personal

Guayaberas and Banana Leaves

I hid them in a garment bag.  I couldn’t bear to look at them anymore.

Much of how I maneuver within womanhood was determined by my current environment.  I’ve been watching women and building preferences for as long as I’ve been alive.  The core of my style was settled long ago, pretending then to be a statement of preference for the other women in my life, with a tactile longing I only recently came to understand.  But its current expression owes much to where I am now.  Nearly my entire wardrobe is from the heaps of donations I’ve received, filling my closet to bursting and slowly being evaluated for whether and how I’ll actually wear each item.  The friends who provided these items have fairly different styles of their own, and I accepted their largesse knowing that I’d be picking and sorting through it as my style evolves.

Most of those friends are Canadian.  None of them are Hispanic.  And it makes me wonder.

How different would I look if I had recognized myself in Miami, instead of in Ottawa?

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The Most I’ve Ever Been Hurt

I learned something this week.

I learned that I can beg and plead, at the brink of tears, more emotional than you have heard or seen me in more than ten years, for over an hour, and you’ll be unmoved.

I learned that I can pour my soul out for you on the page, in the form of communication in which I’m most comfortable, and you won’t bother reading it for comprehension.

I learned that you’ll always default to trying to be my emotional inverse, calm and collected when I am urgently emotional, shrieking and yelling when I’m quiet, because you never had any higher end than trying to make me doubt my own feelings and replace them with yours.

I learned that I can make a tiny request, that means more to me than anything, and the measure of your response will be how inconvenient it is for you.

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Metropolitan Movers: MOVE FROM HELL!

I posted earlier about the “Move From Hell“. The following is the email I sent to the company on Oct. 15, 2015, detailing the whole thing. I am posting it publicly since the company has as of the date of posting this, not responded to my email except with a confirmation of receipt and a promise to respond to it within 15 business days (Which would have been Nov. 5.) 

Re: Sunday Oct. 4
To Whom It May Concern:

On Oct. 4th, 2015, I had a scheduled move with your company, Metropolitan Movers, for an in city move of a 1 bedroom apartment to a 2 bedroom apartment.

At the time of booking the move, I informed the person with whom I was making the booking that we had 3 large aquariums as part of the move, as well as a deep freezer. I described that our building had a loading room connected to the elevators.

I was quoted an estimate of two to four hours, but was warned that it could also take up to six hours.

Your movers arrived promptly, and got to work right away. I want to be clear that their first impression was of professionalism. They also made a point to make me aware of any existing damage right away, which I appreciated.

Despite the fact that the movers appeared professional, their actual work was completely incompetent. To begin with, they did not use their available equipment to complete the move. They carried every box with their hands rather than loading several on a dolly or flatbed, to speed up the process. When they arrived, almost the entire apartment was already packed up and ready to go, with the only exceptions being items which needed to be packed at the very last minute, such as food in the freezer.

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The Move from Hell

At the beginning of October, Alyssa and I moved from our old apartment, to a new one. There were a lot of reasons why we decided to do so. Main among them was the continuing declining quality of the building we lived in. When we first moved is, the building was well maintained. There was a tenant run library where many neighbours would congregate. We knew our neighbours, something I had never had happen in an apartment building.

Over the years however, the frequently changing property managers and rental agents, some of who were not well disposed to running a building of that size, led to things being dropped. The tenant library was closed, first we were told it was temporary, but finally it was revealed that it would in fact be permanent.

We ended up with a mold problem in our unit, and rather than dealing with it, the managers tried to blame us. During this time, I learned that the whole building was experiencing problems with black coloured mold spots in their units. Despite this, we were still blamed for its presence in our apartment. We finally had to hire a professional who was able to identify that the problem was systemic and not a result of anything we had done.

While the professionals were there, they measured the air quality levels. Their machine detects dust, mold, and pollen particles in the air. A level of between 200 and 600 thousand was ok. The level in our building was seven million. While living in that building, I dealt with increasingly worse allergies, and now I knew why.

When we finally moved out and I came back a week later to clean, I had my first asthma episode since I was 12. I’m on puffers again, after having previously outgrown asthma.

We were really excited for our move. Because the location was further from downtown, we were able to scrimp up for a 2 bedroom apartment. Finally I could set up an office and maybe use that fact to help motivate me to focus better. Our new community also offers some great amenities, including more accessible recycling, community gardens, and so forth.

Thanks to the generosity of friends, as well as a credit card, we were able to hire movers. Something we were excited for, since my disability makes it difficult, even dangerous for me to lift heavy items. Alyssa also has been dealing with enough, that the prospect of heavy lifting was extremely daunting. The movers would help make the whole situation less stressful. Little did we know, our choice of moving company would turn this whole experience into the move from hell.

