Fat and Not Afraid

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Fuck Cancer

August 4, 2016

Hi everyone! A good news post: I beat cancer. When I had my thyroid removed last month the doctor also removed two tumors; a large benign one from the right side and a smaller, malignant one from the left. The benign tumor was huge, like 80 grams in weight. That's ridiculous and explains why my scar is so large as well. So huzzah! I'm relieved, my family is relieved and I can start looking forward to the future again without having to worry about chemotherapy or radiation treatments. The treatment for thyroid cancer is to remove the thyroid, and I've already done that, AND as a bonus thyroid cancer generally doesn't spread. It doesn't really have anywhere to go.

Thanks to everyone who's left supportive comments here and on the Facebook page. I appreciate it a lot. In non-cancer/health related things I have a post brewing about PokemonGo, and another about mobile game I've been playing, Monument Valley, kids going to school this fall, Kat's upcoming 4th birthday and possibly more! For now I update more regularly on Facebook at Fat and Not Afraid.

Ain't No Party Like a Dwarf Party

July 9, 2016


Last night was Ryan's last night in the Sault for a while and unbeknownst to him I had a little surprise planned; a night of table top roleplaying with some of our friends! Unfortunately with the surgery and kid wrangling I had an idea but no energy or time to make an adventure, nevermind create a set of premade characters. Thankfully I have this really great friend who is always chock full of amazing ideas and has the know-how to make them happen! When I approached Nathan to build me a one-shot campaign he was happy to do it and from a couple of simple questions he created an 11 page PDF file for a Pathfinder RPG adventure, complete with four fully finished PCs, baddies and a map, in well under a week. A million thank yous to him; everyone had a GREAT time.

  The story began in birthday fashion, with Rammet Granitefist, level 4 dwarven monk, partying it up with several dozen of his closest dwarven friends and family when suddenly the ale and wench of honour are stolen by a band of Dreadtooth orcs! Desiring revenge against Rammet for the defeat and death of their father, the four Dreadtooth orcs crashed the party and disappeared into a partially built and wholly abandoned building nearby. This kind of insult couldn't be allowed to pass, plus they were out of booze, so Rammet, Slag Onyxhammer the Slammer (sledgehammer wielding fighter), Stave Slatebeard the Sly Sorceror and Listende Quartzdagger the Nimble set gamely off with a crowd of drunken countrymen to cheer them on.

The front entrance to what might have been a beautifully constructed dwarven home held a quartet of Orcish attack dogs but once the group got a few rolls under their belts (and I put my own d20 away because it crit-attacked Ryan twice) they dispatched the ugly beasts handily. The next room was a large foyer but had been marred by a deep sinkhole; only some boards stretched along the sides and across the gap to afford passage. Rammet simply slid down the side and landed safely, thanks to his monkish training, and immediately started looking for rope. fight scene

Ryan has always been a HUGE fan of Jackie Chan and kung fu movies, and Nathan asked me what his favourite class was, so the dungeon and character were specifically designed so that Ryan would have many chances to shine. This was only the first. Finding some slimy rope and a busted shovel, he quickly created a way up the far side and waited for the party to join him. Overhead, Listende and Stave moved nimbly over the boards but poor Slag knew a single footstep would send him plunging painfully down into the muck so he simply sat on his bottom and rolled down to a mostly safe stop. 

Listende wasn't content leaving a single door unopened so she continued across another set of boards and picked the lock on a well constructed wooden door; peering inside she discovered a well appointed boudoir. Orcish portraits hung on the walls, beautifully painted vases sat on pedestals, even a piano graced the room though how the orcs got it in there was anyone's guess! Rammet joined her while Slag made his very slow and hilarious way to the top of the rope Rammet had thrown into a southern hallway. Stave was undecided and remained where he was. 

Upon entering the boudoir fully, a most beautiful Orc rose from the chaise in the center of the room where he had been reclining. This Orc was too gorgeous for words and for a moment the party was reluctant to attack. However, he rose from his chaise yelled "Prepare to die, dirtbeards!" and attacked. Rammet was not caught off guard and overcame his desire not to mar that perfect face with a far stronger Dwarven desire to absolutely mess that pretty face and threw a vase at it. Listende maneuvered into position for a serious sneak attack while the first of the four Dreadtooth brothers slapped Rammet a sickening blow across the face. He retaliated by wrapping the smelly, slimy rope he'd found in the bottom of the sinkhole around the Orc and falling backwards into said hole; the tied up Orc fell in and broke his neck.

