Loneliness?

Right now, I’m wondering if I’m actually just really lesbian, in a genderqueer way.  I generally don’t call myself “lesbian,” because to me that implies a “woman” gender identity…which I don’t have.  I’m gender-fluid with notable forays into femme presentation, but to me “femme” could be applied to persons of any sex status (femme men exist; but I don’t consider myself a man).  I have also been thinking about gender transition to trans* male, but I’ve been weighing that over about 15 years at this point.  I’m not doing it unless I have to, and I don’t think that social reasons are considered valid where it comes to gender transition (as society changes).  I could be wrong, though.

There are a few things going on here:

  1. Being irritated at men coming on to me (largely because they expect me to be a woman for them, and/or that the way I look says something about who I am).
  2. Experiencing strong feelings of attraction for someone I don’t know (repeated shock at their beauty every time I make eye contact:  maybe I’m not asexual; just “asexual” in a heteronormative context?), and not knowing what to do with them.  Also, I’m trying to deal with “what if’s” around whether I’m being perceived as predatory simply because I don’t know what to do in this situation, and I’m not perfect and I feel like I’m messing up and this is different if I’m being seen as male (or queer — I’m using this term in the U.S. reclaimed sense) as versus not.
  3. Not wanting to have my sex status shoved in my face, particularly where it could be used as a tool to try and subjugate me.
  4. Dealing with the after-effects of decades of sexual harassment.
  5. Trying not to take rejection as a personal failing or throw out vibes of frustration built up over long periods of isolation and unrequited crushes.
  6. Wondering what it would be like if it were OK for me to freely flirt with women on an equal-power basis, and about how my life might be different if they felt the same permission towards me.
  7. Wondering if I am socially lesbian (want an escape from heterosexual gender norms in my relationships) but not fully biologically lesbian (can still be attracted to men and masculine people so long as they don’t enforce or expect heterosexual gender norms in my relations with them).  I haven’t heard anyone express this point of view before me, though it could explain multiple phenomena.
  8. Identifying strongly with Vegeta…which probably won’t mean anything unless you’re a Dragonball (Z/Super) fan.  I’d probably have to explain it, anyway.

I’ll stop there.  I don’t think I’ll be able to touch on all this, tonight.

I haven’t been to my regular gender group in a while, so this stuff has been building up over…at least two weeks.  Chances are that I won’t be able to make it this next time, either.  The full version of this likely won’t get a chance to come out IRL, for another little while…so I thought that writing some of it out, would help.  I’m not sure at all, though, that actually publishing it will help…

I did talk to my folks about this, recently; they say that most people go through this stage (learning to deal with feelings other people don’t want to know you experience [in regard to point #2]) in high school.  I didn’t have the chance to go through this stage because of the massive sexual harassment and isolation and, pretty much, hostility that I had to deal with in that situation.  It just basically wasn’t safe for me to develop these skills, because it wasn’t safe to be anything other than cisgender+heterosexual.

Noting everything above…kind of explains where I’m at, right now.  I’m not sure if I need to go more into depth with it right now (it took enough effort to dig all that stuff out of my memory), but I will want to come back to it, later.

There is one thing that has come up, though:  and that is the possibility of trading out a gender-group night for a Ladies’ art night (I’m applying the term, “Lady,” loosely).  Right now I am not sure which I might need more…

I also think there are two separate Art Nights I can go to; one at a nearby cultural venue (much closer), and one at an artist-supply store.  I just am coming to feel like I need women, and I don’t know what that’s about.  I’ve never felt it, before.  But I guess I am getting into middle-age, and I do need to meet new friends, and rekindle old friendships…

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A more complete update:

So I have had some time to reflect and think things over a bit.  This is a large part of why I write — even if what I am thinking at one point, at some later point comes to have little validity, at least I have a paper trail so that I can see where I’ve been.

When I’m writing about myself, I’ve found that it is best not to prematurely censor what I’m thinking or feeling…otherwise, I come out with a “sanitized” narrative, which may not actually reflect either reality or my own psyche.

