Getting used to this…

Within the past two days, I’ve again realized that my main job, now, is to do classwork, with self-care also coming in highly, and then, work.  I also realized that after this semester, especially during Summer but maybe even in Fall 2017, I should be able to do a Cataloging internship, as I’m taking Beginning Cataloging, this semester.  A lot of people at work have been trying to help me figure out what my next step is (if I don’t want to be a Library Assistant in a Public Library in our county), and this is looking like a good one.

I don’t have too much to say right now…I woke up late and can’t remember much (I showered and ate and read some stuff for classes…).  I do need to write to one of my Profs, though, to get the last of my paperwork in line…and should likely contact them about the Disability accommodations which I’ve been granted.

Right now, though…I’m really tired.  I’ll send off this email and probably should get to bed…

Getting used to this…

Feeling as though I am caught up…

I waited last night to write this until a time when my shoulders would be less stiff.  Over the past two days, I’ve had two eight-page papers due.  It’s not too bad, though, really.  The hardest thing is the research which has to be done so that I have something to write about.  Well, that, and keeping records on it (notes), and getting used to APA citations, again.

Today has been a bit difficult if only for the fact that I had nothing scheduled to do today, did not set my alarm, went to bed late, and slept until I started having dreams about being unable to wake up (about 12 hours).

Yesterday was fortunate because I awoke for the first time in months, able and (nearly) ready to jump out of bed in the morning.  The difference between that day and nearly every other day?  Sunlight could get into my room.

Today I opened the blinds when I went to bed, but I’m not sure if I opened them enough, as I was more fatigued today upon waking than I was, yesterday morning.  Or maybe it’s just cumulative fatigue.

In any case…pretty much, nothing’s been done, today.  The two major class projects I’ve had in recent weeks are now behind me.  I do have some minor homework due today, but in effect it is only a small amount of credit.  (Not to say that it doesn’t matter, because it does; but unlike the last paper I did, it isn’t worth 15% of my grade.)

If I’m unsure of what I want to do…there are a few things I can do.  Making pickles, or cleaning the rooms I normally use (bedroom, bathroom, office), pop to mind first.  Well, this, and catching up on my readings.

And, right–!  I meant to mention that I need to make more time each day, to write.  When I don’t write, it makes it harder to get my thoughts out when I have a 6-8 page paper due (or more than one).  It’s a short paper (one of my emails can be this long); but it feels significant when I haven’t been writing at all for a week or more.  To keep the flow of words going, though, it would help to at least try to write, at least every other day — if not every day.

I think I’ll get to work.  I should deal with my homework first, then deal with the pickles, then vacuum the bedroom and change my sheets.  That should open me up to being able to deal with all the other stuff I have to shower after doing.

Hmm.  I have another day of work, tomorrow.  Not too much, but still…

Feeling as though I am caught up…

I’ve been reading all day and am probably having problems thinking in words, at the moment.

Seven hours of study down, and I feel like I just may have caught up.

I have about 11 single-spaced pages to go in my final reading of this week for my Diversity class…which is not bad when (I’m pretty sure) this morning, I had four of them.

Today has been full of studying, eating, napping, and laundry.  I suppose I shouldn’t mark the evening and night as time which I can’t use to study…because I can.  Especially when my work days have recovery spaces between them.

I’m…unsure of what to do about the assignment I have coming up which is like a Social Sciences people-watching thing.  I’m always uncomfortable with that!  Gah.  It’s one of the main reasons I dropped Sociology as a major.

The positive thing is that I believe that if the least I do is go to a cafe and listen in on conversations and then write a paper on it, I should still qualify for half-credit.  The other positive thing is that the class which has us people-watching, is one in which I don’t need a high grade (and I have until Monday to turn it in).  I have one class which I really need to watch out for, but luckily, it happens to be my favorite class this semester.  This is basically a Database class, which I’m kind of in love with because I get to build things.

I believe my brain is checking out on me now, and my battery will soon, too; so I’ll try and get some rest.

I’ve been reading all day and am probably having problems thinking in words, at the moment.

Surprising myself a slight bit…

I actually have been able to get something done, today, other than work and art.  The mess of receipts that I have from late last year have (mostly) been documented.  In the process, I found a receipt from October of last year showing that I paid $0.98 for what I believe were three tiny persimmons.

It’s the good things, you know?

Ja…right now I’m thinking that I will really have to get on the University reading, soon.  Today, instead of doing that, I did some reading in an actual (!) paper book!  (Where Does Art Come From? by William Kluba.  It is an art-practice book instead of an art-history book, but it’s really a good thing for me to try and remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.)  And I just finished the last of the candied ginger of unknown age.  Go, me.  (Hopefully, it won’t do a number on my stomach…)

If it’s possible, I think I really should pay for the groceries I get at the produce market, with my own funds.  I know I will be going into (more) debt because of University, but that aside:  when I pay for my own perishables with money I’ve earned myself, I’m more aware of their existence, and have more of a tendency to actually eat them.  Otherwise, I have a tendency to forget about them until after entropy has set in and they’ve started to decompose.  I think that if it’s my money I’m wasting, it will make a difference.

