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Right now this necklace is unique, and my design is protected by virtue of being unpublished.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…

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.

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…

Nonbinary thoughts…

Been a while since I did an identity post, eh?

I really should be working on homework, but for the majority of the day, I’ve been working…so…more work is not high on my list, right now.  Something did come to mind, last night, though — as I was attempting to fall asleep.  This is the fact that California has recently legally recognized a gender status other than F or M.  This information came to me through the following blog:

California recognizes legal non-binary status

This, in addition to the fact that I have been invited to a gender non-binary group (I have yet to explore this), and was thinking about alternative body modifications last night…plus the fact that I’m back in Library School (we’ll see for how long) and have recently found pay scales for library work…it’s just something that opens up a lot of possibilities.  Particularly so, as the Library community is really, really liberal where it comes to minorities.

My attention has been drawn to my embodiment, recently, as I am back in Library School, and thus have to watch out for eating too much out of stress.  If I weren’t on medications, it likely wouldn’t be an issue; but small changes in my diet — like one sugared beverage a day — can cause me to gain weight, now.  Last night I was also paying attention to this because of my birth control:  my cycle has become so light on this, as to almost be nonexistent.  (Sorry, half the planet goes through something like this; so far as I’m concerned, talking about it should be considered normal.)

Last night was particularly tough, too, because it was hot, and I had ingested so much water (in addition to the problem of water retention, from my cycle) that it was causing a bit of pain.  I mentioned Spiro to M and D, who are relatively liberal on other medications, to the response that I don’t have to take a pill for everything (trust me, they take pills much more freely than I do).  Spiro is spironolactone; it reduces the levels of androgens in the body, but is also called a “water pill” because it causes one to have to use the restroom a lot.

Right now I’m still fighting with my acne and shaving my face at least once every two days.  I’m sure I wrote about this before:  I have a condition which causes my androgen (tested blood testosterone) levels to be high, which (along with feelings of security that I can’t be impregnated) is the main reason I’m on birth control.  The acne and the facial hair follow the high androgen levels; it doesn’t help that I seem particularly responsive to androgens.

I am not certain what is going on with my hormones, at the moment; I do know that no one besides me wants to test my testosterone again, even though my levels came up abnormally high when I had it done before I started birth control.  The facial hair hasn’t spread, but it’s still there, and will be there until I start doing something like threading or waxing or electrolysis (I think my skin is too dark for laser).

Given how many women I’ve seen go through permanent hair loss (lack of eyebrows) through plucking, though, waxing is a viable option.  The problem is becoming secure enough with having substantial hair on my face to give the wax something to stick to.  Before now, I haven’t touched it, because I have never really been certain I’d never go on testosterone, and if I went on testosterone, I’d want a full beard, not one which is thin in patches.

I know that if I do rev it up a bit and start exercising, this will increase my androgen levels…though that, in this case, with a higher metabolism and reasons to bathe more frequently, would likely be healthier than where I’m at right now.

The ideal case would have me working out to the extent that everything tightens up (in a good way) and I get a bit of muscular hypertrophy.  That is:  big muscles.  This, in addition to mens’ clothing (which I’d be able to wear better with less fat), and…maybe clearer skin and eyeliner…that would be ideal.  And at that point, facial hair wouldn’t even really look out of place.  It would be nice to be able to braid my hair back and be seen as a beautiful young man.  (It lasts until I talk.)

I know how to do this; the problem is getting it from the point of being an idea, to one of being a reality.  Right now I’m a little over 150 lbs — which is a weight that, at least, I feel secure at — though I’m told I don’t look it.  I’ve been told by members of the local Female-to-Male transgender community that working out for big muscles is stereotypical and doesn’t come close to actually living as a man.  The thing is, I’m not a man, and I don’t really want to live as a man.

I don’t really see myself as a woman, either, but it’s gotten to the point that I don’t correct people when they see what they see and it doesn’t match what I see.  I don’t need everyone else to agree with me.  What I need is some way to find my own way in the world and skirt the homophobes (some of whom are trans) and transphobes (some of whom are lesbian and gay) so that they don’t overly impact my life.

