A journey to San Francisco to become no less than Me. (BLOG REBOOT: Former site of Hairy Legs.)

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

I’m tired, and kind of sad.

It’s always a good idea to write a blog when you’re in a good mood and have a positive outlook on the world.  You’re putting good energy and advice out there, and probably writing something that might actually be a pleasant experience to read.

It rarely happens.

When you’re in a good mood, you just ride the waves of your current awesome events and experience life.  You don’t necessarily feel the need to sit in a darkened room with your fingers alternately resting on the keys and on your temples, pointing your examination inwards and pontificating on page what exactly went wrong.  I find it’s only a depression that makes me slow down and take stock.  Necessarily, that makes the majority of my writing dark, negative, boring and awful.

That’s not to say that I’m a dark, negative, boring and awful person.  I spend a lot of my time on the upper end of the scale, going around doing positive things for my community and fun things with my friends.  Just last night, I went out with a couple of friends, wore some seriously anachronistic hats, chemically altered my perception just a smidgen, and had a rousing time on the town.  How can a pirate and a repressed englishman from the 1890’s not delight?

But you don’t write about these things, you just do them.  Well, unless you’re that irritating facebook sort that feels the need to update whenever you’ve successfully completed laundry, or made it out of the DMV in one piece*, or woken up, or are going to bed, or stumbled across a particularly impressive bowl of onion soup.  (*There are some allowances for the DMV thing, as making it out alive is sometimes an impressive accomplishment, and also there are some fertile joke breeding grounds there if you don’t mind your humor a little warmed over from the 90’s.)

The point here is, I’m sorry.  I have a lot of guilt and shame attached to dumping out my negative shit on the internet because there is already so much of it here, and I just don’t like adding to the landfill.  Furthermore, I’m an adult now.  My prefrontal lobe has developed, and now, it’s easy enough to distinguish the difference between

1) an emotional/spiritual apocalypse of doom and depression and angst, and

2) my brain chemistry being kind of temporarily fucked due in part to my hormone levels and in part because my meds are being adjusted.

Like, I get it.  Logic is engaged.  I know in my brainmeats that this isn’t an eternal state of ugly feels, despite the fact that the depression is inherently just engineered to feel like it’s going to stretch out for an eternity and there’s no hope of ever recovering.  That’s why it’s called a depression, that’s why it’s so effective at being the horrible thing that it is.  If I could see the light at the end of the tunnel from where I’m standing, it wouldn’t be a depression.

As far as facts and figures are concerned, I get that I’m feeling icky, due to physiological factors beyond my control, and it will pass.  I understand that this isn’t the end of the world and eventually I’ll swing right back on up to feeling like that superman who can handle eighteen thousand things at once (for better or worse).  I understand that, until that happens, for the meantime, the best I can do is ride it out, hope it’s not my meds doing this to me but some other factor (so I don’t have to switch my meds AGAIN) and try to not to anything destructive.

But fuck it’s hard to keep some perspective when I’m like this.

It’s like being in a house of mirrors.  The state I’m in means that my energy is very, very low.  That doesn’t translate to “I’m feeling lazy”. What it translates to is, “I don’t have the capacity to process very much without getting immediately burnt out and ragged.”  What it translates to is “it does not take very much to overwhelm me right now, and overwhelm is very very bad for a mind that is teetering dangerously close to suicidal and self-harm kind of thinking.”  What it translates to is “too much stimulation and input very easily leads to panic attacks and uncontrollable lashing out.”  What it translates to is that I need to be very gentle with myself and take a lot of things off my plate.

That kind of self care is very, very difficult for a Type A personality. You get crippled by the shame.  People like myself constantly have a tittering demon on our shoulders telling us that we could be using our time more effectively.  That’s good on most days, because it means a lot gets accomplished.  On the (rare) depressive days, that leads to panic, guilt, shame, anxiety, frustration, and suicidal thinking.  If you had an overbearing schoolmarm breathing down your neck 24-7 telling you what a useless lazy sack of sludge you were, and if one day you got exhausted enough to slow down enough that you felt like the words she was saying might actually carry a grain of truth, you might lose your will to carry on a little too.

