Facial hair :)

So…you know how I’ve been sick?

I haven’t shaved my face for about a week and a half. It means I have about 6mm of hair growth. I don’t mean, “down.” I mean coarse hair. And yeah, it is the way nature made me, before anyone starts.

I kind of like being able to visualize a beard. The thing is, if I start testosterone to get more of that…I may lose some of the hair on my head.

And gain it on my cheeks. 🙂

I think I’m starting to understand what was meant by living your life the way you want to live it, because you only get one shot. (Even though, that’s debatable.)

I’ll see what I feel like, tomorrow. I suppose it isn’t like I’m ever going to go bald on my face…like, face-bald or something.

Unless I get alopecia. Could happen.

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Stress and triggers. Recurrence of a familiar stance…

A few things have happened, recently. One: I’ve realized that I don’t really want to be female, though that doesn’t mean I want to transition to male. Not everyone around me seems to remember that “female,” does not always equate to, “woman.”

Another: Because of the stress of this final semester…I’m questioning whether I’m dealing with a bit of psychic fragmentation. I don’t think I would call it Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), but then I don’t really know what the medical opinion on this, is. I’ve just slipped back into a state that I recognize, which I haven’t dealt with for months (if not years).

I do know, however, that I definitely have used dissociation as a coping mechanism, in the past. Although it would be interesting if my way of being gender nonbinary was actually that I was plural (that I, “really,” had multiple identities, or deep facets that somehow include the same sets of identity and personality all the time)…I haven’t heard anything to that effect, and at this point it sounds too dramatic to be true.

On the other hand, I definitely have different subroutines in my mind, and I’ve read that being entirely, “integrated,” into one person, is an illusion, in all people.

It’s just…it’s weird that this mental constellation would come up again. Right now I’m dealing with a stronger-than-normal sense of being not-woman, along with what I can only call a darker viewpoint. I’ve also dealt more strongly with ideas about, “demons,” and the darker side of the paranormal, in this state — along with feelings of persecution when the darkness gets to the surface and others recognize it and try to condition me against it.

To be clear: when I’m like this, I’m not about being, “right.” I end up dealing with feelings of amorality, in favor of pragmatism and emotional validation, though I won’t generally open up about what I’m feeling. I know what is said to be the, “right thing to do,” or say, but…sometimes it’s hard to do it and keep what I’m actually feeling, hidden.

Though I won’t get into what it was that happened last night (I got triggered, particularly around issues of reproduction and, “motherhood,” which for me are obviously linked to ideas about gender and sexuality — which are obviously…slow torture for me), the pattern and the feelings are familiar. As is the social dynamic.

If it’s anything like it has been in the past…it may wear off by next Tuesday or Wednesday, at the latest. If it doesn’t shift, it would be weird. But…when this does happen, it leaves me without a non-occlusive vocabulary with which to communicate my state. That is, I do have a vocabulary with which I’ve explained this to myself: but others don’t understand it. To them, it suggests ideas that I was (thankfully) never exposed to, but which cause them to feel moral revulsion towards me.

I can see why this has come up, though, if I need to function and I am somehow not up to the task: I can switch into a mode which allows me to get things done by, “letting someone else deal with it;” that is, changing into a different person who can cope. And yeah, that does sound like DID, but DID is a serious condition, and I don’t feel that ill.

Of course, those around me may beg to differ…

Hygiene highs; a day off. Taking care of myself.

Alright, so I didn’t get much done on the portfolio, today. I did go out on an excursion and brought back a couple of beading magazines. Although I don’t subscribe to any anymore, it’s good to view the ads.

I suppose I never really reported on the specifics of what beads I have recently picked up. I mentioned them close to the time, but no pics or anything. That isn’t great, for the reason that I forget what I have, if I don’t record it.

And then, there was the little macramé trial that I started and then ended…

Yeah, I want to do something with that! (It’s right next to me, now.)

Last night, I wanted to post about hygiene. Particularly, how good it felt to take a shower and wash my hair and dry the roots, getting everything done (including rubbing my face down with witch hazel, treating it, and brushing and flossing my teeth). I had to floss because I’d eaten raw fish for dinner (it will cause awful morning-after breath, otherwise — and don’t even think about going to bed with your teeth unbrushed — it’s horrific the next day), and I really had to wash my hair.

