I have been absent from blogworld for a couple of months due to no internet access (which sucked, royally). But I'm back, with a whole lot of stuff to report to kick off the new year (and what a year it's going to be, I can already feel the awesome energy of it in motion!)
Firstly, a sad note - in November I lost my old mate Horse, who was (we think) about 12-13 years old. He was a rescue, and prior to coming to live with us, had a very traumatic life. But I like to think that while he was with us, he was happy - certainly he went from being so scared of people that when I first met him, he came out from under a couch he had been hiding in for 2 whole days so that I hadn't even been aware that there was a cat present; to happily approaching anyone who was around for a cuddle and sitting in laps and generally making his presence known. Sometimes he was a grumpy old man cat, but he always bore a striking resemblance to his namesake, Horse from the comic strip "Footrot Flats" (if not necessarily appearance wise, most definitely in character):
In other news, I have an appointment at KEMH in February to set up my hysto, and have my fingers crossed that this time I won't encounter transphobia and all the other bullshit I dealt with at Kaleeya. I have also had to change my dose of testosterone (previously on Sustanon 100 every 10 days, but now they have stopped making it, I'm on a half dose of 250 every 10 days instead) and am really liking it - I am not having the same issues with inflammation in my feet and joints that I did on Sustanon 250 (full shot every 3 weeks) and I am noticing that after a lull, I have several changes happening again (which after almost 3 years on T is pretty cool). Most notably I have WAY more facial hair since I started the new dose, and my voice is shifting AGAIN (!) which is kinda scary, I was happy with how it sounded before but I think I will like it even more once it settles again :D
I have also had something shift in a major way around my "family" after Christmas - normally every year for about 3 weeks beforehand, I do the "I'm not going this year, no way" dance but cave in at the last minute because if I want to see my girls, going to my parents' house is the only way I can do that (don't ask). So this year I went, knowing full well exactly how crap it was going to be, and I was right - for the entire half a day I was there, not ONE person except my boys used my male name or male pronouns, and whenever I or my sons pulled them up on it, they spouted a litany of excuses as to why they don't bother trying to do me the courtesy of respecting my identity. My grandmother was in particularly fine form yet again this Christmas, making a point of loudly announcing to all and sundry that I would always be *girlname* to her till the day she dies, regardless of what I might think myself to be; and making derogatory comments about my short hair, my male clothing, or my now-abundant facial hair (most of which amounted to basically calling me ugly because I don't look like a pretty girl any more, way to go grandma to be passive-aggressive!) There was more going on but I won't write about it here because it would take too long (suffice to say that it isn't necessarily about my gender, but about ME generally and the fact that I don't toe the line and conform to their expectations of who they think I am, and they feel they have the right to punish me for it).
So after this, I went home and was really pissed off - I think I have been very lenient on the name and pronoun issue, given that I have been out and using my male name for the last 4 Christmases, and if they were going to actually *try* like they claim they DO, I'd expect to hear the occasional "she - oh I mean he" or something, right? But no, they don't even attempt to use the correct pronoun, and on top of that they actually emphasise the "SHE" as if to say that using any other pronoun is wrong; and when I correct them, I get "well we have known you longer than anyone else, that's why they can do it and we can't" or (in the case of the passive-aggressive grandma) "she's eighty-six years old" as if that's an excuse for being so damn rude! (Personally, if I'm that friggin' rude at 86, I'll kick my own damn ass for being such a wanker - it isn't that bloody difficult to show respect and common courtesy to someone, especially if you claim them as family).
