Needing to work with my hands:

So…I did only work a half-day today, but when I got home, I seriously did not want to dive right into schoolwork.  Tomorrow, I’ll see what I can knock out, though it looks like my main (school-) work days will be Sunday through Tuesday.

Tonight…I really needed to do something with my hands.  I guess it’s something that I’ve been relatively away from, after having migrated away from beadwork and macrame.  Not that I don’t like to do it anymore, but it has to be a hobby.  I can’t make a decent wage at it, unless I design things and then sell multiple instructions and kits (which has occurred to me more than once).

The labor cost is just too high, and that’s because of the cost and standard of living here.  (There’s something called “opportunity cost” in Economics, which is basically the money lost by doing one thing which could be gained, by doing something else.)  Patreon and Etsy, together, might be able to help me here.  Being able to create digital video recordings, and/or animations, would also help — though I stayed far away from film, when I was taking Art classes.  I do think I know someone who could help me or put me into touch with someone else who could, however.

Then there’s actual serious torch-and-pickle-and-power-tool jewelry making…which I have not been comfortable enough to attempt in my home.

Anyhow, wanting to do something with my hands, I thought back to when I had been engaged with crochet, sewing, and knitting.  Knitting really isn’t easy for me, but crochet is.  The largest problem I can see with crochet, however, is how to make things so that they’ll really insulate and have a function, other than looking nice — the larger holes in more lacy patterns can render a piece useless, except aesthetically.  That’s not to mention that cold air blows right through acrylic yarn, and quilts…I’ve never made a woolen quilt, but I imagine it to be expensive both in terms of materials and labor.

(I can knit things that are functional, but I think the repetition makes it easy for my mind to wander.  I could…do something like a seed-stitch muffler, however.  I do think I have enough cotton yarn [although what I have is all I have.  I think Mouzakis {Butterfly} yarn went out of business after I bought my stash].  I don’t know why I’d do that, though, except to challenge and/or frustrate myself.)

And I started looking around for my hand-sewing instructions, which — HA! — I actually did find.  After years!  I took that class back in 2009!  Someone else must have found my binders and put them away.  I’m just glad we didn’t throw them out.  I was thinking I might have to take a couture sewing class, again…

Anyhow…along with this, I also found two embroidery hoops.  One of them was set up and ready to go, with a threaded needle already tucked away in there…and M had already asked me about embroidery books…so they were readily available, and I was set.

There’s just something different about manipulating a needle and thread, you know?  I mean, as versus drawing or painting…though the end result can be things like color fills and lines, which are like drawing and painting — only, on a dynamic (and sometimes useful) surface.

I’m fairly certain that the needlework portion is what got me hooked on beadweaving, in the first place.  But this…is different:  for one thing, what is made is something that can be used and worn and functional, as versus…something that’s just for decoration.  Decoration can be great, but sometimes I’m trying to look at a more practical angle (which I’m trying to avoid using certain keywords to describe).

And yeah, I know that embroidery isn’t altogether practical, but knowing how to hand-sew did extend the life of one of my favorite shirts.  And if I wanted to, I could likely use sewing skills to make my own clothes — although in all likelihood, this would end up being more expensive than buying them.  The benefit would simply be a customized wardrobe, and possibly an adjustable-size wardrobe, at that…which actually might — at least a bit — begin to pay for itself.

What I would do if people asked me to sew for them, like people asked me to bead for them–???  I have no idea where that would lead.

My play for tonight isn’t really much to look at — I’ve got to gain a bit more skill and knowledge before I won’t be embarrassed to put my stuff online (!), but it was calming.  Repetitive fine motor movements do that, right?

Alright, so:  tomorrow is another work day.  I’m certain I’ll be taking something in to work on, during lunch…I haven’t decided whether it will be reading or embroidery, though.  The sheer dirt of working in a Library does give me a bit of pause, when combined with the possibility of pricked fingers:  but I’m using an embroidery needle.  How bad can it be?


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…

Piercings, gender presentation, body image

I have just realized that, should I want a new piercing, I can get it at any time.

ANY TIME.  😉  Not just that, but any gauge.  Not ONLY that, but I can actually go up to 10g in my main piercings, if I decide that this is what I want to do.  If I plan on that, though, I’ll need to tell the piercer.  I’m not up to date on how far away the new piercing should be, from the old one; but if I go to the tattoo parlor I’m thinking of, they have very good reputations, and should know where to place it.

