30 chest hairs and how to be OK with changing slowly

This morning my girlfriend inspected my facial hair progression as she often does, and she said a corner mustache hair was much more red than the other hairs. I said, “They don’t call me Redbeard for nothing!” (These are the jokes I always make. I’m so sorry to everyone who knows me).

Since we met, she’s been pointing out my changes and it makes this frustratingly long journey to beard fulfillment a little more bearable. It just occurs to her to check out my chin and make delightful comments like, “This is grown in so much since we met! Do you remember when you just had a tiny patch right here?”

She’s truly a gem among us.

I spend a lot less time looking at my chest. I think the critical need for top surgery makes it difficult to look down and then look back up again. But today, I’m feeling good, and I decided to actually count those chest hairs.

It seemed forEVER there were about 16 of them. But lately I’ve noticed a little growth spurt, and I was not wrong–there are 30 now. I realize many men have hundreds, thousands of chest hairs. But like, this is my slow progression and it’s okay.

Note: I also have two back hairs, and that’s only what I can see over my shoulder. We won’t focus on this.

Tonight, I’ve been playing around in my Poems folder, and I re-read those five poems I was telling you about yesterday. It was a disappointing exercise. First of all, there aren’t even five poems, there are four. And I had to delete one because it was so bad. So now I have three poems and I don’t really love any of them.

I went to try and make some initial edits and I just had to quit. It feels like I’ve completely forgotten how to write. Poems aren’t even something you can measure, except maybe the number of them, or the number of lines or whatever. But even through the subjectivity there is this expectation I’m holding over myself, that I have to be improving or performing always, that I have to either be the best I can possibly be, or be moving quickly to get there.

One of the biggest obstacles that holds me back sometimes is that I am a little bit bad about practicing self-care. The classic example is that I probably took 1/3 of my T shots I was supposed to in 2015-early 2016. That may even be generous.

If confused all the medical professionals–don’t you WANT to be taking T? Should we get you off of it? Are you actually trans? Why aren’t you taking this thing you’ve fought so hard for?

When in actuality, it had nothing to do with the ~legitimacy~ of my trans-ness. It was just that I put off some things that are good for me.

And it has contributed to my very slow hair growth. My own actions kinda made this happen. How is that supposed to make me feel?

I’ve been thinking about moving slowly for a couple weeks. Since I started #180to180, I have been making very small decisions, just a handful every day, to better my health and habits. I don’t deprive myself of simple pleasures so much as just be more conscientious of what’s happening with my actions. It’s an ongoing project. I’ve lost five pounds so far.

I think if this were a couple of years ago, I’d be frustrated it wasn’t 10 pounds. I’d be constantly re-evaluating to see if I’m actually a failure after all. But I am really proud of these five little pounds. I feel like the slowness of the project is helping make it more of a life change than a phase.

I am learning to be more patient. And still, the beard grows, the beard grows.

(and the poems simmer)

(and the back hairs thicken)

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There’s Trump, and then there’s focus on personal projects for survival

In honor of “President” Trump, I really needed to focus on something I can do right now. Part of why I made this blog in November is because the election happened and I felt powerless. I felt there was no hope. I still feel that way, tbh, but there’s also this duty in which I MUST persevere.

One of the best ways I feel better during hard times (when I’m not also overcome by debilitating mental illness) is to focus on a project. That’s why I created #180to180, and that’s why for January I made a goal to start a new writing project.

  • Kick off a new writing project. I haven’t written a poem in a while. I think it’s time to end this break and get going again.

The outcomes are unclear, but I know there will be a good one. Do I want to do the exact same thing I’ve done three times—make and self-publish a chapbook? Do I want to try and get my work published by someone else? Do I want to write a full-length book and spend three years editing it? Not sure yet.

But I’ve started writing poems again. I have a folder called Old Stuff and my previous projects are in it. My Poems folder has five new poems. Are they good? Not yet. But we are on our way, people! It feels good.

