craft, creativity, jewelry design, small business planning, work

I write too much…

Yeah…I think it’s understandable why cyberspace has been so quiet, recently. As for what’s going on over here…I’m still dealing with a problematic creative pattern (grab onto a project like a pitbull and not let go until my body gives out, then avoid it the next day because my body doesn’t want to go through that again)…though I have realized that I have another beadweaving pattern I originated, which I had forgotten about until putting the earrings in as placeholders over Xmas.

Like I’ve said before: I make a lot of jewelry, I don’t necessarily wear a lot of jewelry. I’ve had these piercings for a while, but I still get a little…worried, that they’ll close up with disuse. I probably don’t have to worry about that quite so much, given that they were originally pierced at 14g. Yes, I do miss my surgical steel rings, but putting them back in means that either I forego wearing regular earrings, I constantly wear a nut on the back of all my earwires and deal with possible migration, or I fabricate custom 14g earwires for everything I wear…and trust me, silver isn’t that cheap. 14g wire is pretty expensive, that is, just from the sheer weight of it.

I do realize that if I want to run this jewelry thing as a microbusiness with significant returns, I’m going to have to work more. A lot more. Just slightly prior to Xmas, though, I did encounter the beginnings of a depressive episode, which is likely what has slowed me down over the past couple of weeks. (I’ve just realized that I’ve only been out of classes for three weeks, so far!) I had wanted to sew face coverings to give out over the holidays…but for multiple reasons, prime among them a very late start due to having my attention taken up with my University course, that didn’t happen.

“A very late start”…unless I jumped into making face coverings at the moment I thought of doing so and worked as hard and as fast as I could and sent them out as soon as I could, I would be late. And even then, I probably would still have been late. University conditions you, not to be late; that it can mean failure, to be late. (Unless you’re working with accommodations.) Of course, University matters because they’re reporting your grades to the Federal Government, which impacts any future Financial Aid. Making money through selling jewelry has no such penalty for lost time. Except, well: lost income.

I think that the realization that I wasn’t going to make the Xmas deadline/buying rush (for either gifts or sales) was probably the beginning of the episode — or the beginning of my noticing it, at least. I notice in my backfiles some information about OCD, as well…which was probably what was most easily visible. You deal with this stuff a while, and it gets easier to recognize when you’re experiencing symptoms.

Then there was the fact that I had hoped to be up and running with my beadwork, in time for the Xmas buying season. That, obviously, didn’t happen — although I did clarify some things for myself, like why I’m doing this, and what my goals are. I made the move to decide that there is, philosophically, value in the creation of beauty.

What’s really…interesting, is that when you’re working with an inclusive gender definition, it can be difficult to create gender expressions which are clearly intended for that definition. I mean…you make nice things, and those who want to, can wear them.

I’ve heard fairly commonly that people in the nonbinary community have a tendency to be slotted as cisgender men and women, though by this time, the trope is…well, used. No longer upsetting, that is, because you know it’s coming…and you know that the people saying it have their own issues to deal with. And I, at least, know enough NB people that I see a difference between cis and NB, even if nothing earth-shatteringly different appears on the outside. (Two things that do appear from within, are acceptance and understanding.) The thing is: nothing should have to appear different on the outside, for a person’s gender identity to be respected.

Right now…I’m in a stage of breaking out of being intentionally gender-neutral. In specific, there’s nothing wrong with pink. Or violet. Even if I’m biologically female. Even if mostly women will wear these. It’s OK. Nothing at all says that I have to or need to sell specifically to NB people (and if that had been part of my business plan, I would likely need to alter it — we’re not that incredibly common).

I’m hoping to use these colors, soon…and maybe I should do it. I mean, really plan on doing it. Like, purchase some stuff and set aside some blocks of time, to do it. That infers — well — planning…which I may be able to work out with one of my extra A5 notebooks, or by using a printed spreadsheet.

The thing I’m dealing with now is the tension between working on designs I have already created beforehand, and experimenting with new supplies and techniques. The latter takes a lot of time, but can involve totally new practices (which is exciting); the former allows me to refine previously set patterns and experiment specifically with color (but not so much with form).

If I look at it now…I have several designs I’ve come up with totally on my own, which I know I came up with totally on my own. I’m not sure it’s worth it to go through the actual process of registering copyright, especially as the designs are refined and change, over time (a.k.a., constantly). It might be good enough just to mail myself copies of the schematics in preemptive defense, although I know copyright law says I’m good from the time of creation.

Ah, the concept of intellectual property. How…how annoying are you. Or maybe I should say, “concept of intellectual property, how easily you are misused….”

beadwork, craft, creativity, design, fashion design

Switching modes…is difficult.

As is making even not-so-difficult decisions about whether to accept an interview (for a temporary position) offered by HR. The HR that let me go, after 10 years of service. That HR.

Then there is my Vocational program assuming that I’ll either be in college or working…when right now I’m re-evaluating my life and what I want to do with it (a.k.a. finding reasons to stay alive — which is important)…which doesn’t quite involve them.

And then there is University, which I’m only in to get an inroad into a job I may actually be able to tolerate long-term, where we’ve entered the end phase of tons of group work and have stopped communicating. I want to ask when we will get started…

Then there is my personal life, which is beginning to turn over into creative work: particularly, sewing and beadwork. I’ve gotten enough together that I could make a good return beading…though I wonder, at this point, if I would be willing to sell patterns as well as (or instead of) finished objects.

The major issue with either is that many beadwork patterns are easy to deconstruct, if you know what you’re doing…and I’d venture to say that all can be replicated, with the right skill set. But I have bought some self-published books that are as good as, or better than, books coming from the major publishers…which would be Kalmbach, Interweave, and Lark Crafts, for beadwork.

There are some decent books from other publishers, too, but as we move from craft domain to domain — the publishers change. The people who publish books on silversmithing might not be into bead knitting, for example. So far as I can see, those are totally different market segments, with different motivations, different investments, and different levels of familiarity with different technologies. But both of them can make a bracelet.

Beadwork (often) entails a love of color, while hot metalwork entails a love of form and fire (and is relatively starved of color work, in my experience — with the exception of enameling, and working with brass and copper [which also technically fall under “silversmithing”, as non-ferrous metalworking which is not goldsmithing]).

I would only expect the love of color and texture to be magnified in bead knitting, which is kind of a hybrid between straight-out beadwork and the tactile and meditative pleasures of knitting…but I haven’t yet tried it. I do have a set of Size 1 knitting needles now, though. I also know a couple of places where I can get (heavyweight) spooled silk beading thread.

The thing is, to do this, you have to have interest and skill in knitting, which is an area I touch on tangentially, not fully. Lacemaking is another area I’m touching on, specifically with tatting — because I could see its application in craft jewelry.

A while back, I taught myself shuttle tatting, though that’s harder to do in a jewelry context than needle tatting. I started working with the latter just recently to see what I could do, without having to wind a shuttle to the middle of the work. Right now, I know I can make button loops with C-Lon Standard (TEX 210) and the heavyweight C-Lon TEX 400. This is with Sizes #5 and #3 tatting needles, respectively.

