Mrs. Kate

Or, Why I Changed My Mind and Kept My Name

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote my big spiel on why I was going to change my name after getting married. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, and I made all the steps towards changing my name I could make before going the legal route – I made a new email, I started a new blog, and I updated my name on Facebook. It all seemed pretty smooth sailing from there. Continue reading “Mrs. Kate”

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Christmas Hang-Over

(Originally Written December 27, 2014)

Christmas is, for me, like how my mother described labour to me all those years ago when I foolishly asked. It hurts like hell, is stressful as all get-out, and in the middle of it you swear you’ll never do it again. But then you see the sparkling tree – er, baby – and all the shitty stuff fades into the background noise.

This is how Christmas is for me, and has been for many years. And I imagine for you or at least someone you know, too. Every year, colourful and warm memories float in my brain of Christmas: bright lights, a beautiful tree, days off from work, tasty meals, delicious baking, the joy of giving and receiving. Even as late as November, I make ambitious lists of gifts to buy or make, holiday cards to send out, the various recipes of baking I want to do, and the packages to assemble to mail out to far-away family.

And every year, by the end of November, it all comes crashing down and my pre-holiday case of stress winds me up. I have this problem where I seem to think I am more efficient and focused than I actually am. I’m not sure where I got this idea from; I have never been strong with time-management or motivating myself. So why I continually, every year, create to-do lists of zillions of things to do, get, make, package, and ship in time for Christmas is beyond me. There is always an inevitable melt-down when I realize one (or several) of my Christmas plans or goals is unrealistic, and yet when it is all said and done, whatever did not get accomplished was never really missed. I always vow never to over-plan again.

Continue reading “Christmas Hang-Over”

Mrs. Mo

Or, Why I’ve Finally Decided to Change My Last Name

Recently I figured out, with a little effort, how to change my name on Facebook. It’s a move I don’t make lightly. My mother comes from a family of only two daughters. They both made conscious decisions to pass on the family name. My father was easy-going about it, so Mom not only kept her maiden name, but passed it on to my brother and me.

Talk of marriage has come up in relationships for me before, and it never got any further than talk. But the conversations I did have usually got around to my last name, eventually. I was always adamant that I would keep my last name. Partly to keep the name alive, partly for feminism, and partly because I thought it would be really weird to take on a new name. I balked at this expectation that I would just absorb into my husband’s family. If it wasn’t an established cultural expectation – requirement, even, for some men – then I would probably have been more open minded about it.

Like I am now, with my wife. With two women, there is no assumption about last names. There were questions, of course, but most started with the supposition that we were not changing. “So you’ll be keeping your names, or will one of you change it?” We were already bucking tradition by marrying women. Continue reading “Mrs. Mo”

Whither Thou Goest

I don’t think anyone ever taught me what it means to be a wife.

As my September wedding approaches, this is something I think about fairly often – maybe more often than I’d like to admit. My brain says it isn’t a question I should have to ask, isn’t something that can be taught. After all, there’s no one “right” way to be a wife. Isn’t the freedom to be anything we want – and to wife any way we want – part of what I’ve been fighting for when I shout the endless shout that is the call for women’s rights?

But the deepest parts of my heart sometimes wonder is this something I’m cut out to do?

Many, many things in my history suggest it is not. When I used to bring boys home in high school, my mom would say to them – jokingly – “Now, you know she’s messy, right? She’s messy and she can’t cook worth a lick.” Both of these things are true, and so even if I knew she was joking, they stung just the same. My mom has always been a brave woman, a tough woman, an absolute bear of a woman. She has never been afraid of doing anything wrong, of being anything wrong. And so she didn’t know the joke would sting. She didn’t understand, I think, how deeply I fear that I am constantly wrong, constantly a mis-fit for anything I try.

As a kid, I knew that I was smart. But that was the only thing I really knew about myself – smart and maybe a little stubborn. I held onto it like a shining talisman. “I’m smart. I can do anything because I’m smart. I don’t need anything else. I don’t need anyone else.” I said it to myself over and over again. But in the back of my mind were all those things I couldn’t do – the things that I thought might form a wife, might make me into someone a person could love. Because in the world where I grew up, that’s the true accomplishment for someone who is beloved – the accomplishment of becoming a wife.

I was embarrassed to want it, but somewhere deep down, it was the only thing I wanted at all.

Continue reading “Whither Thou Goest”

Real Housewife of Edmonton

When Kate and I first got together, we both had full-time jobs. Neither of us were terribly satisfied with the career paths we were on. Our home time was split between doing household chores and recharging our social batteries. Weekends were just long enough to make us feel like people again, and then Monday would roll around. Our jobs were leeching more than the requisite eight hours per day from us. We both craved a proper work/life balance.