I think that’s the word I’m scared of more than anything.  Laziness.  Just about that second that I realized how fast life goes by,  I realized that I had such a limited amount of time in this life to actually accomplish the things I want to do.  On the days when I have the energy to go out and make things happen, that’s a motivating kind of thought.  On the days where finding my shoes is a task that crumples my resolve like tin foil, it’s a sucker punch to the gut that sucks any and all life, positivity, motivation and enjoyment out of anything that I could be doing at any given moment.  It’s a mind-shattering realization, one that makes you feel futility in any endeavor, from going back to school to drawing your next breath.

So, my conclusion here is that manic depression is a really dangerous disease for Type-A sorts to have, because the downtime days are just so much more devastating to handle for someone who is so driven that absolutely almost nothing can stop you.  When something as simple as your own brain chemistry trips you up, and there is nothing you can do to fight it that doesn’t put your mental health in serious danger, it’s a real kick to your self-esteem, and that deepens your depression further.  It’s an exponentially folding, billowing well of tarry black darkness and shame that encompasses everything, chokes your air supply, snakes down your nostrils, tangles your limbs, and commands every sensory input until the only escape is sleep.  (Hey check out the imagery in that last sentence, I’m a depressed 17 year old with a livejournal.)

I think what I’m saying is, if I could relax for five minutes, maybe this whole depression thing wouldn’t be so fucked.

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Day Fourteen: Lark-Inn and America’s Got Talent; Slums and Fame.

I can’t believe everything that’s happened so far.  I haven’t had time really for blogging, vlogging or anything under that umbrella, because I’ve been wildly sick, suffering from a potentially slipped disc, and also staying in a place where I really have no internet access. HOWEVER, you all deserve to know that everything on the whole is well and good.

First order of business:  I am no longer couch surfing.  I got into Lark Inn!!!

It’s terrible.

Naw, just kidding. It’s actually pretty okay.  There are three hot, delicious meals every day, free laundry machines, showers, and of course, a warm (if noisy) place to sleep.  The hoodrat culture there is a little jarring after growing up in a place where the slums are mainly populated with hicks, skinheads and meth addicts; there’s a pretty intensive culture shock.  I think I’m one of about four or five white kids there, mixed in with a vast rainbow of other ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations and cultural heritages.  The one thing everyone has in common- even the flaming gay kids- is that they’re all unquestionably tough as nails.  There are some truly incredible individuals surviving in there.  It’s kind of neat to exposed to such a melting pot.  I guess I’m adapting pretty okay, cause nobody’s giving me any shit.

That said, it’s a bad idea to leave any of your stuff lying around because it seems the walls are made of sticky fingers.  Being a forgetful sort of person, this has bit me in the ass a couple times already.  Between last night and this morning, my favorite yellow sunglasses went missing from my bedside, and one person stole my phone a couple days ago (though they owned up to it pretty quickly.)  Nevertheless I’m adapting.

Wait- I left my shampoo and toothbrush in the shower this morning.  DAMMIT.  (God have mercy on the person that decides it’s a good idea to use my toothbrush, I’ve got a pretty nasty fever.)

Speaking of showers and personal space, they put me in the male dorms, for which I am forever grateful, but it’s a little weird to have to shower in the men’s room.  Thank god there are stalls, but I get weirded out by the thought that someone could, at a whim, very easily pull the curtain aside and see my alternative anatomy in all its glory.  If there wasn’t the threat of being kicked out for harassing fellow clients, I’d be a little more uneasy.  Apparently there are a few transphobic clients being housed there, and it gives me the chills to think how easily and quickly something could go wrong in that bathroom.

Sleeping in the same dorm with eight other men is a new experience, too.  Apparently they stuck me in the bed right next to the biggest trouble maker.  BUT, all the dorms are merely divided by walls that don’t reach the ceiling by three feet, so all I’d have to do is make a massive ruckus and I’d have the staff on my dorm in an instant, so I’m comforted by that.

