real life

Reflections on 2016

Let’s see how this year sized up compared to the last:

Work-related stuff

In March of this year, I landed my first permanent public library gig! My permanent position is casual (i.e. less than 20hrs/wk), but thanks in part to being a union member now, since late September I’ve been filling in for a full-time position. I will be full-time until at least August 2017, though I expect I’ll actually move into a better permanent position by then.

Well, that’s the boring stuff, anyway. The good stuff is: I love my job. Obviously there is bureaucratic fuckery to be had sometimes, and I am still getting myself used to the time-scale of planning most things (you really have to be on top of things at least six months ahead of time to make them happen, and that is so not me), but holy wow do I love doing youth services at a public library. It’s what I want to do with my life, I have clawed my way here, and it is everything I had hoped it would be. I’ve finally found a place, professionally, and it’s great.

I’m excited to see what this year will bring.

Creating stuff

This has been a year of unprecedented productivity for me here on Valprehension, with 137 posts published! This, on top of picking up doing some writing for two of my library’s three blogs, means I have been writing up a storm. Yay!

I have not done a lot of crafting this year, though. Just two cross-stitch projects completed this year, though they are both awesome imho!

First, I made this in the summer, immortalizing the way a partner first dropped the l-bomb on me:

Picture (and words :P) from John D. Botelho

Picture (and words :P) from John D. Botelho

Second, I  recently made this for all-around amazing person, past guest blogger Spice and  writer of Dating while Feminist, taken from one of her tweets:

Photo credit: John D. Botelho

Photo credit: John D. Botelho

I have many plans for more like this! Thank goodness I have so many inspiring people in my life :)

I also have great intentions to get back into knitting (maybe start making socks?) one day soon, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen. I know I’ll read this next year when I’m writing my 2017 reflections, so hey future self! Did you do the thing?

Relationships

Romantic-wise: former spouseperson and I are still working on figuring out what we are to each other, and what our relationship is going to look like moving forward. Right now, it’s baby steps to try to reestablish intimacy that was lost during times of some of my most difficult feelings, and a much-needed short break around the end of the summer. Former spouseperson is I guess also technically inaccurate – we’re not in any particular rush to divorce; I’m actually on their work’s health insurance as I have none of my own, and stuff. Anyway, we have been living apart since March of this year (we actually moved out almost the same week I started my new job, and somehow I didn’t die of stress. Go me!), and we still see each other about once a week.

ALSO THOUGH, some of you may have noticed that I have stopped whinging all the time about my fears and despair around whether or not I’m ever going to figure out my whole having-kids plan. It’s not just because I got as bored of it as you probably were; it’s because while I was whinging and despairing, my life produced its own solution in the sense that my other partner is totes on board with having kids with me – basically, apparently in addition to all of my various and sundry privilege as a human I *also* am living a kind of charmed life that can’t even be explained by that privilege? There’s still a bunch of steps before we get to the point of actually trying to produce a child, but having a clear direction to aim at means I feel much better again. Also super happy and just generally feeling so fortunate to have found a wonderful human who apparently thinks I am also pretty great and stuff!

Non-romantic-wise: I continue to have amazing friends that I love and who love me, both old and new, and honestly I just feel so lucky all the time and yay.

Family stuff is also good! My mom and I still have a pretty stable relationship. Both of my brothers are just wonderful people, and I am so glad to have them in my life. And I am super comfortable with the fact that I am still not in contact with my dad (he continues to disregard my conditions for reconciliation and has tried a few times manipulate me into talking to him but I persevere – I am not getting back on that merry-go-round for anything).

Misc Other Stuff

This year was also super interesting for me in that I was invited (and agreed) to participate in a couple of panels, one on trans issues, and another on non-monogamy. Both were very fun experiences, and I learned a whole lot from the other panelists in both cases. Also I apparently sounded like I knew what I was talking about, so yay! More than anything else I think that this was something that drove home tome the idea that I have truly entered adulthood, since people now see me as someone with authority/significant life experience on things, which is kind of cool!

