Maybe I need to write deep things sometime other than my lunch hour.

I think I recognize what has happened here:  I forgot that I am gender-fluid.  I seem to be rapidly flashing back and forth between (my own) gendered ideals.  I’m not sure how or why this happens…but I’ll get back to you after group.  I need to see if I can work this out in speech…

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Sexual orientation? and me. :P

One of the reasons I posted what I did, last night, was to prepare myself for today…I have a meeting coming up, where I can talk about these issues.  What has come to light is that — I actually am wondering, now, if I am lesbian, but just have come to assimilate an inappropriate definition for the term.  Also:  I have been majorly socialized in the wider “queer” (LGBTQIA) community, with a focus on transgender and genderqueer experience…having been ostracized from lesbian groups early on.

While I don’t see myself to be “butch,” as who I am goes…really deep, deeper than it has in many of the butch women I’ve known (but not of the butch trans* men), I can relate to this experience, having both emulated and admired the people I knew and saw who were part of this really great queer community.  And I lived in that role for about two years, at least; though I think I was seen as butch and/or as trans*, long before that.

It’s just that I am thinking that chafing at men coming on to me, being asexual from a heterosexual reference point, and wanting to be recognized as masculine by a lady, that…that kind of sounds, well, more gay than trans.  It hasn’t helped, though, to have trans* men tell me that I’m “just a lesbian,” as I used to get in my mid-twenties.  It didn’t help for them to tell me that, disparagingly, like they were “more than lesbian,” you know?

I don’t think that the possibility of this has been…adequately explored, and explored with neutral power-levels.  While it’s very…apparent that I do have some male-leaning identity (my role models have always been drawn from a pool consisting of more than women), maybe it would be good to try and find some places to hang out where I could be exposed to women’s community.

I am aware that my socialization may cause some disturbance (it is different politically to fall in with women’s groups than with trans* or genderqueer groups), but maybe it’s still the best thing…

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…

Can’t sleep. Rethinking situation for webcomic series.

Alright.  I took a nap from 7:30 to 9:30 PM and also ate a huge piece of pizza and two bowls of lentil soup, tonight.  Accordingly, I now have indigestion and can’t fall asleep.

Which is kind of a shame, because I’m really tired.

I’m also still recovering from whatever sickness this was that I caught…but I’m guessing this isn’t really necessary information for this post.  🙂  Point is, I’ve been tired all day.

I’ve been cruising around some tags tonight, notably the “webcomics” one on WordPress.  One of the things that I’ve realized from doing so is that writing — particularly for comics — doesn’t have to be as deep and involved as I’m getting into with my own most recent story.  This is a pattern going back into my history, though.

While I was laying here hoping for melatonin (the kind that comes from my brain, not a pill) to do its work, I realized that one of the reasons I’ve been avoiding fiction writing is that it seems escapist, where it comes to my own motivation to write.  Then I realize it sounds escapist, and recall myself back to the real world:  you know, the one in which I am constantly mistaken for a girl (I don’t consider myself a “girl,” or woman, for that matter) — and get depressed.

There is an easy fix for this where it comes to my current story, though:  keep it closer to reality.  This will probably be far more gritty, but actually more realistic and maybe easier to write.  Plus, it will likely ring less of escapist fantasy.  Will this end up being the only story I have to write?  I don’t know.  I hope not.  It’s worth a shot, though.  One story is better than none…but if I’m going to write, I need to protect myself from myself…

…and also I’ve got to decide what I’ll do if writing this makes me want to start T.

I’m going to try and fall asleep now.  It’s been 30 minutes since I got up.  I’m still burping up acid, but…I’m tired.

gender stuff.

I am feeling a bit tired and worn right now:  just to let you know, before I get into any of this.  What is happening with me right now is…something which often happens around the holidays.  Without the focus of school, I have a tendency to slide a bit into depression.  This is both a function of fewer daylight hours (I keep waking up with about three of these left), and of my long-standing gender issues.

I seem to slip in and out of periods when I’ll consider myself either genderqueer, or both genderqueer and transgender.  Tonight I had the ability to give voice to some of my concerns about my future…and it was fairly tough.  Something about being a 30-something Millennial, not having yet built a new family around myself…being unable to father children myself, and not wanting to carry a baby…plus the difficulty of finding someone who can both love me and respect my own view of who I am at the same time (that is, not imposing “woman” or “wife” expectations on me because I happen to be female — INCLUDING “you must agree that I’m right about everything if you’re attracted to me”)…

I tend to be a loner, though.  It can be difficult to be around people when they don’t know who I am…which is most of the time.  Recently, my social circle has receded back to my nuclear family, both because school is out and because I haven’t made any special efforts to have a social life.  At present, though, what I’m experiencing seems like it may develop into agoraphobia if left unchecked.

