Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dead naming, new plates, and other adventures of a day in my life

I get home at ten minutes to my bed time, I haven't eaten since an early lunch, I realize that I haven't peed all day which given my body and my medication means that I'm extremely dehydrated, the temperature claims to be 38 (3 and 1/3rd for those in the Celsius world) and I call shenanigans, it feels colder.  Then again, it would.  I'm wet and wearing no coat.  Just an SCA period top.  (I wish I could have found something else that could take the punishment of farm work, but I haven't had a chance to do laundry in ages, the pants I had to dig out of the hamper; it was a gift, a gift in Lonespark's own color, it hurts in a way other than pain when it gets caught on barbed wire.)

Tempers are frayed.  A lot of people are talking about what they've been advocating and not had listened to.  Cody goes on the defensive and shuts down when the stress gets to him, not good when there's work to be done.  There's been so much stress, and for so long, that he's on the constant defensive and within moments of shutdown,

One of my sister's many friends was in town.  He helped, but there were communication problems limiting that.  I opened the freezer that thou shalt not open.  No vengeance god came out, but the basement had to be evacuated.  When a freezer stops freezing it's foul.

* * *

So, let's fucking talk shit.

For as long as I can remember I've been "Chris" and I've never wanted to be anything else.  "Christopher" was the name people forced me to put on official ID.  I've never answered to it.  I've never heard someone say it and thought they were talking to me.  Well, not in my memory.  When I was young and stupid and somehow cute, all bets are off.  I don't have many memories of being younger than a teen, and none of them involve my name being called out.

My first memory is sitting on my mother's lap on an airplane.  I don't remember anything else.  I could not tell you sight or sound.  All I remember was the knowledge: lap, plane.  I can go through others, one's that should have tipped me off that I wasn't a boy but did nothing of the sort, the book that I loved in middle school and how I used to imagine hiding from the creatures from tremors in that library (the library seems to have been an addition, which for some reason was added to the second floor.  It's on stilts on the side that doesn't adjoin the building.)

But I've never been "Christopher".

That's not me, never has been, and never will be.

As recently as yesterday I was thinking that Cody put in more effort than my family when he stumbled on pronouns, "He ... she ... it, they, whatever."  And thus he was trying to be nice.  Today I realized I was attributing goodwill where none existed.

I don't want to make too much of a big deal out of this.  Cody is under a lot of stress.  The neighbors said they were going to have him killed (they did a neat verbal dance that avoided directly saying it, but in context there's no other interpretation of the words) and while the cops may have proven themselves to not be free hit-men, he still got tased and arrested and has a restraining order keeping him from seeing Jensen, who is basically his step-son.  He lives in fear of the people who live close enough to him to kill him without him ever seeing it coming and he's terrified that if things go wrong his son will be taken from him at the moment of birth.

But I finally realized what he was really doing as I knelt behind an SUV in the cold and dark, hands full and ground too uneven to set down my burden, and begged him to open the rear hatch, and he just stood there and taunted me, opening with, "Just put it in the trailer, Christopher."

The trailer is made for carrying bulk items.  Something has to be several inches high to actually stay in it.  The load I was carrying was composed almost entirely of two things:

  1. Plates.  A lot of plates.  I need to replace my plates, there were free plates.  In matching sets no less.
  2. A set of very thin books.  Each less than a centimeter thick.
No box.  It was all loose.  Now there were boxes in the back of the SUV, boxes that I made use of once I had the chance, but if I just put things in the trailer the plates would have slid out and shattered and the books would have fallen out leaving me to walk the road in the dark without a flashlight to try to pick them up, or to abandon them entirely.

Hands shaking from the cold and a day of hard work, eventually my neatly stacked and organized burden shook, shifted, and slipped to the point that I lost part of it.  When a plat hit the pavement and broke in half, he finally stopped the taunting and opened the rear hatch.

And at some point in there it finally hit me.  He only says "Christopher" when he's angry or annoyed with me, and those times he seems to be trying to use the right pronoun but faltering are also times when he's not in a good mood.

He's not trying to be nice when he does the pronoun shuffle, he's being an asshole in a way that has deniability.

It didn't just take the incident with the rear hatch.

It also took, earlier in the day, someone asking me what my pronouns were.  My sister's friend who happened to be in town.  At the end of the day he didn't even remember doing it, but that's more respect than most members of my family have shown me, and it's something that put some things into perspective.