So that was my year! Pretty good, all in all :)

Am I a private person? I can’t even tell anymore

[This post is for the December 2016 Carnival of Aces, hosted by the A³ blog, on the topic of “Asexuality and Privacy“]

I have a… very strange and contradictory relationship to my personal privacy. On the one hand, I have been blogging pretty regularly, for almost four years now(!), about all kinds of extremely ‘private’ thoughts and feelings, around my gender, sexuality, and all kinds of other things.

I have also been systematically pulling my blogging persona and my general IRL persona closer together as the years have passed. When I started Valprehension, ‘Kasey’ was a pseudonym, but now it’s my legal name. I post links to my professional writing here sometimes, so y’all pretty much know where I work now. I haven’t explicitly linked anything in my professional persona back to here, but anyone who cared enough to do some digging would find this blog pretty easily.

On the other hand, I have always been weird about discussing my personal life with anyone but my closest friends. I’m queer, and non-monogamous; I am non-binary and have a non-binary partner; I am on the asexual spectrum. I don’t hide any of these things, but I also often just avoid topics directly or indirectly related to them because I just don’t feel like getting into these things. Back at my old retail job, even after I’d been there for over a year – and at the time I wore a wedding ring every day, for the record – people were still regularly surprised when they realized I was married. I just never really mentioned my spouse, because… um, it didn’t come up?

I think that in general, I want people  to know these things about me, but I don’t want to deal with their immediate reactions to them. This is why I find it easier to be open in online contexts than in-person ones, regardless of whether the people I am interacting with know me in real life.

…Or, maybe not ‘regardless’. I am always a little bit reluctant to connect with work colleagues on facebook, for instance, though I’d be hard-pressed to really articulate why. I think I just fear the moment-of-truth transition where people go from not knowing to knowing this sort of potentially relationship-complicating stuff about me, even though I’m happier once it’s over with, generally.

My ace-spectrum status in particular is one that most people are unlikely to ever know about me. Basically unless you read this blog, it’s not likely something that’s going to come up. In part this is because my relationship status pretty heavily obscures and misdirects people from even the possibility that I am ace (largely because of misconceptions about asexuality), and makes it even more unlikely that it will come up.

I can see it coming up if someone were curious about my dating habits as a non-monogamous human (since, as I’ve written about here, here, and here, my demisexuality is highly relevant in that context), but at the same time I prefer to do my coming-out about things implicitly, rather than by explicitly stating my identities: my queerness can be outed by the pronouns (and other gender-marked words) I use for partners (at least, when I’m dating people whose pronouns aren’t the ones that make people assume I’m straight); people may realize I’m non-monogamous if, for instance, they notice that I sometimes refer to a spouse, and sometimes to a boyfriend, or if they realize over time that the things I say about “my partner” at various times can’t possibly always be referring to the same person, etc.

I don’t think there’s any instances where me just talking about my day-to-day life would tip my hand about being demisexual, though, so ultimately this aspect of my identity is more private than many others, even though that’s not by design.

I’m not really sure what my conclusion here is, to be honest. But I do wonder whether some of this will resonate with other people, and I look forward to seeing the other submissions to this month’s carnival!

 

Some positive genderqueer experiences: 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 29

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Some positive genderqueer experiences

Full disclosure: I’m feeling a little burnt out on this writing challenge (or maybe on writing in general just now? Hard to say, but there may a blogging break in my near future). But I’m gonna finish this first by gum, because I’m so close now.

So, positive experiences relating to or resulting from being genderqueer! In over-long point form, as I think of them, because that’s how I roll:

  • There are few things that have been as thrilling to me as a genderqueer person as those first few times when someone looked at me and didn’t immediately slot me into one or another binary box. Even though I don’t specifically try to shape my appearance to defy that sort of categorization as much as I used to, the feeling of freedom that comes from escaping that miscategorization is one of the things that makes this entire journey worth it.
  • Any time anyone who isn’t me corrects someone else on misgendering me is great. It’s nice to know the entire weight of that isn’t always on me, and it makes me feel protected and cared for, always, even when it’s a relative stranger.
  • When coming out as genderqueer, the most positive responses take one of two forms: “Oh sorry, I didn’t know” followed by changing the language used to talk about me is kind of the gold standard in a bunch of ways, but I have also had moments where my coming out catalyzed interesting, thoughtful, and well-informed conversations about gender. The latter, though, is harder to pull off, and attempts more often leave me feeling drained or interrogated than energized or validated.
  • The moment when I realized I’d managed to successfully update my own internal sense of self as a non-binary solidly enough that part of me is genuinely confused when I am read as a binary gender was pretty cool. To me, I’m just so obviously not (though I get why people still slot me into one or the other box as a matter of course, for the record)

Non-binary readers, please tell me some of your positive experiences around being non-binary!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Feeling stuck

My life is in a weird sort of space right now. I just got bumped up to full-time hours at my job (this is a good and important move), and am working at a bigger, busier branch, and since I love my work, it’s all very energizing.

