A nailbiting milestone for me today: I filed my nails down last Tuesday and they've grown unhindered for an entire week! Tonight I filed them down again while watching Double Indemnity (much better than biting them when the movie got intense). I have "file nails" on my weekly checklist for Tuesday nights, since they're my alone-time nights and it's easy to file my nails while doing something else.
Filing is definitely working better for me than clipping. I'm going to wear out this nail file pretty quickly, but the result is so much neater and smoother, with no corners to gnaw on, and it's easy to get exactly the length I want. (I file all the white off, no more and no less.) A week's worth of growth gets me to the point where I start being really aware of my nails when I'm typing, and then I file them down before noticing them becomes biting them.
I'm also trying to make myself pay attention to the times I use my nails, to remind myself that they're useful and I want to keep them around instead of biting them off.
I put December 1 on my calendar as my "quit date" and so far, so good. Hopefully the weekly filing routine will keep me on track. I always do better with routines.
On another forum, someone asked for breakup songs. I searched my journal archives and realized that I never got around to putting up my entire "Not that I'm bitter" playlist, which I have found a great comfort in times of stress and sorrow. So here it is, for your listening... um, pleasure?
Obligatory caveat: everything is quite splendid in my relationship and work lives at the moment, and I haven't felt a need to listen to this in ages. I'm sharing it as a gift to others, not as a reflection of my own state of mind.
It's pretty strong medicine and I don't recommend listening to it all the way through unless you are actually mid-breakup. However, it does make great driving music, especially if what you're driving is a moving van full of your stuff.
Happy, Darling? - 1:00 - John Fortune & Eleanor Bron - Dead Parrot Society: The Best Of British Comedy
North Dakota - 4:00 - Kris Delmhorst - Appetite
Voodoo Doll - 3:54 - Adria Malcolm - Adria Malcolm
Horseshoes - 4:25 - Moxy Früvous - Live Noise
Ain't It A Shame - 5:33 - The B-52's - Bouncing Off The Satellites
In My Own Way - 2:11 - Various Artists (Shock Treatment) - Shock Treatment
England 2 Colombia 0 - 3:46 - Kirsty MacColl - Tropical Brainstorm
Queen Of Rain - 4:51 - Roxette - Tourism
Supergloo - 3:48 - The Kimberly Trip - Catastrophic Behavior
You mistreated me:
Something I Should Know - 2:59 - Great Big Sea - Play
Drama! - 4:06 - Erasure - Pop! The First 20 Hits
Easy There, Steady Now - 4:56 - Richard Thompson - Austin City Limits: Live From Austin, TX: Richard Thompson
Never Enough - 6:34 - Dream Theater - Octavarium
Untouchable - 4:03 - Garbage - Beautiful Garbage
Karoke Promises - 3:46 - Hit Me - Greatest Hits Vol. 17
Bitchin' In The Kitchen - 2:31 - Various Artists (Shock Treatment) - Shock Treatment
Who Needs Love (Like That) - 3:07 - Erasure - Pop! The First 20 Hits
Run-Around - 4:41 - Blues Traveler - Four
Show Me A Little Shame - 3:44 - Ben Harper - Burn To Shine
Dam That River - 3:09 - Alice In Chains - Dirt
Would I Lie To You? - 4:27 - Eurythmics - Eurythmics: Greatest Hits
BJ Don't Cry - 3:21 - Moxy Früvous - Live Noise
I hurt and so should you:
Cry Me A River - 3:37 - Various Artists (Swing) - Swing!
Would? - 3:28 - Alice In Chains - Dirt
Hard On Me - 3:49 - Tom Petty - Wildflowers
Take Me Or Leave Me - 3:43 - Various Artists (Rent) - Rent
Change - 8:50 - Oingo Boingo - Farewell (live)
Walking Away - 5:05 - Information Society - Information Society
I've Got a Match - 2:37 - They Might Be Giants - Lincoln
Looking For Trade - 2:56 - Various Artists (Shock Treatment) - Shock Treatment
It's Over Now - 4:09 - Cause & Effect - Trip
Get The Funk Out - 4:24 - Extreme - Pornograffitti
One More Minute - 4:02 - "Weird" Al Yankovic - Dr. Demento's 25th Anniversary Collection
Time To Move On - 3:15 - Tom Petty - Wildflowers
Fly - 5:23 - Moxy Früvous - Live Noise
Interstate Love Song - 3:16 - Stone Temple Pilots
Big Daddy - 5:38 - Talking Heads - Naked
Getting some distance:
The Last Time - 4:15 - Eurythmics - Revenge
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong - 4:19 - Adria Malcolm - Adria Malcolm
They'll Need a Crane - 2:33 - They Might Be Giants - Lincoln
Near Wild Heaven - 3:20 - R.E.M. - Out Of Time
There's a Fine, Fine Line - 2:40 - Various Artists (Avenue Q) - Avenue Q
Don't Call Me Baby - 3:12 - Voice of the Beehive - Let It Bee
Key To The Highway - 3:40 - Eric Clapton & B.B. King - Riding With The King
Twisting - 1:57 - They Might Be Giants - Flood
Walking The Long Miles Home - 4:01 - Richard Thompson - Austin City Limits: Live From Austin, TX: Richard Thompson
In A Big Country - 4:45 - Big Country
A Little Respect - 3:32 - Erasure - Pop! The First 20 Hits
Change the Locks - 4:57 - Tom Petty
Goodbye, Goodbye - 3:31 - Oingo Boingo - Anthology
On the past three nights, according to SleepBot, I slept 9.1, 9.1, and 9.7 hours. In a row. In my own bed. In my own safe quiet non-pee-smelling room. All by myself. SUCH JOY.
A thousand blessings upon the person who first tried giving Prozac to anxious cats. ( Kitty happiness, at last )
Today I hung out with X for a while; they've been ill for the past few days but were mostly over it today, so we took a short walk to run a couple of errands and then hung out in their room on our separate laptops. Eventually I got hungry, as did J, so he and I reheated shepherd's pie for dinner (mmm, pie) and ate together in the living room. After a couple of pwnies (mmm, more pie) he wandered off and I stayed at the table, reading an old favorite book as the Hanukkah candles burned slowly down next to me. It felt like an unexpectedly sweet callback to adolescence: after the family candle-lighting and gift-giving and dinner-having, peaceful time to curl up and read, with that lovely alone-in-shared-space feeling of the warmth of other people's recent presence without the pressure to interact. Sam hung out in my lap for a while, which would have made adolescent-me delirious with joy. I reheated some stew for X when they got hungry and then went right back to my book. I must have sat there for two or three hours like that. It was perfect.
And then suddenly it was almost 10, and I felt a wave of anxious certainty that X and J would both be jealously resentful of my time alone. ( On solitude, and not owing anyone my time )
In the meantime, I've spent two hours on this, and that was very worthwhile but it has me up two hours past my bedtime. The danger of four-day weekends is the sleep time and wake time both slowly creeping later. If I don't want to be thrown entirely awry on Monday, I'd better get myself to bed.
- thinking about:
behavior.relaxing, behavior.self-care, body.sleep, events.holidays, events.holidays.hannukah, experiences.joy, experiences.reading, experiences.solitude, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.loneliness, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.depression, mind.wiring.introversion, people.cats, places.home
Thursday was a Thursday. I hear some people had a holiday. We enjoyed having a Thursday off work and otherwise refused to partake in celebrations of religious gratitude, colonialism, or conspicuous consumption.
Today was an epic cooking day. J did several rounds of grocery shopping. X gave us a clean kitchen to cook in, and took the trash and recycling out whenever we filled the bins. I compiled a shopping list (last night, so J could shop while I slept this morning) and then organized our mise en place.Before: container allocation.After: ready to cook.
The letters A through T are to keep track of what goes in when. (Recipes looked like this: "Heat [Q] oil and cook [R] shallot, carrots, and mushrooms until the mushroom liquid has cooked off and the vegetables have caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add [S] rice...") The letters in the right-hand corner are to keep track of what goes with what: L for lentil soup, S for shepherd's pie, C for chili, and R for risotto.
We started prep at 15:30; it took about an hour. Cooking took another three, at a fairly leisurely pace. And now we have eaten a delicious dinner (I had chili for the first time in years! I'm slowly getting over the Arisia cooking trauma!) and have vast quantities of food all tucked away in containers. We're definitely getting our money's worth out of the upright freezer.
As a bonus, last night I made pumpkin pie squares
(a.k.a. pwnies), which came out beautifully, though I didn't compact the crust quite enough. Time to invest in a pastry roller! But they are super delicious, even the ones with slightly crumbly crusts. I maaaaaaaaay have eaten two and a half squares instead of the one I intended to have for dessert.
Now that we have a sense of how much time and effort is involved in a marathon cooking day like this, I think we'll probably do one every couple of months just to keep the fridge and freezer well stocked. The investment totally pays off in money saved on eating out, and reduced stress because we know we always have safe, tasty food available when we need it.
J is washing the cast iron. The dishwasher is drying its second load, and in a bit I'll unload it and start a third. In the meantime, we bask in the warm glow of a job well done.
The last few days have been good days. The week before them was not.
Thursday was especially difficult due to a combination of work stress and X getting extremely ill while out with coworkers, to the point where I had to go pick them up and bring them home because they were in no shape to get home on their own. If that had to happen, it happened as well as it could have: illness only temporary, all lost items recovered, and colleagues tremendously kind and supportive. It was still pretty wretched, and scary. We spent most of Friday recovering.( Foundling cat update: he's just not into us. )
I feel awful about not being able to keep him, but it really just is not working for him to be here. He needs to be an only cat and have a home where he can run around and own everything, with no other-kitty-smell anywhere to set off his territorial urges. He'd also be a great working cat in a place with mice, and a great indoor/outdoor cat in the countryside. (I'm usually vehement about keeping cats indoors, for their own safety as well as for the sake of songbirds, but this guy really needs room to run.) If you know anyone who would be interested in adopting him and would be able to provide a home that would make him happy, please point them to his Petfinder ad
. We're glad to help transport him anywhere near NYC.
In brighter news, as I said, the last few days have been really good. It's been a nice quiet weekend. We really needed one of those. J had gaming both days and got social time with his new friend D, I got to go out and bustle around, X got time alone, and we had a lovely family dinner last night. X and I went shopping yesterday, as we both needed new jeans, and X's shoes were so worn that the holes had holes in them. We found everything we wanted and then some. I should not be allowed in the menswear department at Macy's without a minder; even with X hovering over me I still managed to impulse-buy hat-friendly earmuffs (which I needed) and suspenders (which I did not need but they're very smart and they were on sale and I've been wanting them for ages and... this sort of thing is why my Twitter handle is now Dandy McFopperson). J and I got in a good stroll to the grocery store today in the bracing cold; the thermometer said 27F but it felt like about 15 with the wind. We've discovered a brand of vegan pesto that was well worth going out in the cold for. Dinner both last night and tonight was pasta with pesto and sausage because it worked so well once that we figured we'd do it again. Tonight I added cashew ricotta and that was pretty splendid.
This afternoon I finally created a page on our household intranet that lists known-good meals. That's partly in anticipation of spending much of Thanksgiving weekend stocking the freezer, and partly because we tend not to plan meals much in advance and sometimes get caught up in cycles of "I dunno what to make"/delaying/getting hungrier/getting less able to make decisions. I went through the past five years or so of recipes on my journal and linked them from the page, tagged things V(egan) and F(reezes well) and S(picy) as appropriate, and now have an excellent resource that I suspect we'll refer to frequently. It felt really nice to just do a thing because I felt like doing it.