I will work on this project becoming my default when I have nothing to do in the evenings (right now my default is eating too many snacks and going to bed). I want this thing to be on my mind at least once a day, becoming part of me as I navigate spaces and interact with others. I want to be writing poems on napkins again—interrupting people’s stories (including my own) to say, “Sorry, I gotta write that down.” I want to be frustrated when I’m doing something because I’d rather be writing instead. I miss that shit.

I don’t know if five poems counts as a ~started project~ but I’m calling the shots in my own life and this is what I’m doing. I am starting a project.

I’ve been pretty good this week. From Monday night to Thursday night I was actually supreme. I wasn’t high or manic or anything, but it felt ENLIVENING to be legitimately present again. Everything from my relationship to my bowling scores benefited.

Then Thursday night I took a bit of a turn. Friday morning I remained sad. By the afternoon, I felt a whole lot better. It’s a bummer I was a bummer, but this bounce-back action I’m witnessing is much more important to me than three days of mental peace. Yes, I still experience the downfalls of humanity. Trump is indeed President (for example). I may even dive because of them. But I’m able to not dive so deep, and I’m able to bounce back into normalcy after a little time-out and a little self-care. This was not possible 4, 2 or even 1 week ago. I don’t care what they say—just because chocolate or exercise exists does not mean it cures you from your own mind.

This upswing and upcoming mood balance has been brought to you by magnesium glycinate, Lamictal, 10,000 IU of vitamin D3, and a whole lot of tireless love from J, B, A, M, and M. (and others) (I’m going to start referring to my care team as JBAMM)

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Hang up your bow ties

I told my (now ex-) therapist it feels weird to go to work after a night of feeling like hell. I said it feels disrespectful almost, like it feels like I’m not honoring my needs or something. (This is not a ploy to get out of work; I like my job quite a bit, and that’s significant because I don’t like many things right now). (By the way this therapist laughed at me and that’s part of why I’m moving on).

I know it sounds weird. But imagine this: You have a life-threatening illness but you don’t know when you’ll die. You are lying there one night and you feel like everything in your life is about to end right at this moment. It’s not even a suspicion it may happen–you feel you know it to be true.

You start preparing. You start thinking of things that will suck after you die for the ones who love you, so you do things like clean your room a little bit or write down your cell phone/computer passwords so it’s easier to access your contacts. Throw in a load of laundry. Quickly text a couple people you love them. Dump and soak days-old coffee mugs. Hang up your bow ties.

You’re prepped. You’ve felt this many times before but this is the real time. This is when it’s actually going to happen and you’re ready.

.

Then you wake up to your alarm. It’s 7:03 and you should have gotten up already if you want to get to work on time.

That’s what it feels like for me, every day. When I say it’s disrespectful, I really just mean it’s a fucking whirlwind. I go to work, I sit at my cube, I get visitors who want to hear I’m well because they care about me. My boss wants to hear I’m gonna do well not only because she’s a manager but also because she cares about my life. I go through some motions. I can have like up to 3 hours of feeling pretty good. I get in the zone. But then sometimes the fatigue of constantly dying sets in. And you know what? It feels a little insane to be at work.

But as long as I still wake up when it’s 7:03 and as long as I continue to perform at least most as well as I normally do, then I’m kind of expected to be chill about things. If I were in crisis of course I could go the the hospital–but wait, I’m often in crisis, lol. What’s the crisis of crises?

If you’re wondering what you can do to help, I thought of two things:

  1. Do not expect me to perform for you. Create a space where I can be good or bad or whatever I am, but don’t make me talk about wherever I’m at if I don’t want to (which I sometimes don’t). My job cannot be to take care of you or reassure you because I’m exhausted already. 🙂
  2. If you think of me, text me. (Or leave a comment, or PM me, or whatever). It doesn’t have to be anything substantial.  It can just be “Hey I thought of you when I was on Timehop today” or “I saw a ginger and I thought of the Weasleys first but then I thought of you next.” Even if I don’t reply right away or like ever, being thought of is pretty nice when I feel isolated.

