Arrivals and Departures

Picture 1
I’m standing at the edge of October, and I’m just not yet ready to dip my toes into November. I hate November. I believe it is the saddest, coldest month of all.

My cabaret company just produced and performed our first Halloween show, and I was amused to see how the show took over our entire household. My girlfriend sank her teeth into making some serious props (like a full-sized werewolf pelt), my boyfriend is still picking glitter out of his beard, and the girls are picking happily through the piles of tutus, pirate hats, and kitty cat ears in search of their Halloween costumes. My whole family got in on the pre-show prep action. I just hope it doesn’t grow old soon.

Two of my very dear friends have just had babies. Their first babies. One had a beautiful little girl, and the other a boy. I was at the hospital for the birth of the boy, and stayed in the room right up until she started pushing. She and her husband were incredible. She was stoic and brave, and he was supportive and positive. It was a real treat to be there. I spent the day filled with excitement, anxiety, and something else…something I couldn’t pinpoint until another dear friend texted to ask how I was holding up.

At first I thought it was strange that she would ask after me, and then I remembered why. I think it’s really positive that I wasn’t immediately aware.

Four years ago I had a miscarriage. It was fairly early into my last relationship. We weren’t always meticulously careful because he had told me that his sperm count was really low because he’d survived testicular cancer (I found out later that his previous girlfriend got pregnant the same way.) He didn’t think he could ever have kids, which was fine for me at the time because the place I was in was so dark that things like family and children seemed like a far away dream. I didn’t think I wanted them anymore.

Until my period wouldn’t go away, and until the home pregnancy test was glaringly positive. In that moment, my life changed.

Against all logic I was overjoyed. Timing couldn’t be worse, I had my doubts about the relationship, but I was going to be a mom. Sadly, my ex didn’t share my joy. He made it clear in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want to be a daddy. And so, we began discussing what we were going to do.
Then, the decision was made for me.

When you are in the emergency ward, with an unexpected pregnancy, and you’re leaning on the “we’re just not sure if we’re going to proceed with this “ side of the fence, people could give a shit about you having a miscarriage. It seems that they decide that you must be relieved and proceed accordingly, because hands down, every medical professional and doctor I saw during this week-long period treated me with utter coldness. Except for the technician at the clinic where I had my ultrasound who didn’t bother to read my chart properly, and decided to show me my dying fetus with complete delight.

I was still spotting, there was no fetal heartbeat, and my hormone levels were dropping.

They prescribed a medication that would cause spontaneous abortion in the comfort of my own home. This didn’t work, but DID cause some of the most horrific cramping I’ve ever experienced. The final step was a D & C, which if you don’t know, is a procedure where they put you under general anesthetic and scrape out the contents of your womb. This remains the single worst experience of my entire life.

Instead of taking a girlfriend or my aunt who graciously offered to come with me, I decided to go to the hospital with my boyfriend, who left me there for a doctor’s appointment of his own. (I’m convinced that he got a vasectomy that day, but that’s a separate entry altogether). The nurse who set up my drip had to try FIVE times before she could find a vein, and had no problem scraping around inside my arm to do so. They took away both my contact lenses and my glasses before they wheeled me into the OR so I couldn’t see anything, and I awoke in recovery totally alone, shivering from the anesthetic with only the hand-knit slippers my mom made to comfort me.

In Ontario, they aren’t able to tell you why you’ve had a miscarriage until you’ve had three. Yes, three. After experiencing one, while not even trying to get pregnant, I can’t imagine going through it again, and certainly not twice more.

People say things like “these things are more common than you think” or “it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be problems later” or “it just wasn’t meant to be” but these phrases are totally meaningless, and definitely not helpful.

Maybe it was a progesterone deficiency. Or maybe it happened because the universe knew that a baby would tie me to my ex forever. Whatever it was, it has left me feeling broken.

I want so badly to just be able to celebrate the joys of my good friends, but underneath my genuine feelings of happiness is an aching so deep that I have to fight to keep it hidden in my bones.

What if I’m damaged? What if I missed my window? What if I’m too old? What if? What if? What if?

I’ve always known what kind of life I want to live. I’ve always known the types of things I want to do. Never have I known anything with as much certainty as this; I want to have a baby, and of all of the remarkable things I’ve had happen in my life, I fear that this is the one and only thing I won’t be able to realize.

