ALL THE BABIES!!

Image: http://rainbows-of-skittles.deviantart.com/ Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Image: http://rainbows-of-skittles.deviantart.com/
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

Three years ago, my sister had a little boy. He is beautiful and funny. I became an uncle that day. In the last two weeks, my sister and one of my brothers each had a little girl. Now I have two nieces and a nephew!

I’m finding myself sadder than ever that I don’t live nearer my family. Don’t get me wrong. I am home, and that’s all there is to it. I just wish I could poke cute little tummies and kiss little squishy people. I also wish that I could be there to help my siblings more. New babies are no joke!

Thankfully, our family is a big one, and the hearts of Sam and Gem are strong. Cheers to an ever growing family, and beautiful little people who have come into the world.

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University of Bristol Did It!

Last night, George sent me a link, and it made my day. It seems like somehow, the world is starting to grow up. It’s about damned time. Too many people today are forced to deal with “bathroom shame” for many reasons. Being Trans (-gendered -sexual) can cause a lot of confusion for a lot of people. Sometimes, you may feel prompted to ask an apparent male why they are using the ladies’ room, or why that cute girl is headed into the men’s. Just don’t do it.

Outside of that situation, the best thing you can do, if you are unsure of an individual’s gender role, is to ask them polite unbiased questions such as, “Which pronouns do you prefer?” This opens the dialogue which is difficult for both parties at times. Other than that, the best thing you can do is keep your mouth shut.

Most definitely do NOT tell anyone that they are using the “wrong” restroom. If you know someone, and notice them entering the restroom they would normally not use, it’s entirely appropriate to point out the discrepancy. If you don’t know the other person, tread carefully and respectfully. Either way, it can be embarrassing for both parties, so just don’t do that to people you are not well acquainted with.

The University of Bristol LGBT Community found the best solution to most of the possible confusion:

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And Then There Were Two (Bristols, That Is)

Yesterday, my lovely Jenny was granted the name change order. We are now officially Mr. and Mrs. Bristol. We celebrated with the inevitable couple selfie, and for once, Jenny loved a photo of herself! (The world might end on that note, but so far the sky is still “up” and the ground is still “down”.) So yay! And huzzah! Also: Woo!

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

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Chin Up Until Sun Up (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

This time of year sucks for many of us. Cold, short, and dreary days mean that it’s hard to feel positive, or (sometimes) little more than apathetic. It’s depressing when the whole world seems to be hibernating, but they expect you to keep up your “chipper”. Not fair.

Each year, around this time, I start to withdraw. I want to sleep, eat, and surf the Internet. This year is especially hard, because I’m working 6+ days a week. Happily, Jenny and I have worked out some things to help me keep my head up. Here are some of the things we have found to work.

  • Wake up lighting. These lights increase in brightness over time, helping the body wake up naturally. This is great for me, because I tend to sleep until my body feels like it is “daytime”.
  • Music. Playing music on my iPod overnight helps me sleep deeper, allowing me to rest deeply. This is critical if I’m going to use lighting options, because I need to have had enough rest in order to wake up naturally.
  • Schedules and routine. Going to bed at the same time, and waking up at the same time allows our bodies to fall into a natural cycle. This one is hard for me, because my work hours vary so much.
  • Quiet/silent alarms. I love using my Fitbit alarm. No jarring sound, just a little vibration on my wrist. Jenny hates it for herself. I love it. The Fitbit also has a sleep tracker built into it, so this option allows you to identify if/when you are restless in the night.
  • Adequate lighting throughout the day, and into the evening. We string up Christmas lights around tall cabinets, and near the ceiling. These bulbs provide warm and bright light to the environment. We put them on a schedule, so we don’t have to remember to turn them on and off.
  • Sitting near the windows. Seriously, this helps. Sit next to a window, and the sun gets a little more action on your skin. This helps provide much-needed Vitamin D. It also warms your skin, improving bloodflow. It also stimulates your brain via your eyes, helping you to feel alert.
  • Supplements. I started to take Vitamin D (after consulting with my doctor), which helped my apathy. I also added Vitamin C, and a multi-vitamin.
  • Plants. I tend my bonsai, and grow moss and grass inside the house in the winter. The grass is for the cats, and the moss is for the bonsai. Monitoring the bonsai brings me joy, and tells my brain that not everything is dead in the winter. Bonus? The fresh oxygen in the house helps everyone breath better.

None of these are perfect. Each of them takes its own effort, but they all compliment each other, bringing positive feelings to my day. What makes you feel better in the winter? Feel free to comment here, or on Facebook!

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The Little Things (Taking Care of All of Yourself)

I have said a lot of things to my wife. Like, a LOT. I mostly don’t expect her to remember all of it, because there’s just too much. Of course, I am a typical man (in this case, at least), and I underestimated her abilities to lock in info. Yesterday, she brought to my attention that I once told her about the connection between my creative side and my grumpy side.

It basically works like so: I stop doing creative things for a while, and my mood suffers. I get grumpy and such, as a result of my brain’s boredom, I think. So when she pointed this out, I realized (in about 1/16th of a second) that I had been less myself. Between work and family time, I haven’t been giving myself enough Rory time. I haven’t been crafting, or even Minecrafting. I have been ignoring my need for creative stimulation, and I can do something about that!

Just today!