I put some sort of oil in it to protect the ends…but I’m not convinced that two drops (as the bottle said to use) was enough. I had to use the Clarifying shampoo because my hair was so gross, and that will eat through any oil or grease it touches at full strength. Because of that, I had some areas which were just fine (if not oily), and some areas which were squeaky-dry. I’ve found that it’s healthier to have it oily but clean, as versus dry and brittle.

I’m thinking of using a sulfate-free, very gentle shampoo, and just washing much more often. (I’ve heard that a vinegar rinse is good for getting rid of sulfate deposits in the hair [someone did one on me once], so I might use one just to soften it. I’m just not sure how exactly, to do it.)

I used the diffuser attachment for my hair dryer for the first time, last night. IT IS WONDERFUL. If I set it on “Cool” and High speed, it will get my roots dry, which is important to avoid mold and mildew. Avoiding that is important to avoiding dandruff and scalp itching, in turn.

As well, the “Cool” setting, doesn’t burn me.

I’m wanting to wash my hair and wear it the way it is when it’s wet and in what would be called, “ringlets,” if my hair was fully curly — it’s just in short waves, and I don’t know what the term is for that. But it’s nice that my hair texture has matured…it’s never been this consistent in texture, before. Rather, the texture varied depending on which area of my scalp the hair was growing from. (When I was very small, it was much straighter.)

It’s also never been as long as this at this texture, before. Right now, I can put it on top of my head, and it almost all stays (depending on what area of my crown it’s on)!

So…I’m thinking of continuing to grow it out, so I can get to the point where I can pile it all on top of my head. If I dry it with the diffuser, it should also be good to wear it down, while the rest of it dries. The diffuser actually adds lift to the root area, which helps it look alright.

I started out this post talking about beads and beadwork…

I suppose it’s OK if I don’t get work on my portfolio done, every day. I’ll only have one more class on top of this, for the foreseeable future. And even if I do get a better job, I shouldn’t have to work much more than 20 hours.

Also, so long as the portfolio project isn’t done, I’m thinking that it’s probably normal or good to keep it in the back of my mind, all the time. I should probably just not worry or stress over it too much — at least, not yet. After all, no matter what, it’s not going to be done for a while.

With the beadwork, I’ve based a color scheme around a number of ceramic beads, but have come to realize that the ceramic beads are likely too coarse for the design. I think the color scheme still works, though: warm aqua luster, violet vitrail, bronze.

And…I keep finding more beads, stashed away in plain sight. I need to get them all together. I remember looking for some for that scarab necklace (bright fuschia size 6° silverlined rounds), that I found a couple of days ago in a forgotten project drawer.

Anyhow. I haven’t been working on that today, either.

Seems like a lot of the stuff I have to do, has to do with organization. I think that’s accurate.

The thing I’m kind of irritated about is my lack of noting prices per quantity on the descriptions of my bead vials. Prices normally vary based on what’s in the glass, and what treatments have been applied to the glass. For example, pinks and deep reds (which aren’t just coated), generally have gold in the glass formulation, so they cost more. But something like a teal will generally be much less (I don’t know what makes it teal).

I remember that a while back, the “Apollo” finish (a bright bronze-gold coating over clear glass) was new and stupid-expensive. It’s gone down in price, now.

But if I’m making anything to sell, the final price is based on the cost of production, ideally. Otherwise, I risk underselling myself, and not being able to hold the price of a certain item, steady. Unless, that is, I risk overcharging (which I probably should, as versus putting something out using a baseline price formula).

I think I feel a bit better now, making jewelry with the intention to sell (though I haven’t been doing it much, recently). It helps to know people into art (who value artistic labor), and it helps to have done it, before.

It also helps to know that I’m not undermining my integrity by doing something generally classified as feminine. I am female, but as regular readers here will know, I don’t see myself as a woman — or a man (feminine, is something different: I have found that just because I don’t see myself as a woman, that doesn’t mean I have to divorce myself from everything associated with women).