Being an asshole when you're under a lot of stress is something that's fairly common in human beings, Jesus resorted to racism when he was stressed out (he ended up losing that argument when the woman took it in stride and made one of those, "Even if I take your bullshit assumptions as givens, I still win," fuck yous), so I don't want to give the impression that . . .

Ok, so, what you say when you want to hurt someone probably does say something about the kind of person you are.  Someone who defaults to race isn't the same as someone who defaults to gender or to class or to whatever.  At the same time, it's someone at their very worst crossing lines and going for the low blows that they'd never use, and may not even believe in the reasoning behind, that they'd never use normally.

So, yeah, calling me "Christopher" and making a production out of calling me by pronouns when he's annoyed with me and under tremendous stress is transphobic.  It's using transphobia as a weapon in his toolkit.  Not the most effective one because it took me forever to realize that he was tying to piss me off when he did those things.  In retrospect I can see how I should have been able to put it together.  Signs like tone of voice, the fact that he always did the pronoun litany in exactly the same order word for word, aspects of the situation, so forth.

At the same time, I've never gotten anything but acceptance from Cody when he isn't under enormous stress and it's been pretty unconditional.  So what do you say about that and how do you describe it?  He doesn't seem to be transphobic, but when he's stressed to his limits and wants to vent, if I'm the target transphobia isn't off the table.

What do you even call it when someone's not a bigot but they'll resort to using bigotry when at their worst?

* * *

One plate from the really nice black matching set got broken, but that was it.  So I've got a bunch of new plates which I've kind of been desperately in need of.

Unfortunately most of them will have to sit somewhere unused for a while because every day I've been capable of working and in Maine I've been helping my sister on the farm which means my house isn't ready for my new plates yet.

We'll get back to the house in a minute, but one more thing on the subject of plates.

My sister seems to think I've got a teacup fetish or obsession or something because I got plates from two sources today (free on the side of the road, the swap shop at the dump) and since we were in a hurry I just sort of grabbed the whole box (well, two boxes) that the plates were in.  Also in the box: a 21 piece tea set.  Eight teacups, one pouring cup, one cup whose purpose I have no idea about, a cover for the previous, and ten plates to put them on.

I did nothing to disabuse my sister of the idea I'm all into the teacups in spite of not drinking tea.  Instead I just said . . . I think it was, "Hey, I don't criticize how you tea cup."  Yeah, I used "tea cup" as a verb.

Ok, back to the house.

The mess is at epic levels.  Little to nothing is on shelves anymore, everything has migrated to the floor.  The one exception is the kitchen table which has been buried deep.  When I got a new washing machine one of the first things I did was wash my sheets.  I haven't had a chance to put them on the damned mattress.

I don't know exactly when I got the washing machine, apparently I didn't announce it on the blog if the search I did is any indication, but it was a birthday present.  I can't remember if it was early or late.  Birthday is the beginning of August (August 3rd or the first Saturday in August depending on how you count), everything went to shit August 20th.

The reason that I haven't had a chance to put them on the matress is somewhat complex and difficult, but can be oversimplified to this:

I wasn't able to sleep in the normal place anyway because of the summer death heat so I needed an air conditioner pointed at me (only one I've got) and that meant I was sleeping on the couch when the dream of clean sheets could become a reality.  My room, which I don't sleep in anymore because I need to install light killing shades or curtains far enough from the windows to not kill the plants.

Shit, I need to water the plants.

Ok, back.  The plant situation is bad (really, really bad), but not any worse than it was last time.  I used to have so many in my room that I couldn't find space for them all even though I have two windows that could hold plants on two levels each.  Now there are four.  After I was forced to move out because the insomnia intensified to the point I couldn't have any light at all and the plants made it impossible to use my blinds, I kind of kept forgetting about them and all but a tiny remnant died.

I feel really bad about that.

But anyway, my room.  My room has the most shelves of any room in the house which means the most stuff to knock off the shelves which would mean the biggest mess on the floor anyway but even when I wasn't picking stuff up, where did I put stuff?  On shelves in my room.

I've improved to the point that the stuff on the shelves now is pretty well safe, or maybe the cat just hasn't been frequenting that part of the house, but the point is, my room has more in it than any reasonable person might expect.

(Then again so do at least two, maybe three, other rooms for entirely different reasons.)

This has made it impossible to access the places where I might put, you know, clothes.

