbishness, I would politely try to remind them that is because they are children books. They are suppose to be written that way. Heated debates would begin, which went something like, “When we were children, we read Lord of the Rings in grade school. Those are considered children’s books. Is this the best authors can come up with now for youth?” I would smile and say, “Ah, yes. But we also had The Secret World of Og and Charlotte’s Web. Those are considered great classics and cannot be compared to Lord of the Rings.” But I digress. I suppose the main thing my friends had an issue with is that I, someone who can be quite a snob at times, adored Harry Potter. But as I already said, there was magic in them.

I can’t even begin to go into every thing I ended up taking away from the story when I would sit down and read each book. That would require a novel in itself. But outside of the emotional and personal journey these books took me on, these journeys were shared with my boys.

After I finally finished the first two books, I sat down with Kid1 and read them to him in preparation for the movie. I will never forget how freaked out he got when I would do the voices for the basilisk in the walls. One time, I made him cry and he begged me to stop using that voice when I read and instead, to use my normal voice.

These moments were wonderful. We would be curled up on the couch, under the blankets, as I painted the story of Harry Potter within my child’s brain to see. There were many nights of, “Oh, mum. Just one more chapter. PLEEEEEASE!” I would give in, only for the next, “PLEEEEASE, one more chapter. I promise, I’ll go to bed when you are done.”

These stories also were the cause of many wonderful talks about how to treat others, about what is fair and isn’t, about never giving up no matter what you are facing and more. These stories caused us to cry together, laugh together, get angry together, cheer together and mourn together.

After the successful indoctrination into the Harry Potter world after the first two books and the first movie, Harry Potter and his friends became a regular fixture in our household. I immediately purchased the next two books. As Kid2 got older, I would later read the books with him and watch the movies with him. Soon, Kid2 was old enough where when a movie was released or a book was released, all three of us were waiting in line together, reading them together, watching them together, talking about them together, crying together, laughing together, getting angry together, cheering together and mourning together. The exception to this is Harry Potter 7 Part 1, which Kid1 took Kid2 to see, his treat, just the two of them, as some brother bonding thing.

(No, I’m not bitter about that. I think it is sweet that the older brother wanted to take the younger brother on a bro date… Well, maybe I’m a little bit bitter.)

Harry Potter was also the source of many games. We fashioned our own wands made out of bamboo and would have wand duels in the backyard or on hikes. For years, I’ve been accused of having the ability to apparate because I suddenly appear in the same room with them and they didn’t see or hear me coming. That is when I would have to remind them that if I could in fact apparate, there’d be a definite cracking noise every time I did.

For 10 years, Harry Potter has been a permanent fixture in our household. My boys and I have grown-up together, alongside Harry.

And now, Kid1 is old enough where he is taking both his brother and me to see the final installment tomorrow. We have come full circle. It is really bitter-sweet. Thinking about how much we have grown together and have bonded together in the last 10 years, all thanks to Harry Potter, and thinking about how it is about to come to its final end is causing me to weep.

10 years is a long time to share something with anyone, especially your children. Out of every one I know, most families still have young children. It has only been in the last couple of years that they’ve poured all things Harry Potter down their throats. Some of my friends’ children are still too young and it will be a few more years before they introduce them to Harry Potter. And when they do, it will probably be in one large dose, instead of a constant stream of sharing and learning more about Harry and his friends.

I don’t know what I’m going to do now that it is done. Both my boys are really excited about tomorrow but they are also both sad. The entire household is in some weird state of mourning at the moment. Yes, for the hardcore fans, there is Pottermore and talk of other things. But, for this house, Harry Potter isn’t about JK Rowling or witches and wizards or being geeky or a fan-culture things. If nobody else in the world loved Harry Potter, we wouldn’t care because that does not diminish the experiences we had, thanks to these stories, over the last 10 years.

We will still continue to talk about Harry Potter. We will probably still continue to re-read and re-watch the movies together. But I am going to miss the shared anticipation and the newness of it all, this sense of complete joy and excitement that we are about to embark on the next installment of the journey, together.