After looking over my recent posts, I find it fairly evident that I’m not speaking from a woman’s perspective.  I have also been in Women’s groups before and found myself alienated; have taken a Women’s Studies class and did not know why I did not relate to the (female) Professor’s version of what “women” were, etc.  (I gave up on Women’s Studies after that experience in being, “othered.”)

Brief aside, as I seem to have lost focus for a moment:  I did end up getting the 30-pencil set of Supracolor II watercolor pencils.  I haven’t yet gotten the chance to try them out, though.  And yes, I do know that I only have one more week of freedom before school starts up again…

In any case, I’ve realized that there is no one perfect way to exist as myself.  And it’s very apparent that I hold a number of ideals which are given life in my own power of visualization, which — when taken literally — are not necessarily mutually compatible, in reality.  For instance, it would not be possible for me to start testosterone, then go off of it and get back to the way things are now.

Testosterone causes permanent changes, and my major fear is that I will not be able to return to my current state.  On top of this is the question of what to do with my chest, should I start and then stop testosterone (as I doubt I would be on it, long-term:  health reasons).  For me binding is effective, but uncomfortable; ranging into painful.  And I don’t dislike my chest as it is; the only reason I would get surgery, barring medical necessity, is to make things more convenient for other people.  And I don’t want to be berated and bullied into getting surgery that I don’t want and don’t need.

So either I go on testosterone for the voice drop and then move back to estrogens and deal with the hair redistribution (that’s a good way to put it) — and work out to retain some musculature — or I don’t go on testosterone, and I work my way up to bodybuilding as a reversible measure, and go without the voice drop, extra cartilage, and facial + body hair.  In addition to this, I would be going by a chosen name and gender-neutral or masculine pronouns.  I can anticipate push-back and sarcasm on the latter, however, without permanent physical changes.

What I really want is to be recognized as who I am, without having to do anything special to mark myself.  (That is, I don’t want people to see me and immediately slot me as a “woman,” regardless of what I’m wearing or what my body looks like.)  From what I can tell, I don’t think the sentiment is unusual.  Though I do happen to be lucky in that I do think I would be more than comfortable with a built body.

I think my brain is starting to fizzle out, about now, so I’ll get some rest…

Another gender-related post…

…stemming from another system of dreams.

This one had to do with two friends I had, one in Kindergarten (which I’ll refer to as K); the other, in High School (HS).  In the dream, both of them were “interested” in me…though HS had seen me in both male and female forms.  Because of the latter, I was more interested in her…and was trying to figure out how to break this to K.

What I remember most notably is a feminine hand on my chest, rubbing it as though I were male…recognizing me as male.  I think this was the HS friend.  The point was not that my chest was flat or rounded — the point was that my being was recognized…and maybe there was love coming from someplace I didn’t think to expect.  (I can’t even remember this person’s last name, anymore; then again, I did remember her from 18 years ago.)

This is an interruption in a long span of not being particularly attracted to anyone.

I realized that…maybe this is an effect of not having recently developed close enough relations with anyone, to the extent that they could see the whole of me.  The last notable relationship I had was with someone who insisted on seeing me as “lesbian,” thus — in my mind — as a woman.  Needless to say, this was not tolerable…

But in the dream, I did realize that the difference here was that of being seen as “lesbian,” as versus “trans* male who is primarily attracted to women.”  This also explains why I get set off by men hitting on me, as 1) they’re invalidating my actual gender (as versus the one they assume I have), 2) I don’t feel my wishes (to end the encounters) are respected, 3) I’m not interested, and 4) I feel inhibited from seeking female partners at the same time as men assume they have implicit permission to come after me.

It’s also apparent to me at this point that my dysphoria is social and not physical.  If I can keep having a rounded chest, and still be seen as masculine (as distinct from “butch,” which my experience suggests is more of a social role than a gender orientation)…that would work.  And maybe then I could have a sex life (or one that was enjoyable, at least).

Then…what to do about this?