Now and again, we would toy with the idea of one of us taking time off work to focus on writing. It was fun to think about, but it didn’t really seem feasible as an actual option.

We got married last year, in a much smaller ceremony than we had originally planned. Most of our “wedding fund” wasn’t needed for the wedding, but we still wanted to use it for something that was important to us. Investing in one of our dreams seemed like the right choice.

I quit my job back in April. So far, it’s been weird, but good. From the start, it was important to me to make the most of the opportunity. I’ve structured my lifestyle accordingly. Continue reading “Real Housewife of Edmonton”

Inhale and Exhale

Guest post by Devin.

About 40 million adults in the United States are affected by anxiety disorders. I’m one of them. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and personally, I feel my anxiety is more damaging. Anxiety can take many forms, but for me it flares up most when I am over-stimulated or doing something so far outside of my comfort zone that the potential benefits do not outweigh my fear. Usually, my anxiety is triggered the most when I have time to overthink.

If I can dive into something without thinking about it, I am fine. I have a pretty successful auto-pilot and a strong poker face, so I can handle most think-on-your-feet situations. But it drains me. I only have so much battery power. And social interactions and fear-conquering come at a high price for me.

In fact, I am still recharging from a recent battery-draining experience. As I write this, it has been 3 days since I started conquering a new fear. Continue reading “Inhale and Exhale”

The Bad Low

Kate has Type 1 Diabetes. Before getting to know her, the only “info” I had about this disease came from my extensive childhood reading of Babysitters Club books. Either diabetes has changed significantly since the early nineties, or Ann M. Martin didn’t have all her facts straight. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

My mother has had Type 2 Diabetes since I was a teenager. At first, she managed it with pills and diet and regular visits to a diabetic clinic. Some time after I left home, she was switched to an insulin regime. These days, she injects herself twice daily, with the same prescribed dose each time. Before Mom was put on this treatment plan, I hadn’t been aware that people with Type 2 could need insulin injections. It’s not exactly common knowledge. And as little as I had known about Type 2, I knew even less about Type 1. Continue reading “The Bad Low”

Microaggression

(Originally written on April 3, 2015.)

The other day Mo and I had to take our new car in for service at the dealership where we bought it last year (it shall remain unnamed). We got the usual oil change, and our winter tires were swapped for summer tires. I dropped the car off at the dealership in the morning and as I waited for the shuttle to come back to take me to work, I realized I had forgotten my purse at home. With some texting back and forth with Mo, we figured that the shuttle could pick her up after work instead of me, and then she could cover the bill.

The shuttle driver was an older gentleman who got talking with the other customer in the van about ice fishing on the drive over. When we arrived at my stop, he asked if he would be picking me up at the same location. I told him no, he’d be picking up “my fiancée”. I told him where she works, with mild emphasis on the pronoun. He then asked, “so when will I be picking up your friend?”

Microaggressions like this serve to remind me that not everyone is as accepting of my relationship and my identity as my family and friends have been. It wasn’t scary, and it didn’t ruin my day. It was definitely awkward, though. The driver refused to acknowledge the relationship I had specifically spelled out for him. People tend to take pride in their relationships. Amberly isn’t just my friend, she is my best friend. In having that title, a certain meaning and history to our relationship is conveyed to people who don’t know her. Mo isn’t my friend, she is my fiancée. She is the woman I intend to marry, and spend the rest of my life with. If you are in a heterosexual marriage, and you introduced your spouse to someone, and that person then called him or her your “friend”, do you think you might be a little confused? Miffed? Maybe offended? Would you correct the person?

There are many places in the world where being queer is very dangerous, and looking at our closest neighbour, I can see that living in Canada – even Alberta – is preferable to much of the United States. But the way politics are, and the stances that the right-wing political parties in Alberta have taken on some recent issues like religious freedom, and gay-straight alliances in schools, I am wary of things changing for the worse. How big are the steps between no gay straight alliances in schools, and being turned away at my doctor’s office when treating me violates the religious beliefs of my doctor?

In the end, we got a ride with one of Mo’s coworkers, and didn’t need the shuttle. We wouldn’t have taken it even if we had.


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The Wedding That Wasn’t

Kate and I got married last year, on September 27.

This wasn’t our first chosen date. It wasn’t our second or third, for that matter. We had originally settled on 2016, to give ourselves plenty of time to get everything done. We spent months making plans, changing plans, scrapping plans. We were going to get married in Nova Scotia in October, then Edmonton in June, then Nova Scotia in July. It would be a big wedding, or maybe really small, or perhaps sort of medium?

We navigated dozens of websites, flipped through tourism guides, and Google-mapped venues. We scrutinized photography samples, and menus, and guest accommodations. We took notes. We made spreadsheets. And, just like every TV couple you see planning a wedding, we lost our minds in the process. Continue reading “The Wedding That Wasn’t”