Loneliness?

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

There are a few things going on here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting back into handmade jewelry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

Just a small update wrt schoolwork, and a rather profound realization on gender.

I had started to feel myself getting sick last night — I had experienced about four days in a row running on 7 hours of rest, only.  Yesterday I lay down to rest at about 7:15 PM.  Unexpectedly, I found myself waking at around 4 AM, then going back to sleep and waking again some time around 7:30.  Then Dim Sum.  Then back home, and asleep again until late afternoon, even though I did drink a good amount of Jasmine tea.

Because my prof for Creative Process has said we cannot miss any of the next 3 classes without a doctor’s note — even if we are sick — I’ve been trying to preserve my health.  Granted that I have been in bed for the majority of today, but I still got to work on my presentation.  Notes are filed, but I have not practiced speaking at all, yet.  I’m sure I have enough to fill seven minutes.  The issue will be cutting down what I say.

What I found to be interesting is that I don’t have time to explain the entire backstory behind why I do what I do, and still have time to talk about all 10 pieces of work which I’m presenting, in seven minutes.  I’ll likely have around 30 seconds for each piece, along with a one-minute intro and a one-minute finale.  There is a lot I will have to leave out; I’m just not sure how much, yet.

And some time within the last 24 hours, I came to a realization within one or another dream:  what is going on with me as regards gender is simply my abandoning the rulebook, except where it comes to safety.  (This is connected to the above because I found myself needing to refer to aspects of my identity, without naming them.  I think I was first introduced to this mode of working when I needed to communicate my experience with illness without invoking untrue stereotypes.  It’s gotten more and more useful as I’ve aged.)

I had been calling myself gender-fluid; however, it’s gotten so loose even with the fluidity (I’m no longer trying to fit one or another image — probably spurred on by not dressing to look good for my Studio Art classes [why ruin good clothes]), that it’s just very clear that essentially what I’m doing is just abandoning the rules.  The older I get, the less it matters.

I suppose the clearest name for this is “gender non-conforming,” but even that isn’t really fully the case, because sometimes I am coincidentally dressing in a way which appears conforming.  I don’t make an effort to avoid conforming.  I won’t trap myself in silence, though, either.

But, none of this means I accept the status of “woman.”  People assume that I see myself as a woman, often, but their assumptions aren’t my fault.  Other peoples’ assumptions have nothing whatsoever to do with me, and it’s not my job or obligation to tell them they’re wrong.  This is especially so when sharing that information with a person only increases the level of danger I experience from them or others.

I was talking with a co-worker the other day and realized that there seems to be a big difference in my area between non-heterosexual (gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, demisexual) and/or non-cisgender (transgender, genderqueer, gender-fluid, gender non-conforming) people who go to efforts to make their difference visible, and those of us who are internally different but don’t care to conform to one or another stereotype in order to advertise it to the world.  I should not be expected to “look like” something I’m not in order to be seen as “who I am” (which is really just another person I’m not).

I did do the stereotype thing as a youth, but before I actually knew who I was — I didn’t really make much progress on figuring myself out, until my mid to late twenties.

But an early-twenties mind-space (when I was dressing to and being seen as a stereotype) is a lot different than the situation in one’s mid-thirties.  I’m actually glad that I’ve matured in this way…though I know that there is some kind of idea among youth that it’s good to be young, forever.  The only benefits I can see to being a young adult is that your family members are farther from the ends of their lives, and you haven’t narrowed down who you are yet:  so things seem full of (unexperienced and unfulfilled) possibility.  I don’t see any other actual benefit, even socially…but then, people regularly think I’m 14-18 years old.  Even kids.  It’s annoying.

I know that eventually I’ll get wrinkles, and that my stomach isn’t as tight as it used to be, but this doesn’t seem to be that big of a cost to avoid unwanted flirtations and people underestimating my intelligence and strength.  Of more concern is my vision deteriorating and the possibility of developing tremors and arthritis.

Anyhow, it is late.  I will see if I am actually able to get any sleep; if I can’t, it seems as though it would be a good time to get some homework done.

Alterations…

Now that I’ve actually published that last post, I’m feeling a bit better.  One of the things I can do when I get into a spot like that — not wanting to talk or write or draw or do anything but sleep — is exercise.

I was able to get in a good set of sit-ups before dinner.  Burned like crazy, but at least it’s something, and my belly stayed tucked for a little while.  If I can utilize my gender dysphoria to alter my body so that it is closer to what I need, at least it would be adaptive.

The only drawback to this is that I shouldn’t exercise right before bed.  If I do it in the morning or afternoon, though, it should help me stay awake when I need to, and sleep when I need to.

Gender fluidity. Kind of hard to deal with…

This post will not be about my art, so much as it is about why I’m not doing the art.  For better or worse, I’ve been asleep for the majority of the past two days.  Why?…I can imagine, but that is really what I think the rest of this post is about.

I did manage to work on the Morning Pages at about 6 AM today.  That much was good.  But I’ve been up and down all morning and afternoon, really.  While I was asleep…I’m thinking this was yesterday…I realized that one of the keys to my artistic block is that I’m afraid that if I work creatively and let my subconscious come into visibility, I’m going to see again that I want to be male.

That right there comes with a lot of baggage, because I’m gender-fluid, not stably trans* male.  This means that even if I did physically transition to male, my presentation and identity would not be male all of the time.  And that, then, puts me into a position where I’ll likely be seen at least part-time as a transgender woman of color, which is one of the most dangerous positions I could inhabit — even though I wasn’t assigned a male gender at birth.

That is, granted, that the feminine expression continues past the point at which my body starts to look passably male, and is not abandoned as simply a survival mechanism.  In my dream I was lamenting that I couldn’t have been offered hormone blockers earlier on to stop my chest from growing.  At this point, there’s no way to undo that damage except reconstructive surgery, which is something considered risky.

The alternative, which I keep thinking of and then not doing, is to be gender-fluid in a female body which is altered by exercise.  Logistically, this is a better position for me — I won’t be dependent on outside hormones for the rest of my life.  But it still leaves me with the easy slide back into “why can’t I be any form of woman,” because it’s easy for me to forget that I’m gender-fluid and at times want to be a woman…which I’m not.  Ever.  Even in my most feminine form, my gender is “femme (which could apply to males and females and intersex people),” not “woman.”  Going into the latter territory just messes with my head.

*sighs*

And it’s still hard to claim trans* male space, because of the machismo I’ve seen around that community.  That is, when I’m a man, I’m only temporarily so.  There is motion and flux involved between the poles of “male” and “female.”  I’m rarely ever stagnant…except when I’m not doing anything except sleeping.  Which, again, explains why I’ve been sleeping.  It’s an easy and temporary escape from having to deal with my body and life.

Maybe I should consider going back to one or more gender groups…just to remind myself that I am gender-variant on a masculine vector, and not entirely a woman…