Oh, and I broke my nearly yearlong reader's block this past week
. Yay for reading. It feels very good to be able to enjoy books again.
Next up: a three-day week, then a four-day
weekend. How is it Hanukkah already? It feels like only a few weeks since I lit the last of the candles I bought in Paris. I'm not complaining, though; any light we can make against the darkness is very welcome right now.
- thinking about:
behavior.planning, behavior.preparedness, behavior.shopping, events.holidays, events.holidays.hannukah, experiences.annoyances, experiences.disaster, experiences.reading, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.pasta, people.cats, people.josh, people.xtina, stuff.clothes, stuff.clothes.accessories
Vacation, part 2!( Monday )Tuesday
We woke up to light snow, which was alarming in that "how is it already winter?!" way as well as the "I hope I don't have to drive in this" way. By the time we finished packing up, the snow had stopped, and though it was cloudy, it wasn't too windy. The proprietor was just coming back from an errand as we departed around noon, and we thanked her effusively and promised to visit again. It was really a great place to stay.
We went back to the beachlet, found a nice place with a little bit of everything--sand, shells, rocks, seaweed, trees, leaves, pine cones--and then we spoke from the heart about how much we love each other and love the relationship we've built and want to keep doing this thing we're doing. We talked about trust and equality and goofy in-jokes too. I don't remember what either of us said exactly, X probably doesn't either, and there's no recording of it. We served as our own officiants and our only witness was a seagull. It was exactly the wedding we wanted.
We hugged each other and shivered a bit, both from belated nerves and because it was getting pretty cold. Then we retrieved my phone from the car and I took a picture of us. "Smile like you just got married!" I said.
I called Josh (who had known that we were planning this, of course, and has been marvelously supportive) and my parents and brother (who were entirely surprised and very happy for us), and we headed home.
Eloping is pretty awesome. :D I don't plan on doing it again--I'm pretty sure two spouses is my limit--but I recommend it highly.
X and I are on vacation!( Friday )( Saturday )( Sunday )
Misbehaving bodies aside, it has been quite a splendid trip so far. We're already talking about making it an annual thing, budget permitting. Tomorrow, depending on weather, we might go take a walk in a nearby county park. We head home Tuesday afternoon.
In an effort to fight seasonal depression, I've put "do something fun" on my daily checklist.
Acquiring a stray cat counts as doing something fun, right?
This is the foundling cat. We have so far resolutely refrained from naming him. We weren't going to get a fourth cat until we moved, you see. The rule is one cat per bedroom, and we have three cats and three bedrooms, so we are full up.
But he rubbed on my ankles and practically demanded to be taken in. I was pretty sure he was the cat we've often seen in and around the nasty deli on the corner (which we suspect of being the deli that kicked out Jasmine, not least because this cat looks just like her; compare video of Jasmine
and a photo of the foundling
), so I went in there and said "Your cat's been loving on everyone up and down the block, did he get locked out?". The counter guy shrugged and said "Not our cat". At that point I became so suffused with rage at people who toss domesticated cats out on the street that I felt a moral obligation to give the kitty at least a temporary home.
We agreed that my room would be the quarantine zone, so X and I lured him in. It was remarkably easy, as he's quite a tolerant cat; he clearly doesn't like being picked up, but while he struggles and looks uncomfortable, he doesn't bite or scratch. I set up a litter pan and a couple of dishes of food, and rubbed him down with a washcloth in lieu of a full bath, and resigned myself to sending all my bedding out to be washed once it became clear that the grubby and indubitably flea-ridden cat was also a bed-exploring and person-snuggling cat.
Within 24 hours we'd taken him to the vet, gotten confirmation that he's neutered and FIV/FeLV-negative, gotten him some medication to combat fleas and worms, and all completely fallen in love with him. He's incredibly sweet. His purr is amazingly loud and frequently deployed. He's an adolescent boy and still recovering from his time on the street, so he literally eats as much as our
three cats combined, but he doesn't demand food; he just waits for us to notice that the dish is empty and fill it again. (See that "other"? I already think of him as our fourth cat, despite myself.) When I go to bed he rustles around a bit and then settles down and doesn't keep me up or wake me up. When we let him see the other cats he hisses a bit and then runs away; there's been one bout of territorial spraying but he was considerate enough to do it on a bag of things that already needed to be dry cleaned. He's curious about everything and wants to stick his nose everywhere, but on his own terms, and when he encounters evidence of other felines he runs away. He's SUPER friendly to people. He's quite athletic but doesn't like being up high; he'd rather hide on the bottom shelf of a bookcase or behind the radiator. He's death to toy mice as long as they stay still long enough for him to sneak up on them. When Josh and I bathed him he made a few squeaky noises and squirmed a lot but was about as well-behaved as a cat being bathed can be expected to be, and within a few minutes he was purring and loving on us again. He's sweet and adorable and smart and great.
He's been our tenant for four days, during which time we've gone from "of course we can't keep him" to discussing possible names. At this point it's really just a question of how well the other cats tolerate him and vice versa. I hope hope hope it works out.
I have been doing non-cat fun things: going to a totally rocking TMBG concert where they played every single song off their first album plus a whole array of crowdpleasers, having an amazing dinner with Miriam and supertailz
, knitting, and, on one slightly desperate night, playing with that day's animated Google Doodle and deciding that was fun enough to count. But mostly I am all KITTY KITTY KITTY. And that's okay.
EDIT: Of course, immediately after I post this he got to the "PEE ON ALL THE THINGS" stage. Time to pave the room in puppy pads.
Today I KNIT A ROW OF A SWEATER. I realize this doesn't sound like a big deal but it is for two reasons.
1) The last time I worked with this yarn it gave me terrible eczema on my hands--actual tiny blisters!--because my wool allergy decided to become way more sensitive all of a sudden. So I spent months treating the eczema (because I was also allergic to the first ointment we tried >.<) and then weeks searching for gloves that would fit my tiny hands and protect my skin while leaving me nimble enough to knit.
2) I've been battling seasonal depression that makes knitting (and everything) seem boring and dull.
BUT my skin is healed up, and I got Gorilla Grip Gloves
that aren't a perfect fit but are close enough, and I've been using a lightbox and taking SSSRIs and making sure to do at least one fun thing every day to beat the depression.
Last night I found myself wanting to knit while watching Doctor Who
, which I haven't actively wanted to do in ages. It was so nice to want that again that I didn't actually do it because I was savoring the feeling of wanting--not feeling obligated, not seeing it as an item on my checklist, but genuinely having an internal urge to do a thing. And then today I took my knitting bag on my commute and put the gloves on and knit a row of my sweater.
So far there's no sign of irritation on my hands, and the gloves are impressively easy to knit in. And I enjoyed knitting! It's nice to be able to want things and enjoy things again. I'd missed it.
The question remains whether I will actually be able to wear the sweater. It's a sweater vest, so I think that if I wear it over a collared shirt and an undershirt I should be fine. I've had no trouble wearing a wool waistcoat over collared shirts even without an undershirt. On the other hand, last week I rolled up my shirtsleeves and then put on my fully lined wool coat, and my arms broke out in a rash (though not nearly as bad as my reaction to direct contact with wool). But if it turns out I can't wear the sweater, I'm sure I can find someone who wants a cabled sweater vest knit out of gorgeous gorgeous green wool, and I don't mind that thought nearly as much now that I can actually enjoy the knitting process without either sinking into ennui or having my hands catch fire.
Today I only wore my Halloween costume on Twitter.
My costume consisted of clothes from my own closet--clothes I happily wore not so many years ago--and a wig. The wig doesn't look anything like my hair looked when I wore it long, but it works well enough for this purpose.Click the photo for a larger version.
Keep in mind that at the moment I usually look like this
When I first put the costume on, I felt very awkward and strange. I hate it when cis people wear drag on Halloween. It feels like they're making fun of trans* people. I didn't want to do that even a little bit. I mean, yes, if I were cis and femme these would just be my clothes, but I'm not and they're not.
Looking at myself in the mirror was really weird too. A few years ago, when I weighed more, I would have LOVED to have this body to put those clothes on, so from that perspective, I admired the way I looked. I knew just how to stand and walk, so from that perspective, I felt comfortable and confident. At the same time--it was like a split-screen in my mind--I could feel the weight of all the baggage that I carried around when I presented as female and femme. Presenting as masculine has its own baggage, of course, but it's like I've swapped a backpack for a rolling suitcase. My muscles aren't used to the heft of femme baggage anymore. Picking it up was hard
, and I was immediately repelled. How did I stand it for all those years?
I took a few photos and then I took the costume off and went to bed. The split-screen was still going. On one side: "I wish I still had those strappy red satin sandals. They'd be perfect with this outfit." On the other side: "Am I appropriating drag culture? What am I doing? This feels so weird."
When I woke up I realized how to answer that pernicious Halloween question, "What are you dressed as?": performative femininity. That was the weirdness, the queasiness, the anxiety, the strange twisting feeling in my gut. The split screen. On one side: confidence in myself as a performer, knowing that I've successfully internalized society's mandates and am presenting myself accordingly. On the other side: nervously waiting to see how my performance is judged.
I know you're supposed to dress as something scary for Halloween, but performative femininity scared me so much that I couldn't bear to put it on. I carried the whole costume to work and carried it home again. I just couldn't do it.
I still have all those femme clothes in my closet because I assume my gender is not a trend from feminine to masculine, starting with the velvet dress I loved at age 3 and ending with the suit I'm planning to buy at Brooks Brothers, but a pendulum swinging in a complicated oscillation. Having such a strong reaction to five minutes of femmeness makes me wonder whether I'm right. Now that I can see the Matrix
, I'm that much more aware of my performance anxiety, and that much less willing to engage in the performance at all.
But again, there's baggage on the performance of masculinity, the rolling suitcase in which is packed both the elevated status of masculinity and the societal disapproval of gender transgression. I can only safely engage the second because of the security provided by the first. Why is that so much easier to bear right now than the backpack full of approved gender conformity and denigration of femininity? All of that stuff is gross, really. It's all patriarchy and cissexism and gender essentialism. Both the suitcase and the backpack are unpleasantly squishy and smelly and leaking suspicious fluids. I don't know why I can tolerate one better than the other.
I know there are female-presenting people who celebrate femininity as a way of thumbing their noses at patriarchal disapproval of women. I suppose there's some of that in my foppishness, my refusal to let my masculinity be defined by rejection of "girly" things. The most common caricatures of gender transgression are the butch woman and the dainty man, and I'm definitely more the latter than the former (though I have a very butch dislike of spending more time than absolutely necessary on grooming; for example, any hairstyle that requires dye or gel or product is not for me). But the transgressive part is key. At least when people look at me they know I'm nonconformist to some degree. I get "sir-uh-ma'am" from shop clerks often enough to confirm that.
Maybe if I could figure out how to comfortably present as a nonconformist femme woman, I'd be okay with that. I just don't want to buy in, or look like I'm buying in, to patriarchal norms and assumptions. And I never ever want to feel that backpack on my back again.
I don't have any answers. Just questions and questions and questions.
[Note for those coming here via a direct link: this post contains explicit weight numbers and a brief mention of weight loss and eating disorders in the context of trans* dysphoria.]