The resulting buttonholes are large, round, and relatively stiff…not that much of an improvement over making my own toggles out of glass seed beads (which I’m always afraid will crush or chip [after having heard the squeal of Mother-of-Pearl against glass]), but definitely more finished-appearing than a braided loop.

Using anything finer than TEX 210 and 400 basically requires using a shuttle…the needles I’ve been using (Handy Hands) just aren’t the right diameter. In shuttle tatting, you’re wrapping the thread around another loop of thread; in needle tatting, you’re wrapping it around the needle, which may not be the same diameter as the thread. With something like C-Lon, which doesn’t have a lot of stretch, that means it’s hard, with finer diameters, to slide the knots off of the needle and onto the thread itself.

It makes sense now, intuitively, as to why the heavier diameters would be easier to use: you get a lot more wiggle room in relation to the size of the cord. The cord is also harder to flex to create the double knots, which gives extra space next to the needle.

C-Lon Micro (TEX 70), for example…doesn’t work well with any of the needles I have, as it catches at the eye of the most appropriate-sized tatting needle. It will, however, work with a shuttle. C-Lon Fine (TEX 135) also doesn’t work with any of my needles. Either the needle is too wide (causing a “scrunchie effect” once completed), or I can’t fit the thread through the needle’s eye.

I have also tried working with Milliner’s needles, prior to having broken down and bought the Tatting needles: it works, but I question if they’re long enough. (Milliner’s needles are also much sharper, so you have to be careful not to scratch or stab yourself when forming the hitches.)

If I hadn’t tried this, I’d still be thinking of the possibility, but not the reality, of using tatting to form buttonholes for clasps. I still can do it, but the possibility is now limited, in my mind. Either use TEX 210 and 400 with tatting needles, or try TEX 135 or 70 with a shuttle…and keep in mind that you may get a stiff and very round buttonhole.

The other route is to find a set of tatting needles which will work with finer threads, meaning that the eyes have to be especially fine. Given how firm all forms of C-Lon cord I’ve used are, I’m not betting that I’ll be able to fit something like that through (or over) those needles. Tatting (to make lace) is generally done with softer threads — which beads may damage.

On the other hand, I’ve just finished a necklace which has been years in the making. Using the C-Lon Micro for it seems to have been a very good choice: it feels tough, and was thick enough to hold knots at the terminations. As I’ve been using clamshell bead tips to finish the work, I was glad when the knots were large enough not to slip through the holes.

Finding out possibilities and what they actually look and feel like in action, is extremely important. At least so, from a design + construction perspective. Thinking up dreams of, “what could be,” is something I did for years; it doesn’t necessarily get anything done. It takes experimentation to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Maybe I should say, it takes the risk of failure, to find out what works, and what doesn’t.

The forgiving thing about beadwork is that if your design doesn’t work out, you can clip your piece apart and try again.

It feels difficult to get myself out of Academic Mode and into Creative Mode. It’s even harder to let go of Creative Mode, once I’m in it, and slide back into Academic Mode: I want to stay where I am. I get involved with my projects. This happens even knowing I have to get back into Academics at some time, which tends to fill me with dread and anxiety. It’s hard to get out of Academic Mode in the first place, because I have a level of guilt for not spending my time studying.

I’m thinking that’s not a good way to enjoy living. Especially if what you’re studying, in order to earn a livable salary, doesn’t fit your core drives (or relieve your core banes: like uncleanliness, and random social interaction with strangers). It’s just something you do so you aren’t homeless or dependent. It’s not like you actually want to do it, or in a perfect world, would choose to do it. At least not after you’ve encountered the reality of the job and environment.

And it’s like, how many more years, how much more of my resources, am I going to commit to this? For the sake of a salary?

There are other things I can do, if cash is my only motivator. I may not be able to afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area while I’m doing it…but to be honest, most of the world can’t afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re dealing with an inflated economy and gentrification, with high-wage earners moving in from outside, displacing the people who made the place what it was: the people who made this a nice place to live. What I can see is that someday — when technology shifts again, or when the climate shifts more completely — this area risks becoming another ghost region.

Early morning, on November 2nd — I began writing a post after having had a conversation with relatives. Its details should likely go into another, separate post, but I realized that through my clothing and jewelry, I could develop my own identity expression. I could also help others define theirs, or at least give them more options.

I’ve had a consistent problem with being able to present myself as I wish, with ready-to-wear clothing. The problem is that the clothes which fit my body usually also code me as a woman, socially — which is not something I’m set on. I began thinking on how to alter that. It’s not like it isn’t possible. It just requires creative thought, and the ability to realize those thoughts in reality.

That is, it’s possible to create clothes cut for and which will fit female bodies, without also making them to code as, “feminine.” It’s not like there isn’t a market for this: or there wouldn’t be so many people who are assumed to be, “women”, wearing men’s clothes. The problem is, after one reaches a certain point in their maturity, men’s clothes don’t quite fit correctly. At least, that’s been my experience. The body type I had in my early 20’s is not the body type I have in my late 30’s.

The point is that there is cultural space and coding made for cisgender men and cisgender women which signify their gender to people on sight. If you’re a gender minority, however: that isn’t necessarily the case. Not only are there no words to describe who you are, but there are no special signifiers that positively match your identity. And if there were, I’m not sure it would be safe…but, progress is being made.

I’d hope that in 40-50 years, there will be vocabulary and a safe place for people who are gender-nonbinary or third-gender, or otherwise currently not provided with correctly-coded tools with which to present. I would also hope that the erasure of gender minorities in the English language and cultural sphere, finds a way to cease in a respectful manner.

The night before last, I realized that I could and should get back to work on the “blouse” I’ve been trying to make for 10 years. I got about halfway through construction (having cut and marked the pieces previously), though I still have some alterations to make. This is Folkwear #111, “Nepali Blouse,” which I’m altering to have a much longer hem, and side inserts. I appreciated the toile, but it was much too short and revealing, for me.

The pattern itself is for something worn as an undergarment in Nepal, which makes sense if you live there, and it’s cold! Instead of the traditional fabric choices, though, I’m going for a dark cotton batik. After this is done, I can work on some outer layers.

And no, I don’t know the gender status of those who would be wearing this, normally. The pattern and styling is just something I like.

At this time, though, I find myself required to get back to my graded work…which I don’t want to do. Of course. Writing this, is kind of edging me back into thinking in words…which I need.

Wow, though. I mean, wow.

I am wondering when the last time was that I was so reticent about getting back into schoolwork…

beading, beadwork, Business, personal, self care, spirituality

I think I’ve found what I’m going to be doing…

…for the next year, until the vaccine. (Of course, predictions of what I will do are sketchy, at best.) I’ve gotten back into making beaded jewelry; mostly, glass beadweaving, and micro-macrame. I have some stone components, but it isn’t the direction I seem to be going in, wholly.

I’m also trying to taking care of myself when I need to; particularly, where this comes to exercise and hygiene, with other forms of self-care (like maintaining my spaces). Then there’s my class. After that, I can deal with what comes up…particularly, giving XSLT another shot (and hoping there aren’t any gigantic disturbances, this time).

