In Which We Attend The Quidditch Global Games 2014 and are Blown Away by Awesomeness

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We found out about it totally by accident.

We were at an indoor play gym as part of our constant battle to keep our little extrovert entertained on the weekend. PH picked up a local paper to flip through while we sat in the overwhelmingly loud atmosphere.

“Hey, the Quidditch Global Games are in Vancouver,” he said.

“Like, where people run around on brooms?” I said.

“Yeah.”

“Oh, we need to see that. When is it.”

He scanned the article. “Today!”

So we packed Owl in the car and headed down to see.

It took us a while to find it. International competition not withstanding, the Quidditch Global Games had not attracted a large crowd. Most of the spectators were family and friends of the players.

We were geeking out.

20140720-121752-44272804.jpg“They have MERCHANDISE!” I said, running over to the booth. There were shirts from many of the international teams. After much hemming and hawing I bought shirt from the Mexican team, where were newcomers this year and could only afford to bring half of their team.

The shirt says “Viva Quidditch, cabrones!” and really, how often do you get a chance to buy a shirt that says (loosely translated) “long live Quidditch, bitches!” in Spanish?

We showed up at the perfect time, because Canada was just starting their match against Australia. We watched as all players bowed their head while the “Snitch” – a heavyset dude in yellow with a sock hanging out of the back of his pants – ran off of the field to hide.

When the Snitch was out of a sight, a whistle blew and all hell broke loose. The players grabbed their brooms, mounted them, and then fought to get a “Quaffle” (which, confusingly, was white) through the other team’s hoops. Since they were all holding onto their brooms, all throwing and catching was done one handed.

It all sounds pretty silly, until you watch it played.

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This sport is FULL BODY CONTACT, guys. They were tackling each other like mad. We saw at least one person carted off of the field in a stretcher, and several more down for a good 5-10 minute count. This isn’t about some silly geeks LARPing in a soccer field. It’s like Rugby with extra balls and literary roots.

While Chasers fought one-handed over the Quaffle, Beaters were throwing dodge balls at the players. Whenever one of them got tagged by a “bludger” they had to dismount and run back and touch their hoops before they could re-enter play.

After 18 minutes the Snitch returned to the pitch and then the play became (if possible) even more intense. The seekers tried to tackle the Snitch, who wasn’t afraid to knock them down repeatedly, while opposing team members tried to interfere with play. Meanwhile, the Chasers are still trying to get the Quaffle through the hoops while also helping out their Seeker.

You don’t even know what to watch – keep your eyes on the Snitch and miss another incredible goal? Or watch the Quaffle and miss the capturing of the Snitch?

Craziness.

We were able to stay long enough to watch Canada come in third. We had to take Owl home to bed before the final match, which the USA ended up winning (Muggle Quidditch originated in the U.S, and the page for the international association is actually called USquidditch.com, which bothers me. Hopefully as international teams increase, there will be a truly international page set up).

Some friends of ours who are both sporty AND geeky also came out to watch.

Why don’t we play this?” one of them asked.

Good question.

PH has been missing sports in his life for many years.

In his high school yearbook, you can find his face in pretty much every team photo. Soccer, baseball, football, curling… he did it all.

In University he refereed several sports. But it’s surprisingly hard to get involved in sports here. There’s a big population and a lot of demand. When we moved to B.C. he tracked down the local baseball league and was rejected several times – they just didn’t have room for more players.

He did curling for a year or two, but since he had to take what he could get, he was shunted onto a team of lackluster players who he never quite jived with. He gave up in frustration after two seasons.

So then he decided to try refereeing.  He got qualified as a soccer referee, but was only every called out to a few games, earning a grand total of a hundred dollars over a whole season. The next year they only called once. He didn’t bother re-certifying the next year.

Last year he decided to get certified as a softball referee. It cost us $150 and they never called him at all.

Quidditch, on the other hand, could be a whole other ball game.

PH tracked down a Quidditch referee to ask how he could get involved and they practically leaped on him. Turns out that there was a team in Burnaby that was looking for players, and they are short on referees.

By the time we left the field he had exchanged emails with several people and they were hoping to see him on the Quidditch pitch next Saturday.  Today he downloaded the 150 page rule book and began memorizing it.

Quidditch rules, by the way, are awesome.

Not only is it a delightfully geeky and yet truly challenging sport to play, it is also heartwarmingly unlike other sports.

Besides being the only sport to involve multiple balls in play at once, the International Quidditch Association is dedicated to inclusivity and equality.

Teams MUST be co-ed, and it specifically addresses transgender issues in the rulebook. The co-ed rule reads:

Each team [is] to have at least two players on the field who identify with a different gender than at least two other players. The gender that a player identifies with is considered to be that player’s gender, which may or may not be the same as that person’s sex.

That is AWESOME.

The rule goes on to acknowledge that some players may not identify as male OR female, and that is okay, too.