Several years ago, I made the provisional settlement with myself that I would not go above 10g until I had figured myself out more and was more stable…which, I am, now.  But I’d still like to hold myself to that gauge limit until I can reassess the situation.  Particularly, it won’t matter until I get to 10g and get comfortable at it.  Why 10g?  It’s pretty much a no-going-back girth, at which the ring diameter and thickness of shank (or wire gauge) appear close-enough-to-optimal, to me.

I am currently wearing 14g surgical steel rings, which never come out, and are treated as part of my body.  I’m actually still wearing the rings I was pierced with, though I’ve gone up and down in gauge several times (it’s a fairly time-consuming process to stretch [stretching can tear the flesh if done too hastily, and that has permanent consequences where it comes to any additional stretching], but it’s easy to take the rings out and let the piercings tighten or close).  This has been going on long enough that I’ve realized that I may not be able to wear conventional earrings anymore, without my piercings expanding from the weight and turning into slits…which can turn into migration, which can turn into a split lobe.  I don’t have this issue yet, and hope not to have it — but that means that I need to reassess my situation as regards my jewelry.

So while I really did enter into this with the opportunity to move one way or the other (as regards having expanded piercings or conventional ones); it looks as though the window of opportunity to have conventional piercings has passed (about…ten years down the line?).  My scars seem just permanently too loose, now.

Most of my conventional earwires are about 22g — it’s a fairly common size.  (I judge this from my experience in working with wire for jewelry; 24g is much too light, thin and weak for most earwires.  20g is nearly alternative-size.)  My piercings, though, are four sizes larger than that, at this point.

Generally, the sizes graduate in increments of two, so starting at 22, we have 20 (which is the largest mainstream wire I have, on a pair of gold-fill department-store rings), 18, 16, and 14.  The smaller the number, the larger the diameter of the wire itself (independent of whatever is made from it).  10g is two sizes up, and marks the beginning of the really beautiful carved and sculptural pieces, along with the beginning of the use of plugs instead of rings or barbells.

The major (psychological) factor restricting my entry into this is the availability of quality, safe, large-gauge jewelry…for the rest of my life.  It’s fairly apparent now that the “Modern Primitive” trend was, in fact, a trend.  There are still a lot of people around now, though — particularly young men — with expanded lobe piercings.  I’m not entirely sure what’s motivating people 15 years my junior to do it (who kind of missed the first wave with Gen X…and even I’m a Millenial), but that’s the trend.

There is also the possibility of making my own rings, but I can’t work surgical steel at this point (blacksmithing is an entirely different beast than silversmithing), and nor can I make a spring-loaded ring.  I can make 14g silver and copper earwires…which would seem the last-ditch effort to really wear elaborate decorative stuff rather than everyday stuff…or that which I can’t make myself.  This impacts me because I make jewelry.  Sometimes I want to wear it; but my jewelry suppliers do not stock quality large-gauge earwires.  Find a different supplier?  Find a different reputable supplier, more like…

The other thing I wanted to write about was going out of the house today with a little bit of stubble.  I was minorly concerned about it when I checked myself in the mirror before leaving (I had maybe 1mm of obvious hair growth), but I had left no time for myself to shave.  It was vastly more comfortable than I had imagined it would be — I actually had very little self-consciousness about it.  This, though, also implies that I really should avoid anything that will permanently eliminate this hair, in case one day I do want to live as overtly gender-nonbinary.  It’s not unheard of at all for transmasculine people to wear facial hair, even if they aren’t “passing” as male.  The biggest risk I have is from people looking at me and thinking I actually am male…

As regards the hair on my actual scalp, I’m coming to realize that it may actually look cute, loosely pulled back with the section which would have been bangs, cascading forward.  I’ve been avoiding it because I know it looks messy — but maybe there’s a place for “messy.”  “Messy,” may be better than, “I don’t know what I’m doing, let’s just do anything and get on with it.”  I’m considering, now, actually clipping the hair which does fall forward in a more organized manner, with the intent of wearing it loose.