My University class…well, that’s basically…group work. Meaning, I don’t have a lot of control over it. I’m not entirely certain how to communicate with the others as well; I’ve been away from the LMS for so long (about two years, now) that I am not sure others are getting my messages. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about my grades, as I’ve already graduated. The others, do.

I was mistaken about the timeline for the end of my University class: I have just a bit more time than I thought I did. What I don’t have is extra time to arrange an internship, if I want to pay the University to supervise it for me. And, I mean…is it worth it? On top of that, do I need to take it now? And, could I not find a use for, say, a database project, myself?

I’m scaling back my Academic commitments, particularly because I did not finish two of my last private online courses (the ones which happened around the orange sky days). I know I’ll have to deal with XML again at the beginning of the year (and hopefully pass it, this time), but without an additional University commitment, and barring any unforeseen disasters, I won’t have to deal with anything else.

That will free up my time to design and make jewelry. I’ve been engaging in the former, more than is normal for me (recently). Though, of course, even saying that makes me feel guilty. I tend to spend more on production than I gain through sales. It’s an issue. But, “minimal loss,” is a better goal than, “bottomless pit.” Of course, there’s the profit-margin aspect…which is difficult to even think about at this point, because I haven’t kept complete records of quantities spent and quantities gained.

People sometimes get surprised when I say I make jewelry, because I don’t tend to wear jewelry. At least I didn’t, for the majority of the time I was on the last two jobs. Wearing jewelry attracts male attention that I don’t want, and I’m more apt to want big muscles than to actually…you know, dress up. Not to mention that my last two jobs have been so dirty that I didn’t want to wear good clothes or jewelry.

The jewelry I design isn’t necessarily congruent with the way I’ve decided to present myself, although it does really make me look good. The thing I get tripped up on is that when I wear what I make, and dress up, I feel very, “ethnic,” and I don’t know where that places me, socially. I’ve spent a lifetime being seen as “exotic”, so it’s probably, well…predictable that I would have complicated feelings around that.

The thing is, when I dress up, I don’t intend to make myself look like something I’m not. It’s probably been over a year since I straightened my hair, and no one would ever think me to be white (aside from one internet troll, who was probably just trying to get a rise). People from similar racial and cultural backgrounds can find me familiar (even children), but aside from those people, I probably come across as an unknown amalgam.

There is a bit of relative safety, though, in looking like a beautiful woman. Many treat me with privilege more often that way, than they do when I’m in menswear, and I believe that others are also more apt to protect and empathize with me. Generally, if I can be mistaken for a man or mistaken for a woman, I’m attended to with more privilege than when I am ambiguous (when the feedback turns curious and hostile, especially if others believe me to be younger than I am). However, I know that when I’m mistaken for a woman, the person I really am slips under the radar. I become invisible. To the outside, I may be hypervisible; as regards personality, no one expects to find me there.

(Then again, no one ever expects to find me, there.)

Yes, this does remind me of femme positionality…but am I femme? I don’t believe so. Fluid, is more like it.

I guess when you’re a designer, there’s no rule that states that your personal aesthetic has to match your normal outward presentation. They’re two different things, and they interrelate in a complicated way. Not everything I produce will be “me” in the sense of displaying who I am; in the same sense, almost all of it, does. What comes out of me might allot to, “who one might be if society were not a factor.” And that’s beautiful. That’s vulnerable and open to display. It’s honest.

It’s also broader than the face(s) I put on for society in order to attain my own personal aims (like being passed over), which I still have mixed feelings about. I know a lot of enby people who have a way they want to be treated, which doesn’t happen unless they look a way that they really don’t want to look. And if they look a way they do want to look, they aren’t treated the same way.

I can relate. I honestly want to look femme — a muscular femme that’s mixed with the type of female power and knowing, that I see coloring my own masculinity. The thing is, I also don’t want to constantly have to defend my own boundaries. It’s easier when men leave me alone, especially granted that pretty much no random man off the street impresses me. They get blinded by how I look, and tend to assume I am who they want me to be, rather than giving me agency over my own self-definition and my own desires.

If were granted the latter two, I don’t think I’d have a problem. I need to be able to be myself, regardless of whether that self would seamlessly fit into their lives. I need to be respected enough so that when I say no, it’s believed and honored. I need it to be okay for me to be all of myself, not just the parts that fit into some cultural definition of ideal, “womanhood,” that I most likely don’t share.

I am, that is, human. Like you. And like you, I’m complicated and I have my own desires and needs and thoughts that don’t revolve around other people. That don’t revolve around men; that don’t revolve around you. The way I look has nothing to do with who I am. It has to do with what comes at me. If you knew what comes at me, and you felt what I felt from the inside, you would understand why I am the way I am.

And why I have no time for people who assume they know me because they can see me; who think my body parts mean things they do not.

No, I don’t know what this is. I don’t have a name for it. But this is me, and has been me, for a very long time.

…and yes, I am sensing the feeling I get when I see the color, indigo. Which is ironic, as I believe I was supposed to be an “Indigo Child.” I also just purchased some “Denim Blue” crystal beads, of which I am now reminded (they’re so dark a blue that they’re almost gray; the color comes out in direct sun and among other blues, violets, and blue-greens)…but that, that gets into aesthetics, which gets into philosophy and spirituality…

Is that what “aura colors” are? Matching up the feelings you get when you see the color, with the feelings you get when you sense yourself (or others) at your (or their) most clear and true and powerful…?

There’s also the idea that jewelry is art. That each piece has its own personality. Like a story, it maintains the imprint of its author, but should not reflect directly back upon her character. Everyone sees something different in art pieces, and art pieces can reflect any facet of human experience, as filtered and arranged through the maker and reconstructed by the viewer (and the wearer). It may be a puzzle with no correct answer. Be open to hearing multiple versions of reality. The multiplicity contributes to the reality of the beauty.

And no, I honestly have no idea why people like my work. ;) I don’t even know why I like my work…I don’t know why it’s good; I just know it is.

Maybe I should work on a philosophy as to why I’m doing what I’m doing. If I knew, on a large scale, why I was doing what I was doing when I was doing it…maybe that would help me stay motivated to keep doing it. Like a Mission Statement, you know? If any of that Business training I went through, has any value at all…

I mean, it can’t all be about money. If it were just about money, there are other and more efficient ways to get it, that help other people more. I know aesthetics factor into this. Being able to feel like I have something, also factors in, as silly as it is with little bits of colored glass.

Color is a very large…and elusive, mysterious component of why I continue to bead. There are entire books written on color in beadwork, though the two I have which expressly focus on it, don’t do it justice. I question whether a print book can ever do it justice. You really need to get in there with your hands and just work. Then you see what can be done.

Maybe I should actually write a book, on color in beadwork.

I’ve been making efforts to get out from in front of this computer and engage in non-virtual activities as much as possible; though sometimes, as you can see, writing actually does help enrich my life, by drawing out thoughts I didn’t know I had.

I also have a tendency to feel guilty about working creatively, which is counter-productive when it comes to actually making money…but…I’ve just now realized that there is, at least, spiritual and aesthetic value in colorwork. There’s also value in making oneself beautiful, even if you’re like me and have a hard time with the attention. Isn’t beauty of value?