Anyhow, I do have the opportunity to work on things that I couldn’t work on while school was in.  It’s very apparent that I need to avoid making any large life decisions while I’m depressed, so I’m thinking I may try and channel this energy into something other than my embodiment.  Right now I’m listening to music, which is helping, although it’s also disrupting my thought pattern and making it harder to put to words what I’m feeling.

It is apparent to me that I am female-identified, though not woman-identified.  I don’t feel that I am clearly man-identified, though, either…I exist in some kind of liminal space where on the inside I’m a very femme bisexual guy, while on the outside I appear as a slightly butch female.  (I’m sure that trying to write out some of these feelings in fictive format has not helped.)  The discrepancy falls in when trying to physically “harden up” in order to appear more masculine, and on the interior not being a gay butch woman (as I’m seen) but a femme (albeit tough femme) bi male.

I suppose that if I did want to work on my embodiment, I actually do have the time (and food money) to physically harden up a bit.  The difficulty (well, one of them) in having the body I do is that when I…am looking a way that I accept best, I kind of look like a cholo — which is not the greatest position to be in where it comes to my safety.  But when I have long hair, especially on top of big muscles…I can (easily) look like a young male gangster, and in fact that seems preferable to coming off as a girl.

At this point, I’m unsure as to whether I’ve let the weight and acne issues go as far as they have because I look more masculine to myself at a heavier weight and with more acne.  Apparently this doesn’t hold for my facial hair, though I really don’t know what I would do if I could actually grow a goatee, or hair on — whoa! both sides of my face! — right.  I’m sure it would be some kind of social statement if I grew half a beard, but…somehow, I don’t think the world is ready for that, yet.  😉

Especially as I haven’t had top surgery yet…and the only reason to do so would be to blend in as male, so I wouldn’t be harassed as trans* every time I left the house.  (It isn’t a good idea for me to bind my chest long-term…it has to do with the way I’m built, encouraging pain.  Though there is a fix I can think of, I should really talk to my OB/GYN about it first.)

Anyway…I’m tired…and should probably sign off for tonight, now that I see what time it is.  I mistakenly double-booked the day after tomorrow for two separate purposes…and I’m kind of upset about this, because that is the time in which I intended to make up tomorrow’s absence from work.  Either I’ll have to go in late, or not go in at all, which will be a further out-of-pocket expense, in addition to the holidays and getting sick…

Of course, I could work a couple of days in a row, but I was pretty exhausted last time I went in (remnants of whatever got me sick in the first place), and that was after only six hours.

Maybe…I should just give myself permission to take care of myself…

Yeah…sometimes spiritual talk does help.

This piece, I suppose, explores something tangential to me…in the New Age ideal of Ascension.  Though let’s face it, many things are tangential to me.  I have so many tangents that my location based on their point of intersection is fairly clear (and while I am tempted to intentionally run off on a tangential diatribe to poke humor at this, I’ll spare you).  😉

Tonight, I had the experience of accidentally clicking on the Reader Tag, “psychometry,” through which I found a blog, interesting enough to me, if not to you.

Based on its location in my Tag listing, I assume that I have spoken about this before at some other time, probably years past.  Actually, Googling myself brings up at least two separate instances of this, neither of which look content-rich.  Psychometry…is a name given to the ability to discern information from an object based on its “energetic” imprints.  I have what might be considered the beginnings of this…I don’t know how to zero in on specific information, but I do get clear “feelings” when I touch certain objects which are not explainable by ordinary means.

As I may have said before, however, the ability to feel things based on sensing something (what?) which one cannot quite put a name or definition to, in my family, crosses over into various other unusual responses to reality, and the realm of having a hard time staying grounded in “this” reality.  Without saying too much; if I am energetically sensitive, this comes along with my creative abilities, which seem to also come along with my own mental troubles.

In The View From the Studio Door, Ted Orland quotes James Lee Burke’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment that “God might choose fools and people who glow with neurosis as his partners in creation — but he doesn’t make mistakes.”*  (83)  What I find interesting about this, as it reflects back on my life, my studies, and my work, is that a great number of neurodiverse people seem to be attracted to the arts.

When I showed a couple of paintings and drawings to one of my old team members, noting my illness at the same time as I felt inclusion in the arts community despite it, he noted that I had “Mad Skillz.”  This, and “glowing with neurosis,” kind of shed a different light on what otherwise might be seen entirely as an illness, as versus one aspect of a larger human survival strategy.  Other components of this strategy might include irrational hope and unshakable faith.  After all, the first trait qualifies as delusional; and the second trait only evades that status because the facts regarding the actual situation can’t be proven, therefore one cannot technically be proven wrong.