From across the way, Stave and Slagg watched him fall and gave a cheer, Slag finishing up urinating down into the hole he'd just finished climbing out of. "Take that, ya stupid hole!" A hop, skip and more climbing later, the two Dwarves joined Rammet and Listende in the boudoir where they found a magical mirror holding Rammet's buxom wench hostage. Unable to decipher her motions and warned against breaking the mirror, the party continued into a northern passage. A not too subtle pit trap was easily discovered and the piano from the ajoining room was quickly dropped in to cover the disease ridden spikes at the bottom. The noise from the ridiculously loud crash, however, grabbed the attention of some Orcs in the next room over, and a chant went up from what sounded like hundreds of throats.

Mere seconds later the door separating the party from the horde burst open and the grunts of the Dreadtooth clanned attempted to pour out into the narrow hallway. Hampered by the doorway and all their badass Mad Max-esque gear, they gave Stave a nice clear shot for a widely spraying acid attack. Momentarily stalled, Slag leapt into the fray and did what he does best; he clove through the lesser Orcs as a thresher at harvest time, though with far messier results thanks to his sledgehammer. After his assault the few remaining Orcs turned and fled, screaming that another of the Dreadtooth brothers had arrived. The party was then faced by two bad-ass looking Orc elite guards and ... Chicken Boo.

For those of you unfamiliar with the 90s cartoon Animaniacs, I present the following:

Rammet and Listende made their will saves and the chicken was summarily thrown out of the dungeon by his own guards.

After that, an exploding barrel trap and some chit-chitty-chat-chat with the eldest Dreadtooth brother, Earl, the final battle began in earnest. Rammet was challenged to single, barehanded combat and eagerly accepted, using his monkish training and Jackie Chan tendancies to quickly overwhelm his opponent with the steel rings of the exploded barrel, the rope and sticks and his own hands and feet. Earl fought to the best of his ability but even his hidden archers couldn't stop the Dwarves from decimating their foe.

We ran out of time at that point and decided to call it a night, having had a lot of laughs and giving Ryan a memorable birthday night. Thanks again to everyone who made it out and especially to Nathan for all his hard work.

Before and After

July 5, 2016

Another chapter in the life of Jen has come to close and another one has begun; this has happened before. Before and After I Moved Out, Before and After Gabe, Before and After Nanaimo/BC, Before and After Living w my Inlaws, and now Before and After Having my Thyroid Out.

Surgery was last Wednesday and despite a slightly late start went about as well as can be expected. I was awake and not-sore enough to have some company that night from Ryan and the kids, my aunt (who was also a nurse on my floor) and my sister and neice. The less said of the night spent at the hospital after that the better; who can be expected to rest and recuperate when you have a nurse coming in every 2-4 hours to check your vitals or a 6:30am blood test? Still, I shouldn't see any bills so I can't really complain. Yay Canadian healthcare!

I've been started on a calcium supplement, a synthetic thyroid replacement and a third one that, from what I understand, boosts both of those things. My follow up appointment with the endocronologist is Thursday and then it's back to Sudbury on the weekend (with Gabe, finally!) and go from there. After a lifetime of being Healthy I now face the very real threat of not being able to live well or long without these medications. It is a very strange feeling. I forgot one dose of my calcium one night and woke up the next morning with tingly face, hands and arms. Despite taking all of the rest of my meds on time for the remainder of the day I still felt out of sorts and tingly for hours. In case of Zombie Apocalypse, I don't think I'm going to make it any more.

After Having My Thyroid Out is also a time for scarves. I had two ready to go and my mom in law gave me another one; now I have blue and white, pink and silver, and purple and silver. The scar along my neck looks pretty grisly even with steri-tape hiding half of it, and it's a lot longer than I was expecting. I'm not used to wearing scars where people can see them and my throat is numb in a very wide area as well. For the next little while I'll be covering up; even Katherine prefers it and I'm sure I'll get tired explaining to people what happened. Though my dad suggested that I make up a nice story, or just say "He lost." and smile.