If that rule wasn’t enough to make Perfect Husband and I fall head over heels in love with Quidditch (we consider ourselves ardent LGBTQ allies), our hearts were entirely won over when we learned that Quidditch also had a decree called Title 9 3/4 (a play on Title IX) which is devoted specifically to gender equality in the sport.

It’s so awesome, and I’m proud that PH is getting involved. I can cheer on Quidditch in a way that I just can’t with other sports. The literary roots of the sport generate some interest in me, and the gender-equality factor makes me want to support it.

I can’t wait to attend more games.

 

In Which A Mysterious Disease Eats Months Of My Life, Part 3

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I saw the neurologist two weeks ago.

I was given a detailed form to fill out and then he admitted me into his office, flipping through the paper work.

“So, you think you have intracranial hypertension? What makes you think that?”

I described my symptoms, including the optic nerve swelling. He shone a light in my eyes.

“Yep, that’s papilledema all right. Okay, and how long have these symptoms been going on?” he said, glancing idly through the next few pages of my forms.

“Well… my eyes turned red on May 21st, and the headache and dizziness came a few days later.”

“Uh huh.” He asked a few more routine questions, and then I brought up the jaundice. He looked confused. “Jaundice?”

I guess he hadn’t read my referral from the internal medicine specialist very carefully.

“Yes,” I said patiently. “I had jaundice originally. And a rash. And lower back pain. And the my toenails fell off.”

The look on his face was priceless.

“Your TOENAILS FELL OFF?” He whirled around in his chair, stared at me, looked at PH for confirmation, and then whirled back to his computer and started looking through my bloodwork. “Okay, wait. Start from the beginning.”

Half an hour later he let me go, promising an MRI and a referral to an infectious disease specialist to try and figure out what the hell I had. He was the first doctor to actually take into consideration that I work with animals, and he wanted the ID to help rule out weird zoontic diseases.

I saw the infectious disease specialist today, which was less amusing. She was politely interested, and she gave me a requisition for some bloodwork to test for leptospirosis (looks like the original test that I requested was never actually done. She called the Center for Disease Control herself), lyme disease, brucella, q-fever… animal-related diseases. Considering I have had two people message me and point out that my symptoms match lyme disease, I think it was a good call. Although I haven’t had a tick on me since I was 15.

My MRI is scheduled for next week. We’ll see what it says.

Sometimes I feel like all these tests are pointless. Those are the times when I feel better. The visual disturbances are less than they were. I have no dizziness and only rare headaches. It does seem to be getting better slowly.

But then there are days like last Sunday, when my vision was so bad that I couldn’t read, couldn’t even really SEE. I could hear my pulse in my ears for the first time in over a week, and my head hurt badly enough that I took several extra strength Advil. The next couple of days I had continued bad visual disturbances and headaches. It seems to be settling out again, though.

At least people are finally starting to take me seriously. I could kiss that opthamologist.

Poor Ron: In Which Everyone Completely Underestimates Ron Weasley, Even His Creator (Part 1)

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Recently, JK Rowling admitted in an interview with Emma Watson that she sometimes regrets putting Ron and Hermione together romantically. Like the rest of us, she wonders whether bumbling, incompetent, lazy Ron could really have made the industrious and brilliant Hermione happy.

That made me really sad. Because the last couple times reading through the series, I’ve been paying attention to Ronald Weasley, and I’ve realized something:

Yes, Ron is lazy. Yes, Ron buggers off on Harry twice. Yes, Ron has inferiority problems. Yes, Ron is flawed.

But Ron is also the most underestimated character in the series.

Ron is continually underestimated by Hermione, by Harry, by his family… he even underestimates himself.

If you actually WATCH Ron, you start to notice things.

Ron Is Smart

We all remember how Ron saved the day in the first book by winning the game of chess against McGonnagle’s giant chess set. If you think about it, that’s pretty impressive, since the artificial intelligence of the opposing side was meant to defeat adults.

Maybe you, like me, dismissed this as an out-of-character moment, since Ron’s supposed brilliance at chess never really comes up again.

Except it does.

When I started paying attention to Ron, I noticed that he never stopped winning at chess. Hermione is always interrupting Harry and Ron at games of chess throughout the books, and Ron never appears to be losing.

ron chess

Now, if Ron is good enough at chess to win so consistently, he’s not the dimwit that so many of us tend to think he is. If anything, he is a good out-of-the-box thinker who keeps his cool in stressful situations. It is Ron who suggests Felix Felicis as a way for Harry to get Slughorn to cooperate in Half Blood Prince. It is Ron who thinks of fetching Basilisk fangs in Deathly Hallows.

Furthermore, while we all tend to think of Ron as a poor student, he was one of only twelve students to take NEWT level Potions. In fact, he does well enough to attend NEWT level Transfiguration, Charms, Defense Against The Dark Arts, and Herbology.

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That means he got Exceeds Expectations on all of those OWLS. So, while he may not be the top of the class, he’s a B-level student at least, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

Ron Is Good At Magic

Grades don’t necessarily equal practical abilities, of course. Look at Fred and George, who barely got any OWLs at all but invent all sorts of cool magical items, which Hermione herself describes as “extraordinary magic”.

