Accidental Fudge

Updates Thursdays

Author: Alyx (page 1 of 21)

Anxious Days

I’m having an anxious week, and I don’t really know why.

It might be the regular stress of the upcoming holidays.

It might be the minor (but still stressful) drama and health issues happening with my team at work.

It might also just be my brain.

In any case, my body decided yesterday that it was a great time to develop an eye twitch. And not just one eye, but both, sporadically, all day. Obviously I’m a huge fan of this development.

There have been bright spots this week, mostly revolving around music – a songwriting classmate’s concert, meeting new musician friends, having the new song I’d talked myself out of liking go over okay in class on Tuesday. Unfortunately, all of it has been underpinned by this frantic activity in my brain.

It’s not even that I’m anxious about some specific, concrete thing. (I guess that’s why they call it Generalized Anxiety Disorder.) I just can’t get my brain to shut off.

I’m also really, really tired. These two things are probably related.

I feel like I’ve been drinking excessive amounts of coffee – I’m jittery, my eyes are twitching, I feel wired and like I’m crashing simultaneously. Only, I drink decaf coffee these days. This appears to be entirely fabricated within the confines of my brain.

Anniversaries

November is a month of anniversaries.

The beginning of the month marked my four year anniversary of starting testosterone. The day after Thanksgiving was the three year anniversary of my legal name change.

As of the 17th, my partner and I have been together for seven years. It’s been a wild, wonderful ride, and one I don’t intend to get off of anytime soon.

And on this day, four years ago, Accidental Fudge was born. What started as blog about the adventures of transition has morphed into a blog about the adventures of my life in general. I can still count on two hands the number of Thursdays I’ve missed since I started this thing, and that, to me, feels like a significant accomplishment.

I don’t have a whole heck of a lot to write about this week, but I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who stop by every week to read what’s on my mind. This is a pretty self-indulgent blog, and I never really expected to have any sort of audience. There aren’t a lot of you, but there are a lot more than I expected, and I appreciate you.

In the spirit of what this blog has become, let’s wrap up this post with a handful of happy things from the past week, shall we?

  1. I wrote last week about my general distaste for Thanksgiving/Black Friday. I do, however, like to support local spots on Small Business Saturday. This year I went to four or five different shops in my neighborhood and the surrounding area, and got about 80% of my holiday shopping done. It was exhausting, but I also had fun.
  2. On Monday, I went to see Thor: Ragnarok with a friend. I was not expecting great things, but oh my god, it was wonderful. It’s hilarious – basically slapstick with swords and explosions and superheroes. And there’s gothtastic Cate Blanchett, and…yeah. It was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  3. Yesterday, I took a sick day because I was completely exhausted when I woke up, and felt mildly feverish. Which sounds like a not-so-happy thing, but I slept a ton and had a really relaxing day, which means that I’m feeling 90% better today.

Gratitude Every Damn Day

It’s Thanksgiving in the US today. The last two years, I’ve posted about my discomfort with this holiday. White colonialism isn’t really a thing I’m into celebrating, particularly when it hasn’t ended and we continue to refuse to own up to that.

This year, I’m thinking about Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and how they relate.

My initial thought was, “oh, what contrast there is between a day that’s ostensibly about gratitude and the very next day that is all about capitalism and the acquisition of stuff.” And then I thought about it some more, and realized that there’s not a lot of actual difference between the two days at all.

Thanksgiving is the holiday where we pay lip service to gratitude and ignore our history of colonialism and the slaughter and displacement of Indigenous people, all fueled by greed. On Black Friday, we have our external demonstration that our values haven’t changed.

People literally die on Black Friday in their quest to get a good deal on stuff they probably don’t need. Let’s put that another way: People literally kill other human beings over stuff they probably don’t need on Black Friday. And we don’t do anything about it. If anything, the craze gets worse every year. Which seems to be the quintessential America way of dealing with preventable tragedy. (See also: the 95 mass shootings that have happened in the US since 1982.)

I don’t want to pay lip service to gratitude; I don’t want to do it one day a year, and I certainly don’t want to save it for a holiday that’s built on lies. I want to be grateful every damn day. To that end, I’ve been trying for the past couple of months to list three things I’m grateful for every morning when I get up and every night before I go to bed. I want to keep an attitude of “thanksgiving” every day of the year.

Part of being grateful is sharing what we’ve got when we recognize we have more than we need. There are links in both of the blog posts linked in the first line of this post to organizations that I’ve suggested donating to on past Thanksgivings; here a few more:

The Marsha P. Johnson Institute

Greater Chicago Food Depository

Chicago Community Bond Fund

Transgender Law Center

Planned Parenthood

 

Writer’s Block

I put this week’s blog post off to the last minute this week (I’m writing this less than half an hour before my posts usually go live), because I just don’t know what to write about.