So I finally was able to clean my clothes but had no place to put them.  I was sleeping on the couch and not using my mattress in the gloom of downstairs, I put the clothes on my mattress and thought it would be temporary because it should only take about a day to sort out but . . . fuck.  All of the stuff has happened and I haven't had that day to myself in my house.  The few days I have been in my house long enough to do shit I've been too exhausted to do anything.

* * *

One goat is called Nom Chomsky.  (My sister once was part of some group or other that had a gnome as a mascot named Chomsky and got Noam to pose with it, so the goat's name is no great surprise.)  One goat is called Waldo.  The final goat is Bones.  Bones is a dog.  She can't escape biology entirely (for example, no born dog has ever tried to eat my hair, and certainly not with the tenacity of Bones; that's a goat thing) but she acts like a dog.  An untrained but harmless dog.

As with many goats, Bones has humans, as with many dogs, Bones cares about her humans and wants to be around them.

Bones, to my knowledge (she doesn't speak except when in great distress and even then . . . I don't speak goat) knows nothing of law and DHHS and lying police and scary neighbors and legal hoops and bureaucratic foot dragging.

Bones does know that her three and a half year old human has been missing for a while.  So every day she's circumvented all attempts at containment and come to the door to try to find the three year old.  It's a doomed mission.  Jensen is legally prohibited from being brought to his home.  Any other child on earth can go there, but not Jensen.

Anyway, this is a problem.

Not the heartbreak, though that sucks too.  No, the problem is that the neighbors once drove the pigs all the way to a municipal baseball field, got animal control called (I don't actually know if they did it themselves or got someone else to make the call) and now have given us the reputation of people who can't control our animals which means that Bones (and only Bones) being able to slip containment is a problem.

We need Bones proof fencing.

That's what I spent today doing.  Alone.

I couldn't tell you what others did for most of the day, the light was getting dark by the time I'd finished my work.  There are some more touches I'd like to add, the fence should be good enough but I prefer my work to be as sturdy as possible which means that I want to strengthen weak spots even if they're not exploitable and things would be fine with them left weak.

But I finished with that phase.  Sort of.  Kind of.  It's more complicated.  (When is it not?)

Why?  New break.

* * *

My sister is a very difficult person to work for.  She's good with outsiders.  She can teach children she's never met before, for example.  But once you know her enough she seems to think you're on the same wavelength.  You're not.  This often causes her to leave out pertient details without realizing it and being shocked and appalled when you do what she said instead of what she thought you understood she meant.

There's a reason that I stopped helping out at the farm.

But these are extraordinary circumstances and so I'm back in.

Think back to what I said about Cody, the part that didn't involve me or transphobia or that time Jesus was a racist ass.  Under great stress, which he has been for two months and counting, he gets defensive and shuts down.  So right now he's hyper aware of anything that could possibly be construed as vaguely resembling an attack and will retreat and shut down at a moment's notice.

Around the time I'm getting done with the fence, my sister comes back from somewhere.  She left Cody with jobs to do that should have been doable in the time she was gone.  Cody didn't do them.  The one job he did do during his not-shutdown time was the only job on the entire damned farm that didn't need to be done.

I don't know how clearly she communicated what needed to be done.  I don't know how much of it was that what Cody did was in the area of maximum retreat.  I don't know how much of it was time Cody spent in full shutdown.

I do know that when my sister got back she was panicked and pissed.

Now, here's the thing:

When I got back into Maine I asked my sister for the coming deadlines and she told me two.  These are important because they govern what we should do and when.  Then we did things that didn't seem related to those deadlines.

I was informed of a previously unmentioned deadline that required a Bones proof fence.

Now, to be clear, a Bones proof fence was needed regardless, but when you've got multiple agencies being called on you repeatedly in the hopes that at some point they'll stumble across something slightly off or out of code or whatever, and when you've got the kind of people who would rustle pigs greasing the wheels of catastrophe, it becomes necessary to look immaculate rather than to simply be doing everything legally and above board.

Immaculateness doesn't happen all at once (except possibly in the case of the conception of Mary mother of Christ, see: Catholicism.)

So it matters who is coming when to check on what.

Hence deadlines and I don't even know what I typed and I'm too tired to check.

The Bones proof fence thing was apparently a . . . I don't even know.  It never materialized.  What definitely will materialize is happening tomorrow and I wasn't involved in that until I got done with the fence, which is when my sister got home, which is when -- I already wrote that.

The work on that hadn't been done.

* * *

This is where it becomes my sister's communication problems.