Cool News Tidbit To Cut The Bite: I’ve lost 4 pounds already which is p cool. #180to180

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Becoming ever-so-swoll

I’ve worked out twice.

I know what you’re thinking: “You’ve worked out twice?? You call that swoll?? I’m in the gym every day burning fat and taking names and you wanna tell me you’re swoll??”

Oh, a definition may be in order:

swoll: adjective: slang–strong, buff, athletic, muscular, hyper-masculine flavor of attractive, often used ironically among effeminate men such as myself

So anyway, I’ve worked out twice and I certainly don’t look different but I FEEL different. This isn’t just an emotional change, either. If you squeeze by bicep and feel where the bicep meets the [other muscle group] in my arm there’s like some definition there. You may not believe me but I invite you to coax me (I can get shy about my body builder status) to flex for you sometime and you can feel it!

I like how I said “you can feel it” like it’s a treat or something.

This is the wonder of my body + weights. I notice a difference pretty much right away. I’m sure others feel that way too, but it always surprises me. I still got a gut and love handles and a healthy butt, but the muscle-making process is already going very well. It is so encouraging!

I’ve also lost about .5 pounds. It’s not much, but this may be the first time in months (years?) where I’ve seen the number go down from the last time I weighed myself instead of up. And #180to180 is pretty important to me, but it’s the first 180 I care about more, probably, and that’s the turning my life 180 degrees around part.

I still eat pie. I had biscuits and gravy twice in 12 hours. I’m not some kind of spectacular beacon of health and wellness. But I feel like a more authentic approach at my own speed is way better anyway? Don’t ya think?

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24 goals

I’ve been trying a tiny bit to explore the WordPress community. I LOVE when people “like” my posts or comment or interact with my work in some way, but I have previously never returned the favor. I want to get better about that.

In my scratching of the WordPress surface, I’ve found this blog that has New Year’s Resolutions that are actually small goals for each month, all laid out already. Now she’s going to record her progress for each goal as the year goes along. I think that’s pretty rad, and it allows for smaller but still important experiments to happen.

As we know, I’ve already made my big New Year’s Resolutions post, but in addition to these goals, I kinda want to follow whiskywolfcub’s lead and try some smaller goals each month too.

Oh, writing these made me realize that these might sound like really boring goals, or not very adventurous, or something. But I’ve been working on this post for two weeks (I often write blog posts in one sitting and publish them right away) trying to think of goals that are important to me, even if it just means they are chores that I’ve put off for a long time. When they get deadlines, suddenly they have some power potential. ALSO I don’t want to say a goal I don’t actually care about, even if it would be good for me. For example, a goal like “drink 8 glasses of water every day this month :)” is cute and stuff but first of all, I’ll never do that, and second of all, I really don’t care about my water intake. Not a thing I think about. Anyway:

JANUARY

  • Schedule an appointment with at least one new therapist. Sometimes therapists’s calendars are full, so I don’t want to guarantee that I will see someone new before the end of the month, but I want to prioritize this process. (I crossed this off already because in the process of writing this post, I’ve completed this task. woo!)
  • Kick off a new writing project. I haven’t written a poem in a while. I think it’s time to end this break and get going again.

FEBRUARY

  • Do something for Aidan. February 20th is my friend Aidan’s anniversary of his passing and I happen to have the day off from work for President’s Day (??). I think that’s a good opportunity to try and volunteer or at least write about him. Something like that. I usually fall apart in February, so I want to intentionally do something healthy and hopefully productive in his honor.
  • Express daily gratitude in some way. I want to do something like make a FB post or write a blog or send a grateful message to someone every single day in February. It’s the shortest month of the year, so I think I can manage. Again, this is a goal that will help me get through what is normally a very difficult month for me.

MARCH

  • Do my taxes if I haven’t already. No waiting until April 14 bullshit.
  • Cook dinner for someone else. It’d be great if I picked someone other than my gf just because it will be more out of my comfort zone. I hope this goal will help encourage me to make this cooking thing not just a phase but a habit.

