Friday (November 22) evening I had gone out for pizza and drinks with my best friend and my partner. It was a momentous occasion, since it was the first time both of them were meeting. We were enjoying bulgogi pizza with shots of Soju while my phone was ringing silently. It wasn't until we were all in my friend's car after eating, that I checked my phone. Several missed calls, a voice mail and a few text messages were waiting for me. My sister's message was urgent. This was only somewhat typical - it was the missed call from my father and mother that set me off. I hadn't spoken much to my father since October 25. We had a falling out, so to speak (parents just don't understand). So it must have been important for him to breach the awkward tension to call me.
I called my sister first. She gave me the news. My grandmother is dead. Just like that. Now, just imagine for a moment, a person who is akin to a Nazi, dying. Are you sad? No, not really. Actually, you probably feel elated. Like, finally. One of the most evil people in the world died - no great loss. I know it's a horrible thing to say - people say you should never celebrate someone's death. Well, perhaps if it was a regular person or even if they weren't, as long as they weren't bitter and cruel to their dying days. Unfortunately, my grandmother was like a Nazi. She hated everyone - every sexuality, every colour, every nationality, everyone. She hated her friends, her family and her peers. I don't remember her saying anything nice about a single person - except herself. She always had praise for herself. How kind she was - how smart she was - sadly, all delusions. She may have been steeped in denial and lost all objectivity. Either way, she was not a good person.
I dislike this fact however my opinion isn't necessarily shared. My sister was broken up about it. She was crying. She actually felt sad. I was surprised. I mean, my sister never visited - if anything, I visited much more frequently (to my chagrin). Nor did she speak kindly of her or to her - she would openly mock my grandmother, but in a way that my grandmother didn't know it was happening. It was embarrassing. I never dared to behave that way, despite not liking her. Yet, my sister was broken up about it. My father's reaction was expected - he was sad, but sad for different reasons. He felt like it was a life wasted - she didn't learn anything and she died alone, with no one who loved her. Perhaps she could have arguably deserved some pity if it wasn't for the fact she lived her entire life abusing others. I have zero tolerance for abuse.
So here I am, contemplating. My grandmother was 91 when she died. My father told me that she was found standing up, leaning on her walker with her eyes open. I hate to have been the one to find her. It must have been terrifying. The workers knew my grandmother and did their best to avoid dealing with her except when mandatory. She was in an assisted living facility where they had to check on her twice a day. So there she was, still moving, still stubbornly pushing - she died mid-movement. I can't think of many people who do that. That was her though - she was incredibly stubborn. So stubborn in fact, we were all convinced she would never go. She had already defied the odds years ago when she walked again, after doctors said she wouldn't. She had disc surgery in her back, and in more recent years, both hips replaced. Yet, she walked. Nothing stopped her.
While it's obvious there's no love lost between my grandmother and I, I can admire her tenacity. I have never known another woman so fierce, so stubborn, and so determined. Maybe I have her to thank for those attributes in myself. Either way, she's now gone. There's no point in belaboring the same point again and again, she's dead now.
Yet, it does leave me with some curious questions. How am I supposed to feel? Despite not liking her, I had visited her frequently throughout my entire childhood, adolescence and adulthood. I knew her closely. My father, sister and I played cards with my grandmother. We ate at the same restaurant for years and years and years. This Chinese buffet she preferred going to - she was also incredibly cheap and refused to eat anywhere else. We had gone so frequently, I recognized all the staff and knew exactly what food was served where. I had a preferred route!
So I was "close" to her. Although no one was truly close to her. She didn't have depth - she had layers of manipulative abuse. How do I feel about her death? I was honestly happy. I thought, finally. She's no longer a burden to my father. He often complained about how difficult it was for him to take care of her, and her affairs. She was stressful and demanding. If he didn't answer the phone, she would call the police and have them search for him - from another province! Controlling is a word that describes her. Yet, is that okay? Is it okay not to care about the death of a close family member? If one of your relatives was a "Nazi", would you feel bad upon their death? I will say that she was one of the last remaining ties to my father's side of the family. That part is sad.
Regardless, I wanted to update the Blog with what's going on in my life. I moved in October to a different place, so it's taken a long time to transition and organize everything. I've only begun to get settled in. I apologize for my absence but hopefully there will be more updates coming soon.
Over a month ago (and probably a bit longer than that), I woke up in the middle of the night from the loud sound of a thud. I reached over and felt my night table to see what fell. It was my phone. I didn't want to find it later so I looked over the side of my bed and saw it on the floor. Immediately I bent over to pick it up and somehow in my slightly awake state, after scooping it up in my hands, I raised my head to hit the steel arm of a treadmill.
It's a sturdy treadmill.
My whole vision went black and I doubled over. Then I saw stars and tried to sit back in bed. I started crying audibly, the pain was tremendous. It was the worst head pain I've ever experienced. I tried to calm down and wish the pain away but it was terrible.
Then I did what I probably shouldn't have done and went to sleep.
Lucky for me I woke up. Then I realized there was something wrong with my vision. In my left eye there was a large, flashing square. I tried to blink it away but it continued. I rubbed my eyes, I shook my head, I blinked again but nothing would make it leave. It was horribly distracting. It made it difficult to even look at a monitor and unfortunately I spend most of the day doing that.