And there is so much more. But I’m just way too sad and happy right now to even begin to express it all. I think I’m beginning to write and talk in circles.

Anyway, thank you JK Rowling for writing these books and giving something constant that my boys and I could look forward to together. Thank you for giving something to share, something we could rely on and escape into together when other things in our lives were crazy and scary. Thank you for allowing us to create our own magic in our family. Thank you for this gift.

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Dear Feminism: Please Stop Trying To Speak For Me And Let Me Speak For Myself

July 5th, 2011 by Jules 40 comments »

This blog is long overdue. Before any one jumps to any conclusions or tries to yet again cram down my throat that I’m selling my fellow vagina down the river, please actually read and consider what it is that I, someone of the vaginal persuasion, has to say.

Today, once more, the Twitters and the blogs are going crazy over comments made by a man. This man is a very high-profile atheist and biologist. His name is Richard Dawkins. I only became aware of this situation because Phil Plait blogged about it. To try and make a long-story short, a female skeptic by the name of Rebecca Watson felts threatened by the actions of a male at some convention. She made a video about it. Richard Dawkins made some very disconcerting remarks. I’ve seen some real asshat comments from that man before, but this even floored me. There is a little bit more to this story. I am going to ask that you read Phil’s blog about it, because it is his blog and the comments left it in that has created the ranty storm within my brain.

I’ll let you read it now.

Oh? You’re done reading? Okay, then I’ll move on.

First, let me address what Phil had to say. I agree, the situation was creepy. I personally would have felt uncomfortable if some dude asked me back to his hotel room in the wee hours of the morning for coffee. Had he asked me to meet him for a coffee the next day at some public place, I would have happily said yes. It is the inviting back to the hotel room that would have caused me to be leery. That being said, I would have felt just as uncomfortable if it were a female asking me back to her hotel room. Because you see, this is where I disagree with Phil. Sorry, Phil. You know I adore you. In my mind, that alone is not a potential sexual assault waiting to happen. Well, it isn’t a potential sexual assault alone. There would have to other factors, such as body language, tone in his voice, if he kept pushing the subject after I said no, if he became agitated or forceful. Based on what little information I have, I personally would have seen it as someone who is lacking some social skills and not understanding why something he could well think is innocent can be interpreted as creepy.

Okay. So we have that. Take note both men and women: Don’t ask strangers back to your hotel room for coffee in the wee hours of the morning unless you are willing for them to interpret the invite to mean, “Wanna get nekkid and to the horizontal mambo?” This goes for men asking women, women asking men, women asking women and men asking men. At least in my brain it does because I don’t discriminate based on the genitals between your legs.

This leads me to the next point about large, sweeping comments such as, “Women in general feel this way [insert sweeping feeling here] about [insert situation here].” 9 times out of 10, when someone makes those statements, this person of the vaginal persuasion does not feel that way. This becomes increasingly true when it is said from the POV of feminism. I read a “feminist” statement, and I think, “How hypocritical! You are wanting your male priveledge and your female privelege too, without allowing men the same benefits and equality! Your feminism is just as bad as chauvinism.”

And before you start to make assumption about my experiences with a vagina, I will tell you, I’ve experienced some pretty terrible things at the hands of men. I was in a physically abusive marriage. I was sexually assaulted. When I was in foster care, I broke up with my boyfriend, only for him to break into my foster home while my foster parents were away and try to rape me, as some sick and twisted type of revenge. To make this worse, my foster dad allowed him back into the house (he was a family friend) because, “If he is man enough to admit he was going to rape my daughter, her is man enough to be allowed back into my house.” My foster dad was the type who believed women asked to be raped simply by the way they dressed.

However, you see, that was a single isolated event. Had those experiences been the norm, then maybe I would have turned into a man-hating feminist. Overall, my experiences with men have been nothing but positive and had I allowed myself to become crippled and a victim of the above events, instead of learning from them and seeing them as growing experiences, I can see how things may be different.