In any case, now we're in the After part of another chapter and it's time for adjusting, processing and adapting. At Thursday's appointment we find out what exactly I had taken out of my throat-hopefully not cancer but we'll see. I've heard from a few people, nurses and a friend's mom, that compared to other types of cancer, thyroid is one of the easiest to beat because it doesn't spread. So yay? I guess? Then again, if I took my thyroid out for nothing I'm going to be a bit pissed to be on meds for the rest of my life for no good reason. It was a perfectly good organ that was taking care of me and now it's gone. I'm already finding my appetite is non-existant and that even missing one dose of something will throw off my day; there's a lifetime of this ahead? Could be worse I guess.


Standing with Pride

June 12, 2016

Sunday never seems to be a good news day lately; too many shitty things happening overnight at clubs. I went to work today and kept an eye on the news feeds about the Orlando, Florida gay nightclub massacre and was overwhelmed with how supportive so much of what I saw was. Still, it's not enough. I saw a lot of tweets today that hit home, hard; the gay agenda is still just to survive. If after the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings America couldn't change how it dealt with guns and gun violence, there's no hope. The only explanation for what happened today was not enough thoughts and prayers after the LAST mass shooting. People in power who speak against the LGBTQ community and also promote the 2nd Amendment are a HUGE part of the problem. Religious extremism is too, from all the big Abrahamic faiths. And on and on.

It's Pride month around the world right now and even the Sault and Subury are having events, though Sud's isn't until July for some weird reason. Across vast nations thousand and thousands of people are marching, dancing and singing to show the world that love is love, you can't hate someone for their own good, and.you can't kill us all. Gay pride started as a protest against lives lost and injured in the Stonewall Riots. It's morphed and evolved over the years into flashy pageantry and a place of politicians to score points with The Gays, but at it's core it's about visibility. We're here! We're Queer! Etc. 

After today's events, with 50+ gay folk gunned down in cold blood at nightclub by someone asshole with an assault rifle, I feel the only thing I can do is take that last little step out of the closet. For most of you this will be no surprise at all; I've been open about my bisexuality with people outside family for a while. I've known I've like both women and men for a long, long time. My first real girl crush was in highschool (of course!) but I've never been able to have a Real Relationship (TM). I settled down with Ryan pretty quickly but that doesn't mean women haven't continued to spark interest over the years. It doesn't mean that I don't care about the LGBTQ community where I live, and abroad. It does mean that I have a ton of privilege that comes from being a bisexual woman who married a man. It means that it's been fairly easy for me to pass as straight, to just coast along and not worry too much about certain things. 

Well, enough of that. Visibility honours the past and preserves the future. It's a step I can take, sure footed and thankfully safe. I'm old enough now I don't have to fear backlash, and it's just time. I don't need to pick a team and being bisexual doesn't make me a cheater or insatiable (in fact my libido runs towards the other end). Next month when Sudbury has their pride parade I'm going to be there as a visible member of the bi community. Enough with the jokes and erasure. Enough with closets. Enough with the tears and the blood and suffering. Enough. 

Sleepy in Sudbury

April 30, 2016

I can't seem to get warm. Have been hit with a 48 hour flu or something after Katherine brought it home from daycare earlier this week. I'm an achy ball of misery but there are things that need doing so today I'm going to take my time and get them done.

The new place in Sudbury is great; the buses run every 15 minutes and I'm a five minute walk from the biggest mall in town so any time I need anything, or I'm just bored, I can wander over that way. Gabe decided to stay in the Soo with his Nana and Poppa (my in-laws) to finish the school year and it's so odd not to have  him around all the time. It's quieter, that's for sure. He's at camp this weekend with my parents and I'm sure when we talk later he'll have amazing stories to tell me of riding on the atv, shooting the .22 and going fishing. 

Ryan's new position finally seems to have all the kinks worked out so that's good too; it was a rough road getting all the new staff in place and trained. It's SO wonderful to be together again; to sleep side by side every night, cuddle on the couch and watch a movie, share the pick ups and drop offs for Kat's new daycare and be able to sit and chat and dream. We're hoping to get to FanExpo again on the Labour Day weekend and do some traveling and camping when we can this summer. Other than that, no big plans.

