How 2018 and I kind of failed each other

I wish I were able to end this year on a positive note. I’m fully aware that bad things happen in life and we can’t ever expect to reach a point where everything is purely rosy at all times, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little disappointed with how much negativity ruled my year.

Negativity won for two reasons. One was that I allowed negative mindsets to be the most powerful ones, which is how I failed 2018. The other was that my extraordinarily bad luck regarding “real life things” prevailed and continued in several large ways; sadly in ways that were equally impactful to my life as the positive things that took place. That’s how 2018 failed me.

The last three years of my life have been split down the middle; they’ve simultaneously been periods of my life where some of the coolest, most amazing things I’ve ever done happened but, beyond things based in creative work, hobbies, and social circles, those years have also been poor luck-filled hell as far as harsh reality is involved. Unfortunately, the latter was more impactful on several aspects of my life; my bank account and mental health being the primary victims.

2017 was defined by my poor living conditions. Honestly, 2016 was too, but the problem was slightly less severe and it came to a resolution in my favour despite months of blatant harassment at the hands of my first rental company in Toronto when I reported a mouse infestation. The resolution wasn’t one that made up entirely for what I’d experienced, but it was good enough for me. My new apartment in 2017 was supposed to fix that. It was supposed to be a fresh start that allowed me to let go of the stress the first apartment had caused and enjoy my new life in Toronto with a slightly more carefree and settled feeling than the first year had afforded me.

Instead, I was met with immediate rental process complications, tech issues that prevented our Internet connection no matter what we did or what company we hired (which was an issue because I had five jobs that relied on my ability to work from home on the Internet), prolonged overlapping and extreme bed bug and cockroach infestations, and severe failures in service and communication that allowed our harassment, prevented us from working properly, endangered our physical and mental health, and prevented our reasonable enjoyment of the space we paid full price for, on time, all throughout. We wouldn’t have had any of these issues if they’d solved the first infestation properly in the beginning. I literally wouldn’t be writing this (but fixating on facts like that is part of my problem).

For the bulk of 2017, I paid full Toronto rental rates to live in a dirty, bug infested apartment that was filled with chemicals that only made me sick rather than killing the bugs. I lived out of trash bags for four months. I suffered loss of income because the stress and ineffective bug treatments worsened my migraines, caused me severe chronic nausea, and got me diagnosed with physically manifesting anxiety. I experienced ongoing harassment at the hands of company reps and was made to feel blamed and unsafe whenever I was home. I was uncomfortable and unable to work at my full capacity for the majority of the year, so I suffered drastic loss of income despite having a total of nine jobs. I went into debt trying to cover expenses, out of pocket costs, damages, and so on and in the end, over half of what I owned had to be thrown out because it was ruined by chemicals, heat treatment, and the carelessness of others. I spent months on end dreading every moment I spent at home, meaning I had no safe space, no haven or calm, no home base for even the most basic needs without extreme stress, physical repercussions, and deliberately intimidating experiences with the people who controlled our existence there.

2018 caught me on the tail end of that, when I was still suffering but ready for change. I put my foot down with the company, filed against them with the Landlord and Tenant board, handed in my notice, and left Toronto to move in with my grandparents in the suburbs.

Before that, I had to tie up loose ends in the city. I had to seek treatment for such severe chronic nausea and stomach pain that I couldn’t eat for days on end and was doubled over with stomach convulsions whenever I did. I had to quit a job I loved and was absolutely not ready to leave. I had to get rid of most of my things. I had to miss drag related trips and opportunities I was working hard to get. I had to ignore a lot of my friendships in order to prioritize my health and getting the hell out of that apartment. Infestations are an isolating thing because they’re so severe in a city like Toronto that you become stigmatized. People literally think they’ll catch it from you. You’re deliberately socially excluded; I had friends who literally wouldn’t touch me in public despite the fact that bed bugs target the cleanest houses. People don’t understand how they work, they just operate on an air of paranoia, so I was treated even by friends like I was dirty and responsible.

All the while, I was acutely aware of the fact that I wouldn’t have been able to make any of my escape happen without relying very heavily on select friends, nor would I have had anywhere to go had I not had willing and supportive family close by to take me in. I am not a person who finds relying on others and asking for help, particularly in large capacities, easy, so the fact that I would have been literally homeless if I hadn’t had an offer from my grandparents weighed on me at all times.

It still does, even though no one has hung it over me. This simply isn’t where one is “supposed” to be by the time they’re 30 if you measure your life by normative social standards. I try never to do that, but it’s hard when you’re consistently cognizant of the fact that you cannot independently support yourself even though you ticked all the boxes and did all the things right. The cause of my financial trauma is no fault of my own (if we total up my directly related loss of income from nine jobs, my out of pocket costs for what they manipulated us into covering via threats and harassment, and property loss/damage, that company is responsible for me losing over $30K in under a year), but I’ve been gaslit by a company for two years into feeling responsible.

The money had simply run out by the time I left Toronto, despite my previous years of saving and constantly working my ass off, and debt related to covering unavoidable costs on credit has prevented me from recovering as I’d have liked to in the year that followed. That rental company put me in such a position that I feel like I’m only barely treading water and will never get ahead or feel stable financial comfort again.

This is the point in the story where I’m usually told to “just get a better job”. Please remember that (in addition to being chronically ill in several small but harmfully layered ways that no doctor has ever been able to properly treat or cared to stick with trying to solve) I’m a part of that skipped over generation the economy doesn’t value because they told us all that a Masters degree was the new Undergrad and we must attain one to count for anything in the job market, but by the time we finished the additional years of study, the powers that be had changed their minds and decided five years of relevant work experience (which we could not have attained as full time students and which wasn’t feasibly possible either when it was being listed as a prerequisite for basic entry level jobs) was actually the ticket instead. I’m that awkward age gap industries just literally wouldn’t employ unless you had a connection higher up who could pull strings for you (I’m sure you can imagine that I wasn’t keen to ask my military father for that favour if you know literally anything about me) or unless you could afford to take a lengthy but time consuming unpaid internship to start, which I couldn’t. Please also remember that, through two years of unsafe living conditions, my creative outlets were the only thing that stopped me from sinking into a very real and very dangerous depression spiral and I was therefore more keen to patchwork a flexibly scheduled income that was more within my control, as opposed to chaining myself to a desk just to make a barely increased buck. I wasn’t ready to quit the only things that made me happy. I did curtail them, cutting my travel in half and only really attending things where my costs were nearly free in exchange for promo/media services or where we were getting paid, but if I’d quit traveling for Drag Coven all together, my health would have suffered so drastically that I literally don’t know what physical or mental condition I’d be in right now. I do Drag for my soul and that is an important aspect of life as well so long as you can balance it, which I’ve worked my ass off for over four years now to do.

So I left my whole life in Toronto because a rental company ruined it. They ruined all of it. Barely anything was salvageable. I lost half my friends because they felt neglected or misunderstood my circumstances and thought I just wasn’t coming around to see them because I liked other people in other places more. I lost things with great sentimental value or that were actually worth a lot of money I’d worked hard to afford them with. The worst was perhaps that I lost the ability to invest further (financially or regarding time) in the things I love doing most. In 2018, every single little moment that I am not traveling to avoid disappearing from my social circles, brand, and passion projects, was spent working to simultaneously repair my life, recover from my financial trauma, and do drag and Drag Coven in some capacity. That’s a choice I make, of course, but the fact that it’s difficult and constantly hanging in the balance with my involvement in what I’ve helped build at permanent risk is the result of bad things that happened beyond my control, which is an endlessly frustrating fact for me.

There were good things that happened in 2018, of course. My grandparents are the best roommates I’ve ever had. My health has improved slightly (I gained some healthy weight and I can eat again without too much trouble on most days). I got to work media with my best friend for three drag conventions (which are my favourite thing we do) and take her with me on her first trip to Europe, where my fantastic parents took us on a stellar tour of the continent. I won’t pretend for a moment that good things didn’t happen!

2018 failed me, though, because any time something that was based in Drag, creativity, hobbies, or essentially anything enjoyable went positively, something in my “real life”, my harsh reality life where I can’t put on a wig and turn the music up until I’m happy again, went badly tenfold. My shockingly horrible luck continued without break. That prolonged my stress over finances and the experience in that horrific apartment, impeded my financial and mental health recoveries, and cast a dark shadow of anxiety over most of my good experiences. It’s all well and good to recommend that I live in the moment and let go of the past, but that’s easier said than done when its roots are still spreading out to buckle what you’ve been working on since in a way that haunts the undertones of everything else you’ve got going. There was never a point where I could purely enjoy myself because every dollar I spent made me feel sick, even if it was in the course of seeing my family (who I only usually see annually) and every hour I spent on anything but work made me feel a guilt so intense that my chest got tight like I was under a weight. That’s exhausting. It was infuriating that I’d done everything I possibly could to avoid that and yet here I was. Everyone deserves some time off and social space and I felt like I didn’t because I convinced myself every moment and every dollar should have gone elsewhere, which was isolating, demotivating, and frankly harmful.

The bad luck mostly manifested itself in the form of rental hearings. I’d filed with the LTB before leaving Toronto, as I mentioned, but they screwed up our process right from the beginning. Rather than being taken care of in a few months as is normal, our case is still ongoing a year later (I first filed in early January 2018) and I don’t even know if it will finally be officially wrapped after I go back for a “last round” at the end of this week.

First, my roommate from the Hell Apartment and I found out Board staff had recommended we file the wrong forms. I had called twice in January and explained the abusive situation in full detail to two different people. They had both recommended a certain form, so that is what we filled in, signed, and submitted in January. When we went to the scheduled hearing in March, they told us our case was being dismissed without prejudice because we’d submitted the wrong forms. The rental company’s lawyer tried to counter claim against us for his fee for that day, saying we should be responsible for paying him and not the company. The Justice of the Peace decided this was unreasonable since we were unrepresented and not lawyers, so it was a simple mistake any member of the public could make. I explained that it wasn’t actually our mistake and the JOP said it wasn’t his problem; we’d have to file a separate complaint against the board itself on our own time. We figured out the right forms and submitted them immediately while the abusive rental woman who had harassed us and impeded our ability to live comfortably glowered at us from across the hall and hovered in attempts to intimidate us.

By the time they rescheduled our hearing, we’d both moved, me to Guelph and Devyn to Ottawa. This meant that we’d have to travel on our own dime into Toronto for the hearing, which we did. The lawyer tried to settle with us outside the room, but he was dismissive and discredited the severe impact the situation had on our lives. He offered us $750 between us in remuneration, which is not even half the rent we paid to live there for one month. When we refused, he yelled at me until we walked away. The lawyer and the abusive rental rep then claimed to the JOP when we were called for attendance that we had never sent them our evidence package. In reality, they have never sent us anything at all as they’re supposed to and we had provided them with a folder of over 100 pages of evidence against them every single time. We knew we had provided it and that the abusive rental rep was lying because she’d been in the office when we dropped it off (with fully signed certificates of service) and she had cornered a visibly uncomfortable disabled tenant who had been passing by in an attempt to avoid speaking with us, using him as an excuse to stand outside while we were in the office. We left the file with the office admin and we watched the abusive rep walk in and pick the file up before we’d exited the glass lobby. She openly lied under oath and the JOP let her. He actually didn’t really care; he said they’d just have to share our copy. This got our hopes up that we’d actually be seen, but instead we sat pointlessly for hours in the hearing room while the JOP heard everyone around us and not us since we were deemed “complicated” because of how long we’d suffered for and how much money was at stake (remember that my losses and damages alone were over $30K, and that’s only what I could prove as documented fact; in reality it was worse). Finally the JOP urged us to try mediation, which we did. The mediator was quiet, did not facilitate productive discussion, did not stop the lawyer and the abusive woman from the company yelling and interrupting us, and did not prevent the lawyer from demeaning me with accusations even when I presented factual documents. I finally slammed my hands down on the table, told the lawyer I’d be his worst nightmare if he spoke over me one more time, told the mediator she’d been a sorry example of what this whole process was for, and Devyn and I walked out. The mediation served only to give the lawyer and our harasser yet another chance to take shots at us. When we walked back in, the JOP made us go see a pro-bono lawyer. This woman was equally as incapable and as poor at communication as the mediator. She hummed and hawed a lot. She asked us repeated questions because she wasn’t really listening to our answers. She mixed all our papers up and dropped things. She openly admitted to not really knowing what angle we should take because the situation had been left to fester so long and was complicated, so she “didn’t really want to take the time to go through it all”. The only productive thing she did do was identify the fact that the board staff who had put our refiled package together in March had left out a large portion of what we were claiming, rendering one of our overlapping infestations irrelevant to the hearing and not something we could claim for despite the fact that it played a massive role in our suffering. We’d provided that person with everything they needed and entirely upheld our responsibilities as the tenants and they still messed it up but we’d pay the price. She gave us no advice about what to do about that or how to proceed. She literally shrugged and handed the papers back before turning her back on us. We went back to the hearing room choking back tears only to hear that the JOP had decided he’d heard enough cases for the day and didn’t want to start ours, so he was deferring us to a new date. I burst into tears the moment I left the building and spent the rest of the month in a state of self loathing that I projected onto issues between my friends and I and had private choking panic attacks about whenever I was alone.

We were offered a rescheduled date in August. We had requested, on audio recording before we left the hearing room in June, that Devyn be included by conference call from Ottawa so he wouldn’t have to waste money and time off coming to Toronto again since we seemed to keep getting deferred. I specifically stated that I would still like to attend in person in Toronto because I did not trust either the lawyer, the company, or the LTB to play fair with our case at this point if neither of us were present. The JOP agreed. When I opened the envelope for the new August date, however, it instructed both of us to call in and participate by phone. I was livid, so I called the board and explained what had happened and why this was a terrible idea. They told me to stop stressing and do what the letter said because it was a recommendation and it would be easier for both us and the JOP. I called again to confirm a few weeks later because I still didn’t trust these people and another LTB staff scanned our file and also recommended I participate by phone. Before we could even get to the hearing, however, the lawyer’s admin called us on behalf of the abusive company rep and asked to reschedule again. We refused and they just kept asking because they wanted to bring in a witness; he was a random Orkin employee who knew about bed bug infestations, but knew nothing about our specific case, had never serviced our apartment, and was not aware of how their failures in the bed bug process lead to an overlapping cockroach issue for five months. I stated this and they still demanded to reschedule because this witness wasn’t free on the date we’d been given. I said I didn’t care and made them meet.

When I called into the conference call, the JOP (a different one yet again) immediately asked why I wasn’t there in the room. I told him I’d been repeatedly recommended to follow the instructions on the page and call from home despite the fact that I’d specifically stated I wasn’t comfortable with that from the beginning. He told me I was right and I should have attended, and that the staff were wrong. I finally lost my cool. I was so beyond finished and frustrated and I demanded to know how I was supposed to know which processes were right and which were wrong if the board’s actual staff were so incompetent and uninformed. He basically said “yeah, that’s a bummer” and didn’t care that this was our third crack at this. He asked the lawyer if they’d like to continue with us on the phone and the lawyer requested to defer, explaining about the witness. The JOP told Devyn and I that he thought deferral was in our best interest since we deserved to be here to fend for ourselves with at least one of us present. I demanded to know how complaints could be made because we already had two points and this was a third and he told me the laborious process, letting me know that every single thing had to be complained about separately. It was yet another bureaucratic process that would take me hours of my own time.

We were rescheduled for October. I attended and Devyn patched in by phone. The JOP didn’t know how to work it and the sound and tech quality was awful so Devyn could barely hear or participate. The lawyer brought a whole crew of people while I sat entirely alone. By this time, I’d discovered that the abusive woman we’d claimed against had been fired from the company for issues exactly like ours (which they’d lied to tenants about at first and tried to hide, as I was told by an old neighbour), and our claim was now against a team of people who weren’t there, had never seen the apartment or the infestation, and new nothing about us. They still tried to make us settle for $750 and the man was livid and confused when I refused. He questioned me until I cried and then he said “don’t be dramatic, it’s not personal”. I dropped a pile of papers of my damaged belongings in front of him, as well as a chart of financial losses, and said “your company ruined my entire life in Toronto. You bet it’s personal”. He seemed taken aback looking through it but didn’t care enough to react much beyond that. They tried to make us mediate with the same complacent woman as before and I refused. They tried to make me meet with the same careless pro-bono lawyer as before and I refused. We finally got lucky because three cases didn’t show up and we were actually seen. I was put on the spot to explain our entire experience alone (because the JOP was too frustrated with the phone’s sound quality to have Devyn and I chime in at once), during which the lawyer shouted at me out of turn, interrupted me, and talked over me constantly and without reprimand. The JOP herself consistently cut me off, drilled me about insignificant details, dismissed pivotal parts of the story as extraneous because she hadn’t fully listened which meant I had to repeat myself, and talked over me in a way that seemed like she just really liked to hear herself speak. I relived the trauma of not having a safe place to go for a year, being prevented from working until I fell into financial hardship, and narrowly avoiding being hospitalized for allergic reactions and severe anxious side effects, all alone in front of a whole rooms of people who were against me, operating from the assumption that I was lying even though I had every detail factually documented. At one point they fixated on a particular damaged piece that they didn’t understand the photo of; a metal and gem bodice custom made for Lady Gaga’s appearance on Drag Race that I’d bought from the designer who was a friend. It was ruined by careless crews in our final heat treatment even though I’d taken precautions to remove and protect it and instead of focusing on the damage to my property that resulted from strangers associated with the company going through and moving my things without my permission when I wasn’t home, the JOP and the lawyer demanded to know what the hell industry I worked in that I would need such a thing. They weren’t queerphobic about it when I very briefly explained, but their interest was voyeuristic and condescending and served to distract from the severity of my accounts. It was a diversion tactic and it didn’t work on me, so I snapped. I lost it. The weirdest part was that they finally listened to me better once I’d yelled that I was finished being discredited and invalidated by people who couldn’t even keep on task despite apparently being the professionals in the room. I slammed my folder down and said I shouldn’t have to be the one who kept everyone focused and lead the discussion when I was the distraught tenant trying to recount my emotional trauma to the people who had caused it and continued to exacerbate it. I said I hated that the only way I could get them to listen was to yell and be nasty when we could have all just communicated well and practiced respect. They got better, but it was still three hours of me doing all the work to provide pages because they were too lazy to even open and look through the collated and well organized folders I’d provided them with. I ran around like a puppy at their whim, practically pleading for their validation and it made me feel more like dirt than I ever had before. Devyn later told me it had been very difficult to listen to, but he was basically powerless on the poorly connected phone line. Before he could even give his half of the account, the JOP looked up at the clock and said “well, it’s 4. Most JOPs have gone home by now, so I’d like to. We’ll defer”. I couldn’t help hot tears rolling down my face as she explained that we’d meet again in a few months for Devyn to give his account, the lawyer to present, and each party to present witnesses (we have none) and cross examine. I cried silently all the way home on the train to Guelph and slept from 8pm when I got there to noon the next day. I’d never felt so emotionally and mentally drained or discredited in my entire life, even in the thick of the unsafe apartment hell actually happening.

We go back for a “final hearing” on Dec 21st. The only reason I’m attending is because I feel I’ve come too far to give them the satisfaction of getting away with what they’ve done to us. Unless something really unusual happen, this is the last shot I’m willing to give this because I can’t keep letting it consume my life. Every time I go it costs me more money and time from work. It also puts me right back into that severely dark mental place where I feel like things will never get better and like I’ve somehow failed even though I know I’m not responsible for any of this happening the way it did. That’s hard to remember, however, when you’ve been gaslit by a corporation that has more money and power than you, and when the only powers who can help you don’t care about you because you’re poor. Once the hearing is done, we will still have to wait six weeks for a decision to arrive in the mail. Even though I’m still going back (I’d kick myself and regret it if I gave up now), I’m worn out and have basically lost all faith that we’ll be awarded any remuneration at all by these incompetent people. My expectations have been worn down to zero, which feels demotivating right now.

Between the hearings, 2018 was a time of additional bad real life luck for me. Even in times where I fought my hardest to stay positive and be upbeat, for my own sake and the sake of those around me, it felt like I was being kicked from all sides by things beyond my control that really just didn’t need to happen. Most of it centred on work and health. The laptop I needed to do my job was stolen when our car got broken into on a Drag Coven trip (I’ll be forever grateful to the people who helped me get another one through Go Fund Me and literally saved me from losing my jobs at a time when I needed money to escape my unsafe apartment hell and would have been absolutely screwed otherwise). My primary boss for writing contracts forgot to pay me on time and came through with my pay nearly a month late for four months in a row, costing me money in interest and late fees that I wouldn’t have had to pay otherwise. The end of our Europe trip was consumed by pain for me when I had such a severe allergic reaction to cigarette smoke that I got a lung, chest, throat, and skin infection that persisted for nearly two months, causing me to have to pay for all kinds of prescriptions that cost me money and made me even more nauseous than usual as a side effect. I came home with such a severe cough that I’d gasp for air and struggle to breathe, and I’d end every day physically exhausted and too worn out to eat properly. Even my “you’ll survive, you’re not bleeding from the head” mentality driven ex-emerge nurse Grandma was on constant alert about whether I needed to go to the hospital. It took forever to clear up and I was still out of breath by Halloween even though we’d been in Europe in August. My writing boss also restructured two of my three jobs without telling me, causing a month of stress and conflict that resulted in me only getting what I was entitled to after three years of work by threatening to leave all of my jobs with him abruptly. The pay delays that caused made me lose out on drag related opportunities because of money problems. Now, I’ve been informed by Apple that the new laptop I got six months ago, which is still in pristine condition, was made with a faulty hard drive that will inevitably crash any day but fixing it will take two weeks, meaning I can’t do three of my four jobs during that time and will suffer two weeks loss of income. Apple refuses to remedy or accommodate this in any way; they told me I should have a backup computer. They were discrediting and horrible and might as well have told me I should just stop being poor.