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Ron may be bad at the more academic classes, like History of Magic, and he may have failed his first Apparition test (“just barely”, as Hermione points out in his defense). But he’s not actually all that bad at magic, especially in emergency situations. Don’t forget that he’s the one who knocked out the troll in his first year. In his second year, he cast a non-verbal Slug Vomiting Charm at Draco Malfoy and it worked. Unfortunately, it backfired on him because of his broken wand. But it WORKED.

He picks up Defense Against the Dark Arts quickly – maybe more quickly than Hermione was willing to admit.

Did you see me disarm Hermione, Harry?”
“Only once” said Hermione, stung. “I got you loads more then you got me—”
“I did not only get you once, I got you at least three times—

He acquits himself well in battle, earning praise from Tonks, the Auror who rode with him in the Battle of Seven Potters.

Ron was great. Wonderful. Stunned one of the Death Eaters, straight to the head, and when you’re aiming at a moving target from a flying broom —

“You did?” said Hermione, gazing up at Ron with her arms still around his neck.

“Always the tone of surprise,” he said grumpily, breaking free.

Always-underestimated Ron disarms Bellatrix Lestrange, saving Hermione, at Malfoy Manor, and helps to bring down Fenrir Greyback in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Ron is no bumbler, and no liability to his friends in a fight.

Ron Is Brave

Ron is a true Gryffindor. The only thing that he fears is his own personal failures. Well, that and spiders. But Ron faces down an entire nest of giant spiders for the sake of a friend. Ron never hesitates to throw himself into danger to save the people he loves.

ron in front of friends

A lot of this got edited out of the movies, where Ron was portrayed in a much more cowardly manner.

In the movie version, Ron panics while Hermione coolly saves him from the Devil’s Snare. In reality, it was Hermione who panicked and Ron who snapped her out of it. In the movie version of Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron whimpers on the floor with his broken leg while Hermione throws herself in front of Harry. In the book, Ron was the one who stood up with a broken leg and put himself between Sirius Black and Harry.

“If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us, too!” he said fiercely, though the effort of standing up had drained him of still more colour, and he swayed slightly as he spoke.

Something flickered in Black’s shadowed eyes.

“Lie down,” he said quietly to Ron. “You will damage that leg even more.”

“Did you hear me?” Ron said weakly, though he was clinging painfully to Harry to stand upright, “You’ll have to kill all three of us!”

ron knight

Ron sacrifices himself a lot. He lets himself get attacked by a giant stone statue so that his friends can save the Philosopher’s Stone. He throws himself in front of Harry’s would-be murderer. He disguises himself as Harry in the Battle of Seven Potters. He dives into an icy lake to save Harry and pull out Gryffindor’s Sword. He begs Bellatrix Lestrange to torture him in Hermione’s place.

Ron may have his flaws, but he is no coward.

Ron Is Hilarious

Ron serves as the comic relief throughout the books. But the only one who ever gives him credit for this is the perceptive Luna Lovegood.

He says very funny things sometimes, doesn’t he?

Yes, yes he does. He brings light heartedness and wit to Harry and Hermione, who are far too gloomy when left to their own devices.

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Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.

Percy wouldn’t recognize a joke if it danced naked in front of him wearing Dobby’s tea cozy.”

Can I have a look at Uranus too, Lavender?

From now on, I don’t care if my tea leaves spell ‘Die, Ron, Die,’ I’m chucking them in the bin where they belong.

A brutal triple murder by the bridegroom’s mother might put a bit of a damper on the wedding.

I don’t know how to break this to you, but I think they might have noticed we broke into Gringotts.

IF WE DIE FOR THEM, I’LL KILL YOU, HARRY!

This is one of the reasons why Hermione and Harry need Ron.

There was much less laughter, and a lot more hanging around the library when Hermione was your best friend.

When Ron leaves Harry and Hermione alone for months in Deathly Hallows, the playful banter that we see between the friends throughout the series disappears.

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There were loads of nights where we didn’t even speak to each other. With you gone…” He could not finish; it was only now that Ron was here again that Harry fully realized how much his absence had cost them.

Ron balances Hermione. He tends to serves as a comic foil to Hermione’s know-it-all seriousness, and he forms most of the punch lines in their interactions.

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I suppose we’re doing the right thing…I think….aren’t we?”

Harry and Ron looked at each other.

“Well, that clears that up,” said Ron. “It would have been really annoying if you hadn’t explained yourself properly.

“What’s that?” said Ron, pointing at a large dish of some sort of shellfish stew that stood beside a large steak-and-kidney pudding.

“Bouillabaisse,” said Hermione.

“Bless you,” said Ron.

 

Excuse me, I don’t like people just because they’re handsome!” said Hermione indignantly.

Ron gave a loud false cough, which sounded oddly like ‘Lockhart!’