I don’t know yet how to balance these things…maybe become stronger in my assertiveness in order to be able to realize my own beauty without feeling violated?

Be who I am, right? Just be, totally, who I am; that is beautiful enough…

creative writing, writing

Re: Prologue

Thank you all for accepting my writing experiments! To be honest, I wrote “Prologue” on the spot because I had an urgent need to write, and knew I wouldn’t work on it if no one could see it. (It’s probably me getting used to instant gratification.)

I realize now, however, that I did not work out the timeline in advance, and that I skip forward from my own familiarity with the early Web through early “gay”-rights years, and then seem to jump forward to the current apocalyptic scenario of climate change and pandemic, while dropping 15 years off of my narrator’s age (as compared with my own experiential perspective).

That means that should I continue the story in that framework, it will be an alternate timeline…one in which we’re 15 years in the past and still experiencing trauma via our environments. That also means that I might be looking at the CFC/Ozone Hole scenario gone uncorrected; which, most strikingly to my mind, mimics what I have had to do recently, with becoming nocturnal. That is, if we had not stopped using CFCs, the ozone layer would likely have eroded to the point where skin cancer rates would have jumped, crops would have burned and failed, and it’s probable we would have had to become active at night to avoid the sun in the daytime.

That’s not to mention the ramifications of what would happen if we allowed DDT to continue killing top predators. Then there is the drought I lived through in California in the early to mid-1980’s, which it seems everyone is used to, now. (We’ve gotten better at water conservation, since then, at least in California [though not so much in agriculture]…unless you look at the newer practice of hydraulic fracturing poisoning the groundwater. I don’t know if that is happening in this state, however.)

But I’m not aiming to get into worldbuilding. I’ve tried it…I don’t really like to do it. Maybe it’s because I was doing it without a focus on the main conflict; there are a lot of things that I could change, but I need a compelling reason to do so. At least, if I focus on minimalism and function in the story’s architecture.

I do have a couple of friends about 10 years younger than myself, whom I might be able to consult with as regards their experience of the IRL timeline…I haven’t, because I didn’t think of it. I actually don’t know what it must be like to have grown up with the Internet and Personal Computers and Web subculture(s) already established, or even having grown up in a time where gender fluidity and nonduality were recognized.

When I was young, we were still dealing with Fundamentalist hate, the AIDS epidemic, censorship of LGBT depictions, and lack of LGBT hate crime protections. We hadn’t gotten to the “QIA+” part of LGBT, and the “T” in LGBT often went unknown. We were, that is, largely operating on the basis of “sexual orientation” without realizing that the situation of protecting people from targeted emotional, physical and societal violence was not equivalent to toleration of perversion. (Not that I see non-Straightness as perversion, but the fact of the matter is that the mass of the hate coming out in those days had to do with [nominally] Straight people thinking that difference from themselves equaled Evil.)

I can’t even remember the last time I worked on the story I began in, “Prologue.” I’m dealing with some fundamental shifts in perspective and subject. There are so many things to work out in that piece that it will have to be rewritten from the ground up. I’m not particularly sure how best to do that on a platform such as this. I’ll have to age up my protagonist, which means I can’t let them shoot their mouth off like their 23-year-old self anymore. :) I don’t know, maybe that would keep more readers, heh.

I realize I left a hook in that piece, and don’t know how to satisfy it now without …well, let’s say that I made an attempt to write a beginning. The voice seems forced; the scenario is there, though making one of my characters an older transgender non-physically-transitioning person (for now)…that’s new.

They were always older, but making him/her transgender or nonbinary (s/he hasn’t revealed this yet) as versus a not-particularly-manly male with affections for another male…it kind of inserts a lifelong learning situation which could lead to the possibility of his/her empathy. The way s/he was defined early on (when I was a teen)…they were essentially nearly genderless, a creature of dreams and not, particularly, the human world.

That’s a good point to keep in mind, I think, although giving them a voice of their own also implies that they have thoughts of their own and interactions with the human world. (In earlier versions, they controlled the environment, which was their, “voice.” I may be able to work in a reference, to that. Of course, it’s referring to my possibly-obliterated 3.5″ floppy disk copies of work done in the 1990’s…but who’s counting.)

All of which is reminding me of an acquaintance. They’re actually really cute, but I’ve been too shy to say anything…which I bet they would totally understand!

Then there’s the role of the character who narrated, “Prologue,” which is separate from me but also an iteration of an initial main character/narrator, who honestly wasn’t thought through…particularly when it came to what he did when upset. He had always been sheltered/protected, so it is really unclear what’s going to happen if he gets pushed to his limits (though I did have a nightmare about that). I’m not entirely sure who he is, at the moment, as viewed by other people; though I have conjectures.

The painful part of this is that he does have an element of relative darkness (which I had been afraid to get into in my early work with him, on and off the page; I was trying to sanitize things). It’s likely going to drive the earlier parts of the plot. It will be interesting to have an intrinsically flawed narrator.

There’s another post in me, but I’ll type it in separately; it’s a different topic whatsoever. I didn’t intend or expect to get into this post, the way I did…

art, color, occupational hazards, work, writing

Not getting much done :)

It’s OK. I already have my degree. ;) Actually, though: when I planned on taking two classes for the month of August, I didn’t factor in natural disasters on top of a pandemic. I also didn’t factor in the knowledge that I might figure out what I wanted to do, while I was unemployed.

Yesterday when I woke up (and I woke up several times), the sky was orange, and I had a scattering of ashes all over my computer and desk (only some of which I’ve yet cleaned up). Pretty much nothing got going until after noon, though I was able to initiate Week 1 of XSLT and Week 4 of Vocabulary Design. It just wasn’t enough to hold my attention, however. (It would have been better if I had caught up on Week 3.5 and 4 of XML when I had the surprise week off…)

I do kind of wonder if I should be back in the Visual Arts, though I have to realize that is a dream…which won’t come to fruition, without practice. I would have more time to practice now, except I’m filling that time with building professional job skills to get me out of the service sector (what I’m calling front-line work with the public, although I believe according to some U.S. government sources [I can’t remember the website, unfortunately], all work that isn’t either farming or manufacturing is categorized as “service” work).

What it’s looking like, however, is that I may be in for a future of gig work. That is, I need to get my portfolio completed and online (and updated), because it will likely be key in helping me obtain gainful (and desirable — for me) employment. I should also likely hone my LinkedIn profile, for the same reason. Maybe start a Behance profile, or create an in-depth online portfolio including images and written work, aside from my Library work.


The place I’ve been laid off from, has just opened recruitment for “Librarian” positions…but the thing is, I don’t really want to work there, now. Especially not, now. Basically, the only thing it’s got going for it is that it’s not a long commute (depending on the branch). I realize that my application may be submitted without any effort on my part due to the fact that I was laid off, but seriously:

Like I’ve said, I have OCD and a germ phobia at baseline, and guardedness around the public as a starting point. On top of that, I’m not even very social; I have issues with strangers constantly misrecognizing and underestimating me on sight, which leads to their testing me; and we’re in the middle of a pandemic; and as such, Public Services in a Public Library is not where I want to be. There are too many stressors.

