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Engaged

For as long as I can remember, I have never wanted to get married. Not as a young child playing with dolls (and my preferred dolls were Barbies, not babies); not as a hormonal teenager with obsessive crushes on badass boys with long, greasy hair; not at 22 when I truly fell head over heels in love within a mature relationship for the first time.

This may be because of the nature of my parents’ marriage, which appeared to be tolerable at best. As far as I could observe, there was, and still is, a complete lack of respect between them. And neither of them appeared very happy with the situation. Like most kids, I made a conscious decision to avoid a life like my parents’ at all costs. I always hoped to find a loving partner that I could share my life with. I just never intended to enter that prison called marriage.

After several long-term relationships, including one of four years, my thoughts on marriage never changed. In fact, I had received proposals from three different people and I turned them all down flat. It just wasn’t an option. For the record, these refusals had nothing to do with the gender of the person asking: my long-term relationships were with people of both genders, as were the proposals.

But this time was different. On November 18, my beloved partner MC proposed to me. We’ve been together for nearly a year, but have talked about marriage often. After our first few months together, when we were in that crazy, passionate, excited stage of the relationship, she would sometimes turn to me and say “Will you marry me?” The first dozen times she asked me, my answer was a flat out “No.” The next hundred times I answered “Not today.” 

The months went by and our relationship only got better and stronger. I was amazed at how easy it was — she was easy to love, easy to respect, easy to talk to and to have fun with. One day (I suspect she was tired of me skirting the issue) she explained to me why she wanted to get married. It’s not about the lavish ceremony, or the dress and tux, the flowers, the cake, putting on a show for the neighbours or any of that bullshit. It’s about making a commitment to someone, and caring enough about that person and that commitment to take a day out of your life to honour it. To say together, “Yes, you are what I want. I promise this relationship will be my first priority for the rest of my life.”

She makes a lot of sense. And when you take all the religion and bullshit out of it, it’s a really nice idea. So when she got down on one knee last week, quite out of the blue, and asked me for real, I had to say yes.

We’ve agreed to keep the ceremony small, intimate and simple, and to reflect who we are and what’s important to us. The plan is to have a handful of people at the ceremony, then a big party afterwards. Maybe spring or summer 2010. But for now, I’m just enjoying being engaged.

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A Little Yarn Porn

Yarn orgy on my kitchen table.

Yarn orgy on my kitchen table.

The Love of My Life and I went yarn shopping on Saturday. No, this isn’t the reason she’s The Love of My Life (though it certainly helps). She’s been wanting me to knit her a sweater, so we headed over to Yarn Forward and Sew On to pick some out. We came home with yarn for the sweater, and for a scarf for her, and a scarf for me, and a toque for her dad. We bought all this yarn (see left) and my love threw in an extra ball of black because, she said, “it’s always good to have some black yarn around the house.” See? How could she NOT be The Love of My Life? 

 

 

 

The hasty scarf

The hasty scarf

Of course, as soon as we arrived home with the large bags full of new yarn, I couldn’t contain myself. I immediately pulled out the two greens I had selected for my scarf, and a 9 mm that I estimated would handle the double strand. Thing was, we were heading out to a friend’s house for dinner. Luckily, it was a 30-minute drive. I cast on in the truck and had a good couple inches done by the time we got there. I put down the needles for dinner, and picked them up again as we played games after the meal – at the host’s suggestion! (I have the greatest friends!)  

 

 

 

My first Lopi.

My first Lopi.

 

Besides my lovely scarf, I’m very excited about buying my first Lopi. I’ve wanted to experiment with this scratchy but gorgeous yarn for a long time now. I’m going to try to incorporate it into MC’s sweater along with the Cascades Ecological Wool. Hopefully this will work.

I read something today that absolutely shocked me as a Canadian. Many well-informed people (or at least better-informed than me) probably already knew this, but to me it was like a punch in the gut.

I was sitting at a bar and grill in the Glebe, enjoying my well-earned Friday afternoon off, and catching up on some reading. Prior to stopping at the bar and grill, I had treated myself to (count ’em) three magazines:

1. BUST – it has always been one of my favourite women’s magazines; produced by feminists with a sense of humour;

2. National Geographic Adventure – because my Significant Other and I have been thinking about taking a trip somewhere exciting, and this issue features a list of the top 50 ecolodges on the planet; and

3. THIS Magazine – simply because I had never read it, and had been curious about it for some time.

I’m happy about all three purchases, but I was so impressed with THIS, I may have to subscribe. Check it out:

In the This & That section, I started reading a short piece about arms-deal secrecy in Canada. The first paragraph explains that Canada recently ranked 16th out of 40 countries for the transparency of its arms trade. I had a chuckle. So much for your vows of transparency and accountability, Mr. Harper. A report that examined where Canadian-made weapons were distributed from 2003 to 2005 was only released this year, Jenn Hardy reports. (I would link directly to the story, but the new issues isn’t up on the website yet.)