In my first round of making jewelry to sell, I didn’t know myself as well, and didn’t know why I liked to do it. At this point, I know it’s okay to sell something for personal decoration, even if no one absolutely needs it. I didn’t feel great taking money for something someone may want, but have no absolute life-or-death need for. Especially when they may have needs that they’re sacrificing for “wants”.

But other people’s money-management, really isn’t my business. And that’s a ground-rule I really need to keep up.

I’ve also found that I myself feel better when I know I look good. The attention I get for that isn’t the reason I do it — or even something I really desire — but I try to take compliments in stride.

After all, nothing says I can’t be a gender minority and gorgeous at the same time…

Getting this stuff out of the way…

WordPress says that three hours ago, I started working again on my Final for Instructional Design. (I opened a window here to vent thoughts which should not make it into my paper!)

The good part is, this is now mostly done…but I have realized that it’s easier to teach something I know little about and am learning about alongside others, than something I’ve accumulated knowledge about for well over a decade, and others know nothing. Or maybe it’s just a sensitive issue for me, due to the content and audience (the topic of my Instructional Design seminar is gender variance).

I suppose that if I hadn’t gone through what I have, though, I still might not know anything about LGBTQIA positionality, beyond the GLB portion of that. But I was pushed by necessity: something which most non-trans* people don’t seem to experience.

And I think I would rather not be teaching this stuff, but it’s something I have specialized knowledge about, and which I can see an obvious knowledge gap about.

Anyhow…I can now read this over, make any final changes, and submit it. I’m hoping to get this done by tonight or tomorrow so that I can get back to studying for my Database Final, and get that turned in tomorrow night. This is largely so I can stop thinking about it. I would like to get on with Summer, sooner rather than later.

Seeing family, set off thoughts on gender.

Over the last week, I’ve been visiting family, which has been more educational than it has been a holiday. Accordingly, I haven’t had all that much time and energy (or internet connectivity) to spend on studying. Starting tomorrow, I’ll have to get back on it.

Tonight after work was spent venting confusion and participating in conversation about gender-nonbinary positionality. I needed this, regardless of how much study is piling up. I haven’t yet checked to see where I stand as regards my current workload, but I know I was only given a half-week for Spring Break.

Overall, I feel like I’m doing pretty well, though that wouldn’t be the case without accommodations. I do have the excuse as well that a large part of the reason for the visit was to attend a memorial, though no one has asked me for that information, yet.

Anyhow. Now I’m back, albeit touched more than a bit by being read as woman-by-default, by my extended family.

We didn’t really get to my topic at the gender group tonight, and I’m okay with that, because I did get to engage in conversation and feel heard. Basically…I’m coming to a realization that I’m more of a soft guy than a hard woman, although historically and contemporarily speaking, I am gender-fluid.

My thing is that I don’t fit into any ready-made gender category; I have more like a mixture of traits (and whatever else one may use to determine gender). My identity itself is clearly not-girl (to me), but that doesn’t make me a woman or a man, either. And yeah, that sounds (and looks) about right. My body is mostly typically female, but not entirely so…and I’m okay with that. I relate to my body as my own body, not the body of anyone I’m assumed to be which I’m not. I’m lucky that way.

I’m also lucky that the people closest to me understand (and normalize) where I’m coming from, which eases a lot of tension I might otherwise have.

The issue I’ve been having recently is not knowing how to present. Particularly, while on break, I started thinking about differing versions of femininity. This was mostly tipped off by visiting a number of Japanese(-American) markets…and identifying with red and pink and violet. (In particular, Japanese clothes tend to have some really beautiful shades of red, for reasons I’ll get into below.)

I was remembering what my Japanese-American grandmother told me about colors of clothing when I was little; that red was a color used in girls’ clothing, and that the colors became more subdued as one married and aged. This sounds ridiculous to the parent I have who isn’t Japanese-American…but I must have learned this when I was 6 years old, and aside from Inu Yasha (which was written by the female author behind Ranma 1/2), the red-clothing thing seems to be a pattern which conforms to what my grandmother said.