APRIL

  • Attend one writing group session. There’s a writing group in my town that meets every Saturday at like 9am or something, and it seems very chill and very cool, but I never make time for it. I want to at least check it out. I picked a month with five Saturdays just in case 😉 .
  • Wash my truck. This sounds kinda funny but I always put off washing my vehicles, and after a winter and spring of grossness, I’ll definitely need it by the end of April. This truck is like my favorite possession so I should probs take care of it. If I’m feeling ambitious maybe I’ll even get it detailed.

MAY

  • Change my name with Social Security if I haven’t already. Talk about problematic procrastination! My name is legally changed and it’s changed with the bank and everywhere important… except with the Social Security office. It’s only really been an issue once and it worked out fine, but it’s still something I need to do. It involves a few hours of my time on a business day, but maybe planning ahead will actually make it happen.
  • Get my eyes checked. I could probably use an updated prescription by this point. I already sense some changes in my vision, but it’s not a huge deal right now. I have good insurance for eye stuff so it will be worth the time.

JUNE

  • Go to the dentist. You might be like, ew, why do you have to schedule this out so far, what the hell. That’s fair. But I haven’t been to the dentist in like 5 years and I really really don’t want to go but this will help motivate me to put a deadline on this.
  • Sing karaoke again. I’ve been thinking about a couple of songs. I might go country. I know you didn’t know this (it’s not your fault) but I’m actually Keith Urban in disguise.

JULY

  • Go somewhere new. This can be a vacation or just going to a new restaurant. I want to keep this open. But I tend to even stick with the same restaurants once I like something. I like new things too ok! I just don’t prioritize them.
  • Try canoeing or kayaking or something. I’m not much for swimming because wearing a swim suit when you have boobs but don’t want them is complicated. Maybe by July I won’t even have boobs, who knows, but I think kayaking or some other water activity like this can be pretty dry but still really fun.

AUGUST

  • Go see a show. I want to keep this open. Is it a play? Is it a concert? Is it a jazz trio in a quiet club? Don’t care. Go see a show.
  • Treat myself? I am thinking like creating an amazon wishlist or something and choosing an item I never prioritize but am pretty interested in. For example, I’d really like one of those wireless bluetooth fancy speakers so I can sing in the shower more effectively. But when I’m out and about, I never think to get one or care enough to drop the cash on it. This goal only makes sense if I’m responsible with my money in 2017, which I plan to be (don’t we all). It also only makes sense if I do/buy this thing with some intentionality. So like if I just buy something I want, that doesn’t count. What GIFT am I gonna give myself?

SEPTEMBER

  • Find an open mic and read a poem at it. I’m gonna h8 myself later for this.
  • Successfully move or successfully stay. At this point, my apartment lease will be up and I’ll have to decide where I’m living. This might seem like a cheater goal but moving can be really fucking stressful and I want to be sure I don’t sign up for too much. I want to take care of myself in this process! (I guess).

OCTOBER

  • Watch 7 youtube videos that will teach me something. I know of YouTube (lol), but I don’t spend like any time on it at all (the only thing I use it for is to practice karaoke). It seems like a resource I should consider. It’d be great to watch a bunch of videos teaching me how to change a tire or do car things or like, do something crafty. This would be fun to blog about too, like I can list what videos I watched and if I found them useful.
  • Spend time with a dog. This should be all 24 of my goals. October has historically been a challenging month for me, and even if I’m feeling wonderful in October 2017, I think going out of my way and seeking out a dog is extremely legit. This can be my parents’ dog too–I don’t think that’s cheating, since she’s like, the best dog of all dogs.

NOVEMBER

  • Host a Friendsgiving of some kind. Maybe make it a pot luck so I don’t have to feel scared of cooking for a bunch of people by myself.
  • Make a list of movies I want to see and maybe even fire up a Netflix account. I think a lot of people in my life want to watch fewer movies/tv shows because they have so much screen time. But I’m completely movie illiterate, and it’s not for hipster I’m-too-cool-for-movies thing; it really just means I miss out on a bunch of pop culture stuff. Also, another thought behind this: as it gets colder and winterier and sadder I want to have a little indoor project.