But wouldn’t it be interesting…to appear as a muscular and strong female in mens’ clothing, long hair, eyeliner, with multiple piercings and a non-binary license?  If I didn’t have to worry about negative repercussions, I could also do low-dose testosterone and go off of it after the voice drop:  but I have enough issues with body hair (and acne), already.  That stuff doesn’t go away, and it’s tough enough to empathize with other people who have it more profusely, without realizing I’d have to manscape if I did go on T.  Right now, at least, it’s manageable.  But I wasn’t blessed with the almost-no-body-hair gene.  Not to mention the party that’s going on, on my face.

And, my voice is already fairly low.

Then there’s what to do if I traveled out of state, or out of the country.  I’d think that being obviously genderqueer would kind of restrict travel options.

Changing tracks, a bit:

It was just recently that I realized that a significant number of abnormal reactions I’ve gotten from others on admitting I was attracted to them, may have been based on homophobia.  I don’t see myself as a woman, but it’s likely others see me as such.  In that case, I’ve got to be prepared to be a target of homophobia if I’m interested in someone of my sex, for more than friendship.

It’s apparent that, at least if I’m operating in a heterosexual mode, I have close to no sexual attraction to anyone.  But have I ever truly operated in a mode where I was both unafraid of and considering possibilities of being together with someone of my own sex?  It’s gotten to the point where I’m not even sure if I’m bisexual or pansexual anymore.  My interest in males is minor, and I used to get mad at them for assuming they could flirt with me, while I felt barred from flirting with everyone to whom I was actually attracted.

On top of this, I’ve found that I am really only marginally attracted to genderqueer people who were assigned male at birth.  I don’t know what is behind this; I know it’s politically incorrect to have one’s set of attractions include female people (binary [cis and trans] women, female-assigned genderqueer, and female-assigned transgender people, excluding binary transsexual men), but not male people (most binary cis and trans men, most genderqueer people who were male-assigned).  My feelings toward transsexual women [included above in “women”] are more complicated, because in many ways I feel a commonality with them.  I don’t know why.

I don’t know why any of this, really.  I know it isn’t quite politically correct, but for me it’s a biological tendency that I don’t understand, and which can’t comprimise for the sake of politics.

Outside of being attracted to the above group…I’m pretty much asexual.  In the pursuit of discovering or recovering the above sexuality…I’m (tonight, at least) seriously considering again identifying as gay, so I can focus on healing this rift in emotional connectivity that began to tear loose when I was 14.

I wouldn’t be a binary gay person (I identify with the term “gay” over “lesbian”, even though I’m primarily attracted to women, because to me “lesbian” implies womanhood) — most of the time, I have seen the mainstream L and G communities represent themselves as comprised of binary (cis and trans) men and women…I’m not a King either…I’m just…genderqueer.  I’m who I am.

And if people are going to outright assume that I’m lesbian instead of what I actually am, maybe then I do have something in common with lesbian people — and can gain from that community, even though I am not binary.

As a last bit:  a post came up on my Reader recently about otherkin; particularly, the wolf subtype.  One commenter directed a different commenter to the following TEDx Talk (which I had little luck sifting through the TED website to find).  I did find it easily on Google, however.

I figured I should watch it, before writing this post.

As regards the otherkin thread, I’ll leave that where it lies, for now.  Granted that the otherkin and transgender communities do overlap a bit; I know some people who fall within this range (though not many in person).

The above Talk was somewhat…interesting, though the speaker only really went into “trans”-anything as feelings of being at home (or not) in one’s body.  In this way, he could have been using the term “transgender” as a synonym for “transsexual” (as I’ve seen to be common practice).

There is another level to this, which is one’s sense of self:  gender identity.  He really didn’t go into this level at all.  So for me — I don’t really know what it’s like to be, probably, most of the women I’ve met.  I know I don’t identify primarily as a woman.  My roles as creator and thinker and writer come first.

My body isn’t my biggest problem.  Though I do feel like I would have been better off as a (cis) man, I’m not even a trans man at this point — and I’m sure most people would think themselves better off as cis men!  Especially if one could wish for and be guaranteed comfort in performing a gender congruent with their changed body.  I am leery of the thought of transitioning to male and hoping everything will fall into place after that, really.  I don’t think who I will be will change, and I’m to the Yin side of things as they stand, anyway.