I had my annual physical today. Passed with flying colors, as my mother would say. My weight has stabilized ( at a number )
; I still associate that number with "a little low", but I'm pretty happy with the shape my body has right now, so I'm working on focusing on the shape and getting comfortable with the number. Dr. L says that as long as it's stable and I'm healthy and eating and exercising and so on, she's not concerned. I'll be staying on the Zoloft through the spring, as we agreed that winter is a bad time to change up brainmeds; same dosage, etc. She prescribed me an Epi-pen mostly because I get anxious about my allergies, but my insurance won't pay for it (!) and I don't feel like paying $350 out of pocket to soothe my anxiety, so oh well. I asked about mammograms, given my family history of breast cancer, and she said that since it wasn't early-onset I don't have to worry about visiting the boob-squisher until I turn 40.
Then the most amazing exchange happened.( Cut for mention of weight loss and eating disorders in the context of trans* dysphoria )
Then we went on to discuss the small lipoma on my back (it doesn't hurt, so we're not going to mess with it) and confirm that there's no health news from my close relatives and update info on my over-the-counter medication use. Just a routine physical where my doctor offered me easy no-pressure access to gender confirmation surgery and hormone therapy.
I want every trans* person in the entire world to get friendly, accepting, knowledgeable medical care like this. Dr. L's always been great about gender things--she's even made a point of instructing her staff to call me "Rose" instead of "Ms. Fox", and one time when she mispronouned me while talking with X she corrected herself without being prompted--but this is kind of another level of awesomeness.
I think I'm going to write her an actual thank-you card. And try to figure out how I can clone her.
I got to see Janelle Monáe last night at the legendary Apollo Theater! Unfortunately I didn't really get to hear
her, as the sound board operator was completely incompetent. When the mix makes it impossible to hear one of the foremost vocalists of our time, something's really wrong. But she put on a great show despite that, I got to dance my ass off to "Cold War" (which made me cry) and "Tightrope" and "Dance Apocalyptic", and I had a very good time hanging out with Pablo D. before and during the show.
The concert was my reward to myself for being together and productive this week. What with the Monday holiday and the Best Books issue being due and hosting a webcast, I had about 150% of the usual amount of work to do in 75% of the usual amount of time. I got it all done thanks to my new system of outsourcing both willpower and decision-making, the one to Chrome Nanny and the other to a to-do list that I put together late at night when I'm anxious about daytime-me being a disorganized slacker
For ages I've had a vague idea of my weekly routine--Mondays I process incoming reviews and invoices, Wednesdays I format and fact-check reviews, Thursdays I do the radio show, etc.--but I finally wrote it all down on a master list. Every night I set up a daily to-do list consisting of that day's tasks plus anything not done the day before. During the day, when I'm at work, whenever I feel like procrastinating I hang out on Twitter until Chrome Nanny kicks me off (I'm allotted 10 minutes per hour) and then I do the next thing on the to-do list. Not having to figure out what to do next, and not having to tear myself away from tasty procrastination things, leaves me lots of energy and focus for actually getting stuff done, and I'm reassured that an hour from now I'll be able to get another procrastination fix without watching the clock. No more "what do I do next?" anxiety; no more "am I running behind?" anxiety (because I've carefully distributed my workload so I don't have too much to do on any given day, so as long as I stick with this plan I'll never be running behind); no more "how much longer do I have to be disciplined before I can indulge myself?" anxiety. I get to relax and be a cog in the machine of my own making. It's pretty splendid.
I did a similar thing with my nighttime routine--a combination of explicit planning and technological barriers--with the result that last night I went to bed at 2:35, just twenty minutes past my nominal bedtime, despite the concert keeping me out late. I woke up at 11:50, which is earlier than I've woken up on a weekend in recent memory. I feel rested and ready to tackle my weekend to-do list. Woo!
Tonight I made bangers and mash for dinner. Rightly expecting that there would be no leftovers, I also made a pressure cooker risotto that's going to be tomorrow's lunch. I'd been skipping risotto recipes because I assumed they all had dairy, but this one is vegan and easy and DELICIOUS.
(recipe from Laura Washburn's The Pressure Cooker Cookbook, doubled)
.25 cup olive oil
2 shallots, finely diced
2 large carrots, 1 cm dice
10 oz/300 g shiitake mushrooms, chopped
3 cups/600 g arborio or other risotto-suitable rice
6.5 cups/1.5 L broth
10 oz/300 g fresh or frozen peas
In the pressure cooker over high heat, cook oil, onion/shallot, carrot, and mushrooms until the mushroom liquid has cooked off and the vegetables have caramelized, about 12 minutes. Add rice and stir a lot to coat the rice with the oil. Let cook 1 minute. Pour in broth and cover. Pressurize and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. Quick-release pressure. Add peas and heat 3–5 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the remaining broth has been absorbed. Let sit, covered, 5–10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and fresh parsley to taste. Makes six hefty or eight ordinary servings that are going to be even better after they sit in the fridge overnight.
The Friends of Captain Awkward forum
(hereafter FOCA) is all kinds of great. I started a thread there about difficulty going to bed--as distinct from difficulty falling asleep--and got some terrific thoughtful supportive comments. It's easier going to bed at night just knowing that there are people out there who share my struggle and are quietly cheering me on.
Inspired by that thread, I've also rejiggered my nighttime schedule a bit:
22:00–00:00: Tea with X or alone-time00:00: Phone plays quiet alarm sound
00:00–00:30: Bustling in the apartment: loading the dishwasher, filling my humidifier tank, scooping the catbox, collecting my stuff from the living room, that sort of thing
00:30–01:30: Alone-time: Twitter, FOCA, LJ/DW, games, that sort of thing01:25: Soundless reminder pops up on my phone that Chrome Nanny kicks in at 01:30 and I should wrap up what I'm doing
01:30–01:45: Pre-bed bathroom stuff01:35: Soundless reminder pops up on my phone to make a to-do list
01:45–02:15: "One last thing": making a to-do list for tomorrow, maybe making a quick post like this; try to wrap it up by 02:00 if possible
The "one last thing" is because I realized I was getting into bed with everything done and then feeling like I wanted some sort of capper to the day. Having no direction for this urge usually meant I circumvented Chrome Nanny and went back on Twitter until I was totally exhausted. I also often did things like putting l*undry away that could have been left until the next day, because I was afraid I'd either forget to do them or neglect to do them. (I think the theory goes that if I slack now and foist things off on future-me, of course future-me will also be a slacker and put them off further instead of being responsible, so I should be responsible now and avoid the slippery slope of slacking. Never mind that future-me is actually pretty responsible, and that going to bed when I need to go to bed is also the responsible choice...) Making a to-do list seemed like the perfect way to do one last thing before bed, a finite thing (Twitter has no natural stopping point, but it usually takes me no more than ten minutes to run out of things to put on my to-do list) that would also help me to step back from doing non-urgent chores late at night. Writing a DW/LJ post is also a good one last thing if it's quick and not too introspective: a diary entry, not a blog post. Like this!
And now I'm off to bed, basically on time. Pretty cool. It'll be even better if I can do it more than one night in a row--which is also very dependent on how well my new mosquito-catching device works, since most of my late nights recently have been driven by the desperate need to kill the little fuckers before they drain me dry--but one night is good to start with.
(Subject line is from Conrad Aiken's "Tetélestai". mrissa
said something that reminded me of "King Borborigmi", and then I wrote a sestina for her about moths and hard-boiled crime novels and the meaning of life
, like you do--or at least like I do--and now I'm slowly working my way through more of Aiken's poems
. You have to go slowly. They're too rich to guzzle.)
I took Java to the vet today. She was very impressed with how well he's doing, which is always nice to hear.( Updated diagnosis and prognosis )
I'd call that all pretty good news, probably the best we could have hoped for given his age and medical history. Now my biggest concern is that he'll start doing poorly next spring right when we're packing and moving... but we'll deal with that if it happens. Right now we just need to make the shift from "crisis!" to "new status quo".
I was so distracted by writing this up that I briefly left a flame on under a greasy pan. Oops. *opens all the windows and turns on all the fans*
Turning off comments because you've all already said lovely kind things (thank you!); I don't want you to feel pressured to say them again, and I also can't handle reading those comments very often. Your well-wishes are understood and appreciated.
While looking for something else entirely, I stumbled on a journal entry from 2006 that made reference to my right ear being blocked up during or after a head cold. A cursory search finds a number of similar references going back to 2002--that is to say, for about as long as I've been keeping this journal. (I've got them all tagged with body.ears
now so I can find them again.) There's no seasonal pattern, no other correlation that I can spot at a glance.
My ear started getting blocked up about halfway through my Arizona trip, and has been blocked and ringing consistently since I got home. That's eleven days and counting. I tried sleeping on my left side and the right ear didn't get any better but the left started clogging up a little, so I'm giving up on that. My guess is that in another week it'll be entirely unblocked and normal again.
This is apparently just... what my right ear does in response to cold viruses. Half the time I don't even get proper cold symptoms anymore--maybe a bit of sniffling, no sneezing, no achy misery. I just get a blocked ringing ear and a bout of depression, and two weeks later (give or take) I'm fine.
I do think it's gotten worse in the past few years: blocked more frequently, blocked for longer, blocked without obvious sinus or nasal congestion. The Menière's has emerged concurrently, and given that, I can see why my ENT is inclined to blame it for most or all of my ear problems. My money is still on Menière's plus eustachian tube dysfunction, though. The decade-long correlation of right ear blockage, specifically, with head colds is too clear to ignore.
Next time I see my ENT I might press for a more direct examination of the eustachian tube. It can't hurt to take a look.
A couple of months ago, I started shaving my face every week or so. (Not my eyebrows, obviously--just my whiskers.) I really enjoy it as a practice and I love the way it looks and feels. Today was the first day since I left for Arizona that I had the time and steady hands to shave, and it's amazing how much better I feel about myself now that my face is all smooth.
The only drawback is that when I towel off my face after shaving, lint sticks to my skin. J claims not to have this problem.
I stopped shaving my legs and underarms ages ago. The very expensive laser hair removal treatment that I got several years ago did almost nothing to reduce the amount of hair on my legs, so my choices there are daily shaving, stubble, or fur. I'll take fur, and generally not mind it. That said, this is really making me miss the lovely sensation of just-shaved legs under a flowy skirt on a breezy day.
I'm rather enjoying the irony that I'd rather do male-coded shaving than female-coded shaving because my female-coded hormones mean I only have to do male-coded shaving once a week. If my facial hair were as coarse as my leg hair I'd probably either grow it out or be really annoyed at having to shave it every day, and if my leg hair were as fine as my facial hair I'd totally shave my legs every week. It's convenient that having hairy legs and a hairless face matches my generally preferred gender presentation, but mostly what I care about is sensation. I used to say I wanted to be completely hairless from the neck down. I might revise that to "from the nose down". Smooth skin is so wonderful.
Now I just have to remember not to fondle my face in public.
(Subject line source.
Java is basically back to being his old self, eating everything in sight and pestering us for attention and food and licking Sam's head and jumping onto and off of beds. It's amazing. He's not happy about having to take a pill every night, but if a higher steroid dose is going to keep him healthy and happy, then pills it is. Still no idea how long we've got him for, but right now he seems to intend to live forever, and no one here would dream of dissuading him from that ambition.
The humans are all still exhausted and stressed out, of course, but we're slowly recovering. Big thanks and <3s to Nora and Tea and Dave and Danielle and Nina and Sooj for cooking for us and giving us hugs and helping us clean and being generally splendid. We have an awesome Team Us.( Today )
Mostly I just wanted to say that tonight I pulled contentment from the jaws of depression, and I feel really good about that.