DECEMBER

  • Write a Christmas letter. For a few years I wrote my family’s Christmas letter and I loved it. It was so fun to do a recap of the year and touch base with people I don’t talk to all the time. I regretted not writing one this year. This letter task also includes collecting addresses to mail them 🙂
  • Read a book. LOL. So you’re probably like, hey, don’t you read already? No. And chances are, I’ll make it for the entirety of 2017 without reading a single book. So I want to put this in here–I want to read a book. I can spend 11 months deciding which one if I want. But by the end of December, I want to be one book more well-read.

That’s all! If you want, you can copy me (or copy the WordPress user I copied). I have a few friends that are starting blogging a bit and this might be a good way to stay focused/consistent. 🙂

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Does mental stability = maturity?

Cw: suicide stuff

While I’m in between therapists and while I’m transitioning to a new mood stabilizer (TMI yet?), I am struggling to stay afloat sometimes. The good news is, unlike the past two months almost, I’m not sad every waking moment! Yes! It’s awesome. I can actually function most of the time. Incredible.

But then I get triggered by something (triggered in like a legit way, like something that triggers a traumatic experience/memory), or I become upset by something, or I become moderately offended. And then what happens? I lose my fucking shit. I have no ability to process. I can’t calm down my emotions. I dive.

It got me thinking, because it seems like I’m a kid again. When I get sad, I get very dependent. I rely on my girlfriend (bless her heart) or my friends to help hold me upright. I become incorrigible. Those same friends will offer actually very good advice, and I’ll be stubborn and act like a literal 5-year-old about it.

It’s like I’ve aged backwards in maturity. I don’t even remember feeling this way as a kid—I’ve always considered myself pretty mature for whatever age I was at for a long time. But my depression has made it harder to cope with everyday things, and unlike childhood, where things can be put on pause kinda, adulthood demands you pretty much keep up the pace regardless of your invisible-but-very-real mental illness.

But like, I used to have coping mechanisms, didn’t I? I used to be moody but stable? Like things would trigger me and it would get me down, but I would respond to help (right?). I would respond to people who’ve graciously given me their time and energy. Now it just seems like I want to quit all the time. A thing goes wrong, and instead of calmly being like, “Okay, this thing went wrong, and that’s unfortunate; let’s move forward,” I’m like “I can’t wait to go home so I can hang myself.” And it’s not really ironic. I go from 0 to -100 in the span of a moment.

I think the dependency is the hardest part though. I have this weird compulsion when I’m sad to tell everyone about how sad I am. I’m typically extremely open on the internet, and I used to post sad things on Twitter and stuff, but I literally always regret when I do that. I mean, employers check your Twitter. It’s not a secret. I probs shouldn’t post hella scary-sad things in a public place. It doesn’t make me look very ~employable~ even if I’m actually kind of an asset ;).

Anyway, to replace Sad Tweeting, I’ve taken up Sad Snapping on Snapchat. I’ll take a series of dramatic (but genuine) snaps and post them on my story. I watch who looks at them. I’m a mess. I overthink everything. I feel like a teenager. This is what a teenager would do. Again with the lack of maturity.

Here’s what I think when I’m stable:

Maturity and dependence are not related.

Sure, a child is immature (by nature) and they are also dependent on their guardians. But they just happen at the same time—they are not intertwined in the way I often think of them.

I’m dependent because I have a mental illness—a thing I cannot magically remove. I can work on things to improve my symptoms, but this seems like a pretty chronic thing and I may have it forever, amen. But that doesn’t mean I’m immature my whole life. It just means I need help and I usually ask for it.

The way in which I ask, though, can probably improve. The people I call upon can be more selective. I should spread the wealth. I don’t think that Sad Snapping really hurts anything, but maybe I could try reaching out to three people who are emotionally available instead of hoping someone will take pity on my pathetic plea for attention? My girlfriend is not on call to save my life every other night?