These examples aren’t intended to just dwell on the negative and whine about my life, since hard stuff is par for the course and I’m very aware of that. I’m just trying to paint a picture of the fact that my real life luck is so incredibly bad that I’m literally notorious for it; my grandparents joke about it kind heartedly in attempts to pick my spirits up a little because they can’t believe how many random things that should be simple non-issues go suddenly wrong for me and involve major readjusting or fixing on my part, usually putting me out of money or work time, or stressing me out until I’m so migraine ridden I can barely see straight. This has kind of been the case all my life but it was previously a little more of an amusing quirk. The last three years, my proclivity for poor luck outside of the fun things I’m passionate about has been astounding and all consuming. I am exhausted. I am utterly worn out.

So, that’s how 2018 failed me. It was supposed to be the year that I tied up the loose ends of 2017, which had felt like the worst year of my life, and moved on with recovery and positivity in mind. I did all the things. I was pro-active and fulfilled the responsibilities to myself that should have put me on the right track. Instead of feeling relief, the demons from 2017 extended their fingers and poked at me again whenever anything nice happened, marring a lot of my 2018 in a way I hadn’t been prepared for.

I failed 2018 because I let the fact that these negative things and their financial impacts are all consuming change my personality for the worse. I didn’t rise above it all like I wanted to. I don’t blame myself- I’ve been through some really shitty stuff the last three years- but that’s still a real and disappointing fact for me. I didn’t achieve any goals I set for myself because I let panic and powerlessness get the best of me. I wasn’t as supportive of friends who saw well-deserved success and opportunity as I would have liked to be because, independently of that, I was stuck in a cycle of constantly watching my own contributions to and impacts on my communities wane thanks to physical, mental, and financial limitations and opportunities I probably would have been presented otherwise pass me by because I couldn’t afford to take them or I hadn’t developed certain skills, talents, or projects the way everyone (including myself) expected, so I was no longer the right person for the job. Despite my best efforts to see past immediate struggle and negativity and focus on silver linings and moving forward, I felt constantly dragged back by feelings of inadequacy, disappointment in myself and my circumstances, lack of relevance to people, places, and things that mattered the most to me, and lack of potential because I couldn’t get past the bullshit that has been weighing me down for so long. I felt consistently like I was letting my friends down by constantly being the harbinger of gloom in the room. We’d go around during catch-ups and everyone would name a wonderful thing they’d achieved and I’d be so genuinely happy for them, but then my turn would come and I’d have nothing happy to contribute. I’d have to choose between bringing the mood down or glossing over my reality so people couldn’t see how bad it still really was, which I did a lot anyways because not everyone was caught up on the excruciatingly convoluted and boring details and therefore couldn’t understand why these things were still an issue or had any impact on me. I was told a lot that I just need to let stuff go, that I’m just hanging onto negativity and it’s time to move on. That might be true for some minor things, but I wish the rest was that easy. I could see people who once cared about me growing tired of hearing about it and wondering why I was still going on about all that; it was over and, in their eyes, I was just choosing to let it go on affecting me. That couldn’t have been father from the truth, but most people didn’t want to hear it. Even my closest friends were at a loss; they couldn’t help and they could only make certain parts better, so they’d listen but not really know how to reply. They’d repeat that things will get better eventually, but we all knew very well that most things had either stayed the same or gotten worse. I stopped relating most of my darkest feelings because I felt it just served to bring them down and there wasn’t much they could say or do; they’d give me a cursory uplifting response but beyond that the general sense usually felt like “wow. Uh… yeah. That sucks I guess”. I don’t blame them. The issues were repetitive and it wasn’t stuff they could help me solve, but that felt isolating as well because I convinced myself I couldn’t or shouldn’t talk to them about my problems anymore (even though that wasn’t true and neither party had done anything wrong).

The ongoing poor luck and the dragged out links to my absolute worst year changed how I function and relate to people in a way that I don’t like, as well as changing what I’m capable of doing and where I can go. I am even more hyper aware of touch than usual (which I’ve never really liked in most circumstances anyways; that’s just how I am and I understand that it can make me a cold friend or a difficult person to relate to sometimes but it’s what I’ve got to work with and I cannot change it. I’ve tried very hard). Being pulled on, having things grabbed from me, being touched aggressively, and having people lean their weight on me unnecessarily utterly unnerves me. I’ve always been kind of small and sickly and I spent my whole childhood and early adult life unwillingly being picked up, moved around, and physically manipulated by everyone in my life; now, in the throes of chronic pain and anxiety, being touched roughly or for prolonged periods of time where it isn’t required makes a sound go off in my brain similar to that of a large swarm of bees buzzing. I can’t hack it and I spend a lot of my time in social circles retreating to chairs or corners or edges and giving up space I’m entitled to because people mean well but can’t seem to just leave me be and give me the space I need, even if I communicate my need to be left alone verbally or physically, and even if they’re people who know that overwhelming touch makes me uncomfortable. I’ll never understand what it is about me that makes so many people disregard my boundaries where I can see them respecting those of others or demanding the same for themselves. Sometimes I think I’m just being paranoid and unfriendly and that people don’t actually bother me as much as I claim they do, discrediting my own experiences, but every time I go down that lane, someone comes up to me and goes “wow, people really do fuck with you as much as you say they do, eh? I can see it, why does that happen?” Even people I barely know will observe and comment on it. I have no idea why it happens. It has alway stressed me out but now, with everything else going on in my body and brain, it literally pushes me to a point where I can hear my own stress while my skin crawls. I don’t like any of that but I have to respect what my body and brain need and I wish the people around me would do a better job of respecting that too, since I’m open about it, rather than taking the affection and touch they want from me solely because they wish that’s the kind of person I was. Now don’t get me wrong, I like a hug. I don’t mind the occasional hand hold. Cheek kisses in greeting are cute. But people like to grab my wrists, pull at my clothes, push me into different positions, take hold of my waist and hips to move me where they want me when I haven’t agreed to it, lean their weight on my shoulders because I’m a convenient height, squeeze into my seat or onto me because they don’t think I need as much space as I’m occupying, take things from my hands without asking not because they want to help, but because they think I’m incapable. It is infuriating but if I react too strongly, I’m constructed as cold and unfriendly. It’s a constant battle. Other people will observe it happening and comment on how wild it is, and then immediately forget and turn around and do it themselves. If I talk about it too much, I’m told I’m pretty messed up and should probably get therapy, as though I’m the problem rather than their lack of respect for bodies and boundaries. People rarely just let me be to comfortably occupy space without being handled in some way. It’s very tiring, especially lately.

I’m also hyper aware of communication after so many years of having people in positions of power over me communicate so poorly that my life is adversely affected by it and I pay the price later even if I’ve fulfilled all responsibilities and been pro-active. I cannot tolerate having my time wasted anymore; it makes me feel disrespected. While that’s true and emphasis on good communication can be a positive thing, I know I’m unduly harsh about it and I can think of several people I’ve snapped hard on in the last year because bailing or disorganization makes me feel like I’m back to trying to schedule apartment treatments and instead being left to my burning skin until I’m almost hospitalized. I can’t hack it and I haven’t done any work on controlling my reactions to it.

I’m jumpier than usual as well. The other day, almost a year after escaping the Hell Apartment, I saw a black piece of fuzz on my sheet. I jumped so hard and panicked so intensely, scooting away from it before I even knew what I was doing, that I fell clear off the bed and knocked a bunch of stuff of my bedside table. I’d been convinced it was a bedbug and my brain immediately told me that I really am a dirty carrier who would be responsible for ruining my grandparents’ home too, just like I’d apparently ruined my own.

I have also allowed myself to dwell on things in a way that internalizes harmful elements. No one has told me I should have achieved certain landmarks in my life by now because I’m lucky to be surrounded by awesomely supportive humans who value creative work and do nothing but encourage me in what I do, and yet I regularly cry over the fact that I’m nearly 30 and can’t support myself. I’m constantly cognizant at every moment of the fact that I’d be homeless if I didn’t have good family. I feel guilty when my grandparents make me meals even though they’ve never once so much as batted an eyelash at the idea and they openly tell me they get bored when I’m not around. No one has ever told me that my work in Drag is not valuable (we’re clearly leaving out misogynists and Internet randoms in this example and only talking about actual people in my life) and yet I feel every day as though I’ve “let myself go” as far as effort and production are concerned. I feel like I’ve lost influence and value because I can’t afford the time, money, or resources to make the things I want or produce the art I once planned to. My brain is constantly so exhausted and distracted that I feel like my creative juices have dried up and I can’t produce original ideas anymore. I constantly compare myself to those around me, not because I have any inkling of competitive thought towards them, but because I wonder whether I might be even half as badass as the people I admire and the awesome friends I have had I not been so adversely affected by things beyond my control. It’s draining to know I worked my ass off all year and did everything I could and so many bad things still happened. It feels like it was for naught even though I firmly logically know better. I feel like I cannot catch a break.

I want to be able to look forward to things without thinking “but I probably won’t get to go to that because I won’t have the money”, even though I’m working four job again, have worked very hard all year, and continue to keep myself from things and people I love in attempts not to spend. I want to be able to enjoy good experiences authentically without feeling immediate intense guilt about the time and money it takes. I want to be successful in my industries without having to stay up for three days any time I want to make something new happen because I have to work four jobs just to barely scrape by. I don’t want to be in a position anymore where I feel pressured (by no one in particular, by the world at large) to choose between working a specific kind of job that will hardly pay better but will suck out my soul and the things I love most, which are directly responsible for the fact that I survived the last couple shitty years and didn’t actually end up in the hospital on nights when I thought I might because my stomach and head were so sick with worry over whether and how I could handle all the bad things that just kept layering and layering. It fills me with red hot rage that all of this is the result of the failures of other people. I beat myself up over what I could have done differently or more effectively but there’s honestly nothing. It hurts that I did my best and that wasn’t good enough to keep me from losing so much.

I know it sounds like I am just clinging to the past and being very entitled because outwardly I live this exciting and impressive life filled with fancy friends and fun adventures. It sounds like I’m being ungrateful and ignoring the positive things so I can self victimize for attention (all things I’ve been accused of in the past few years, even by people I thought were my friends). People don’t think what we went through in the apartment was “that bad, so many people have it worse than you, just be grateful for what you have”. But in reality I fight like hell every day to try and appreciate what I have and what’s good. The sad reality is that my very unlucky circumstances make that difficult many days. I try not to focus on how often life kicks me when I’m down, but it factually does and that’s at odds with the fact that all I’ve ever wanted is to get the most awesome experiences out of life with people I love. It’s a combination that is so thoroughly, intensely exhausting in so many different ways.

I have no idea how I can make most of this better so that 2019 contains more positivity without either stifling my true feelings, which is harmful, or making the impossible decision to give up all the creative things that make me happy in favour of going full speed ahead on the most lucrative feasible options I have, which is a slightly pie in the sky plan and which would also be harmful because I’ll just end up feeling like an unfulfilled shell. Right now, I’m setting a few smaller goals that might improve little aspects of my life and then just crossing my fingers and hoping like all hell that, even if things don’t tangibly improve, I can at least catch a small space to breathe without anything getting worse. The part of my brain that is worn down and sees the glaring cycle of my last few years immediately tells me that’s an unrealistic expectation, but I don’t know what else I can do.

So here are my goals for not failing 2019 while I wait to see whether it might fail me:

– I must stop biting my nails by whatever feat of mental strength it takes. This is on my list every year, but this year it’s more grave because I’ve reached a point of harm that I’ve only reached once before (a doctor in university saw the state of my fingers and told me if it got any worse, she’d classify it as a form of self harm and take further steps to help stop me from doing it. I am biting worse than that now and have been for months).

– I must keep my phone away from me while I sleep and write. It’s not so much that I boredom scroll or can’t stop myself from using it, but rather that I’d like to give those things solid time and space where I don’t feel obligated to answers messages from friends immediately no matter what I’m doing, which I do because I am sad that I don’t see so many people for long periods, which is because I haven’t caught up enough yet financially to always afford it.

– I need to do less unpaid labour and favours. I often take on favours that cost me money and time because I feel badly that I can’t go out and support some friends in ways I used to/want to, which makes me compulsively jump at chances to do other things for them so they know I still love them. In reality, I rarely have time for these things.

– I need to be open about when I need help and when I need friends to be more gentle with me. I don’t accept help well and I have a history of being the friend who is always confident, thick skinned, sassy, and so on. Lately, though, I do need help sometimes and I’m not often in a place where I can handle the same teasing banter I used to. It’s not because it necessarily hurts my feelings or that I’m taking jokes too personally, but more that I’m already doing so much mental labour just to keep myself in social circles when life is a mess that I’d prefer to relax and have conversation be nice and easy, rather than constantly doing the mental and verbal gymnastics of the reading game (particularly since most people are shit at reading and are just being nasty and I find that very boring and unproductive rather than personally offensive. It’s just not a dynamic I enjoy participating in anymore). I want to be better at communicating these things when the need arises.

– I want to stop letting myself dwell. I’d rather look for what I can do to move forward, which is very difficult when you’re fresh out of years of doing that and having it prove pretty fruitless after all your hard work, but I’d like to do it anyways.

– I’d like to continue valuing and demanding good communication because that avoids having my time disrespected, which is something I can’t afford. That’s one thing I do well, so I’d like to keep that up. I’d like to do a little better at responding more reasonably when it happens, but I still want to be up front about it. People who openly choose to communicate poorly enough that they put others out are not worth my time now and will not be in 2019 either.

– I’d like to reach a place of better balance where the positive doesn’t feel constantly overshadowed by negatives, no matter how legitimate those are. I don’t know if this is something I can really achieve (I’m sure I can make a better effort to reframe certain things) or if I’ll mostly just be crossing my fingers and hoping for less shitty luck, but this would just be a wonderful thing to experience in the next year regardless.

– I’d like to eat less things I know make me sick because it’s only comforting for like three minutes and then I’m just in pain. That’s kind of hard when basically everything makes you sick, but still.

– I have a few non-medical, non-therapy things I’d like to try for migraines, chronic pain, and anxiety before I go back to doctors for them. I’ve slacked on these because I was basically just in denial that they needed my attention even though I’ve had them essentially forever. I want to try these before going back to doctors because the last thing they gave me was sort of helpful but also gave me vertigo.

– I want to take the advice of a smart friend who said I better and stop giving my knowledge away for free because it is my product and I’m decreasing its value when I hand that and my time to unchangeable morons at no charge. I’ve fought enough for my validity in my industry and anyone who questions it is inconsequential to my life, even if they started as a friend. They do not deserve my epistemic or emotional labour.

– I want to stop internalizing guilt if I am choosing to do a thing. I’m already doing it and that means I’ve clearly evaluated the costs and risks, so I might as well just enjoy the thing because, as my mom always said when I was a kid (I could write a whole other post on how this is a positive sentiment even though it sounds harsh and not like something you’d say to child to instil hope), life sucks and then you die.

– While I don’t want to dwell on the last few years or let them consume me with negativity or define me any longer, I also need to stop letting people dismiss the severity of what happened and letting it slide when they treat me like I should have moved on by now. I didn’t just have a minor housing inconvenience and struggle for a month. I went through two years of openly unsafe and unsanitary living conditions no matter my efforts at remedying the situation and I was harassed and verbally abused by corporations both times, followed by a year of discrediting and expensive bureaucratic hardship that preyed on the fact that I’m low income. That’s not nothing and I’d like to see others manage what I do amidst all of it (except that I wouldn’t because I wouldn’t wish this utter hell on even the worst people I know).

– I want to stop participating in negatively skewed gossip that isn’t productive or even that good because it just starts a cycle of repetitive nit picky analysis that fosters competition and comparison, which are both things I hate.

– I plan to stop letting people who don’t know me as well as they think they do discredit my right to stand up for myself or speak about things I’ve struggled with because I “have a really exciting life”. You’re right, I have been very lucky in certain experiences, but I’ve also worked very, very hard for a long time for most of them. Just because it looks like a fun adventure doesn’t mean you’re getting a full picture, which seems like common sense and yet I’m frequently told I don’t have the right to “whine” about anything because I met Lady Gaga for three minutes five years ago or something. I’m over tolerating this idea that I must be happy to serve the expectations of others based on what they’ve seen on the Internet.

I just want to be happier than this. That’s it. I fucking deserve it.

Having Years of Bad Renter’s Luck and Maintaining Your Sanity (or How I’m Failing Miserably at Precisely That)

I’ve been very open lately that I’m struggling in a lot of ways. I’ve always been a pretty honest and up front person and that kind of organically transferred into my online life when I first got social media a million years ago, so it’s never been a big thing to publicly share personal details of my life. My original goals in social networking were to keep long distance family and friends (almost all of the very important people in my life) up to speed, so before all of the drag and fan things happened, I was used to posting everything on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for all to see. When Drag Coven picked up and the social landscape of my profiles changed, I never really adjusted how I conduct myself online, but it still usually works out. Recently, though, this has presented a new challenge- the struggle between keeping people in your life updated so they don’t freak out and keeping some privacy while you get your shit together.

That’s why I’ve been honest online that I’m struggling, but also why I haven’t really gone into to detail about how, why, or with what. I’m sure it’s probably been annoying for casual followers who are mostly here for fun, cheerful drag related content since a lot of my posts have been heavy and emotional but super vague lately. I’m also sure, however, that it’s been concerning for the family and friends who actually care about personal aspects of my life as well, largely for the same reasons; I’ve stated that I’m struggling and I’ve made it known that my troubles are heavily related to my apartment, but I haven’t gone into much more detail than that. When I originally posted about what’s been happening, I had some people close to me treat me in an unexpectedly nasty manner, so I stopped updating all together while I dealt with it. That was a problem too, though, because people are used to me posting a lot, so then I got all these stressed out messages asking me if I was alive. That’s why posts have been present but vague. I wanted the flood of worried messages to stop, but I didn’t want to be hassled either.

This week, things kind of started looking up just a little bit. They’re not necessarily solved and I’m certainly not “all better”, but some of the weight of what’s been happening has been lifted ever so slightly. In light of that, I figured I’d let people into the loop on what’s been happening and why I haven’t been myself for quite some time now. As with most of my blog posts, this will probably be self indulgently long, so if you’re not here for length, exit now of your own volition rather than complaining to me later about how much I talk. I’m a writer for a living and you know this; no one made you click the link, darling.

Anyways, back to my living situation. Here’s some past context for why it’s been quite so difficult to handle.

I haven’t been comfortably settled in a calm, properly functioning living situation in almost three years. Between that and the constant struggle to maintain balance between getting/keeping gainful employment in an economy that essentially hates my generation for existing and also having some kind of enjoyable social life outside of the work hustle, I’ve also experienced a large shift in my mental health over those same years. Until recently, I ignored that part of things in an attempt to deal with the rest, because we live in a society that tells you to suck it up and keep on keeping on. It never occurred to me that mental health was something I’d ever have to tangibly consider or make time to deal with; I’ve always just been a stressy person who gets a little squirrelly sometimes, but after a good cry, a nap, and a snack, I can usually get over it and on with it. Well, that’s not really the case anymore.

Before I moved to Toronto, I really didn’t have anything left in Ottawa. I’d lived there for eight years, which was the longest I’d ever stayed in the same place before. I was there for university, so most of my friends were transplants from other places. When they graduated or got jobs, they moved home or elsewhere, but I stayed put because I didn’t have a home to move back to and I didn’t know where I wanted to go next. I wasn’t from the area but I wasn’t from anywhere else either, and I’d already lived so many places that I didn’t see a need to add another city to the list. Suddenly, however, I looked around and realized that all the people I knew best and liked most were gone and it was a really jarring feeling. I grew up as a military brat, so I’d always been the one leaving everyone I loved behind. Being the one getting left was unsettling. I still had a job, a boyfriend, and family two hours away, though, so I stayed in Ottawa because… well… where else was I going to go?

Then my apartment got ants. I cleaned like a maniac thinking it was my own fault because the building orignally told me that no one else had complained. I found out later from fellow tenants that an older couple on my floor were notorious for leaving old food around and bringing street furniture into their unit to clean it up and try to sell it, so it wasn’t the first time this had happened and I’d just been lucky enough to avoid the ants up until that point. The building never helped us do anything about it because they insisted I was the only one with the complaint. I finally dropped a bunch of money on sprays, traps, and any other treatment I could get my hands on after I came home from work one day, stepped onto my kitchen floor without turnin the lights on first, and felt the ground heave under my foot because there were so many hundreds of ants piled on top of each other.

They were those teeny, tiny little fuckers that either leave you alone entirely or bite your skin all over like a rash, so you can hardly tell it’s bug bites. I’d lived there for over three years without trouble and loved the place, so I was pretty upset when suddenly my cute little bachelor, all painted purple like a girly cave, wasn’t comfortable or fun to be in anymore. I thought about moving, but I was also working 16 hours a day to try and make up for a small recent period of unemployment I’d just had thanks to a lay off, so I kind of just panicked and stayed put so as to not interrupt my work schedule. That was around the time we started Drag Coven, so at least I had this fun new project to take my mind off the ants and the long work hours I was keeping up in between and on the road.

Then, literally in the space of three days, the only things I had left that were keeping me in Ottawa disintegrated. I got dumped from a rather serious two year relationship via text message (for being so passionate about my hobbies that it made him jealous that he didn’t have something similar in his own life… how dare I). I found out my parents were posted back to Europe in less than three months, so they wouldn’t be close by anymore. I also got notice at my job that, even though they’d originally wanted me for five years, the tiny company I worked for already had more work and content out of me in a year and a half than they’d ever anticipated, so they couldn’t afford to keep me. I was writing course content for an online school and I’d completed three new courses and an endless amount of blog content for them, and they told me it was being more well received than they ever expected by students. Even though my courses were generating great money, they still didn’t have the funds to keep me because they didn’t have the resources for me to write anymore than I already had because they didn’t have the time to manage everything we’d done and implement new things. Basically, there was nothing left for me to do and they were just too small a business to pay me to do nothing. At least, that’s what they told me. Maybe they just didn’t like what I’d produced and didn’t want anything more from me but didn’t want to hurt my feelings because they were lovely people. Anyways, the way I was left to understand it, I’d basically worked too fast and written myself right out of a job even though the position had originally been created for me. I had until Christmas to finish up with the company because we’d signed a contract, but they wouldn’t be bringing me back in the New Year. I loved that job and I was devastated. My parents have lived continents away before and I’ve never really defined my life by relationships or dating, so losing that job was definitely the most upsetting blow for me, but it was a heavy three days all together.