Now I sleep, before the upstairs drummer starts drumming again.
- thinking about:
body.ears, body.sleep, experiences.annoyances, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.autumn, mind.dreamtime, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.depression, people.cats, people.groups.foca, people.josh, people.xtina, words.editing, words.editing.venues.long hidden
I'm home. I'm very, very glad to be home. My week in Arizona was wonderful, but being away from home and my partners and our cats was really hard. It's so good to be back.
Java's pancreatitis took a turn for the worse while I was away. He's still sick but doing a little better: eating and drinking on his own (though still not eating enough), mostly angling himself correctly in the litterbox, moving around slowly but still getting himself from place to place, snuggling and purring up a storm. Prognosis is unclear at this point--as with any unwell 18-year-old cat--but he's getting the best possible treatment short of going to a hospital, and we're all quite certain that he's happier at home with his people than he would be anywhere else. He's a fighter and clearly determined to stick around as long as he possibly can.
J and X are worn out from kitty care and worry, and I'm rested from a week of vacation, so I'm taking charge of household things. Tonight I made big batches of lentil soup
and vegetable soup
. I'm very pleased with the innovation of leaving out the garlic in the vegetable soup (I wasn't at all in the mood for garlicky things) and stirring in a teaspoon of miso paste to replace the missing umami. We had a hearty dinner and have 12 servings of soup in the fridge and freezer. I also bought ingredients for chicken stew
, so I'll make those tomorrow or Tuesday. It's easier to make stew on a weeknight when you're having something else for dinner and so it doesn't matter if the stew's not ready until 10 or 11 p.m.
I'm focusing on food because X doesn't cook and has intolerances that make ordering in impossibly risky, J is too preoccupied and worn out to cook, and I get home too late on weeknights to do much; keeping us all fed is a tricky proposition. I'm very grateful to regyt
, and my mother, who are helping us stock our freezer. teaberryblue
is going to come by on Wednesday and help me clean so the place isn't a total wreck when s00j
gets here on Thursday. novalis
is going to cat-sit on Thursday when all three of us have to be at work. I am so fortunate to have such wonderful people in my life.
Also done today: got plenty of sleep, showered and dressed, bought incontinence pads since Sam is anxious and Java is clumsy and that means lots of peeing on the floor, got J out of the house for a grocery store run, arranged for X to have some uninterrupted time alone, gave them both lots of hugs and helped them sort through all the messy difficult feelings that come up at a time like this, reached out to the abovementioned folks for help and to further-away friends for e-hugs and support, sent regrets to the friends having weddings on the next two weekends, emailed my boss about swapping my day off from Tuesday to Friday (X is working from home Tuesday, so if I can move my day off to Friday then that's an extra day of around-the-clock kitty coverage), ran and emptied the dishwasher twice and washed a couple of big things by hand, emailed the Readercon concom saying that I won't be able to call in to Sunday's meeting, bleached my humidifier, took out the trash and recycling, tidied the dining table, left a loving note for J and X, remembered to put my MetroCard back in my wallet, cuddled Sam a lot (I missed her SO MUCH), and very gently patted Java and encouraged him to keep fighting. I feel quite productive. Of course now it's an hour and a half past when I meant to get to bed, but I can blame that on jetlag, right?
I have made a to-do list to stop myself from further bustling. It's long, but that's fine; it doesn't all need to get done in one day. Really. It doesn't. No, really.
Locals, do you have an inflatable bed we can borrow in case the one I just bought doesn't get here before our lovely houseguest does? We meant to order one sooner but it's been a week.
(The subject line refers to this amazing extended metaphor
I just emailed a version of this to a friend who asked me what I mean when I say "genderqueer". It's not definitive--no definition of gender terminology ever is--but it might be a useful starting point for conversations with cis friends who are trying to wrap their minds around trans* concepts. I'd be glad to revise it if others have suggestions or corrections (especially about the last paragraph).
Most people think of gender transition as getting on a train in Femaletown and getting out in Maleville. Well, even the fastest train takes many months for that trip; the route is very roundabout and the train makes several stops along the way. Some people get out to stretch their legs at the intermediate station of Queerburg and like it so much they decide to stay.
Others commute so often between Femaletown and Maleville that both feel like home; they practically have one foot in each place. Sometimes they wear a shirt for the Femaletown hockey team with a hat for the Maleville soccer team. They couldn't possibly declare allegiance to just one.
All three of those cities are in the state of Genderia; some people consider themselves residents of Genderia rather than of any particular city, and they wander around the whole state as they please. (You might think that everyone lives in Genderia, but quite a few people live in the distant states of Agenderia and Neutroisland. I visit both occasionally, but as Tom Lehrer says, "a charming spot but clearly not the spot for me".)
I grew up in Femaletown and have spent many years slowly progressing along the train line to Maleville, with numerous side excursions and occasional doubling back. Right now I live in Dandy's Crossing, a suburb of Maleville (though I am unlikely to ever move into the city proper). I wear clothing made for men and describe myself as a dapper dandy. I spend summers in neighboring Masculin, where I ditch my fedora and dress slacks for a short-back-and-sides haircut and cargo shorts that show off my hairy legs. I've also lived in Femmea, Butch Bay, Elegantia, Jeansland, and pretty much everywhere else in and around Femaletown. I prefer the culture of Femaletown but adore the fashion of Maleville. I seem to be happier living near the big cities than in quirky little Queerburg, but I often visit it for the joy of being around other people like me.
I've been talking about gender lately with my friend Q, who was born in Interburg and raised in Femaletown. They're planning to have chest surgery that would help them fit in better in Maleville, and they wear a packer, but like me, they hate the Maleville culture of violence and casual oppression and don't feel like they belong there. Honestly, I think they'd be happiest in New Maleville over in Agenderia. They care a great deal about physical shape but not at all about presentation. I'm the opposite; I enjoy the cognitive dissonance of wearing "male" clothes on a "female" body and rarely bother to bind my breasts (though if I needed a mastectomy for medical reasons, I wouldn't be sad to see them go). My ideal body would be totally hairless from the neck down and have neither breasts nor broad hips, and while we're at it I'd like to be four inches taller, but that's all because I regard my body as a paper doll to hang clothes on. I don't feel dysphoria very often now that I have clothes that fit.
Now guess which one of us is having a baby. Surprise: it's Q. The chest surgery is being put off so they can breastfeed. "Might as well get some use out of the damn things," Q says. Me, I'd ditch my reproductive anatomy in a heartbeat. The idea of something growing inside me gives me the creeps.
Genderia is a big place and people live all over. If you've only ever been to Femaletown or Maleville you might be surprised just how many other parts of Genderia there are (not to mention all the places that aren't anything like Genderia). Respecting trans* people is just like respecting people from other countries: our customs may be unfamiliar to you, but that doesn't mean we're wrong to do things the way we do, and if we put a lot of effort into speaking your language, kindly do us the favor of not pointing out our accents.
Speaking of other countries, I should note that this is an extremely mainstream U.S. way of looking at things. People raised in non-U.S. cultures or subcultures within the U.S. (such as religious communities where gender roles are very strong) will have their own concepts of gender and approaches to gender identity and performance. Respect for a person's gender means respect for how they think about their own gender, and that includes recognition that their native culture's approach to gender-related things will have affected their upbringing, their understanding of what is possible, their life choices, and their efforts to fit in, stand out, or cherish their own uniqueness. That doesn't mean you should go quizzing them on all those things! Just be aware that gender is cultural and social as well as a matter of one's innate feelings.
Now I want someone to draw me a map of Genderia.
EDIT: I am reminded that booklectic
used a very similar metaphor
in an article she interviewed me for a couple of years ago! I'd totally forgotten; at least consciously, Genderia came from my frustration with the "taking the train from point A to point B" envisioning of transition, which in turn came from discussions on Twitter about how completely ignorant most cis people are of what transition is
. ("I bet they think it takes about six weeks," one person grumbled.) But I'm sure Katy's post planted a seed somewhere deep in my brain, and I'm glad to give her credit for it.
When I saw Boys Don't Cry
, I burst into tears at the opening scene of Hilary Swank carefully combing her hair, because I wanted to look in the mirror and see a guy.
And now I do.
Amazing what a difference it makes to leave my hair a little longer on top--really just a little, #5 clippers while keeping the #1.5 on the back and sides.
Hooray for boy shirts from eBay, and the most comfortable shorts I've ever owned. (It actually makes me angry that no one makes clothes this comfortable for women.) Hooray for an extra-small sports bra that squeezes my middle a bit more than I'd like but gives me the profile that shirt needs to really look right. (It's still mostly too warm out to wear my binder; I'd be covered in sweat.) Hooray for photos too distant to show the stubble on my chin. (I've been shaving my face about once a week for the past month, though it probably makes no difference to anyone but me.)( Thoughts on passing, patriarchy, and other stuff )Same comment policy as on my last photo post: it's fine to comment on the photo if you want, but please refrain from telling me I look hot, sexy, attractive, or anything along those lines.
I spent most of yesterday offline, enjoying a blissful day of quality time with X and J. By the time X and I finished the "lying around staring off into space" part of our evening workout, it was past 1:30 and Leechblock had blocked Twitter. This meant that I woke up to a whole heap of tweets saying that I'd been namechecked from the stage at the Hugo Awards as an activist fighting against harassment.
What?What?DID THAT JUST FUCKING HAPPEN YES IT DID
(That link goes to a two-minute highlight of the video that I made so I can watch it over and over again.)
The fellow speaking is Paul Cornell, a UK writer who's been wonderfully loud about urging men to refuse to be on men-only convention panels. In other words, this accolade is coming from someone I really admire and also happen to really personally like. And how amazing is it to hear the person chosen as the Hugos presenter--the voice of fandom, in a way--speak out so strongly and publicly against harassment?
They don't give Hugos for Best Reviews Editor, so I figured I'd never hear my name on that stage. I'm all kinds of blown away now. Thank you, Paul, for making me feel like I just won a Hugo--and for naming me in such great company, too*.
I guess that means I get to give an acceptance speech! Of course I owe heaps of gratitude to chaiya
and the entire safety team, emilytheslayer
, and bdianemartin
for leading and supporting Readercon anti-harassment efforts; everyone else on the concom, because regardless of our differences of opinion we really pulled together for the cause of making Readercon safer without suppressing debate or expression; and glvalentine
and everyone who signed their petition, for holding us to a higher standard. My parents, my brother, and my grandparents taught and encouraged me to follow my moral compass and speak up firmly and often for causes I believe in; I would not be the righteous loudmouth I am without their support and example. And endless thanks to my beloved sinboy
for loving and supporting me even when I let activism eat my life, for reminding me to take care of myself too, and for inspiring me when I falter.
I might go watch that video again now.* Kate Kligman and Farah Mendlesohn fight tirelessly against harassment at conventions. N.K. Jemisin gave this amazing speech and has taken a stand time and time again against racial bias in fandom and publishing. Rachel Swirsky is an incredible force for good within SFWA.
There's an app called Tasker that lets you program your Android phone. The learning curve is very steep, but once you get into it, it's really cool. I've been fooling around with it and have created my own Leechblock-like set of instructions for blocking games and other time-consuming apps.
1) Is it nighttime? If so, all time-consuming apps are off. Attempting to open one gets you sent back to the home screen, and one of three messages pops up (randomized):
"You are feeling very sleepy..."