My songwriting class has been…frustrating, if productive so far, but I don’t really want to rant about that.

I’m still learning how to be a morning person. It’s been mostly going well, although the last couple of days have been rough, probably because of the weather.

Work is going okay; this week I took an eight hour online class (over two days) to get a better foundation in my knowledge of how to pull data out of our system.

I’m incredibly sleepy this morning. I’m working from home, waiting for someone from the building maintenance team to come and take a look at our tub, which has been draining slowly and dripping incessantly.

Basically, life is happening, moving right along, but it hasn’t been especially eventful or exciting this week. But in an effort to have something to post this week, here are three things I’m happy about right now:

  1. The songwriting class has been frustrating, but I’m getting back into the project I started a couple of years ago of writing a song for every card in a tarot deck. That’s 78 songs, and I’ve only finished four or five, so I’ll be at it for a while. But it’s fun to feel excited about it again.
  2. I’m working on some fun knitting projects. I’m making a sweater for my nephew for Christmas, a sweater for myself, and I started some socks last night that have an interesting construction that I’m excited about.
  3. We hung out with some new friends last night, and it was a lot of fun. I love finding people that I can laugh with.

Reading Deprivation

I’m currently in the middle of week four of The Artist’s Way, and this week I’m supposed to try “reading deprivation” as a means of getting my own ideas out into the world. It is what it sounds like: this week, I’m not supposed to read. The idea is that, while reading is not an inherently bad thing, it often serves as a way for us to distract ourselves from our own thoughts and ideas. If you can’t read, eventually you get bored enough that you start to entertain yourself in new and creative ways, I suppose.

Now, I’m having to make some exceptions – I can’t do my job without email, and reading emails and text messages outside of work doesn’t tend to take up a huge amount of my time, so I haven’t really counted that as reading, either. Where I see myself wasting time and avoiding my own thoughts is in the moments where I get lost on Facebook or poking around other odd corners of the internet. So I’ve basically been off Facebook all week (with a couple of under-60-second exceptions), I’m checking Instagram less often, and I’m trying to steer clear of Google. I’m also not picking up the books I really want to be reading.

It’s been interesting so far. I’ve done more journaling. I’ve been doing tarot readings for myself (a different type of reading altogether that I sort of arbitrarily decided didn’t count), but haven’t cracked open a guidebook when I feel stuck on the meaning of something, which means I have to lean more on intuition and my own interpretations of things – not a bad practice, really. I’ve been looking for ways where I can use my imagination more, because I’m aware, when thinking about all of this, of how little I stretch those mental muscles these days.

I don’t know if it’s related to The Artist’s Way or not (I’m always skeptical), but I have actually been pretty damn productive this week, both creatively and at work.

Last week, I was feeling a little bit dubious about the new songwriting class I’m in – it’s pretty entirely self-directed (no predetermined assignments from the instructor), and I was worried that I’d be overwhelmed and not driven to get things done. But I didn’t want to dismiss it out of hand just because it’s not the format I’m used to, so I decided that I’m going to use this eight-week class to work on my ongoing project with no deadline – writing a song for every card in a tarot deck. I wrote my first tarot song in months over the weekend. I really liked how it turned out, and then I got some really useful feedback on it in class, which is ultimately what I want out of a songwriting class. So that was exciting.

And yesterday, at work, I managed to make some solid progress on a project that I’d been avoiding for weeks for no real reason. It was getting to the point where I’d avoided it so long that it felt impossible to do anything about it, but when I finally sat down and broke it into a couple of different tasks, it became suddenly manageable.

It’s been pretty challenging to stay awake through my morning pages this week, but I’ve managed. Some mornings I can get the three pages written in about 40 minutes…other days, like yesterday, it takes an hour and fifteen minutes or more. But I think it’s worth it, if for no other reason than it seems to be turning me into more of a morning person.

Unproductive

I’ve had a pretty unproductive week. 

Last Friday, my office mate called off with strep throat. I spent all weekend feeling off, and after work on Monday, finally bit the bullet and went to urgent care. 

I don’t have strep. I do, however, have a sinus infection, which explains why I’ve felt a low-key sort of miserable for a couple of weeks. 

I got antibiotics and a nasal spray, and I’m starting to feel somewhat better. But between my sinus infection and the fact that my office mate has been able to come in for all of two hours so far this week, I’ve not been feeling especially motivated to get much done.  

I definitely have work I should be doing. And I’m getting some things checked off the list. I feel like I’m avoiding some of the big items, though. I hate how mushy sinus infections make my brain. It’s hard to focus, and hard to prioritize what needs to get done first. 