And so, because I’m so very grateful for the things I DO have, and because I don’t want to live driven by a need to pro-create, I carry on through my days breathing life into new projects and new creations.

When I got home from the hospital the other night, it was late. I said very little to either of my partners and headed straight to the shower. I emerged wrapped in a fluffy terry towel and I lay down beside my girlfriend. She took one look at me and then folded me in her arms while I began to sob. In four years this was exactly the kind of silent, knowing sympathy I needed, but never found when the wounds were fresh. I’ve never felt so loved.

My life is overflowing with riches. I’m surrounded by beauty, and love, and creativity. I have wonderful friends, incredible family, and a home filled with people who love me. I am so full.

But sometimes I feel so very, very empty.

We live on a mountain, right at the top

There's a beautiful view from the top of the mountain

There's a beautiful view from the top of the mountain

every morning i walk towards the edge
and throw little things off
car-parts, bottles and cutlery
or whatever i find lying around

it’s become a habit
a way
to start the day

i go through this
before you wake up
so i can feel happier
to be safe up here with you

This struck me last night.

Sometimes I have these little destructive moments that I think I direct at my male partner. I’m sometimes aggressive without cause, or I feel the need to challenge him unnecessarily. Each time this happens he meets me with a steady gaze, and with total calm and so much patience.

I’m tossing these things off the edge, because the cliff we live on is so high, and the possibility for disaster is so great. In the past, I’ve come close to slipping and crashing on the rocks below. Sometimes I’ve been shoved off, only to land in pieces at the bottom.

He seems to understand that this exercise is like a small sacrifice. Each meaningless thing I toss out to bounce lifeless against the rocks means that one more bit of clutter or garbage is gone from our landscape.

This is how I’m learning to trust again, and there’s barely anything left to pitch. Perhaps next I will fold some paper airplanes to watch them float gracefully down, and watch as the wind takes them away.

Family Day

LDFDC LOGO 2006 copy(1)

Today we decided to do family things. As a family. All five of us.

We weren’t able to spend Thanksgiving together this year, and though our separate celebrations were pleasant enough, it felt strange and a little sad to be apart. We won’t be doing that again. There comes a time for all of us, if we’re lucky enough, to be able to create our own primary family unit, and for my own well-being, I think the focus has to be on us first.  I think we’re all in agreement here. So we’ll have to hatch a plan for Christmas.

This morning we all got up slowly, then we toddled over to Fran’s for a late breakfast, and then took in Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs in 3d. The girls have never seen a 3d movie, and they were rocked to the core. At one point, the three-year-old reached over and said “Daddy, it looks like they’re in OUR world!”

During our brunch, my girlfriend got a call from her mom, who had finally opened the heartfelt email she’d sent on Friday. We were all on pins and needles, hoping she wouldn’t read it seconds before they arrived on her doorstep for Thanksgiving dinner. They had an epic, but lovely conversation where her mama basically told her that nothing had changed, she loved her just the same, and she was happy for her new found happiness. Her Facebook status today even contained the phrase “You learn something new every day, and it’s all good.” I can’t wait to meet this woman! She also invited me for Christmas day celebrations. I was so happy watching my girlfriend’s face while she spoke to her mother. It was easy to see the conversation was going well. As far as her dad’s concerned, her mom just seems to think that he’ll figure my boyfriend is the luckiest man in the world.

When I turned 30, my boss at the time took me to see an amazing psychic named John Pothia in Peterborough. I don’t put a lot of stock in these things, but it was interesting to hear what he had to say. In fact, it was a pretty incredible experience. He said a lot of very positive things, but two things in particular stand out these days.

Rather completely out of the blue he said “Straight, gay, it makes no difference and the sooner you stop worrying about this, the happier you’ll be.”

Then, at the end of the reading, when I asked him about children in my future, he said “I see you having one biological child of your own, but also other children in a completely unexpected way. Stepchildren, or something like that.”

These people are my family. Our bond gets stronger every day. Our older girl includes me when she speaks of “our family”, and whenever this happens my heart melts a little. My mother sent an email to my partners today wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving, which was really incredible, and next week we’re all piling into my little brother’s condo, so the girls can meet “my giant” (my brother is 6’7) and we can all just be together.

