Saturday, April 30, 2005

who took the bomp from the bomp-a-lomp-a-lomp/ who took the ram from the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?

Do you ever have one of those days where all you want to do is go back to bed? Yeah, that.

I can tell you all about the good stuff that's been going on--mostly house-wise. We finally painted the bedroom last weekend. It took the better part of two days, but I like it, and suddenly our furniture looks good in the room. (Cherry-coloured stain should not be paired with blue-gray walls.) We picked a pretty pale blue for the ceiling, a sand colour for the walls, a slightly lighter sand colour for the weird panel-y inset and the doorway, and a chocolate brown for the trim. The wall colour is more yellow than I thought it would be (mr. pixie pointed out that the blue from the ceiling pushes the yellow in the walls and vice versa--I know this stuff about the colour wheel, but I rarely remember it. Designers! Consult an artist!) but I think it's still okay. For the truly dedicated (or bored) amongst us, the colours are Riviera Sand (Behr 320E-3), Revival Mahogany (Behr 760B-7), Powder (Debbie Travis CM331), and Linen Sand, a Benjamin Moore colour that I tragically cannot find the number for. I know you're heartbroken.

We also bought bookcases to wall off the office space, although IKEA was out of the last one we needed, so we have two thirds of an office wall. It's two thirds exciting and now all our poetry is stored in one place. I also took the curbside dresser spook brought home and cut the bottom two drawers off. It is now painted the same colour as the bedroom trim and makes a fantastic new bedside table.

I think I'm not so much unhappy as tired. We still haven't got any idea about invitations to our barbecue, and although part of me is suggesting that it's a stupid thing to be worried about, another part of me is screaming that they have to go in the mail in the next two weeks, and if I think I'm going to be making, oh, forty of them, perhaps I should get started on that. Yesterday. I can't imagine how people ever plan weddings that have dresses and bridesmaids and catering and registries and engraving and centrepieces. The very idea makes me want to sleep for a week. If you all get children's birthday party invitations, you know why.

Lilo & Stitch

Yep. Love. And a hammock.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

stick it to The Man

I am sitting here writing to y'all instead of composing my second volley in what is shaping up to be some kind of crazy trench warfare with the Ministry of Transportation. It started with spook's new birth certificate. After an arduous process, he had finally managed to get that pesky 'F' changed to a more-accurate 'M', and now he's doing the rounds to get all of his other identification to match. He tried to start with his driver's license.
It turns out that the Ministry of Transportation doesn't accept a birth certificate as a valid supporting document when changing your sex. They want a letter from a doctor "at a recognized institution." Um, no. No. No. Here's why:
Your birth certificate is primary documentation. It's the piece you use to support all the other pieces. You can't arbitrarily create a whole class of citizens who suddenly have to prove that their birth certificate is true, and you especially don't get to ask them to drop their pants for you. Make no mistake--that's really what they're asking. In order to obtain said birth certificate, spook had to get two different doctors to examine him and sign an affadavit attesting that his sex had changed. For us, the kind of people who can't afford to hire a lawyer to come and do such things, this meant that two different lawyers came and witnessed affadavits for us out of the goodness of their hearts. Unfortunately, because people who are busy practicing law do not have the leisure to wander down to a doctor's office any old time in the middle of the work week, it took us something like nine months to get all the paperwork together. There was also a sworn statement that spook signed, basically to the effect of "yep, I'm a boy," which also needed to be witnessed by a lawyer. It was an ordeal, but it was one that he (and therefore we) went through because it was the definitive piece of paper that meant we would never have to go through this again.
So when spook called me at work to tell me about it, I kind of freaked out.

Let me digress here for a second to explain to you that we don't have copies of either of these affadavits, and neither do the doctors who signed them. Not keeping copies, an oversight I will never commit again, was simply due to a lack of familiarity with the ins and outs of all this wacky bureaucratic stuff. No help on that front: for example, the government of Alberta who sent us the forms tells you what your affadavit has to say, but doesn't supply a template for you. I bet some of you know offhand what the standard form for an affadavit is, but I had to call my mom. She knows because of the lawyering. For those transpeople not fortunate enough to have members of the bar association for in-laws, this is just one more thing in a long list of intimidating things that suck.
I'm actually kind of glad that we don't have those copies, because what with the exhaustion and despair, we probably would have just given 'em to the driver's license people and I would not be writing this now. Not having them allowed us to get pissed off instead, a response I think is much more appropriate.