After those three things happened, I spiralled into a hole of stress migraines. I’ve always gotten horrible, debilitating migraines since I was a small child, but this was beyond anything I’d ever had. For three days, I called in sick, didn’t leave my bed, didn’t eat, and didn’t turn on any lights or open the curtains. I literally couldn’t leave my bed because I was in so much pain. At the same time, being there was annoying because even though I never saw the ants anywhere but in the kitchen, I was still waking up covered in tiny little bites, so not even my bed was safe. On the third day I finally crawled (literally) into the piping hot bath tub fully clothed, put on some really loud Gaga music despite how much sound hurt my head, screamed a little bit, and decided to move to Toronto. It was closer to Jamie for Drag Coven, which was getting us a lost more legitimate opportunities than I’d ever expected, and I simply adored everyone I’d met there. I was already spending basically every weekend in Toronto at that point anyways. I handed my apartment notice in the next day and I was out before Christmas about a month later.

The apartment I moved into in Toronto was tiny but perfect. Two friends had found it for me and sent me pictures and I was so grateful. It was right on the edge of the village, just off Church St, meaning I was ridiculously close to the drag scene and all of my awesome new friends. I’d gotten work at a knitting store (which I still work at and have adored since the day I started) and I’d also been lucky enough to score several regular, remote freelance writing contracts that could be written on my own timeline and from anywhere. I still work these as well and they still pay the bulk of my life’s expenses and let me travel the way I do. I was wary of whether I’d be able to survive primarily on freelance because it takes a lot of self discipline and I’d never done it before, but I got to Toronto feeling renewed, confident, motivated, and excited.

At first, my new apartment was fantastic. It was tiny and expensive, but I didn’t need anything more and the extra couple hundred I was paying compared to my place in Ottawa was worth it to me for the location. It was central and I had an easy time getting anywhere I needed to go, which is huge for me since moving so often throughout my life has smashed my inner compass to pieces and I get lost really easily. The best part, however, was that it didn’t have ants.

In February, one month into my move, I started smelling something weird. I have an annoyingly high sense of smell, though, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. I figured someone threw something particularly gross down the garbage chute down the hall and it would probably be cleaned out soon. After a few hours, though, the smell got worse. I started sniffing around like a dog and located the smell under my bed. The moment I started pulling out craft and costume boxes from under there, my cat got agitated and started pacing and yelling. The smell also got worse. Gagging, I finally pulled out a big box in the middle and looked down to find a dead mouse squished against the side. It was congealed to the plastic because it had already started decomposing right there on my floor. I dropped the box and immediately ran to the bathroom to vomit. I cleaned up the mess, cleared everything out of the space, and disinfected every surface and object I could get my hands on. I couldn’t understand how I had pests already; I’d literally only been there for a month and I was very clean because I’d wanted to avoid a repeat of the ants.

For the next few months, I came home every day with a little bit of dread. Some days it would all be fine. Some days I’d find a dead mouse in the middle of my floor. Others, I’d be home and see something dart across the room. One time my cat ran up to me in a frenzy with something in her mouth and, before I could move, she dropped a still-living mouse right on top of my feet.

I told the building right away. I did it the night I found the first dead mouth, and I did it in an email complete with pictures so I could start a paper trail, just in case. They immediately told me it was my fault and that I should be cleaner. I begged for an inspection and on the day the guy came, a mouse died in the wall inside one of my closets. I showed the super intendant the holes I’d seen mice run into and I opened the closet (which smelled so bad it made my stomach turn) to show him the loose wall panel in the back where I was pretty sure the smell was coming from. I begged for help getting rid of the mice because they just kept getting in and dying. I couldn’t stop leaving my apartment to work but I lived alone, so there was no one there to make sure mice didn’t come in and die and start to stink while I was gone. The man pretended he didn’t smell anything even though the smell was so bad it made my eyes water. I could tell he was faking it because he kept touching his nose and applying mint Chapstick. When I insisted that it was a problem, he started yelling at me and telling me I was a liar and that I just wanted to live there for free. He said he didn’t see any mice, so I couldn’t prove that any had ever been there. I showed him photos and, even though you could see my rug in the background, he said I’d Googled them and they weren’t mine. He agreed to drill the panel in the closet shut, but he wouldn’t open it to get the dead mouse out. He shut it in and I had to just deal with the smell until the thing finally fully decomposed in the wall and stopped stinking.

The next ten months of my life were spent repeating the cycle and arguing with the building. Even after my friend Devyn moved unexpectedly to Toronto and lived in the apartment with me for a time, and could therefore attest to my stories, they still accused me of lying. I finally put a dead mouse in a bag, marched over to the rental office, and dropped it right onto the desk of the woman who was supposed to be helping me, making her scream and cry and beg me to take it away. I refused until she agreed to do something about the mice. She threatened me with security and I just stood there quietly, waiting for her to agree. I’d tried everything by that point- emails, calls to every office and rep available, DIY strategies and traps of my own. I was in the process of filing a claim with the Landlord and Tenant board, but that takes a lot more time (and it also costs more money) than dropping a mouse on someone’s desk does.

They finally agreed to treat for the mice, but all they’d ever do was march into my apartment, throw my stuff into the middle of the room, and fill my radiators with ugly foam that shed everywhere in an attempt to trap the mice in the walls and stop them from getting in. The mice simply ate through the foam, got in anyways, and then died on my floor thanks to their foam snacks. I asked for better traps and the building told me to pay for them myself. I refused and left another mouse on their desk, so they finally brought some traps up and put them on my floor, but the mice didn’t fall for those one single time. They skipped the traps and came right in to die continually in the middle of my floor and stink the place up. Devyn would wake up in the night for a drink of water and step on a dead mouse. I’d accidentally roll over a mouse in my desk chair while I was trying to work. It was constant.

I lost work time waiting for inspection appointments that never showed up (of course, I was called a liar when I reported these to the building), arguing my case on the phone, meticulously documenting everything in emails, guarding my things when people did show up for inspection because stuff had been rooted through and damaged before. Sometimes when the super came, he’d bring random male family members with him who would just stand by the door with their arms crossed and silently glare at me. I asked one to leave once because I wasn’t comfortable with these men I didn’t know barging into my home when they didn’t even work for the building and he said no because he didn’t trust me not to hurt the super, who I later found out had falsely claimed that I’d threatened his life on a day when, in reality, he had cornered me alone in my kitchen when Devyn wasn’t home and yelled at me about what a little liar I was until I cried. He consistently called me “little girl” in an aggressive, condescending tone. The women in the office who called me to accuse my of lying almost daily would ask me questions and then immediately interrupt my answers and if I became upset or asked them to let me finish, they would scream at me and tell me that the frequency with which I called them was a form of harassment, even though they had called me. When you work freelance, every moment that you’re not working on a day off from your day job is wasted money, so I was continually just losing money to these people who would do the bare minimum and then leave me living in mouse remains, feeling badly about myself.

I clearly wanted to move, but my ability to work was being tampered with by the whole mouse fandango, so it wasn’t the greatest decision to make financially, and I’d also signed a year long lease that wasn’t up yet. At one point, the building did offer to let me out of the lease, but when I called back later to take the offer after thinking about it for a few days, they told me I was lying and that they’d never offered that. We ended up staying until my lease was up regardless because I filed for a rental rebate and they argued with me about it for so long that it used up the rest of the time in my lease anyways. I didn’t want to move before getting the rebate because I didn’t trust them to honour it if I wasn’t a tenant anymore.

In the end, I got a rebate. I only got it because I got fed up, stormed unannounced into the office one day, and finally acted like the psychopath they’d accused me of being all along. I demanded what I was legally entitled to and they laughed at me and told me they didn’t have time for me. I persisted and the woman called me “little girl” once more. I lost my mind and stood in the office screaming at them at the top of my lungs about what they’d put me through until one of them threatened to start filming me for legal purposes if I didn’t stop yelling, so I took out my camera and started filming them, myself, and the entire room, offering to send her the video when all was said and done so that we both had copies. The moment the video was turned on, they completely complied, denied it vehemently when I verbally recounted the ways in which building employees had accused me, harassed me, and made my life difficult, and suddenly treated me with the utmost respect in a way they never had before. They kept apologizing for what I’d been through and saying how upset they were knowing I was someone’s daughter, because they couldn’t imagine how they’d feel if their own daughters were caught in such a situation. Poor me, young thing that I am. I had a settlement contract in my hands within minutes. Isn’t it interesting that the moment I took action that would have documented hard proof of the way they treated me and failed to fulfill their obligations, they did everything they should have done from the beginning? Isn’t it sad that I had to get crazy and loud to get anyone to stop talking and listen or even remotely take me seriously?

The board took so long to even look at my file that I actually got the building to rebate my rent myself before anyone from above had even gotten involved. At first, the building tried to make me settle for a single month’s rebate, but I’d been dealing with the problem for 11 months by that point so I refused. The amount I was finally awarded was absolutely less than I was legally entitled to under the circumstances, but I was willing to settle to an extent if it meant getting something in return for the harassment and mice, getting out of there, and getting my home life settled again.

My spirits picked up when Devyn and I found an absolutely stunning, freshly redone, and quite large two bedroom just down the street, even closer to where he was working and where my friends perform. Getting the lease sorted and signed was a struggle because the office was being handed over to new people and they also didn’t really understand what I do for a living, but it worked out in the end. We actually didn’t get things sorted until we were quite literally six days away from homelessness, but it did work out and I was just so happy to not constantly be trapped around the smell of dead mice. We moved into the big new apartment in January and I thought everything would be fine.

We ran into problems immediately. For reasons unknown to literally anyone, our Internet just refused to work. We got service from a highly recommended company for a good price, but it cut out every 15 minutes or so and the signal was so weak that there was no hope of Wifi. I work from home on the Internet, though, so that wasn’t something I could deal with. I called to try and get it fixed but right from the get-go, I was treated absolutely horribly by their customer service reps. At first I thought I was just being sensitive after a year and a half of phone struggles with my apartments, but then Devyn got on the phone and was treated with more respect for no apparent reason, so it quickly became clear that the employees didn’t want to speak to me because I’m female. Like… I’m not even jumping to conclusions here; one of the reps literally told me he would prefer to talk to the man in the household. They insinuated that they would only deal with women if we were listed as married. We were disgusted and decided to cancel the service after running into the same issue about three times, but that was a struggle too because reps kept hanging up on me and, just like my buildings, telling me I was lying and everything should be fine. We ended up without working internet for about a month before finally getting them to cancel everything. Even after they told us they had, we found out from the new company that they really hadn’t and our lines were still tied up, so we had to fight with them further. I lost work time and therefore money repeatedly waiting for modems in the mail thanks to defective hardware, poor communication and misunderstandings on their end, and their continued random refusal to listen to me even though they were somewhat compliant with Devyn. Don’t get Internet from CanNet; they’re sexist and incompetent.

Even once we got a new company, we still experienced mystery Internet issues, and that’s gone on to this day no matter what we do. I recently had a call from a rep telling me they’ve been investigating the issue ongoing and… they have no answers. No one at the Internet provider, at Rogers who owns the lines, or in my building knows why this is an issue for us when it never has been for anyone else in the apartment before. We’ve tried other companies, other hardware… everything. I simply make do with what Internet we can get now and work offline whenever I can. I’ve literally had this page I’m writing in right now refresh twice as a I type thanks to network surges, losing me paragraphs both times. The whole thing slowed me down for months. I’m lucky to have employers who are more than happy to work at my pace, but it still affects my carefully balanced budget because the less writing I produce, the less I’m paid. Sure, I can go work in coffee shops, but have you ever tried to write productively every day of your life in a loud coffee shop, a busy library, or any other public place when you’re trying to catch up on income loss that was beyond your control just so you can afford groceries that week? It’s anxiety inducing. I was more stressed than ever.

Despite the ongoing Internet connection issues, things settled for a couple months after we swapped companies and I was incredibly grateful. At the end of April, I went away to visit family right before our big Drag Con trip. I got really sick so I went to the doctor the day I got back because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt so horrible and I was worried it wouldn’t go away before we left for LA. I found out I had a nasty combination of strep throat and tonsillitis and I was handed super harsh nausea inducing antibiotics. I walked through our new apartment door with the bad news about my body to find Devyn standing forlorn holding a bug in a bag. We had bed bugs.

A friend who lived in our building previously had warned us that they moved out a number of years ago due to a bad bed bug infestation, but we also had current friends living in the building (living right across the hall, in fact) who had never had any issues despite living there even longer. We didn’t find the building on any active bug registries and we were assured by the rental office when we viewed that their records had been cleared for years and that routine inspections were done to keep it that way. According to what’s publicly available, it was actually one of the buildings with the most bug-free record we could find in the whole downtown area, so I was devastated when we found them.

We reported the bugs immediately and a fumigation was scheduled, but I would be in LA already by then. Devyn had a bit more time to prepare his things, but I only had three days before my trip. I wasn’t allowed to go to my day job with strep and I’d been told by the doctor that bed rest was the best way to get better before Drag Con, but now I had to spend that rest time and any last minute writing time I’d hoped for packing every single thing I owned into plastic bags even though we felt like we’d only just finally unpacked from the move. I had to drag my sick body from closet to closet and either tumble dry or hot steam clean every single piece of clothing I own (I do drag and haven’t grown since I was 11, so that’s a lot of clothing), wrap all of my belongings in plastic, move all our new furniture away from the walls, and generally tear our house apart. I made it happen, but I cried in pain and frustration almost the entire time. At one point I was literally laying face down on the floor steaming things with one hand and trying not to vomit, barely able to swallow my own spit thanks to how sore my throat was. Every single piece of clothing and object I was taking to LA had to be cleaned, sterilized, and wrapped as well until I walked out for my trip because I was horribly afraid to give the bugs to anyone else.

At the time, I posted about our apartment troubles online like I would with anything else. I was literally filled with anxiety by this point because I couldn’t believe I was facing unwanted pests again. That was three out of three apartments that had some kind of infestation even though we lived cleanly out of fear from past experiences. I was upset and seeking advice from people who had had them before. I got a little bit of advice publicly, but privately I mostly got unexpectedly harsh backlash for having the bugs. Close friends uninvited me from parties and refused to stand next to me if they saw me in public. They’d go to hug me and then say “Wait, ew, fuck no”. People would make comments at shows or in bars about me being dirty and if I laughed it off like a joke, assuming that people who actually knew me in real life wouldn’t be unnecessarily cruel, I’d get glared at. I’d get texts from mutual friends later telling me people I’d been close with were talking behind my back in local drag bars, saying things like “Well what do you expect when you run around the country spending time in dirty bars instead of, like, working. Of course your home is dirty if you’re never there”. Even friends who had had the bugs themselves before and therefore knew that, if you actually do some research, bed bugs are like lice in that they target the cleanest homes, beds, and spaces, were very rude about it. I took every precaution to make sure my things were cleaned and avoid staying with friends or taking my things to people’s houses during that time, but I was still treated like I had some plague that I wanted to spread to people. A couple of times I even had friends who admitted to getting cockroaches in their own kitchens because they left old food out on the counter too often and didn’t change the garbage for too long tell me unprovoked that maybe Devyn and I should re-evaluate our cleanliness habits and the way we live our lives. It was just a totally weird social experience.

Beyond how rude people were about our cleanliness, I was also treated like I should “just fix it”. Friends would ask how the situation with the bugs was going and I’d explain that it was frustrating how long the process takes. You get a fumigation treatment and then you have to wait two weeks before you get a second and final treatment and then you’re clear. For three weeks after each treatment, you’re not allowed to clean your floors or surfaces because if you wipe away the goo, it doesn’t kill the bugs. While I was in LA, Devyn had to live for two weeks alone in chaos and filth because he couldn’t clean our house or put the furniture back in between treatments. While he dealt with things on ground level, I dealt with all kinds of emails and calls from the building while I was in LA to sort out times, make sure things were prepared properly, and so on. The process of getting all the prep done and getting our lives put back together after cost us both work time, which obviously lost us money. We also incurred costs in the form of cleaning supplies and having to board my cat. It was stressful and the reaction we got from other people was upsetting, but we survived. We did discover that I’m allergic to the chemicals they used to fumigate, so I spent days following the treatment sneezing, itching, and fighting worse migraines than usual, but at least it was over with.

After that, we finally got a few weeks of respite in the apartment area. Other stressful things happened that might have been more manageable had we not both been more poor than usual from missed work during the bed bug fiasco, but at least we finally had a settled home that actually had enough space for both of us and no tiny uninvited guests. People laid off with lecturing about my personal habits and telling me how to fix my life.

At the end of July, I started waking up with really weird swollen patches all over my body. At first, I thought maybe they were spider bites. I’ve always reacted really terribly to spiders and I’d caught one in the hallway the week before, but spiders happen in houses and I didn’t think anything of it. I became increasingly concerned, though, when it went on for two weeks without stopping. I started googling all kinds of bug bites to see what it most looked like, but it was different than any of them so I started worrying that maybe I was allergic to something environmental. Just in case, I sent pictures to our building but they told me that they’d never seen bites like that and I had nothing to worry about. They refused my request for an inspector to look at our unit.

The thought of another bed bug infestation crossed my mind, but these swollen patches looked nothing like the photos of bed bug bites I was finding and we couldn’t find bugs anywhere. I tore apart my room again searching and steamed the hell out of my mattress just in case, even tearing into my box spring, but I found nothing. Devyn looked and steamed all over his room since his bed frame was the place where we’d originally found bugs in April, but he didn’t find anything either. Besides, he was bite free. If the issue was in his room, why would I be covered in bites? I emailed the building again and asked for another inspection anyways, but they said no again. Even so, an Orkin inspector randomly knocked on our door the following week with no warning and asked me if he could look around. I let him, but we were completely cleared and he didn’t find anything. The following week, we got a notice that they were quickly spraying and dusting everyone’s outlets and doorways anyways, but that it was nothing to prepare for or worry about because it was just preventative routine.

In the meantime, I went to the doctor to get my skin looked at. I was covered in weird, massive hives that almost started to look like chicken pox as they healed. I spent the summer using Facetune to smooth out massive swollen patches on my arms in my drag photos. People at work and at shows started asking about what the hell I was covered in and I didn’t have any answers because I didn’t know. The breakouts would start like swollen red hives that itched to high heaven, but I never scratched them because it wasn’t a satisfying itch; touching them just really hurt. Then they’d start to heal but they’d turn into these deeper red patches that looked like hickies. I got teased at shows by people asking me who I’d been making out with even though I hate touching most humans and am far too busy to date. Then, they’d heal into these weird bruises with all kinds of colours and a few of them even scarred like tiny pink dots even though I never scratched.

I was uncomfortable every single day and my skin burned more often than not. I started having all these crazy anxious thoughts about my own health, assuming I was the problem since everyone kept confirming that our apartment and everything around me was normal and fine. What if that doctor five years ago who told me I might have an autoimmune disease but then never bothered helping my investigate it further had been right and this was how it was finally manifesting itself? I went to my current doctor again and she told me that I was definitely having an allergic reaction to something, but she’d never seen this before so she didn’t know what. She suggested changing all my laundry and shower products, but I’d already tried that and it didn’t help.

I was eventually put on an antibiotic skin cream that wasn’t covered by my insurance. I had to pay $70 of my own money for a goo that dried like a clear film, to be applied from my jawline to the very bottoms of my feet and slathered on every single nook and cranny of my body. This was supposed to stop whatever outside source was bothering my skin from being able to affect it quite so badly, and the doctor gave it to me because she was worried that my constant breakouts might become infected if my skin didn’t get a rest. She said that, because we didn’t know the cause, if I did get a skin infection, I would be hospitalized. She just kept telling me “You really have to fix this situation at home, it has to be solved”, as though I was just choosing to do nothing about it. As though I didn’t want to help myself and wasn’t agonizing over it every single moment of my life. She kept suggesting that maybe I go visit my parents or maybe I move, but my parents live on another continent and, at that point, I plain and simply didn’t have the money to move. All my savings and the money I would have used to pay for a moving truck and cover first and last month’s rent on a new apartment had been used for my regular living costs because I was being prevented from actually doing my jobs at every single turn, week after week, month after month. I had no idea what to do. We were in a horrible catch 22 of whether we should stay or go. No matter what we chose, there was something very difficult and rather awful that was very likely to happen with either option. We did a lot of just sitting in despaired silence, not even knowing how to talk about it because neither of us knew what the best course of action was.

Then, a couple weeks later, Devyn found another bed bug in his room. I took pictures and emailed the building immediately and they scheduled a fumigation… 18 days later. They made us live more than half the month knowing that this was probably what had been eating me alive and making my life uncomfortable and knowing that the longer they leave it, the more likely the bugs are to spread within the building. I had to bail on Drag Coven trips because I didn’t want to stay with our friends and risk giving them to someone else, plus I remembered how we’d been treated last time we had them. I missed more work time once again packing our entire home into plastic bags after sterilizing every object individually. I read through all kinds of DIY remedies and tried every single one of them. I packed all my belongings into black garbage bags and piled them on our sunny balcony so the sun could bake them and the heat would kill any bugs I didn’t get in my obsessive drying and steaming.

In the meantime, we lived with our furniture cramped into the middle of the floor, minimal clothing each, and barely any access to anything we owned. I basically stopped doing drag because I didn’t know which bags any of my things were in and I couldn’t dig all my crafting and styling stuff out unless I wanted to have to redo the cleaning and sterilizing process all over again. I went on the occasional trip if we had a hotel or if we were sleeping the car rather than at a friends, but I cancelled and missed out on a lot of stuff too. I stuck to things I’d already purchased tickets for and couldn’t skip without wasting even more money by not attending. In between, I scrambled to make up work time that I’d missed in the very time consuming process of packing all our stuff up yet again.