Also too, I’m not the only trans guy here.  There’s one other (possibly more who aren’t obvious) and somehow that makes me feel safer, even though he’s much younger than me.  I get the feeling that he’s got my back should things go wrong.

The roughest thing, honestly, has been the beds.  I mentioned that I might have a slipped disc, and my clinic was supposed to see me about it Monday, but then they pushed me back another week.  The foam mattresses, when compressed by weight, are paper thin, and I honestly wouldn’t have room to complain if my back weren’t so damaged that I can barely tie my shoes!  I wake up every morning feeling ragged and barely able to move, and there aren’t even any pillows to work around the lack of back support.  Luckily, my sweetie bought me a pillow, so last night wasn’t as tough.

Also waking up around 5am with my usual hacking cough and near-asthma attack has been miserable, especially coming down from this cold.  I’ve been trying not to wake up the whole planet with my explosive coughing fits but I’m not sure I’m doing too well, and I’m afraid everyone in my dorm is probably going to destroy me if the pattern keeps up.

There are a lot of strange and arbitrary rules here, but overall the staff has been great and they’ve linked me in with some decent resources.  I honestly found most of them before I moved in, but whatever.  Apparently I won’t get a social worker for a few weeks, but that gives me a little while to catch my breath and see what I can do on my own.

IN OTHER NEWS:

– My name/gender change paperwork is under way.  I’d already have my physician signature for the court order of gender change if my doctor hadn’t called in sick last Friday.  He only shows up Fridays and apparently he won’t be in this Friday either, so that blows, but I’ll be swinging by the clinic this afternoon to see if administration will work with me.  The paperwork process is already going to take long enough (6+ weeks!) without having to wait two more weeks just for a signature.

– I guess LYRIC here in the Castro might be able to work with me on getting an internship to generate income without having to have my I.D. first, so that’s a good thing.  I can’t do the paperwork to start my business (or even get the proper training for it, really!) without an I.D., and you really can’t survive here without at least a little cash, so it looks like my best option.  Besides, it’s doing volunteer work, which is really where I’m at home, I GUESS.  Food banking, here I come, again.   D:

– I’m going on testosterone THIS FRIDAY!!!  😀 I’ve decided I want to find some way to get the tattoo I’ve been wanting for eight years to commemorate the first day I broke my skin to get the right hormones in my body.  Not sure where I can go where they use clean needles and ALSO don’t charge an arm and a leg, but I’ll work something out.  If worst comes to worst, I WON’T get it- as much HIV as there is going around here, I’m valuing my health more than anything.  Clean blood is golden around here.

– OH!  This is the strangest thing of all.

The other day, one of the clients walked in to Lark-Inn, saying they just got back from the America’s Got Talent auditions.  Apparently, they were holding them at Civic Center, a good five blocks from where I was staying.  These sorts of shows really aren’t my thing, but I figured, why the hell not?  I’ve got a good voice, a hell of a story, and an interesting presentation.  Why shouldn’t they want me?  At least, it might be a way off the streets.

So, I went and auditioned.  At first I was nervous because I’d been sick for three days already so my throat was kinda rough, but I’ve got practice pushing through that to create richer tones, so I wasn’t too worried; I knew my throat would suffer for it and be rough by evening, but it would be worth it.

My little gimmick is presenting as male, and then singing classic diva tunes.  At first, I was going to do my rendition of Barbra Streisand’s “Gotta Move” from her titular feature “Color Me Barbra”, but then around noon, I heard that Whitney Houston had passed.  The news shook me so much that I instantly chose to switch to my favorite song of hers, “There Is Music In You” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

Apparently it was a good choice.  After waiting in the audition warm-up auditorium with literally hundreds of people for four hours, watching a vast array of talents (and some crazy people), I was called up with the other a capella singers in my number set to perform.  I’m lucky I scribbled those reminder notes on my palms because my mind blanked on the lyrics more than once, and by the end of the final chorus my hands were tingling like fire and my vision was blacking.  Luckily I kept my voice steady and ended on not too shoddy a final note.  I was happy with the acoustics and poured everything I had into the stretched, full notes, opening my chest into Whitney’s rich tones.  The room echoed and filled (I almost hurt my own ears!) and I didn’t know if I was just biased, but I was happy to think that I sounded better than the other auditionists in my group who’d gone before me.