Last night, I briefly considered low-dose testosterone, mainly for the voice drop…but I don’t want to lose what I have left of my hairline.  (Although male-pattern baldness should cease advancing when T administration ceases, I won’t get that hair back.)  Plus, there is the problem of being on T for too long, which can erase my visibility to the queer community, if I end up being a relatively straight trans* male.

Not to mention the fur that I’m pretty sure is going to pop up if I use T for any appreciable length of time, which will inhibit my ability to dress femme and get away with it (without shaving.  I dislike shaving).  On the other hand…fur.  🙂

I did, on browsing my own blog, find a number of places where I had been considering my gender presentation.  Fairly consistently, getting back into shape has been a goal, though it’s odd to track my weight changes.  I was able to find dress shirts that fit, in the Women’s section, by the way!  I wore one of them to the test I took today, but that’s another entry…in any case, it actually fits, and doesn’t restrict my movement.  The only drawback is that it feels synthetic.

Right now, I’m trying to get back to the point where I don’t feel undernourished and rapacious because of the fever I’ve had, along with the corresponding denial of food.  I seem to be hovering around 159-160 lbs. (down from 164-165), which gives me a lot of fuel to burn (especially in the mornings), but the last time I exercised, I became fairly short of breath after about 5 minutes.  I felt like my throat was closing up, but wasn’t sure if it was asthma, or what.  D says this is because I’m just getting over being sick.

And I know I’ve been slipping on the sugared beverages, now that I have wiggle room.  I need to cut it out.  🙂

The other thing I noticed was a question of…piercings!  I haven’t been wearing any earrings, for quite a long time, now.  And I’m not sure whether to go back to body jewelry, or to work with non-ferrous metals and make my own stuff.  I’m pretty sure that I did get a cup bur (a tool to round the ends of wire), and I know I have wire up to at least 18g…I can use copper, brass, or silver (though I think my thick jeweler’s brass wire has a small amount of lead in its alloy; I’m uncertain as to whether wear on my pillowcases or on the insides of my piercings will expose me to lead).

The only trouble I’m facing is seeing whether my piercings are together enough to avoid enlarging on their own, from the weight (or metal) of my jewelry.  (Right now I have a set of filigree sterling earwires in, just to open the space.  I have also experienced irritation at base metal wires causing the piercings to abnormally enlarge.)  If they’re going to open up anyway, I might as well go back to the 14g rings I had, before, and/or just forget about wearing heavy jewelry.

At this point, though — if that happens, I’m getting fancier rings; and then possibly getting a third lobe piercing (I’m hoping that an act like this will signal the women I might like as to my group status).  The major problem is that it becomes harder to get a job after the third piercing, which seems to be a legal way to discriminate against minorities who use piercings as code.  Not that it’s official, but I’m fairly certain that it does mean something, because I’ve seen enough people using it.

I can try and wear my normal jewelry, and then if — by October — I still want to or need to gauge up, I can set that in motion.  The major reason I’m not getting a piercing now is that cold weather may keep me from getting an infection.

I’ve also been thinking about the pronoun issue:  that is, dropping “she/her” from my list of approved self-applied pronouns, and going by “they,” exclusively.  This may be in addition to changing the name I go by, out in the real world…but I’m going to have to sit on the latter and see how it feels, before making any changes.

Bombarded with TG dreams, today

It’s taken me a while to get around to even writing this, but:  I’m feeling all right, right about now.  For a bit I was thrown off by a couple of dreams about gender transition, and myself as male.  I am guessing…this means that my gender identity is still fluid?

I think I actually had three gender-related dreams, over the last 24 hours.  I can’t remember all of it, though, save a reflection of myself with my hair down and my face dark and barely visible, with an eye partially blocked by blood.  The second was an insight that the major thing blocking me from testosterone (in the dream) was the idea that if I were male, I would have cultural limitations imposed on me (like not being permitted to wear dresses [without ridicule]) which would then require other manners of expression which I did not yet know.  The third thing was the insight that even if testosterone administration made me go bald, I’d still have extra facial and body hair to cancel it out…so I’d actually be growing more hair.  😉  (I was assuming that I’d eventually gain a full beard…which I shouldn’t bet on.)