We got the treatment and we waited out the two weeks in between that and the second fumigation. I had bad reactions to both. We tried to keep things as clean as we could without cleaning away the treatment, but we were basically living like squatters in our own home by that point, all while paying full rent and losing money to prep, supplies, cat boarding, and other related costs that no one was reimbursing us for. My need to cram work into every spare moment got me to the point that I no longer saw a single sign of my friends when I was home in Toronto and not traveling in the small, safe, inspector-cleared windows I had. I couldn’t go to local shows or even meet friends for lunch because all I did was try to make up my work. At some point in there I also spent a solid week at home with increased migraines because our building actually caught fire and, even though we’re lucky to live high up enough that we avoided smoke damage, our whole floor and a lot of my clothes smelled strongly of smoke for weeks and smell is a headache trigger for me. My productivity slowed down again because I couldn’t even see out of both my eyes thanks to smoke migraines.

Eventually, after repeated fumigations, we were finally cleared from bed bugs once more. The very night we got clearance, however, Jamie and I walked into my kitchen and turned the lights on to see cockroaches skitter across the counter and down the sink. We’d been told not to clean our apartment’s nooks and crannies so many times in a row for so long because of the bed bugs that now we’d attracted cockroaches. We got more bugs from being forced to live in near-filth because before that we’d been too clean. I was absolutely outraged. I called the building only to find out that whoever had been dealing with our case before had been replaced with a new girl, and she was a problem from the beginning. She refused to look up our file or our email threads and made me walk her through the whole thing. Instead of listening to factual things that had already happened, she argued with me despite the fact that she hadn’t even been there for any of it.

We got fumigated for the cockroaches within a couple of weeks, but it didn’t work. We ended up controlling them ourselves with DIY methods that we looked up online. In the meantime, even though we were cleared for bed bugs, I left all of my things packed and on the balcony through most of September because I didn’t trust the place anymore. The moment I unpacked my things, I knew this new building rep would accuse us of being the problem if the bugs came back. We continued living like squatters out of caution while loose ends got tied up. That’s around the time that I went to Drag Con NYC and had my wallet stolen, leaving me in the US with no ID, bank card, or money. The prospect of having my finances and identity stopped/stolen while I was not only in another country but also in the middle of a living hell scenario at home for the third apartment in a row, parts of which actually required things that were in my stolen wallet, were all contributing factors in my first panic attack, which I had the misfortune of having in public as a drag show was emptying. To really put the cherry on top, onlookers at the show who don’t know me and have never spoken to me assumed that my panic attack- an uncontrollable, anxiety-induced physiological response to an unexpected high stress situation- was really just me having a temper tantrum about not getting to meet some famous drag queens.

While I recouped my IDs and bank cards and tried to make sure I still had everything I needed to pay for our apartment troubles back home, I was slandered repeatedly and from multiple sources (most of whom weren’t even there) all over the Internet for being entitled and making public scenes to “get what I want”. These were people who usually champion respect for mental health and pride themselves on being open about their own struggles with mental illness and considerate of others… and yet, when I had a legitimate panic attack, they downplayed it as a “fan fit” and discredited me being targeted for robbery solely because I have some type of small online following and they’re not sure they understand what we do. Where I normally wouldn’t have given two fucks, it felt like a complete kick in the face because I was already so downtrodden and anxious before we even left for NYC. I felt guilt ridden for even going on the trip when things back home were so bad, even though our apartment was cleared at that point and I would have actually lost money by not attending the con because we’d paid for it so far in advance, before shit hit the fan.

The entire situation following Drag Con in combination with the fact that I was still living out of garbage bags and not feeling settled in my own home kind of forced me into the realization that I might have to come to terms with some of my unhealthy mental habits. I’d been stressed for months, but I just hadn’t been talking about the depth of it. Now that panic attacks had started, I finally started admitting to myself that perhaps these were things I needed to take note of and actively try to fix. Devyn was a huge help here; he deals with an anxiety disorder himself, so he recognized the signs too and has patiently talked aspects of the whole issue out with me. I recently called my doctor to speak about anxiety management strategies, but actually getting the appointment is an ongoing process. They never pick up when I call so I leave a voicemail, but I’m always working so they keep calling back when I’m at work. It’s been an unfortunate couple weeks of telephone tag.

After Drag Con, though, things still weren’t sorted. I went home and immediately started breaking out in hives again. The building was absolutely adamant that we were clear, however, so I started looking at other sources once more. It just made no sense that, if we had no bugs and the bugs we did have didn’t seem to congregate in my bed, that I was the one being eaten alive. Devyn, on the other hand, had actually been exposed to the bugs in his bed frame months before and yet he had no bites. I looked into everything. I even paid high vet bills to have Dolce checked for fleas since she sleeps with me and not Devyn, but she turned out to be flea free. We treated her anyways out of paranoia even though deep down I knew she was never the issue. I wanted to cover my bases if the building was going to keep arguing with me. I considered throwing my bed away even though it’s perfectly good, not that old, and I can’t afford a new one. I literally would have been more comfortable sleeping on the floor than being covered in those bites.

Then at the beginning of October, after a three week drag marathon that I’d had to balance writing work all the way through because I was still playing catch up, I decided to try sleeping on the couch. I’d been rash free while we traveled because I wasn’t home and my stuff was clean because I’d left when we were clear and I’d sterilized it all before packing just in case. The moment I was home, though, I was breaking out again. I thought maybe sleeping on the couch would reduce my allergic reaction to what I assumed were another round of bed bug bites, and maybe the building would believe me if I proved the bed to be the issue, but it actually got worse. In the morning, while I was inspecting my arms, I literally caught a baby bed bug crawling out of my t-shirt. I put it in a bag and then flopped onto the couch to cry in frustration about it and when I sat down, a cockroach jumped out of the couch and skittered across the floor to the kitchen.

I had another anxiety attack. I cried uncontrollably all morning and was late for work. I qui traveling all together for the rest of the month and cancelled all prospective plans I had for October so I could stay home and deal with the whole mess, even though the thought of being trapped at home for that long made me physically ill. We convinced them to finally pull out the big guns and treat the apartment how it should have been months ago; with an intensive heat treatment designed to kill literally everything. We had to completely change how things were packed so that stuff could get baked the way it was supposed to be. I lost yet more work time because every time we’ve had a treatment so far, we’ve had to prepare the house differently and it’s time consuming.

When we got the heat treatment, we both returned home from work with this feeling of hope that maybe there was finally light at the end of the tunnel and our hell was over. This was like the ultimate treatment that’s proven to be effective 99% of the time. I’d had to yell and scream on the phone and send repeated emails every single day to even get the building to consider doing it because it’s expensive and they’d refused for weeks. Once again, I’d been accused of lying, overreacting, and causing the infestations myself by not cleaning my things properly and then setting old bugs free again each time I unpacked… even though I had never unpacked. I still haven’t fully unpacked as I write this. I’m literally still living out of boxes and don’t know where half my clothing is. It was a horrendous struggle to get the treatment, but we finally did.

When we got home, we found massive cracks all along the kitchen ceiling. We also found the plaster and paint of my bedroom wall buckled and cracked from top to bottom all the way across. Pieces of edging peeled off my writing desk and my bookshelf. People from the pest control company had moved all of our things around, putting stuff we’d left inside at their instruction out on the balcony but bringing things that I’d purposely left out there for fear of damage back inside to be heated when they shouldn’t have been. A very expensive and entirely unique handmade metal bodice I bought was scratched, missing edging, and had jewels and silver appliques falling off because they brought it inside after I left and heated it. They also rearranged the boxes in my room for no apparent reason, putting a heavy one on top of one that I’d marked fragile so that I found an expensive hand painted porcelain marionette my mom gave me as a gift from the Czech Republic smashed to pieces. When I sent the building pictures of the damage to our home and our things, I was told that if I wanted the cracks fixed I could fill out a maintenance request and that the rest of it wasn’t their problem.

We were still dealing with miscommunication and poor organization from the building as recently as last week. They finally started treating units around us, realizing that we’re probably neither the cause nor an isolated incident when things have been this bad. Within that process, however, they’d done things like tell us we’ll be part of another mass heat treatment so that we waste work time and lose money packing our house again, only to tell us when no one shows up that we were never included in the treated units and they never said that, despite me being able to prove it in the emails that they actually did. We finally had a trained dog inspection and a thorough investigation a few days ago and have finally been cleared of bugs once and for all, so that’s good news, but it doesn’t make me happy. I’m filled with distrust, I’m still shockingly poor from how much the last four months have run me in prep costs and lost work time, and I’m still dealing with unpacking our home and trying to manage my mental health and what is possibly anxiety on my own.

We’re not even finished with the entire process yet. I’ve once again demanded the rental rebates we’re legally entitled to, but I won’t hear back about whether the building is willing to cooperate with us without getting fully legal about it until next week. The only way I got them to even consider rebating us, which I was originally laughed at for, was to threaten not only filing a claim with the rental board, but also embarking on a harshly honest and detailed campaign against the rental company on social media and in mainstream media. Once again, I shouldn’t have to get crazy just to get the bare minimums of what the company is legally required to do according to their lease with me but, alas, here we are. If that’s what it takes for me to be reimbursed for the money this has cost me, that’s what I’ll do. We’ve been paying full rent for four months for the pleasure of living in a place that’s hardly fit to even be a human dwelling, no matter how big and lovely it looks on the surface. As if that’s not enough, all throughout the ordeal, we’ve been lied to, misinformed, forgotten about, left waiting, and so on. Last week on the phone, this woman accused me of dropping F-bombs on her when I used the phrase “please stop interrupting me”. That sentence doesn’t even have the letter F in it. She later admitted she was just mad at me for pointing out that her own communication failures had caused a mix up in treatment dates and that she hadn’t actually heard me swear at her… because I hadn’t.

At the same time, I’ve had to balance being incredibly lonely thanks to not traveling and spending every waking moment of my life at home trying to make up work, with constantly being hassled by outside sources about where I am or what I’m doing. People who actually care but aren’t here want to know if I’m okay and aren’t satisfied by the vague details I provide in an attempt to save myself being treated like filth again. People who don’t know me as well but have noticed my absence in clubs and the drag scene have openly accused me of skipping their shows on purpose out of a lack of interest in my local scene, or choosing to prioritize other city’s shows and my “fancy”, well known friends over my friends who haven’t been on TV, as though I only do drag to kiss celebrity ass. People who have talked badly about me call me up to tattle on other people who have also talked badly about me, as though they’re not really an active part of the assumptions and misinformation that have gone around behind my back for the last few months. I’m discussed as though I’m a problem for not coming around and for being a “bad friend” by people who have poisoned the scene for me with their malicious talk and who never checked in on me like a real friend would. That’s all gone on while I’ve been at home trying to regulate my breathing, make enough money to pay rent, and battle a company that doesn’t care if I’m hospitalized as a direct results of their apartment conditions or not, probably while I have a migraine.

And before anyone says it, because some over enthusiastic free advice pusher inevitably will- sure, I could get a better paying job. Or could I? I know people much more qualified and experienced than myself who are still working retail because no one wants us overeducated millennials for anything. And even if I did, that’s the end of a lot of stuff for me, and the thought of giving up the things I love, which are currently the only things keeping me somewhere even remotely close to happy, doesn’t exactly benefit my mental health overly much. A regular schedule means my role in Drag Coven is dead, which is a shame when we’ve invested so much time and money in what we do, and when it actually has the potential to be legitimized if we only had the time. Besides, when in the midst of everything that’s happened in the past four months am I supposed to have gone to an interview and been in the proper state of mind to do well or make it count? It’s frustrating to know that I once had the balance to make a more-than-comfortable living with my current work combination and that that is now, thanks to circumstances beyond my control, effectively ruined for the moment unless I keep busting my ass at every moment to get back on track. Of course, I’m more than willing to do that, and that’s where I’ve been, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, particularly when I’m filled with a constant secret dread that this isn’t really over and shit with my apartment is going to hit the fan again any moment, even though we’re cleared “beyond a shadow of a doubt”.

So… that’s why I haven’t been doing well. That’s why you haven’t seen me on Drag Coven. That’s why I haven’t been at your shows. That’s what’s been going on with my apartment and why I’ve been struggling with my health and finances. I’m in what is fast becoming my third year of complete unsettled living and it has just gotten really fucking hard to handle. It’s not even solved yet; the building might answer me next week and tell me to fuck myself over the rebate. What then? Because of this situation directly, I barely have the money for the filing fees with the rental board, let alone for lawyer fees to take it any further than that.

So I’m just sitting here waiting to see how it all goes because, at this point, I’ve tried every solution available except moving, and my resources and energy are exhausted. I’m just sitting here trying desperately to write about crafts just to make a bit of money. Feeling stressed about whether I’m finally safe to unpack my things and stop living out of literal trash bags. Trying not to be a totally garbage friend to the people who have actually been really supportive of me during this time but also wondering which of my other friends hate me for “being unsupportive” this week.

…Fingers crossed, I guess.

The Liberating Hell of Female Birth Control (or “I’m Having an Existential Crisis Over the Old Chunk of Plastic in My Uterus”)

I’ve always talked openly about my IUD because I’ve had a really good experience but also because my road there was a bumpy one. I’ve been talking about it more lately because it’s about to expire and I have to get it changed and that’s been a weird process for my body to go through. Talking about it online got me a lot of questions from other people; some wanted to know how I liked it, others asked why I chose it, and some people started just asking me questions about my sexual health in general. I’m not sure why, but I guess we all just need to talk about our bodies sometimes and the Internet keeps us just enough removed that people feel less embarrassed talking about things there that they might not bring up in person. A few people asked me if I’d write a blog post about my IUD while others told me they liked reading the funny experiences and stories I answered them with when they asked me more generalized questions about periods and sex. I don’t sleep well, so I sat down and wrote a massively long piece about all of those things combined!

I am not a doctor. There is no way you should listen to me, or any blog post, over what your doctor has told you, unless you genuinely feel like something about their advice wasn’t right. Even then, you should only use writing like this to inform your own experience and intuition. This post is solely about MY experiences with birth control. Some of the issues are unique to me, but a lot of what’s here is also experienced by other women and they just don’t know it, so they don’t speak up about it or they deal with it silently. That’s why I think it’s an important topic to talk about in depth and without shame.

I’ve always been sexually aware. I barely remember a time when I didn’t know at least the basic facts of sex, even before I could develop any sort of interest in it. I didn’t just understand “where babies came from”, either. I knew that some people had sex for fun whether they wanted a baby or not. I also knew early on (I’m not specifically sure why, as I don’t remember pointed conversations about it) that sex was something that happened between two willing adults and that no one could really make you do anything with your body that you didn’t want to do (except get blood tests and go to the dentist). Even as a kid, I was a “Don’t touch me unless I say so” kind of person and I know my mom certainly influenced that, but she didn’t exactly sit me down and drill it into my head every morning while I ate breafkfast. Regardless, I appreciate that I understood these things so early.

I don’t remember asking my mom to explain sex to me. I don’t remember having any initial discussion (or, as my friends and I would later call it in middle school, a “sexure lecture”). I do remember that my parents let me rent a VHS from the movie place on the military base where we lived that explained, quite cut and dry, how babies were made and born using little cartoons. I was the kid who would correct other people’s children in a matter of fact manner when they gossiped about babies being delivered by storks or being pushed out the mom’s belly button when the dad peed on her stomach. I know I definitely caused more than one family to have awkward discussions with their kids after school when I broke down the real story for my friends at recess and blew all their minds. It was early, too, and I didn’t see a problem with it. I wasn’t telling them dirty stories or showing them porn, I was just explaining how bodies worked because I thought it was really weird that they didn’t know. They had bodies, didn’t they? They were going to grow into adults someday, weren’t they? Shouldn’t we all be prepared for that shit? I remember making a boy cry in the second grade because he tried to tell another girl that babies fell out their mom’s butt anywhere they pleased, like in the grocery store, and when she said he was wrong he punched her in the arm and made her cry. I stepped in and told him how it really happened and the truth scared him so he told me to stop talking. I told him it’s not up to him whether I talk or not and that if I saw him punch a girl again, I’d punch him a lot harder. He ran off crying too.

Later on, around the fourth grade, I got earlier sexual health classes than most North American kids when my family moved to the UK. The Scottish school I went to sat us in an alternating boy-girl seating plan and kept us that way when they played us informational VHS tapes on roller stand TVs about sex and puberty that didn’t spare any detail and didn’t give us the courtesy of cartoons. They used a combination of alarming bisected scientific diagrams and pictures and videos of real bodies. I definitely saw female bodies there, but there was certainly more emphasis on men. I remember having to learn all the different parts and functions of the male reproductive system, but when it came to women we just heard about “The Vagina”, as though it was a singular whole entity that one might marvel at but never admit to exploring in depth, lest they get eaten. After that, it was straight to the sexplanations. They might as well have shown us porn. Immediately following, they’d make us change for gym class, which we did sitting in our seats at our desks, still in that boy-girl formation. Most of us weren’t even old enough to wear bras yet and we saw each other topless and in our underwear once a day, the whole class together, after watching weird naked videos. The whole thing seemed like a prank, but no one ever jumped out and shouted “Gotcha!” at us.

Once I moved back to Canada, kids were only just learning the same stuff in grade 9 that I’d learned five years earlier. I remember one “health” teacher (because the school board in the prairies of Winnipeg, Manitoba wouldn’t call it “sex ed”) told us to practice putting condoms on by sliding them over a banana. She chose me as her unfortunate guinea pig, probably because I was showing off about how smart and well informed I was even though I wouldn’t let any of the boys touch me, and she didn’t provide any other instruction than “put the condom on the banana, making sure to pinch the tip”. Well, I put the condom on properly and all, but she hadn’t told me that I didn’t have to peel the banana. She assumed I’d just slide it right on top of the peel and then she turned to write on the chalkboard and didn’t supervise me. I peeled the thing, started unrolling the condom down its length, and promptly snapped the banana in half in one hand. Boys wanting to touch me wasn’t a hassle anymore for about a year after that because they were all worried I’d tear their junk clear off with enthusiasm.

I got my period when I was 14. I was late to the party compared to a lot of my friends, and really late compared to my cousins. I was about to leave for dance class but my stomach felt a little bit uncomfortable, so I told my mom I was going to the bathroom one last time before we drove to the studio. I thought I had bad gas. When I pulled my underwear down, though, I found a dark brown mess that made me think I’d somehow shit myself and not felt it. I couldn’t believe it. It never occurred to me that it was blood because no one had ever told me that blood could be that dark. I thought a woman’s period was bright red and gushing, just like wounds in movies. For all the detailed sex education I’d had early on, I didn’t get a very in-depth walk through female puberty. It was more like a crash course with vague references to eggs and bleeding, lots of people in class clearing their throats, and a relieved “Okay, moving on!” when we’d all survived the ordeal that was discussing the female reproductive system. I knew what my period was, why, and how it worked, but there were some crucial details I would have appreciated that no one ever thought to mention. I was a busy kid with about a thousand hobbies, so I’d never really spent time exploring my own equipment for myself either. I had shit to do.

Totally embarrassed and wondering if I was dying or going to explode, I poked my head out the bathroom door and said to my mom “I think I might have sharted”. Being an all-knowing Mom, and knowing that I wasn’t usually in the habit of unwittingly shitting my pants at the age of 14, she clued into what was happening immediately and asked if she could come in. I had no shame at that age and still wandered around the house with no shirt on because I had the same physique I’d had when I was 7, so she came in and said “Nope. That’s your period. Fuck” (my mom is a strange combination of eloquently spoken, well educated teacher and opinionated feminist turned military wife who doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks). She got me clean underwear and a panty liner (I already knew how to use those because I’d been using them since I was a kid. Did you know you can get strep in other places than just your throat? That’s a whole different graphic health story. I’ll spare you). Then she got me a tampon. I was worried about that because I’d heard every wild middle schooler rumour and urban legend you could possibly imagine, like the girl who did the splits with a tampon in and it went so far up that she never got it out and had to live her life like that, or the girl who didn’t change hers for three weeks and she got blood poisoning and went into septic shock and died, or the girl who chose one that was too big and when she put it in she accidentally tore her own hymen so she technically wasn’t a virgin anymore even though she actually was. My mom promptly told me those were all stupid (“Except the part where you actually do have to change your tampon”) and slapped the tampon into my hand. She left and shut the door to give me a bit of privacy and shouted instructions through it.

Somewhere in this process I learned that women have a different hole through with they pee that is not their vagina and that blew my entire damn teenage mind. How had no one told me? Why hadn’t I seen it? How had I not felt that and noticed? I thought I only had one single thing going on down there and that’s where all the plumbing action took place and I was mildly disgusted that, after all those failed excuses for “health classes” and even some semi-informational ones, no one had made the truth about women peeing abundantly clear. Since then, I’ve met fully grown men who have regular exposure to vaginas who still don’t know that we pee from a separate spot. In any case, I succeeded with the tampon after a few minutes (I considered refusing it, but I was a competitive dancer and swimmer and I knew a pad wouldn’t fly in either of those scenarios. I could easily picture blood spattered ballet tights on stage or a waterlogged cotton pad slipping out the side of my bathing suit) and I came out of the bathroom thinking I was all ready for dance class. My mom told me we wouldn’t be going that day and marched me into my room to put on pajamas. She handed me a Tylenol, which confused me because I didn’t have a headache (for once) and I asked why we weren’t going. She said I might start feeling sick from my period but I insisted that I was fine. I thought my dance teachers would be mad at me if I didn’t go and I’d danced with a broke ankle for weeks once upon a time, so I was convinced I could handle a stomach ache. I got firmly rejected and within an hour I was grateful because suddenly it felt like there were knife-armed aliens in my stomach rolling around and kicking my insides and trying to cut their way out.