And anyway, who says that being a man is better than being me?  🙂

Life. Planning to split the blog.

I am planning to either revive my alternate blog (the one I had to start for class in 2012, when I was acting insecure) or start a new one, and put my overtly school and career related stuff there, while this one is saved for art and life, with a more conversational tone than a record-keeping one (or one which is overtly reflecting on my job and readings).  I will link that other blog to this one, after I get it set up and presentable.

I did make it out over the past couple of days to replace or acquire five tubes of gouache — opaque watercolor.  (I also found I like Ivory [Bone] Black better than Lamp Black, at least in gouache…strange that they’re both carbon blacks, but they don’t look the same.)  This meant that I also had to take time out to test the ones I had — which was super fun.

I hadn’t painted in a really long time.  I pulled out a new brush that I’d never used before and had at it, just color-testing.  Most of my gouache was good, but I was able to get some new Holbein and Winsor & Newton gouache (the kind without the acrylic polymer added).  I got Lemon Yellow in Holbein because it was beautiful and just what I was looking for, and an Ultramarine Deep from them, too — W&N no longer makes that color.  I’m planning to use the opaque watercolors in combination with transparent watercolors, in making some new mandalas — and possibly in illustration.  With opaque media, though, I’m going to have to start thinking in terms of shape and blocks of color, rather than line, to describe what I want to describe.

And it isn’t worth it to denigrate mandala art and avoid doing it because it seems too simple.  I make things too hard for myself.  If I want to do mandala art, and that’s what is going to get me to do art that I want to do at all, I should do it.

I also made it out to a certain clothes store today, where I realized that the Mens’ shirts fit me better and were more comfortable than the Womens’.  In the past (when my hair was very short and I was overtly looking gender-variant), this would have been more troubling for me than it was (I have felt exposed there, before) — but fact is that when it fits, I look pretty good in menswear.  Not only this, but…it was OK, emotionally.

In the sizing of this store (which caters to a smaller-than-normal clientele), I wear an M in Mens’ shirts.  Right now, I wear something closer to an XL in Womens’, there, though I don’t appear terribly overweight.  The Womens’ shirts will make me look overweight, though.  They cling, and show more body and form than any of the menswear.  Showing my body is not something I desire, to be clear; I don’t particularly appreciate being expected to do it.

Then, though, of course you get the either very muted color palette or the screaming bright colors on the Mens’ side.  I (mostly) feel good with what I came away with, with the exception of one shirt which I didn’t try on, which was unlabeled…and so I’m not sure I know what I got.  It fits more closely, but won’t be a problem if it’s tucked in.  The Mens’ shirts have hems long enough to tuck securely; which is more than I can say for a lot of what I’ve had, previously.

I have had three days of what feels like not studying very hard.  I know it isn’t completely true, because I had to attend a group meeting, and I had to prepare for a group meeting (2.5 hours, yesterday); then I was doing readings today both before and after getting new clothes — which I needed, by the way.  I also picked up a book I needed for a project.  And, I was able to assist some family.

It isn’t as though I haven’t been productive, but, was I burned out at the end of Tuesday night, after writing 16 pages total the past two days before?  I didn’t want to do any readings at all on Wednesday.  I just didn’t want to have to think…especially not about the Library!  Though I have realized that I do still want to be an Art Librarian, and shouldn’t let fear of being a beginner keep me from holding an informational interview with at least one person.  My vocational program kind of depends on it.

Right now I’ve realized that I do need to get back on my studying so I don’t fall behind.  I have a lecture to listen to, two readings to do, some stuff to respond to; I just need to get on it.

The good thing is that the group project is off on a good foot.  We have stumbled a tiny bit, which I encountered last night while thinking about this; but it’s salvageable.

Tomorrow is Saturday; I should be studying in the morning, if I randomly wake up at 8 AM again.  Then I’m occupied for six hours, then I’m off and can work some more on my Master’s.

Working with the gouache on Monday night sounds good.  I want to see those new colors!