Pretty much the only up-side to having long hair is being able to pull it back, and being able to braid it.  That’s…really, about it, for me.  I suppose I could try wearing it down again, and it might be cute that way, too — but then I have to deal with dust getting into it, and then washing it, and then trying to figure out how to dry it.  The point worth mentioning about pulling my hair back is that I’ve realized that I don’t have to pull it back tightly; a loose band will hold it, and not strain my follicles.

As far as clothing goes…?  I have been wearing femininely-gendered clothing to work, mostly out of habit.  I actually have been getting a little self-conscious over being assumed to be a man with a feminine chest, there (I suspect one particular observation to have been about the, “is it a boy or a girl,” question…talk about colonizing perspectives); but it’s generally been okay.  I’m not sure to what extent I want to wear masculine clothing, or to be seen as male.  I have pretty much no control over the latter, anyway; so maybe it’s a question better off not answered.  And as for the former…I just want to be comfortably clothed, and not put on display.  At least, not until I get my body back into shape.  😉

And like I’ve said before, having a female chest along with big muscles and a good amount of strength…is something I really want to get back to.  A lot of guys find it hot, too, which I have been a bit surprised at.  But I think to myself: big muscles, female chest, long hair, multiple piercings, may or may not wear “cross-gendered” clothing, may or may not wear makeup.

And yes, I am still intrigued about the possibility of a legal gender-nonbinary designation.  What I’m concerned about is government tracking.  It isn’t a big deal in a sane and well-checked democracy, but if things go south, I would not trust the government not to take advantage of my marking myself in any way to be a member of a hidden (vulnerable) minority.  I’m having a hard enough time reconciling my psychological status with the level of potential threat I’ve perceived recently, let alone someone designating “Third Gender” bathrooms which aren’t kept up to the safety or standards of the other two.

This is also a reason, by the way, I have not opted for testosterone.  I would no longer be able to hide as an invisible minority; and there are a good number of studies out on how marking oneself brings with it, stigma.  Not necessarily as much to trans* men, but I’m not a trans* man, as I’ve mentioned before (nor am I a trans* woman).  And not as much to White people, but I’m not White.

What I have found interesting is that in taking on the title “gender-fluid,” my gender has actually seemed to settle someplace within those giant bounds, more or less.  It’s still not anything that would be really free from stigma if it were to come to light…in 2016.  This is largely because of misogyny (as it affects men, women, and everyone else).  20 years down the line, if I haven’t been exterminated in the meantime, maybe it would be OK.  Of course, though, I can’t guarantee I’ll live that long.  Do I want to make it about what life I want to live now?  Or hold out for things to get better?

Maybe the question is whether I’m ready, now.  There are a number of things I am ready for; testosterone is not one of them.  It’s just too big of a shift, too soon.  And hey — I have held out for about 15 years, already.  If the time is right, I’m sure I’ll know it — and I can proceed with it, then.

Right now, I’m just getting ready for a needle through my ear…

Liking to buy things requires work put in to earn money…

I just emailed both of my supervisors and let them know that my schedule will be opening up.

As things stand, I’m already taking a hit of about $150 for having been off of work yesterday and today. While I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to make up the hours, granted what’s been happening; that doesn’t mean that I’m looking forward to it.  I have one pair of jeans that fit in my closet right now; the rest need to be washed.

I’ll get on that.

Unable to avoid being seen? I don’t know how to title this.

When I was almost literally falling to pieces at the end of my Creative Writing degree, M was still dreaming of me becoming a famous novelist.

I don’t think I’ve ever been after fame.  Quite the opposite, actually.  As I was growing up, I was unable to be invisible, and I think this has left its mark.  It took years for me to be able to understand that some people chose to be hidden for their own safety, and that their choice to be hidden ought to be respected.

I think that from the beginning, this is not an option I had, as a mixed-race child.  This is still not an option I have — at least where race comes into play.  My gender is still…uncertain, though.

Just recently I went out and bought a bunch of scarves for me to wrap my head in…if I were to be walking around outside, as has been suggested to counteract the weight gain caused by one of my medications, it would help not to have a head full of pollen when I got back.  But really, my hair — it’s been one of these things which unfailingly draws attention to me.  I wasn’t able to get away with it in school, at all.