My periods definitely weren’t as bad as some people’s, but they were certainly worse than average because they would team up with so many other health issues I had. My migraines always got worse and I was always more nauseous than my already queasy default. I have weird unsolved thirst issues and I’d get so thirsty on my period that sometimes I’d actually wake up crying and gasping. I used to get random crazy fevers, but they were always worse when my period started. I’d spend days feeling hot to touch but frozen on the inside and with achey muscles and skin. I didn’t pass out randomly in public like my cousins did when my grandma took us shopping at the beach, but I’d have to miss school and sit out for dance class and I always felt badly about it because I thought other girls were getting through it okay without this much hassle, and some of them were. I felt like such a whiner. By my second year getting my period, I’d started sucking it up to do things and go places no matter how much pain I was in, but it was still absolutely horrendous and illness inducing every month. Mine also lasted way longer than my friends’. They’d be done in three days and I’d still be fever flushed and convinced I was bleeding to death a full week later.

Even though my periods were bad and I probably could have gotten a birth control prescription early on to regulate them, I actually ended up getting the pill because of sex. I decided I was ready to try having sex when I was 16. I didn’t end up actually doing it until I’d turned 17 a few months later because, like the over-analyzer I am, I took some time to really think about it first, but I was 16 when I decided I was ready. I didn’t really consult my boyfriend about whether he was ready- he was a hormonal teenage boy and it was obvious from his behaviour that he was, so as far as I was concerned, it was up to me. I knew, however, that birth control comes before sex. I’m not sure how I knew that so concretely; I know my mom mentioned birth control to me and I’d certainly seen her take it when I was young (I remember spinning the dial around the round package and messing all her days of the week up while I sat on the counter so she could cut my bangs), but I don’t remember us ever sitting down and having an actual conversation about the fact that, no matter what, birth control comes before sex. That part was just common sense, otherwise you weren’t controlling any birth at all. I just assumed that’s how life worked, so I followed suit.

One morning while I was “doing my makeup” (read: skipping all other steps and just slathering my waterline in thick black kohl pencil) for school, I started thinking about how it was going to happen eventually, so I might as well prepare myself. I casually shouted down the hall to my mom “Hey! I think I should go on birth control”. She seemed slightly taken aback but just said “Okay, cool” and made me a doctor’s appointment. I remember there being some kind of subtle rumbling argument at one point where my dad found out that I was getting it when I hadn’t told him and got really pissed off, but my mom stopped him from approaching me about it. I can’t even fully remember what happened and I think that’s partially because my mom kept it under wraps knowing that we’d have a blow out, protecting me from the embarrassment out of respect for that fact that I’d had the brains to be open about it and actually protect myself, but I was also just too wrapped up in my own little hormonal teen world to take much notice. I didn’t care what he thought; if I wanted birth control, I was going to get it. Wasn’t that how it worked? I hadn’t even kept it from him maliciously or out of embarrassment. He was a military dad who wasn’t always around and it genuinely didn’t even cross my mind to ask or tell him. It was a Mom thing. I just sort of instinctively felt, without saying or acknowledging as much, that he didn’t have a uterus so it wasn’t his issue, business, or stress. I didn’t even consult my boyfriend at the time. I just got the pills, waited three months while they regulated in my body (not because the doctor told me to, but because I’d heard from a cool girl at school that that’s what you were supposed to do and she had topless pictures of herself on her flip phone, so I figured she might know), and then announced it one day, like sex was now an option if we were bored sometime and had a free afternoon to give it a go. Or not. Whatever. I’d be prepared either way.

We did find a free afternoon, so we did have sex. It was fine. It didn’t hurt much (that was another thing I’d heard horror stories about) and I didn’t bleed, but it didn’t feel great either. I mostly just felt hot. My boyfriend wasn’t a virgin but he knew I was, so he tried to make it special. He turned off all the lights and lit candles that smelled like nothing but old wax, and for some reason he opted to play Hotel California on repeat the whole time. I still laugh a little when I hear that song now. We had to be quiet because his mom and both his grandparents were home but they really liked TV and never bothered us (except that one fluke time that his mom walked in on us fully naked a few months later and said “Oh, okay. Just checking” and then walked out again and left us to it. That was awkward). We used a condom, but it was one I’d brought because, for no real reason, I just didn’t trust boys to remember anything or do things right, so I had a whole pack of them in a little zipped pocket in my purse, like I was going to take on the whole town. Sex was nice but kind of boring after however many minutes. I figured I’d keep doing it since he seemed to like it so much and it wasn’t much of a hassle to me unless I had a bad migraine, in which case no one was allowed to touch me anyways and I’d basically hiss like an angry cat if he tried it under those circumstances.

Sex got better later on, when we moved cities again and suddenly I was the cute new girl in a tiny town where everyone had dated everyone else. All of a sudden I could have my pick of whoever I wanted, including other girls’ boyfriends (not that the selection was award winning in a tiny town where there’s nothing to do and you already know everyone’s business). I had some great sex occasionally, but it was mostly just fine. My birth control, however, was great. It was the best idea I’d ever had. My favourite part was that it made my periods so incredibly regular that I knew without a doubt that it would come when I woke up on the second Tuesday of every month, like clockwork, no matter what time of day I woke up. It was dependable and comfortable. I watched other girls around me hide their pills, ask their friends to buy their condoms, have sex without anything and get sick or pregnant, lie to their parents, and continue to struggle with hormones and periods, and I was grateful for my situation. I didn’t even have trouble remembering to take it every day at the same time. I didn’t have to set a phone alarm like my friends. I was on point and ready each day. 

So, up until six years ago, I was on an estrogen based birth control called Alesse and I was its biggest fan. My skin was clear, I’d never had even a single pregnancy scare (although that was partially because I was a well informed feminist ho by university, with unlimited access to free condoms thanks to all my friends working in the university service centres). I’ve gotten migraines since I was three, though, and right around the end of my undergraduate degree, the headaches were out of control. I missed my last week of undergrad classes because I got a migraine that made me throw up every few hours and blurred my vision for six days. I had to fight to postpone my last deadlines and then scrape myself up off the floor and actually get the work done when I finally emerged from the migraine cave, all pale ands skinny and shaking. I’d only gotten the deferrals because I’d yelled and threatened to take my story to the local media; male university doctors had refused to give me exemption notes because two weeks before I’d gotten a lung infection that traveled to my other lung, my throat, my sinuses, my ears, my eyes, and was narrowly caught before it made its merry way into my brain. I was put on an antibiotic called Erythromycin that I had a terrible reaction to and I vomited so much that I ended up in the ER hooked up to fluid and gravol IVs. So, when I came in with the migraine from hell, doctors thought I was lying to get out of classes even though they knew I have a 20+ year history of migraines. One man told me I was probably pregnant (I wasn’t, and he said that every time I went in for anything. I’ve never been pregnant). Another man told me in a condescending tone that it was psychological but then didn’t even refer me to any type of therapist. He just sent me home even though I cried and begged for help. I got my deferrals by crying, yelling, screaming, and threatening people, which I shouldn’t have had to do, but I look 13 and no one ever listens to me, so unfortunately that often ends up being the only thing that works for me (please also see: the mouse apartment fiasco, for those who have been following how much I yell at people for a while now).

Once I’d finally survived the end of the term and finished my degree, I went back into the clinic to beg for help with migraines. I was already underweight because I’d had mono three times in my undergrad (that can happen) and now I couldn’t eat thanks to migraine nausea. At one point in my undergrad, I weighed 96 lbs at 5’4″ even though I’ve never dieted, struggled with self image, or suffered from eating disorders or body dysmorphia. I’m just an unlucky, sick person who doctors only like to help sometimes. When people ask me (usually accusingly) how I stay skinny now, I end up awkwardly explaining that no, I’m not fit and I don’t diet or eat well, I’m just a fucking mess and shouldn’t be emulated as “body goals”. 

This time, I was lucky enough to get a female doctor for the first time in four years at university. I explained my issue and, to my utter disappointment, even she didn’t seem interested so I broke down bawling and straight up refused to leave her office until she helped me. She finally felt so bad for my pitiful form that she asked a few more half-hearted questions. At one point, way later in the game than she should have, she asked me if I was on birth control (which I’d actually already told her, but sure). I said yes and told her what kind and she stopped and looked me dead in the eyes and said “Wait. You’re on an estrogen based birth control? Why?” I was confused. I said that’s just what they’d given me, and weren’t they all estrogen based? She asked me why I’d never switched to something else and I told her that I was afraid of needles (also previous iterations of the Depo Provera shot had links to birth defects and a problematic social history related to the forcible colonization of Canadian First Nations women’s bodies through unwilling sterilization, but that’s a whole other body of writing that we won’t get into now), and I knew IUDs existed but everyone had always told me that because I’m small, they probably wouldn’t fit me so I shouldn’t bother. Implanon (a slow release implant that goes inside a small incision in your upper arm) made me queasy to think about and diaphragms, sponges, and spermicides seemed outdated and untrustworthy to me. I’d also never really been walked through the details of these options by any adult or professional; I was just going off of what I’d read by myself on the Internet. 

The doctor told me that estrogen based birth controls (or what they existed as at the time) can essentially kill migraine sufferers who experience visual aura, which I do. They vastly increase your chances of blood clot and stroke to a dangerous degree. She couldn’t believe that I’d been on one for so long with such good results, nor that the long list of doctors I’d seen had let me continue taking them knowing what kind of migraines I had. She immediately cancelled my ongoing prescription and renewals for Alesse and prescribed me a progestin based birth control pill called Micronor. These pills have a different hormonal effect on your body and therefore don’t raise your chances of stroke or blood clot. She also told me my increased estrogen levels were probably what was increasing my migraines and this change might make them go down, even though it probably wouldn’t take them away. I couldn’t believe that I was literally in danger and no one had ever cared enough or been well informed enough to tell me.  

I was on Micronor for a year and it was absolutely horrendous. It took me that entire year to clue in that it was probably my birth control making me miserable, but during that time I was a complete and utter basket case. I gained weight, I had breakouts, my hair went limp, I was even more nauseous than usual and had trouble eating even though I couldn’t get any of my pants to zip up. I cried about absolutely everything. I broke up with my long term boyfriend about six times and begged for him back almost immediately each time. When my cat had to be declawed because she tried to scratch two people’s actual eyeballs out (and almost succeeded) I stood in the middle of a Canadian Tire with my mom and just bawled my eyes out, openly sobbing, wailing, and yelling that I was a bad animal mother and my cat deserved better. I quit jobs and was a total bitch to all my friends. I cried every morning waking up for work because Ottawa’s job market was terrible and I felt worthless. I got accepted into a brand new Masters program with a TAship and funding and instead of being happy, I called my mom and cried that I was going to fail out so I shouldn’t even bother accepting. They took me into the program knowing that I wanted to write about Lady Gaga, a dream that had started as a joke, and instead of being excited about it I bawled that they would judge me and think I was pathetic and no one would respect me because I was an oversized toddler and a garbage person. I was never actually depressed nor at risk of anything serious, I was just hormonally bat shit crazy.

One day on the bus I sat behind two girls I didn’t know. One girl started telling her friend that she’d tried a new birth control pill but it made her sad, so she switched to a different one two weeks in and now she was feeling great. Her friend started wondering if maybe she should switch too because she’d felt kind of sick and gross since she started hers and hadn’t really thought about switching because she forgot it was an option. It was a really simple thing to over hear, but it hit me right in the face and I started crying right there on the bus to work. I’d been suffering for an entire year on a medication that was making me feel like I was out of control and had become a horrible person, but because doctors and medications had always been such a damn struggle, it had literally never occurred to me that I could say no to something, tell the doctor it wasn’t the best thing for me, and ask for or demand something better.

That day, a rich white man from the fancy office building I worked in came into my coffee shop and made a joke that was horribly transphobic. The two women with him, who I was aware knew better but who I also knew thought the man was hot, faked that they thought it was okay and giggled and flipped their hair instead of telling him to fuck off. Still upset from the realization that I’d been putting myself through hell for a year for no reason, I lost my entire mind on this guy. I told him to get out of my store. I told him that we didn’t support transphobia and didn’t serve terrible people and that I was sick of hearing his horrible, oppressive jokes all summer. He tried to argue with me and I straight up just yelled in his direction. Like, I didn’t even use words, I just made loud noises until he got uncomfortable and left. My boss walked in half way through and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so she said “I think I might have to fire you…?” in an uncertain tone, half smiling and half scared. I took off my apron, grabbed a delicious, freshly baked apple fritter, told her she was a good boss and I was a bad employee but that I wasn’t sorry (she told me not to be and really did ban the transphobic guy, and I actually ended up working there again in about two weeks), and I walked out (without paying for the fritter- my boss said I “clearly needed it”). I got on a bus and went straight to the doctor to demand a change in birth control.

The doctor was a man again and he tried to tell me that my birth control was fine, but that I probably had anxiety. I told him otherwise and gave him examples and he just kept arguing with me. I started to cry and he lead me by the shoulder to the hallway and tried to close his door. Suddenly I just felt absolutely infuriated. I stuck my foot into the doorjamb and pushed it back open. He asked me what else he could do for me, so I dug my birth control out of my purse, threw it onto the floor, and stomped on it. As fast as I could, I started rambling off the whole saga about how this was the second birth control that was doing its best to kill me and how no one would help me and that was unacceptable. I told him that if he didn’t believe me, maybe he should try taking it and see how it made him feel. I told him I was absolutely livid that I was going through all of this just to try and have a healthy sex life while my largely unsupportive boyfriend didn’t have to do a damn thing, even though he was the one who REALLY should have been taking responsibility for contraception because he was the one with the sex drive and I’d always had the lacking sexual voraciousness of wet lettuce. I went on a massive rant about how I was doing it to protect myself and take responsibility for my body, but that it was total bullshit that I was going through all this while every man I’d ever had a relationship with didn’t have to do a god damn thing but slide a condom on sometimes, and half of them selfishly didn’t even want to do that. I pushed my way back into the doctor’s office and lost my mind for the third time that day.

That’s how I finally got a prescription for an intrauterine device. I hadn’t walked in wanting one specifically but as I read through a pamphlet (which the doctor had handed me rather than actually walking me through my options himself), it still seemed like a better option than Implanon and the Depo shot since pills were out. I asked him for the IUD and he said “Okay, you have to go somewhere else for that. I can’t help you here”. I asked where I was supposed to go. Was it a hospital procedure? Was it just another clinic? He literally said to me “I don’t know, call a sexual health clinic or maybe a women’s… place”. I glared at him, threw his pamphlet in the garbage, and left saying “Screw this, I’ll do it all myself”.

Lucky for me, nearly my entire department was made up of women with a uterus of their own and similarly shitty doctor experiences. One of my colleagues referred me to a free sexual health clinic downtown and I went there for an appointment with my prescription slip. They were slammed when I walked in and I was treated with respect but efficiency. Their building also housed a safe injection site and syringe drop off project that was being piloted and it was a resource centre for all people, rather than just a women’s health centre, so it was basically just organized chaos with people in every corner. I felt good about it though because it was very clean and the form I filled out had separate categories for sex and gender and gave me more than two gender options to tick. It was still pretty binary, since the options were “male”, “female”, and “other”, but it was the first time I’d ever seen anything more than just a gender dichotomy on a form, even though I was enrolled in a feminist program.
During my appointment, I was almost talked out of the IUD. The one they could provide me very cheaply with my insurance was made of copper and had no hormone coating but it was smaller. The woman told me I needed a smaller one because I’m a small person and, from what she could feel after a very tickly belly massage that made me have to pee, she speculated that I might have a slightly smaller than average uterus. She was pretty sure it wasn’t tilted (a woman with a tilted uterus cannot have an IUD because the angle increases the marginal chance of the device perforating her uterine wall), but smaller uteruses are often slightly angled, so I’d be better with the smaller device. The small copper one, however, can cause lot more cramping and discomfort because it doesn’t involve any hormones at all, so it doesn’t stop your period, nor stop your uterus from contracting if you already naturally get bad period cramps. I wasn’t sure about that. My period cramps were already hell.

My other option was a plastic Mirena IUD. I’d heard of them before from watching Teen Mom when I got tired of studying and writing my thesis. I asked about that and the doctor kind of hesitated. The Mirena IUD (or, at least, the one that was current at the time) was a little bit bigger and had a hormone coating of progestin. I shied away from that idea because I felt like progestin was ruining my life but she explained that it was solely an external hormone coating that would only really affect the localized area around the IUD and my uterus directly, rather than coursing through my body like the pills and making me crazy. The Mirena had a 50-ish% chance of safely taking my period away all together by discouraging my uterus from producing a blood lining but otherwise letting my body naturally go through its monthly cycle with minimal risk. My ovaries would still function but the device and the hormones would prevent pregnancy by taking away anything at would sustain released eggs. The only issue was that it was slightly bigger, so I would probably feel it. It was also not covered by my insurance because it was brand name and classified differently, so it would cost me $300.
I opted for the Mirena. The doctor was slightly apprehensive at first but told me that if I got it and it turned out to be too big for me and caused me discomfort, she’d replace it for free. We set this up by actually getting me two IUDs because this doctor had a little system going where she stocked up on donated emergency copper IUDs that women with good insurance didn’t want or need but could get without much charge and were willing to donate to the clinic. This meant that if a woman with little money and no insurance but who really needed birth control came in, the doctor could give her a donated IUD, or that if someone like me came in with a failed expensive IUD that was hurting, she could replace it without me having to pay double. She said if I was willing to donate a copper IUD, she’d put me on a list she kept and make sure I got one back for free if I had problems with my Mirena. The possibility of being period free and mood stabilized on top of baby free for five years (that’s how long an IUD lasts, but you can have them removed earlier at your request) was just too good for me to pass up, especially when the copper one might make my already-terrible periods worse and fail to regulate my hormones.

The doctor gave me two prescriptions, one for a copper IUD and on for a Mirena. I wasn’t sure whether getting a spare IUD might constitute insurance fraud, so I never told my parents about the donation part (Hi Mom!) but as far as I was concerned, I was helping another woman and covering my own ass. The copper IUD came out something like 90% covered and the doctor offered to pay the remaining amount herself (I forget what it was, but she paid less than $30 for me) since I’d been willing to donate it. I then spent $300 I’d originally squirrelled away for Lady Gaga tickets on a Mirena IUD for myself. We made an appointment for me to come back the next week to get it put in. I handed the doctor the copper IUD and she put my name on it in extra big letters just in case I needed it later. I didn’t end up needing it and never came back for it, so I hope it really was donated to someone who benefitted from it after all.

I went home with my Mirena and took the package out of the box. The packaging was clear and you could see the device attached to the end of the applicator stick. It looked huge and intimidating and I hated it but I was desperate and more than willing to get it. I called my boyfriend, who had been somewhat understanding but not overly supportive about it, and made him come over. He’d been patient with all of my mood swings and about as kind to me as an attractive early 20s straight dude can be to his “crazy girlfriend”, but he refused to actually really talk about “the whole birth control thing” with me. He knew I was on it and that was good enough for him. He didn’t want to hear about periods and cramps and how they were going to open my cervix with a clamp that looked like a duck’s bill and stick a piece of plastic inside. When he got there, I showed it to him and he was disgusted. He told me he didn’t want to see that, hear about it, or think about it. I told him I wanted to talk about it because I was scared, the whole thing had been an ordeal, and I was kind of doing it for both of us. He said it wasn’t his issue. I started to get upset and told him I was actually hoping he’d come with me to the appointment the next week because I had a history of passing out during small procedures and that made me worry about going alone. He said “You survived getting piercings and tattoos. You’ll be fine”. I asked him to come anyways, because what if I wasn’t? He said no. “That’s the kind of thing you take your mom to”. My mom lived in Italy and he knew it. My grandparents and all my aunts and cousins lived in far away cities. The only relative living near me was my younger brother. I reminded him of this and he told me to take a friend. I argued and said that my friends weren’t responsible for our sexual health. He wouldn’t see anything. He didn’t even have to be in the room, he could just wait for me in the waiting room. I just didn’t know how I’d feel after and wanted someone there just in case. He said “I’m not responsible for this. I don’t want to be there. This is your issue”. I dumped him on the spot and made him leave.

I didn’t speak to my boyfriend all the next week. He tried to contact me a couple of times but I told him he was an insensitive jerk who didn’t deserve to have sex with me anyways, so he certainly didn’t need to come to my appointment. I didn’t want him there anymore. I’d genuinely decided that I’d rather pass out on the floor and just lay there until I woke up or have strangers tend to me than have him glowering in the corner, making me and my uterus feel like a burden even though he sure liked it when he could have consequence free sex with me because I was careful. The whole conversation had made me feel a little bit devalued and unappreciated and I found myself feeling happier that he wasn’t coming. This wasn’t about him after all, it was about taking care of myself. 
The morning of my appointment, however, I went out to the bus stop and found him standing there, looking ashamed and shy. He said he’d called me a couple times to apologize but couldn’t because I wouldn’t pick up. He was sorry and had thought about it and was ready to come support me however I wanted (I found out later that he hadn’t really come to that conclusion on his own like he’d said; he’d told his mom I dumped him and when she asked why, he told her the story and she called him a jackass, yelled at him for an hour, and said she’d have dumped him too. Knowing it was his mom who had to tell him why he was wrong made his “revelation” less sincere and just made me mad).

We went into the appointment and everything was fine. My boyfriend insisted on coming in to hold my hand even though I didn’t really want him in the room. He didn’t even end up holding my hand. Instead, he stood off the the side, practically facing the corner like he was in a time out. I appreciated that he was trying, but he clearly still didn’t want to be there and I honestly hadn’t wanted him to come anymore. His previous temper tantrum about it all had totally changed my motivations and views; I was no longer getting the IUD for our mutual protection, nor any reason to do with him. I was doing it to heal the damage the pills had done and make sure I was safe if and when I decided I wanted to have sex with someone. When it came to my birth control, he didn’t matter anymore. It pissed me off that he’d shown up when, in the end, I’d asked him not to come after all, fully explained why, and made it clear that going alone might be the better choice. He’d shown up anyways, against my wishes, to assuage his own guilt and make himself feel better, not because he’d actually changed his mind or wanted to be there to support me. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. His presence felt totally self serving.

