Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Author: Alyx (page 1 of 23)

Taking a Week Off

Hello, lovely readers! I am only posting this week to let you know that, because I am still fighting this cold and am therefore pretty fuzzy-brained right now, I am taking this week off from writing a real blog post. I’ll be back next week! Thanks for your patience.

Forced Pause

It has…not been the greatest week.

Saturday I went to bed with a slightly stuffy nose. Sunday morning, I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a truck.

I’m writing this on Wednesday afternoon from my couch. I called in sick on Monday, and have worked from home the past couple of days, because I’m out of sick time and technically able to get work done, but don’t feel right bringing my germs into the office.

So it’s going to be a short one this week. How about a quick list of things I’m looking forward to in the next week?

  • Thursday, when this posts, assuming I am feeling well enough to go, I start a clawhammer banjo class at the Old Town School. I am super excited about this. I took at Intro to Banjo class about three years ago and haven’t gone any farther than that; this should be a fun experience.
  • After banjo class, we have tickets to see Mary Gauthier play at the Old Town School. We sat in on some of Mary’s classes at Song School over the summer, and it was a life-changing experience. She’s fabulous, and I’m so, so hoping that I am feeling up to going to the show!
  • Sunday I have volunteer orientation at a local animal shelter, where I will hopefully end up with a regular gig taking care of dogs. I am struggling with the fact that our current schedule and budget are such that dog ownership isn’t really an option yet, so this should be a nice way to get my puppy fix while also, you know, doing a Good Thing.

So there are some happy thoughts for the week. I will try to come back with some more substantive content next week, when I will (hopefully) no longer be fighting through plague-brain.

February Lessons

March has arrived, which means FAWM is officially over.

February was an interesting month, and it taught me a lot. Some of the lessons I learned this month:

  • Inspiration is more likely to come if you give it a space to show up in. I didn’t feel super inspired every time I sat down to write, but it happened enough of the time to convince me that scheduling writing time is actually a really good idea.
  • If you want to write 14 songs in 28 days, you need to sit down and write songs. Showing up and putting in the work is how we get better at things. The more days I got up early to write, the easier it was to get up early to write.
  • I’m an overachiever. I’m sure some of you who know me are rolling your eyes at me, because obviously. But I really had convinced myself that I wasn’t, and I was a little surprised by how quickly I was shooting for a ridiculous stretch goal and how easily my brain can turn “you wrote 19 songs instead of 28” into a feeling of failure.
  • I actually write better under time constraints. The key here, I think, is structure. Open-ended songwriting sessions meander a lot because I am easily distracted. Sitting down to write when I know I have to start getting ready for work in an hour helps me focus.
  • Plans get derailed sometimes, and that’s okay. One of the reasons I didn’t hit my stretch goal of 28 songs was that I was dealing with the spasmed muscles in my shoulder and neck, which made it hard to write (it hurt to look down for any length of time) and play guitar. It was discouraging. But I still hit (and passed) the actual goal. Even if I hadn’t hit the goal, though, I think the fact that I showed up and tried something new is worth celebrating.

I’m pleased with my progress and like a fair number of the 19 songs I wrote last month. I’m excited to polish some of them for a gig I have coming up later this month!

Getting Through

It’s been…a mixed week.

I didn’t write much, compared to the rest of the month (only two songs instead of ~1 per day). I am reminding myself that I hit my goal, and two songs in a week is still a lot. But after so much productivity earlier, it feels a little like failure.

We had a friend in town over the weekend, which was fun. It was great to see them and have excuses to eat at several of our favorite places.

Saturday, though. Saturday was less fun.

See, by Friday night the pain from my spasmed shoulder had moved and settled quite solidly in the back of my neck, and it was…a lot. Acute, throbbing pain that came in waves. So Saturday morning I called our clinic, and managed to get an appointment with my doctor for that afternoon.

At the appointment, my doctor poked and prodded a bit and let me know that it didn’t seem like I’d slipped a disk (something I was starting to get paranoid about), and that it was probably just a bad muscle strain. He gave me a prescription for muscle relaxers, and sent me on my way.

The muscle relaxer is a controlled substance, which meant I had to turn the paper prescription into the pharmacy – they couldn’t call it in ahead. The pharmacy on site at the clinic didn’t have it, so they called around to two or three other Walgreens and finally found one that carried it.

Here’s where things went awry. I should have headed straight for that pharmacy. Instead, I checked the store hours and decided I had time to sit with my partner and our friend at a coffee shop. (If you are thinking, “But Alyx, the store hours are often different from the pharmacy hours,” you are correct.)

When we finally made it over to the pharmacy, they informed me they were closing in five minutes, and that I should try a different pharmacy about a mile away that was open later.

This is where I made my critical error. I should have just handed them the prescription and come back to pick it up in the morning. Instead, I went out and called a Lyft to get to the other pharmacy.

It had been snowing, and the ground was slushy and slick. As I waited for the Lyft to show up, I took a wrong step and came crashing down on my left side…and on my phone, which I’d been holding in my left hand.