I’ve been struggling with being stuck firmly in the “Super Soprano” range (as my music teacher called it) for years, stretching my voice as low as it would go, urging it into baritone ranges so that at least I could fake an alto tone, but lately I’ve finally embraced that this is what I was born with- more or less the ability to parrot the classic diva songs.  Soon, when I go on testosterone, I’ll lose that forever, and it’s been strange to find that I’ll miss it more than I realized.  But for now, I hope it will do me well.

After I wrapped up  my audition, I took off for Larkin, as I was cold, tired, and ready for dinner, but halfway back (my phone exploding during a breathless call home), the producers called, saying they needed me back!

I screamed that I’d be back in five minutes and took off running back to the center.  Arriving breathlessly on the fourth floor, I apologized for leaving so quickly.  They wanted to do a more in-depth interview with me, so I explained my background, that I was staying at the shelter, that I wanted to maybe use this opportunity to get off the streets and make a better life for myself, and to challenge the world’s perception of gender.  I also told them I’d be going on hormone therapy later this week and throughout the year, my voice would be dropping.  They seemed genuinely fascinated.

“You said you hope to maintain control over your voice as it drops.  Can you demonstrate your soprano voice for us again, with just thirty seeconds of another song?”

I was floored- I got to sing my Barbra number, too!  I’m not so sure how well I did with that complicated bit at the end of the first verse, but I hope it was impressive enough for them to call me back.  They said they weren’t making decisions today, but I’d know within two weeks whether I made the cut or not. I thanked them and left.

On the way out, I asked the escort who’d called me back up if everyone got called back to do the in-depth interview and sing a second time.  He raised his eyebrows pointedly and said I was the only one in my group who had been called back.

“Wow,” I said. “This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened, you know.  I was in this talent show once, and I thought I did terrible, so I just left as soon as I was done performing and went for tacos.  Turned out later I won the Judge’s Choice award and wasn’t there to accept it.”

He shook his head. “You shouldn’t be so quick to leave auditions like this.  Clearly you’ve got talent.  Give yourself more credit.”

I left feeling a little starstruck.  I’d always poured so much energy into things like drawing, costuming and the visual arts that I’d never considered I might have a chance at singing.  It just seemed like such a fiercely competitive field, and talent at drawing is so much more rare (and the crowd is so much nicer!), so I stuck with art.  I’ve never poured any of my resources into lessons, choir, glee club or anything like that.  But maybe I have a more natural talent singing than I thought.

Or maybe I’m just excited over nothing.  I won’t really care too much if I don’t get called back; there were people who had clearly been rehearsing their acts for months, maybe years, and hung everything on getting in- every one of those people will be heartbroken at getting cut.  I just showed up out of the blue with a shrug on a whim and gave it my best shot.  I’ve got a million other plans for getting out of this place without them.  But still…

I’ve never considered fame and fortune as an option of mine.  I thought I’d be the costume designer backstage, making the true divas shine, smiling from behind the curtain.  Wouldn’t it be strange, and new, and awesome to be in the spotlight?

And just maybe, from there, maybe like Chaz and those before me, I can change the way the world thinks.

Day Four: Why is life so amazing?M

Tis be the time of 1:00am, and I can’t sleep cause my sleeping pattern has been obliterated, but I don’t have the energy to edit videos, so I’m going to do a little blog and keep you all updated till tomorrow when I’m going to finalize and post my vlogs.