On the 'what the heck is up with my thyroid?!"front, I had a meeting with a thyroid specialist and he's recommended we take out the whole thing, just to be on the safe side. I'll be going back to the Soo for that sometime in June and will probably need 3-4 days off work. After that they'll poke around and see if it was cancerous. I don't want to think about what comes after that if it was.

There's more but I'm fading fast so I'll just say that I like my new branch and being with my old boss, Shannon, again. Sudbury has been, so far, pretty great.


This Time Is Different

February 19, 2016

So a lot’s been happening behind the scenes here in Canada-land. Ryan’s been working out of town four hours away since mid-November; this isn’t new for me, as I’ve been on my own with the kids before. It’s different this time though. Every instance of us being apart before has seen me off work and us living nice and close to wherever I need to go.

Now we’re apart again and it’s the hardest. We live across town from both the daycare where Kat goes and the school where Gabe goes, and fairly far from my job as well. I couldn’t bear the thought of taking the kids away from their familiar surroundings, not when they were doing so well, and hey, with Ryan’s help shipping them across town every morning it wasn’t too hard. Now I have no car and do it every day by bus. It’s an hour and a half round tip, and then I either go to work for 8 hours or I head home for two, then leave to work until 9 at night. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted, and so are they and everyone I’ve been leaning on to help with all the nights again. I’ve asked friends, friends of friends, cousins and of course the grandparents every single week      

"Hey, are you available X night(s) to watch the kids for a few hours? I know you already worked all day/had class/did placement and they’re not your kids, but it’d really help me out!" My friend Brian is currently asleep on my couch, having worked all day and then picked my kids up after dinner from my parent's, brought them home, dealt with bedtime for Kat with no blankie and helped Gabe finish his homework.

Thankfully my manager at work is flexible enough that I don’t have to worry about covering mornings right now; nothing earlier than 10am, (as I need time from 20 after 8 to 9:30 to drop the kids off via bus) but at the same time, all the nights are a problem. See above. I may have resolved this but I’m not sure yet. We had a sit down two Fridays ago about it when the new schedule came out and it was literally all late nights but a trio over 3 three weeks, and damn, I thought I was going to lose my mind. They need manager coverage at certain times, I get that, but dammit there are 3 of us. I shouldn’t have to do all the late shifts myself. That’s what I get for being low priority AND unavailable before 10 am. Yes, having kids to take care of is MY problem, and they’re MY priority, but if I hear one person complain about not getting to sleep in I’m going to laugh in their face. Choosing to have kids isn’t the same as choosing to have two jobs or choosing to go out to the bar at night. It’s not the same as choosing to spend the night at your boyfriend’s and come to work unshowered and in the same clothes as the day before. It’s not the same as having a dog you love; you can choose to not have those things. You can choose to stay home or quit a job or kennel your dog during the day with some food and water. I can’t choose not to have my kids. I have to muddle through as best I can, and the best I can isn’t good enough any more. After 3 months of it I’m tired. Bone deep, out of fucks, tired.

So that’s fun. What’s also ‘fun’ is that I found a lump in my neck two months ago and had an ultrasound to get it checked out, and then a biopsy, and Wednesday I finally got to sit down with an endocrinologist and take a look at what the results were. They’re somewhat inconclusive. I have a follicle of undetermined significance aka FLUS aka a giant fucking lump on the right side of my thyroid and they don’t know what it is, exactly, but it’s growing. It grew from 4.1mm in December’s ultrasound to 4.5mm at February’s biopsy.  I could get another biopsy done, which in 50% of cases shows nothing at all, and in 50% of cases shows cancer, or I can just get the thing sliced out and have them take a really good look at it and go on thyroid meds for the rest of my life. I’m more ok with option B than wasting time on another biopsy so I’m waiting now for an appointment with a local surgeon to see if we can make that happen. Do I have cancer? I don't know. It's not looking great though.