We did go and try again at the main office, where we got the same answer--you need a letter from a doctor. The person we spoke to at their office gave us the phone number for the Ministry, and I called them when we got home. Getting answers out of people is, weirdly, something I'm pretty good at, especially when it's on someone else's behalf. I spoke to a very nice man called Laurent, who listened to my problem and said he'd have to check the regulations and call me back. It took him about five minutes, and he returned the same answer as the people at the offices: we needed a letter from a doctor. Trying to be helpful, he said "So you could get a letter from the Clarke Institute, for example--"
"I'd rather drink my own blood." I said. Then I apologized, since it's not Laurent's fault that the Ministry has stupid regulations and the Clarke Institute seems to consist mainly of people who will be first against the wall when the revolution comes. He offered me the email address and the mailing address to lodge a complaint, and I thanked him again, and we got off the phone. I took some deep breaths and told spook about it, and then I sat down and wrote an email to the Ministry, explaining our position and using all sorts of bizarre language in an attempt to say that we think he deserves to be treated with the same bureaucratic indifference as everyone else. ("Don't worry," spook assured me, "they don't have to know that we'll never have a normal life.")

That, my dears, was two weeks ago, and I have received no word of any kind. None. Which means that my next step is to compose a slightly more in-depth letter and send it registered mail. Two years ago they might have been able to wear me down, but after all of this, all the paperwork, all the shitty treatment from the mean pharmacist who disapproved of testosterone and routinely kept spook or I waiting for 45 minutes to an hour just to get his prescriptions filled, all the stupid things that people have said to him, all the money he spent on surgery and all the nights I spent lying awake worrying about it, all the government offices and lineups and inconsistency, all the bitching my friends have had to listen to and the nine thousand small humiliations I have not been able to do a damn thing about, if they think they get to demand a dick check before they'll renew his driver's license, a document for which his sex has no relevance to his qualifications, they have another thing coming.

p.s. The "no need for satire" moment in all of this is that the Ministry of Health, a branch of the same government and the only people who might actually have a need to know where his internal organs are, accepted his birth certificate as a matter of course and processed the change immediately. Aargh.

p.s. #2 My heartfelt thanks to Lizzie, Shannon and Wiseman. If you had not spent a gazillion dollars and countless sleepless nights to complete law school, we would still be stuck on problem number one.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

my heart belongs to Debbie

In case there's even one of you out there who hasn't heard this story already, here goes.

Once upon a time there was this guy I was (almost) married to. We'll call him Debbie, for reasons that will become clear later on.
Way back before dating me, in his university days, he had briefly dated a girl called Jennifer. It was a rebound thing, one of those impulsive date-someone-you-barely-know scenarios, and he described it like this:
"She was fun and enthusiastic, and about two weeks in it dawned on me that under all that enthusiasm was...nothing. Absolutely nothing. She was dumb as a shoe." This did not bode well for their torrid affair. He stopped wanting to sleep with her. She accused him of sleeping with someone else. He denied it in a weird, suspicious way, because even though there was no one else in the picture, he was keeping something from her. "You can't say 'I don't want to have sex because you're dumb as a shoe'!" They broke up, to the relief of all parties.
His friends said "You know, Jennifer is a pretty good name. We know a lot of people named Jennifer. Let's not sully it with her memory. We don't know anyone named Debbie--let's call her Debbie." And so they did.