Maybe we assume that the comic relief shouldn’t be taken seriously, but for a character like Hermione, who desperately needs to be reminded to lighten up now and then, and someone like Harry, who broods far too much, Ron is vital to their mental health.

Ron Has A Talent For Imitation

Through most of the series, Ron’s tendency to imitate people just seems like part of his general wit.

You can pretend to be waiting Professor Flitwick, you know.” He put on a high voice, “‘Oh, Professor Flitwick, I’m so worried, I think I got question fourteen b wrong…

“I’ve got two Neptunes here,” said Harry after a while, frowning down on his parchment, “that can’t be right, can it?” “

Aaaah,” said Ron, imitating Professor Trelawney’s mysical whisper, “when two Neptunes appear in the sky, it is a sure sign that a midget in glasses is being born, Harry…”

I’ll make Goyle do lines, he hates writing,” said Ron happily. He lowered his voice to Goyle’s low grunt, mimed writing in midair. “I…must…not…look…like…a…baboon’s…backside.”

Ron’s impressions aren’t just funny. They’re genuinely well done. In Half Blood Prince he temporarily damages his friendship with Hermione by perpetrating a “cruel but accurate impression of Hermione jumping up and down in her seat every time Professor McGonagall asked a question”.

But still, what use is that skill?

As it turns out, It’s REALLY USEFUL.

ron wormtail

In Deathly Hallows, while Harry grapples with Wormtail, Lucius Malfoy nearly comes down to investigate.

“What is it, Wormtail?” called Lucius Malfoy from above.

“Nothing,” Ron called back in a passable imitation of Wormtail’s wheezy voice, “All fine!”

If Ron hadn’t pulled off a good Wormtail impression, they wouldn’t have been able to escape and run upstairs with Wormtail’s wand to save Hermione.

But his ability to imitate is put to the ultimate test when he and Hermione break into the Chamber of Secrets, which can only be opened by someone who speaks Parseltongue. Ron pulls off an imitation of Harry hissing to Slytherin’s locket that is so convincing, it actually works.

ron chamber of secrets

He was AMAZING,” Hermione said, “Amazing!

Ron Is Underestimated

tone of surprise

So, it comes down to this: Ron is brilliant at chess, witty, not bad at school, a force to be reckoned with in battle, selfless, brave, with a handy ability to mimick others.

…but everyone, including his friends, family, even his own author, thinks of him as being slightly useless.

Why?

Ron Is Disadvantaged

ron broken wand

Let’s be honest about it – the Weasley family are basically considered to be the wizarding version of white trash – at least, by the other wizards.

My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford.

Racism works along different lines in the wizarding world. No one seems to care particularly if you’re black or white. Instead they care about how “magical” your family is.

The Weasleys are considered to be “pure-bloods”, which makes them the wizard equivalent of Aryan. But they are also considered to be “blood traitors” and are scorned by the wizarding elite.

It’s Arthur’s fondness for Muggles that has held him back at the Ministry all these years. Fudge thinks he lacks proper wizarding pride.

Nor do the Weasleys have a pile of inherited wealth like most of the other pure bloods in the books. Harry’s parents lived off of his father’s inheritance – they never held actual employment. Lucius Malfoy doesn’t seem to have an actual job, either. He’s just rich. He probably owns a lot of land and lives off of the rents.

By contrast, Arthur Weasley works at a low-level government job, and supports his large family with a lot of scrimping and hand-me-downs. Ron, as one of the youngest children, is therefore also the most disadvantaged.

I’ve got Bill’s old robes, Charlie’s old wand, and Percy’s old rat.

Unlike Harry or Hermione, who get brand new wands that are specially matched to them and their abilities from Ollivander, Ron is handed an old wand that his brother didn’t want any more. That’s a huge disadvantage at school. First of all, it is stated many times in the series that while a wizard can make magic with any wand, a wand will never work as well for someone who is not its rightful owner.

Unless Ron won that wand in a duel with his brother – which is unlikely – Charlie’s wand probably never worked properly for him, even before it got broken in second year.

Furthermore, the wand must have been pretty damaged for Charlie to want a new one. Ron says himself that the unicorn hair inside is showing.

Then, once the wand was snapped by the Whomping Willow, Ron is forced to keep using it for the rest of the school year, even though it simply doesn’t work. It backfires constantly, injuring Ron, Professor Flitwick, some unfortunate beetles, Seamus, and finally Gilderoy Lockhart. Sometimes it smokes for no reason.

No wonder Ron did badly in class when he was younger.

Ron Is Humble

The Weasleys are a humble family in general, tending to think of others before themselves. But Ron takes his humility into the depths of an inferiority complex, and who can blame him?

Everyone expects me to do as well as the others, but if I do, it’s no big deal, because they did it first.

Ron comes into Hogwarts with a “why try” attitude that he doesn’t really outgrow until the last chapters of the last book. Can you blame him? He spent his childhood being teased by Fred and George, the youngest and therefore most incompetent of the Weasley boys. His successes are compared to those of his older brothers, but his mother uses her older children’s successes to shame her younger children when they come up short.