"Get some rest."
"Aren't you yawning?"
The icon on these messages is a little heart because they are sent with love from past-me to now-me. When I see them, I feel loved rather than nagged, and I can curl up with that feeling of love and go to sleep.
2) Is it daytime? If so, all time-consuming apps are on. Opening one starts a 10-minute timer. After 10 minutes, a dialog comes up in a soothing shade of teal:
What's the right thing to do?
* Block apps for 1 hour
* Allow apps for 30 minutes
Phrasing this as a moral decision encourages me to press the "block apps" button if there's something I need to be doing.
If I block apps, during that hour any attempt to open them will take me back to the home screen, and I'll get two more little heart-messages:
"Get up and stretch. Drink some water."
"What's next on your to-do list?"
I might add a five-minute "snooze" option for when I'm almost done beating the level, writing the email, etc. but that option would be followed by a mandatory one-hour block.
Apps are blocked because I need to get up and shower and eat something so J and I can go out and see Pacific Rim (I know, I know, we're behind everyone else). Thanks to all those little hearts and moral encouragement, and also to the nerdy rush of having learned a new programming language and used it to build something, I feel actively good about that. Yay for psychologically manipulating myself in useful ways!
I had a great plan: I was going to bore myself to sleep. Block email and Twitter on my laptop. Block games and books and Internet on my phone. No paper books or knitting allowed. Catch up on LJ and DW (which doesn't take long these days), brush teeth, go to bed.
So now I'm bored, and wide awake.
Given the lengthy and interesting intellectual and emotional conversation I had with X earlier (nothing at all dire, just deep stuff), I'd expect to be emotionally exhausted; I am definitely glad to be getting some time to myself, but otherwise my brain's happy to tackle whatever I throw at it. Given the workout we did after the conversation (in sets of 12 reps, do as many reps as I can of a harder exercise, then finish out the set with an easier version, e.g. 2 military presses with hands at knee-height and then 10 waist-height ones), I'd expect to be physically exhausted; instead, I feel like I could run around the block a few times.
...of course, as soon as I write that, I start yawning. Quick, to bed before it wears off!
Yesterday I got my first compression shirt (a.k.a. "binder", though that always makes me think of Trapper Keepers) and also completed "week three" of the You Are Your Own Gym 10-week entry-level workout program. The quote marks are because it's actually taken five weeks to do three weeks' worth of workouts--I started this round of the program on July 17, after starting and stopping it earlier in the year--but it's really hard to find time and energy to work out four nights a week. Anyway, I've done 12 of the 44 workouts, and I keep having to replace the suggested exercises with harder ones. I'm feeling strong and awesome.
It turns out that my shiny new arm and shoulder muscles are a lot easier to notice when my chest is flat. I have no idea why; I'm probably not even a B-cup these days, so it's not like my cleavage is super distracting. But as soon as I put the binder on, I look... well, not ripped, exactly, but startlingly muscular.Photo by sinboy, who was very patient with me coming in and squeeing about the binder just as he was trying to go to bed.
The arm in my userpic isn't mine. It's from some random pic I found ages ago. I always wanted arms that look like that. And now I more or less have them. I keep thinking that can't be right, and then I look back and forth between the userpic and the photo, and yeah, it's right. How amazing.
It's too warm to wear the binder right now--that fabric is not exactly breathable, and it's almost impossible to get it on or off if I've been sweating--but I'm looking forward to trying it out in the fall, perhaps with one of my new shirts. In the meantime, more workouts! more muscles! more strength!
The other day X and I discovered that being stronger means being able to give far more awesome hugs. I wish someone had told me this years ago. It's a great motivator.Comment policy for this post: Please do not discuss weight, weight gain, or weight loss in the comments, including in the context of exercise. Also, it's fine to comment on the photo if you want, but please refrain from telling me I look hot, sexy, attractive, or anything along those lines.
I spent a couple of hours reading a novella that a friend recommended. I kept waiting for it to get good. It never really did. Ah well.
When I finished it I felt very sad, more than could be attributed to reading something disappointing. Then I realized it was 02:45. Was I sad because I could have spent that time doing something else? Because I meant to make a list of possible things to do and get something more accomplished today? (I've already accomplished quite a lot and generally had a really nice day, including sleeping enough, getting to work early, a lovely lunch with vschanoes
, and a splendid evening shopping trip with X for drag gear and workout supplies.) Because I'm anxious about something? Because I've been suppressing sadness and now it's creeping out?
No, I really think I'm sad just because I'm tired
. I'm sad the same way I'm sometimes anxious: not for any reason other than biochemistry. I can try to find reasons for it--and I certainly do that with anxiety until I realize it's chemical--but there's no point. It has no reasons. It can't be logicked away. The only treatment is to address the underlying physiological cause.
It should feel good to have figured out another thing about myself, but all I can think is Great, another way that the choice of when and whether to sleep is taken away from me
. I'm quite sure that thought is influenced by just having read a novella about mind games and humiliation and breaking people's wills, and of course also by the tired-sadness itself, but there it is in my head anyway.
Ugh, this really is worse than alcohol. At least alcohol intoxication fades after an hour or so. There's nothing I can do for this but sleep it off. Trying to wait it out will only make it worse--the only physiological condition that's true of, for me, other than hunger and thirst, so I'm not at all used to the wait-it-out strategy failing. Utterly maddening.
Oh well. I guess I'll sleep, since I don't have a choice.
(I realize that literally every person in the world
is required to sleep every day. Cry moar, etc. But I'm pretty sure most people don't find it as profoundly galling as I do, and what is DW/LJ for if not to whine sometimes? So if you're rolling your eyes and wishing I'd grow up and deal with biological realities, please restrain yourself from leaving a comment saying as much.)
(Also, now I know that if I want to read stories about people being wretched to each other--and, like many fans of horror and epic fantasy, I do in fact want to read such stories--I should not read them late at night. Fortunately I almost never read fiction late at night because I'm incapable of stopping until I've finished whatever it is, regardless of how late it gets or how tired I get, so I have a firm rule against picking up a book less than three hours before bedtime. But yeah, no setting myself up for this kind of mindfuck.)
EDIT: I went to brush my teeth and decided I might as well try the whole usefulness thing as a temporary soother so I at least wouldn't go to bed feeling sad, so I took the bathroom trash out and Zero Odor'd the bin, and Sam had peed in the corner so I cleaned the corner and Zero Odor'd that too, and I wiped the mirror and rinsed the sink, and after I'd taken the trash out I sat out on the front step and just let myself breathe for a while. Now I have a bit of a headache, which might be from the Zero Odor "tracer" fragrance (which does dissipate very quickly and thoroughly, but I have to remember not to breathe it in right after I spray it) or might just be because I'm tired, but otherwise I feel better. Now, sleep.
Last night/this morning I stayed up until 6 because I was sad and lonely and didn't want to wake anyone, so I evaded Leechblock and sat around on Twitter on the theory that Twitter is something like being around people. But it isn't, really, and being more tired just made me more sad and more lonely and more reluctant to put away the last vestige of connection and lie there in the dark feeling lonely and sad until I managed to fall asleep.
I'm pretty sure 1 hour of sleep deprivation for me = 1 shot of whiskey for most other people. And when I'm alone, I'm a maudlin drunk. (When other people are around, I'm completely loopy and hilarious
Around 6 I wondered whether Josh would be getting up soon; maybe I could get a hug from him before I went to sleep. Then I remembered he'd taken a sleeping pill because he hadn't slept the night before. Then I got my usual flash of "maybe he's dead" anxiety. I knew that was ridiculous, but I still thought about going into his room just long enough to hear him breathing and know he was alive. I was surprised to realize that imagining that was very nearly as comforting as doing it. It was comforting enough that I could mostly let go of the anxiety and go to bed.
(I was still awake 20 minutes later when his light went on, and he did give me a hug before he left, which was really nice.)
I was talking with X about the sad/lonely thing, and X said, "You can come in and wake me up anytime. I'll give you a hug and go right back to sleep." This is an extremely kind offer! (Especially after the events of last fall
; the transgression mentioned there is that I went into X's room without knocking. Tonight X said, "You can come in even if the door is shut. I trust you." I will hold those words to my heart.) After 12 years with insomniac J, though, I am very firmly programmed against waking anyone up unless it's an emergency. I'd worry a lot that X wouldn't be able to fall asleep again, and would then be late for work or underslept or otherwise unhappy/stressed out. Also, lying awake next to a sleeping person is one of the loneliest feelings I know, so I think that would probably cancel out the comfort of the hug.
But I can imagine it, just like I imagined going into Josh's room last night. I can visualize myself going down the hall, tiptoeing into X's room, startling Sophie off the bed, getting a sleepy hug and a few comforting mumbles. I can visualize us snuggling up together and falling asleep together. I can get almost all the positive parts of waking X up--not as good as the actual hugs or cuddling, of course, but not a bad imitation--without the worry or loneliness. That sounds like a win.
So I've put Twitter away, and I'm going to go engage all those LDR-trained imagination skills, even if down the hall is not quite as long a long-distance relationship as 3000 miles away. Another way to describe "I'm alone" is "someone I love isn't here". And when I put it that way, I know how to cope with it.
I was extremely skeptical about dome_girl
's peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
when the "dough" had the texture of cookie crumbs--possibly because I used chunky peanut butter rather than smooth--but I smooshed it together into something like dough and it baked up beautifully. The texture is soft, not crumbly. I am very relieved.
I wasn't sure how much the cookies would spread out (turns out it's really not much) so when I'd made one tray's worth I had about a quarter of the dough left. I added 1/8 C canola oil to it to see whether that would make the dough easier to work with. It did, and while the oil-added cookies spread out more and were a bit on the greasy side--even more so than the original-recipe cookies, I mean, which have enough peanut oil in them to leave grease smears on my fingertips--they tasted just as good. I'd guess 1/4 C oil would be enough for a full batch of cookies. Another option would be to add a second egg instead of (not in addition to) the oil, for both liquid and binding. And perhaps this would all be moot if I used smooth peanut butter, but then I wouldn't get the lovely contrast between the soft cookie and the little crunchy pieces of peanut.
While not quite as easy as the recipe suggests, mostly because forming the very crumbly dough into balls is a real pain, this whipped up pretty quickly in the mixer and had good results.
It just occurred to me that I could do another batch with the Justin's creamy chocolate peanut butter as the base. Now I'm rather sorry I put the mixer bowl in the dishwasher already.
Recipe, with my modifications:
1 C chunky or smooth all-natural just-peanuts peanut butter
1 tsp baking soda
.5 C brown sugar
.5 C white sugar
.5 tsp vanilla
.5 C mini chocolate chips
Optional, if using chunky peanut butter: a second egg (may require longer baking time) OR 1/4 C canola or peanut oil (will make flatter, slightly more oily cookies)
Pre-heat oven to 350F. Line a baking tray with parchment. Mise en place. Mix all ingredients well, ideally in a stand mixer. Smoosh 1-2 tablespoons of dough into a ball, place on tray, and press down gently with fingers or a fork. Bake for 12 +/- 2 minutes. Wait for the cookies to cool somewhat before moving them to a cooling rack, and let them cool all the way before storing them.