And I am not sure about this, but…I found an old post relating to getting a casual linen blazer…for $60, which (at the time) I thought was too much.  (On top of this, it was dry clean only, and too casual for job interviews; and I wasn’t planning on going on any dates.)  It’s probably a good thing I didn’t pick it up, because it would likely not fit me, right about now.  But I’ve got an idea to go out and pick up something like it, plus an actual nice tie of my own.  I’ll have to have D show me again how to tie it, but it will be nice to have a (personalized!) dress shirt, jacket, and tie which I can wear with slacks.

I’ll have to remember to measure my neck and shoulders before shopping for a Mens’ dress shirt, though.  I wonder if my neck has now reached at least 14″ in circumference?  (This is the smallest size in Mens’ dress shirts in my country.)  Or — it is possible that there will be something comparable in the Womens’ section.  I just have not tried on too many Womens’ button-up dress shirts — they can be really expensive, and they tend to limit movement because of the shoulder construction; plus, they’re not made to wear with ties (meaning I can’t properly tighten the tie), and they fit closer to the body than I’m comfortable with.

Yeah, I should try for Mens’.  Especially as I now wear a Mens’ M from the store I’m planning to visit, and have sized out of their Womens’.  I haven’t mentioned it, but I’m hovering around 161-162 lbs. right now.  (Though most of the belly weight which I have been concerned about, doesn’t look bad when I’m standing with good posture — it just looks terrible with poor posture.)  I’m sure that if I exercise more than I need to in order to simply stop the weight gain, and keep drinking water instead of sweetened drinks, I should actually go down in weight.

I’m starting to wonder if some of it is hormonal — I do deal with hirsutism (the reasons for this [other than a naturally high testosterone count and apparent predisposition to high testosterone sensitivity] have never been explained to me, but other people with hirsutism whom I’ve known, have had PCOS [polycystic ovarian syndrome]…which apparently, I don’t.  PCOS can cause people to become overweight [insulin resistant?], grow extra facial and body hair, and have acne, like myself).

The medications can’t be helping, though, either.  One of the major factors in my gaining weight, has been an unchecked amount of sweet drinks.  Eating ice cream and a conscious, sparing, mindful amount of candy will actually have less effect on me than drinking two or three sodas a week — or one Frappuccino — even though that sounds ludicrous.

I also have found older postings here related to working out for muscle mass…which sounds pretty good about now, as I do have a bench and weights, and it would be simple to add in upper body exercises to my routine.  It would be nice to have a couple of set days of the week to do this, though, so it isn’t just “whenever I feel like it.”  I started out working out about every other day (sometimes every day), but now it’s just like “whenever I see myself getting out of shape.”

Hopefully, I can get more motivated on gaining muscle mass, at least, even if I’m not going down in weight:  my fasting glucose numbers were fairly excellent, considering the medications I’m on.  So I shouldn’t have to worry too much about insulin resistance or diabetes, for now (to which weight gain from my medications can predispose one).  My counselor also wanted me to get out in the fresh air.  It would be nice to go walking or running, and it would help my cardiovascular development, as well as likely helping me get to sleep and feel better in the daytime.

And my hair…still hasn’t been trimmed.  I found that it is long enough for me to braid most of it back, however…which I haven’t done in a really long time.  I may do it more often, as it allays the fact that my ponytail insulates my upper back.  It will probably keep it cleaner at work, too.

I’ve found a trick that helps me braid my own hair as well:  basically, putting loose ponytail holders around two out of three bundles of hair, and sliding them down as I braid, eventually sliding one of them off and using the other to bind the end of the braid.  It’s not easy to braid my own hair without seeing it–! and it doesn’t help that it doesn’t get regularly taken care of, either.  Maybe I can have M actually straighten and trim it, if I’m going to wear it braided!

But anyhow…I’m doing okay.  If anything, I’ve found that my gender identity kind of wobbles, and it is nice to have a fully intact body.  But I super would like to get back to the version of myself with big muscles, and the physical power that goes with them, without trying to appear stereotypically male.  I think that — and wearing more clothes which fit, allow movement, and are masculine (whether from the Mens’ or Womens’ sections) — would actually go a long way toward helping me feel better.  Right now my hips are the biggest thing disallowing me from wearing long-hemmed Mens’ shirts easily, but I kind of like my hips.  I also like the long hems.