To start with, the whole move took over 16 hours, spread over two days, and wasn’t even done at the end. I still don’t understand how they managed to drag it out that long. After almost 8 hours of moving out the apartment, the truck was half empty, and yet we were being told that they would have to charge us a second truck fee. Why? Because they had packed the pantry first, putting bags of food at the bottom back of the truck. They couldn’t put anything on top of it or it would be destroyed.

When they finally arrived the next day to continue the move, it turned out our lift-top table, the one piece of furniture I splurged on when I finally received disability, had been stolen. Along with everything that had been stored inside it. That wasn’t the only thing we lost. In the end we were missing my office chair, as well as Alyssa’s jewelry box, as well as some miscellaneous items.

They made Alyssa carry items, so that we could “save money”. That first day, she didn’t sit once for over 8 hours. The move took so long, that we missed both breakfast and lunch, having expected to go to Tim Hortons on the drive between apartments. I too ended up having to move more than I should have health wise.

During the second day of the move, they refused to start until I paid for the day before. Clever, since I had no intention of paying that much for what was clearly an incompetent move. Still, I needed to get my move finished. After some negotiation, we agreed that I would pay for 9 hours, total.

What followed the transaction going through was a completely expected, but still exasperating, flaking out on work. One of the movers was apparently so sick, that he had to stop working. I took him at face value. Since they were saying he needed to go to the hospital, I offered to drive so they wouldn’t have to take the truck. Imagine my surprise when they insisted that it was ok, they would finish unpacking the truck with what they had packed first. They left with a half empty truck, leaving behind several items in the public hallways as well as all over the floor.

By the time it was all done, Alyssa and I were so exhausted we could barely function. I spent most of October with severe spinal pain. I could barely walk all month. The stress made my Crohn’s flare.

We’re still not completely unpacked, though we are getting a bit more done every day. I can’t wait till we are finally settled and things can get back to normal. Needless to say, neither of us have any interest in moving for a very, very long time.

 

How The Parents Learned

At the end of April, you wrote me this:

“Please get a hair cut and take that nail polish off, I gave birth to a boy six pounds five ounces on November 27, 1987 and it was the most glorious day of our life. We love you and went thru a lot to educate you and try our very best, best, best to love you and cherish and supported you in all of your accomplishments.  We are extremely proud of you but we cannot accept this thing that you are going thru now.  Please dont let Yeyo see you with painted nails and long hair, hes 86 years old let him remember the way you were when you left to Canada.”

 

That hurt.

Six months later, it still hurts.  It would still hurt even if you hadn’t brought it up every few weeks since then.  It would still hurt even if you didn’t invoke the specter of saddening Yeyo most of those times.  It would still hurt even if you hadn’t shouted at me about how I should just go ahead and start wearing dresses and makeup, if I was going to do absurd things like grow my hair or paint my nails.  It would have hurt even if I thought you were keeping this knowledge away from Dad out of trying to protect me, instead of out of shame.  And it still hurts.

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Giant Woman

We’ve been through so much together.

Or maybe we haven’t.

Neither of us is the person we were when we met, and that’s amazing.  We have helped each other grow into the people we are today—better informed, better protected, more understanding.  We have held each other up when we could have fallen down.  We have endured hardships and challenges that have reshaped who each of us is, and who we are.

This world is a crushingly lonely place.  This world hates and fears almost everything I have ever been and it reminds me of that antipathy every chance it gets.  I spent two decades and change in a continuous nightmare of no smidgen of comprehension and closeness ever seeming close to enough, of never, ever knowing that the people who showed me kindness or friendship or love were sharing that warmth with me and not with whatever idea of me they’d managed to piece together.  They would tell me, you are not alone, and I dreamed of someday believing them.

That nightmare is a distant joke now, something I can call forth when I need it for writing and then set aside when I’m finished.

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Family History

I come from a large family that I have never met.

My parents moved to Canada before I was born, leaving behind everyone. In Canada they knew nobody. My grandfather had 6 brothers, and 7 sisters. Most of them got married and had children. In Poland, we count our extended relations a lot more closely than they do in other places. My father’s cousin is my aunt, my ciocia, she is also my Godmother and her children are my cousins. My cousin’s baby daughter is as much my niece as much as any potential future niblings from my sister.

Growing up disconnected from all that, I felt the lack of family in my life. I was obsessed with having a sibling. I secretly wanted it to be a boy so that someone could continue the “Bula” line in Canada. When my sister was born, I made the decision then that I would keep some form of my name forever. For my father. The hilarious part is my dad has never cared. When I mentioned it to him once, he was confused about why that would matter.

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