I understand that not every one can just say, “Oh, well. Today I was raped. Tomorrow, I will not live in fear.” Trust me, I had a bit of fear and mistrust. But I worked damn hard to not allow it to define me and how I treated others. I worked hard to be a survivor and not a victim of my events. And I think that is where I get bothered the most, is when people choose to stay victims instead of growing into survivors. Let’s face it, it is a lot easier to remain a victim than it is to do the work necessary to become a survivor.

Feminism has ruined this vagina’s life. I left the military because of it.

Thanks to what it started off to be, I was allowed equal opportunity to join the military. When I joined, I had to be able to do the exact same physical tasks as my male counterpart. What would have stopped me from being allowed to do the job would not have been the fact I was born with a vagina but if I were unable to perform the necessary push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, run just as far while carrying an equally proportioned load, etc.

Then something happened. Someone cried sexual misconduct because an off-coloured joke was told in mixed company. Someone cried sexual assault because someone fixed the collar of their uniform without permission. Here I was in a job where I had to physically do just as much as men, had to sleep co-ed with them both in the bunker and in the field, sharing a shelter, in our underwear nonetheless, but if they wanted to fix my collar so that I would go on report, they had to ask, “Do I have permission to pick a piece of lint off of your collar.” The guy has seen me naked but he can’t touch my uniform or tell a joke around me. How can that there be equal respect and trust if he has to pussyfoot around me and live in fear?

The final straw that ended up causing me to leave the military is when I was pregnant. I was cleared for full duty until my last trimester by my doctor. I had forgotten to tell my NCO that I was pregnant. We were doing our morning parade. I almost fainted on the parade square. It was 5 o’clock in the morning, I was in my first trimester and my body just didn’t want to me marching around at that time in the morning. I was asked what was wrong as I seemed off that morning. I informed that I was pregnant, I had just found out that week and I was just feeling a little bit off. Well, you would think I had killed someone and then contracted both AIDS and developed cancer.

Even so I received medical clearance, I was told I was no longer allowed to step foot on the parade square. Because if I miscarried, I could sue the DND. I was furious! I was pregnant, not dying. If was to miscarry, it would not have been the fault of the DND. A lot of women miscarry. Most of them don’t even realise they are pregnant. But this told me that some female has sued the DND because she miscarried and that is when I had enough. If you want to use your vagina as leverage to not do the job to the same standards and with the same qualifications as the person next to you, then pursue another job.

This goes for any job where someone else’s life depends on your ability to perform certain tasks. I don’t care if you have a penis or vagina. If the job says you have to do 100 push-ups, then that is what you have to do to get the job. The idea of having to hire a female just to fill a quota in jobs where my life depends on it, scares the living crap out of me. I don’t want to have to worry that the female police officer or ambulance attendant or fire fighter will be unable to haul my body out of a dangerous situation. And if I’m in combat, I don’t want to have to worry about my female fireteam partner either charging me for sexual assault for fixing her collar or worry that she cannot carry by body out of the line of fire if I’m injured.

Why the above rant? It is where my brain went after I read this comment on Phil’s blog:

Men are not allowed to speak to or even make eye contact with women without express written permission, signed in triplicate, notarized with at least two witnesses. Because all men are potential sexual predators and all women are delicate potential victims. Sexism, much?

Out of the 75 comments I could stomach reading, I found myself agreeing more with the men than the women. There were maybe 3 comments left by women who I could feel comfortable agreeing with.

Feminism has taken us to a point where men have to worry about taking their children to park in fear of being accused of being a pedophile. Feminism has taken us to a point where men have to walk on eggshells because they have no idea what is that women want anymore. Hell, I don’t even know what it is that women want. Feminism has had women screaming at me because I chose to put my family before a career. I cannot count how many times I have been told that I’m doing women a complete disservice by not being career orientated. And here I thought the point of feminism was so that I could have choices and decide for myself.