Yeah, that’s getting into TMI, but, well, you know–!

It isn’t as bad to gain weight there as it is to gain weight, some other places…

And I really do want to get back into running, as well…I’m missing the speed and agility of my youth…

Tired.

Maybe it’s the heat, but I’ve been asleep for most of today [EDIT:  make that, “yesterday”]; although I did go a mile on the exercise bike, it was at about a constant 5-6 MPH, as versus 6-8, which is more my norm.  And I did remember to work on core muscles, then did a little yoga to equalize the tension (my lower back is much stronger than my abdomen — from carrying school books — so I’m mostly working my abs at this point), then did as many push-ups as I could, before my core muscles started to tire and get unbalanced.

I’m starting to think that trying to shift my bedtime earlier has really messed up the sleep pattern I had been holding to.  So now I have an excess number of hours spent asleep, as versus staying up late — and I still have a hard time waking in the morning.  This means that although my immunity may be high, I’m spending most of the time of my “vacation” in bed.  And after I get up, I’m still groggy.

But then, the temperature has been in the 90-100º F region (in the 30 C range, that is) for the last three days…meaning that it is uncomfortable to be awake around, say, 2 PM; and more comfortable to be up around 2 AM.  (If you can handle being up with the earwigs and spiders, that is.)

I did get to go to the art store, but unfortunately my time there was limited, and so I bought a number of things I hadn’t intended to.  One of them was “permanent” masking fluid — essentially a liquid wax — that can be applied to watercolor paintings to repel subsequent layers of color.  This is…interesting.  I had intended to get a liquid latex — that is, removable — frisket, but I’ve been wary around liquid latex for a very long time (the fumes can cause latex sensitization, meaning a new allergy to rubber).  Liquid wax, though…that’s interesting.

It sounds like the working process might be (loosely) similar to the reductive carving technique for relief printing…but maybe I’ve got that backwards?  I’m not sure — not too experienced in linocut printing, yet!  The thing that I am fairly confident in is that it’s relatively very safe.  And if I can work with certain aspects of my painting being permanently “clear”, it might be a way for me to work with masking fluid without worrying about my health.

I’m also, now, wondering about the possibilities of reduction carving for floral images, utilizing those tiny 2″x 2″ blocks I bought a surplus of?  I’m not terribly attached to my initial design anymore:  it’s very…straight-on.  It works as a mandala, but I don’t want to limit myself to mandalas.  Not that mandalas are bad, but I really need to work on asymmetrical composition.

The tricky part about this is…which images to use as designs, whether to draw from life, from photos, or from imagination.  It’s fairly apparent to me that plants:  particularly flowers and fruit, and other things I might find at the market (and in gardens), are things that draw my attention.  I just don’t want to fall into a cliché.

(Interesting idea:  are insects [like bees] attracted to the centers of mandalas?  And that’s why gnats keep trying to fly right into my eyeball?)

I’ve just spent the better part of an hour looking over my photo archives in search of images that still spoke to me.  What I’m seeing is actually the fact that most of the content which I’ve found…interesting, has to do with bright and graduated — that is, intricate and complicated — color.  And that, along with problems of translucency, reflection, and light.  Ideal for watercolors.

However, if I were looking for something to just practice linocuts with, I have a number of photos of insect specimens which might work well, particularly the moths and butterflies.  I could be trying to jump ahead of myself in terms of my skill level, though.  Maybe I should just try for a better carving of my initial flower and try to do what I had initially planned to — print these in colors over my suminagashi prints, then cut them apart and give them out as bookmarks.  I think, but am not sure, that the Canson Wet Media paper was the one which printed most efficaciously for that use.

The question does arise, though, as to whether to back these with something nice (like patterned scrapbooking paper), so it won’t just be white paper.  And that begs the question of which glue will dry and cure completely, and not leave sticky marks in books (I don’t think it will smear the front of the bookmark).  I have an idea of what to use, though.