After my appointment I called Ryan in Sudbury (so far he hasn’t been able to come to a single one with me) to tell him the sort-of news. I was feeling down about how long I’m going to have to wait just to hear from the surgeon’s office (probably a week) to get an appointment (probably a month after that), and what about if this or that, and maybe Sudbury has better doctors? How often would we have to drive to and from the Soo? It was depressing and I was upset. Tea and chocolate were on the menu for lunch, that’s for sure.

Did I mention we’re moving to Sudbury in April? That’s happening too. Ryan’s finally been offered a full manager position of a really successful store (now that they’ve fired all the thieves and liars) and the money is too good pass up. Maybe I can finally start paying off my student loans! Ryan’s house hunting and I’m transferring stores, Gabe will go to a new school or stay here until the end of this school year (we haven’t figured that part out yet and he’ll have a chance to decide) and Kat will come with us, which also means a new daycare, after school care and all the rest of it. Any wonder I’ve felt run down and also like exploding lately?

I’m nervous, dancing along the edge of scared. I’m lonely and tired and impatient and not as loving towards the kids as I’d like to be. I miss my husband. Thankfully I have the love and support of a lot of people, near and far, to carry me through yet another bump in the road.

So there it is. Update from Canada-land.

On the Way Back Machine

January 10, 2016

After I put Kat to bed the other night night I decided to put Fern Gully on Netflix while I tidied up from supper and a weekend home with the kids. It was a nice little stroll down memory lane; Robin William's nonstop chatter as Batty Koda, the music and gorgeous watercolour backgrounds, and the unforgettable characters of Crysta, Zack, Pips and Magi Lune. When I watched it for the first time, back in grade four, it made a big impression on me, but I didn't realize how much until I went back and watched it.

Seeing it as an adult it struck me how much of what Magi Lune taught Crysta that I brought with me forward into my later Pagan practices. I went back through the film and wrote down her lines to have here for reference.

"There are worlds within Worlds, Krysta. Everything in our world is balanced between the forces of destruction, and the magic forces of creation. Everyone can call on the magic powers of the web of life. You have to find it in yourself."
"Look for the hero inside yourself, Krysta. Look for the good and loving heart in you, and all others. For just as every seed holds the magic of creation, so too do you, and every other creature in this world."
Krysta: "Magi, don't leave me!"
Magi: I love you! I'll always be with you. We all have the power, and it grows when it is shared."
Even the dedication at the end: For our Children, and Our Children's Children, is especially poignant as I was watching it with my son and daughter. When I first saw it in grade four I never dreamed I would have kids. It was Far Away in the Future, but I could understand as a child that time would continue on without me, but that future was in danger because of human actions.
As a Pagan, I tend to approach my practice with a lot of hands on application to the real world; Sabbats reflect what's actually happening on a local environmental level, not what a European agricultural calendar tells me, and stories of the Holly King fighting the Oak King at the solstices are explained in relation to where the Earth is on its journey around the Sun. I strongly believe we all have a responsibility to work closely within Nature's limits and to respect natural spaces as much as our human nature allows us too. We all have the power inside ourselves to make the world a better place, for our children, and our children's children. 
Has this happened to you? What movie or show was it?

GlitterForce is Sparkletastic

December 31, 2015

It's Christmas holidays for the kids here in Canada and unfortunately due to a recent lack of snow we spent a lot of it indoors not doing a whole lot. I worked mostly evenings and as Gabe doesn't have skates, we've just been coasting through Netflix and playing around on the new WiiU. While searching for something to watch other than Paw Patrol, Kat's absolute most favourite thing EVER right now, I stumbled over GlitterForce and gave it a go. Once upon a time I was a fan of Sailor Moon so this looked promising.

First things first, lets get this out of the way; yes, it's very similar to Sailor Moon. Five pre-teen girls team up to fight evil from outside their world with the help of a cute animal friend. They get gloves, boots, skirts, tiaras/headbands and bows during a magical transformation sequence, and each is tied to an element or theme; luck, fire, peace/lightning, spring/life and air/winter. They learn valuable lessons about friendship (at times I was more strongly reminded of My Little Pony, which I also love) and inner strength while also kicking ass and saving the universe from a crew of fairy tale baddies.

