Submerging writer’s grant

While I would not trade my mental wellness for anything (it’s pretty nice wanting to live, and pretty nice not planning your own death), with the departure of my illness my will to write creatively also seems to have fizzled. For more than 20 years I pretty much had one primary life outlook, and I observed with the eyes and ears of someone who couldn’t make the choice that suicide was off the table. That is a specific outlook, I think. It was one that felt natural to write with.

When I navigate my spaces now, there’s no running poet track, where I’m trying to capture every detail in my memory to write about it later. There’s not even a running blogger track. It’s like I’ve been stripped of one of the only things I’ve ever been good at (or at least happy with).

I declared I was going to apply for this writer’s grant and I sat down to write it, but it was hopeless. How do I defend my request of thousands of dollars so I can write? I think most writers struggle with that, of course, but the more I tried to write this application, the more I realized I kind of don’t care. And I don’t really have a ton to say right now.

It’s also weird because for a while I had all these things that seemed so NEWSWORTHY to write about. A ton of heartbreak, depression, and then my gender transition. I was able to write about these things compellingly enough that they stuck with people. But now it’s like, I’m pretty happy, I’m in a healthy relationship and I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say about transitioning at this point in my life. Old. News. I hope those things were not the most interesting thing about me, but sometimes I suspect they are.

I don’t really want to sound whiny, because again, it’s not like I want to go back, but my worldview was the same for 20 years and then it got shifted and everything I’m good at isn’t even a thing anymore. It’s a lot sometimes.

Maybe I can still write, but I need to squeeze it out of me. Maybe it’s just not going to be easy anymore.

Or maybe I’ll find something new to say.

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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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On postponing death

When I resurface from my depression for a few hours or a day or something, I try to blog because it shows hey, I’m ok, things are good, and they will continue being good, right? It’s much easier to read a depressed person’s perspective when they can talk about it in the past tense. “I WAS suicidal but I’m good now and here’s how I survived my mind” is a bit easier to stomach than “I don’t think there’s hope for me, and I probably will die from this.”

It’s isolating, because people in my life have offered to talk with me, or they’ve given up evenings to come spend time with me while at my worst. People have let me reach out to them when I’m incorrigible. It’s amazing. But to tell  you exactly how bad it is is probably pretty alarming, and often the one I reach out to ends up feeling uncomfortable–not just because they are untrained in psychology but also because I sound pretty scary.

And I get that. So I sometimes try to water it down a little bit, so I can still get some support but maybe not be such a scary ticking bomb.

Whenever I feel good, I am so relieved because I assume it means I will never feel bad again. It’s actually very similar to how I feel when I’m down. I feel like I’ll never feel good again, even if I KNOW I will, but it sounds impossible.

At the end of 2016, my girlfriend lost someone close to her and this funeral was yesterday. It’s been of utmost importance to me that I show up for that, that I be present, in the moment, fantastically supportive. No matter how my brain is feeling, I must go to this funeral, and I must be there for her and her family. I was able to attend and even though I was kinda sad (other than for the fact it was a sad event), I pushed with all my might to be there for my girlfriend as she is so often there for me.

As a suicidal person, it’s weird to be at a funeral. Every funeral I’ve thought of lately has been one for me. To be in the presence of death and the family who’s lost someone, it puts a different perspective on death. It’s sobering. Just Friday morning I felt like I was choosing between suicide and going to work (Note: going to work has nothing to do with my depression–my job is actually really great. It’s just brought up here because it was the morning of a business day). I literally sat on my bed half-clothed wondering what I should do next.

But then I went to this funeral and suddenly the selfishness of suicide seems laughable. Why would I ever consider doing that? This man we celebrated on Saturday was so accomplished. He lived a full life, climbed mountains (literally), spent a ton of time outdoors, loved his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren to a full extent, making an everlasting impression on them. I only met him once and I’ll never forget him. He asked me some questions since I am dating his granddaughter, and what could have felt interrogating actually felt welcoming. He hugged me goodbye when I left his house.

I feel like I’ve just been postponing my inevitable suicide. That’s how it feels sometimes. And it still comes in waves but I MUST stick around. I must. I keep forgetting but I need to keep re-remembering. It’s not all better and I’m not magically cured. But it’s okay because I can be fueled by the times I feel good again. I can coast for the bad parts, that’s fine, but dying is not an option. There’s nothing like a funeral outside of your imagination to remind you of that.

I’ve been reflecting about this and I think I need to do two things:

  1. Start exercising
  2. Start and continue a large writing project

I’m not going to get into the fat thing in this post, but all I know is that I hate my body and what I’m currently doing (nothing) is not working. Capitalistic industry or not, I guess I just have to live in this society too, and even though I know it’s fucked up, I can’t outsmart it.

As for the writing project, I need to write poems, a book’s worth. I need to write good poems and bad poems and collect them. I want to be able to write something other than poetry but I also don’t want to, so like, w/e.

Thanks.

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