The phone screen was shattered all to hell, and I was now hurting in more places than just my neck. But I went to the other pharmacy, hoping things would improve.

Things did not improve.

After being casually misgendered by the pharmacist and waiting several minutes (during which time I was at least able to determine that I had insurance on my phone, so I made an appointment for Sunday to get the screen replaced), I was informed that they were out of stock.

Basically, this had turned into Alyxander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I grabbed a bottle of ibuprofen, took back my prescription, and headed home.

The day ended with delicious pizza, our friend was with me the whole time, and I was able to go back to the pharmacy that had it in stock first thing Sunday morning and get the meds, so it all worked out in the end. But it was still a really rough day.

I’m still sore – the muscle relaxers and ibuprofen are helping, but it feels like awfully slow going. Still, I’m proud of myself for handling things as well as I did given the circumstances (I wanted to cry and throw a fit several times, but didn’t).

Now I’m just trying to get back into my songwriting routine.

Here’s hoping this weekend is rather less eventful than last weekend was!

Ride It Out

I mentioned last week that I was making unexpectedly excellent progress on writing for FAWM. I’ve continued to write, and I hit my goal of 14 songs in the month of February on Sunday, the 11th. (Favorites so far have been posted here.)

I don’t know where I’m finding inspiration. I am trying not to ask too many questions. I’m just going to ride this out as long as I can, and find out just how many songs I can write in 28 days.

On Thursday night last week, it snowed a whole bunch here in Chicago, and my office was closed on Friday. Which was a good thing, because thanks to whatever wonky position I slept in, I woke up with my right shoulder/neck muscles spasming.

As you might imagine, this was super discouraging and not at all conducive to writing, not to mention super painful. But I pushed through and wrote anyway. As of this writing on the evening of Wednesday, the 14th, I’ve only gone one day this month without writing. I’m really proud of that.

This weekend we have a friend coming to visit, so I may or may not get any writing done, but that’s okay. I’m happy with where I’ve gotten to so far, and excited to see where I end up by the end of the month!


We are a week into February, and thus a week into February Album Writing Month. I’ll be honest, when I signed on for this mad endeavor, I did not expect it to go all that well. I’ve averaged about 20 songs a year since I started writing again in 2014 – less than a song every two weeks. Writing an average of a song every two days felt pretty much impossible.

But last Thursday, on February 1st, I woke up and wrote a song.

And I’ve gone on to do the same thing every day since. In fact, since I wrote multiple songs on Saturday and Sunday, as of this writing on the morning of Thursday the 8th, I’m up to eleven songs.

I have no idea what’s happening or how. I am not asking questions. I’m just getting up and writing and riding this creative wave as long as I’m able to.

I have been less productive elsewhere in my life, although I did a fair bit of cooking last night and washed a whole lotta dishes. (I’ve actually been pretty cranky this week, about most things aside from the high of finishing songs. I’m not really sure what to do about that.) But at least I’m finding things to write about!

Write Write Write

I almost forgot to write a blog post this week.

I usually write on Wednesdays and schedule the post to go live on Thursday. But yesterday I was too busy being anxious about today being the first day of February to remember to write a blog post.

See, I made the possibly questionable decision to sign up for February Album Writing Month. The goal is to write 14 songs in the 28 days of February. When I’m in songwriting classes, I write a song a week. If I’m really ambitious, I might write two. But a song every other day? That’s a lot. Like, really a lot.

And as I looked over my schedule for February, I realized that my evenings are largely booked all month long. Which means if I’m going to do this thing, I’m going to have to get up around 5am every morning to write.

I have been struggling with mornings again lately, and so I was pretty worried going into today that I was going to oversleep.

But guess what?

I didn’t oversleep.

And guess what else?

I WROTE A SONG! I finished up just before 7, which meant I had plenty of time to get ready for work, too.

I don’t know how the rest of the month will go, and I’m taking it one day at a time. But this feels like a really strong start, and I’m quite chuffed that it worked out as well as it did.

Dysphoria and Dysmorphia Monsters

I had a weird day yesterday. I had to get up early to go to PT before work, and that was fine, and then I missed the bus I was hoping to take to get to work on time, which wasn’t a huge deal – I knew I’d have to stay about half an hour later than usual, which is annoying, but not impossible.

But then I got to work, and little things seemed to throw me way off-kilter. (Like when I walked in and discovered that whatever facilities person was working the night before had left my trash can on my chair after emptying it. Who does that?) I was irritable, and easily flustered. And most of all, I felt really, really unsettled in my body.

It wasn’t until I got home and caught an unfortunate glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror in which I felt I looked like I still had breasts that I started realizing what the problem might be.

Dysphoria is a hard thing to explain, even to other people who experience it, sometimes – because while there are common threads of experience, everyone’s relationship with their body is different. A lot of people are familiar with the feeling of body dysmorphia, but dysphoria is…well, it’s different. Sometimes related, but different. It’s not so much having an objectively inaccurate perception of what your body looks or feels like as it is the knowing that some part of your anatomy or physiology is wrong, and feels like it doesn’t belong to you.