Before I was laid off, I was losing weight due to stress. Losing weight isn’t necessarily a bad thing; especially in my case where I have medication-induced weight gain; but when it’s for the wrong reasons and uncontrolled, it is a physical indicator that something needs to change. That it’s not just mental anymore. And it’s not fake. My job (was) physically making me sick. That, with more power and responsibility, doesn’t look good for anyone.

Though I guess I can just say that, if I get called in for an interview. It’s not a good fit. In fact, it’s a terrible fit. I don’t like being expected to care for and about people who disrespect me (by the people who disrespect me), and disrespect (at times ramping up to abuse) occurs on a daily basis in Public Libraries. At some point I’m led to wonder if I was a time bomb in that situation, waiting for someone to say something in precisely the wrong way at precisely the wrong time, which could tempt me to lash out — not just because of what they said, but because of my entire history and set of stresses, leading up to that point. (My awareness of the fact that others are ignorant of my situation, and that they don’t deserve to be punished for a lifetime of other people’s slights, has prevented a number of these incidents.)

And no, no one expects that from me, because I’m female, hence they label me as a “girl” and think I would never get to the point of violence against anyone but myself. My problem (and it is my problem) is that I have layers of accumulated rage around people constantly assuming I am someone I’m not. And sometimes it has to get to the level of my protective facade cracking for them to see that they’re wrong, and that they need to back off.

That’s too far, for me. I don’t like being in that place.

The problem I have here is that my alternative is hormone therapy which will gradually cause me to appear more male (or, alternatively, suddenly more male). The problem is that there’s only one other safe option, and it still doesn’t fit. I’d be satisfied if people could just stop seeing me as a body or role, and approach me as a human. But that seems beyond the grasp of most people.

If I do have a masculine gender identity, which I’m in no way sure about, it’s based more in what I see in the natural world than anything I’ve seen in this culture. Suddenly appearing male also comes with its own set of stigmas and dangers, especially because my skin is dark and because I’m not a typical (heteronormative) man; and both of those things, tend to threaten people (though at this moment, I’m kind of wondering if women threaten, “people”, and that’s why it seems so important all the time to reduce them to their bodies).

This is to the point that I have a hard time seeing myself as a man, at all — though I tried to, at one time. The thing that I share with (most) men is that constantly being seen as a woman isn’t something I want, and that could escalate out of control; given the fact that most of reality insists on seeing me as a woman. Which is, in fact, why I write: disembodied text doesn’t carry the same social cues.

I suppose that is what I gleaned from my time as a Library Assistant. No more public service. At least, if I can help it. If my housing and food depend on it, I can do it. Like, if I’ll be homeless otherwise, I’ll take Public Service. But it won’t make me happy.

Yeah, I didn’t intend to get into that. Anyhow…the art thing…and the writing, thing. Right.

(I go into some of this stuff with you all because I wouldn’t be able to function as a writer, without being honest with myself and with you. Thank you for putting up with it.) ;)


Right now, I’m intending to look for an alternative to Aureolin. This is cobalt yellow, a fairly toxic pigment by ingestion. This concerns me now because I keep noticing myself accidentally dropping water into the carpet when changing out water or washing brushes. I’ve lived with carpet long enough to know that not all of that comes out, and that it might only start to come out, with shampooing.

In any case…today I went back to my palette and swatched out everything that was on there, plus everything I intended to use, that wasn’t. (There are a number of paints which I’ve found inferior to what I’ve decided to utilize, including several different Viridians and Prussian Blues, plus a granulating Pyrrol color [it’s either Scarlet Pyrrol or Pyrrol Scarlet, which are two different colors in two different product lines].) Cobalt colors…I would say I have a love/hate relationship with them, but really, it’s just Aureolin that I have some misgivings with, at the moment.

There are several other cobalt colors, including Cobalt Blue, Cerulean, Cerulean Blue Chromium (you don’t want to eat Chromium, either), Cobalt Teal, Cobalt Turquoise, Cobalt Turquoise Light, Cobalt Violet, Cobalt Blue/Violet, Cobalt Yellow, etc.

How they got a yellow out of that, I don’t know; what I do know is that on top of its toxicity, Aureolin is rumored to discolor over time (which was proven over on handprint [check out PY40, which is Aureolin’s (not Aureolin Hue’s) pigment number]).

The reason I even have it on my palette is that it was required for my Beginning Watercolor class, as a green-leaning yellow. Once I had been initially exposed to it (transdermally, and this in the effort to avoid touching it [my glove got wrapped around the tube, which spread the seeping paint all over the tube: I didn’t realize it until taking off the glove to try to remove the jammed lid with my bare hands — and I was in the field]), it didn’t seem like a big deal to keep it on the palette, and I already knew how to mix with it. However, basically everything else I have, appears safer than Aureolin.

Of course, that’s only apparently.

I am actually fairly interested in color families which I see over and over again at this point, like the Pyrrols and Perinones and Ultramarines and Hansas, etc. (I found an Ultramarine Pink and Ultramarine Violet Deep from M. Graham which are…fairly gorgeous, even though the violet would compete with Dioxazine Violet. The major difference I see right off is that Ultramarine Violet Deep has less tinting strength and is a more delicate pigment, in general [think, “fringed gentian,” though a little pinker]…whereas Dioxazine Violet can easily overpower the rest of a painting.)

I am also curious about the Cadmiums (apparently, there’s now a “Cadmium Green”; looks like a bunch of convenience mixtures), but if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I know (and have been concerned) about cadmium poisoning: it’s not pretty. I did read about it recently in Toxic Archipelago by Brett L. Walker, a book about industrial poisoning in the Tokugawa and Meiji eras in Japan, after having accidentally run across the Wikipedia article on itai-itai (which freaked me out a bit), and having found limited English-language resources about it, online (I believe one of them was a map of the Jinzu River Basin?).

My major issue here was about not being required to use Cadmium pigments in my painting classes, as soluble cadmium salts can be absorbed transdermally. The trick, for me at least, seems to be finding insoluble salts that I won’t absorb, and can wash off of my hands. Not that I’ve tried, yet…

Chapter 4 of Toxic Archipelago, Engineering Pain in the Jinzu River Basin, focuses on cadmium poisoning. (Most copies I’ve found of this book are e-books. I don’t know why [and the e-book version of this on Amazon costs more than the printed one] — but searching WorldCat, you may be able to find a copy close to you. Note that I can’t be responsible if you get sick from a library book [although I believe most libraries are quarantining items to wait for any COVID-19 to die]. Just saying…)

What I learned from reading this is that there were a number of concomitant factors involved in the genesis of itai-itai byou (lit. “it hurts-it hurts disease,” the Japanese name for cadmium poisoning) including Vitamin D deficiency and large numbers of childbirths (most who contracted it were older women [e.g. postmenopausal] who had a lot of children and shaded themselves from the sun). This contributed to osteoporosis and osteomalacia. So I am aware now that I probably don’t have to worry so much about contracting itai-itai itself, but Cadmium is still a heavy metal, toxic, bioaccumulative, and a carcinogen…not great, but not necessarily a death sentence to use.