I would never have imagined this for myself. When I thought about my family unit, I always had a notion that it would be a little non-traditional, but I could never have conjured this. Yet somehow I did. We did. I took the time to heal my heart and my head, and here we’ve all found each other.

In restaurants, nobody stares. In our building, the concierge desk is manned by friendly, polite security officers who smile knowingly as we come and go. In the hustle and bustle of this big city we are just another unit of people, and to most of our loved ones, this is just another way to experience life and love.

It might be the greatest joy my life has ever known.

Gobbeling It All Up

Ya Bunch 'O Turkeys

Ya Bunch 'O Turkeys

Gratitude Top 30, 2009

In no particular order

1. ) You and your clever green/blue eyes and mop of toussled hair in the mornings, and your ability to always hear my heart without me ever needing to use my lips

2. ) You for your gentle patience, attention to detail, gigantic heart, and beautiful mouth, and for restoring my faith

3. ) You and the way you pronounce my name as though it had a letter “f”

4. ) You and your ability to read my mind and always know when I need a cuddle or a spontaneous “you’re so beeeeoootiful!”

5. ) Amanda for her ferocity, loyalty, and endless bounty of love.

6. ) Ming for her creativity, eye for beauty, steady, unwavering love, and impending bundle of joy

7. ) Kathryn for her incredible support, genius, understanding and partnership

8.) Josh for being the best guy for so many years, and for gladly stepping down to Commander Riker status when an honest-to-goodness Picard came along

8. ) Kyle, for almost always “getting me”

9. ) Mom, and her wall posts and chat attempts that show she’s really trying, and for her secret stash of hand-knit baby things

10. ) Dad for the best email all year

11. ) My boss, who I think can read my mind

12. ) Les Coquettes – both the on stage and off stage players, who fill my days with creative fire, and make each day a quest for beauty

13. ) Auntie Jackie and the enduring lesson that this tiny speckle of time is ours to make as fabulous and filled with love as we can

14.) Everyone who reacted to recent news with “That’s so awesome, I’m so happy for you all!”

15.) Everyone who reacted to recent news with “Wow, incredible. I have so many questions for you!”

16.) Everyone who reacted to recent news with “Oh, Schnoo.” or “Why????” or  “I have a terrible feeling about this.” or “I’m really worried about you.” or “Someone is going to get really hurt” or “It’s wrong to do this because there are children involved” or “I never would have chosen this for you”. Your fear and concern have reinforced everything I believe to be right and good because I can look you straight in the eye and tell you this is the best thing that’s ever happened.

17.) Waking up every morning to a hearty breakfast with the people I love, a packed lunch and a ride to work

18. ) Adventures in Schnoovile, where I feel like I was re-born

19. ) The Fortress of Solitude and it’s incredible restorative powers

20. ) Ursula and Andy for being the best landlords ever

21. ) Alexandra leaving – bittersweet, but ripe with adventure and possibility, and I’m thrilled that I get to read it all in old-fashioned letters from the coast

22. ) Arthur who filled the void so beautifully. I’ll miss you buddy

23. ) The smell of baking bread, currently tickling my nostrils

24. ) Crisp sunny autumn bike rides and the apples in my cheeks

25. ) Really, truly, loving myself

26. ) Barcelona, and Leonard Cohen’s birthday party

27. ) Saturday afternoon family pile-ups on the couch with a movie

28. ) The fact that we all have the same taste

29. ) The way you both look at me when I’m making art, on stage, singing, playing, writing, and doing any of the other things I love the best

30. ) Forgiveness. Without it, I’d never be here.

Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Ottawa artist Sherry Tompalski's Female Boxer

Ottawa artist Sherry Tompalski's Female Boxer

It’s 9:30 on a Saturday morning. So far today I’ve gone to the gym, watched Annie, witnessed a live performance of the hits of Annie, and done about 45 minutes of administrative work for my cabaret company.

I’m about two weeks into regular gym visits and a month into fairly careful eating with a focus on high protein, and no more gluten or sugar. I feel fantastic, and can only wonder at what was taking me so long to REALLY start taking care of myself.