I’d like not to go into too much detail because the vlog is already so intensively detailed that I just think it’d be overkill, but I’ll hit on the high points here:

– After I went with my couch host to his school’s LGBTQ resource center, one of his awesome friends pointed me towards Trans Thrive, an absolutely incredible  organization in the city dedicated to keeping trans people healthy and off the streets, HIV prevention, depression, support groups, the works.  Everything you can imagine, they provide.  Long story short, they put me on the fast track to get testosterone- I don’t know how to describe how extraordinary it was that I had an appointment for gender consultation after being in the city for 29 hours.

– I GOT MY SCRIPT.  I am getting my first shot on February 17th at 4pm.  Bow taken.

– I went to this little transmen speed dating thing, and well, I don’t like to kiss and tell, but I will say that I have someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with.  (OKAY I’LL TELL HE’S AN INCREDIBLE TRANS GUY FORMER AIRFORCEMAN HE’S SO FUCKING CUTE okay done having a panic attack of HOW FUCKING AWESOME IS MY LIFE?! )

– There was free HIV testing so I did that, it came up negative, no surprise there.  Tom H., disease-free since 1988. ;D

– It looks as though I’ll be getting free dental, and get this, possibly into a program for getting my top surgery done for free as well.  I’m afraid free top surgery will make me look like frankenstein, but at least my binder won’t be destroying my back any longer, so it’s whatever.

– Speaking of binders, I got a free one from Trans Thrive that ACTUALLY FITS, now isn’t that a novel concept?

– Got a haircut, that’s boring and I’m sure you’ll see it in the videos.

– I got wolf-whistled at in the Castro today.  I feel appropriately male AND fabulous.

– Tomorrow I’m going to a transguy-run super bowl party, which is great because I’ve never had any reason to watch it before.  (I honestly kinda wanted to do my first shot on Super Bowl Sunday cause that just seemed appropriate, but that’s the point at which I cross over from being needy to nitpicky.  The 17th is almost too soon for me to take in!)

 

I’m sure I’m missing things, I didn’t ask my Puppy if it was okay to write about him yet either so I won’t go into a lot of detail till later, but MAN did I luck out, he’s the sweetest most incredible level-headed generous adventurous soul with a knack for back massage and GOD, what did I ever do to deserve all this good all at once?

I’m preparing honestly for something absolutely devastating to happen.

About Monday- there’s a sad thing, that you can’t take advantage of the food pantries around here without a proof of residence in the SF zip codes, which seems counterintuitive to trying to serve the homeless, because I’d update my I.D. if I actually HAD  an address.  ANYWAY, I’m going to the Transgender Law Center monday to see if they can help me sort my expired license out so maybe i can get food stamps.  Mmm, edible things.

Also monday I’m getting my blood work done.  There was someothing else but i literally just fell asleep at the keyboard, so i’m surre i’ll remember in the morning.  I love ALL YOUR FACES, you mean the world to me, dear readers, truly. MUST SLEEP

/END TRANSMISSION
 

Celebratory Post!

As of yesterday, I’ve officially made it two years living full time as male.

(My family even baked me a cake!  The celebration would have been really nice if it weren’t for… stuff.)

Lots of things have changed.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal demons lately, a lot of shit from my childhood bubbling up, and things that just generally eat your energy and time.  On top of it I’ve been working practically non-stop.  My term with Americorps is almost up and I need a new job if I want to keep my place, so I’m back on the job hunt, and plus I’m applying to art school this spring so I have to put together a bunch of portfolios.  I haven’t had a lot of time to think about this whole transgendered thing for a really long time.
It’s faded to the back, and while I’m passing almost 100% of the time now (even without hormones), it’s just not that big of a deal anymore.  I’m sure when I finally have the resources to get on T, and the doors open, this will all get very exciting again, but for now it’s been one of the smaller aspects of my life.  That’s kind of nice.

Besides all that, I really need to find a therapist who specializes in Dissociative Identity Disorder.  It was gone and dormant for near two years now, and I thought I could ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and pretend it didn’t exist so it’d be easier to pass the psych eval for hormones.