That being said, I know a lot of artists who have been through battles with cancer, and who have known other artists who have had cancer.

Also, some of the newer pigment families (e.g. Hansas, Pyrrols) were specifically created to be less toxic, to the best of my knowledge.

In any case…Hansa Yellow Light is radiant and gorgeous (this is M. Graham’s “Hansa Yellow” I’m using; check out PY3 on handprint), and I’m thinking of using that plus the Green Golds (there are at least two formulations of this: Winsor & Newton’s “Green Gold” (PY129) approximates Daniel Smith’s “Rich Green Gold” (PY 129) [DS’s regular “Green Gold” is something I’ve never seen before]), in order to brighten greens. I had some success with that, tonight…and according to a tiny bit of research and experimentation, it looks like I’m on the right track.

Hey, maybe I don’t need to replace Aureolin. I could use these three, instead.

Having done all this work, it’s fairly obvious which paints I would really want to get from the Daniel Smith lineup. Things that would be difficult to mix, for which I don’t have a lot of representation. There are some really nice earth tones, in particular.

I’ve read that a number of other companies (Schmincke Horadam, Winsor & Newton, Sennelier, Da Vinci) sell dot-card sets, but I think I’ve done enough dot cards, for now!

The other thing I’m thinking of is re-introducing Holbein Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) to my palette; I had begun to use Daniel Smith Permanent Yellow Deep (PY110), but…it’s actually duller than the Holbein! (I had heard things about brush-handling qualities of Holbein watercolors as versus basically all the other major brands, which drew me to remove it from use…but it’s cleaner and brighter.)


The other thing…writing. Right. If I’m going to be a writer, it would help to decide what to write about...which…well, it’s obvious that I’ve got something right here in this post, but it’s difficult to see as though I stood outside of myself. I don’t have a lot of people to bounce this off of (I get misread a lot, even by friends, because I’m not forthcoming about things they do or concepts they have, which I perceive as wrong — even when it comes to my self-definition and my privileges to define what does and does not happen within my own house. So I just end up not dealing with them, and not inviting them over).

There’s the opportunity to write about art at the same time as I practice art, which would enable me to double-task the artwork! Then again, I took up Librarianship because I wanted to double-task my reading, and we see where that ended up. :) I neglected ten years ago to see that Librarianship was about people, not about books.

If I did want to be all about books, Writing basically requires extensive knowledge of the field one writes within, and it’s said (like Art) to be lonely work, though I’m well-suited to that. (Editing, on the other hand, is said to be interpersonally intensive.) Cataloging is also apparently a fairly solitary activity, though it would seem…technical, I guess.

(For me, “technical” is better than “social”…)

I’ve got a long way to go if I want to be a professional illustrator or artist, but I think I do have an angle on things that is not-mainstream, and which is valuable.

I wonder what would happen if I created, and successfully published, a graphic novel, or an illustrated book?

creative writing, creativity, writing

Thinking about Web Publishing…

I…have I found what I’ve wanted to pursue? The possibility of starting a small nonprofit and running a site focusing on the literature of gender minorities, primarily for gender minorities…it didn’t come to me until last night. I have been awake since then, largely reading in the anthology, Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. It was from this, and from my work in Project Management, that I realized the group I wished to help most, to build community with, and to hear from. And I know there is a market.

I’m quite astounded. The thing is…I have the choice to continue on with XML and RDF and then on into more cutting-edge technology (which I don’t believe is yet being widely used), or I could branch off after XSLT is over, and put my energies into Digital Libraries. The latter looks like it is where I want to go; it hybridizes Collection Development, Editing, Humanities, Web Publishing, Writing, and Community…I think I’d be happier as a content developer than as a Cataloger (though perhaps not moreso than with Metadata — which I can find a way to work in).

I hadn’t seen the opening before, but I can help in this way…which capitalizes on my own strengths in Writing, Editing, Art, and Constructive Criticism. I know a lot of people who are gender minorities and relatively isolated, even within the San Francisco Bay Area.

In addition, I can tell that a lot of us have some difficulty being seen by others as we perceive ourselves, and that can lead to social difficulties. I know I’m not the only one who uses the written word as my primary method of communication (it lessens the impact of my physical and auditory gender cues; and because I’ve been a Fiction writer, I have experience with altering my written voice). I relate to people through their writings more easily than otherwise, and if I look back over my lifetime…reading has always been richer for me, until recently.

This is…kind of crazy, but in a good way. I should probably bring this up with people; at the least, ask for contact information. There could be some issue if a personal contact wants something published which isn’t the quality I’m looking for, but that really shouldn’t stop me from pursuing the idea. I’m looking for book blogs, things people have recently read, and the places they get recommendations from.

That is…that’s Librarian work, right there. Independent library work. With a community I actually want to work with…

beading, color, glass beads, macrame, seed beads

Hue and identity

I was up early this morning (I mean, really early), and took a look back through my beads. I was trying to figure out which color families I used most in the jewelry I’ve made. The answers are fairly evident: pink, violet, blue, green, yellow, and brown. Very little red (red is an incredibly difficult color to use), or orange…though a little yellow and orange, or burgundy, really do make the other colors “pop” and look more evident, through contrast.

A swatch of beaded micro-macrame made with C-Lon Fine cord.
Just practice: I didn’t think out the carrier cord color (the brown one) which shows in Vertical Double Half Hitches.

So…I have an idea of the aesthetic direction I have had, and that I want to move in. For a little bit, I’ve been trying to break out of…well, my own style, and identity. That’s probably because I didn’t know what it was, or that it was significant. And desirable.

Hmm. At my current age, I’m learning to appreciate myself, my identity, and my own aesthetics, more. I wonder if I’m discovering who I am.

I’ve found a lot of soft colors to have hit my palette recently, though they weren’t as prominent when I was a youth. I probably wasn’t secure enough to use them, then…though what my favorite colors were as I was growing up…ah, I remember. Teal and purple.

Those are still pretty much, mainstays, though I have a bit of an overpopulation of blue-greens. :) It just gives me a base from which to expand into other colors.

I probably wouldn’t have even thought of doing this, except for having purchased a lot of quilting cottons recently. Lots of blues, ranging from blue-violet to blue-green, aqua, a tiny bit of green. Violet, and magenta…and a touch of orange and yellow.

It probably is an identity thing. Or a taste, and identity, thing. I have known people who never dressed in any color, except black. It could be a superficially similar thing. A while ago, I was on a bronze and green kick, as I tried to avoid especially gendered colors.

What I found, though, is that I do have a gender; it’s just generally misunderstood. That misunderstanding does keep me safe within society to an extent, but I’ve decided, at this point, not to let distress at others’ viewpoints not matching mine, dictate what I wear. Or what I do. Or who I am, or express myself to be. There is no requirement that I cause my aesthetics to align with society’s for the sake of readability. Who says I owe society readability?