Not only that, a DFAIT rep said there is no legislative requirement to create such reports or to release them to the public, and that they’re produced as “a voluntary transparency measure.” Except that they release them when the information is no longer timely or, likely, accurate.

But here was the kicker (I’ve made you wait long enough for it): CBC researchers discovered that between 2000 and 2007, Canada exported $3.6 BILLION (US dollars) in military goods, making us the SIXTH LARGEST WEAPONS EXPORTER IN THE WORLD.  

May I say, WTF? I know that Canada is not the perfect land of friendly, polite people, happy rainbows and free flowing health care that some would make it out to be (Michael Moore, I’m looking at you), but I certainly didn’t think we were one of the world’s top manufacturers of military goods. 

I’m a member of Amnesty International, which campaigns against the proliferation of arms in war-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Particularly in regions where children are forced into the conflicts to carry arms themselves. But I had no idea Canada itself was a major contributor to the problem.

OK, I haven’t read Canada’s report on where arms were sent between 2003 and 2005. Maybe not a single “military good” (that’s a painful oxymoron) crossed into the African continent. Maybe they’re all just sitting in boxes in some huge warehouse somewhere, like the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, never to be used. But I doubt it. I don’t have the excuse of naiveté anymore. Thank you, THIS.

Escaping family

What is it about family that makes me shut down and run away? Sometimes talking to family members makes me want to sit on the floor, close my eyes tight, cover my ears with my hands and sing “I can’t hear you!!!”

I’m pretty sure I love them – if one of them were to die, I would be very upset. Devastated even. But they feel tangential to my life. I do cultivate a certain distance with them (OK, maybe a chasm) both geographically and emotionally. And I don’t really look forward to talking to or seeing them – some of them, anyway.

Tonight, for example, I was writing to one of my younger family members (now in his early 20s) who suffered an injustice from the rest of the family a couple of years ago. He hasn’t really received a proper apology from everybody yet, and I fear he may never get one. I can tell it bothers him, and to be honest I haven’t fully apologized for my role in this debacle yet, either. But I just dread dealing with it. I just want to throw my little fit on the floor and make everything go back to the way it was . . . I hope what I wrote to him today will help in some small way.

Incidentally, I came out to this same family member tonight as well. He may have already known, but I wasn’t sure, so I told him. And it was still difficult to choose the words, though it gets a little easier each time. But there’s still that fear of rejection, the terror of the look of disgust on his face (despite the fact I can’t see his face; and haven’t seen his face in about three years now).

All this just reinforces my dread of the xmas holidays. Maybe I can hold my breath until it’s over . . .

The trip to Gay Town

One of my oldest and dearest friends sent me a card recently to congratulate me on coming out to my family after spending a ridiculous number of years in the closet to no one except them. It was a lovely gesture. Like she says: Nobody bakes you a cake when you come out, but they should! 

She also sent me this comic cell, in response to my comment about bisexuality NOT being a stopover on the way to Gay Town. Maybe next time she drops in at Vonny’s Vag she could give us the source. Is that Superman on his way to Gay City?  (gasp!)  I never knew, and my gaydar is pretty good . . .

So it occurred to me to provide an update on the whole coming out process. Since coming out to my parents in early July, they have called me precisely once, to wish me a happy Thanksgiving. Which is something. On Labour Day weekend I brought my partner down to my hometown to meet the family. We stayed with my brother, who dealt with the whole thing remarkably well, considering. My parents were civil, but clearly uncomfortable. They made no effort to initiate conversation with my beloved, but they were friendly to her when she spoke to them.

On the long drive home, I tried to look on the bright side. My 70-something parents have probably never met a gay person in their lives. (At least not knowingly.) At this point, it was important that they see that I’m still the same person, and that my beloved is not a green three-headed monster. Mission accomplished.

Now we have to figure out where we’re going to spend xmas — our first xmas together as a couple. My parents will be upset if I don’t spend it with them, and my partner’s family will be upset if she doesn’t spend it with them. But neither of us wants to spend xmas apart, especially since it’s our first one together.