My career is, at long last, taking off. Just the fact that I feel comfortable using the word ‘career’ with respect to my professional life is a big deal, to be honest.

This is great, obviously. But I am feeling at such a loss around what to do with, um, everything else?

I’m actually in a pretty stable place – I have good routines that allow for spending pretty regular quality time with all of the most important people in my life, and it is fulfilling and good.

But, I’m also worried about getting too comfortable with where I’m at.

To be honest, I’m getting as tired of mentioning this are you all probably are of reading about it, but I am still totally adrift with respect to figuring out the whole ‘having kids’ part of my general life goals.

I feel like I need to be working on that, but I also don’t know how right now. I don’t have any actual desire to date, even though I know that’s the most likely route to finding someone to have kids with. I know it’s not a thing I can force, and that dating when I don’t want to be is pretty much guaranteed to be a disaster, but I also feel… guilty(?) for not having the energy to get out there.

I honestly don’t know how to find a balance between living a life that is sustainable for where I’m at right now and continuing to work toward where I want to be. I don’t know how much energy and focus I should put on figuring out the kids thing, really.

On the one hand, I know it’s not healthy or smart to make it the only thing I’m putting energy toward. There are other things in my life that are important, other goals that I have, and other things that can and do fulfill me in various ways. If things don’t work out for me in terms of having kids, these things will be even more important, and I want to make sure my life is well-rounded and has lots of goodness in it.

On the other hand, though, I’m afraid that I will hate myself later for some of the decisions I’m making right now. I’m not doing everything I could be doing, even just to make my life passively open to the possibility of finding a co-parent. I’m not even doing some of the obvious things that I really feel like I should be, because it’s not really what I want right now. But I don’t want to be stuck looking back at this time in my life in ten or fifteen years, thinking of what might have been if I had just gotten myself into gear, and made the hard choices now, maybe things would have worked out the way I wanted.

My head and my heart are not in agreement on this one, and I am historically pretty awful at listening to my head. But I also don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. So I don’t know what to do anymore.

New Job, New Bathroom Problems?

So, I’ve managed to finagle myself into a full-time position at my library! It’s at another branch, which is fine by me in general.

It’s interesting getting into a slightly different ‘office’ culture and getting to know the way things work – my new branch is a much larger library – (I went from a “community” library to a “resource” library), and we have probably about three times the staff of the old branch.

This is fine by me as well. There’s advantages and disadvantages I guess, but for the most part I am pretty unconcerned about the differences.

The only thing that threw me off on my first day was when I realized that the staff washrooms at my new place are gendered (as are the public ones, but that is less surprising).

I think long term, this will be fine? I will just get into a habit of which washroom I go to and probably stop thinking about it pretty quickly. Or at least I hope that’s what happens.

What was interesting to me as I tried to process my feelings about it was realizing how out of the ordinary this was for me. It’s been a very long time since I had to deal with gendered washrooms on more than a one-off occasional basis. In fact, the last time I dealt with gendered washrooms at work was a good three and a half years ago (I have had one library job in the meantime that had only gendered options, but it was so part-time that I pretty much never used the washrooms there).

Though I would obviously prefer not to have to deal with this, I do think it will be fine. And this library is due for renovations, too, so I may be able to be an agent of change and get single-occupant or otherwise all-gender washrooms installed.

We shall see.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” A million thoughts about a (not-so-)simple question

One of my mom’s big questions to me after I came out to her as genderqueer was “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

It’s not really a question with an answer. Or at least, it’s not a question with any answers that are going to satisfy the feelings behind the question. Because let’s be honest: my mom’s feelings were hurt by the fact that a couple of years elapsed between me realizing I am genderqueer, and me telling her about it at all.