I still haven’t done much of any reading in either of my school texts, though at least this semester, I’m starting out with a note-taking system.  I can only read one book at a time, so I have a notebook dedicated to notes on whatever I’m reading.  If I’m smart, maybe I can have three different pens; one color for each class.  I know I have the pens; replacing them (along with ink longevity) will be the iffy part.  It could be cool, though, if archival-quality inks are not demanded (the notes must last for three years), to use gel pens (Sarasas are nice).  Actually, that sounds like fun!  Maybe green, purple, and orange…hmm.

Tonight, as well — I realized that my huge watercolor palette may not be as inconveniencing as I had been convinced it would be.  For those who haven’t read the backposts, this is a Mijello Silver Nano 40 palette, which is pretty darn huge for someone used to things that are, well…easy to carry.  But it does easily hold all of my colors, and it gives generous mixing space, plus the construction seems to be quality (so far), which are three qualities not simultaneously matched in any of my other palettes.

I also re-tried fitting my half-pans into one of the small tins I bought.  I was mistaken in an earlier post; one tin will hold at least 28 Winsor & Newton half-pans (seven across, four deep).  However, what D said might also be the case:  the sides of the tin may be too deep to allow easy access with a brush.  I’m also not convinced that a half-pan format is the best way to carry dried watercolor paint…especially if I’m using a large brush.

The Maruman NEW SOHO Series Sketch pad is too lightweight to take watercolor with abundant moisture.  (watercolor that’s wet…?)  It is advertised to take watercolor, but it isn’t a good-quality watercolor paper (whereas with my limited use of dry media within it [basically only graphite sticks, so far], it’s great).

I mean if you wet it, it warps.  It warped so much that I tore the sheet out of the pad and threw it away before it could warp the rest of the pad.  I probably should have waited until it dried out to see what it would do, but generally speaking, when a paper does what it did, I’m not likely to turn to it for watercolor work!  Please forgive me for not taking a photograph of it before getting rid of it.  It was just a mess; but I was also using my dying Utrecht #10 Sablette Round, which holds a good deal of water.  (It’s dying because the ferrule has loosened on the handle, though it grips again after being wet for about 20 minutes.  It’s only a matter of time until the brush head itself falls off.)

I also tried a small sheet of Stonehenge paper, which performed much more favorably…but it also really absorbed the paint to the degree that if I wanted to lift the pigment out, I’m not sure I would have been able to do so.  The stability of the paper was much more “on” for the way I’d expect a watercolor paper to behave, though granted I think that the highest grade of paper I’ve yet used is Canson Montval — not Arches, which I hear is top-of-the-line (and probably so expensive as to discourage me from using it).

I think I’ve used Strathmore 300 and 400 series before, too, and have just begun to try Fluid “Easy Blocks” (they’re only gummed down on two sides, so they’re supposed to be “easier” to lift away from the block…but this sacrifices some stability.  And how much harder is it, really, to cut away those other two sides when you’ve already got out the butter knife?).

What I remember about Stonehenge is that I’m pretty sure this is the paper which easily pilled when I rubbed a dry tissue over a wet area — though granted, this was on the back of the sheet.  I’m pretty sure that the tissue wasn’t what the pill was made of.

Otherwise…hmm.  Things have been fairly stable.  I’m still not certain whether to go for Digital Services or Art Librarianship.  Art Librarianship is the ultimate goal…ideally.  It’s just that looking at four more years of college is a bit painful.  But I still have not been able to clarify exactly what Digital Services entails, or what the field is looking like, moving forward.  I’ll get to find out some information on this, later this month.

For now, there’s nothing much I can do besides read and work through my tutorials, and get a head start on the class readings I can do, now.  Good to keep some perspective, I guess…

Surprising myself a slight bit…

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…

Shifting into a femme space

Digging out the needles

I really want to be drawing, but something is stopping me.

I spent most of today in bed…during which, I had another one of my “transition” dreams.  These (and the accompanying feelings) take a bit of time to negotiate, after the fact.

When I was younger (between 19 and 25), I thought I was FtM; that was, female-to-male transgender.  As I got older and gained more experience in transgender and genderqueer communities, that shifted to genderqueer, and at this point it’s settled on gender-fluid; with notable periods of feeling convincingly male.  The thing that holds me back, though — or, one of them — is that these feelings are intermittent.  If I wait long enough, the certainty of male identity passes (although much the same could be said for every other identity state I move through; hence, an identity as gender-fluid is my only stable point.  If and when one of these states sticks long-term, I’ll reconsider the label).