I am so sick and tired of women telling me what I should think, want and feel. I am so tired of feminist telling me that I’ve given into some patriarchal thinking by thinking family should come first and children shouldn’t be penciled in like a doctor’s appointment. And here I was under the misunderstanding that I was a smart, educated women who could make decisions for myself. Apparently, I’m not allowed to have men make choices for me, I’m suppose to leave that up to women. No.

It is because of the above that I say I’m for equality. Meaning that men and women get to do things equally. Not that women should be allowed in men’s clubs but also keep their women club’s exclusive. How is that equal? I believe both men and women should have equal access to jobs and be awarded them based on their qualifications and ability to do the job, not based on a quota that needs to be filled. I believe that in child custody cases, custody should not automatically go to the mother because that is not equal. The list can go on, but I think you get the idea.

I believe that I should have the opportunity to speak for myself and I believe in giving other people, regardless of sex, those same opportunities. Please do not speak for me. Because most of the time, you are not. Speak for yourself. Use “I” statements. If you feel that you’ve been oppressed, then speak up on your own behalf. Thankfully, we live in a country that allows that.

If you want to help women who are oppressed in other countries, well first, I don’t believe we have the right to push our “white is right” cultural views on another society. We can however give them the tools necessary to allow them to speak for themselves. We can let them know that they are not alone and where they can seek help if needed. But I don’t think we should be forcing it on them. In my opinion, that is exchanging one form of dictation for another. If the recent events in the Middle East are any indication, if they really want change, they will make it happen and we can be ready to help them if and when they ask.

I suppose all this boils down to, I’ve never felt afraid to voice my opinions or deep-felt feelings to men. I am terrified to voice them to women because heaven forbid I’m not their idea of feminism. Feminism has ruined my ability to trust women with the things I hold most important. Because of what feminism has morphed into, it takes a very long time for me to open up to a female.

Someone else left this comment:

It is simply false to say that all women feel that way – particularly in light of the related issue of Rebecca Watson’s abuse of power with respect to a woman who disagreed with her. Or, even, say, some actual women who’ve actually been raped who actually wrote in response to PZ’s actual post saying they actually don’t feel the way you’ve just said they do; congratulations on speaking for people who are publicly telling everyone they don’t feel that way. Like any good dogmatic cause, let’s make sure we do NOT take honest stock of trivialities like what people you’re saying must feel are saying they in reality do not feel.

THIS! While I may not have any first hand experience of Rebecca’s supposed abuse of power if women disagree with her, I have experienced that abuse of power at the hands of women. I’ve experiences it more times at their hands than at the hands of men.

So once again, I ask, one vagina to the next person who has any sort of sex organs, if you want to fight for equality, then do but make sure you are letting people know that these are your experiences. I am tired of being painted with the same brush and I am so tired of men being terrified to talk to me because the lines have become so confused, blurred and unclear.

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Counting The Wrinkles And Picking Up The Pieces 5 Years Later

June 24th, 2011 by Jules 10 comments »

Five years ago today, the unthinkable happened. I had a full-blown left-sided stroke.

It was a rather bizarre event. When the symptoms began, I was talking on the phone with a friend. My left foot had suddenly gone numb and heavy. My first thought was that I was sitting funny and it was just asleep. So in an attempt to wake it up, I changed position and tried to wriggle my toes, only to discover that I could not. Rapidly, the numbness started to spread. That is when I told my friend, “I have to go. I think I’m having a stroke.”

I can only imagine the look on the person’s face when they heard those words coming through the phone. They sputtered. The only response I can clearly remember was something about me being okay and the word stroke being echoed back. Not thinking, I repeated, “Gotta go. Having a stoke” and I hung up the phone and went to the emergency room.

What happened within the next hour was a rush of events as they tried to get a medical history from someone who could now no longer move any part of the left side of their body and had no feeling in it. I was half confused and half coherent. Time was ticking as they only had one hour to decide if it was a stroke or neuro issues as a result of my lupus. You have one hour to administer TPA if you have any hope of reversing the effects.