The only satisfying answer to those hurt feelings that I can see is to go back in time and tell her sooner. Which, even if I could, I don’t want to do.

Because, of course, there are reasons why I didn’t tell her sooner. It wasn’t an arbitrary choice or an oversight. It was something I deliberately and repeatedly put off doing.

I didn’t tell her sooner because I wasn’t ready to.

The thing is, having realized that I am genderqueer was a lot to deal with, in and of itself. It was something I needed time to deal with on my own before I told *anyone*. There was definitely a good six months between the idea passing through my brain, and me doing anything outwardly about it.

The thing is, I knew that coming out to my parents was something that was highly likely to involve a lot of emotional labour on my part, and it wasn’t something I magically felt up to handling immediately.

The thing is, I came out to a lot of much lower-stakes people before I came out to her. Friends that I wouldn’t be heart-broken to lose.

The thing is, I came out to the people I actually interact with on a regular basis before I came out to her. Not because they were more important (though some of them were and are in some ways), but because they were there. Because having them change the pronouns they use for me would have a more immediate and regular impact on my life. Because the benefit of doing the work of coming out to them was greater in that way.

The thing is, I was afraid of what her response might be. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wasn’t ready for it.

The thing is, I was afraid she would try to talk me out of it somehow? I don’t even know what that would look like, to be honest. But I wanted to feel like I had a lot of confidence in myself and my identity before I was ready to face whatever response she might have. I came out to people I was more confident would be in my corner first, so that I would have support to handle potential bad responses from her (or other people).

The thing is, as you see, there are a lot of things that held me back from coming out to her.

But the short answer is still just, “because I wasn’t ready sooner.”

Keep Calm and Just Keep Writing

Ever since WordPress added the “Insights” tab to the stats page, I have been fascinated with the pating activity calendar. I find it really satisfying to see my posting schedule line up in a regualar way. I also find it intersting to see the places where it doesn’t; it’s sort of interesting graphical depiction of my life, in some ways. Here’s what my last year looks like as of this writing (August 12):

Screenshot 2016-08-12 15.44.10

For reference, it was last August that my ex-spouse and I actually decided that we would stop living together once the lease on our apartment was up. I was also dealing with another break-up on top of that. I was posting on my regular schedule at the time, for the most part, though. In September I was also mostly unemployed (I had a gig on Sundays only), which made it easier to find time to write. In October though, I went back to my old retail gig, which involved a lot of twelve-hour days, so between that and obviously dealing with a lot of emotional stuff, my posting dropped off dramatically (there’s usually a two- to three-week delay between things happening and my posting schedule showing it because when things are running smoothly, I usually have posts scheduled that far in advance.

Somehow I managed to get my shit together for a bit in the new year, but then by March (the month we actually moved out) I gave myself another break.

Since then, though, I have been this awesome power house. There’s definitely a few things contributing to that.

For one thing, April is when I started my new job, which is great and energizing, and also (significantly) very part-time. So I have lots of both the time and energy required for writing!

Deciding to the the Genderqueer Challenge has also been helpful for keeping me writing – I will not be keeping up with a three-post/week schedule once its done, though; I’ll be back to my regular standard of “Every Wednesday for sure, and Mondays when I have other things to say that don’t feel like they deserve a Wednesday slot/when I’m so far ahead of schedule that I’m comfortable with an increased post frequency.” But the challenge has inspired some of the non-challenge posts I’ve written in the meantime, helping me keep my regular writing flowing.

But even given all that, I am doing remarkably well with producing content lately (I keep thinking I’m going to hit a week where I at least skip the Monday post, but I keep finding things I have to say that I can slot in there), and to be honest, it is partially a coping mechanism. There are some extemely important aspects of my overall life goals and plan that are massively out of control right now, and that’s giving me a lot of anxiety attacks. And it’s also making it more important to me to keep solid control over the things that I can. It helps abate those feelings of powerlessness that I am otherwise dealing with. I can look at this graph whenever I want be like “see? I do have shit together.”

Which is overall yet another way that keeping up with this blog is quasi-therapeutic for me. So for the time being, here’s me:

justkeepwriting