I think Ron is proud of having Harry as a friend, but it doesn’t make him feel any better about himself.

Ron’s got all those brothers to compete against at home, and you’re his best friend, and you’re really famous – he’s always shunted to one side whenever people see you, and he puts up with it, and he never mentions it…

Ron stands there with his smoking, broken, hand-me-down wand while brilliant Hermione succeeds at everything and famous Harry gets all the attention. His own conviction that he’s useless at everything tends to create self-fulfilling prophecies.

“Has Ron saved a goal yet?” asked Hermione, peering over the top of Magical Hieroglyphs and Logograms.

“Well, he can do it if he doesn’t think anyone’s watching him,” said Fred, rolling his eyes. “So all we have to do is ask the crowd to turn their backs and talk among themselves every time the Quaffle goes up his end on Saturday.”

A lot of people in Ron’s position would try to minimize the successes of those around them. They would turn into bullies like Malfoy who make themselves feel bigger by putting others down. But Ron is always the first person to tell Hermione how smart she is, or to congratulate Harry when he does well.

ron harry hug

 

Harry glanced down at Ron’s grades. There were no ‘Outstandings’ there…

“Knew you’d be top in Defence Against The Dark Arts,” said Ron, punching Harry in the shoulder.

And that’s Ron all over. Harry outshines him, and he just accepts it. The one time it became too much for him, he was back at Harry’s side the moment he came out of his funk and realized that Harry was in danger. Hermione constantly does brilliant things and Ron is right there, clapping his hands, admiring her.

How do you remember stuff like that?” asked Ron, looking at her in admiration.

“I listen, Ron,” said Hermione with a touch of asperity.

We do try,” said Ron. “We just haven’t got your brains or your memory or your concentration – you’re just cleverer than we are, is it nice to rub it in?

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And yet, with all this, people don’t think Ron and Hermione belonged together? They’re perfect for each other, and I’ll explain exactly why next time…

If you haven’t already, you might also like to check out some of my other Harry Potter rants.

In Which A Mysterious Disease Eats Months of My Life (Part 2)

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When we last left our hero (me), I was recovering from a jaundice of unknown etiology and losing my toenails as the aftermath of some kind of infection. I had been lulled into thinking that since my symptoms were resolving, that I was actually getting better.

I thought it was a little weird when the skin on my hands started to peel off, but figured my skin was just dry.

When PH mentioned that my eyes were looking bloodshot, I shrugged it off.

The next morning, I walked to the bathroom sink, scratching my hands irritably, to look for moisturizer, and glanced at my face in the mirror.

“Oh my GOD,” I said.

“What?” mumbled PH from the bed.

“My EYES!”

“I told you…”

I looked like a character from a Stephenie Meyer… well, I won’t say novel… collection of pages with words on them.

My eyes were flamingly bloodshot, angrier than the angriest pink eye. But they felt totally normal. No sand in my eyes, no itching, no pain. They felt normal, but looked distinctly scary.

“Well, that’s weird…”

I was also having a lot of weird muscle pains. It felt like I’d spent a day hiking up mountains, instead of two weeks lying around letting other people take care of my three year old. My  hands continued to peel, shedding large pieces of parchment-like white flakes all over our house.

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I booked a follow up with my useless GP when we arrived home and gave her all my records. She didn’t even shine a light in my eyes. She glanced over the paperwork I brought from Nova Scotia, and ordered repeat blood tests to make sure my liver enzymes continued to improve. She said the same thing all the other doctors had:

“I think this is some kind of a virus. Just rest and it will keep improving.”

“My mother thinks I have leptospirosis, because I work with animals and it can cause red eyes,” I said.

There was some tapping at the computer. I strongly suspect my doctor was googling leptospirosis.

“Well, I can add on a test for it but I think this is viral.”

I tried to go back to work.

It didn’t go well.

I shuffled aroound in my Crocs, alarming clients with my red eyes, routinely sweeping up my skin cells as they littered the floor, and then sinking to said floor to rest in between appointments.

“Go home,” my boss said.

My head was starting to hurt.

Like, really hurt.

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In Which A Mysterious Disease Eats Months of My Life

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No, I’m not dead.

I’ve been touched by the comments and tweets that I’ve gotten, asking after me. You’re right, my blog has been very silent.

You see, I contracted a mysterious disease.

…Let me backtrack a bit.

So, in April I was extremely overworked. On top of the 35 hours I pull at the vet clinic, my dog training business was going through one of its booms again and I was out training almost every night during the week, and for 3-6 hours each weekend day as well. So I was working around 50 hours a week spread over all 7 days of the week.

But I had something to look forward to – vacation!

My 10 year Mount Allison University reunion was going to be in early May and a bunch of old friends from residence were attending. PH and I had planned a full 10 days home in the Maritimes, and the highlight was going to be the reunion. PH would drive me up to Sackville, New Brunswick and have dinner with my old friends, some of whom he knew from his own days at Mount Allison. Then he would go visit with his family and leave me to stay in residence with the girls, reminiscing and eating and dancing, for two whole days.