It felt as if days had passed but it was less than an hour before I was giving consent to one of the most dangerous procedures I had even underwent—having a hysterectomy the year before with only a sedative because of how many times I’ve been under a general anesthetic and subsequent allergy was nothing compared to the risks of TPA.

Consent was given. Loved ones were called. The TPA was administered. Then we waited to see if it would eventually do its job or would I bleed out.

The next week I spent in ICU, in isolation, undergoing more tests and the beginning of rehab. I was to stay in the hospital for months as I had to relearn how to hold objects, talk, walk, dress and bathe myself, wipe my own arse and the list goes on.

A couple days after my stroke, my body played a cruel joke on me. The physiotherapist asked me to move my toes. My brain told me that I did and I cheered, “Yes, I did it!” Grimly, the therapist looked at me and said, “No. Sorry. You didn’t.” I felt defeated.

I was 30-years-old. I had to be fed. I couldn’t pee without a tube. I couldn’t take a shit without someone putting me on a toilet and wiping my ass. I couldn’t walk, never mind crawl. It was bad enough that lupus took my uterus the year before. But I was 30 and needed to be cared for like I was an infant.

I was dehumanised.

It shouldn’t have been surprising that I had a stroke at 30. I had my first TIA (a mini-stroke) when I was 19. Up until that day, I had at least 10 TIA—could’ve been more but I stopped counting. Regardless of the history, who has a fucking stroke when they are 30?! Apparently, I do. But that is something that is difficult to accept.

I forced them to release me from the hospital 6 days after the stroke. I no longer needed to be in ICU. They didn’t have a medical bed available for me. I was only there to rehabilitate and I felt it was a waste of money as I could get the same care at home. Plus, I had promised to take my boys to see Superman that night—it was the opening night—and I’d never broken a promise to them. A pesky stroke wasn’t going to be the cause. They were already terrified that their mum was not going to leave the hospital alive. So, after much convincing and many meetings between the different doctors, they released me.

I fought with all I could to be well again. I also raged A LOT and many times, I just wanted to give up and stay in a wheelchair. It was just so bloody difficult. By September, I was mostly walking on my own. But that took me doing 4 hours of physio at home, every day, and 2 hours, twice a week, at the hospital.

Some are surprised that I’ve had a stroke. If I’m not tired or if one is only exposed to me in small bursts, they don’t see the longterm effects. My brain has problems with communication, especially type communication. I will think one thing but, many times, what greets the person reading my words is complete gibberish. Well, not gibberish per se. They are proper words. Sometimes, they are even proper sentences. But it isn’t even any where near close to what I was actually thinking.

At times, people ignorantly—not willfully ignorant, mind you—will comment on this. My first reaction is to want to yell, “I had a fucking stroke, okay?! Please forgive me if I’m not bright enough for you!” Instead, I just give myself the mental tongue-lashing, call myself a stupid twit and cry on the inside, plus mourn for the brilliant brain I once had. It isn’t until later that I remind myself what exactly it is that I have overcome and continually overcome just to be able to communicate. Considering that a lot of what I do involved typed communication, I overcome obstacles every moment of the day. But because these obstacles are invisible and I make it appear that I do things so effortless, most people don’t see the struggles and just think I’m stupid or incompetent or can’t string together a grammatically correct sentence; leaving me once again to want to scream, “I HAD A FUCKING STROKE!” But that seems a bit like victimisation to me and I’m a survivor, damn it!

It is also because of the above that when I am really exhausted and ill, I don’t do type communication, or at least, I scale it back to essentials only and don’t chat with friends. You may as well be asking me to sprint to the Sun and back. It require so much effort on my part to do so.

The only noticeable longterm effect is that when I am tired, the left side of my face will droop and my left side becomes a little bit weaker.

There are times, especially when I am ill, that I think, “Why do I bother even fighting?”

There is the obvious answer that I do it for my two sons. They are my reasons. They are why I get up in the morning and am thankful for taking a breath of air, even if those breaths feel as if my lungs are being ripped to shreds… such as days like today.