She was going on about what she had said to do.  The stuff that didn't get done.

Cody got defensive and shut down.  I managed to talk him out of it and get him to start on that stuff which he and I both thought my sister still wanted done.  This is not easy.  I am not a people person and psychology is not something I know and talking people into doing things when they're on the verge of shutting out everything and everyone is fucking hard.

My sister didn't want that stuff done anymore.  She deemed it too late in the day.

So that went horribly terribly wrong.

Then my sister did a variation on the thing I talked about yesterday.

It wasn't, "Let me talk about how much I need to go rather than actually going."  It was a more general and more common thing.  She talked about everything she'd hoped to have done by that point instead of what still could be done and I had to pull her out of that (and probably epically pissed her off in the process) just to get to what was still possible.

And we did that.  Less of it than we could have because . . . oh my fucking god.  So much.


When we're finally going to take stuff to the dump so that we can put more stuff in the trailer to take to the dump in a long and arduous process of throwing out good things because they happen to look less than ideal because it's no longer enough to be innocent of any wrongdoing, now we're presumed guilty until proven to be without sin and without unsightliness, in spite of the fact that being without one of those usually (though not always) requires the other

Um, did you notice how that whole thing was an introductory clause?  Because I kind of feel like if I didn't stop here and remind you, you'd forget that it's all a "When" clause.

Anyway, when that, my sister mentions Halloween for the first time that I heard all day.  I didn't even know Jensen was going to be in town today, but apparently she had hoped to take him trick or treating and then didn't think she'd have time and had to cut that back to seeing him, giving him a kiss, and then coming back to do more work at the farm.

Now, the trailer is full and ready to be taken, and if we can empty it than we can motivate Cody and friend of my sister who happens to be in town to put stuff in it, and that's probably all of the motivation we can do, which is why I've been advocating that we take it for at least twenty minutes.

It gets pushed back to after the trip, which means any hope of keeping the others on point is lost.  All of the most important work needs my sister's supervision, all of the rest of the work involves clutter reduction by wastefully throwing out shit that doesn't need to be thrown out.  Without the "we need to fill up this trailer" visible motivating automatic progress bar, I can't wrangle the other two any more than I can herd ducks after they learn to fly.

So I go with my sister.

My mom has my old dog with her.  He barks his head off because he hasn't seen me in a while (poor eyesight anyway so he might not recognize me even if he had) and can't smell me at a distance.  So to make him stop I let him smell my hand and after a kind of crap attempt this leaves me leaning over Jensen while my sister gets around her car.  (Passenger side was right next to my mom's car so I had basically zero distance to cover.)

Since I'm leaning over Jensen I say nice things to him and am about to pull back so my sister, who isn't quite there yet but will be by the time I can get out of the way, can see her son.  Not fast enough for my mother who chides me for being in the way of my sister and her son, and acts like I don't understand what my sister's going through when I'm the one who sees her when she's deprived of him and my mom generally only sees her when my sister isn't suffering that deprivation, and acts like I never would have gotten out of the way if she hadn't decided to guilt-shame-[something else of that nature me].

Back to the farm.  We finally make the dump run.  My sister announces that she's too exhausted to do another even though there is time.

All work for the day done, we head to the swap shop.  We all find things to like.  This is where the plates and books I mentioned come in.  All of this is without my glasses, by the way.  I haven't had my glasses since before the trailer was filled.

As the others finish their browsing one by one, taking their find and . . .


I forgot to get those lacrosse sticks.

Ok, anyway, they're all leaving but I've got a problem.  What I got are plates and a book set.  And a couple things that will be good plant holders if I ever again reach the point of the plants spawning new plants.  But mostly books and plates.  Not the easiest things in the world to move.

Definitely harder than the sewing machine one got.

Ideally I'd take them out in multiple trips, but the others aren't going to want to wait.  I need to carry them in or on something and the only box I can find would take too long to empty.

I get them laid out in a stable and safe stack on a skateboard and head out to the car.  Well, SUV.

I get there, ask them to pop the hatch.  They do, but there's a problem, the ground isn't anything near level.  I can't put down the skateboard with my loot, which means I can't reach to open the fucking rear hatch.

Plus my legs are half out of it since I've been on them all day some of it on really bad footing, I think one of my feet is numb, or perhaps merely severed without my knowledge, and my arms are starting to shake from the cold and the excersion they've been through.  The sun is long since gone.  It's dark, it's cold, and I'm stuck.