I think I still have my first red kimono with white flowers all over it (my grandmother tried to shape me to become as ethnically Japanese[-American] as possible, regardless of my race; though notably, she never did introduce me to maru obi [a woman’s waist wrap] or obijime [a waist-cord accessory], though I still have the kanzashi [hairpin] she gave me).

But there’s a lot of drama and ambivalence around this. In Japanese culture, it isn’t a good thing to be mixed-race (as I am), at least unless one is mixed with White; for what reason, I don’t know. I’m thinking it may have to do with war, and also with ethnic pride. I know that my grandmother wanted 100% Japanese(-American) grandchildren, but because of the family having been in the U.S. so long…it’s very common for families by the third or fourth generation to begin marrying and having children who aren’t fully racially Japanese. It doesn’t always go over well with the rest of the Japanese(-American) family, though.

I did get to see both sides of my family over the last week, I should state. There were race tensions, and general tensions that had to do with long-standing family dynamics, which I won’t get into here (if I can help it).

Anyhow…we went to a couple of different Japanese markets…and, well, you can see on this blog that I have a big thing about colors and their psychological effects. This may even overrule the subject matter of some of my work (or attempted work), at least in my mind. It’s something that has had me looking at artists like Mondrian. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned anything about color symbolism before now, though.

Kandinsky went into an actual book, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, about symbolism, including his personal meanings behind his use of colors in his art. I’m not rigid enough about it to really codify it in a book, at this point (like I say I could never run a cult because I change my mind too often), but this, and Josef Albers’ works, in addition to color-field artists…they’re things I keep in mind. Even if I haven’t deeply read Kandinsky’s book. 🙂

While I was at one of these markets, I found a beautiful little incense burner which was a glossy red-violet ceramic dish with white glaze highlights. I was immediately attracted to it. Now that I think of it, I remember thinking that it must have been made for someone like me, because of its color.

Which, in turn, brings up the question of what exactly a woman is. Especially, what it means to be a woman outside of the U.S.

Like I said earlier, there is a large emphasis on red and pink in a lot of Japanese stuff (like clothing, in particular) because of its symbolism and relation to girls and women. Red stands for blood; it also stands for power, fire, and fertility. I’m uncertain if it is linked to Amaterasu, the sun goddess in Shinto faith; but the Japanese flag’s red circle is meant to represent the sun.

Anyhow…I wish I had taken a picture of this incense burner. I ended up putting it back because it cost $14, and I ended up spending about $22 on a metallic pink water bottle instead. I could use the water bottle (and actually, already have). I don’t need another incense burner (I don’t even know how long it has been since I burned incense). I think I even commented that I could “reinforce my gender another time.”

The thing is that I don’t know if I’m walking a line here of appearing to be a cis woman even though I’m gender-fluid with very apparent forays into femininity. The thing is, “femme,” is not the same as, “woman.” I’m comfortable being femme. I can even like to be femme, but I have to remember that I’m not a woman, or else I get into dangerous territory where other people are treating me like a woman and I go along with it, and start to think of myself as a woman. The major problem here is that the term, “woman,” for me, carries with it a lot of social expectations, expectations of myself, and cultural baggage. That is, I disidentify with it in order to preserve my own identity, or sense of myself.

And then I talk about making jewelry and sewing and embroidery and becoming a Librarian. But none of that makes you a woman. The way I’ve thought of it is that being a woman is something that comes from inside. At least it has been that way, for the transgender women I have known. According to another source, though, who happens to be a Second-Wave feminist, people are born and then they do what the society tells them they should…that, for example, women don’t wear “Women’s” clothing to express something inside of them, they do it because of societal and cultural power constraints, and because they don’t consider other options.

The thing is…my disidentification with girlhood and womanhood…(I will say I was at one time a girl — but a thirty-something-year-old human is no longer a child, regardless of sex)…doesn’t extend to eschewing femininity. I’ve lived through a time where I was “dressing to character,” so to speak; where I chose and wore clothes because of their gender designation (as masculine).

At this point, I feel like I’ve grown beyond that; literally, because of age and lack of exercise, my body is no longer androgynous; figuratively, because I like certain clothes regardless of what message that sends to other people. I haven’t yet learned how to deal with the responses from others that come with this, though. In particular, I get a lot of positive attention for being femme while being female, which means I’m being seen as a cis woman, and I don’t know what to do with that.