A series of dreams I’ve had, have me exploring the dilemma of testosterone usage.  The possibility of testosterone opened up when I was about 20…over about the last 15 years, I’ve been trying to let the process of my maturation take its course, regardless of the outcome with regard to what gender I end up appearing to be.

The story arc of this series is kind of long, as I’ve been having these dreams for probably over a decade, now.  At this point, in-dream, I’ve been given a vial of testosterone and a number of syringes by my last gender specialist as a going-away memento/gift.  (The last time I saw an experienced gender specialist specifically for therapy, was quite a long time ago.  The one I have access to now is so overloaded [presumably] that she doesn’t have time to help me work out my issues, except in a group setting.)  In these dreams, I have never actually used the testosterone (with the possible exception of one — but I never got to see the effects).

The point of my noting this is that I reached the conclusion, this time, that there are trade-offs to either using or not using testosterone, for me.  The point at which I may utilize testosterone (which will eventually make me look entirely male, except for some things I can’t change, or which I can only change with surgery) is the point at which my life will be better off even with all the drawbacks (most compellingly, a shortened potential life span), than my life without it.

That was a rather profound realization, especially concerning all the drawbacks that I know about which have kept me from transitioning, thus far; and with the high rate of violence and murder, unemployment, underemployment, housing difficulties, harassment, etc., directed at transgender people.  This is magnified with trans* people of color, especially trans* women of color.  I don’t consider myself a woman of color, but I can easily be mistaken for one; and with my hirsutism (an effect which I let develop because of thinking my body was listening to my brain wanting it to be male), I can be mistaken for a male dressing as female.

(It’s been noted in my family that the cumulative effect of microaggressions, harassment, and being made to feel unsafe, committed by many members of society against specific stigmatized targets, is largely unrecognized by those who don’t have to experience it day in and day out.  If you happen to be one of those targets, and not only are you a target where it comes to race, but also where it comes to gender, assumed sexuality, class, etc., these pressures build up upon and magnify each other.)

Right now, I can blend in, relatively speaking.  Given enough time and experience, I would probably also learn how to blend in as male.  Clearly for me, though — I would never appear to be a cis (non-trans*) male, unless I went through some pretty gruesome surgeries…some of which are both prohibitively expensive and risky, with (usually, from what I’ve seen) relatively poor outcomes.

In my current state, in a pinch, I can claim that I’m a woman (though I’m not certain how much protection that actually affords, when one in four [cis, I assume?] women are raped in their lifetime and one in six trans* women of color are murdered), and pass as cis (although under my definitions, I know I’m not — being trans* or cis, in my mind, depends on identity, not bodily coherence).

If I took testosterone, I would not be able to be seen as cis with my clothes off, ever again.  And how much of people saying I “look nice” depends on their perception of my gender presentation coordinating with what is expected for a person with a female body?  If I dressed femininely after taking testosterone, I would easily be mistaken for a trans* woman of color (especially without voice training), which is not an enviable societal position (see above).

The point that I reached in-dream, though, is that for some people, a one-in-six chance of being murdered still holds the promise of a better life than the one they have.  If I ever took testosterone, bi-weekly injections and balding and heart disease and early death and top surgery and body hair and a hysterectomy with the risk of lifelong urinary incontinence would have to contain a better promise than what I’d be looking forward to, otherwise.

This insight makes it a bit more clear as to what separates those who need to transition from those for whom it isn’t clearly right.  Right now, I’m not sure on which side of that line I fall, though I lean toward the latter.  It’s hard to tell with my mind as it is; which is the majority of the reason I’ve waited 15 years.

Although it does sound stereotypical — maybe for me it actually is better to just exercise for strength and muscle mass.  I had been hoping in the dream that this would be easier without the parts of my body which mark me as female, but that cannot be guaranteed.  It looks very different to see a person with breasts and a built upper-body; especially as I don’t shave my body hair (I do clip it once it gets too long).  I kind of didn’t realize how it looked to have both feminine and masculine beauty at the same time until I saw a photo of someone else who had what I used to have.

I know for a fact that I need to get my gut under control.  If I could start walking and working out, I would probably feel better about my body in general, and maybe that would extend to other areas of self-care (particularly facial and hair care).  Right now I’m kind of disheveled and all over the place — including within the genders of my wardrobe (my chest has grown too big to easily wear mens’ shirts, anymore; my lower body is too big to wear mens’ pants — but mens’ and womens’ clothes come in different color schemes, which can often be implicit gendered signals).

Yeah, I…am getting kind of tired, so I’ll sign off.  I can only take so much thinking about gender at once.  😉

Digging out the needles