I’m not sure if Van Gogh is entirely “to blame” for the humanization of those of us who at times (at least) feel otherworldly, but for some reason, there are a collection of us in the arts community.  I am also certain that I am not alone in having my spirituality feed very much into my art, which in turn (along with the fear of having an effect on my society which is unintendedly deleterious — likely instilled in me from peers assuming I was subhuman, growing up), is the main thing that scares me away from it.

But it’s fairly evident that most people aren’t scared of doing the wrong thing for their society — especially those who clearly are doing the wrong thing.  It’s also fairly evident that my creative drive is likely what has sustained me to this point.  Hence, why I try — even if wobbling a bit — to return to the sheer joy and power and terror of creation.

Though it is still just weird for me to see things develop as I work on them.

Last night, in particular, it seemed as though I had been revving the (metaphorical) car in neutral, and then suddenly engaged the gears.

I don’t know how this creativity thing works.  I have been given some tools to help me harness it, but knowing how to drive a car doesn’t mean you understand how the car functions.  It means that you can get from Point A to Point B by using it.  That doesn’t mean that it’s easy to block out the noise which comes when either you do well, or don’t.  Nor does it mean that you won’t suddenly engage a gear and lurch forward and freak yourself out.

The easiest way to block a person from being creative is to convince them not to begin; beginning is the hardest part.  After you have something to work with, even if it’s just a scrawl…you can start to see things in it, and what it might become.  But beginning?  It’s a leap of faith, and when you know you’re going to be terrified either way at the outcome (“oh no! it’s horrible!”/”oh no, I’m being reminded of my life purpose! [now what?]”), it’s hard to take that leap.

The difference is that one terror is the terror (or relief) of failure.  The other terror is the exalted joy of success, and accompanying sense of direction and responsibility, which requires (guess what?):  CHANGE.  Bravery, direction, and purpose are not easy burdens to bear, but they become far easier when you’re committed to them, and embedded in the work already.  Past a certain point, there is no going back.

Of late, this has weighed on me; particularly within the last 15 years, in trying to figure out what to do about my embodiment…though I realize now that there is no, “best-case scenario,” for me.  I am not a, “‘woman’ who ‘wants to be’ a man,” or a, “‘man’ who ‘wants to be’ a woman,” and whether either of those things are even accurate ideas, is an obvious question.  What my life is has gone far beyond black and white dichotomies; and maybe that is my choice, made while I was unaware it was a choice:  to live in full color (yes, with yellow, in addition to red and blue [or magenta and cyan:  you pick]:  you get many more colors that way) in a society that has historically largely seen in greyscale.

Surgery would be superficial, for me.  Hormones would require never-ending care.  I’ve been in the transgender community in one form or another for at least the last 15 years, and I know now that I am clearly not transsexual.  Remedies made for them will not work for me.  At the same time, I doubt I could be happy in relationships where the fact that I don’t identify as a woman would be unknown or disrespected.

Particularly, I don’t identify as lesbian (to be lesbian implies, to me, womanhood; it doesn’t to all, however), and could likely partner with a man — but that man would have to respect me wholly, including the fact that I don’t see myself as a woman, and cannot bend on that point for his benefit.  I stopped seeing myself as a woman as a matter of survival, and my survival comes before my relationship with him.  (I’m thinking that this is a new flavor of genderqueer.)  The same point stands for a significant other of any gender, by the way.  Men are only the most commonly occurring options.

In talking about gender and sexuality and how I want to shape my future, I’m talking about self-actualization, which is another aspect of creativity.  It is, to be certain, one of the clearest points I could assay to support my hypothesis that to change…is scary.  Especially when what you’re considering changing is something that will alter your life from the ground up.  (Yes, art does that for me.  It changes me as I work on it.)  But sometimes we change and we don’t know we are changing until the process is already well underway.  Sometimes we take a third or fourth or fifth+ route that we didn’t originally see as an option, but which is the only way to survive while keeping ourselves somehow intact (that’s not meant to be a commentary on surgery; I can’t speak to the feelings that cause one to feel enough stress at their embodiment that physical transition is the only option).

Anyhow, I was talking about Ascension, or the evolution of our collective beings to a higher level of functioning (as I presently understand the term).  It will be interesting to see if any of this works out in the ways I’ve seen predicted.  I know (and know that I know) little enough about the universe and my own existential existence not to have ruled out messages of hope.  After all, it’s one of those survival mechanisms.

*Orland, Ted.  (2012).  The view from the studio door:  How artists find their way in an uncertain world.  Santa Cruz, CA & Eugene, OR:  Image Continuum Press.

Shifting into a femme space

Well…huh.