Now I’m realizing this is one of the ways I’m going to dealing with severe trauma for the rest of my life, and on top of that, there are still a LOT of buried issues right under the surface that I still need to work through.  I’ve never been able to look my sexual abuse squarely in the eye before, but now that it’s doing the whole zombie act and poking its ugly smelly head from the grave, I’m going to have to.  I feel like admitting that to a therapist and finally going through therapy for it may be the only truly affective shotgun to the head.

I’ve finally come to accept and embrace my psychotic past as a part of me rather than just thinking I could slough it off and become a brand new person by pretending it isn’t there.  I need to really go through and weed it out instead of just shutting the door to the attic and ignoring it until its viney tentacles grow out of control.  I may never recover from this if I don’t face it, now.

It’s liberating to realize, though.

That said, sharing my head with someone has never been easy and it’s not easy now.

1 Year Manniversary!

So, it was this day last year that I made the decision to start living full time as male.  I’ve pulled this from the first post on my blog:

“This is Day 1.  Ground zero.
Today’s the official start of my transitioning process.
Some day, I won’t be the only person who sees me as a man.  Some day the whole goddamn world will without a second guess.  And it’s only a matter of time.
Joaquin Jack, the rootin’-est tootin’-est outlaw in the Wild West.”

A lot of things have changed since that day.  The most recent change?  I’m now officially a working stiff.  Yep, that volunteer gig I’ve been talking about since April?  They finally offered me a full time, paid job with benefits.  My medical insurance starts in September, and I can start the process of medical transition this year.

Social transition started a long time ago.  Most people I know call me Tommy, even in the workplace.  Most of those people call me by male pronouns, except for family and people in the workplace.  I don’t know how I’m going to navigate that when I start looking and sounding more male, but I have a very cool and understanding supervisor who is used to dealing with people in unusual personal situations, so I’d be surprised if she treats me unfairly.

Funnily enough, my attitude towards pronouns has gotten a lot more lax lately, mainly because I’m just so tired of seeing people struggle with it.  I’ve even had a few people who have been trying their damnedest break down and cry over it, even when I wasn’t pressing the issue.  I can tell with these people, they genuinely want to say the right things around me and it really gets to them when they don’t, and it’s gotten to the point where I frankly don’t give a shit anymore.  I mean, it’s awesome when I get sirred in public, but there’s nothing I can do right now about the fact that I look, sound and smell female, and asking people to do mental acrobatics around it is a little unreasonable until I’ve been on T for a while.

That’s not to say that I let people walk all over me, though.  Recently a few friends and I were hanging out, and I was telling this story from back when I was still doing the whole “chick” thing, and one of my brodudes said, “Hey, FYI, you’re still a chick.”

I punched him in the face.

It was kind of awesome.  His head slammed the wall behind him and he came up dizzy and checking if all his teeth were there.

He got the picture.  We were cool from then on.

***

What else has changed since last year?  Hm…
– My car works again, feels good to have independence.
– I’ve finally gotten back into the habit of showering and brushing my teeth every day- I care about my body now that it might actually belong to me one day.
– I’ve been eating less junk food and soda and crap and staying active, and I’ve gained some muscle and lost 23 pounds worth of spare fat.
– I’m on my way to quitting smoking (which I’ve never really mentioned on here because I don’t want to make any of my  former smoker transbros start jonesing, but I feel it’s worth bringing up at least on my manniversary.)
– I finally got together the balls to cut my hair last year, feels awesome not to have an extra blanket of heat coating my neck and back in the summer.
– I’ve become an expert at using an STP at public urinals, and have broken the fear of using the men’s room.
– I’ve come out to my dad and we even talk about it at lengths these days, and he (sort of) accepts me as his son, off and on.  It’s all I can ask for at this point.
– Have been wearing a real binder, not an improvised one that could distort my ribs, for probably about 9 months now.  Of course I’ve been binding off and on for a long time, and every single day for a year now, but using one regularly that doesn’t hurt my back has done wonders for my self-esteem and general health.
– Since having them compressed every day, I’ve lost at least a cup size.  I used to be a full C, and now I’m kind of a saggy B.  Not as attractive with my shirt off, but much easier to bind, and sometimes I can even wear a baggy shirt without being self-conscious.
– I’ve pumped off and on all year, and let’s just say my microcock is a lot easier to see these days.
– A lot of other smaller things that I don’t feel like recounting.