When I first came out as genderqueer, I didn’t really experience body-related dysphoria, but I hated my voice. It made me feel so utterly wrong in my body, like it wasn’t even my voice at all.

As time went on, I did start to experience body dysphoria, but I didn’t think I could call it that, because it looked different for me than it did for other trans folks I knew. It wasn’t so much that I hated my body as it was that parts of it (my chest in particular) felt like they weren’t mine, and I didn’t know what to do with them.

Things have been a lot better in general since I had top surgery, because that directly addressed the greatest source of my dysphoria. I think because I hadn’t had really intense feelings of wrongness in my body since then, I kind of let myself get lulled into this false sense of security, like it was over and I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.

But when I think about yesterday, and how uncomfortable I felt in my body, and how viscerally I reacted to seeing a reflection that didn’t feel accurate…well, I’m realizing now that it was a visit from the fraternal twin monsters of dysphoria and dysmorphia. Surgery wasn’t a magical fix for everything, which I knew, but kind of forgot. Same with hormones. Because of the person I am and the body I have, I will probably always struggle with these monsters from time to time. Which is…not fun.

I debated back and forth about whether I wanted to write about this at all, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that it took me years to recognize what dysphoria looked like for me because everyone else’s story sounded different from mine, and I feel the need to remind folks that every trans person’s story is different (just like every cis person’s story is different). We all experience the world and ourselves in different ways, and we need to make space for that.

Winter Blahs

I am having a very blah sort of week. I’m not sad, exactly. I just feel very unmotivated, and tired, and nothing sounds like very much fun or like anything I want to do. All I really want to do is hibernate.

It wasn’t until I was on my way to therapy on Monday that I realized that this is probably a weird instance of the depressive side of my Bipolar cycle sneaking up on me. Usually when I’m heading into a depressive episode, I can tell – I feel really down. But “down” doesn’t feel like the right word for this. It’s just…blah.

It was a struggle to get anything done at work last week. It was a struggle to write my song for songwriting class (and my goal was actually to write TWO songs last week). It was a struggle to get myself to show up for my volunteer shift and for the social things I’d committed to doing (even though all of those things ended up being fine). I had a minor breakdown last Thursday evening, because I got home at the end of a long day, and even though I’d made a plan and knew what I should get done, none of those things actually happened. I got things done, but none of them were things on my to do list, and I felt like an enormous failure.

Since I was able to identify this as depression on Monday, it’s been a little easier – if not to find motivation or give-a-damn, at least to sit quietly with the blah-ness of it all and recognize that this, too, shall pass. Yesterday the sun was out, and I had the same revelation I do every time we get through a cloudy spate of days and come out the other side into sunlight – I am incredibly affected by the weather. I should probably definitely be taking vitamin D.

In the meantime, I’m finding ways to cope. I’m listening to a lot of Dar Williams (even when I’m not listening to Dar Williams, my brain’s playing The Christians and the Pagans or The Babysitter’s Here or When I Was A Boy). I’m taking time to write down what I’m anxious about. I’m thinking a lot about the Starfinder game I’m going to start playing soon. I’m dreaming up new tattoos (even though I can’t afford a new tattoo right now). I’m celebrating the fact that I pushed my credit card debt down under the next $1000 since making a payment last week and getting a disputed charge taken care of. (I’m trying not to be disappointed that I haven’t gotten farther in the process of paying it off.) I’m trying to remind myself that while yes, I probably should be reading and knitting and writing more, the fact that I’m not doing it right now does not mean that this is what my life is going to be like forever. Once again: this, too, shall pass.


After I posted last week about my word of the year being “Action”…I promptly caught the cold from hell and lost several days to that nonsense. I was out of the office for three of the last five work days, and spent a lot of time annoyed by the fact that I couldn’t breathe through half my nose and kept waking myself up coughing. But I finally (FINALLY) and starting to feel more human again, so now I feel like it’s time to move forward with starting 2018 (a little over a week late, but hey, who’s counting?).

I’m continuing PT for my knee, which is helping a lot. It also makes me whine a lot, because the exercises are HARD (but feel like they shouldn’t be). I’m working on being more gracious about it and grateful for the progress I’m making.

Songwriting class started this week, and I’m trying to hit the ground running, so I have a shot at hitting my goal of 40 songs written this year (twice the number I’ve written each of the past two years).

I’m working on anxiety coping mechanisms in therapy. One of the things I’m trying this week is writing down my anxieties, in the hopes that getting them out of my head onto paper will make it easier to talk myself down. So far it seems like it’s helpful, but it’s only been a couple of days, so jury’s still out. I left my session this week with several ideas to try, though, so if this doesn’t work out, I have other options.

One of the things I want to do a better job of this year is actually planning out my weeks. There’s a big part of me that hates the idea of being boxed into a rigid schedule, but I also recognize that I’m more productive if I have a plan. If the only way I will make time to write songs or read books or whatever else I want to do is if I block out time in my schedule every week, then that’s what I need to do.

I’m trying to keep my goals reasonable, to not bite off more than I can chew in the first two weeks of the year, because I don’t want to burn out. Finding the balance there is a challenge.

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