Despite the fact I have moments of rage and frustration, moments where I feel life is passing me by, there are some effects that I am thankful for. These effects of signs of aging.

People are constantly telling me that I look much younger than I am. They tell me that they can’t believe that I have a 12-year-old and a near 16-year-old. I find this frustrating. Yes, I know they mean it as a compliment. But you see, I am a fighter. And, I’M ALIVE!

Each line and wrinkle, each white hair that is FINALLY beginning to crop-up, each section of skin that is becoming discoloured with age has a story. They were earned. As ridiculous as this sounds, I feel cheated that I do not have more. Because, boy, do I have stories to tell. These stories deserve to have a voice. Every fine line around my eyes is there because someone made me smile. Every deep line in my forehead is there because someone or something made me think or feel something. The fine lines around my mouth are there because I can continue to speak, laugh and smile.

I’m getting older. Lupus has not prevented this yet. My lines and wrinkles deserve a chance to share all of the stories of who I am. They too deserve a life. Hopefully, they will get their chance to really shine and be celebrated for the triumphs they are.

If you were to really look at my face, you’ll notice that I barely have any lines on the right side. However, if you look at the left side, there are now, even if really small, permanent lines around my eyes and on my cheeks. The left side of my face tells the story of how I managed to survive a stroke and 5 years later, jump over the obstacles it continues to throw at me, whilst still attempting to pick up the pieces.

There are many days where I do not feel brilliant. If I didn’t have any recollection of how truly fabulous I once was, surviving this may be easier. But I do remember and I know that it didn’t always feel like I was attempting to run with mud up to my neck when thinking. It is hard not to feel dim.

But then I look at my lines and wrinkles, they tell me the stories of my struggles and survival and I celebrate.

Five years ago I had to start over. It has been far from easy. Every day is a battle. But anything worth anything is a lot of hard work. Isn’t being alive worth the effort?

Despite having days where I feel life is passing me by, deep down I know I am living it to the fullest. I am living a fuller life than a lot of people who don’t have such struggles. Yes, I’d like just one day were I didn’t have to fight and could just enjoy it.

But holy shit, I’m alive.

Happy anniversary.

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Harry Potter and Lupus

June 23rd, 2011 by Jules No comments »

Another too long for Twitter thought. I have loads of these. I think they are too short for blogs. They cause me to think for a terrible split second that I should create a Tumblr account but… yeah… no.

Anyway, here are some silly and dorkish Lupus induced thoughts. Please forgive them, I’m ill and very frustrated with my illness at the moment, as I feel life is passing me by as I have to pass up another encounter with loved ones.

Lupus can go suck big, blue, hairy, sweaty, monkey balls.

Lupus is the Dementor, lurking in the shadows, slowly sucking the life, joy and happiness out of your soul, replacing it with despair and depression, leaving you with barely enough inner strength to summon your Patronus. Thankfully, I have my own set of witches and wizards in my life, ready to summon their Patronuses for me; shielding me from my inner demons which have become external; giving me enough protection to regain my strength; allowing me to fight them off, before they lay their final kiss of death upon my lips.

Told you it was silly and dorkish. I should have added stupid as well, but I need these silly and stupid and magical and hopeful childish thoughts to keep me from falling apart.

Oh yeah… tomorrow is the 5 year anniversary of my stroke. That may be adding to my mood.

Happy Anniversary?

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My Dad

June 18th, 2011 by Jules No comments »

Tomorrow is Father’s Day. Both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to come and go without mention in my house. But this year, I’m really missing my dad. I miss him often, but for some reason, he’s on my mind with greater frequency as of late. So, I thought I’d share the story of My Dad from my book. Just seems like the thing to do.

(Kid1 and Kid2′s names have been edited.)

—-

Growing up, I was different; not just different than my peers, but different than the family I was raised with. In fact, I was so different, my sister and I had many theories surrouding this. Our top three theories were: I was adopted and mum decided not to tell us but this did not make sense as my mum was adopted, she knew all of her life that she was adopted and she was proud that she was adopted, as she was picked and that made her special; I was switched at birth in some crazy hospital mix up; but the most popular and the one that made the most sense was that I was the milkman’s daughter.