Just today! Photo: Rory Bristol

Tonight, while doing family time stuff (we watched Maleficent), I sorted my LEGO stuff, and organized my bricks. This was good for a variety of reasons. Doing something with my hands improves my engagement in an activity. It only takes a small portion of my creative mind, while the rest of my brain is engaged in the larger activity, such as watching the movie. When the movie is over, I looked into my LEGO bin, and realized that I had hit a little point of zen in there. It was all tidy and neat, and I knew where to go for my 2x3x1 bright blue bricks.

There are tons of other things I can do though. I can choose to ignore Facebook. I find it draining. I can tend to my bonsai, and other plants. I can create something ridiculous on Minecraft and not worry about anyone judging it, cause it’s just for me.

The trick is to make a point of fitting it in. There is always time. Often, our worry that we won’t have enough time is what makes us run out of time. The ongoing sporadic loss of moments drains our day, leaving nothing left other than un-met deadlines, and under-inspired days. Usually I do pretty well with this stuff, but I’ve recently taken to working six days a week, which makes it more difficult, but also more critical.

So tonight, I organized LEGO bricks. I might even play a little Minecraft tonight. Or maybe I’ll do LEGO Minecraft! And then go to sleep with my wife, like a good husband, who appreciates that his wife has the memory of an elephant.

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Teabag Those Haters

Sometimes, haters are just going to hate. Sometimes, you will want to smack them so hard they will feel like they were smacked “so hard”. Turns out, there is a simple non-violent solution to this. Sit on that fucker’s face. The proof is in the pudding – or in this case, the genius friend of all introverts: the Internet.

#LifeLessonsFromDogsAndCats

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Rory Amadeus Bristol

As of 11:30am yesterday (January 23 2015), my legal name is now Rory Amadeus Bristol. I will no longer be legally Robert C Stark. This may be confusing to some people, but trust me when I say that this is one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made, and it already feels perfect.

Most people are going to wonder why I would change my name, and that’s understandable. There is one solid reason why I decided to change my name. My biological father.

Robert G Stark (my biological father) was a sad man. He was a felon (several times over). He bailed on his responsibilities at every turn, including his children. He fathered more children than he could support, and when his children’s mothers left, he would start again, continuing an unfortunate pattern.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not in ANY way regret the children my father had. My siblings are amazing people, with the world at their feet, and love from every direction, including from me. I just wish Robert took care of them, that’s all.

As time went on, his status as a felon cost him opportunities. His credit left him unable to be a productive adult. He had a simple solution. He started using my information to open accounts. When I turned 18, I learned that my name was associated with literally dozens of lines of bad credit. These lines of credit included credit cards, utilities, loans, and more. He stole my identity (and honestly, my mother did many of these things as well).

Through my adult life, I would continue to fail background checks. My name (Robert C Stark) was similar enough to his name (Robert G Stark) that his information would come back as a “look-alike” profile. This was complicated by being almost exactly 20 years younger than him. Our birthdates were similar, and the 20 year difference meant that it looked like a felon was trying to trick the surveyor who was completing the background check.

Legal matters aside, it has caused me pain for years when someone would compare me to him. I did NOT like being compared to a man who had a reputation as a vitriol-spewing racist, a drug addict, a felon, and a dead-beat dad. I never revered him, and I certainly didn’t want to be like him when I grew up.

Never in my life have I allowed anyone to call me “Robert” or his more common nick-name “Bobby”. Jenny quickly realized that anyone who calls me those names has no relationship with me. It is a sign of someone in my life who has no understanding of me as a person. Add to that: “Bert”. Only my mother had ever called me “Bert” and I have hated it every single time.

Now, people who have known me as I’ve grown up, I won’t begrudge you for calling me something other than Rory. I will always ask that you call me Rory, but I will forgive an honest mistake. Here’s the thing though: It is hurtful to me if someone says to me, “I just can’t remember,” or “I’m just going to keep calling you ___.” Those statements only mean, “My idea of who you should be is more important than who you are.”

Remember that I did not just wake up one day and decide that I didn’t like my name. I have carried the name Robert Stark as a burden for decades, and I have known for over 20 years that I would change it one day. Now I have. Thank God. The Judge who ordered the name change said it best: “The petitioner requests this name change in order to establish his own identity.”

That’s all I’m trying to do.

 

Now for the stupidly fun part: My re-birthday.

Someone very close to Jenny and I was very ill, and required an incredibly invasive and dangerous procedure in order to live. They called it the surgery that saved her life. They refer to the day of that surgery as her re-birthday. The day from which her life started anew.

As a fun thought, we will likely celebrate (in a quiet just-for-fun kind of way) the day my name change was finally ordered, and I got to be my own person. Since I have a whole new name, it was kind of fun to celebrate “Rory Bristol’s First ___” yesterday. Enjoy some fun snapshots we took in this spirit.

Rory's first pout. Jenny wouldn't let me have it.

Rory’s first pout. Jenny wouldn’t let me have it.

Rory's first nap. A two hour drive across the desert put me out cold!

Rory’s first nap. A two hour drive across the desert put me out cold!

Rory's first Oreo cookies. Omnomnomnomnom!

Rory’s first Oreo cookies. Omnomnomnomnom!

Rory's first pizza. Pepperoni, Romano, and bacon!

Rory’s first pizza. Pepperoni, Romano, and bacon!

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