I’m trying to figure out how to approach saying what has come up for me, today.  There’s a lot of it, though maybe it doesn’t need so many words.

I have reached the point where I am able to look in a mirror and see myself as male — or as I would look if I were, physically, male.  The most surprising point I came to when I did this is that I would likely be seen primarily as a male of African descent…at least if the fat in my cheeks were redistributed to be leaner, and my chin developed a slight bit (cartilage growth happens on testosterone:  meaning it is likely my nose would develop a slight bit, as well).

Even prior to the protests in my country over police killings of men and boys of African descent, this had been pointed out to me by bystanders…that transitioning to male, for me, is not the same as it would be if I were White.

I may be wrong here, but I’m thinking that I remember something about how almost all of my male relatives on the Black side of my family have been in prison at one time or another.  This is basically not doable for me, but chances are that police would be paying more attention to me if I appeared to be a dark-skinned Black male than a dark-skinned Black female.  (Granted that my skin isn’t even that dark, but it is a good deep olive; deeper in tone than the vast portion of people I run across on a daily basis.)

Which, you know, brings up the point that I don’t even know how I come off to people, as things stand now.  It hasn’t been much of an issue except where it has come to privileged White peers — mostly in college (I still remember getting asked about how I got my “scar,” which was just a line where my melanin was lighter in the center of my chest.  Someone had never seen a brown person’s skin, before).

Let me get off of that.

In any case, today I have been thinking about what it would be like to be socially male, as versus (as things are now) socially female.  Although — it wasn’t really until I started making friends with guys in the Art program (some of whom had military experience) that I realized how distanced I was from traditional heterosexual male culture.  It isn’t especially that I saw their versions of masculinity as superior to mine, but my sphere of experience was definitely feminine in relation to theirs.  I do kind of like it that way.

The major issue here is that right now, I am more fully aligned with wanting to have a girlfriend who sees me as masculine, or to be a boyfriend (yes they are two different things ♥) than wanting to be someone else’s girlfriend.  (Quite plainly, I don’t know how to, “be a girlfriend.”)  This gets kind of sticky where it comes to being attracted to men (especially those who may see me as a woman; which in some cases is understandable due to the range of their experience.  For example, I have a depth of knowledge in feminism which may be out of the reach of most younger men, especially men who haven’t been exposed to queer community), but it’s pretty near undeniable that I’d rather be a guy’s boyfriend if I could.  (And I probably would bring in quite a bit of world-opening material for that guy…)  I’ve found other queer (cis) men to be actually kind of …intrigued by this possibility, by the way.

But it’s also pretty clear, from one of my past involvements, that I’m not actually fully a man (not to say that those who identify with me here are not fully men, if they do identify as such; but for me…the way I see myself [which goes to a depth I can’t relate in one post] cannot fully encompass “man,” in my mind).  I’ve been in nearly the exact reverse position in past experience, here, and it did not help me to think of the person I related with as their target gender.  There was something different about this person that taking on the label “woman” would not erase (but then granted, this person did not identify as a woman).

With me there would not be a clear switchover from female to male.  I have a surfeit of femininity to the point that I would be obviously abnormally feminine for a man — and this is what has held me back from asking to be referred to as “he,” in the past.  (If they call me “he,” what happens the next time I wear a bra and women’s shirt in Dusty Rose?)

It’s also why I haven’t taken testosterone, so far.  I’m not really a queen (and believe me, I have met FtM queens), but I do range into “femme” territory.  It’s like being just to the other side of the line of being “butch” but still female-identified:  hypothetically, this is occupying the position of being femme and male-identified.  The only wildcard is that the person is also trans* as well, which is a different variable:  one that has to do with history and the body, but not necessarily with identity.  It also means, though, that anyone who is going to — say — date me, is going to need to be informed that I identify as a femme man (or as a genderfluid person who ranges into femme/male territory), not as a straight woman or as a lesbian.

Seems that the most obvious route for me is to be a pretty man.  A pretty man on estrogen.  🙂  A PRETTY PRETTY MAN.  😉  I kind of wonder how to motivate myself to do this again, though.  When I went through weight training the first time, it was obviously to harden up and become more “butch,” as this was one of the things which both protected me and displayed my openness to relationships with women (the men were probably still largely too immature for me, then.  The one physically male person I did have a relationship with, was genderqueer).  This hasn’t been able to be a good motivator for me in more recent history, however.

And as idealistic as it would be to say that I’m doing it for myself and my health…is that holding a lot of weight?  And I mean, I’ve known guys who have worked out so they could be pretty men (for the ladies), and they didn’t seem to have a problem with it.  Then again, they were also about a decade younger than myself.

I could try and explore what it feels like to be a femme man, eh?  Might as well, while I can…