Then there was the falling-gingko-leaf idea for a number of prints which I could work…but I’m not sure, entirely, what to put in the background, here.  I could use acrylic inks or more suminagashi, attempting this time to create greens and earth tones, with black — I’d just have to mix up the ink ahead of time.  I’ve also found laminating material at a nearby office supply store…but don’t know if I’ll need it, or indeed, whether to charge to recoup my costs (at least, if someone wants a bulk order of these after I give out the free ones).  Then, there’s the fact that lamination itself could cause fading…

I kind of wonder what the point of this is.  Did I have footing that I lost?  Do I really want to be doing art more than writing, right now, and that’s why it’s been more difficult to stay on task for the last couple of days?

Ah, I don’t know — maybe just going to the art store made me feel sad, or something.  I don’t have an infinite amount of money to be spending on this stuff — which, I suppose, is the same drawback that beadweaving had, except that fine art can pull more of an income stream (relatively).  And I’m thinking that I may have to move on from my current job, relatively soon.

It might be that I’m sleeping a lot more, so I see the lost hours reflected in lost time to do anything — and I don’t want to do my homework.  And I don’t want to go to work because of interpersonal conflicts.  Library Science seems apparently to draw heavily off of Social Science, which is something I was interested in before I found out that I would have to interact with people.  It’s kind of like Sociology all over again.

I’m just not sure which classes to take if I do, indeed, want to be a Web Designer or Web Developer, with the side benefit of being able to work in a Virtual Library space.

Actually:  I just now looked it up, and the pathway I’m on crosses over heavily with the path which would prepare one to be a Web Designer.  At least I’m OK with that.  I know that Web Design is heavily about understanding users so we can make navigating our pages as easy as possible for them…still a human-centered and ultimately a service job, but it isn’t one where I have to constantly deal with people I don’t know (whom I don’t want to know, but who want to know me).

It could be that I’m dealing with a touch of depression after a job-description rewording at work.  Like I said, I could go in for more hours, and it would help the money aspect of this, but I really don’t want to — and it’s mostly because of one person in particular who is creeping on me.  And that, in turn, is producing a lot of dysphoria for me (I don’t identify as a woman, but this *** is obviously seeing me as a “girl,” which is worse, because he obviously thinks I’m young and stupid).

Anyway, maybe I should go do something productive so I can stop fantasizing about what there is of my tendency to rage around this issue…

I really don’t want to be female, right about now; and being female and gender-variant is worse, because it’s OBVIOUS when people are messing with you because of your appearance…

Photojournaling? Why art?

Hey; it’s just me.  The first few lines don’t describe the rest of this, so read on:

I’ve not had such a great time today; looking forward to archiving your work so you can graduate is kind of stressful.  Tomorrow, I get to see my Vocational counselor.  I’ve just started looking around at possible positions I can move into so that I’m less of a financial burden on my family…I can see, though, that I will need to practice driving (and obtain a License) in order to gain some positions.  For example, if I’m working somewhere that has a 45-minute commute one-way, it’s more reasonable for me to drive myself, than not.

(Seeing how people drive in this area, though:  that’s still…risky.)

Anyhow…I was thinking up things to write about, and started looking through my image archives.  I had forgotten so many things that I had done, not so long ago!

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At Ala Moana Mall (Honolulu), in March of 2017.  This koi kept looking at me!

Everything just happened so fast after we got back (read:  my relative’s death and the ensuing family chaos) that it was easy to forget about this.  In effect, enabling this trip was his last gift in life, to us.

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View from the lanai of the Doris Duke House (a.k.a. Shangri-La Islamic Art Museum)

The previous two photos are of Hawaii…none of the others here, are.

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From one of the days I ventured into the sun; April 30 of this year.

The one at left is from one of the first times I went out by myself on foot, in recent memory.  I need to become more independent; this is a step towards that.  I have not felt safe venturing out of the house without another person with me, for a while.  I’m sure some here can relate.