So yes, I…am using pink, again. I find it interesting as, at this moment, I’m recognizing that my color range is from magenta through violet, blue, and green; it kind of peters out and stops at yellow and gold…which sounds like a color scheme. Hmm. I do have a color wheel.

As I look at one of the tools in a book called, Beaded Colorways: Creating Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes, by Beverly Ash Gilbert (2009), I recognize this as an Expanded Complementary palette. Beaded Colorways, at least when I got it new, comes with a set of color wheels in the back of the book…which are really interesting, if you’re into color. The drawback is that the book only comes with two basic underlays: a Saturated Palette, and a Pastel Palette. As I look at them, the Pastel Palette ranges toward white in the center, while the Saturated palette trends towards black, in the center. I’m thinking this may be a Munsell Color Scale…? Yes. Now that I look it up, that looks accurate.

I am not entirely certain what inks these wheels were printed with (as I’ve said before, CMYK printing [as most home color (computer) printers rely on] cannot replicate all colors we can see). The major drawback to the Munsell system, in my eyes, is that it kind of de-prioritizes complex neutrals: which would be gained by layering or mixing two or more of the fairly pure represented colors. It’s possible in online models, but to print this would be…extremely expensive.

The really complex glass bead colors (like a blue transmitted color [looking through the glass] with a gold luster finish [nearly metallic shine which may or may not be colored] and red reflection [off the surface of the bead]: leading to a purple-appearing bead with a shiny finish)…these wheels can only hint at. They help, they do. A lot. I wouldn’t have known what I was thinking of, without going and finding these, to put words to my thoughts. The bare fact is, though, that printed paper books and glass beads cannot have a one-to-one representative correspondence. There are too many other factors to take into consideration.

And, like I said: there are complex colors…things that can’t be transmitted via LCD screen.

A swatch of Cavandoli knotting in orange, red, and blue-green.
I know it doesn’t match. I do. :)

I did realize, however, why it was that I just chose not to use certain colors in my jewelry. They just aren’t…me.

As to why that is, what that means, I don’t know. Not at this point. But I’ve found color to have definite psychological impact.

There’s also the fact that both my practice of macramé and of beadweaving…and, I suspect, quilting…heavily rely on color interactions. And…no, I don’t know why color draws me so much. I just know it does.

Yesterday, I was practicing knotting with horizontal and vertical half-hitches. The samples I’ve made (so far) are the two photos in this entry. I’ve found that it is, certainly, OK to use colors that stand out and draw attention to themselves, if I’m working on jewelry or face coverings. It’s really OK. :)

I had to stop working on these last night, and for most of today, because I’m pretty sure my skin can’t take it yet, with the way I’m knotting. I also, apparently, only got six hours of sleep, last night…so that’s not a lot of time to regenerate. My fingers still hurt.

I’ll be OK. For now, though…maybe, sewing?

personal, psychology, self care

Shelter-in-Place Day 63: hair-trigger

I’ve really broken my pattern, recently. In some ways this is good: I’ve gotten back to redeveloping a site that — well — needs it, after having been apathetic about it for months. But as for working creatively — for the past two or so days, I’ve just been recovering from staying up all night between May 14 and 15 (see my last entry).

I wouldn’t be surprised if what was going on there was mania (or at least hypomania). Some other family members and I have been experiencing a parade of psychiatric symptoms since the onset of lockdown. The good thing is, we’re aware it’s happening. So…the sudden decrease in motivation (relative to a burst in both creativity and motivation which could both have been manic symptoms, and not normalcy) may be something I just have to ride out.

A different thing? I’m considering cutting off my hair (again). I know it’s pretty, but I haven’t been taking care of it. Right now I’m trying to balance keeping my scalp clean and healthy, and keeping my hair looking nice…and it’s tiring. Neither one of the goals are being achieved.

I haven’t been using dandruff shampoo because, 1) it has sulfates in it (sulfates make my hair hard and dry, and have to be dissolved with a vinegar rinse — which obviously, stinks); 2) a potential side effect of its use (which I’ve learned to expect, over years of medications) is “temporary hair loss”. WHAT. I spend years growing out my hair and now the dandruff treatment may cause it to fall out? Oh, but it’s only temporary. It’s not like it will never grow back. It’s not like bald spots are worse than the dandruff, right?

The dandruff itself might just be symptomatic of not washing my hair enough, or of not enough oxygen reaching my scalp. I’ve had the same thing (nearly the same exact thing) going on with my face when I haven’t been taking care of myself and washing and exfoliating enough. (Lockdown grossness, but it’s true.)

Not to mention that I don’t even want to comb my hair these days, because that means I’ll have to wash it again to regain my curl pattern…and it takes an absurdly long amount of time to wash this hair, even when I leave in oil, and forgo conditioning. To get my hair all the way clean, I basically have to strip it of all the oil, and that leads to hardness, fragility and breakage. Then breakage leads to snarls and tangles, which lead to more breakage. Because my hair is thick and curly, it’s then also very difficult to successfully redistribute natural oil throughout (I can’t, for example, use a brush: it doesn’t penetrate). It’s why I almost always comb my hair in the shower now, instead of doing it dry.

If I cut my hair short, it would be shiny and well-conditioned (while using less product), and I could take care of my scalp and take short daily showers (instead of long showers after periods of inadequate hygiene — which are encouraged by the fact that no shower cap will fit over my hair, even if I twist it down [and twisting it down tends to rip it out]). The biggest drawback to this, besides my head being colder (likely necessitating hats for some time), and middle-aged and old men messing with me (like I should care what they think, it’s not like they have a chance anyway), is that I’ll likely need to take showers in the morning, in order to reset the orientation of my follicles after having slept on my hair. (Of course, with everything going on, I’m probably also going to need to take showers when I get home, as well.)

Then there’s the amount of time it takes to regrow this stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised if my hair moves from side to side more than it grows downward. Luckily…my curl pattern has finally matured, so maybe I could actually see some texture in it this time (as versus when I was a teen and cut my hair close, and most of what it did was stand on end). The fall-back position is just slicking it back, Mystique-style, which isn’t that far from always pulling it back in a ponytail or bun.

I also have some nice styling oils and co-wash products which I didn’t have access to, as a kid; and a diffuser to dry my hair, before I go in to work. In addition…I don’t have to trim it ultra-short. I’ve found out what it does at a long length…it’s possible that I could cut it to maybe two to three inches (as versus half an inch), and keep some curl and play in it, especially if I dry it with the diffuser.

As long as the curls are stuck together (as when I comb my hair in the shower or style with my fingers), I don’t have a huge problem with volume. It’s as soon as I comb it, that things happen. The curls separate, and then I’ve got an Afro on my hands. Of course…that’s what I dealt with for most of my childhood, just pulled back. I had a terrible time with trying to keep that stuff orderly, and probably failed, most of the time. It wasn’t until I cut my hair off that I realized I could style it without controlling it. (It wasn’t until I cut my hair off, for that matter, that I realized I actually grew hair from my temples: it was formerly all ripped out.)

The other drawback of cutting my hair short is that it draws attention to the fact that my throat is fuller than I would like. This wasn’t an issue for me the first time I cut my hair off — I was a rail — but this is twenty years later, after medication-induced weight gain. Of course, if I cut my hair short, I could shower more often, which means I could exercise with fewer drawbacks.