I don’t know when I’ve been so excited. I loved my university days. I loved the town. I loved the school. I loved the people. And I was going back, and it was going to be AWESOME.

So I dragged myself through day after exhausting day, counting the sleeps until vacation.

Then, the day before we were due to leave, I collapsed at work.

Like, literally collapsed.

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From Cis Person To Cis Person: Why Trans People Are Pissed About Jared Leto’s Golden Globe/Oscar

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So, I am woman.

I was born this way.

I also have a vagina.

Some people aren’t so lucky. Those people are called transsexuals. This is not the same as being gay. They have the brain of a woman or man in the opposite gender’s body.

A couple of my friends are trans women and I can thoroughly attest to the fact that they are not, in fact, gay men.

Now, the rest of us, who feel reasonably comfortable with the genitals they were born with, are called “cis” by the trans community, which is a little organic chemistry joke that I’ve always appreciated.

Last night for our 8 year date-a-versary, PH and I took ours cis-selves to watch the Dallas Buyer’s Club. We had heard grumblings about the movie on Facebook after Jared Leto was awarded an Oscar for his portrayal of a trans woman in the film.

The two complaints we had heard bandied about most often online was that

1) The trans community was upset that a straight man was asked to play the role instead an actual transsexual, even thought there are plenty in Hollywood.

and

2) Leto thanks everyone BUT trans people in his Oscar acceptance speech, and didn’t even mention AIDS victims in his Golden Globe acceptance.

Now, since I’m not an actual member of the trans community, just a friend of it, I didn’t expect to be particularly upset by either of these points.

If anything, I was hoping to be able to champion Jared Leto, and remind people that it doesn’t matter if you’re actually gay or straight, trans or not, as long as you can really walk in the other person’s shoes.

Then we watched the movie. 

First of all, I was BLOWN AWAY by Matthew McConaughey (or, as PH calls him, Matthew McConahonnahonnahonney because he says he’s “never sure when to stop saying the name”).

It is a tribute to McConaughey that PH didn’t even recognize him, and PH recognizes EVERYONE. He even immediately identified the voice of the actor who played Q on Star Trek… while watching a My Little Ponies episode.

So I was prepared to be just as blown away by Leto, trans community grumblings or no.

But we were both shocked at the portrayal of “Rayon”, Leto’s supposedly trans character.

Here are a couple of real trans women.

Sophie Wilson, British scientist

Sophie Wilson, British scientist

Trish Salah, Canadian poet

Trish Salah, Canadian poet

Now, meet “Rayon” (which sounds like a drag name, doesn’t it?)

rayon

Imagine that when people thought of you, they thought of that picture up there. And try to understand why everyone represented by “Rayon” is upset.

Rayon walks, talks and behaves with the exaggerated femininity which you are accustomed to seeing in movies like To Wong Fu and The Bird Cage.

Movies about drag queens.

to wong fu

These are female impersonators. That is totally different from a trans woman. You can’t impersonate something you ARE.

Now, I love To Wong Fu, and The Bird Cage. Love love love. They are light hearted, kind-spirited and funny.

But they aren’t about trans women.

If Leto were supposed to be playing a gay guy who loved to dress in drag, I would have cut the movie a lot of slack. Sure, it’s yet another stereotype – no mould broken, no new thoughts for the straight public. But whatever.

I see the point of Rayon in the movie. Invented by the writer, Rayon is supposed to form a foil to the homophobic main character, Ron Woodruff and help him see the humanity in people of all sexualities.

Rayon is meant to be the worse-case-scenario – the thing that most horrifies homophobes – the dreaded feminine man. With AIDS, no less.

Fine.

But don’t call this person a transsexual.

The director of the movie, Jean-Marc Vallee, clearly doesn’t even understand what a transsexual IS.

In an interview with CBC, Vallee is asked if he ever thought of hiring a real transsexual. He replies, “Never” and follows it up with asking if there even are any trans actresses out there.

Uh… yeah? LOTS?

Hasn’t he even heard of Orange Is The New Black?

The weird thing is that one of those actresses, Calpurnia Addams, apparently spoke with Leto when he was preparing for the role.

Did the director not know this?

Through the interview, Vallee keeps calling Rayon a “guy”. The most confusing moment is when he calls him a “transgender guy”. This parallels the film, where Rayon is consistently called “he”.

So… wait. Leto actually played a woman transitioning to a man who still dressed like a woman?? That would take some good acting.

Look.

I’m not saying Leto can’t act.

But if someone is supposed to be playing Napoleon, but they put on a thick German accent and a moustache that looks like it shrunk in the wash, I don’t think you should be given an award for playing Napoleon.

I don’t care how passionately you played it. You got the wrong character. 

And it just helps continue to confuse people about the difference between a transsexual and a drag queen.