The reasons why this made the most sense were: I did not physically resemble any one on my mum’s side of the family; I had nothing in common with them when it came to values;—appearances did not matter to me, money did not matter to me, differences between individuals did not matter to me, power and recognition did not matter to me, I was against anything superficial and much more—I was a geek; I was introverted; I placed others before myself; I would not sit by if I saw an injustice being done and the list goes on. I was the complete opposite of everyone I grew up around, except my grandma. On top of these differences, my mother was not exactly the most faithful of people. Growing up, she had more affairs with more men than I can count. Even so it was fun to theorise, we knew that was not the reality. Growing up, the reality was, at times, hard to admit. The reality was that I was my father’s  daughter.

My sister was my mother’s favourite because she was a carbon copy of my mother. I was not and I was repeatedly reminded of this fact. When I was two, my mother took my sister and I away from our dad.  She repeatedly moved us around, eventually moving us half way across the country, and kept our phone number unlisted so that he could not find us. She spent our entire lives trying to vilify our dad. Whenever I would do anything that would remind her of my dad, which was often, she would venomously say, “You’re just like your father!” This was not a good thing as it was no secret that she hated him.  So it is no wonder that it was difficult for me to acknowledge the truth; that I was my father’s daughter. On the other hand, I relished the thought because I did not want to be my mother’s daughter, in any way, shape or form. Growing up, I was ashamed of that side of my family.

I was very fortunate to have two things in my life that kept me proud, even when it was difficult and I was crying inside, to be my father’s daughter. They were my grandma and the odd picture of my dad and I that managed to survive the various moves. My grandma made damn sure I knew how much he loved me. She would tell me stories of how my dad and I were inseparable. How I was always on his lap. How we were always cuddling. How he would take me with him wherever he went. How I was his little princess. I also had the pictures that showed examples of how happy he was when he held me. Pictures of how much love was in his eyes when we would cuddle on the couch. Pictures of how peaceful we were sleeping together. I held on to these stories and images during the periods where I was treated as an outsider and reminded of just how different I was.

I longed for my dad. Often, I would dream of a time when we would be reunited. I would dream of a time where I finally felt I belonged in some type of family. I dreamed of a time where it made sense that I was the person that I was. Over time, those dreams began to fade as the messages I received growing up started to grow into a cancer of despair and self-loathing. When I was 16, those dreams were given a new life.

I was in foster care. It was Thanksgiving and I wanted my dad. I told this to my foster mum who told me that I should call him. The idea terrified me. What if he rejected me? What if some of the stories my mum told me about my dad not wanting me were true? What if the stories of him now having three sons and that he always wanted boys, not girls, were true? What if the stories that he has never given my sister and I second thought were true? What if all the stories my grandma told me, the pictures and what I felt in my heart to be true were just an elaborate fantasy designed to protect myself from the truth? After further urging from my foster mum and she got my dad’s phone number from information, I made the phone call. What happened next gave me a new life.

I dialed the number. A little boy answered. I asked, “Is Richard there?” He replied that he was down at the fire pit and asked who was calling. I answered, “Julia.” The four words to come out of his mouth were magic, “Are you my sister?” Tears came to my eyes as I replied, “Yes, I am.” For the first time in my life, I felt as if I belonged to a family. A real family. He fetched my dad and we proceeded to talk for hours.  It would be many years before we would talk again. We talked briefly when I got married. We talked briefly when Kid1 was born. We talked briefly when Kid2 was born. After Kid2 was born, our brief talks turned into longer talks.