When this story got into my hands, it got kinda...out of control. Adam and I gleefully renamed every person we'd ever dated, and then because we had to distinguish somehow, they acquired variations: MRD (Most Recent Debbie), for example, or double-Debbie. It became code for a certain set of undesirable behaviours--the inability to return a phone call, say, or refrain from sleeping with your sibling/best friend/boss. The lovely Shanghai is entitled to some crankiness about the handful of weeks during which she was referred to as I Can't Believe It's Not Debbie!, although I swear we meant it as a compliment. Lizbeth bought me a keychain with a dreadful tourist picture of the Rocky Mountains and the name Debbie emblazoned across the bottom. We flirted with the idea of recording another album and calling it "Debbie, I trust you."

By this point I owe an apology to all the people in the world whose name is indeed Debbie. I'm probably coming back as someone named Debbie in my next life. I promise to be pissed off about it.

The thing is, all those many Debbies of mine--I'm crazy about them. (Most of them anyway, and the ones I don't feel fond of, we refer to in Other Ways.) They certainly got to see their share of my erratic, neurotic, and downright unpleasant days. I owe the most profound gratitude to Debbie in all her guises for all the things I learned from her, and I hope she feels the same way about me. I would like to state for the record, however, that Debbie Travis and I have no personal relationship of any kind--I just like her TV show.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Debbie is the girl for me

Does it make me a great big nerd that I'm excited because Debbie Travis has a whole line of housewares stuff coming out through Canadian Tire?

Yes. Yes it does. But I'm still painting my bedroom ceiling with one of her colours.

I cut my hair! Well, technically, spook cut my hair. I love having it short. I don't know why I keep deciding I need to grow it out. When I told Meredith I was going to chop it off, she said "Of course you are. I did the same thing. I grew my hair out, and then I thought 'Great. Now I have long hair.'" Yeah, that about sums it up.

In other unrelated news, my jade plant has these icky little bugs that make cottony webs under the leaves and eat through the base of them. Ewww. I have spent way too much time wiping bugs off it with q-tips dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Last but not least, I have discovered a new awesome smoothie: frozen mango chunks, raspberries, and soymilk. Blend. The mango makes it all milkshake-like, except with nutrients. Mmm, nutrients.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

drive me crazy

I get that any industry has to develop, I really do. I understand that the old, beautiful cars that make my heart go giddy-up are gas guzzlers, and that we really can't afford that these days, economically or environmentally. What puzzles me is the degree to which positive advances in the automotive industry are outstripped by ridiculous ones.

Is the world really improved by cars that resemble a soap dish? A suppository? I think not. You can take aerodynamics too far.

Even the cars I love are the cars I hate. Take those eensy ones you're seeing more and more of these days. Not the minis, the uber-minis, the ones that look like a modified ice cream cart. I will admit that they're terrifically cute, but am I the only person who thinks they're evil? You can't take that car on the highway, folks. It's just too little. Its capacity is two passengers, and god help you if one of them has so much as a backpack to try and fit in there. It seems like a good idea--build a small car, it uses less gas, therefore creating less pollution--but what it really is is a vehicle only good for transporting a very small number of people around in a city. And if there's only one or two of you, and you aren't transporting any stuff, and you're not leaving the city, shouldn't you take the damn transit? That would be the actually environmentally sound decision. A bike's an even better one.
It's true that part of our problem, air-quality-wise, is the cars we're driving. (Every time I see a single person in an SUV, for example, I want to slash their tires.) It's a much bigger problem that most of us are driving at all.
I think there is a place for personal vehicles in cities--sometimes you can't get your groceries or furniture or children home by yourself. Some people's physical abilities are such that they need access to a car to be able to participate in city life. Fair enough. But patting ourselves on the back for creating a car that lets us assuage our environmental conscience while ignoring the very thing that got us into this mess in the first place is just stupid. Plus, hello, who can feel cool cruising around in a jellybean?

Give me a car you can stick your dog and your camping gear in and drive across the country, picking up hitchhikers. Give me a car with fins and running boards and so very much chrome. Give me a car that has beauty and purpose--and if you can figure out how, give it to me with an electric engine. The suppository car? You know where you can stick it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

all philosophical-like

Overheard at work:

"I like Happy Bunny."
"It's just...mean."
"He's not mean, mom, he's enlightened!"
"Yeah, sure, the same way Ayn Rand was enlightened."