Reflections on the debate

I’m sitting at my computer, bundled in my pyjamas, a hoodie, slippers and scarf (yes, I’m wearing a scarf in the house) sipping tea with lemon and honey and listening to jazz. Miles Davis just blew the last notes of Enigma, and now Judy Garland is crooning to me about the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe. There’s a bit of sunshine breaking through the clouds and hitting the yellow, red and orange leaves on the trees outside, and it would be a perfect Sunday morning, if I didn’t have a cold. It’s pretty good anyway, though.

I watched the English debates the other night. It’s an interesting exercise, mostly because I have my doubts as to how much of an effect they actually have on how people vote. I find people’s impression of how a candidate did in the debate is entirely coloured by their opinion of that candidate before the debate took place. It’s probably more helpful for people who don’t follow the parties, the leaders or their policies.

Elizabeth May was the surprise of the night for me. She proved she belonged at that table, and that she was knowledgeable on topics outside of the environment. I found myself agreeing with nearly everything she said. Jack Layton did a great job, attacking Conservative policy and chiding the Liberals for aiding and abetting the Conservatives throughout the last session of Parliament by simply being absent. This was the first time I heard Stéphane Dion speak at length (I don’t have cable) and I see now what people are talking about when they bemoan his incomprehensible English. He was laying on the “I feel your pain” act a little thick. The pundits have been reporting that Stephen Harper’s performance was directed at women, but I think Dion’s performance was even more so. He expressed his party’s policies fairly well, but Dion just didn’t do anything for me.

I did enjoy the moment when I thought he was going to lose it — Harper said his Green Shift would increase taxes. Dion looked like he was going to blow a gasket. Then he got a grip on himself, looked squarely in the camera and said “Do not believe this man.” It was a nice save. I’m not sure how many people will believe it, though. As for Harper himself, he did a good job of staying calm and cool in the face of attacks from all four leaders, but I can’t say much else for him. His party hasn’t released a platform, and is the only party who hasn’t yet. (Incidentally, Jack got in the zinger of the night with his “Where’s your platform? In your sweater?” remark. Burn!) So all he did really was attack the other parties’ platforms, and the others focused on attacking the Conservative performance in the last 2.5 years.

I hope Canadians see the lack of a Conservative platform is a telling sign. This is a party with a history of poor communication practices. Look at their first year in power, and the head-butting that went on between the government and the media. There is a truce now, but it’s still impossible to obtain information from the current government without it passing through the Privy Council Office. My questions is, WHY don’t they have a platform for Canadians? What are they trying to hide? I am currently about two-thirds of the way through an article by Marci McDonald from The Walrus magazine (October 2006) which looks at the links between Harper’s Conservatives and various evangelical organizations and activists (theo-cons). It is frightening, quite frankly, and shows just how accurate some of the comparisons between Harper and George W. Bush really are. Harper’s just better at hiding his evangelical connections. Bush doesn’t have to.

Speaking of which, I’m going to make another cup of tea and get back to the McDonald article with Billie Holiday singing in the background.

Lovely colours, but too big.

Lovely colours, but too big.

I am not the most accomplished knitter. I am, at best, a fair-weather knitter. Or rather a poor-weather knitter: I prefer to knit during the long, cold, dark winters in Canada, and spend my summers outdoors.

But this summer I bucked the trend and undertook some major projects (at least for me) all at once. One of the last to be cast on was the Jaywalker sock. I bought some colourful yarn from KnitPicks (Felici in Provence, to be exact) whose stripes I thought would show off the zig-zag pattern beautifully.

Now, as I said, I’m not a very accomplished knitter, but if there’s one thing I can knit, it’s socks. Toe-up or top-down, I can churn out plain old socks like nobody’s business. But this pattern looked a little tricker. And from what my fellow Ravelers had to say about the pattern’s lack of elasticity, I thought I’d better do the test swatch. (I have since paid for this. When I told the story to my far more accomplished knitting friend Tam, she looked at me incredulously, then laughed and said, “What a nerd! Who does a test swatch for socks?”)

The test swatch told me to knit these suckers on 3 mm needles in the large size, while the pattern itself (as well as the yarn, really) calls for 2.25 mm needles. Contrary to every natural instinct I had, and despite the fact I rarely knit socks on anything larger than 2.5 mm, I did as the test swatch bid. And here I am, two inches down the leg with a sock that would fit a small elephant’s leg. 

While I know test swatches can be crucial to a successful project, there is also something to be said for trusting your inner knitting instincts.

This from the woman who knit two other failed projects this summer: a tank top that is so big around it would fit two of me, and a Stefanie Japel pattern (Split-neckline cap-sleeve tee) whose neckline simply will not lie flat no matter how many times I start over . . . from scratch . . . Which looks like what I’ll have to do with the Jaywalkers. Good thing the winters are long up here.