I’m Ready to Ring in 2016

Jamie-Resolutions

Calvin and Hobbes

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I have a mental list of stuff I ought to do that I didn’t get around to doing in 2015. Some items are holdovers from 2014, perpetually on the verge of almost being attended to.

I had great hopes for 2015, but it was a hard year. I’m glad it is over. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Donna’s open heart surgery, hospitalization, and recovery took a lot out of me. I was discouraged (and furious) on Labor Day weekend, when she missed a step, fell, and broke her ankle. She ended up in the hospital again, and then in rehab. She came home in a wheelchair, and slowly progressed to using a walker, and last week to using a cane. I love her, but I don’t love being her caretaker. We got on each other’s nerves. We adjusted. We are getting back to normal.

We didn’t go to Italy (we cancelled the trip after Donna’s fall). I didn’t make time for ice skating. I never finished cleaning out my room (I did clear out a closet, a dresser, and take 6 quarts of coins ($712) to the bank). I let the mail pile up out of control again. I let my legal and financial paperwork fester. I didn’t call my brother.

I did go for my top surgery revision, see a doctor for a physical, get a colonoscopy, maintain my weight, and go to the gym irregularly enough to not lose ground. I swam in the ocean in board shorts and a rash guard. I didn’t go to hell in a handbasket. I’m in a satisfactory place to start 2016.

My wish for 2016 is to not set foot in an emergency room, hospital, or nursing home. I wish for Donna to feel strong enough to travel. I wish for a lower voice and for all men’s shoes to come in a size 7 (EU 40). I wish for a cloak of invisibility every time I walk into a bathroom, locker room, or dressing room. I wish for Gracie to stop barking as soon as I tell her to hush, not when she finishes the chorus.

I want to reschedule the trip to Italy. I want to go ice skating in Central Park. I want to work with a dog trainer to get a handle on some of Gracie’s bad habits (she is impatient and petulant, insists of being the center of attention, and uses selective listening).

I want to stop judging other people’s transitions – I don’t want to rank “passing” and medical transition at the top and everything else below it. I want to be respectful of all authentic manifestations of gender (regardless of how close they are to mine). I don’t want to question anyone else’s transness or butchness. I want to keep an open mind about Testosterone but I don’t want to start it just because it is on someone else’s bucket list.

I need to clean up my room and throw stuff out or give it away (excess books, CDs, dust bunnies, old electronics, and junk stored under the bed and in desk drawers/file cabinet). I need to go through the bags and piles of mail and keep only what I need for my taxes and insurance. I need to see a cardiologist. I need to evaluate how much I spent this year. I need to take care of the loose ends of my name change.

Aside from the wishes, which are not within my control, nothing seems impossible. Other than training Gracie, nothing even seems challenging, except interrupting my inertia and starting one task before I get distracted by something else.

Notes: Ivan E. Coyote’s video “We all need a safe place to pee” speaks to my wish (and the wishes of many butch, transgender, and/or gender non-conforming people).  I hope Ivan performs in NYC in 2016.

Tim Kreider’s essay “The Summer That Never Was” is an eloquent summary of why he never went to Iceland.

22 thoughts on “I’m Ready to Ring in 2016

  1. MainelyButch

    I really enjoyed reading this and can so relate to so much of what you wrote. I could much easier list all the things that I “didn’t” do in 2015 much easier than what I “did” get accomplished. I don’t make resolutions. I try to keep my plans in blocks, like 1 yr, 3 yrs, 5 yrs if I do any type of forward planning at all. I had to laugh at your handling of the mail…MUCH like my own. Just last week I sat in this office for one full afternoon, into the evening hours, and touched EVERY piece of mail or paper here…it had to go one of 3 places – trash, file, or deal with it immediately right then not later! I have to say I felt quite lightened in the load when I was finished. I got the mail yesterday and dealt with it immediately…let’s see how long that lasts. I hope you get to ice skate….and no more medical stuff ! Wishing you a good start to 2016! Happy New Years’! my friend! ~MB

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  2. Mrs Fever

    Life gets in the way.

    We have said this often to one another over the years, my spouse and I. It is usually with a sigh and a smile and we do our best to shrug it off and move on. But sometimes that smile cracks, and the short-term strain becomes long-term stress, and the “I gave up __________” takes center stage amidst the crowded laments.

    Like you, I do not play caretaker well when the one requiring care is my Primary Person. This year has come with medical issues, both expected and not, and being thrown into the role of nurse does not suit me. It is not good for Us. But some things in life do not come with perfect solutions. So we’ve adjusted. It’s a lot of work, trying to get back to normal (or rather, finding our New Normal) after all that’s happened, and I am ready to don my boxing gloves and have it out with The Universe.

    But fighting won’t do a lick of good. Sometimes life just gets in the way.

    And, like you, I had to give up a trip as a result. It is not his *fault* but it is frustrating and my feelings about my “lost travel” are a sore spot. I want to reschedule, to plan, to do, to GO. It was to be a special something, just for me, just because I wanted to do it – to travel, to celebrate. For the first time. EVER. And being grounded as the result of events that are outside of my control leaves me feeling hurt, even while I feel petty and selfish for feeling that way, and thus feel even worse for the guilt.