Thanks to being logged out of LJ and seeing the promo page when logging back in, I have discovered bakebakebake
and its gluten-free and dairy-free tags. Recipes I now want to make:Quick and easyPeanut butter browniesPeanut butter cookies
Different peanut butter cookies
never mind, lots of comments say these don't come out wellUse up extra egg whitesAlmond cookiesCoconut macaroonsHazelnut macaroonsMore effort, but worth itGingerbreadFlourless chocolate torteBrownie cakeRosemary crackersSelf-saucing chocolate puddingBanana coconut chocolate chip cookiesDo I dare?French macarons
And there's some very good advice here
about GF pie crusts, and a GF DF cupcake icing recipe
that uses coconut oil instead of shortening.
We are fine. Everyone is fine.
Here is the information I just provided to NYC's Civilian Complaint Review Board about an incident this evening:Josh and I were walking through Grand Army Plaza, moving away from the fountain and toward the memorial, through an open pedestrian area that is marked with gravel surfacing and large concrete bollards. We saw a police car with active lights and sirens drive west along Eastern Parkway and then turn north on the inner circular drive that goes around the plaza. The police car was going very fast. Suddenly it turned into the pedestrian area, apparently using it as a shortcut. We were directly in the path of the car, which was coming at us at high speed. We were extremely frightened. I tried to figure out which way to go to get out of its path. Josh grabbed me and I held still, and the car swerved around us and continued out the other side of the plaza, turning left and heading down Prospect Park West and out of sight. At no time did the car stop, and I don't think it even slowed down very much. Josh was certain that if I had moved the wrong way, the car would have hit me.
The car was moving too quickly for us to get any sort of identifying information. However, it was the only police car with active lights and sirens driving through the area at that time, and it definitely came from Eastern Parkway and went south on Prospect Park West, so hopefully that will make it easy to identify the officer who was driving.
We paused for a few minutes to catch our breath and then began to walk home. When I checked the time during our walk, it was 9:09 p.m. My best estimate is that the incident occurred at 8:59 p.m.
There were several other people in the area in addition to us. I am deeply distressed that a police car came tearing through a populated pedestrian space at high speeds at any time, but especially during a time when the driver could reasonably have expected many people to be walking around.
There was no option to upload a file, but I made this handy map
in case my description wasn't clear, and will gladly provide it to whomever gets in touch to follow up.
Josh had a panic attack pretty much all the way home. I felt no anxiety at all--which was good, since it meant I could take care of Josh rather than curling up in my own quivery ball of terror--but was FULL OF RAEG and had to file that complaint, iron eight shirts, bake a pan of brownies, and unload, reload, and restart the dishwasher before I could calm down. Xtina was a marvel of good sense ("And now you will take some of my taurine." "...yes, yes I will") and kindness and hugs, and waited until we were mostly over our own reactions before clinging to me a bit and thanking me for coming home safe.
I don't think I even mentioned that a couple of weeks ago X and I helped to break up a fistfight on University Place. (We happened to be walking by when an incredibly drunk white guy decided to punch a minding-his-own-business Indian guy in the face while calling him a terrorist. X and a couple of other people got between them while I called 911. The Indian guy was fine other than a cut on his nose; the white guy staggered off shortly before the cops showed up. We stuck around long enough to provide tissues, water, and contact info. No one's followed up with us so I assume all got sorted out in some fashion.) City living sure does get exciting sometimes.
I have no idea how to tag this. experiences.annoyances
, I guess, same as the attempted mugging. It certainly is annoying to have a police car nearly run you over. No question about that.
It occurs to me that it's been ages since I posted a kitty update!
All three cats are getting along very well. Sophie has the personality of a petulant moody teenager ("
I am alone.
I am UTTERLY alone."), so she's sort of ended up being the middle child between elderly gentleman/curmudgeon Java and eternal kitten Sam, even though Sophie is probably several years younger than Sam. She's also a gumbie cat
: Her coat is of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes and leopard spots
...She sits upon the window-sill, or anything that's smooth and flat:
She sits and sits and sits and sits--and that's what makes a Gumbie Cat!
She basically lives on a pillow on X's bed. Sophie has ALL THE PAWS.
When I leave for work, she's on that pillow. When I come back, she's on that pillow. She appears to have figured out some means for teleporting food into herself and waste out of herself without needing to move off of the pillow. It's impressive. The only downside is that she doesn't bother getting off the bed before emitting hairballs, but all our blankets are washable.
She wakes up a bit in the evening and goes on patrol, checking my room and Josh's room (if the doors are open) for anything nefarious and then hanging out on the kitchen windowsill until someone comes anywhere near her, at which point she flees back to her pillow. If things are particularly scary she'll hide in her little cave (visible in the photo below). She's a skittish kitty. I figure it'll take her another few years to really relax around all of us, and she'll probably never be fond of interacting with anyone, human or feline. Then again, we thought that about Sam, and Sam turned into a total cuddlebeast who begs for pettins and attention.
She's finally willing to tolerate the other cats being on X's bed, though. Proof:Foreground: Sam, wide awake. Background: Sophie, mostly asleep.
I made Sam look at me so there would be some features to photograph rather than just a lump of inky blackness. Sophie is, of course, on her pillow. Her "cave" is the space next to the bed that's sheltered by the blue bolster.
It's rare to get all three cats on the bed--Java takes up a lot of space and he and Sam both prefer to stay as far from Sophie as possible, so once Java's on the bed there's not really anywhere for Sam to go that she's willing to be--but I have seen it happen. More often, Sophie is on her pillow and Java is on the opposite corner, and Sam is in a box that X thoughtfully brought in so she'd have somewhere to sit. This puts X in the center of a triangle of kitties, which is kind of adorable.
Sam and Java remain themselves. Sam has mostly acclimated to Sophie being around, though if the two of them end up face to face there's sometimes a bit of hissing. Java occasionally looks like he wants to lick Sophie's head (though he knows better than to try) and otherwise ignores her entirely. All are healthy and happy, insofar as Sophie is capable of happiness. Sam has been particularly lap-cattish and affectionate lately--maybe out of jealousy/insecurity--and I'm greatly enjoying that. She also occasionally pees in the corner--maybe also out of jealousy/insecurity--and no one really enjoys that. But that's cats for you.
Yay new shirts! I wore the short-sleeved one today and my mother, who has seen me in men's clothes many many times, literally didn't recognize me. To be fair, I don't remember the last time I wore a shirt untucked; it was extremely hard to make my dapper self be that casual, but that shirt is clearly meant to be worn that way, so wear it that way I did. I probably wouldn't have recognized me either.
Boo hormones! But yay the reminder that sports bras make excellent binders. In the past few months I've had a strong preference for not binding--I guess I've been less dysphoric and more in the frame of mind of accepting/appreciating my body as it is--but I'm sure that'll change at some point.
Also boo hormones because today I was entirely peopled-out and cranky and headachy and then I burst into tears for no reason at all. Yay X and J for putting up with me and giving me lots of time alone and gentle non-boob-squishing hugs and cuddles, and extra yay for X firmly safewording when I started sliding into passive-aggressive snappishness.
We've been living together in Brooklyn for almost 19 months. House Dreamland lasted 19 months exactly, from optimistic start to miserable end. Making that comparison today helped me let go of most of my lingering anxiety that X and J will somehow decide they're totally incompatible and unable to live together. If we've made it this far, through this many difficulties, we should be pretty well set.
The three of us had a really nice dinner together tonight--picnic-style on X's bed, as we've taken to doing because we have wildly different notions of what a Proper Dinner at the dining table should be and it's much easier to be casual about our various different habits when we're propping ourselves up on pillows--and afterwards I leaned against Josh and said "I like our family". It's a good family. I think I'll keep it.
I wore a skirt and blouse today. It was the most femmed-up I've been in ages.
Josh was working from home, and when I emerged from my room he said, "Wow, a skirt and blouse!" I grinned and said, "If I want to crossdress, what business is it of yours?" He looked very abashed and I hurriedly explained that I was joking and not at all offended.
I related this to X and they said, "Well yeah, of course you weren't really outraged." "No no," I explained, "I'm not crossdressing! That's the joke!" X looked confused and said, "Well, I guess I thought of it more as drag, but this is the first time in a month or more that you've worn something other than men's clothes."
It's true, I've been much more comfortable in men's clothes lately. I enjoyed dappering my way around Readercon. I love when it's cool enough to wear a dress shirt and a vest and slacks or jeans rather than a t-shirt and shorts. But today there was cool breezy weather (fall has come early, apparently, and is very welcome) and I wanted to wear a skirt, to feel the breeze in a way one only does with a skirt on. My thoughts were entirely of sensation, not presentation. It didn't even occur to me that I might be perceived as being intentionally in drag or presenting as female. I did think people who knew me well might comment, but in a "Huh, you look different" sort of way, the way they might if I'd dyed my hair--not in a "Huh, you're expressing something different than you usually express" sort of way.
I'm not male-identified enough for female clothes to feel like crossdressing, I guess. I'm not sure I'm anything-identified enough to be able to "cross"dress at all. (Hilariously, this userpic is tagged "crossdressing", from back when I wore girl clothes far more often than boy clothes. I'm leaving it up because it's funny.) I used to really agree with the RuPaul quote in the subject line, but when I have an experience like today, when presentation is genuinely irrelevant to me and my focus is all on function rather than form, I have to think it's more complex than that. Sometimes clothing is drag and sometimes you put on hiking boots because you're going hiking, or you put on a bra because you're going jogging, or you put on a skirt because it's a nice breezy day.
Gender is wacky stuff.
The other night X and I tried to figure out what our genders would be if we'd been male-assigned at birth (MAAB) and raised as boys. It's an impossible question to definitively answer, of course, because sex assignment affects all sorts of experiences that one has that can affect one's thoughts and feelings about gender, but it's fun to think about. I figured I'd end up pretty much where I am now--fond of dapper clothes, occasionally wearing pretty dresses--only I'd be mostly gender-conforming rather than mostly gender-nonconforming. I wonder whether MAAB-me would sometimes want to wear a skirt just for the feel of the breeze.
Super-easy No-soak Nut Cream
1 pound nut meal/flour (almond and cashew work well, others undoubtedly do too)
Put 3 cups of water in blender. Add nut meal. Stir, then blend briefly. Add enough water to reach the 6 cup mark on the side of the blender. Blend for 5 minutes. Use immediately or freeze. (I freeze one cup at a time in pint-size Ziploc bags or pint jars.) Straining is optional, and a regular blender works just fine--no need for a Blendtec or Vitamix.
If you want to make smaller quantities, 2 cups meal to 1.5 cups water seems to be about right for a nice heavy cream. Add more water if you want to thin it out.
I'm never organized enough to soak nuts for hours before blending them into cream; pre-ground nut meal solves this problem nicely. It can cost a bit more than raw nut pieces ($11/lb vs $9/lb at Nuts.com), but the convenience is frequently worth it.Nuts.com
has really good prices on certified GF nut flours. Shipping for five or ten pounds isn't much more than shipping for one pound, so order in bulk!
I learned a lot from the comments on my "freeze all the things!" posts
. Thanks all! Here's a summary.
Things that freeze well:
* anything that's mostly liquid (soup, stew, stock, chili, etc.)
* risotto and other rice-based things
* beans and other legumes (including hummus "base" of just chickpeas and tahini)
* nuts, which means we could MAKE AND FREEZE CASHEW CREAM AND RICOTTA and have it handy ALL THE TIME this is going to CHANGE MY LIFE
* raw meat, trimmed (or ground and shaped) and ready to cook
* cooked ground/shredded meat (in the form of meatballs, meatloaf, taco meat, sausage patties, shepherd's pie filling, stew, ropa vieja, pulled pork, etc.)