Eventually it got smaller and smaller until I had believed it went away. Then one day, something came back. In my left eye, in just the periphery there was a spot of constant flashing. As if the scene was being replaced over and over.
I was forced to finally call my doctor. I sent up an appointment immediately and visited her. She took a look but realized she couldn't see the problem. So she sent me to an optometrist to dilate my pupil and get a closer look. I made the appointment for the same day. The optometrist did a number of tests to try and get a clear idea of what was happening. Then he sat down with me and admitted that he needed a second opinion. So he's sending me to an opthamologist.
I do have some good news, I think. The optometrist said he didn't see any retinal tearing or detachment. So that's something. However, he was uncertain because I was experiencing persistent, pervasive symptoms. He did suggest as an alternative that it might be that my vitreous (liquid-y, gel-like substance covering eye) was pulling slightly at my eye. It's kind of like when you rub your eyelids and you see spots of light (phosphene).
Of course I'm a little freaked out. It's the whole reason I avoided talking to a doctor for a long time. I know that's the opposite of what you're "supposed to do" but I don't want to be an alarmist. Trust me when I say that I'm anxious enough for 1000 people (or maybe more). Luckily I do apply occam's razor, so I can use logic to reason with myself. Usually whatever symptoms I experience can be rationally explained but this was one of those times I was better off seeing a doctor.
I think there's a lesson in that somewhere. Visit your doctor if symptoms persist (I sound like a pharmaceutical ad on television). Or maybe it's more along the lines like, never take anything for granted. I truly didn't realize how important my vision was to me until I had this strange periphery flashing. I already wear glasses (gasp) and I guess I didn't appreciate how easily our bodies can change and leave us unprepared. I find everyday I'm more and more grateful for everything I'm able to experience with my relatively healthy body.
Edit: I saw the opthamologist and he said my eye looked healthy. Apparently it really should go away on its own. That's probably not something a doctor should say to someone like me since I avoid visiting a doctor . . .but. . . my eye is "okay". That's good news. The only bad news is that my eye still flashes. I hope it goes away soon. Seriously? There was nothing they could do? Oy!
For most people female and feminine are synonymous, just like male and masculine. However there is a distinct difference. Sex and gender are not the same thing.
Sex refers to the genitalia of a person making them male, female or inter-sex (discussed later). Gender is completely different yet it is continually used as though it meant the same thing. Many words are used incorrectly. People often say cement when they mean concrete. Cement is an ingredient in concrete while concrete is the finished product. Similarly, weight is inappropriately used on health forms when they actually mean mass.
Gender is not sex. Gender is a social construction. This means that gender is something simply made-up to describe an archaic belief known as biological predetermination.
Biological predetermination is the belief that women are inherently feminine and men are inherently masculine. This goes hand in hand with the idea that men like women and vice versa. It is widely accepted despite its fallacies. Most people think that women are naturally nurturing, compassionate and giving, making them excellent mothers. Just like they also believe men are naturally brave, aggressive and lascivious, making them excellent in business. Oddly enough, this set of beliefs is common and unquestioned. However it is false. I'm sure that in your own life you have met women who are "masculine" and men who are "feminine". If such qualities were natural then why doesn't everyone fit in? The simple answer, they're not natural. Believing in biological predetermination would also mean subscribing to the belief that homosexuality is a disease. It's not. Some guys like guys, some girls like girls and some people like both. This is naturally occurring and doesn't fit in with this little "theory".
Life is too diverse to fit into neat little categories. That is the truth of the matter. Not every man will identify with being masculine just like not every woman thinks she's feminine. Yet we live in a society that likes labels. So we've found terms to describe things in relation to what we assume to be fact. Transgender is a term people use to describe themselves when they identify with the gender that's not typically associated with their sex. For example, a man might behave and dress like a woman and choose to call himself "transgendered" but that doesn't mean he's homosexual. Sexual identity and gender identity are not always synonymous. Transsexual describes an individual that identifies with the other sex and may or may not have an operation to make the transition. Sexual and gender identities are flexible.
As noted earlier, I mentioned something referred to as "inter-sex". The world is not a clean dualism. Things are not simply black and white, male or female, masucline or feminine. Nature is more complex than that. Inter-sex is the third sex. Someone may be born male, female or inter-sex.
Inter-sex is when you cannot distinguish the genitalia or chromosomes to be either male or female. This is not the same as hermaphrodite. It seems unlikely but it does happen in one baby in every 2000. In nations like Canada when a baby is born inter-sex, public healthcare will pay for the procedure to "correct" the baby's genitalia. This means that the doctor and sometimes the parents will make the decision to either have a boy or a girl. This sort of decision will impact that child's life forever and I fear it is made too cavalierly. Often the child will grow up identifying with a sex not their own and have corrective surgery. Why can't the baby grow up as they are? It is too much to ask for people to accept a third sex?
I hope that someday the world will be open to the unique differences and similarities that make us human.
*For Canadian residents, if you're interested in a documentary about inter-sex I recommend watching InterSEXion by CBC.
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