Look at this Wikipedia article, which Wikipedia won’t let me edit because of something to do with my IP address. It talks about an openly transvestite mayor, but keeps calling him “transgendered”.

transvestite fail

I followed the links to articles about the guy. He is a cross-dresser. He is a STRAIGHT man who likes to put on women’s clothing and dress like a woman. That is a cross-dresser.

But these articles use the words interchangeably, not noting the degrees of difference between cross-dressing and the more generic term, “transgender”. And that represents the general attitude of the general public. Man in woman’s clothing – all the same.

Can you blame transwomen for being frustrated? They aren’t gay. They don’t get sexual thrills from dressing like women. They’re just… women. In blue jeans, and T-shirts. Sipping coffee. Checking facebook.

They aren’t flamboyant over-the-top drag queens.

Not most of them, anyway. I suppose there could be a trans MAN out there who is a GAY MAN and acts flamboyantly gay accordingly. Why not?

But I don’t think that’s what Leto won the Oscar for.

feel like Leto was given the award for putting on a dress.

And that’s probably wrong because just like Matthew McConaughey, Leto had to starve himself for his role. He threw his heart and soul (misguidedly) into it. He probably put up with a certain amount of guff for it.

But the thing is that practically any straight actor who plays someone gay in a drama gets an Academy Award, or at least a nomination.

Tom Hanks, for Philadelphia (which was a GREAT portrayal of a gay man since he didn’t say “fabulous” even ONCE). Sean Penn, for Milk. Philip Seymour Hoffman, for Capote (boy I’m sad he died). Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Nicole Kidman, William Hurt… even Christopher Plummer had to play it gay in order to finally get an Oscar.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about all the gay people who have played straight people and won Oscars.

*crickets*

Okay, let’s talk about all the gay people who won Academy Awards for ANY role.

*tumbleweeds*

Nominees?

…..Sir Ian McKellen.

That’s IT.

But all you have to do is play a transsexual, act like a drag queen, offend the people you’re supposed to be representing with your inaccurate portrayal, and boom, you’re in.

Because you put on a dress.

People who have argued with me about the award are people who were genuinely moved by Rayon in the (otherwise excellent) film. They think Leto did a great job, because he seemed like a believable character to them.

Well, sure he was believable… as a drag queen.

The problem is that most people don’t understand the difference. They don’t understand what it must be like to have everyone think of Rayon when they think of YOU.

They don’t understand why the trans community is upset at once again being misunderstood, misrepresented, and having stereotypes that they have worked hard to abolish being perpetuated.

To those who argue, let me say this:

As far as I can tell, almost NO trans people are happy about the way Rayon was portrayed.

No, if the Black community thinks that Mammy in Gone With The Wind is racist, and you are white, I don’t care how much you love that character. You should accept that Mammy is a racist portrayal.

You can argue she did a great job at playing a stereotype, but if you're white, don't try and argue that it ISN'T a stereotype.

You can argue she did a great job at playing a stereotype, but if you’re white, don’t try and argue  to Black people that it ISN’T a stereotype.

Similarly, if you are cis, and you loved Rayon, well, go ahead. 

You can still love the character. But remember that trans people probably know what represents them better than you do.

Don’t delude yourself into thinking that she isn’t perpetuating a stereotype that makes life harder for real trans people.

And don’t delude yourself into thinking that this is a good thing, which deserved awards in front of millions.

[EDIT: With the Oregon mayor listed above, I originally had mentioned that "transvestite" is not the same as "transgendered". However, according to the Wikipedia definition, "transgendered" is an umbrella term that includes both transgenderism and cross-dressing. So the wording in the article is correct, but nowhere near specific enough - definitely enough to cause confusion among cis folk. Also, since the term "cross-dressing" is considered more appropriate than "transvestite," I have replaced the term appropriately. The more you know!]

Sucking It Up Starts Now. Right After I Whine For A Bit.

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So, PH has been worrying lately about my mental health, probably understandably.

I’m not particularly depressed PER SE. My self esteem is okay right now – could be better, but I’m not suffering the crippling shame that I had back in the crash of ’09.

I’m just… beat.

Part of this is because I’m a spoiled Princess. PH has known from day one (hell, from day -730, because he knew me when I was in another relationship and he could tell even then) that I am what you might call “high maintenance”. I like to be cared for. I don’t like too many responsibilities. I love to have things to care for – pets and children – but I need someone doing the same for me.

But now I have all the responsibility.

From the moment I get up almost until the moment I go to bed, I am needed by someone for something. Owl needs me in the morning to dress him and get him breakfast and then force him into the car to go to daycare.

Then work needs me for 8 hours straight with no lunch break – chatting with clients, getting patient histories, wrestling dogs, cleaning up poop, and trying to squeeze in 10 hours of extra job responsiblities in between appointments. If someone schedules appointments poorly, I get in trouble for it. If someone’s estimate is higher than was quoted, then I have to deal with that. If we have fewer new clients this week than last week, then that is SOMETHING I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR.