* uncooked or parcooked filled pasta (lasagna, lasagna roll-ups!, tortellini, ravioli, stuffed shells, etc.)
* cooked pasta in sauce
* uncooked casserole-type dishes (thaw before baking)
* quiche, with or without crust
* pasta sauces
* raw fruit
* roasted veg
* fresh herbs
* pie crusts, flat between sheets of parchment paper
* cookie dough, already cut/scooped and ready to bake
* baked or parbaked breadstuffs or unbaked dough (bread, pizza crusts, muffins, waffles, French toast, calzones, etc.)
* freezer jam
Things that do not freeze well:
* most cooked cuts of meat
* cooked pasta
(corrected in comments)
Techniques and tools:
* freeze raw meat in its marinade; thaw it in the fridge beginning 12 hours before you plan to cook it so it marinates as it thaws
* vacuum sealers are good in theory but most actual machines are useless; just use a Ziploc bag and either squeeze the air out or suck it out with a straw
* store frozen things in airless bags rather than hard-sided containers to prevent freezer burn; stack flat bags of sauce etc.
* freeze berries, pieces of cookie dough, meatballs, hamburger patties, etc. on sheet pans and then put them in a bag/container once they're frozen solid
* freeze muffin dough right in the muffin tin, then store in a bag once it's frozen solid
It's been a really, really good weekend. Yesterday was X's birthday, and we did just about everything on their list with the exception of getting a haircut: low-key hanging out, bangers & mash and Brussels sprouts for dinner, the three of us watching a movie together (Beetlejuice, which is still amazing), cuddles, excellent useful conversation1. Also the freezer was finally delivered after a week's delay, and late at night after everyone else went to bed I did a whole bunch of ironing while watching DS9. Today X got an amazing super-short haircut, and J and I had fun making a whole bunch of lentil soup and chicken stew for eating and freezing, and the three of us had a good dinner together. J and I cuddled for a bit and then I baked brownies2 because I was fidgety3. After J went to bed, X and I had our first workout together in ages, and then there was hanging out and watching Monty Python and mocking the cats.
No weekend is perfect, of course. Yesterday I foolishly said an inconsiderate thing to J and upset him, and he was already unhappy due to a painful upset stomach. But we sorted out the former and antacids helped with the latter, and all was well today.
1: We figured out a disconnect that had been bugging us for ages. When I say something like "I can meet up with you this evening, if you like", I assume it's obvious that I want to meet up--otherwise I wouldn't offer--but I'm giving the other person an easy out if they don't want to meet up. X hears it as me offering to do a favor that I don't really want to do, because if I wanted to I'd directly say so with a phrase like "I really want to have dinner with you tonight". So X turns me down and then I feel unhappy and rejected and confused.
Similarly, if X says "I'd like to hang out with you" I see that as opening a conversation and launch right into making plans, but X sees it as a general statement that doesn't necessarily need to go anywhere at that moment.
Now that we know where the confusion is coming from, it'll be much easier for us to catch disconnect moments around this and fix them. We're also working on generally saying more affirmative and enthusiastic things to each other so that we both remember that at any given time the odds are good that we both really want to spend time together!
2: You totally can't tell that the brownies are GF and DF. They're genuinely delicious. Alas, something in them makes my mouth itch. This is REALLY annoying. It's definitely an allergic reaction. The only things in them that I hadn't used before are Trader Joe's gluten-free all-purpose flour (which is rice, potato, and tapioca--all pretty innocuous) and Fleischmann's kosher parve unsalted margarine (which does include tiny amounts of "natural and artificial flavors"). So X will bring the rest of the brownies in to work to share with a colleague who has celiac, and I will wait a few days and then try making something else with the flour. If it turns out I can't bake with the ONE unsalted dairy-free butter substitute in the world, I will be Very Put Out.
Fortunately the reaction was mild and a dissolvable Claritin tablet cleared it up almost immediately. I will never stop being annoyed at the allergist who told me there was nothing that could be done for oral allergy syndrome and that there was no reason antihistamines should do any good. Grrrr. Anyway, if you have OAS, try the Claritin Redi-Tab or equivalent: I find that letting it dissolve on my tongue and coat the affected areas brings very quick relief.
3: Oh hypomanic swings. The other night I was having trouble falling asleep and realized I was anxious about the possibility that I might get too much sleep and then be buzzy and hypomanic. Well, that's basically what happened today: I slept nearly ten hours, launched straight into time with people, did a whole bunch of stuff that involved physical motion, and by late evening was still literally too fidgety to sit still for more than about five minutes. I was supposed to do an upper-body workout tonight but went with lower-body instead because when I'm buzzy I use my arms a lot and ignore all signs of overuse. I was speaking so quickly and interrupting my own train of thought so often that X half-seriously offered me some Adderall. (No, I didn't take it; that stuff would be pure poison for me and even if it weren't, 10 p.m. is not the time to be taking it.) Working out helped, and baking helped, and emptying and reloading the dishwasher helped, and taurine helped, but it's 04:30 now and I'm still typing at superspeed.
The thing is, though... this really isn't that bad. I didn't injure myself working out, because I had enough sense to swap workouts and pace myself. I didn't go on an online shopping spree or do anything physically or emotionally self-destructive. I didn't route around Leechblock and get into a stupid argument on Twitter; I didn't open up IM and feelingsdump all over a friend. I got a lot done and didn't break anything. It's not fun feeling so driven and twitchy, but it's not awful. It's hypomania, not mania. It's not anything to be afraid of.
So the next time I get anxious that I'm going to sleep too much and be hypomanic, I need to remember that this is what hypomania is like: not the best thing, but definitely not the worst thing either.
Now, more taurine and an attempt at sleep.
- thinking about:
behavior.communication, behavior.love, body.allergies, body.exercise, events.birthdays, experiences.drugs, experiences.drugs.loratadine, experiences.love, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, mind.wiring.mania, people.family, people.josh, people.xtina
We got our new upright freezer delivered today! It is huge (nearly as big as our fridge) and glorious. Our plan is to cook and freeze All The Things. What are your favorite gluten-free dairy-free pollopescatarian recipes for things that can be made in large quantities, frozen in single servings, and then nuked or otherwise heated for lunch or dinner? (Recipes calling for equipment like pressure cookers or food processors are fine; we either have it or can fake it.) What else do you think any sensible person should stock their freezer with?
I'm going to make so much ice cream! And freeze jars of smoothies! And soup and stew and stock! And gluten-free dumplings
(lots of work but so delicious)! And possibly rejoin Costco, since we can justify the travel expense of a cab each way if we're getting enough stuff to fill the freezer! I will stock up on extra exclamation points and freeze them! Anyway yes, suggestions welcome.
Other versions of this post, with various useful comments:http://vegancooking.livejournal.com/3464463.htmlhttp://cheap-cookin.livejournal.com/80192.html
I have done more thinking about the last post
and about terminology, particularly nudged by zandperl
and talked through with xtina
(thank you both!).
I am a night owl. This is not a medical condition; it's a strong personality characteristic, the way my brain is wired. I am wired to sleep from about 5 a.m. to about 1 p.m. If I lived in a world where pretty much everyone was expected to sleep during those hours, I'd be thrilled. So it's not strictly correct to refer to being a night owl as having a disability. The problem lies with a society that doesn't accommodate me the way I am, not with me for being broken or wrong or bad. I may still make use of a diagnosis of delayed sleep phase syndrome in order to push for accommodations and emphasize that this is a hard-wired thing in my brain and not something that can be fixed with sufficient application of willpower, because part of the way this society is faulty is that sometimes people won't accept "I am this way" but will accept "a person in authority says I am this way". That's a coping mechanism. But it's a mechanism for coping with this culture being the way it is, not
a mechanism for coping with me being the way I am. The way I am is perfectly fine.
I have profound psychological difficulties around going to sleep. I don't have a sleep disorder; I have a sleeping disorder, the way one might have an eating disorder, in that my relationship with sleep is really fucked up and unhealthy. This disorder is the perfectly understandable result of 35 years of accumulated external and internalized blaming and shaming and cajoling and haranguing and struggle and misery and other costs, related to my body clock not being in line with this culture's preferred schedule. It's like not being able to eat when hungry, but being force-fed while not hungry. It's a post-traumatic disorder, without question, and is most likely amplified by other past trauma related to lack of consent. It's extremely unpleasant to experience, and it directly leads to me getting insufficient rest, oversleeping, being late, and experiencing other hardships that can't be attributed solely to my night owl–ness. This disorder would persist and continue to make me miserable even if I moved to Night Owl Planet tomorrow (though making that move would probably help me to recover more quickly). I'd be a lot happier without it. I feel comfortable calling it a medical condition and working to treat it.
That said, the guidelines from my previous post apply to both the body clock and the sleeping disorder: no advice or diagnosis unless you're my doctor or I ask, complaining is not asking for advice, don't tease me or make fun of me, don't treat me like it's my fault or like my sleep schedule is more than marginally under my control.
What comes next:
* Doing my best to love myself and be good to myself even when decades of programming tell me I should be being terrible to myself and feeling wretched.
* Continuing to work on using accepting language and not using derogatory language around my body clock. You have no idea how much I've had to edit out of just the above two paragraphs. (No, it is not "wacky". Or "skewed". Or "awry". Or...)
* Continue to move away from struggle/shame feelings around going to bed and toward a consent/choice framework. Last night I explicitly said to myself, "I am choosing to stay up late playing this video game. I understand that the trade-off for feeling good now is that tomorrow I will be really really tired. Future-me agrees to get up and go to work on time; if I can't do that, then I can't indulge myself to this extent." I stayed up until 5, slept until 10, alarm-dozed until 11, and got to work around 12:30, which is still later than I'd like (I'm supposed to be in at noon) but acceptable, especially for a first try at a new way of doing things.
* Trying to figure out how to consent to sleep. I have been forced to sleep; I have learned how to defy that and refuse to sleep. That's healthy progress, to an extent, but "no means no" doesn't do me much good without "yes means yes". I feel just as guilty for saying I'm going to go to bed as I do for staying up late, for the same reason: it denies other people time with me, and there is no such thing as anyone getting enough time with me. (Tonight I did it anyway. X and I were both yawning around 23:15, and I suggested we cut our teatime short--it technically ends at midnight and we actually tend to wrap up around 1--so we could both get some sleep. It was hard to say, but I said it, and it was okay.) It also brings up all those awful conflicted feelings that one gets when one voluntarily does what one has been vehemently told to do: I'm giving in, maybe everyone is right and it really is just a matter of willpower, how can I know whether I really want this, etc. And having worked so hard to present myself as being someone who sleeps from ~2 to ~10, it's weirdly hard to go to bed earlier
than that, like now everyone will catch me out and laugh at me and think I'm a liar and a fraud. (The parallels to being trans* are massive and obvious to everyone else too, right? Dear self: if wearing a skirt sometimes doesn't make me not-trans*, going to sleep at what most people would consider a "normal" hour doesn't make me not a night owl.)
** Did you catch that bit where I feel bad about denying other people time with me? I need to fix that too. My time is mine and I get to decide how I spend it. I'm not a commodity. I need to stop treating myself like one. (This is all far more internalized than coming from any external source. I am awful to myself sometimes.)