The only negative thing is that I’ve become a lot less comfortable with sex these days.  Since being with someone who doesn’t neccessarily find my trans situation attractive and kinda made me feel like shit about myself in several ways, and becoming more and more wary that any guy I’m with will want to do me in the manhole, I’ve lost my sex drive almost entirely.  This has led to even more anxiety about it, since, as a general rule, “males have a bigger sex drive”, and since last year, mine has only shrunk.  Of course, it’s all a performance anxiety and self-consciousness issue.  But it’s kind of positive that I’m less desparately, widly depressed about how small my dick is and more generally just not interested in sex right now.  I’m sure when I find the right person, all that anxiety about my genitals will go away, and having my sex drive boosted by T won’t be as soul-crushing.

Anyway, my manniversary celebration turned out to be a lot less exciting than I originally planned, but then, I originally planned to be taking my first T shot right about now.  I’ve basically only had my best friend over today and we’ve surfed the internet all day and listened to music.  That’s it. It just seemed superfluous to make a big deal out of “Hey, I decided something this day last year!”  I’ll probably go buy a cake or something when I actually get on T.

***

I think the biggest point of all this is, I held my own Real Life Test, just to know for sure, for my own purposes, that this was what I wanted to do, that not only could I handle the societal pressures of being male, but the problems that come with living as one gender when the world percieves you as another.

It went far better than expected.

I’ve been living with genuine peace of mind in myself for a year, despite the storm raging all around.  I’ve come to know who I really am, and that person wasn’t as cool as I originally thought he would be, but I’ve settled with being a big dork, and I’m happy with that.  I haven’t been experiencing any delusions or hallucinations, the dissociation has ceased, my emotional turmoil has settled considerably, and since having a cool and sane head, I can see that a lot of the world wasn’t as big and scary and dramatic and bad as I thought it was.  I’ve developed a sense of responsibility to myself and others now that I have a cemented sense of identity and I don’t feel like a visitor to this world operating an expendable avatar.  I’m comfortable with myself and my friends tell me that I seem happier.  There’s no more being constantly on edge for fear that my own mind will revolt and I’ll have to account for yet another day lost to someone I don’t know.  I’ve gotten used to what it’s like to be the only person in here, and it’s surprisingly simple, even if at first it was a little claustrophobic.  I feel much more real, I feel connected to the consequences of my actions, I feel in control.  I feel… normal.

That was something I never expected.

Getting in shape.

I’ve been feeling like it would be a good idea to start focusing on some area of self-improvement that’s less trans focused.  To be honest, there hasn’t been a day in the last nine months where achieving “maleness” wasn’t on my mind at least once every few hours.  To be sure, my life has improved because of the switches I’ve made, but it seems unhealthy to be so obsessed with one aspect of my life, and frankly, I’m getting tired of it.  Not to say I’m tired of being male- far from it, and there’s no way I’d ever go back.  But sometimes, I just want a break from gender entirely.

BUT, there are few respites from that kind of personal awareness- either falling into some form of substance abuse (and I have to admit, I’ve had my share of alcohol since my birthday, which I’m now generally staying away from), or focusing my energy somewhere else entirely- doing something challenging enough and consuming enough that I have little time to focus on the things that I want a break from.  Since my job hunt is continuing to go nowhere fast, and I’m almost entirely creatively constipated (I’ve been trying to partake in Scriptfrenzy, to little avail), I’ve chosen to start trying to get in shape.

It’s no coincidence that this decision came about the time my family decided to buy a Wii.  About a week and a half ago, when we got Wii Fit with the balance board, etc., I decided to go on a rigorous and serious workout regime accompanied by my personal form of dieting.