So yeah, I got sufficiently pissed off with it that next year, I am definitely NOT going - I have a bestie who has a similarly dysfunctional family (she's not trans, but her family treat her the same way mine do me, we are basically the designated scapegoats for everything that they perceive as not being how they want it), so we are having an "orphan's Christmas" next year at her place instead. And once I had made this decision (helped along by a really abusive outburst from my eldest daughter which pretty much could have come word-for-word out of my mother's mouth and blamed me for everything that she perceived I have done, while simultaneously denying that her perception is incorrect and calling ME delusional because I tried to set her straight), I felt a whole lot better with that weight off. In addition to the outburst by my daughter (who comes in, starts a nice conversation, then starts throwing accusations around at me and tells me I'm a liar if I try to tell her anything that differs from her version), I had a disagreement with my mother over Christmas, because she asked about the issue with my daughter and then claimed that she "stays right out of that" (which is BS, it's like she hands my daughter the matches, tells her how to light a fire and then walks away saying she doesn't know where my daughter got the matches to light the inferno). Anyway, it ended up that I informed my mother that I would not be going there for Christmas again, and called her (yet again) out on the lack of respect for my identity and the total refusal to even attempt to use correct name and pronouns (I think she thinks that if they pretend it isn't happening, it will go away - after 4 years though? RIIIIIIIGHT).
End result of this few days of negativity and crap was that I have felt a distinct shift - this time, I am NOT going back there and if they can't toe the line and respect who I am, their loss. I have never said they have to like it - but if they aren't prepared to show a little common decency and at least use my legal name and the right pronouns, then I'm not prepared to go there and suck it up and have to compromise and deal with the dysphoria that rears its head every time they insist on still referring to me as female. I have a bunch of people in my life who DO respect my identity and who ARE there to support me when I need it, and they are my chosen family now - I don't need the crap and guilt-tripping and all the other abusive tactics that come from the people that cling so tenaciously to the "family" label solely as a means of trying to control me and make me do what THEY want. Seriously, I'm 40 frakkin' years old, whose damn life is it anyway? So I feel like I have finally kind of grown into the man-shoes I picked ;) (read, I have manned up and grown a pair and stood up to the people who make my life utterly miserable, and they don't like it :P)
In addition to making this decision about "family", I also got fed up with not being able to see chest surgery happening due to finances. So, I sat down and reworked my entire budget, cutting out ALL the expenses that I do not absolutely NEED to pay for (read, anything except food and basic bills, GONE - no fibre clubs, no LYS purchases unless I need something for a specific project that I do not have in my stash already - and if I have something in my stash that I can use, that has to be used first; no more magazines or beer or junk food, that kinda stuff). And I figured out that on this new budget, I can have a fair chunk of my chest surgery money by the end of the year (which makes short-term pain WELL worth the long-term gain). I have made a couple of other MAJOR decisions in the last week or so, too - but will save blogging about those for another time. Suffice to say that they will literally be life-changing.
On the knitting front, I got a lot of knitting done while I was offline - I finished several knit Christmas presents, a couple of pairs of gloves and mitts, got a lot of blocking done that I had been avoiding lol, and am now on a major designing roll - I have had a visit from the knitting Muse this week and for 3 days straight I have been designing colourwork mittens (which is kinda odd given that it's too hot for at least 9 months of the year here to even consider wearing them, and I don't own any!). I have been seeing a lot of traditional Norwegian Selbu mittens and similar styles cropping up on Ravelry of late, and I really like the look of these but wanted something a little closer to home heritage-wise for me because I am not Scandinavian. So, the Muse pulled her boots on and started kicking me in the head with 6 mitten designs in less than 3 days (and more still waiting to be charted up) - the actual mitten shape is similar to the Selbu mittens, but the patterns I am using are different (I don't want to say too much here because I am so happy with these designs that I am going to put them up on Ravelry for sale once I'm done with the charting and editing and stuff and get a chance to test-knit). I haven't seen anything quite like the mittens I am designing on Ravelry either, so they will be a bit different (and quite striking!) There will be other things besides mittens, too - my Muse has been seriously charging around my head with her stompyboots on and I can't chart fast enough to keep up with her ;)
In spite of the fact that I am VERY glad to see the back of 2010, I am excited and optimistic about what 2011 holds - and for the first time in my memory, I actually feel like *I* am driving the bus ;)