Maybe that’s why I dislike it.

In addition, though: I also want to dress in more red and pink and purple (with green and blue), as versus the cool and neutral colors I had been drawn to and which make up most of my wardrobe.

I guess it actually literally is, “passing,” as a woman, only I’m not trying, and I don’t have a history of living in a male body. But if, “passing,” is being seen as something you’re not…which seems more accurate to the origin of the term as regards race relations…(that is, transgender women are women, they are not men, “passing,” as women)…

Is that what I’m dealing with? Passing privilege? It would make sense, then, why I would have a great deal of trepidation toward being seen as male and presenting femme at the same time. Transitioning to male seems like it would put me into the space of a pre-transition, gender-nonconforming, assigned-male person. And that is a very difficult space to exist within in my culture, even where I am. Let alone, the possibility of living permanently that way, as versus as a transitional phase.

That would also explain why I even have the ability to feel, “normal,” because my difference can be (and is) glossed over. That is, the erasure and lack of understanding of my identity grants me a level of relative safety (as most who don’t know about transgender people will see me as a lesbian woman when I complain of being misgendered by straight men — and most people here accept lesbian women; at least, heteronormative lesbian women). But it’s still very apparent, when I speak, to those who are also gender-variant, that I’m coming from a gender-variant viewpoint. My appearance just doesn’t fully disclose my identity; and if it did, I run the risk of presenting as a stereotype — for the sake of other people — in order to be socially intelligible. And, given the risks of being readable, it’s to my benefit not to be so.

I guess you can kind of get a glimpse of what I’m going through, here.

I think…I should look back over this tomorrow, and see if I can draw any further conclusions out of it. Right now, I think I’m in it too deep, and I’m probably up too late to think clearly, in any case.

Distractions

You know how I wrote that identity piece a couple of days ago?

Now I’m having issues with fantasy. It’s making it difficult to concentrate, so I thought I might write a bit here and see if I can get it out of my system (though maybe I should be writing out the story, offline). I won’t be writing the actual story, here, because I’m not sure if WordPress allows erotica.

The original basis of this was a story I began when I was — I think — in high school (I have records, but they’re on 3.5″ floppy disk[!], and the writing quality is probably horrible). The major issue I can see with it is that at the time, and even recently, I’ve had difficulty conceiving at least one of the relationships in the story as outwardly mutual. Emotionally, it is mutual; but that doesn’t translate to what one of the characters says.

Because I’ve needed to take several (?) Title IX trainings, by this point, I can see where this is problematic. The solution to this, however, is simple: my character just needs to realize that as long as he keeps saying, “no,” and backing away, nothing is going to happen.

It shows a measure of respect that his partner believes him and keeps withdrawing when he tells him to stop (even though the main character doesn’t really want him to stop, but he’s frightened and doesn’t want to take responsibility for the situation). If he did anything else, it would be a violation of safety, trust, and intimacy.

The tension, here, is largely focused on the main character, and it’s largely an internal conflict. I can foresee a resolution, but then: that can’t be all the story is about, right (unless it’s a one-shot type of thing)? The characters I’ve mentioned have a more overarching relationship. It would make sense for this to be one episode in a larger series, or a drawn-out conflict in the background of a series (I’m reminded of FAKE by Sanami Matoh.)

Anyhow, I think that came up because I had been thinking about the possibility of what might happen in my own life if people saw and respected me for who I actually am (as versus assuming who I am, based on what I look like).

I’ve gotta either get back to work, right now, or if I can’t do that, write some of this stuff out.

Growing into myself: nonbinary gender presentation.

I am not sure if I have mentioned here, my recurring dream series in which I’m investigating (or considering) gender transition. I think it started when my first gender therapist retired. Since then, I’ve been through — a lot. Enough to cause me to wonder if I am following the pattern of having been gender-variant in youth (the stereotypical term is “tomboy,” but I wasn’t a jock), and mainstreaming a bit, in my adult life.