Exercise tends to come out to about an hour a day, with half of it aerobics and the other half yoga and strength training.  I wanted to start by getting my body fat back into an acceptable range, and then do a lot more strength training and bodybuilding to build back up, only with muscle.  I’m working on a lot of cardio and endurance, and the yoga is making me almost as flexible as I was when I was 13.  It feels pretty damn good- don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t work up a sweat on the Wii, because you can if you look for the right exercises and work at them long enough.

The dieting portion is turning out to be somewhat less enjoyable.  I call it the “water diet,” which isn’t nearly as horrible as it sounds.  You start by keeping your system constantly flushed with water, which over time can help by removing toxins.  Also, I learned that much of the time, when your body is telling you that you’re hungry (especially if you’re used to eating a lot but not drinking much), it’s really just saying that it’s thirsty.

The second element is calorie content.  I did a little research and found that, generally, if a woman wants to lose weight, the safe range of calorie intake is  1200-1500, and for men, it’s 1500-1800.  I try to hover around 1500 a day, eating a balanced composition of all food groups.  The leeway of the men’s side of things is also a lot easier, at least at first.  I’m still getting used to eating smaller portions and I wind up kind of lightheaded a lot of the time, but my body just needs time to get used it.  I’m not really changing WHAT I eat by too much, other than to add in more fruits and veggies, and cut out most of the soda and junk food, but I am changing how much of it I take.  It’s all about portion control- I’ve learned in the last week that the serving sizes of things tends to be about half of what I pour in my bowl!

The point of this diet, in a nutshell, is to consume exactly the amount of food that I need to remain healthy and working at top performance, no more and no less, and replace the rest of what I would normally eat with water to remain hydrated, so that my body will eventually get used to processing only the calories that I need without storing a bunch of them away.  I know my stomach size must be distended, because I’m used to eating probably twice as much.  So over time, my stomach will hopefully physically adapt to the amount of food I’m putting in it, and shrink a little.

To be honest, though, I think I’m taking it a little too quickly here at the beginning.  Last time I did this diet, I didn’t really count my calories too much, and I actually lost about 20 pounds over the course of several months, without even exercising.  But that was several years ago.  This time, because my body weight has settled into a higher bracket, and I’m seeming to have a harder time taking it off (probably because I’m 21 and not 16), I’ve been cracking the whip at myself pretty hard.  Most of what goes into my mouth comes out of a measuring cup, and meal time becomes math time.  And I’m finding a different result some of the time with drinking the water than last time.

I’m accompanying my meals with a lot of water, and by the end of it, my stomach feels full, greatly so, but sometimes I’m actually finding myself lightheaded, dizzy, and… how to put it… hungry in my head, like I actually do need more fuel as opposed to more “full”.  I think I really should take it a little easier from this point, and start to listen when my body is telling me it’s hungry, especially when I’m drinking craploads of water.

All that said, I’ve been on this about 10 days, and I’ve lost 3 pounds so far, which isn’t an unhealthy rate of weight loss if you’re doing it right.  I’m pretty happy with myself, since on the whole I actually feel stronger and more flexible.

I think the most positive thing about this is that it’s a form of self improvement that is gender neutral.  I know that women are generally more concerned about calorie content and weight, and men are generally more concerned with being toned and having muscle definition, but everyone wants to be healthy, right?  Not only that, but taking some pounds off will really help my awful knees.  Furthermore, it is tied in with transition in a somewhat obscure way- I’ve heard awful stories about gender surgeons declining patients because they were too fat, and while I don’t think that’s a HUGE danger for me, I do weigh a lot more than I look like I weigh due to my muscle content and bone structure, and I’m afraid that I might fall into the category of inoperable if I don’t at least take SOME weight off.

Long story short, I’d rather be all muscle and bone and weigh the same weight I do now than weigh 30 pounds less and be a pencil-neck, but at least some of this is fat and I need rid of it.

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