Despite of, or maybe because of, the strong similarities, we loved this show; Gabe was right there on the couch with me and Katherine when Emily became Sailor Lucky and he was there again this morning when Emily and her friends achieved their final, fantastic transformation and defeated the evil Emperor Nogo. It was so glittery and full of good vibes that I think we all had a little tear in our eye. Kat's fave is Spring, and Gabe's is Sunny. Mine is Peace; her catchphrase is "Puppies and kittens! The power of love! I'm Glitter Peace!" What's more powerful than love and peace? Nothing, as far as I know! It doesn't hurt that her power is similar to that of my old favourite Sailor Scout, Jupiter either.

As they say in MLP, friendship is magic and GlitterForce has it in spades. I wish there was more than one season available but I know we'll watch it again in the meantime. It's sweet and bubbly and I absolutely loved watching it. Give it a try if it's near your alley and let me know what you thought!

Justifying my Existance

December 30, 2015

I've been tweeting a lot about feminism and gaming. My mentions have, to noone's surprise, been alight with all the dudes (and it's almost entirely dudes) who want to tell me how good I have it, how useless, how inconsequential, and how wrong I am. Like so many years ago at teacher's college when the entire discussion was shut down by one dude saying "Well I don't think that's true."  ,it's impossible to have an actual discussion with someone who's world view is so incredibly skewed. Who needs feminism in 2015? Women have it SO GOOD.  Dont' you have anything IMPORTANT to worry about? Why attack video games? You must hate them. I bet you don't even play. Women really have all the power! You don't even have to go die in wars. And if women are so horribly oppressed, why do men kill themselves so much? Why are men laughed at if they say they were raped? WHAT ABOUT THE MEN!?

How do you talk with someone who denies the moon landing? The Holocaust? Believes in reverse racism? Takes the Bible (or Koran or Torah) as literal truth? Absolutely cannot see the everyday sexism that women put up with? I say one thing and it comes back mocked or simply denied. "That's not true." How do you start a dialogue or change anything when someone is denying your lived experience? When they deny who you are? When they refuse to hear you? 

Is an entire gender just lying? Acid throwing is lies? Child marriage? Female genital mutilation? Rape? Domestic violence? Being hounded out of jobs, off campus? Back alley abortions? We're all just lying for no reason? Because speaking up hasn't helped too much. The backlash has been bitter. We're all just lying for the fun of it, so people can laugh or say "But what about the men?!"

https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fgamikia.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F02%2Fmetroid1-e1329769775740.jpg&f=1Laurie Penny wrote a thing that's worth sharing and re-sharing. It strikes all the chords with me. All of them. I recently saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I too was struck the moment Rey picks up Luke's old lightsaber to battle her enemy on equal footing. I've been waiting my whole life for a female lead, not a background character, to do that, to be a Jedi, to fight with one of those beautiful, humming weapons. Stories matter. Who the hero is, matters. When I played Super Metroid as a kid and died for the first time, revealing that Samus is a woman, I was struck in a similar way except also completely surprised. This badass bounty hunter was clearing realm after dangerous realm on this hell world full of monsters completely alone AND she was a GIRL!? Like me?! Like me! It changed me.

I don't have to justify my love of games, any game, to anyone. I've been playing since the SNES and I'll probably keep playing until I'm old and grey and can barely hold a controller anymore. I also don't have to justify my existence to anyone; I'm a woman, a person. I hold up half the sky. I have all the same rights and responsibilities as any other person. This is a fact that's been affirmed not only by my country's laws, but by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. It's not my job to hold some knuckle-dragger's hand and spell these things out, especially only having 140 characters to work with. But sometimes, just sometimes, I try anyway. You never know when you might change someone's mind.



Currently in December

December 15, 2015
December 2015
waking in the dark every morning is the worst. 

finishing a book is very satisfying.

watching The Last Unicorn

loving the kids.

appreciating all that my family has done for us.

packing a lunch.

keeping the home fires burning.

hunting for a snack.

planning for ladder climbing.

looking for a place to put our Elf on the Shelf tonight.

anticipating the Christmas bustle.

working where I do is bearable. That's about it.

having my scotch REALLY cold.

hoping to still get back to the Island someday.

feeling tired.

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Full Disclosure

Every once in a very great while there may be a post which contains a link to a product or service for which I've been paid to promote or have received for review purposes. I Blog With Integrity so you'll know which is which.