If I think about it, a lot of what was labeled, “queer,” in my youth is absolutely normal for an adult person — like wearing my dad’s old clothes. The kids I grew up with just had unrealistic gender expectations, I think.

It wasn’t until after I was 19 that I learned what, “transgender” meant, and though I feel like I synced very well with the student community at the time, I can’t really trust those memories. Back then, I had a mental condition which was going untreated, which affected my judgment and cognition.

As the memories formed, that is, they were formed on the basis of a messed-up input system, calling the validity of my judgments at the time, into question. The fact is, though, I still have the memories which were made with the invalid encoding…so I have to take that into account when I remember them. I don’t know how else I would remember them, though.

At this point in my life, I’m in a much more stable condition, but there is still the history of about two decades of experience in which I was learning all I could about gender variance. That was two decades of questioning my gender.

I know now that I am likely not a transgender man, even if I may want to be. I’m thinking that it must be simpler (no offense meant) for a person who identifies as something for which there’s already room in society, even if it is an expansion of an existing category. Whereas, from the place I sit, I see no clear and set (and desirable) path forward as regards nonbinary people.

I know that I feel most at ease when I consider myself nonbinary (that is, neither a woman nor a man) — the term “enby” has come up in relation to this on the Reader, apparently a reading of, “nb,” for, “nonbinary.”

Of course…that doesn’t mean that what I’m going through is necessarily any less intense than it would be, if I were a cisgender man or a transgender man. What I actually am is something that I’ve decided not to really advertise, because it could get actually intense. And I’ve had enough of that, in my youth.

I also still have anger problems. That’s relatively okay when you’re a kid. Not so much, when you’re a legal adult.

The thing is, it then becomes apparent, when I do come out, that I’m skating under the radar as a woman — when I do not consider myself a woman at all. Regardless of whether I’m obviously female, or whether I wear mainstream clothes. I have no obligation to mark myself. However, I’m not totally settled in this arrangement.

The thought has come up to partially transition (my dream was specifically about getting top surgery so that I could take testosterone and not appear as a man or significantly androgynous person with breasts), so that I’ll be more obviously nonbinary, but that is a uniquely dangerous position in this society. It would seem less dangerous, apparently, than being a transgender woman of color — except for the fact that I could then be mistaken for a transgender woman of color. (Then again, I’m uncertain of the statistics of societal violence against nonbinary people.)

Amazingly, I’m not alone in having a lot of trepidation about that. It’s one thing if you’re driven and need to transition. It’s another if you maybe somewhere in the back of your mind, want to transition, but see people being killed for transitioning.

I also fairly obviously, to myself, have a mental map for a body that leans feminine, even though my gender identity does not coincide with “woman” (and seriously does not coincide with “straight woman”…I just don’t want what most straight men can offer me).

And yes, I do know that a lot of what I’ve been involved with, craftwise, is femininely-oriented. There’s a reason for that: I was trying to get as much out of being permitted to do things like sew and make jewelry as I could, to see if there could be any reason for me to stay female. So now I’ve got a history of crocheting, and stuff. 🙂 The art is more gender-neutral, but again, I have this attachment to flowers…

I mean, you see where I was going with my opening paragraph now, right? But still, those are hobbies, and not anything that tells me who I am. Even if I were male, I’d still be able to crochet, and sew, and make jewelry, and art with floral themes…people may just look at me weird. 😉 And that’s what I’m up against, when I’m thinking about transitioning to a male presentation.

And then there’s all the stuff about arteriosclerosis and acne and body hair, and I tend to back down when I consider that (though I did find my first coarse arm hair, the other day…I’m pretty sure that my body will take care of part of the masculinization process itself, as it ages).

Not that I wouldn’t like to be a buff, soft guy. I think it’s closer to where I am, than not. But that’s idealized, and it comes with a very high price. (It would also be easier for me to go to the gym if men [who see me as a woman] would stop hitting on me. Seriously.)

So at this point…I’m basically choosing not to disclose, or to selectively disclose, my gender status. And I’m not choosing my wardrobe (largely) based on what will get me pegged as a gender and/or sexual minority (GSM): mostly because I’ve aged out of being able to comfortably wear most mens’ pants and shorts (age means curves…and there isn’t anything wrong with wearing clothes that fit because they fit).