One of the reasons why I write about my disability so openly here is that — to me, it is obvious, but — the more I do so, the more aware I become of the fact that my illness has profoundly impacted my life.  This is to the point that it borders on absurd to intentionally keep it a secret.  I don’t tell everyone about it; then again, most people don’t question my mental health — or if they do, it strikes them as normal.

Appearing “normal” is double-edged, even though it doesn’t seem to be.

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From May of this year.

My illnesses (I have what’s — overall — called “comorbidity,” which essentially means that I’m dealing with multiple diagnoses at the same time) run in my family.  This means that I am up close and personal with the fact that I have relatives who seem to display signs of mental illness but who will not see a doctor — any doctor — for help.

This cannot be due to anything other than stigma and a feeling that to admit having a problem that they can’t solve themselves makes them “weak.”  It’s not “weak” to seek help when you need help.  It’s not “weak” to gain information you’re lacking.

And it isn’t great for me to watch their lives spiral out of control for no reason other than pride and an inability to question their own thoughts.  I’ve been seeing mental health professionals since I was 14 years old.  There is no shame in actually working out your problems.

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From June of this year.

But before you can work out your problems, you first have to admit imperfection…which seems more than some can muster.

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From June.  A few days ago, actually.

Of course, the people one surrounds oneself with, can also make one afraid to admit to imperfection…because keeping someone in a weakened state means they’re more easily manipulated.

(I will try not to get into commentary on that…particular dynamic, now.)

But it’s apparent…from the work that I’m doing, combined with what I speak of, here, that I am — again — finding respite from human problems in the natural world.  And I think I’ve done that, ever since I was about 11 or 12.

Particularly, plants seem to calm me…and have, since I started hanging out with them by myself, in lieu of hanging out with abusive “friends.”

The art, then…may manifest as an attempt to honor these spirits…whether they’re self-generated or not.

Seeing spirits in life is a point where Buddhism and I apparently part ways…I’m not sure if that is so true in the U.S., as Pure Land schools are more popular here, and they’re more belief-oriented…

…but that gets into an entirely different post!

And my energetic sensitivity also may get into a different post.  (I’ve stopped denying it.)

But the little blossoms…well…have I told you the meaning I find in them, before?  It’s not a usual one.

Because flowers are, generally speaking, both male and female, and since many of them are beautiful — I find meaning in the fact that they exist as they are, and in the fact that they break the idea that one has to ascribe to a gender binary to be beautiful and natural in that beauty.  People who don’t know me, think that it’s a “girl thing.”  I don’t correct them.  They’re just seeing surfaces.

Yeah, I wonder:  does my art exist to generate peace…?

Ah, the why art question, again:  I should just make it into a phrase.  “Why art?” with “art” as a verb…

Because art calms.  Art reclaims me from the nonsense and panic of the world.  That’s why art.  Life is too short to waste on hurting others and being hurt.  I wonder what would happen if we had a culture shift, where more of us centered ourselves…though maybe that is far from being possible, right now…

Getting back into handmade jewelry

Writing this post would be so much easier if I’d written it, two days ago.  At that time, though, I was still too busy working on my last project:  a beaded micro-macrame collar bridging off of two mother-of-pearl focals with bells and a central drop.  Apologies for not having pics yet — I didn’t have time to take them, today, and the lighting is pretty awful right now, especially where it comes to mirrors.  In addition, I haven’t even been sure that I’ve wanted to share my design online.

Right now this necklace is unique, and my design is protected by virtue of being unpublished.  I don’t grant much weight to the practicality of copyright, but I do know that no one can mimic me if I don’t show them what to mimic.  If I publish photos or drawings, I risk having my design ripped off (well, it probably will happen, let’s be honest; and it may not even be for-profit or out of any kind of wanting to make me feel bad:  it will probably be one-offs by micro-scale crafters).  Of course though, if it’s ripped off, that does allow me a degree of anonymity!

It’s not like this collar is the greatest thing ever, but a lot of thought and work went into my design and the creation of this, so it’s kind of special to me.  It also has a meaning to me that is hidden to most others outside my (gender-variant) circle.