    And the wheels on the bus go ’round and ’round…

    It seems an odd (and perhaps not altogether appropriate) thing to say, but it is…settling(?) somehow, knowing that I am not alone in these experiences, though I am certainly in no way “glad” for your disappointments. It is a matter of seeing, of knowing, of understanding and empathizing: We are not alone. Thank you for writing this and helping me to see that.

    I hope 2016 brings less strife and more pleasure, and that your year is full of wishes coming true. Best of health, happiness, healing, and growing in the new year to you, Donna, and Gracie. ⭐✨💫

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      The hard thing in a relationship is to not turn it into a pity party or “what she did to me” – and even though we live, or try to live, independent lives, we each have given up certain things to be in it for the long haul – whether it be Balkan dancing (Donna), Chinese food (Jamie) or having a big back yard in Arkansas (Gracie). For me it is about the balance of drudgery and intimacy – trying to stay empathic and routing out any feelings of contempt.
      The material things I can deal with – even the trip – but the promise of pleasure (physical and intellectual) must be there.
      Best to you and yours.

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  3. butchcountry67

    First up , Happy New Years to you and yours ,

    I can relate on some levels, I am not an organized person at all, I have a more devil may care one day at a time outlook on life, and a it will get done when it gets done attitude lol, I run on country time …. which apparently is very different from city time as my doctors constantly tell me lol

    I completely understand about being the caregiver, it is not an easy task for any reason, and it is easy to get on each others last nerve when you’re always together.

    the whole washroom thing is a complete fubar even if you are passable ( however you define being able to pass), I think no matter what there will always be a degree of discomfort and perhaps even fear .

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I run on city time, and I’m of German origin so I am always early or on time, and I don’t like to wait. However, I procrastinate other things, as if I can not let go of being a screw-up. Freud would probably have a very interesting theory on it, but I can’t stay neat or orderly for very long – I’ve always been messy (not chaotic, just messy).
      I’m a good partner, but not a saint, and Donna has always been the one to take care of me (emotionally). It is an odd switch, and I’m hoping we get through 2016 safely and in good health.

      Best to you, Hammy, and Memphis (and cats?).

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  4. sam davies

    G is extremely organized. Especially when it comes to finances, which to me is top notch. However, neither of us has a Living Will let alone an actual one and my goal this year is to convince G we can’t wait any longer to procure either. So, wish us luck with this one. The talk about ‘no one knows when they’re going to die’ is met with uncomfortable laughter when I bring this up. EVERY time. Anyone know of a good attorney? LOL
    P. S. I haven’t the funds to take this on…I will construct a Living Will, though.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Don’t know where you live, but Elizabeth Salen (Brooklyn, NY) is the lawyer that Donna and I went to for our wills, power of attorney, etc. It is a lot cheaper to get married than to do the paperwork, but Donna is dead set against it (bourgeois decadence).
      We did the wills before marriage was legal, and while my mother was still alive because she was the only person who would have had the nerve to contest my will.

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  5. Kris

    Joining you in the wishes for a lower voice and smaller men’s shoe sizes. May you get to your wants and may those wishes come true. All the best for 2016 to the 3 of you.

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  6. Fredrication

    Happy new year and may you do all the things you’ve set your mind to do. And I sincerely hope writing your blog is one of them! If you need any pepping on the clearing out, just let me know. I think it would be good for me and maybe it will encourage me to clear out one of the many messes here at home!
    Take care and put on your skates!

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks! I plan to keep writing, since I need to keep thinking things through and the blog helps me to do that. One of the minimalist concepts I liked was whether something added value to your life, and writing/reading/communicating via the blog does (although it is also a huge time sink) and sifting through Facebook does not (although it could be a huge time sink).
      Next week I plan to take my skates to be sharpened and then I will have no excuse…

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  7. Lesboi

    This is the first year in a very long time that I actually feel like I accomplished most of my goals on some level. Usually I’m looking forward to a new year for similar reasons as you are. I hope all of your wishes and dreams come true in 2016 and Happy New Year to you, Donna and Gracie.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      This year life got in the way. On the other hand, I might have spent the whole year gazing at my navel and thinking about going on T. As much as I complain, my relationship with Donna is a lot stronger than it was, and that no matter what decisions I make down the road she is in for the long haul. As is Gracie.

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      1. Lesboi

        It’s funny how during a care taking phase I feel frustrated and exhausted and even a little resentful, if I’m being honest, but after it’s over I do feel much closer to Candace and I find that it has strengthened our bond. Hopefully you can have a long break from that and can enjoy your closeness together.

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  8. micah

    I ended the year with a twinge of depression, and lost all inertia I had built up in the summer and fall. I’ve been having a hard time finding motivation.

    My spouse sat down and made a list, not of the things I didn’t do (which is the one I would’ve made as well), but the things I accomplished, both personally and professionally. It did make me feel better to see them written out on a page.

    For most of last year I kept daily journal – not of my thoughts, just a list of stuff I did: mundane stuff like “ran errands” and “gym” and “called the pharmacy”, things in progress like “worked on draft”, milestones like “published blog post”, and even “feeling down so I watched TV”. It seemed silly, but it helped to see the aggregate picture in the end. I might do it again this year.

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