I’ve never been athletic. Never. I felt I was lacking in coordination, so generally stayed away from team sports, feeling much more comfortable in the company of the other pasty drama geeks. I’ve never really had a weight issue, but now into my thirties, I’ve noticed that I’ve become squishier than I’ve ever been. I really believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but I haven’t been FEELING good.

About two years after graduating from College, my boyfriend at the time got me interested in going to the gym. We were in a rocky place in our relationship, and so the gym became a solace for me as my life was in upheaval. We were soon moving out of our apartment, and I started to feel like control was slipping away. As life got more stressful, the weight just fell off me, and then of course the positive reinforcement started. I began walking to work, one hour in each direction, and soon realized that if I limited myself to one full meal at lunch, with apples or nuts only to sustain me in between that I would quickly drop two more sizes. The boys who wouldn’t even look at me in high school; the jocks, the white collar Bay Street boys, were eating out of my palm. I could see the bones around my sternum, my clavicle looked like you could cut yourself on it, I was a horrific and moody, bitchy mess, and then the migraines started. Horrible, soul-numbing headaches that would blind me for hours – nothing would fix these except a dark, quiet room, and the fetal position, often accompanied by tears.

Eventually, a concerned girlfriend confronted me and told me I actually looked like shit. Of course I didn’t believe her. I assured everyone, including my family, that I was just eating healthier and working hard at the gym. I continued on like this until I met my ex-husband and love and our mutual enthusiasm for food resulted in me packing on a few very necessary pounds.

I still don’t know what fueled this horrible behaviour, but I credit this period in my life for why I’ve hung on to some extra, unhealthy weight over the last few years. My body isn’t naturally rake thin, nor do I want it to be. I think though, there was something in me that deeply resented how quick people were to reinforce the stupid things I was doing to my body to be as thin as I was. There was something scary and offensive about being valued more because I was starving. Now, after several years of making bad food choices, and being more sedentary than I really should be, I’m hanging on to extra weight out of fear.

It’s fear of not being good enough as I am. It’s fear of meeting my full potential, and realizing all that I could be. It’s fear that my desire to be stronger and healthier is somehow linked to the bullshit ideals created for women by the mass media.

I don’t want to be afraid. A lovely fella named Abraham called me out on this months and months ago, but I wasn’t ready to hear it yet. I’m ready now. I owe it to myself to be in the best shape I can be, and I LOVE how I’m feeling. I’m eating well, I’m feeling super grounded, and more coordinated and confidant. The goals I’ve set for myself are based on how I feel, and not about meeting any size or weight.

I’m taking vitamins, and supplements, and drinking protein shakes, and there’s a spring in my step that has everything to do with my own momentum, and commitment to being the best I can be.

We carve out our own identities based on notions of what we CAN or CAN’T do. These notions mostly come to us from the outside world; people telling us what we’re good at, and because we develop at different rates, what we’re “not good” at. There is absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t be athletic. None. and you know, I’ll bet I’m actually really good at math too.

Keeping It In The Cupboard

This is the first image I found when I Googled "inside the kitchen cupboard"

This is the first image I found when I Googled "inside the kitchen cupboard"

Last night I had a heart-to-heart with the male third of my triad. We launched into this seated on the kitchen floor, half tucked inside the cupboard where the Tupperwear is stored, because we were looking for suitable containers for the girls’ lunch.

I am the first in our triad to tell my parents about what is happening in my life. I decided to do this for three reasons:

1.) My mom can read my mind and would have very quickly figured out that something was up anyway.

2.) Once upon a time in my personal history I sort of ambushed her with really significant personal news. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time because she had so much on her own plate, but as it turns out, this is going to be on the very short list of things I regret, probably forever.

3.) My extended family has had WAAYYY too many secrets. My mom was open and honest with me about our family’s skeletons and stories from the time I was old enough to understand the answers to the questions I was asking. I’ve never lived with secrets myself, because I am convinced that they give you cancer.

I maintain that my partners should talk to their families when they feel the time is right. I really do think this is important, but part of me knows I can’t really settle into this, and really learn to feel secure until that hurdle has been met.