I ask for someone to help me by opening the hatch.

This is what I described earlier.  Instead of rehashing that, let me point out some other things.  The  way I'm carrying the plates on the skateboard isn't a way that would allow me to lift them enough to put them in the trailer like Cody is telling me to do as he stands there, refuses to pull a single handle necessary to open the hatch, and taunts me.

The plates, the best of which are black meaning I can't even fucking see them in the darkness, would likely get broken in the grip change necessary to put them into the trailer.  The reason it's not an alternative to putting them in the back is, remember, that the trailer is set up to hold big things.  Lack of coverage for small things so they can slide right out (or be swept right out, but I haven't been involved in cleaning it yet) but does have high walls.

And it's not like I wouldn't want to use the trailer; I built the damn thing for fuck's sake.

Nor is there any reason not to open the hatch.  The things in the very back are mine.  The other plates I got earlier that, with these, will constitute all the plates I need.  There's nothing at risk of falling out or anything.  I'm just trying to put my stuff with my other stuff.

But, yeah, that.

It takes forever to get everything in because Cody waited until my neat and sturdy stack had been perturbed enough by my tired and cold hands that it broke a dish which also messed up everything else.

When we get back to the farm Cody's still being a jerk.  My sister wants to detach the trailer in a hurry, she'd not even getting out of the car, and see if she can hit just one house for trick or treating with Jensen.

There's a slight problem though.  Yesterday part of the trailer got fouled and Cody is the only one who knows how to make the lock on the hitch work in it's fouled state.  It's something I'd fix my own damn self if I had time.  (And light.)  He goes into the house so the trailer can't be detached.

My sister decides to walk to meet my mother and Jensen.  She will fall in a ditch in the darkness and get completely soaked.  On the plus side, she got to take Jensen to two houses.

Cody will come out, act like detaching the trailer is the easiest thing in the world and I'm stupid for not knowing what to do, fake unlocking the hitch so that I try to lift up an entire fucking SUV when I think I'm just lifting the trailer, really do it, and go back inside the house leaving me to move the trailer to it's parking space and find the black milk-crate that it sets on to keep the hitch-end off the ground in pitch darkness.

You know what a black milk-crate looks like in the dark?  It looks like fucking dark.

After that I initially am going to try following my sister, I've never been trick or treating with Jensen but I'd like to.  She's far enough gone that she's out of sight and I'm not totally sure where she's meeting my mom.

For a while I sit in the dark.  I can't take more Cody right now.  Then I go out looking for my pocket book.  I left it in the fields and 


I left my needle nose pliers out there.  Not my sister's.  Mine.  I now have no pliers.  Whether or not I ever see them again depends in large part on whether I can remember to look for them and/or ask about them while I'm physically on the farm.  My memory doesn't work that way.

I give it 50-50 at best.

Get that, realize I can use the camera as a light source and come back in from the fields, locking gates behind me of course, and look at the damage in the back of the SUV.  It takes a while, but I get everything sorted into boxes.  Good god did not having the hatch opened until I lost control of the skate board that was holding everything fuck EVERYTHING up.  But in placement, not in a lasting way.  Except for the plate that broke.

I sit against the wheel of the car.

Time passes.

Someone comes out, it's my sister's friend.  I thank him for asking my pronouns.  He doesn't remember doing it and thinks he didn't.  Apparently he usually just calls people singular they.  He talks about the parts of the country he's lived in.  Specifically the liberal bastions he's lived in since that's what's led him to be accepting and not make assumptions.  I help him load his stuff in the car . . . SUV . . . Thing.

He goes inside to tell my sister that we're ready to go.  I didn't even know she was back.

I wait in a wheelchair that belongs to another of my sister's friends.  We're not sure if he's going to come back to get it or not so we're keeping it safe in the meantime.  I don't know if it was a spare or what.

Time passes.

Eventually we start going in the general direction of dropping him off then me off.

I get here.  It's ten minutes to my bed time, a time that's earlier than most because I tend to wake with dawn though I've been sleep deprived enough of late that I've been sleeping later and once, it doesn't feel too long ago, I slept in daylight.  Not as little light as I can possibly make come into the room, happens to be daytime, daylight.  No, broad fucking daylight.

It's passed midnight now.  I started typing ages ago.

Hopefully getting this out will help somehow.

Happy November.

1 comment:

  1. What a horrible day. I hope your efforts turn out to be worthwhile.