I can’t believe it’s November. In light of the new month, here are a few things I’m grateful for from October:

  1. Hotdish Monday. My partner and I have a cookbook called The Great Minnesota Hotdish, and we’ve instituted Hotdish Monday as a standing part of our meal planning routine. It’s lovely, cozy food that pairs so well with the cooler weather. (Want to see what we’re making? We have a hashtag on Facebook and Instagram: #hotdishmonday.)
  2. I managed to get up at my first alarm the entire second half of October. As someone who has always struggled with mornings, this feels incredibly significant. 
  3. The cooler weather makes me want to hibernate (and eat hotdish), so I’m grateful that I have friends who are better at planning hangouts than I am. They keep me from becoming totally reclusive and remind me that I have the best chosen family. 

Making Mental Space

First, a quick mental health update: I am still wading my way through this latest depressive swing in my Bipolar cycle, but I feel like I’m starting to move out of it. I haven’t been feeling great physically this week, so it’s been a little hard to tell, but I seem to be reaching the point where I have more energy. Whether that’s due solely to the cyclical nature of my moods, or due in part to some other work I’ve been doing, I don’t know, but I’m feeling better overall than I was last week.

I mentioned last week that I’ve been trying to establish some new, healthier routines for myself. Over the past several months I’ve noticed I tend to go to bed pretty early and I still have trouble getting up in the morning. I’ve felt like I’m tired all the time, regardless of how much sleep I get. I’ve had to accept the fact that I am no longer really a night owl. As I’ve been examining this pattern, I’ve realized I actually want to become a morning person. This is the first time in my life that that’s been true. So I’ve been getting up at what I would formerly have referred to as an ungodly hour in the morning  (or “stupid o’clock”), writing my morning pages (I’m on week two of The Artist’s Way), and giving myself time to start the day off more slowly, rather than rolling out of bed twenty minutes before I need to leave and dragging myself out the door.

It’s been going…surprisingly well. I think it makes a difference knowing that the first thing I have to do when I get up is write, rather than get ready for work. Intentionally planning non-work things into my morning means that I don’t fight to stay in bed as long. I’ve actually gotten up at my first alarm every morning for the past ten days – prior to that, I was setting five, six, seven alarms at intervals in the morning, because I knew I’d turn off one or two in my sleep, and while I always had the thought of “well, maybe I’ll get up earlier,” when I knew I had an alarm letting me know that I could no longer stay in bed if I wanted to make it to work on time, I let myself off the hook too easily. The fact that I’ve managed to be awake and doing something within five minutes of my first (and only) alarm for over a week feels like a huge accomplishment. Granted, I write my morning pages sitting up in bed, so I’m not up and moving about, really, but I’m still awake!

My partner and I are continuing to do a weekly meal plan (which is getting easier by the week, because now we know how much time and effort we save plotting it all out at the beginning of the week rather than getting to each evening and playing the “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” game), and we’re also getting better at keeping up on routine housework. I feel like our space has never looked as consistently nice as it has for the past couple of months. I’m really proud of us.

In the end, what I’m trying to do is give myself more mental space. My mind is busy all the time. I lay down to go to sleep, and my brain goes racing down rabbit holes, trying to make sense of something that happened today, or last week, or ten years ago. I wake up, and it’s doing the same thing. I get songs stuck in my head. I’m easily distracted. I am almost never not thinking. But if my physical space is clean/less visually cluttered, and I don’t have to worry about what’s for lunch or dinner, and I’ve taken time in the morning to dump some of my brain out onto paper…hopefully, in the end, I’ll find that my mind settles down more often. Ideally, I’d like to be at a point where racing thoughts are just ideas, not anxiety – where the routines I’ve established allow me to let go of some of the worry so I can focus on more interesting (and maybe even productive) things.

What about you, friends? What do you do to create mental space for yourself?

Down Days

It has, objectively, been a pretty good week I got to spend some quality time with friends, enjoy a comedy show, a theatre show, and a concert, and I’ve had some quality alone time, too. 

But because my Bipolar brain doesn’t always or only react to outside circumstances, the objective positivity of the week hasn’t translated to an equal level of emotional positivity. 

I’m in a bit of a depressed downswing, is what it comes down to. 

Now, this is nowhere near the worst I’ve felt, and I know that eventually I’ll be fine. But it’s still a struggle. 

At the same time that this downswing has been happening, I’ve been working really hard to establish more routine in my life. My partner and I have started meal planning over the weekend for the whole upcoming week. I’m getting back into the habit of using my planner and writing down my to do lists instead of trying to keep it all in my head. And I started working through The Artist’s Way this week, so I’m getting up early to do morning pages (three pages written longhand as a brain dump first thing in the morning) every day.