I have very thick, dark, lush, mostly-curly hair.  I didn’t know it was actually curly, though, until I cut the length of it off and saw what it did without all that weight and damage.  Prior to then, I just knew that it had way too much body and that it was usually frizzy and tangled or snarled.  In frustration at not being able to cut it off (I was forbidden to until I was about 18), I had a tendency to rip it off and out with the brush, especially as I became aware of how burdensome it was to me.  I didn’t even know that I shouldn’t have been using a brush at all, until after I got rid of the length.  Actually, I didn’t even know I had hair at my temples, then, because it always got ripped out before I could see any growth.  (Now, after it’s wet, I have tiny, fine corkscrews there — which still tangle easily.)

M doesn’t remember forbidding me to cut my hair off at 16, like I wanted to.  Nor do I know what she was afraid of…perhaps that I would become the target of the anti-gay slurs that I was already a target of?  (Not that anyone had any clue about my actual sexual orientation; I had no “significant other” throughout my primary and secondary-school careers, so all of the gay-bashing I got was primarily due to my gender presentation…and the fact that the vast majority of high-school boys were too immature for me [we were “girls” but they were “men”?].  The ones I wanted already had girlfriends, or they were attracted to other boys.)

In any case, I do wonder how much of my wishing to cover my hair has to do with not wanting to answer random intrusive questions about it; or to deal with supposedly-friendly uninvited touching of it which causes me to need to wash it when I get home.  (Seriously, I don’t know where their hands have been.  Or sometimes I do, and that makes it worse, because I know their hands were filthy.)

So anyway, the other day I spent around $50 on four new scarves with which to wrap my head.  They’ll work until I can either grow my hair out to the length I want, or decide how to cut it (and even then…I may want to cover it, just because I like the style).

My image seems to be changing as I age; it’s not unusual to see me now in heels and a skirt.  Though it was interesting — yesterday, when I dressed up to go to the produce market, and wrapped my hair up so that it was unobtrusive and so that I wouldn’t need to gel it (I dislike brushing hair with gel in it [which I can do, now that it’s short], and I dislike washing my hair [as it takes a long time to dry]), I looked very much (to myself) like I could have been a person of any gender, in a skirt.

It’s possible that this is partially because of the marks on my face from messing with my skin out of stress (a side effect of the scriptwriting class.  I find that acne tends to masculinize my image), and/or that my figure was obscured because I wore a button-front shirt.  Then there were the boots I’d mentioned before, which look like combat boots, but have a 2″ heel on them.  And, of course, I was promptly stopped at the produce market by an older woman who said I had an “awesome outfit.”  (She didn’t ask to touch my hair, though!)

The nice thing about this is that I’m actually dressing in a way that’s comfortable for me.  I find myself moving towards looser shirts, skirts, and wraps.  Not largely, “because that’s what women do,” but because it’s what works.  My body is continuing to try and fill out because of the medication and excess sugar (I’m off of sugared beverages again, having gone back up to 145 lbs. from a recent low of 139…it would be very nice to get back down to a muscular 125, though I think my official goal [from my doctor] is 135), so until I can get my hip size under control, it makes sense not to wear tailored clothing at my hips.

The largest drawback to this is a lack of “tops” to wear.  I’m used to wearing shirts — Mens’ shirts, with jeans.  But since my hips started widening and my belly got a little bigger, I can’t tuck these in or button them down as easily as I used to.  So, I’m making the transition over to collared shirts from the Womens’ department, which actually consider that one might be larger in their lower body.  I’ve found that skintight clothing looks terrible when it’s too small…not to mention when one’s posture is poor, so I’ve started buttoning these things up instead of wearing camisoles under them.

There is a beautiful boutique I went to the other day which is where I got the scarves from — it might be worth it to go back there and see what I can get which will go with loose, long skirts.  And, sweet — I just found some material which says that they do have some nice inexpensive clothing…

Yes, I think I’ll go back there.

First, though, I’ll see what I can wear which is light and which can go with the skirts which I already have…I also am wanting to find some shoes which can go with feminine skirts, and which won’t hurt or damage my feet if I have to stand in them for 9 hours at a time.  I’m hoping for something without a heel, due to the possibility that I might have to defend myself at work, though that possibility has been getting dimmer — thankfully.