* Finding types of "no" that aren't "NO AND FUCK YOU FOR TELLING ME WHAT TO DO". For example, I need a way of saying "No, self, you may not stay up until 6 when you need to be out the door at 11:15". Maybe something like "Future-me does not agree to this"? I'll have to work on that.
* Addressing my tendency to stay up late compulsively completing arbitrary tasks (i.e., not deadline-based work or other things I actually have any external reason to do by the next day). I say something like "I'll go to bed when I finish this chapter... finish the next three levels... get my score to a number that's evenly divisible by 4... zero my inbox... catch up on LJ..." and then I don't do it
; instead I feel compelled to keep reading, keep playing, keep doing things online. My OCD is so mild that I hesitate to even say I have it, out of respect for people whose lives are made really miserable by OCD, but it does manifest rather dramatically in this particular way. It also gets much worse when I'm tired: my concentration gets absolutely fixed and is really, really hard to break. Some of this is about wanting a particular emotional payoff from whatever I'm doing--satisfaction at beating the game, enjoyment of the book, companionship and anti-loneliness from social media--but some is pure compulsion, and I need to tackle it on both fronts.
I don't mind saying that this all sucks a lot. It's hard to really face how miserable I am basically every night as I struggle with when and whether to sleep. It's hard to think about how difficult it is to be a night owl in a lark society. It's hard to admit how rotten this has been for me for basically my entire life and how traumatized I am by that. It's especially hard to confront how much I internalize and perpetuate all of the nagging and blaming. There is truly nothing that feels worse than shame mixed with quiet, almost unconscious anger at the deep certainty that the shame is undeserved. It's worse than grief, and I don't say that lightly. And I feel it every night. I don't even know what a future where I don't feel it would be like.
But I want to find out.
So I'm going to bed now, regardless of what time it is--I am literally not looking at the clock, so all I know is that it's sometime after 1:30--because I'm tired and I want to sleep. This is the payoff today-me gets for having enabled yesterday-me's late-night gaming: I get a really lovely long stretch of sleep. Sleep feels good, when I choose it and it's at the right time for me! I consent wholeheartedly. That doesn't mean I'm "not really a night owl" or strong-willed or conforming or anything; it means I'm a tired person who wants to sleep. I get to sleep whenever I want to and be awake whenever I want to, as long as I meet any commitments that require me to be awake and alert at a particular time. Tomorrow I have no such commitments that I know of, so I'm going to do what I want, and what I want right now is sleep. So there.
Excerpts from IMing with Xtina today, discussing X's concern about my sleep patterns being out of whack:Rose Fox: i get REALLY defensive around people trying to make me sleep earlier/more
Rose Fox: my apologies for letting that particular reaction get away from me
Rose Fox: i cannot even explain how uncomfortable i am even with jokes around it. i realize that when someone says "GO TO BED, ROSE" it's meant with all care and affection but it still stresses me out
Rose Fox: so i'm okay with talking about it and i really don't want to cause you concern but i'm also just very... sensitive
Rose Fox: i generally feel [that people expressing concern about my sleep, telling me to go to bed, etc.] is just a thing i need to deal with because it's a thing about me that's weird and looks more disordered than it is and so people who care about me are always going to push me about it
Rose Fox: ...wow, now i am having big unrelated feelings about that second thing i just put up there. but i will deal with that later
Rose Fox: look at it this way: my sleep stuff is, basically, a disability
Rose Fox: so i'm perfectly willing to answer respectful inquiries about it
Rose Fox: same as i would be willing to do re anxiety or arms
Rose Fox: but even an affectionate "GO TO BED" sometimes feels like "STOP USING YOUR ARMS" or "CALM DOWN"
Rose Fox: and is going to stress me regardless of how kindly and humorously it's meant
Rose Fox: "as your partner, i'm concerned that you're not treating your ailment" = 100% legit
Rose Fox: "as your partner, i'm concerned that your ailment is getting worse" = 100% legit
Rose Fox: the "whoa" moment i had earlier was realizing that i was basically saying "my disability makes me weird and different and people are just going to poke me about it because that's how being disabled is"
Rose Fox: and then i got a giant wave of all the sad
Rose Fox: so a big giant part of this is just my baggage around all that
The thing is, I've been thinking of my circadian rhythm fuckery as a disability for years--from the perspective of work needing to make accommodations for it. I've been absolutely firm on that. But somehow I missed the part where the reason I get so twitchy around people telling me to sleep more, asking whether I'm sleeping enough, etc. is that this is in great part not under my control
and people (including me!) treating it like something I can control feels basically like people telling me just to cheer up and then I won't be depressed. And I'd just been putting up with it all this time, figuring it was me being oversensitive and really I should just try harder, change all my bedtime habits, change them again, indulge my night owl tendencies, make myself get up at a fixed time, change my bedtime habits again, reassure people who are concerned, smile at people who joke, make jokes myself (for YEARS, I've been doing this for YEARS), keep trying and trying and trying until I find the magic thing that fixes me and makes me normal and healthy, and getting more and more stressed and sad and snappish and frustrated...
Whee, more things to talk with my therapist about.
Please comment with care. Please don't comment with apologies if you've joked/expressed concern/whatever in the past; past is past and done is done, and I have no room to think about other people's feelings about this right now. (Besides, if I wasn't thinking of it or treating it as a disability, there's no reason you should have known to do so.) All I ask is that in the future you treat my sleep schedule the way you'd treat someone's depression, anxiety, or other invisible mental/emotional disability: don't recommend treatment unless you're my doctor or I ask for advice, don't take complaints about it as requests for advice, don't tease me about it, and don't treat me like it's my fault.
EDIT: Follow-up post.
Today I sat down and got work done. This is noteworthy because over the last few months it's been really hard to motivate myself on freelance days. Apparently it's much easier now that work is not eating my entire life! So I have cleared almost everything off my freelance to-do list; I have one more critique to send to a Long Hidden
backer and then I can start going through the stories that have been submitted so far.
(Did you all know that the Long Hidden
submission deadline has been extended to August 31? Send us your stories!
I had dinner with regyt
tonight, and then got a few minutes to cuddle and chat with J, and then X and I watched two episodes of Monty Python Discovers Racism
(the Suck Fairy spent some time in England, it turns out) while I knit a few more rows of sweater, and then I did a serious arms workout (knee-height push-ups! triceps dips!) and caught up on LJ/DW and did a bit of Spanish study on Duolingo
(who knows how long I'll stick with it, but I'm trying to do a bit every night) and it's only 2:30 a.m. I realize that just as I really get used to this being the new normal I'll get smacked by the busyness of September and early October--friends visiting from England, a trip to Arizona, a weekend at home while J and X go to Boston for a wedding, and then a weekend in Boston going to another wedding while J and X stay home--but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.
I kind of want to do more Spanish but I should sleep, or at least try to. I haven't been sleeping well thanks to this stupid cold. My right ear is blocked up again, and itching; I really really hope this doesn't turn into an ear infection. On the bright side, my throat unhappiness is nearly gone. Hopefully lying on my left side will drain my ear, my humidifier will let me sleep without coughing, and I'll be all better tomorrow.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, body.ears, body.illness, experiences.television, experiences.work.freelance, projects.crafts, projects.crafts.knitting, words.editing, words.editing.venues.long hidden, words.language, words.language.español
1) I have about two-thirds of a head cold: sinuses are pretty clear and I'm not sneezy, but I have ear congestion (my right ear apparently LOVES being congested and takes every possible opportunity for it), post-nasal drip, a scratchy throat, a bass voice, and occasional abrupt mood swings. I like being a bass but could do without the rest. On the bright side, I don't feel particularly run-down. I've been sleeping a lot but when I'm awake I feel generally energetic and capable. So hopefully this is just a mild little thing and I'll fight it off quickly.
I have been sick or incredibly busy, or both, every single weekend since X and I went to New Orleans in mid-June. It's ridiculous.
At least it rained a bit, so outdoor air quality is improved and indoors I don't have to run the a/c nonstop. I set up my humidifier again, which is ridiculous in July, but I do have to keep the a/c on at night, which dries the air out a lot. I hope it will help me sleep without coughing.
2) I got hiccups and tried holding my nose to see whether they would unblock my ear. Instead, I stopped hiccuping. I'll have to remember this as a hiccup cure, though I'm sad it didn't work as an ear-blockage cure.
3) I tried trimming my own nails. One of them came out uneven no matter how I filed it, and then I absentmindedly bit it down. Next weekend I go back to the manicurist.
4) X may have developed a wheat or gluten intolerance (sadness!), which makes meal planning imperative, as X's go-to lunch and snack foods are all wheat-based. I found a Google Docs template
for meal planning, and the three of us spent an hour listing known-good foods to populate its database and planning out the week. Hopefully this will both save us money (since we're deliberately planning to make enough food for leftovers) and ensure that X and I both eat enough despite our various restrictions (since we're both prone to saying "Bah, fuck it, I'll just skip this meal" when we're too hungry to make decisions). J and I were already planning to go to Chinatown on our date tomorrow, so while we're there we can look for wheat-free soy sauce and sweet rice flour (mochiko) to use for thickening sauces and gravies.
5) I've been making a point of enjoying my free time, referring to my list of things to do
whenever I get bored or start staring at Twitter too much. I've read two books. I knit several rows of sweater, ripped the entire thing out when it became clear it was completely the wrong size, and started over. Tonight J and I went for a walk and then I did some reading and then X and I watched a movie and then I read some more. It still feels a bit odd to need to find things to fill my time, but a good sort of odd.
Hard to believe it's 2 a.m. and I'm completely caught up on my LJ/DW reading. (It helps that X and I actually ended our tea date at 1 instead of staying up talking until 2 or 3.) Leechblock has shut off my access to Twitter and Gmail; whatever's there can wait for tomorrow. I'm writing this post more or less because I can. Amazing.
Tonight I came home and had dinner and then didn't have an entire second job's worth of Readercon work to do. It feels profoundly weird to have all this free time! I ended up cuddling with X and J, and then knitting while X and I watched Monty Python (we're working our way through all the Flying Circus eps from the beginning). At no point did I feel guilty for procrastinating, because there's nothing to procrastinate. That's a good thing to not be feeling but it still takes some getting used to.
I need to make a list of enjoyable things to do that aren't watching Twitter like it's television, because I do that way too much.
While it's still wretchedly hot out:
- family time and partner time
-- possibly including weekend trips
-- needed: separate list of possible family and partner activities, since we've all kind of forgotten what it's like to have the time for such things
- sleeping enough
-- no, seriously, going to bed at my actual bedtime
--- no, I mean it, why are you laughing
- reading books! for fun! I hear people do this!
- getting back into the DW/DS9 rewatch
- sorting and shelving and cataloging books
- household chores and improvements (I genuinely do find these enjoyable)
- non-knitting crafts (I'm knitting a wool sweater and that's not much fun in the heat, even with the a/c going)
-- maybe teach X how to do blackwork
- having friends over for dinner or just hanging out
- playing non-arm-killing computer games
- learning HTML5 so I can help Stefan write the next generation of Readercon program software
- learning Spanish, re-learning Japanese and Russian
- maybe writing? maybe? I get very nervous about this but maybe
Once the weather improves, add:
- going out to visit friends
- taking long walks
- going to the beach (yes, it is actually too hot to go to the beach right now!)
- going to Spa Castle
- going to Brooks Brothers to spend the gift card that Josh and Glory got me for my birthday
- going to live music/theater events
- maybe taking up dancing again?
Other suggestions welcome. I have basically forgotten how to have fun in my spare time. Please remind me!