A few years after Kid2 was born, the oldest of my younger brothers decided to come out to B.C. and pay my sister and I a visit. Before he came out, he decided to give my sister and I a phone call. That was even more magical. We had so much in common. In fact, it was as if we grew up in the same household. He was in the military and I had been in the military.  We had a lot of the same hobbies.  We enjoyed the same things. At one point in the conversation I had said something to which he replied, “Wow, you sound just like a Sherred.” I said, “Duh! That is because I am a Sherred.” He clarified, “No. When I talked to our sister it was like talking to a stranger. Talking to you is like talking to the family I grew up with.” I do not think I could ever truly express how wonderful that made me feel.

In 2007, I decided to make another trip back East to Ontario. That is where my dad grew up and lives. I had made previous trips but was always too afraid to meet him because there was always that stupid voice of my mother’s in the back of my head telling me he did not want me. I knew that stupid little voice was wrong and lying but sometimes all it takes is a stupid little voice to tear you down. On this trip, I had not planned to meet my dad or step-mum. I did plan on meeting my other two brothers. Meeting them was just as amazing as meeting the oldest. It was great to find out that they were each a part of me. That they were exactly the same as I am in some way.

Where as the oldest of the three and I share our military experience and love for the outdoors, weapons and a few other things, the middle of the three and myself share a love for the arts and the theatre, insects, as well as studying different forms of spirituality and the occult; and the youngest of the three and I are both uber geeks heavily into Star Trek, computers, science fiction, fantasy, science and technology, among other things. It was like meeting three mini-mes.  Even cooler is that Kid2 and the middle brother are spitting images of each other and the youngest brother and I are almost twins. He is also the twin of our dad. Finally, not only did I have things in common with family but also, I looked like family. This was finally confirmed in person, not just by pictures and being told by the family members I grew up with.

They asked if I was going to meet dad. I told them I did not think I was. They told me that he would love to see me and that I should go there. I said, “What am I suppose to do? Just knock on the door and say, ‘Hi! I’m here! You haven’t seen me in 29 years and you didn’t know I was coming but here I am?’” The response I got was a resounding yes! They would drive me out to Blythe from London to see him. And I was not to worry, because they would walk through the door first and would be with me the entire time. They assured me that I was more than welcomed and he would be quite upset if he found out I was so close, had met the remainder of my brothers and did not pay him a visit. So, on November 25, 2007, we drove from London, Ontario to Blythe, Ontario to meet my dad. Magic does not even begin to describe what was about to occur.

It is amazing the things you remember from as far back as when you were two. We walked through the door and my dad and I hugged. After 29 long years, I still remembered his smell. I still remembered his touch. I was once again his little princess. The evening was beyond words. My step-mum tried to cram the entire family history into one night. We poured over family album after family album. We cried as we talked about what my mother had done to separate my dad, my sister and I. We cried as we talked about how hard my dad tried to get us back but he could not as it was the 70s and dads had no rights. We cried over the lost years.

We laughed over stories about my brothers when they were younger. We laughed whenever they would tell a story of games they would play, such as war games in the back acreage, and how I would play the exact same games with my friends in the exact same fashion. We marveled over just how much I was them, even so I grew up over half a country away and with no contact. We took pictures and video. All the while, my dad happily rocked in his chair.

I got to see first hand how much I was my father’s daughter, both in character, interests and in appearance. And it was awesome. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing ever. I was home for the first time in my life and I did not want to leave. When it came time for the actual goodbye, my dad and I hugged each other very tightly and for a very long time. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and we told each other we love each other. And then he gave me a kiss on the lips just like a dad would kiss his little girl. I remembered that feeling as well from when I was two.

A few weeks later, I had the best birthday ever. It was not because of anything that I did or anything tangible that was given to me. Earlier in the day, I received a phone call from my step-mum wishing me a happy birthday from her and dad. As she had called, I thought that would be it for phone calls. Later on that day, my dad phoned to wish me a happy birthday. It was the first happy birthday I received from him in 30 years and was the best birthday present ever. Since being reunited with my dad, we keep in contact often. Having him back in my life makes me feel whole.

I am my father’s daughter. It is no longer a source of shame and self-loathing. Aside from being a mother and having two wonderful boys, I have never been more proud of anything in my life.

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