The procedure itself was simple and much more pain free than I’d worried it would be. The night before and the morning of the appointment, I’d been told to take Ibuprofen to help with pain and pre-emptively help with swelling. My part in things was much like getting a regular Pap smear; I put my feet up and just laid there. The doctor used the big duck clamp to open things up so she could see my cervix and then used a smaller but similar tool to open that so she could insert the IUD. The IUD is shaped a lot like the star sign Aries, so it has two round arms that come out of the top and extend to the side. These are pliable so the doctor can fold them down to make the IUD smaller when they put it though your cervix. Once it’s in, the doctor pulls or slides part of the plastic arm that it’s on so the IUD disconnects and rests in your uterus. I’m not entirely sure how it disconnects- I’m pretty flexible, but I’m not THAT bendy and I didn’t really want to know in the moment. My doctor was very reassuring and told me when to take a deep breath and then breathe out for the parts that hurt. I wouldn’t even really say it DID hurt. It was more like a pinching sensation, but very deep inside where I didn’t really know I could feel a pinch. It was absolutely uncomfortable but, like all my tattoos, not nearly as harrowing as I’d built it up to be in my mind.

The whole thing only took a few minutes and it was over. The doctor unclamped my cervix and trimmed my strings. She explained to me that, for removal, the IUD has two fine plastic strings (like fishing line) attached to the end. They’re very long at first when it’s inserted but the doctor trims them to barely an inch. The idea is for them to be long enough that they can later be used to pull the IUD out when you get it changed or removed, but not so long that they bother you. She said that some women can feel their strings and come back to have them trimmed more (for the love of all things sweet and holy, please don’t try to trim them yourself). She also said that very occasionally a woman will have a partner who can feel the strings during intercourse if they’re too long and will come in for a trim then too. I got lucky and have never had either of those happen. The doctor also told me that once every few months it’s a good idea to reach with your fingers to make sure you can still feel the strings and that they haven’t slipped up inside your uterus through your cervix. This isn’t necessarily overly dangerous, it just makes the IUD more of a hassle to remove. For some people it risks future surgery if it can’t be reached vaginally, but that’s rare. I only just remembered that you’re supposed to check your strings as I was typing this and have come to the realization that I’m not entirely sure I ever checked mine in five whole years. I should probably do that. I hope they’re still there.

My doctor also warned me about shifting and occasionally being able to feel at least the presence of my IUD if I really had to pee, for example. I never had either of these problems either. When I told people I got an IUD, they freaked out and told me media exaggerated horror stories about uterine perforation and deadly infection. They shared articles on my Facebook about women who never got their periods again after they removed their IUD and couldn’t have children, or women who still got pregnant even with an IUD. I was still glad I got it. Women can also get pregnant on the birth control pill and while using literally every other kind of birth control that exists. Rare complications from other types of birth control have also killed women in the past. The harsh reality of birth control is that, no matter which type you choose, you are putting yourself at risk in an attempt to protect yourself. The pill made my life hell and put me at an even higher risk than most women face, so the IUD was simply the best risk for me. I walked out that day feeling a little bit sore, like I had a particularly gruelling case of period cramps, and with a little bit of spotting, but overall I was fine. I made my boyfriend buy me all you can eat sushi, I took some Advil, I had a nap, and that was that.

I enjoyed five whole years of uncomplicated birth control bliss with my Mirena. I stopped getting my period about a month in and it freaked me out for the first few months even though I was also using condoms, so I took some cautionary pregnancy tests just in case, but I’d really just fallen into the lucky 50% or so of women who’s bodies stop producing a monthly blood lining thanks to the localized progestin coating on the IUD. I still went through a small monthly cycle, feeling a little emotional and tired, but my hormones were in way better check and I didn’t feel crazy anymore. I only got cramps about once every three months and they only lasted for about an hour. I was thankful for their short time, though, because IUD “period” cramps are the definition of intense. I once had a friend who had two IUDs and then had two babies years later and she said that her labour pains were only slightly more painful than the insane but short cramps she experienced every few months with her IUDs. I believe her. When I get cramps now, they hit so fast and hard that it feels like my hips are starting to loosen and dislocate a little bit. I feel tightness all down my thighs and up my back to my shoulders and it often triggers another muscle seizing issue I have (it’s never been solved or diagnosed and probably never will be, but it’s a very separate and uncommon thing that one doctor referred to as a “stomach migraine”. Its not directly caused by the IUD, I’m just weird) where every muscle in my thighs and stomach tightens up and starts to tremble. It doesn’t hurt, it just makes me look like I’m shivering and it’s strange and not very comfortable. After an hour or so, though, I can feel everything start to ease almost on cue. My muscles relax and the pain goes away and I’m fine for about three more months. If you ask me, any amount of very short term period pain is worth only having to deal with it very infrequently, especially if you don’t have to buy tampons, panty liners, or diva cups anymore!
Besides my emotions and my periods, my migraines also went down. Mine are chronic and I will likely always get them, so they sure as hell didn’t go away all together, but they’re not as intense and they’re less frequent. I went from having one every two days, always losing vision, and almost always puking, to getting them once a week or less, only losing vision maybe half the time, and semi-rarely throwing up. I still get other headaches of all kinds, but those are related to other issues entirely that my IUD most likely doesn’t influence. I do know some women who experienced a majorly decreased sex drive when they got an IUD and didn’t like that one bit, but mine didn’t affect my sex drive at all. It’s just as lacking as it always was, but probably not more so than before. I’ve just never had a huge sexual appetite and besides, I have other weird health things that kill it too; ever tried bumping around on your back or knees with a vision blurring migraine or random three day nausea? No ma’am.

The boyfriend and I broke up and I dated someone else for a while, but that ended too. From the time I got my IUD following that original fight, it became a lot more about me and my body and much less about just preventing pregnancy. I tell other women how much I love it all the time, recommending that everyone I know at least consider and research it because I hadn’t been well informed on it and knowing more about the option sooner could have saved my body and mind a lot of hassle. Through the whole process, I’ve also had the peace of mind of knowing that if I ever did have discomfort or problems, or if I just decided I wanted to have kids, I could get it taken out upon request.

Now my IUD is ready to expire any day and, honestly, I’m stressed about it. I think I’ve had more of an existential identity crisis about what it’s expiry could mean for my body than I ever had about people trying to tell me I might never have biological children now because I got one. For starters, I never fully decided one way or the other whether I even want kids, so for me, that’s not a massive priority in determining how I handle what’s best for my current sexual health and happiness. Beyond that, you’re only increasing your risk of not having kids by getting an IUD if you already have a genetic predisposition for conception difficulties or if you have a uterus malformation of some type, in which case your doctor probably won’t give you one anyways. In any case, I respect that some women might be very concerned for their future reproductive capabilities, but I find it simply annoying when people harp at me about whether or not I’ll be a mother later since I don’t get my periods, as though that should be the only thing I’m thinking about when I consider, talk about, and use birth control. Stop harping on women about whether they’ll ever have babies. It’s disrespectful whether they’ve put plastic in their uterus or not, and no matter their reasons for choosing either way.

I can feel my old IUD starting to wear off. If I was having sex, I’d still have some prevention power in the presence of the device itself, but I low key stopped caring about sex and dating and haven’t slept with anyone in two and a half years, so that part doesn’t matter to me for now. My concern is the disappearance of the hormone coating and how that’s changing my body functions. I kind of forgot until last week when I cried over a meme about how potatoes can be beautiful that my hormonally unregulated self is an emotional dumpster fire. I’ve gotten classic period cramps for longer than an hour for the first time in five years and they’re awful, but they’re more achey and less jarring than what my very intense, short IUD cramps felt like. Now that these are back, I can honestly say that I’d still prefer undergoing the quick hour of brutal pain and getting it over with than this drawn out throb of only slightly less extreme discomfort for days on end. I haven’t gotten my period or had any spotting yet, but I’ve started getting the random short high fevers I used to get when I was first going through puberty and haven’t seen in many years. That’s not an IUD thing though, that’s just one of my lucky little health quirks. I hadn’t thought about how the IUD might be saving me from those all this time, but they’re back with a vengeance- I have my third fever this week as I write this.

My biggest fear is that my period will come back before my replacement appointment in one month and that the new IUD won’t take it away again. That would be a struggle for me emotionally, socially, and financially and I’m not sure I’m prepared. I’ve never been one of those body-based women who finds beauty in their natural processes and the possibilities of life each period brings. I’m certainly cisgendered female and I’ve never suffered from identity based body dysmorphia, but I’ve just never felt an overly strong connection with any of my specifically female characteristics. Maybe it’s because my body has always been a struggling germ factory that I’ve had to fight with, so I just didn’t develop that relationship with myself. In any case, my uterus mostly just hurts me, my boobs are semi-annoying and I prefer them when they’re at their smallest (they change marginally in size when I’m hormonal or as my weight fluctuates), and my vagina is just a vagina (but I certainly appreciate that having one of those means I don’t have to tuck in drag). I have a huge respect for women who are much more in tune with their body and it’s reproductive capabilities, but I’m just not one of them and my IUD saved me from having to deal with parts of that femininity that I currently have no use for and mostly just experienced pain from. I’m grateful for that and I don’t want it to end.

On top of ALL of that, and for all of my disinterest in sex (ok, let’s not call it that, I guess… I’m just way too busy enjoying myself in other ways to bother with or care about the largely awkward process that is dating or hookup culture), I’m still a well informed sex positive feminist who wants to be protected from unwanted pregnancy should I suddenly meet someone who’s bones I feel a compulsive need to jump. My appointment for a new IUD is on July 6th and, even though I’m barely scraping together that $300 because I’m not sure if my new insurance will cover it or not, I’m counting down the days like it’s Christmas.

PSA: Male birth control pills have been tested and deemed viable and safe. Studies were recently released, however, revealing that no one has picked them up to market and sell because the men who participated in the trial didn’t like the pills, complaining that they got a few head aches and were tired sometimes. POOR BOYS. THAT MUST HAVE BEEN SO HARD FOR YOU. LET ME WEEP FOR YOUR PAIN AND SUFFERING. *explodes in feminist rage* 

Spending as much time as I do at bus stations is occasionally like watching a dramatic live action play.

I usually have headphones in while I wait at bus stations and I’m always writing, knitting, or answering Drag Coven emails and social media stuff. Every once in a while, though, I accidentally witness a whole story unfold even though I’m not trying to be nosey.
I’m waiting for the GO Bus from Jamie’s to Toronto tonight and I’m so tired from our drag trip that I’m too lazy to dig out my headphones or write for work. I’m just sitting here knitting and minding my own business. A woman and a man round the corner holding hands very casually, more like old friends than a couple. He’s singing and humming a random tune that I’m pretty sure he’s made up and jiggling her hand around like he’s trying to get her attention and make her smile. She’s trying to be amused. She cracks him a weak little grin but she looks stressed. In her other hand, she’s clutching the biggest, floppiest stuffed dog I’ve ever seen. 

They walk towards me across the waiting room and she plops the dog down in the chair next to me. Immediately the whole area I’m sitting in is flooded with the smell of cheap cologne. She stands in front of the dog, smiling at it a little, and then leans forward and takes a big breath, smelling the dog’s fur thoroughly. The man comes up behind her and says “See? It’s nice, right? That’s why I sprayed him; to remind you of me. I think I overdid it a little though”. I’d have to agree- I’m starting to get a small headache from the overwhelming smell of the dog by this point, but I don’t say anything because the woman is clearly upset and I don’t move because I’m tired and there’s nowhere else to sit.
They settle in the seats next to the dog and she has tears welling up in her eyes. She says “They’re going to take everything from me all over again. I built stuff up and now I won’t be allowed to have any of it. They won’t even let me have the man in the store across the road put aside the broken cigarettes in a box for me anymore, so I won’t even have a smoke when I need one”. The man tells her that she really needs to call them. 
She takes a deep breath, takes his phone from his hand, and dials a number from memory. She states her name and who she’d like to speak to. She’s very well spoken and respectful in her tone, so I assume she’s talking to someone in a position of power. She explains that she’s very sorry for being late and that she’s at the bus stop waiting. She says she didn’t realize they’d changed the schedules since the last time she’d been out and it didn’t occur to her to check, which was a stupid mistake. Then she says “My friend bought me the big dog I told you about, the one that I really wanted!” She seems excited for the first time but as the person on the other end of the line talks, she starts saying things like “It’s my own fault” and “I’m sorry” and “I understand”. 
She gets off the phone and she’s upset again. He asks what they said and she explains that they were understanding but that she was still very irresponsible, so she won’t be allowed to come again for a long time. He asks what they said about the dog and she says “They can’t accommodate him. They don’t have the space. The beds are small, they’re really so small. When I get there they’ll take him from me and lock him up downstairs until I’m allowed to have things again. I really messed up”. He says he doesn’t want to talk about messing things up and asks to hear about how her day went before he picked her up. I learn, through her explanation of mundane tasks like taking the bus and eating at Tim Horton’s- things that she explains with utter excitement as though they’re extraordinary tasks- that she is on a day pass of some kind. The way she describes it sounds like some type of rehabilitation program or perhaps a minimum security prison, but she’s breached their rules about how far she was allowed to go and what time she was expected back. 

She starts to cry a little and the man pulls her in to lean on his shoulder, wrapping his arm around her. There’s nothing meant by the gesture besides comfort. He holds her the way I hug my platonic friends, the ones that mean the most to me. He holds her like he knows that, no matter your relationship, a little human contact is essential sometimes. 

After a few quiet minutes he starts poking at her, trying to make her laugh, but she’s too upset and it annoys her. She pulls away, saying “Please don’t. I’m sorry, it’s not you. I’m just upset. I know I’m not showing it, but I’m very grateful that you’re here. That’s the one thing I’m happy about today”. The man looks confused and asks her “Didn’t you get to see your nephews?” She says no. They never met her at the Tim Horton’s. No one came to see her and she had to eat the donuts alone. That’s why she left the area she was permitted to visit and went to find him.
He takes a deep breath and grabs the dog from the third seat. He starts describing it like it’s his son, saying silly things like “Look at those eyes! These big, round, chocolate brown eyes! They’re just like his daddy’s, don’t you think?” He gets close to her face and starts batting his eyelashes at her in a really over-exaggerated way. He looks and sounds completely ridiculous. She laughs a little, but she’s still sad so he changes his strategy. He starts moving the dog’s mouth, making it talk and flipping its head around like it’s an animated character, so its felt tongue flops from side to side. It’s actually kind of funny because this thing is practically as big as I am and it’s all furry. He doesn’t make it say anything real, he just sings a random tune full of nonsense words. She laughs a little, but she’s still sad. 

He changes things up again. He pretends the dog is rapping and he writes her a silly verse on the spot. It talks about having a bad day and picking yourself up. He ends it by saying “With a nice nose and crooked toes, that’s the way the world goes”. That one makes her laugh more and protest that she does not, in fact, have crooked toes. He maintains that she does and she tells him he wouldn’t know because he’s never even seen her toes. He grabs her foot and makes like he’s going to take off her shoe but she jumps out of her chair and she’s finally actually laughing. It’s a weird scene because they’re easily over 40 years old, but it’s strangely refreshing because I’ve had to listen to how sad her day was for the last 20 minutes, so watching them play harmfully like teenagers is preferable.
They stop horsing around and she stands quietly, petting the dog’s head. He’s quiet too, answering text messages. She takes a broken cigarette out of her coat, which doesn’t fit her well (it’s far too large and wide) and is dark and worn out. That’s what everything she’s wearing looks like. She looks at the cigarette, which is crumpled like an accordion in the middle, and sighs, saying “I’m going to go out and smoke this since it’s the last one I’m going to have for …I don’t even know how long”. He asks if she’d like him to go with her and she says no. She’d like to be alone to think and she asks him to stay here and look after the dog. She goes outside and he does what she asks.
He sits next to me for 15 more minutes (I have no idea where my bus is at this point; it’s late even though the weather is fine). He plays a game on his phone but gets bored quickly. He picks up the dog and starts snuggling it. He catches a teenager looking at him weird and says, in a calm, good natured way, “Hey man, I’m cold” and shrugs. His voice is deep and smooth like a voice actor narrating an old movie. He’s a broad, tall guy, so people are definitely staring at him while he cradles this huge stuffed dog like a small child. It’s kind of comical. 
She doesn’t come back. I don’t think anyone else notices but him and I, and he’s been so concerned with her the whole time that he certainly hasn’t noticed me sitting there. He starts to look around. He doesn’t see her outside the windows of the waiting room anymore, so he sits up higher and starts to look stressed. He puts the dog in the chair and paces a little, trying to see around the corners of the building through the windows without actually going outside. He’s acting sneaky about it, like he doesn’t want her to catch him checking in on her if she suddenly returns. He turns and looks the dog right in the eye and, like no one else is near them, he says “It’s okay, I trust her”. 
Ten more minutes pass, though, and he decides he doesn’t trust her after all. He picks the dog up under the arms and sits it on his hip like a toddler. He hauls the door open and starts walking around the area outside. I’m looking around now too. How can I not wonder where she’s disappeared to when they’ve just put on a veritable play right in front of me? I don’t see her anywhere. He doesn’t either. He takes out his phone and makes a call but I can’t hear what he’s saying other than the sentence “She doesn’t even have any money on her”, which he spits out, exasperated, as he whips the door open again and hangs up his phone. 
He sees a security guard across the hall and goes to approach him, but the guard is preoccupied with a teenage girl who looks like she’s never seen a shower or a morning that didn’t involve a hangover. The girl is yelling at the security guard, telling him to stop accusing her of things she didn’t do and calling him a “fucking loser”. The guard stays very calm, but escorts her firmly out of the building. He doesn’t touch her; he just walks confidently behind her asking her to “stay calm and go home” until she’s finally walked herself out, screaming and swearing the whole way. She spits in the guard’s direction as the doors swing shut and stomps away backwards with both middle fingers in the air, aimed at him. 
While this is happening, the man with the stuffed dog is getting downright anxious. His friend has obviously left. He’s muttering “She couldn’t have gotten far but could end up anywhere, knowing her”. I can’t tell whether he’s talking to himself or the dog. The moment the security guard is free, the man with the dog approaches him and asks for help. He’s frantic now, but I can’t hear his explanation of who his friend is or why her wandering off (he seems to know firmly that she left of her own accord, even though he didn’t see her go) is such a problem. 
I get on my bus smelling strongly of the dog’s cologne from where it rubbed against my coat when they plunked it into the chair next to me. I’m stressed all the way home for a pair of adult strangers that I don’t know and will likely never see again. 

I’m moving and I had to pack the scary hoarder’s pile of drag, cosplay, and crafting supplies under my bed. 

This intimidating process yielded: 
– 8 bags of random plastic, foam, balloons, and other weird materials from old Gaga cosplays that literally aren’t even salvageable. 

– 1 rather good Paparazzi recreation, if I do say so myself.

– 1 bridesmaids dress from my mother’s wedding that’s definitely getting used for drag.

– 12 silver sparkly gift bags that I kept with the intentions of making into a dress and never did.

– 7 individual black socks that once belonged to Devyn but now look like little furry dead creatures. He’s washing and keeping them.

– 1 purple sex toy that an ex boyfriend bought me for Valentine’s Day once after doing research into how to rid me of migraines and finding articles on masturbation as a med-free remedy, but that I literally never used and only unpackaged because I incorporated it into a drag number in Akron, Ohio last year. 

– a Bendelacreme cosplay that my mom helped me sew and that’s carefully bagged in layers because it gets fun-fur everywhere but that’s totally still usable and cute if you don’t mind sneezing. 

– A big box containing every ticket, every event poster, and every signed thing that I’ve collected from going to drag shows since before Drag Coven even began. Every BOTS, every event from Drag Con, every Christmas residency, every promo pic… Like literally, if you’re a queen and I’ve ever bought a ticket to your show or you’ve ever given me something or signed something for me…. yeah. I’m an ACTUAL hoarder. 

– A book of tickets from every concert I’ve ever been to, including signed trinkets and papers from meeting Hedley five times and stalking Gaga for years and years. PAGES of tickets. Jesus. Why do I have tickets from when I was 14? I don’t even live at home anymore? I’ve been moving these for a decade????? (…I’m obviously keeping them all). 

– A sparkly fish that I moulded out of kids’ crafting clay to cosplay Courtney Act once almost three years ago. 

– The plastic mask Lady Gaga once tried to put back on my head for me after she tried to straighten it on my face but dropped it in a puddle in a dirty NYC alley. I didn’t care and let her put it on my face anyways.

– a whole tub of Mardi Gras beads (I’ve literally never been out for Mardi Gras WTF) 

– a bag of pink fluff remnants and painted underwear that was once my first Alaska cosplay (I did her cotton candy runway) from the first time we met, that my drunk friend ate the glued candy off of and that Michelle Visage thought was supposed to be Katy Perry. It’s just a bag of fluff and panties. 

– a tub of marbles?!?!!! 

– a recreation of the green feathered runway look Violet Chachki did, made of just feathers and underwear, that I wore to a pride in March two years ago even though it was cold enough to see our breath. It’s still in great condition but it kiiiiiiind of reminds me how we saw a guy actually die that night…. 

– a box of novelty decorative NAPKINS (WHO AM I).

– a cosmetic bag filled with four kid sized hair bands featuring little bows that I don’t remember buying, and otherwise overflowing with googly eyes from my s7 RPDR finale dress (this is getting ridiculous).

– pieces of the silver breast plate I made jamie mould from plaster of paris on my body for an alaska cosplay that ended up breaking on stage and falling off so I had to finish the number topless (alaska saw the video and later embarrassed me by telling this story on a radio show).

– three bent forks 

– My Lady Gaga seashell girl bra that I once rhinestoned entirely at work while watching the Kardashians because no one wanted to buy furniture and I spent ten hrs a day alone in an empty store. The scalloped top of the bra is made from press on nails.

– a plastic bag containing three rainbow skipping ropes and about 12 rolls of green apple scented garbage bags from the time I recreated alaska’s Saran Wrap runway look but couldn’t find green plastic wrap anywhere. (I also have the dress. It still smells like apples). 

– three CLEAN pairs of my own underwear. 

– the dress from when jamie and I dressed as Pearl and Trixie in the conjoined twin runway, and it promptly EXPLODED in glitter when I opened the bag. Such a big mistake. 