That is to say:  in effect, this thing is custom-made for me, by me.  The color choices were partially intentional, partially subconscious, and include personal reference.  The knotting work was done over at least five to six hours, spread over three days (I was using a 10-cord variation of a sinnet based on the square knot that I don’t remember having ever used before).  I was amazed that I was able to get the bell charms to actually jingle, and…it’s not perfect, but it’s beautiful.

In any case, I’m not used to completing things — but I did as best I could with what I had, and with what I was willing to risk.  Next time I know what to change — what I was afraid to risk this time because of being concerned about having to undo a lot of work (i.e., a lot of small, tight knots:  and I can’t find my awl (though I remember seeing it).  I did have some success with large, sturdy, sharp needles — particularly what I think was a 3″ long doll needle — using the sharp end to pick out the knot and the blunt one to loosen it.  C-Lon (the cord I used) is relatively good with not shredding and not ripping all the way through, if it does shred from being picked at.

This is the first time in a long time that I sized a necklace to myself; and definitely the first time at this body weight (which has broadened my shoulders and likely, my neck).

The difficult point is that this is the first one I’ve made, and the first attempts are, generally speaking, where the kinks get worked out.

Unfortunately, though, I only have one each of the two mother-of-pearl focals I used for my pendant:  one, a ring; and one, a pierced disc.  These are arranged so that the disc floats inside the ring, held by cord and wire.  I obtained these years ago, at a bead store which is now fully online and which does not stock these parts anymore.  To rework the straps anchored on the ring means putting in another two to four hours, at least:  though I know what to do to speed the process along, this time (thread on 10-12 beads onto each set of anchor cords at a time, then work all the knots, repeat).

I also know how long the straps need to be, which is something I didn’t know and couldn’t envision the first time around.  The way this is designed is not as a straight, flat choker:  it’s V-shaped (right now the straps are coming off at about 60º to each other), so measuring the length wouldn’t tell me much, even if I could figure out what points to measure from…which seems as though it would require advanced math skills.  Worn, it’s a pear shape which…I’m not even sure how it distorts so it fits, but it does.

And, no, I don’t have a real-size bust to model this on, though continuing on in macrame work is a good argument towards getting, or making, one.  I can imagine a dress form being useful for this (especially where it comes to pinning the work down and fitting it), though all I really need is the neck and shoulders.  A fabric store near me has a workshop where it’s possible to make our own dress forms…it could be worth looking into.

So, you may be wondering where I’ve been.  Largely, I’ve been rediscovering my beads, cords, wires, metals, cabochons, tools…giving myself permission to invest time in creative work which did not have to have a “meaning” (though I’m sure you could see where it actually did turn out to have a meaning, particularly where it comes to a newer acknowledgment of a femme + male-identified space [yes, I am female, for reference]).  This piece was my celebration of that.

I had a long time off because of the MLK Jr. holiday, during which I dressed up as feminine (particularly, I wore a skirt and the standard-gauge jewelry I had made myself [which I had to remove my 14-gauge surgical steel rings to wear]), and I had a gender-euphoric moment when I realized I could do this.  Not only this, but because I make my own jewelry, I have complete control over what I wear in that department.  I can make my own statements with my jewelry, instead of having to purchase a ready-made statement.

I actually can be femme + male-identified + female-bodied.  And I don’t have to disclose this to every person I see, and I don’t have to act out or stigmatize myself visually to signal my internal difference.

I don’t have to be tortured by being physically female, or deny being physically female, for my non-woman identity to be legitimate…and I don’t have to avoid my own femininity and the feminine expression I’m permitted, just because my identity insistently differs from what is expected for someone who appears feminine.  Other people “not getting it” is not my fault or my problem.

In short, I retain full control over my identity and expression.

Only time will tell if this again shifts back to “gender-fluid” as my primary identity.

Today I had no time to work, but the three days prior, I’ve been working on this necklace, and a couple of other projects.  I’m actually kind of amazed at how well it turned out, though I think I could stand to loosen the tension on my macrame straps.  Next time.