Of course, this means that I go around basically unknown; but I was unable to be unknown for years, in my young adulthood. It’s kind of nice not to be singled out.

Right now the thing I’m focusing on is…jewelry. Those of you who know me from a while back, know that I make jewelry. This is the place where I show that I’m different. The issue I’m having with this is that my piercings are now opened to 14 gauge, which is a little more than 1.5mm wide.

This means that if I do make jewelry for myself, I’m dealing with heavy wire and a wider surface which will be exposed to the metal. That’s an issue for me because I am currently unaware as to whether I can absorb heavy metals, like lead, through the tunnels of my piercings, at least if the metal tarnishes into soluble salts. I’m not sure of the chemical composition of the specific tarnishes I’m dealing with, though. (And it doesn’t give me a lot of comfort when some of my jewelry obviously has developed something like verdigris on it, which is slightly toxic.)

I do have heavy-gauge “Jeweler’s Brass” wire which may (at times) have a tiny amount of lead in its alloy, which has stopped me from making earwires out of it. I have read the MSDS, which says it should be fine to wear next to skin…but this is a piercing, a scar tunnel through the skin.

The obvious solution is to use Sterling or Fine Silver wire, but that limits my color options. Solid gold is out of the question, though gold-fill is not — it’s just exorbitantly expensive. In addition, all wire tends to take on a satin finish if you bend it enough…and I’m scared of polishing or burnishing the gold right off of gold-fill wire.

In the past, I’ve worked with craft wire (it tarnishes, even when it says it won’t; and never, never torch it [it’s noxious]), and copper wire. I’m certain that I don’t know what other metals besides copper are in the wire I’ve gotten from the home-improvement store, but the latter is what’s relatively safe to braze (torch). The other option is getting metals from a serious jewelry-supply store (not a craft store!).

Also, most places which sell earwires for the jewelry trade, do not sell heavy-gauge earwires. The heaviest I’ve seen in mainstream jewelry-supply catalogs is 18g, with the norm being 20 or 22g.

While it’s relatively easy for me to shape heavy wire…dealing with filing down the end of the wire and then shaping it may require annealing (softening), which requires a torch. Torching wire means having to pickle wire (remove excess oxidation and flux), and after that comes polishing (not to mention the fire-safety precautions that need to be taken when using an open flame).

When the best you’ve got is a Dremel, and you’ve used a Foredom…you really want a Foredom (a flex-shaft rotary tool, usually with a pendant handpiece). But you only get a Foredom if you’re dealing with a lot of serious manufacturing, and it would take quite a bit of sales to make back the $350-$500+ invested. (It’s just cheaper to take a class or lab, at this stage.)

In short, it’s a lot of work. Though — I did just get an idea, which is to wear tunnels and then thread non-metal materials (like threads or cords attached to woven pieces) through there. I have been thinking of going up to 10g, so that should be possible.

Did I ever tell you why I write? Stuff like that comes out. I’m not even entirely sure why. 🙂

Because of my present size, I also have been taking the opportunity to wear mens’ shirts, partially out of necessity and partially because I can, and they’re more comfortable for me because they don’t show my body as much. It’s more of a comfort when I’m getting unwanted male attention, but that hasn’t happened for a while. (Apparently, it tapers off as a person ages.)

This doesn’t really range into anything where I’d obviously be, “cross-dressing,” however.

It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re female, as it’s relatively accepted for a female-bodied person to wear mens’ clothing, at least where I am. The trouble seems to come in when a person is obviously outside of gender norms and apparently not-male and is looking at mens’ clothing…though the most I’ve gotten are snickers, and the occasional curious guy hanging around.

If, though, if I started making my own clothes, that would open up the field to some experimentation! I would just have so many more options, and ways to self-define. I’ve seen some people doing stuff like this, here. Like I’ve experienced in other places, most of the sewists are female-presenting, though that often doesn’t mean what one might think it means!

I’m relatively new to using my presentation to display parts of who I am, as I’ve had so often to forego that in favor of just being clothed in the best available option (which often boiled down to “what fit”). It will be interesting to see where I take this, in the next few years.