– literally four big bags of gift wrapping stuff even though I can’t remember the last time I wrapped a gift for anyone and I don’t remember buying any of it.

– a sparkly Alyssa Edwards-inspired cape that I once sewed out of my curtains (and then proceeded to live with no curtains). 

– a fully rhinestoned and sunflowered dress that I made for an Alyssa Edwards cosplay that I added skirt layers to in an attempt to hide the knee brace I was stuck wearing after I dislocated my knee on a trampoline at the age of 26. 

– a whole bag of white foam balls with black marbles glued on the side to look like eyeballs. They were supposed to be made into a headpiece but they never got used because no matter how much I tried to pin it to my wig, they were too heavy for how small my head is and the whole thing fell off and broke. 

– Every Chapstick Devyn and I have ever owned. 

– The most free-floating cat fur I’ve ever seen in my life. Like… I could felt myself a second cat from it. 

– $3.36 in random small change. 

– enough loose glitter to make me sneeze repeatedly through the entire ordeal. 

But most importantly…. NO DEAD MICE! 

(I only lived here for a year and all of this stuff is really old, meaning I actually moved it all six hours from Ottawa WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME). 

Navigating the grey area and being an ally in the wake of Pulse, Orlando 

I’ve been pretty vocal about my thoughts and feelings in the wake of the massacre at Pulse, but I’ve also held a lot of my observations back. Even though it’s important to discuss
what happened, it’s also not about me. I wasn’t there. I also didn’t grow up experiencing the same type of physical, verbal, mental, and epistemic violence that my friends who have lived proudly out for many years did (andstill do). I’ve tried to balance my desire to show support with the need to let more directly affected voices be heard. In the last couple days, however, I’ve received some messages that I feel the need to dissect because that’s just what I do. 

I often find myself in a particular position that lends me a unique perspective when it comes to relations between GLBTQ+ communities and heteronormative society. I’ve been open about the fact that, although I typically date men, I firmly believe that sexuality and gender exist on a spectrum that people might naturally (I.e. Not by conscious choice) move along at any point, and that I’m not sure I have a concretely fixed point there myself. I’ve never come out because I don’t particularly identify with or feel represented by any of the available terms, identities, or constructs of sexuality (including my usual default answer of “straight”, but it’s easy to whip out when my only other answer is “I’m not really sure”, which usually leads to more questions). I’m not a lesbian or even bisexual, but I’m not exactly the poster girl for stereotypical straight chicks either. I guess I’d be considered queer or pansexual, but I don’t use those terms because I don’t always find that I share many experiences with my friends who firmly identify that way. I’m often misgendered (particularly online) or grilled about “what I am” by members of both camps, even though I’m usually considered “passable” enough by each to move (mostly) comfortably between the two. Sometimes,however, this puts me in a sparsely occupied grey area in which I’m considered “too queer” for straight people, spaces, and things, but “not queer enough” for GLBTQ+ people, places, and things. 

This is not a complaint per se. I have not been adversely affected by systematic oppression the way openly gay women are. I am, after all, white, cis-gendered, and mostly-straight-ish. Yes, I’ve experienced sexism. I’m also no stranger to having confused homophobic slurs thrown at me in social and online contexts by people who are inexplicably bothered when they can’t immediately place my gender performance or sexual preference in a neat box that lets them make normative assumptions about me. Generally, however, I am safe in public and in my work places and I am not prevented from doing most things based on my identities (or perceived identities). 

My existence in the strange intersection between straight and queer communities has been challenging to navigate since the tragedy in Orlando. Is it as challenging as experiencing PTSD like people who were in the club or being afraid to come out at work or hold your partners hand because homophobic strangers are commenting “you’re next” accompanied by gun emojis on your social media repeatedly? Of course not. But I can only speak to my lived experience and writing is how I process things. 

If my Facebook feed is any sample, parts of the queer community are begging for the support of wider society, asking that we get involved, speak up, and make our opinions and feelings following Orlando known. Other parts of the community beg that we pipe down, let them take the forefront, and wait quietly until we’re called upon to speak in depth. I see the logic in both sides. On my timeline, I see a blend of pleas for each, with only the occasional outraged voice pointing fingers and placing blame in a way that might be construed as detrimental to the rhetoric of team work and unity that the majority of people seem to be striving for. 

On the other side, the straight community (I’m excluding here the irrational homophobes who support violence and hatred) wavers somewhere between second-hand heartbreak and silence  that comes off as apathy but is probably based in fear of being snapped at for saying the wrong thing. They don’t know whether they’re saying too much or not saying enough because they’re not used to seeing such a direct uproar from queer voices so near their personal bubble. They reach out to anyone they know who might be at least somewhat non-normative to offer genuine condolence (though for some there is undoubtedly an element of patting themselves on the back for “doing their bit”). Some overcompensate and take up space they shouldn’t while others pull back too drastically and end up showing no support at all for fear of a wounded ego if they say it wrongly. Some take it personally and feel internalized guilt over the fact that “someone like them” would hurt so many innocent people. Others get defensive instead of self-reflexive and try to detract from the real issue of ingrained society-wide homophobia by insisting the central issue is really and solely in gun control or religious extremism, neither of which they could possibly be held responsible for. The clash is parallel (though not directly synonymous with) that between white folks and POC in instances of racist police brutality. We’re all familiar with the delicate balancing act that is trying to simultaneously support each other and show solidarity in hopes of progress while also trying to call out problematic social bullshit where we see it. 

Amidst all of this, I’ve been standing in my weird grey area just trying to process it all. The part of me that has benefitted from growing up straight and still benefits from continuing to pass as such is fixated on ideas like “let’s check our privilege. Let’s make sure we speak up without speaking over anyone. Let’s be a good ally. Let’s show support without stepping on toes”. The part of me that transgresses my own gender about three times a week in drag, deliberately sheds certain social norms that are expected of me based on my sex because they don’t represent me, attends (and feels safest at) nearly solely queer events, lives in a queer neighbourhood, gets mistaken for many identities that I’m not but accepts that without negative feelings, and occasionally faces insults and verbal violence based on other peoples’ disdain for or misunderstanding of “what I am”- that part of me is full of rage and sadness. How dare someone endanger people I love and a community I spend my daily life and some of my most important experiences with? How dare people think that we shouldn’t yell and scream about that? How dare someone make it so that parades and clubs and theatres where so many seek safe entertainment and empowerment feel risky or dangerous? How dare someone break so many of my friends hearts and treat people who have faced so much without regard for their lives? 

That part of me has cried until my eyes are swollen, lost sleep, rejected food, and worried about those I hold dear, as well as people I didn’t know but who my loved ones are mourning. I’ve also dealt with the strange reality of (not maliciously or intentionally, perhaps) being treated as a human bridge between the two communities. “I just wanted to call and check that you’re okay and also ask a lot of questions about the significance of what happened because I know you have a lot of gay friends”. Ive gotten multiple messages from straight high school friends who haven’t spoken to me in years but who didn’t know how to feel or act regarding Pulse and contacted me for guidance since they feel obligated to address the subject somehow and I appear to be “doing it right”. I’ve also gotten messages from queer friends who are conflicted and confused, lamenting to me “why aren’t more people supporting this like when the whole universe erupted in support for France? Why don’t more straight people care?” 

Each message has been well intentioned. It’s nice to know people are thinking about my wellbeing. It’s nice to know some people see me as a safe person to learn from or confide their frustrations in. I didn’t expect, however, that I’d be the queerest point of contact for so many straight people feeling the need to make a connection with a community they’re not a part of but who their hearts are bleeding for. I also didn’t expect to be treated like a delegate for a community that socialized me but only accepts me sometimes by queer people who feel ostracized by that same community and seek understanding. I have no idea how to navigate it. I don’t even know how to navigate my own emotions on a good day. I haven’t slept more than three hours per night since last week. Yesterday I literally cried because my cat looked so cute, and how can something so cute exist in such a scary world where someone will murder innocent people en masse? 

 I’m all kinds of worked up and then suddenly I think… Do I even have a right to be this upset? I wasn’t there. I didn’t personally know any of the victims, even if it hurts my heart to see people I care about mourning their loss. Depending on who you ask, I am not formally a part of the group these attackers want to hurt, even if that’s who I spend every day of my life with. So between bouts of crying over victim accounts and investigation details because I want to stay educated about what happened and raging over posts about my friends being forced into a state of mourning and feeling unsafe, I wonder why I am so personally upset, sad to what feels like my soul, my mind feeling drained and tired. Then I further wonder whether I even have a right to be quite so distraught when it’s not about me. 

I’ve also spoken openly in the past about how doing bio drag has lead me to experience backlash for “appropriating” gay spaces and queer experiences that don’t belong to me as a cisgendered woman. I’ve talked about that at length and responded to it in depth where people of both communities can see, so I wasn’t that surprised when I got two anonymous messages saying that, although I’m right to support my friends in the queer community, I should probably watch myself because I’m perceivably straight and someone will undoubtedly tell me that this is not my place and I should pipe down, even if I’m just trying to help. One said “Watch out. You’ve got a big mouth and even though you’re articulate and usually correct, you’re still cis-straight. Someone is going to bite your head off eventually even if you’re careful”. 

But the biting hasn’t come. I haven’t been scolded. The community hasn’t told me they don’t want the support of people like me. No one has told me to take a seat and shut up because I do or do not tick certain identity boxes. 

Even in a time of danger and heartbreak, the queer community has looked at all my weirdness and chosen to fold me in their arms despite them being the ones who need a protective embrace. Just like they always have. Just like they did when I felt like an outcast elsewhere even though the severity of my experiences did not compare to their own oppression. I have received messages from my friends in the community asking ME if I’m okay and how I’m coping, telling me how much I mean to them and how loved and appreciated I am. I’ve been offered safety tips, rides places, and invites for support by people whose homophobic mistreatment at the hands of straight people I’ve witnessed with my own eyes. The community and my friends are so bad ass that even though they’re the ones in need of protection, and even though select people within their ranks view me as another pawn in a sector of society that is literally trying to kill them, they’re making sure IM safe and well. 

These are the same people who have literally adopted me as second family (I have a drag mother, five sisters, an aunt, and a cousin, all of whom genuinely scold me, tease me, and console me like family and who I don’t often go a day without messaging), frequently put me up in their homes for free even when they barely know me (we’ve had people let us sleep in their own beds the first time they’ve met us based on friendly networking within the community), and actively support my endeavours no matter how weird. As someone whose actual family is scattered across the globe, this means everything to me. These are the people whose community has been defiled. My family has been attacked. They’re angry, hurt, and scared, so they might lash out, but they need allies. 

I obviously don’t have any answers for how to solve friction between the communities. Just because I have a unique point of anxiety-inducing, middle ground reference doesn’t mean I’m some expert or that I’m qualified to educate people on their social conduct. All I have are suggestions of what I see working for some people I hold dearly. 

Let’s be self reflexive and think about how the things we say affect those around us. Let’s remember that systemic criticism is not synonymous with you. Let’s remember to listen between expressing our condolences rather than talking (often too loudly) just for the sake of weighing in because we feel obligated to by weird online social mores. Let’s try not to get defensive and take things personally when critical analysis is the only way to fix what’s wrong. Let’s remember that, while many people want and appreciate prayers and positive thoughts, it’s literally imperative that we do more and it’s quite condescending when we spout well wishes but fail to actually act in solidarity. 

It all sounds grand and conceptual when I put it in big words, but i don’t think it has to be. Speak up when it’s appropriate (and ask someone you trust if you don’t know when that is or how to do so). Listen when it’s necessary but don’t stay silent just because it’s easier than dealing with other people’s powerful emotions or things you don’t fully understand yet. Offer condolences and support genuinely and not so you can pat yourself on the back later. After you pray, donate money or blood, or write to your political representative, or at least share the information that will enable other people to do those things. People are in enough pain without Facebook arguments over which group is failing to behave how they should or who’s lashing out too hard. 

I’m not saying don’t call people out. I’m not saying don’t speak your mind. I’m not saying don’t let your feelings show. I’m saying Think. Before. You. Post. 

The queer community wants and needs allies and the allies are out there, but they need to think about their position and not practice the very privileged option of bowing out at the first sign of backlash from either side. You WILL survive opposition and a bruised ego. GLBTQ+ people don’t always survive homophobia. Pulse, Orlando is proof of that. 

“Romance” and Being Told Your Outlook on Love, Sex, Dating, and Human Relationships is Weird

This topic is something I’ve been thinking about a lot. It was partially sparked by conversations I heard older ladies having at work. It’s also something I catch myself thinking of somewhere in my brain every time I hear my friends mourning or lamenting romance in a way that I don’t often feel. Do you ever have those days where you think “Why and how is my outlook on [insert issue here] so drastically different from most people around me? Has it always been? Am I the weird one, or are they?” That’s how I feel about romance and human contact.
To start things off and contextualize where my frame of reference lies, let me lay out my identity for you a little bit. No, this isn’t me coming out. No, I’ve never come out, mostly because I’m privileged enough that I’ve never felt the need to do so in order to live and love happily and freely. I’m primarily including this part because I get asked about it (often flat out) a lot. I’ve been told that my identity is hard to read by looking at me (which is accidental but something I adore) and I think we all know that some humans don’t like  it when they can’t immediately box someone in order to understand them better. I’m also including it because I think it frames where my “weird” ideas about love, dating, and relationships come from (even if I don’t feel it explains why I’m viewed as “weird”).
I’m unequivocally female, both in my gender and my sex. That being said, I’m often mistaken for male. I’d say I’m mis-gendered, at least online if not in real life, about once a week. This has never bothered me and, because a lot of the mis-gendering happens when I’m in drag around drunk people who aren’t in the mood for listening or by Internet users I don’t know personally, I don’t always correct people. I actually quite enjoy being understood as slightly androgynous-looking because I’ve never felt that society’s stereotypical understandings of the “ideal female” represent me, my body, my style, or my personality.
My sexuality is slightly more complicated. Outwardly and publicly, I simply identify as straight. Some of my friends like to modify this to “mostly straight”. Based on my looks, however, strangers often make the assumption that I’m a lesbian because people like to make really strange links between my sexuality and my haircut. Once again, I don’t always correct people. In reality, I am only mostly straight, but straight nonetheless. I have only ever had romantic and sexual relationships with men, and when it comes to physical sex, I prefer biologically male individuals. When it comes to romantic feelings and attraction, however, I like everyone. I’m not opposed to relationships of a romantic or sexual nature with non-straight non-males… it’s just never happened. I don’t care if you’re male, female, both, neither, non-binary, gender non-conforming, or whatever else. If I think you’re cute, I think you’re cute. Technically, I guess this would perhaps classify me as being queer or maybe pansexual, but I know so many people with so many varying definitions of these words that I’ve never felt comfortable claiming one of them as my own. A friend once described me as hetero-queer in order to communicate how I’m primarily heterosexual but how I “do” queer or live my life as though queering the norm (whether this is a norm of gender, sexuality, or simply life-wide stereotypes) is something you can do rather than be. I do believe that “queer” can be used as a verb.
The reason I don’t always clarify when someone mis-genders me or wrongly assumes my sexuality is partially because I’m not picky about how I’m interpreted. I’m comfortable as I am, so it doesn’t matter to me how others view me. It’s not that I want to appear as though I’m a part of a community that isn’t “mine” for inclusion’s sake, and I acknowledge that it’s a point of privilege for me to be “passable” enough that I’m basically accepted into any camp I stand in (though this fluidity also often results in me not being accepted into any of the camps, leaving me standing on my own in a weird grey area). Mostly, I’m careful about when I correct people because I spend most of my time in GLBTQIA spaces where almost everyone I’m with identifies as non-heteronormative in some way. To me, it seems disrespectful to make the style choices I do, engage in the hobbies I do, and move within the spaces and circles I do, and then loudly shout that I am cis-straight in the middle of those spaces, protesting people’s misinterpretations about me as though there’s something wrong with being viewed as anything other than cis-straight. I don’t feel the need to wave my flag and I don’t think it would be right to do so in most contexts I’m misinterpreted within.
Spark’s Notes: I’m not picky and I don’t really care what people think I am.
Moving on. My gender and sexuality aren’t really what I want to talk about here. I want to talk about the romanticization of the very idea of romance.
I’ve never understood society’s obsessive glorification of romantic (especially monogamous) relationships. Maybe it’s especially because I’m understood as a primarily-straight woman, but I feel like I’m constantly bombarded with the idea that a relationship (with a man) is the number one thing I should be concentrating on and working towards. Maybe it’s my age; I just turned 27. Romantic relationships are literally constructed as the number one way of fulfilling oneself, the number one thing I should be prioritizing, and one of the very top landmarks of “success”. My happiness is questioned by people around me when I talk about not being in a relationship, even though I’m a happy-go-lucky person (unless you’ve said something oppressive that’s set me on an angry feminist rant, of course). I’m treated like a bullshitter when I say that (maybe just for right now or perhaps always) I’m actually happier not being in a relationship. People don’t believe me when I say that I feel totally fulfilled by other things and other people in my life.
IS EVERYONE INSANE? Or is it just me? Are y’all actually telling me I’m supposed to put all of my happiness and fulfillment into one person, especially some poor probably-straight dude who might not even understand my hobbies or comprehend my outlooks and the things I like to do? That seems so unfair to everyone involved.
When I say this, however, people look at me like I’ve lost my marbles. They read into my words as though I’m saying that I hate men and would rather be alone forever than touch one, or they jump to the conclusion that I’m secretly gay and just closeted (do you really think I’d spend every day of my life with drag queens and not come out if the inclination existed?). Ex-boyfriends or lovers who didn’t quite make it to boyfriend status have treated me like I’m a broken, cold hearted bitch who probably got really hurt somewhere along the way and has just chosen to take my poor dating history out on them.
That’s not the case. Most of my relationships have been fine. I find, however, that I don’t enjoy the idea of prioritizing a single person above all other things and people I love in life and, according to what some people believe, myself as well. Does this make me selfish? Maybe, but if so, then I’d rather be selfish. I work hard to be a strong person. I work hard for independence. I work hard to live fully and experience the things I’m passionate about. Traditional dating structures threaten my ability to do that because I cannot often find a person (particularly a straight man) who shares my outlook and also prefers to concentrate on the other things that fulfill him outside of our relationship (providing he even has any).
I get fulfillment from the things I like to do. I feel fulfilled by my jobs and I feel fulfilled by my artistic endeavours. I work hard at them and I have some level of success, which I deserve. Why is that weird?
I get fulfillment and love from my friends, family, and chosen family. I feel special when people who are not romantic contacts do nice things for me. I’m content when people who mean the world to me, but who I’m not in romantic relationships with, make time for me. I feel loved when people I care about in any capacity take the time to get to know me, remember little details about my life, or learn enough about my personality to be in tune with my feelings. I don’t see the need for a romantic connection in order to feel fulfilled by other people. Why is that weird?
Often when I have this conversation with people, they steer it towards the concept of physical contact, which is one of the many umbrella terms I’ve heard people use to try and discuss sex in a public forum, particularly with someone whose preferences or romantic values they don’t understand. First off, “physical contact” and “sex” are not the same and should not be conflated. I have a very small personal bubble when it comes to strangers. If I don’t know you, I do not want to be touched. If you touch me anyways, I get mean. Once we’ve formed a friendship, however, and I mean even a brand new one, then I actually prefer to touch people. I find it comforting and I feel it builds a better personal connection. If you want to be my close friend but we can’t touch each other in any way, how are we supposed to get to know one another beyond surface politeness? I’m a military brat, so I make friends hard and fast and I gauge whether I feel comfortable around someone very quickly. When you move every ten months or so, you have to be like that or you don’t make any friends that posting!
So, I’m a touchy friend, but I do not make physical contact with my friends because I want to have sex with them. In fact, because of my discomfort touching strangers, I’m a lot more likely to recoil and physically avoid you if I want to have sex with you. I’m not a very sexual person. I don’t have a big sexual appetite and I usually have some kind of health thing going on that makes sex uncomfortable (have you ever tried to have sex with a nausea-inducing migraine? It’s horrendous). I know that sex often just generally makes me uncomfortable because I did my field research for years. No, I don’t need sex therapy. No, it’s not a sad reality. No, I don’t just need a good lay. I’m not broken or scarred. It’s not that I don’t have enough experience or that I’ve just had the misfortune of getting stuck with really terrible lovers. I’m actually super sex-positive. I’ve been around the block twice and then turned around and come back the other way, and it turns out sex just isn’t always my thing. Sometimes I want it, but a lot of the time I don’t. Even if I’m insanely attracted to you or completely and utterly in love with you, I still probably don’t want to have sex as often as you’d like. Yes, I’ve experienced love. Yes, I’ve experienced good sex. No, I’m not asexual, and I know that firmly. I’m just not a very sexual person. Why is that weird?
When I talk about my lack of sexual voracity, people treat me like I’m deprived. They assume that I’m lacking in the human contact department, like a puppy that got kicked or a child whose mom never hugged me. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m still physical even if I’m not always very sexual. I get happiness and physical comfort from platonically holding hands with, kissing, and hugging people who are my friends. I will cuddle you to until you’re roasting hot and ready to fight me off if you want me to. I’m that weird friend who has no problem letting people crash at my place, but will probably invite you to hop into my bed because I live in an apartment the size of a closet and am very comfortable sleeping (read: actually sleeping) with my friends. Why is that weird?
Because people find it all so weird, I don’t necessarily initiate physical contact with all of my friends. I know not everyone feels the same way as me about platonic touching. Some people I know feel vehemently that things like kissing and hand holding should be reserved solely for romantic significant others. Some people think that me snuggling up to them automatically means I want to fuck them. This is especially problematic if the person is a dear friend but someone I really, really don’t want to fuck, and they decide they’re open to the idea because they misread my touch. My gut reaction to greeting a friend that I love platonically is often to squeeze the hell out of them and plant a big kiss on their cheek, but I usually restrain that urge because people think it’s really weird.
I think society has built far too intense a connection between physical contact and stereotypical romantic love. Touch should come from any source of love, whether it’s romantic or based in friendship. As long as it’s consensual, I don’t see the problem with hugging, kissing, or holding the people you care about, regardless of how you care about them. Continually reinforcing the idea that the only type of touch we should enjoy or be fulfilled by is a sexual or “romantic” touch also reinforces the idea that we all need to strive for those stereotypically romantic relationships that often take over one’s self-identity, spare time, or other important human connections. I detest the idea that normative romance should be my biggest goal. I detest the idea that I cannot possibly be happy without a romantic relationship. I detest that idea that I can’t possibly feel physically fulfilled or loved if my relationships are solely friendships and not “dating” scenarios.
I do not need to have romantic relationship in order to feel physically, emotionally, or spiritually whole. I do not need to be dating or having sex with someone to feel close to them. We shouldn’t have to avoid warm embraces and each other’s comfort simply because normative ideals told us touching is only for boyfriends and girlfriends. I don’t like being told that my interpersonal values or the way I relate to people are weird simply because they don’t adhere to a particular guideline. I’m not opposed to romantic dating, but the next time I do it, I’d like it to be with someone who also has their own external goals and their own ways of fulfilling themselves without me. No one deserves the life sentence of being made responsible for my whole happiness. Humans shouldn’t have to live touch-less unless they can find someone who’s willing to sacrifice important aspects of their own identity and engage in weird, all-consuming, normative “love” rituals with them.
My “soulmate” is not some man who wants to date me in a stereotypical movie way. My soulmates are the friends I’ve found through the things I love doing (and my mom. I’m fully that mama’s girl). They fulfill me enough for now, and if “for now” turns into forever, then why is that weird? I’d be one lucky girl to have people, passions, and things in my life that fulfill me as much as a sexual romantic relationship fulfills the protagonist at the end of a cheesy chick flick. Finding romance is simply not my priority. I am my own priority. Why is that weird?