I’ve only met my male partner’s parents. Most of the year they live on another continent, but they’ve been in Toronto since August, and we’ve had three occasions now to spend time together. Usually in a crowded, noisy, fairly public situation. They think I’m a dear friend, and by some miracle, neither of the kids have said anything like “Are you gonna sleep over again tonight Schnoo?” or “Schnoo stays at our house all the time” in front of their grandparents. The current strategy is to have these folks get to know me as a Schnoo first, and then when the time is right, tell them the rest of the story. I am skeptical that there is ever a right time to tell your parents that you’ve taken on a second woman, who is a lover to your wife, and who you want to have more children with. Hmmm…

As for the kidlets, they also think I’m a dear friend who stays over. A lot. I suppose that’s right, isn’t it? I haven’t really stayed at the Fortress of Solitude for over a month. In November, the clan will head off continent to spend time with his family. Six weeks of time in fact. I think I’ve been stock-piling my time with them knowing how shitty November will be.

He might tell his parents in November.

So presently, as was the case last night, I am half in and half out of the cupboard. The result is a strange mixture of freedom and sadness. I just want to get it over with, you know? Face any impending shit storms head on. Engage in epic conversations with worried and angry parents now, and then really settle into my life. Our life. No more monitoring photos posted on Facebook by friends, no more pretending to sleep on the couch, no more worrying over what the children may say to their grandparents. I can make a home, we can make a home, both physically and emotionally, and that will be truly sweet.

This has made me reflect on my own familial relationships. My parents are clearly a huge influence in my world, because in my own head and heart I couldn’t really enter into this relationship until I’d told them what was happening. Maybe I seek their approval too much? Maybe I need to sever the umbilical cord, and trust that my decisions are 100% my own, and that my parents will love me whether or not they approve of my choices? I’m happy to report that I think they’re doing really well with everything, considering. My dad seemed his usual self when I finally saw him in person, and my mom, though still trying hard to understand, is making overtures of friendship and camaraderie with my partners. I’m really happy about this. Also, one of my aunts has been incredible, both as a supportive, non-judgemental ear for my mom, and an understanding confidante for me. It delights me that she can talk about God and the various ways that love can manifest with clarity and conviction.

Love like this has made me want to shout it from the rooftops, but that just isn’t very practical in such a situation. Instead, there is a particular Rubbermaid cereal container that I’ve been whispering my devotions into.

For You, And Anyone Else Just Like You.

Hi Schnoo!
I just wanna say kudos for your bravery for stating exactly how you are feeling and what you are going through…it is not easy, and i am happy to see that you are happy!
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and you have definitely grown in the past year or so, and it has been amazing to read.  I found your blog through a friend of a friend of mine and yours, and I have loved the forray into your thoughts, because they are not unlike my own.  I was also married (too young) and divorced, and on a journey of self-discovery.  I have often felt myself that I am bisexual, and have never encountered anyone who can see themselves in a polyamorous relationship, so thank you for letting me see that there are more of us out there!  It is something that is never ever talked about freely in our culture, and me and my partner have always been interested in that, but we never knew if there were others out there who are open like that.  Thank you for opening up the dialogue on this issue, as I think that you doing so has started people on the acceptance route a lot easier than if you hadn’t.  Thank you.
In terms of how you met these two, was there a forum where you met, as me and my partner have been finding it extremely difficult to find anyone else out there who sees these types of relationships as okay?
Thank you for the past few months, as your journey has definitely been one that I have identified with.

I read this comment last night in a cab on my way to the Manuge et Toi fashion show/burlesque cavalcade (fabulous, by the way). It’s not at all surprising, here in Schnooville, to receive a note such as this after exchanging a lovely dialogue with my dear auntie about why I write here the way that I do. This lovely reader, who wishes to be anonymous, has said it all.

And so, to answer her questions…

I met my partners through a friend, at a show on the patio of the Cadillac Lounge in early July of 2008. Early July has always heralded magic into my life. It wasn’t until April of 2009 that we decided to really take a chance and try to explore our relationship in a new way.

Naturally, one of the first things we did was start to consult the Internet for additional information, resources, and other people like us. Sadly, there isn’t much out there, so I can completely relate to this reader’s frustration. I’m currently combing through the various websites, forums and blogs that I’ve discovered. As I find ones that are really compelling, I will post links to them here.

If any of you have links or resources that have been helpful to you, please post them in your comments.

To my reader above – a very sweet cyber-friend sent me this link:

I haven’t yet been to an event, but I certainly plan to check it out.

Thank you for your very kind words.