Then Owl needs me again  - bring him home from daycare, play with him, put him to bed.

“Play with me? Play with me, Mommy!” is a constant refrain whenever I try to sit down, from the moment I get in the car with him until his second trip to the potty at night.

Except on the nights when I train dogs, when I bring him home from daycare, play with him, and then go and talk and yell things like “YAAAAY PUPPEEEE!” for an hour and a half straight.

Once Owl is asleep, I get some time to collapse. But this is basically my only chance to interact with PH who seems to, you know, want to interact with his wife occasionally.

I avoid going to bed, because the time when PH is asleep and so is Owl is basically the only time I can get true solitude – something that I desperately need to recharge.

It’s not enough. I’m not recharging.

I’m in constant energy-saving mode. I’m not washing dishes any more. I’m not cleaning the bathroom, or sweeping the floors.

I’m not really even interacting with poor PH any more, who clearly misses his wife. I’m having trouble keeping from snapping at people at work. I AM snapping at poor Owl, who is the most innocent party in all of this.

I find myself obsessively fantasizing about being locked alone in a white room with a window.

And PH sees it, and it makes him feel bad. He blames himself for putting such a load on me. He feels guilty, which he shouldn’t, because he’s not well.

But the problem is, he’s better than he was.

When he was in crisis, it was obvious to both of us that I needed to take on as much of the load as possible. I was wage earner – working two jobs – primary child caregiver, dish washer and garbage emptier.

But now he’s a bit better – not well, but not in as much crisis – and he feels like he should be able to do more. He IS doing more, in fact, but that gives us both the illusion that he actually is better. So he takes on more, and I expect him to continue taking on more. But he isn’t all better, so when I forget and lean on him, half the time he falls over, which does neither of us much good.

He told me today that basically, my own exhaustion/near-tears aura of defeat is probably one of the most significant contributions to his current level of depression.

He told me this not in a way to induce guilt, but simply to be honest about his level of concern for me.

His wife is falling apart, and that makes him feel terrible. 

The problem is, I’m falling apart because he can’t reliably take on more of the load. He can’t commit to putting Owl to bed every night, so that I can rest on the evenings when I’m not training dogs.

He can’t even commit to HELPING put Owl down on the days when I’m not out training dogs. He can manage Owl the couple of nights a week that I’m out training. Anything more is asking too much.

I know, because I asked.

So, this puts us at what Terry Pratchett would call a Klatchian Standoff.

His depression is made worse by his awareness that I’m sinking. He can’t stop me from sinking because his depression prevents him from taking on as much of the load as I need him to take on.

So. Three options exist.

Either I push him to do more than either of us feel he can really do, and take the risk of him going back to crisis mode… or we stand there and hug each other while we sink like Atryu and Artax in the Swamp of Sadness….

artax-2

…Or I suck it up.

I’m not depressed. Not really.

I’m just really, really, really tired. Tired of being the responsible one. Tired of having everything be my job by default. Tired of knowing that there’s no one to help if I sink.

swampofsadness

But my life is not THAT bad.

There are tons of single mothers out there who work two jobs and have to do everything. I’m better off than they are because really, PH still does a decent amount. He handles laundry, and he can cook most days, and he plays with Owl when he can.

Hell, he took Owl for most of this morning, just so I could get a good sleep in.

I don’t do everything. I just do a lot more than he does. Because he’s sick.

So it’s not THAT bad. I’m just being a wuss. I just got tired of being brave. I just started to feel like PH should be able to help again, because he’s clearly doing better.

But when I asked him about committing to helping put Owl to bed every night, I saw the look on his face.

And I knew that he is not as much better as we pretend he is.

I really want him to be better. I’m afraid to push him, afraid he’ll go into crisis mode, afraid that if he pushes himself, he’ll go off the edge entirely and Owl will grow up without a father.

And then I’d REALLY have no one to help  - I would really learn what being on my own would mean then.

I won’t let that happen.

So I need to stop thinking that he’s better. I need to stop waiting for someone to step in and save us.

I need to find a whole new battery pack.

And I’m going to do it.

Because I don’t want to see that look on his face again. I don’t want to feel disappointed like that again. I want to shut up the voice in my head that keeps waiting for things to be “fair”. Because life isn’t fair. My husband is sick. I need to work more than him, carry more load than him.

This is PH we’re talking about. That man wouldn’t ask me to work harder than him. That man wouldn’t expect me to work a full day and then pull the second shift unless he physically had no choice.

When he’s well enough, he won’t be asking me what he can do, only to tell me that I’ve asked too much.

When he’s well again, he’ll just do it.

And until then, I can do this.

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Airplane – By Owl

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One time, there was an airplane and a little boy.

And I was on the airplane.

And you weren’t on the airplane.

And Mommy wasn’t on the airplane.

It was just me.

I was all by myself.

And you had to get the airplane.

And you didn’t have a car.

And I went to a lot of airports.

And I sat down all by myself.

And then I came home.

And then you saw me.

And then we had breakfast.

The end.

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