Courtney Conquering 2016

I love pictures. I have always loved pictures. I love taking them, I love looking at them, and I love being in them (*poses*). I also love social networking (as you might have noticed). On top of that, I’m a ridiculously nostalgic person. I secretly spend weirdly large chunks of time looking through old pictures, reading old posts, and storing huge “keepsake” boxes in my apartment. I’ve had a really weird life, and I really enjoy documenting all the strange stuff I get to do and reliving it later.

I also love writing. I tried about 500 times throughout my life to keep a journal or diary. I have a list of inactive websites and profiles where I made online entries for a few weeks and then stopped because I got busy or bored. I have countless random notebooks stashed away in boxes where I started journal writing as a kid and then hid the book somewhere and didn’t find it again until we packed up for our next posting. I’ve always just generally failed at keeping diaries, but I’ve always wished I hadn’t.

A few years ago, some people on my Facebook started picture albums called “Picture of the Day” and it kind of trended for a while. They’d post one picture a day and talk about what they did. It was like a brief, visual diary that combined all the nostalgic and networking things I enjoy. I decided to give it a try and I was hooked immediately. Basically, the project consists of me taking and posting one picture every single day that I feel represents what I did that day. Every single other friend I had who was doing it got bored a few weeks in and stopped. I got carried away and documented three years of my life.

I did the Picture of the Day project for the first time in 2010-2011 (I randomly started on an awkward day in October that year for no real reason…) and I loved it so much that I did it again immediately in 2012. I took a year off in 2013 because I was busy finishing up my Masters, but I missed doing it so much that I did it for a third time in 2014. In 2015 I started doing it, but I fell off the wagon a week in because I was working 13 hours a day, traveling almost every weekend, and still trying to function as  a normal person. 2015 ended up being one of the coolest years of my life, so I was kind of disappointed when I got to the end of the year and didn’t have that neat little online diary like I did the year before.

In light of that disappointment… I’ve officially decided to do my Picture of the Day project for the fourth year in 2016! I’m moving to Toronto and taking a stab at making money through freelance writing so I can prioritize some other goals a little better and, you know, generally have time to live (13 hour work days for almost two years took a toll!). I have a long list of new creative things I want to learn and projects I want to get started. I want to keep performing and building a name for myself online and on stage. My parents are moving to Germany, so I’ll be traveling more and farther. We also already have so many exciting things planned for Drag Coven year 2! Maybe 2016 will prove me wrong, but I don’t want to get to the end of year and think “Damn it, that year was really exciting and I should have documented it better”.

Since I’m a social media junkie and know that I have different followers in different places, I’ll be keeping the pictures on basically every social media. I’ll have a “Courtney Conquering 2016” album on Facebook, posts on Twitter and Tumblr that I share through my Instagram, and I’ll also be keeping them as one giant running post here! I’m sure I’ll hear about how obnoxious and annoying it is to post the pictures absolutely everywhere, especially when I already post so many pictures on a regular basis, but I’m sure you can all guess my response to that.

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So, without further ado… CMON 2016!

Day 1: Friday, January 1st, 2016

1901587_10153149423441891_4138572255538227967_n.jpgI’m still sick as a dog, so we took New Year’s pretty easy. Mom and I went to see Sisters (it’s good. Silly, but I ugly-laughed) and Dolce conquered her fear of my dad. They snuggled without her turning unannounced and slapping him across the face!

Day 2: Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 

  WELL… My mom, dad, and I packed my moving truck tonight so we can leave for Toronto really early tomorrow… But we had a small mishap when we tried to move the wardrobe on a dolly down the front steps hahaha. Luckily it’s not actually broken and just fell apart because it’s from Ikea, but I wish I had video of all of us screaming and grabbing at random pieces as it started falling apart on the stairs! 

 Day 3: Sunday, January 3rd, 2016  
CMON busiest day of my life! We drove all my stuff to Toronto from Kingston, unpacked my entire truck, got all my furniture built and into place, had a pizza lunch, unpacked more, met friends for sushi dinner, and OBVIOUSLY went to a drag show my first night here because it just wouldn’t feel right if we hadn’t. Here’s the lovely Jordan at dinner sporting a little gift Jamie designed! 
Day 4: Monday, January 4th, 2016   My dad and Jamie and I unpacked ALL day before my dad left back to Kingston, and then Eve and Sapphire joined us for my first lil social gathering in the new place! I took pictures of things but none of them were as fun as this cute edit of my recreated Alaska look from the music video for This is My Hair, created by Grace Brooks! 😍 thanks girl! 

Day 5: Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 

Nice little meeting for some fun stuff in the morning and then I started a new job! I’m working part time at a cute little knitting boutique selling artisan yarns (the queens are getting knitted presents from here on out lol). Basically, I spent the afternoon organizing and sorting pretty yarns into rainbow gradients while ladies around the age of 70+ told me I look “alternatively pretty” in an edgy, “not super feminine but still kind of lovely, and also did you draw those eyebrows on?” Kind of way 😂

Day 6: Wednesday, January 6th, 2016   

My day consisted of a trip out to Jamie’s to steam hair and glue it to a toy horse for drag purposes, hand make (and inhale) delicious grandma-style perogies, and run back to TO for a drag show in which @misswhimsythrift played the part of veggies in a plastic bag. All of these things were glorious! 

Day 7: Thursday, January 7th 2016.  

Absolutely gorgeous night with Josie (who let me paint her face), Brad, Dani, Josiah, Josh, Graham, Cassandra, and Miss Scarlett, who pulls off purple glitter brows better than I pull of the natural brows that actually grow out of my face. Have I mentioned yet that I’m really happy to finally be in Toronto? Cause I’m really friggin happy to be here! 

Day 8: Friday, January 8th, 2016 

Amazing time at church on church with these beauties! Behold, three Helenas! 

Day 9: Saturday, January 9th, 2015   

Jamie got a Go Pro and a head harness. Of course, we immediately used it during a spree of 6 queens at 3 drag shows in one night. This is low key the silliest thing I’ve ever seen hahahha 

Day 10: Sunday, January 10th, 2016   

Got all glammed up to see some lovely queens at Crews! I low key already posted this selfie in a comparison shot because it’s a recreation of Susanne Bartsch’s Italian Vogue makeup but it’s the only picture I took so whatever lol. Allysin performed the most fabulous rendition of Life on Mars I’ve ever seen when we all found out that David Bowie passed away. 

Day 11: Monday, January 11th, 2016   

This is literally the only picture I took on Monday and it was at about 4:15 am before we’d even slept from Sunday lol but hey! Dolce was kind of friendly with Jamie for once! (And by friendly I mean menacing and playing total mind games, as usual haha) 

Day 12: Tuesday, January 12th, 2016   

Wrote for one job all morning, worked the other job, and wrote for a third job all night. None of that was overly interesting, so here’s a picture of my fur beast in a dramatic lie green disc chair I’ve had since I was like 16. I haven’t had it since I moved out of my parents house like 8 years ago and our old family cat who loved til she was 23 used t sleep in it. Now I have it back for my apartment in TO and my own furry baby sleeps in it! 

Day 13: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016   

Overnight bus to NYC! When there are 20 other people on the Megabus but no one wants to sit with you (probably because you’re traveling with a toy horse that has weave tracks glued to it for the sake of drag.. Why do I do this to myself) to the point that you have the entire lower level to yourselves cause they all mashed themselves in like sardines up stairs 😂😂😂

Day 14: Thursday, January 14th, 2016   

We bar hopped to about 5 different shows all over Manhattan and everyone was so stellar (we FINALLY got to see Logan Hardcore in real life, yay!). We also finally got to see Miss Rhea Litre after 46.3 years (ok ok 8 months) apart! Love you!! 

Day 15: Friday, January 15th, 2016   

Before we went to the Odyssey awards, Miss Phi Phi O’Hara took us for a lovely afternoon of wig shopping! No one bought any wigs, but we watched her shade rude salespeople and eat about 86 pieces of fried chicken before sending us “home” on the wrong train in the wrong direction 😂 

Day 16: Saturday, January 16th, 2016   

Drag Queens of Comedy! Here’s Willam filming us for a birthday video to Miss Alyssa Edwardswhile I try to film HIM for Coven with one hand and also for his own video on his fancy go pro with the other hand. Such a fantastic show! 

Day 17: Sunday, January 17th, 2016   

The best part about coming home from drag trips! Especially after your bus broke down at the border because you’re a struggle lol 

Day 18: Monday, January 18th, 2016   

A day to get some writing done! I work from home 5 days a week… Here’s what that usually looks like 😻

Day 19: Tuesday, January 19th, 2016   

I’m cheating today and stealing a picture from my parents because them settling in Germany is more interesting than what I did today (stack wool, write in pjs, stab self very badly in thumb with fork while doing dishes. Don’t ask, I don’t know). My dad’s been really pumped about the new Google translate feature that lets you hold the iPad up to things and have them translated in real time on your screen. They were trying to figure out the German terms on their washing machine today and realized that, in Germany, there’s no cycle for “delicates”. Instead, they run a cycle for “sexy underwear” 😂😂😂😂😂

Day 20: Wednesday, January 20th, 2016  

Work, writing, drag shows, friends, and this glorious, regal looking cat. I don’t know if you can tell, but Jamie’s favourite part of the day was the cat. 

Day 21: Thursday, January 21st, 2015   
A day of writing etc followed by a night of drag! Here’s Scarlett Bobo standing on a table and then sitting on my head. Look how much fun I’m having 😂

Day 22: Friday, January 22nd, 2016   

I worked an extra day at the knitting boutique today and this little smoosh came in to visit! His name is pronounced “Redford” after Robert Redford but it’s spelled “Redfurred” because he has red fur😂🙈 he’s a coworker’s dog and he had little icicle stuck to his nose and was wearing a jacket. I immediately ditched all my tasks to pet his glorious ears. 

Day 23: Saturday, January 23rd, 2016   

It seems that my routine is to either be gallivanting around the continent at crazy events looking like a but with exciting performers… Or spending an entire day not leaving my bed because that’s where I can work now. Look at this very adult dinner I made myself in the middle of the night! 

Day 24: Sunday, January 24th 2016  

Still sick as a dog, so i steamed and straightened a wig that used to be big and crimpy and poofy and I also wrote all day (unless you ask the cat, in which case she did all the writing). 

Day 24: Monday, January 25th, 2016  

IM SCREAMING. I had other pictures but Jamie just sent me this cause she downloaded some ridiculous face layering app so she tried to put my face on hers BUT IT DIDNT WORK AND NOW THIS EXISTS jnabakaksbsbdbbs hahahahahhahaha I can’t HAHAHAHAHAHAAHA 

Day 26: Tuesday, January 26th, 2016.   

I worked the knitting boutique all day and I’ve been writing like a nut for the other job, and I needed a break… So I stuck Polaroids all over my wardrobe of drag stuff. Except for Mattie & Mom and Marco Marco… Yes, they’re all pictures of me in costumes with drag queens. 

Day 27: Wednesday, January 27th, 2016   Excuse me, wake up. You have things to do. 

Dear Toronto drag audiences 

I LOVE meeting other drag fans. I’ve made some of my most wonderful friends within the Drag Race (and non-rpdr) fan base. 
I do NOT, however, do drag, go to drag shows, or interact with the community online in order to be liked by random fans, the general fan base as a whole, or singular people within the community. I don’t give two shits if you don’t like me, I don’t care if you don’t like Drag Coven, and I most certainly don’t have one fuck for your opinion on faux/bio queens. 

I especially don’t care about it when you’re refusing to confront me face to face even though you’re literally standing 5 inches away, or when your continued passive aggressive attacks online are directed ONLY at us (but not the 100 other people doing the same thing) immediately following someone you like paying attention to us and not you. 

Pro tip: attending two drag shows in Toronto in your whole life doesn’t make you friends with professional TV queens and it doesn’t entitle you to a damn thing. I’m lucky enough (and worked hard enough at my three jobs, whether you believe it or not, and I don’t really care whether you do) to have been to more drag shows this month than most people will go to in their lives and I’m STILL not friends with all the professional TV queens and I’m STILL not entitled to anything, so take a seat (lol jk I forgot, that’s not allowed, even if you’re on crutches). 

I EXTRA don’t care that you’re mad we’re up front yet again and you’re not. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- if you want to be up front, get there earlier. This stage is in the centre of the room. There are 100 other people in the front all around it. I’m not your problem, your lack of organization and poor time management is your problem. 

I just spent an amazing day with beautiful friends. I got to see some gorgeous, talented artists do what they love. I’m involved with drag because I love the artistry, I dig what it achieves socially, and it’s freaking fun. I go to shows because I admire the people we get to see and I’ve built friendships with some of those artists. 

And for the love of Rupaul, if you have a problem with any aspect of the Coven or myself, come and speak to me about it like an adult. WHY does no one have the balls to address any of this TO me? I am 5’4″, WHAT am I going to do to you? Wound your ego because I’m 4000% more well-spoken than you in conflict with a reputation that precedes me? OH NOOOOO the bitchy little faux queen is SOOO SCARYYYY! You know where else we have these problems at shows? LITERALLY NOWHERE. Not a single other city in the world. Ever.  Not once. Keep an eye out for us on Reddit! 

Alyssa Edwards is an angel and a saint. Local Toronto drag queens are TO DIE FOR. Bless this day! 

Knee Braces and Miley Cyrus

PHEW! Another crazy weekend is over after this bus ride! I have two days of work after this and I’ll be off for an even crazier trip on Tuesday! We’ll be in Ann Arbor for Tease with Milk, Raven, Bendelacreme, and Ginger Minj at Necto on Wednesday, in Toronto for Alyssa Edwards, Cassandra Moore, and some other gorgeous locals at Fly on Friday, and in Syracuse for Kasha Davis, Aggy Dune, and Alaska Thunderfuck on Saturday! …featuring little opening act, ME!!   

People keep asking me what the hell I did this weekend though, so here’s a little summary!

1) It was Jamie’s birthday weekend, so we went trampolining, like any sane adult would do. We had a blast and it was real cute. We did flips into a foam pit, tried to learn how to flying slam dunk, and got badly beaten at dodgeball by some ten year olds. 

It was all fine and dandy until I discovered that you’ll fly REALLY far if they throw all your weight at a bounce wall. I landed on my leg wrong and heard and felt a dull thunk that put me in a WHOLE bunch of pain. I panicked and jerked my leg towards me and that gave me another dull thunk and suddenly the pain basically stopped, so I guess I dislocated and relocated my knee. That was the extent of the dramatics until their med guy asked me if I could put weight on it. It was fine for a bit until I saw my knee bend sideways like a Barbie doll’s rubber leg. It hurt a bit but the sight of it was HIDEOUS. I don’t even want to think about the screeching sound I probably made. It was SO. GROSS. It was kind of detached like “Ew, that poor leg. OH WAIT, that’s mine and I can feel that”. I’ve never dropped to the floor so fast! They brought over a huge gym mat and I had to butt scoot onto it while kids and parents watched staff drag me off the trampolines. One of the staff members told me I was riding a magic carpet and sang me A Whole New World. Jamie’s dad came running over and said “damn it, I knew as soon as they said there was an injury that it was you” and carried me down the stairs like a baby.   

We iced and elevated, then did standard alternating icing (I took first aid, I know my RICE!). Jamie and her parents grabbed me a knee brace with side supports that makes my thigh look double the size of my other leg but makes me feel 1000 times better walking. My knee felt weak and kind of loose for a bit but started feeling better quickly as long as I was careful.   

I obviously messed it up and need to visit the hospital (thank you to the 8000 caring people who messaged me to tell me this! I genuinely appreciate that you care and I promise I’m going eventually). No, I haven’t been yet. I looked up the waiting times at all local clinics and emergency rooms and they were HORRENDOUS and for all they’d do for me immediately… It wasn’t worth missing a job interview, missing Jamie’s birthday dinner, and probably missing our start time the next day just to have them tell me all I can do is ice it until they get further results. Most of the clinics would have closed before they could see me anyways. Maybe I’m bad at taking care of myself and have weird priorities, but I’d rather make the best of the weekend despite the pain than sit around in pain AND waste money on missed experiences! We carefully hair shopped, I limped to a job interview, and we had a wonderful dinner with jamie’s parents, who have kindly pseudo-adopted me over the last year. It was CUTE. 

Of course, when I do make it to the doctor, my biggest question will be “when can I strut again”, because I open a show for my favourite queen in 6 days. I’m still going on. We made numbers and choreography that will work whether I have one functional leg or two. I’ll be on that stage even if I have to be up there on bedazzled crutches! I’m a little mad at myself for messing around before an opportunity like that, but I’m enough of a show off to go through with it regardless. 

For reference, I’m 26 and this isn’t even my first non-age-appropriate injury. I once broke my ankle on a play structure in Burger King when I was 12. I didn’t go to the hospital until much later then either. I went the whole summer vacation thinking I was just being a baby and then I danced en pointe on it for 6 weeks. We found out it had been fractured the whole time. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson but my ankle is just fine and I have really bad FOMO, okay? 
2) We went to Miley Cyrus’ Milky Milky Milk tour  in Detroit on Saturday! Yes, yes, I was very careful with my knee. I sat basically all day (buried under a pile of soaking wet blankets and bundled up to my eyeballs) and during the show I stood on the good leg and leaned on the barricade.

 We waited for that show 12 hours in a legitimate blizzard so bad that all the performers flights were canceled and they had to bus.  

 We did our makeup in a Subway that took pity on us.   

We somehow magically got front barricade even though we were like 20 people back in line and I had to hobble carefully through the mad rush to the stage.   

We gave Miley one of the bows Jamie sews for the queens and she took it, wore it, and posted it to Instagram right after the show.    

 

We got to see three queens we absolutely adore dazzle a new crowd and show everyone why drag is kick ass, and we were SO proud of them.    

 

Miley’s guitarist fought off rabid fans to hand me the set list after the show finished.   

The crowd was literally insane but Miley is ridiculously talented. I haven’t always been a Miley fan, to be honest. I was a little too old for Hannah Montana and spent all my time dancing, so I NEVER used to watch TV. I’ve literally never seen an episode. I’ve always known her and her music, but I was pretty neutral on her. My only real exposure was the time I was there live for her VMA performance with Robin Thicke… Which wasn’t exactly up my alley. He is gross on multiple levels. 

Anyways, I’ve been warming up to Miley the last year or so. I like her attitude and her outlook on identity and the body. I’m intrigued to see where she takes the Happy Hippie Foundation. I can’t pretend I’m not a sucker for the fact that she put one of my best friends and a bunch of my artistic idols on stage with her on an internationally televised awards show and simultaneously did bad ass identity activism with it… 

I’m so glad I got to witness what she’s actually capable of last night. It was all the glittery identity sex-positivity I’m into, combined with a killer voice, and then she threw some queens I love into the mix and …well duh. She did this thing with a crystal singing bowl at one point and I’m pretty sure I just sat there with my mouth hanging open through the whole thing. I want to recreate every outfit she wore. There was a rainbow light chamber with a pole in the middle and it made me want to go back to pole lessons IMMEDIATELY. The whole thing was just phenomenal. 

After the show we got to see Alyssa, Laganja, and Gia, which was obviously wonderful. We adore them and watching them wow a crowd that huge and diverse made me scream til I saw little black dots (or maybe that was from being crushed against the barricade because the girl behind me decided I should wear her like a human backpack). I was glad we caught them for a quick congrats (and another instalment of “Drag Coven Delivers” when Miss Alyssa needed a new phone charger)!

We also got to meet Miss Miley herself!   

She was extremely nice and very kind to us, and so were her team! We pet each other’s fur coats and she told me she recognized my googly eye look from when she told me she liked it at the Drag Race season 7 finale. We commented super briefly about our love for home-crafted outfits. We held hands while we gushed about how much we both love a gorgeous mutual friend. It was all v cute.   

Now I’m headed home to see if the doctor will take me without having to miss any work! As I’m constantly reminded online, my “lifestyle” costs money and it’s a wonder I can afford what we do (ha). I have precisely one evening to try and magically heal my knee, make two paper outfits, style two wigs, pack a suitcase, cook for a work potluck, write a blog for one of my freelance jobs, snuggle my cat, and…sleep, I guess. 

Back at the adventures this week, hopefully with two bending knees!