Maturity is something else entirely. I just tried to define it but I don’t think I can. Do you have a definition for maturity? It’s really hard to talk about without being able-ist. Lmk if you have thoughts on that.

Tl;dr: no.

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A home improvement project

Cw: tons of body image stuff, weight loss

From being unable to see that my own fly was down (because there’s a gut in the way) to feeling insecure in my relationship even though there is literally no reason to be, I’ve felt pretty bad about myself in the last year. I think weight loss resolutions are a little bit cliché but I must do something.

I strongly believe that weight loss is also an industry, but as I’ve said before, just because I think that doesn’t mean I can outsmart it or somehow live above it when that’s how our society operates: under the assumption that fat = unhealthy and fat = unattractive. I believe this is fucked up and downright incorrect. I feel most “overweight” people are cute, beautiful, handsome, you name it. (And also, attractiveness is enormously overrated in and of itself). And just because I’m considered obese or something, it doesn’t mean I’m unhealthy (from a physical standpoint). I have terrific blood pressure and I am not at risk for diabetes or anything. Mentally of course I’m unwell, but being overweight is only tangentially related. So the health thing is bunk and the unattractive thing is bunk.

But I must recognize that for whatever reason, being overweight is not helping me, and if I can be less overweight, I think a lot of things will improve as a result. For one, I’ll be more active, which helps a whole bunch of things; for another, I’ll be eating a little better/less, which will help me feel a  bit healthier (for example, when you eat greasy fast food for a week or lighter meals for a week, you can feel the difference).

I cannot say enough that I do not judge anyone who considers themselves fat. I think fatphobia is real and I’m a victim of it, both from others and myself. It’s fucked up that we are all under this spell that skinny is the only way to be. Jfc.

All that said, I’ve finally come up with a way to get this project going.

And it’s just that—a project. I think people usually use words like “journey” and I think that’s a valid metaphor, but for me I kind of see it as a project. A home (human vessel) improvement project. What I HAVE been doing is nothing. Nothing is not working. So I’m going to try to do SOMETHING and see if that works.

The goal is to use some knowledge from past experiences with trying to ~be healthier~ but mostly toss everything out. Every single time I’ve tried to be healthier I’ve stopped for some reason, usually after a pretty short time. My hope is to correct that, make this sustainable.

For that reason, I’ve set a tangible goal of being 180 pounds.

A few notes on this: according to my height and gender, I’m supposed to be no more than 165. I think that’s bullshit. If I’m muscly and 180 I’m pumped about that. I don’t need to be SKINNY. I’m okay being a “big guy” if that’s what being 180 means.

I’m not going to share my original weight. If you pay extremely close attention to how much I lose per week when I do share that information, you could probably make an educated guess. But I never ever want to share my weight and make people think that anyone who’s that weight or more is somehow less-than. I do not think that and I do not want to come across that way. I weigh the most I ever have, and I feel bad about myself even though I shouldn’t. That’s all you need to know.

I hope to make this project to becoming 180 pounds as positive as possible. I want to be real with you if I have difficulty, but I also want it to be like “hey this is home improvement” and not “hey I deserve to suffer.” I want to make this about trying a new, good thing for myself. And with a tangible goal, I think that’s possible.

I’ve even come up with a hashtag. So, 180 is a popular number (more than 179, for example), because it’s a common amount of DEGREES. So like, turning 180 degrees is turning around. I want to turn my life around. It’s so obvious. My project is called #180to180. Fuckin’ shit up.

(I’m also going to use the ever-neglected hashtags I created in another life: #BuildingADreamBoat and #BuffAndBeardy)

In the past, I’ve been really excited about the tracking process, where I’ve focused hard on counting calories and recording all my cardio down to the minute. But then I either get distracted by tracking and lose sight of the actual objective, OR I get bored of it and then get bored of exercising as a result.

I think I can do a little tracking but I no longer want that to be a motivator. I want to work out more and go for walks more and open more pickle jars and be more conscious about my eating and see where it takes me. It’s an overall, all-the-time mission that drives this project. I got a number in mind. Let’s do this or w/e.

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