Establishing new routines is a challenge at the best of times, but it’s especially hard when depression hits and leaves you with no motivation. 

Still, I’m managing okay. I’ve done a better job than I was expecting myself to do. And I think it’s helping. Having a routine and a schedule to stick to saves energy, because I’m not wasting time figuring out what I need to be doing in the moment. 

So life doesn’t feel especially easy right now, but I think I can say that I’m doing okay. 

Big Days in Transness

Yesterday felt like a big day for me.

It was National Coming Out Day, which I have complicated feelings about – I feel like there can be too much emphasis on the importance of coming out and not enough on the importance of personal safety. Not everyone is privileged enough to be able to come out safely, and they shouldn’t feel like they need to do it “for the cause” if it means that they’re jeopardizing themselves.

I do have the privilege of relative safety, though, and I do feel like it’s important for me to be out and proud as much as possible, because I have seen firsthand the powerful change that can come about in people’s perspectives when they realize queer people and trans people are people they know, and not just nameless, faceless statistics.

After the election, I decided I was going to make a point to be more out at work. I was terrified, but I also felt like it was some small way that I could reclaim some power in what felt (and still often feels) like a hopeless situation. And then we added a new member to our department in the spring, and I decided that I wasn’t comfortable coming out to her, because we share an office and she seemed quite a bit more conservative than I am, and I didn’t want to make things awkward.

Two weeks ago, this coworker thought they had met a trans person for the first time, and she was freaking out about this person using the women’s restroom, and (probably assuming that, since I was a young, gay man, I could do this) she asked me to “explain transgender” to her.

I admit my initial reaction was not great – I laughed. What else could I do? So many of my coming out experiences have felt forced, and here was another. So I told her I was transgender (to which she responded, “No, you’re not!”). I told her we just need to pee like anyone else, that nothing was going to happen to her because a trans person was using the same restroom she was.

We haven’t talked about it since, but now I feel compelled, once again, to be out and proud wherever I can. I have so much privilege in that I am read 99% of the time as a cis man, and I’m white on top of that, and I need to use that privilege for good.

Aside from being National Coming Out Day, yesterday was my one-year post-op anniversary from chest masculinization surgery. It feels simultaneously like it’s been more and less than a year – on the one hand, I feel so much more comfortable in this body. On the other hand, I still vividly remember what it was like to bind every day (and my lungs remember, too), and when I am tired and have changed out of work clothes have occasionally had to remind myself that leaving the house again might mean putting on pants, but it doesn’t mean wrestling my way into a binder anymore.

Surgery was not a thing I thought I was going to want when I started thinking about transition, but it was definitely the right decision for me. I am still grateful and blown away that my insurance wound up paying for it. The fact that I had surgery doesn’t make me more trans (or more legitimate) than anyone else, but it was a way that I was able to make my body feel more like home, and really, that’s something I wish for everyone.

Joyful Travels

As I write this, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, getting a little work done from home before heading to the airport. By the time this goes live, I will be in Minnesota.

With all the darkness in the world this week, it’s nice to have something to be really, genuinely happy about – one of my best friends from my bible college days is getting married, and I’m so glad my partner and I are going to get to celebrate with her and her soon-to-be-husband.

Here are a handful of the things I’m most looking forward to over the weekend:

  1. The wedding. I’m not always the most excited about weddings, but I’m looking forward to this one. This friend and I have been through some things together, and I’m happy to bear witness to anything that is making her happy.
  2. I’m getting coffee with one of my professors from bible college (the only one I still talk to at this point), who I haven’t seen since before I moved to Chicago five years ago. She’s been through a lot recently, and I’m grateful that she’s taking the time to see me.
  3. I get to see my dog and my nephew. My little old lady dog is 15, and she’s slowing down. Every time I’ve seen her this year has felt like the biggest gift, because it was only a year ago that I thought I would probably never see her again (since I wasn’t back in communication with my family yet). I am painfully aware that every time I see her from here on out may be the last, so I’m not taking any opportunity for granted. Our visit to my parents happens to coincide with the time that they’re watching my nephew, too, so I’ll get to hang out with him a bit. From what little contact I’ve had with him, he seems like a bright, creative kid, and I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
  4. This might be the least-packed weekend in Minnesota we’ve had in…well, in a long time. I’m sad that we can’t see everyone, but I’m also looking forward to just relaxing a bit. And I’m hoping it’ll make going back to work on Monday a little easier.
  5. On Sunday, after we get back, we’re going to meet up with a friend at an apple orchard in Wisconsin. Despite my allergies to almost everything outdoors, I love autumn, and apple picking feels like the quintessential autumnal activity.
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