M says that I wouldn’t be happy with short hair. I don’t know why, but she says to think on it. Of course, she was also the person who said I wouldn’t like cutting my hair short for years when I wanted to cut it, as a teen (and now can’t remember that she told me I couldn’t cut it until I was 16, then 18; when I turned 18, then she wanted to stop me again). I think she’s more attached to my hair than I am, and I don’t know why. Have never known, why. But I know that in this family, I’m known for my hair. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve been hesitant to even consider testosterone: male-pattern baldness. Indicating a loss of identity.

In the meantime…I’ve got to do something about my scalp hygiene and the dryness of my strands. I’m thinking of going back to using a co-wash for a while, and seeing how that turns out. If I did it frequently, it’s possible I could keep my hair clean (and combed, and orderly), while at the same time not-dry…and not taking up most of an hour’s worth of running water (this still really angers me). Of course, though, this also necessitates drying at least my roots after getting out of the shower (it takes a while, but if I don’t do it, I risk getting sick and/or having mildew and mold growth in my hair).

Yeah, this is my decision, isn’t it.

Maybe I should wait and go to an actual salon to get my hair cut, instead of relying on M to do it…

culture, philosophy, portfolio, psychology

Sometimes I Wonder If This Means Anything

Recently, I’ve had the time to think about what it means to be a person who is nonbinary-identified, who otherwise appears to most to be a “woman.” That is, what is the difference between, “me” as “myself,” and “me” as, “woman,” when to the untrained eye, we’re indistinguishable?

Well, perhaps not indistinguishable, but a general sense of civil politeness dictates not to draw attention to that aspect of reality, as divergence is seen as a fault. The differences don’t show up until you’ve known me for a little while and notice that my behavior and thought process is, to a sensitive yet civil person, “slightly different”; to a person who expects conformity, “slightly off.”

When I don’t go out of my way to prove or show in any way that I’m not a woman, that is…when I’m talking about sewing and beadwork and librarianship…what is there to distinguish me from the backdrop? (By the way…this article is my own, not in any way representative of my profession.)

Activities assigned a gender by culture do not imply the gender identity of the person doing the activity

Because I participate in pastimes that have been culturally allotted to me because of my assumed gender, that doesn’t mean that assumption of my gender is correct. To skip ahead slightly, if cryptically: I identify as nonbinary because it liberates me from being trapped in the game.

How do I know I’m not a woman?

For one thing, I don’t.

I can’t compare my experience to experience I’ve never had.

For another thing, how does anyone else know if they’re a woman? Without referring to tautologies, that is, such as the most common assumption I seem to find: that sex = gender. That sex, in short, creates gender.

I would look at this from the other end, however, and ask one to consider the possibility that people are targeted for gendered psychological conditioning which differs on the basis of their known (or assumed) sex. That, over the long term, encourages (but does not cause) the development of societally-conforming gender expressions; even though this may cause quite a large amount of distress for the person being conditioned.

Accepting the identity of “woman”, in short, does damage to who I am at core, because I have internalized concepts of womanhood which are particularly damaging and oppressive to me as an apparently female person, who is interacted with, and expected to respond as, a woman (or “girl”) because of it. The response expected can differ widely from the reality.

But you know what? That’s sexism.

In particular, the level of societal violence (emotional, interrelational, and physical) directed at people who are, as I once openly was, “gender-nonconforming”, is something that severely negatively impacted my mental health. The fact that I knew it was being demanded I conform — to be something I wasn’t; to live someone else’s life who didn’t exist, to pretend I was her for everyone else — in order to stop the torture, didn’t help.

From the time I was about 19 or 20, once I knew about gender variance, and that it happened to more people than myself, I had been considering the option of physical gender transition. Right now there are only so many options for that, however; fewer still which will not result in additional societal violence.

As a person who doesn’t have a man’s identity, I won’t be able to transition to male and expect anything better than what I have now. In fact, I’d expect worse. There are differences I’d like to have in this body — unfortunately, the window of opportunity for that (for example, to have a larger frame, to have a flat chest without surgery, to be a fully functional male who didn’t have to take hormones) has either passed, or never existed. Some of the actual possibilities could only have been attained with intervention before or during puberty. In my case, that was in the 1990’s.

Wasn’t happening.

History

If I think on it, my gender nonconformity goes back through my childhood, at least to kindergarten. There were rules to being a (supposed) boy or (supposed) girl that first showed their faces, there. Like not playing actively if one were female, or being targeted for random unwanted kisses (from one particular boy) if one were female. I didn’t know and didn’t care, and that made me something of an outcast — though, of course, I thought the problem was everybody else, not myself.

That pattern has marked my existence since then, though I didn’t have an awareness of it until the sexual harassment kicked in fully at 14. I still have a hard time considering myself to be, “normal.” I have a hard time thinking things are good just because they’re popular, and with the idea of exposing myself to all kinds of media, when I know that some of that media is actively violent towards people like myself.

I think I was perhaps 16 or 17 before I started thinking maybe there was something to the harassment that was thrown at me, and that I could have been, as I was being labeled, a gender-nonconforming female who loved women (two culturally linked but separate things which were both taboo in the institution of high school; I’m uncertain I can say the actual word on this platform, as it is still hate speech). I tried to “reclaim” the label, by actively identifying with it. The theory was that if I built a positive identity around the term, it could no longer be used to hurt me.

That got me only so far, as externally-imposed slurs tend not to leave a lot of space open for identity development. However, it gave me space to break some of the walls of my box, unapologetically, and with minimal loss. Even at that time, I knew there was something wrong — but I didn’t know what it was. This was the period in which I first experienced clinical depression; but I only consented to pharmacological treatment for that after I realized that maybe the thing making me sad was something I couldn’t fix. I can’t fix the world by myself. But avoiding suicide gives me a little more time to try.

It wouldn’t be until I removed myself from that situation (taking my meds with me, of course) that I would learn that I had a choice over who I would be, and become.

Fast-forward: I’m likely around 19 years old, away from my parents — and the community that has seen me grow up — for the first time. I realize, from meeting some people, that it’s possible to alter one’s gender expression, and that I’m not stuck with the name and pronouns given to me at birth; or the roles placed on me by others.

The concept of identities being like clothing in a wardrobe is introduced to me. I realize I don’t have to be what others have told me I am; that I can change out of the leather jacket I’ve been carrying with me, into something that may be more suited. Something that may make me happier.

Woman/Not-Woman: Does It Matter?

It wouldn’t be until far later, in my 30’s, that someone would tell me that they kept hearing me say I was not a woman, but they never heard me say I was a man.

“Man”, never really fit, except within groups where I knew people knew what I meant by it, and within which I tempered the identity by acknowledging my female history. It wasn’t a portable identity, at least not if I paid attention to people complaining about “their” identities being, “watered down.” (Yes, there is exclusion right there; the idea that we couldn’t share the same word for ourselves because we were different. This was before the emergences of the genderqueer and nonbinary communities…and possibly the catalyst for their formation.) I wouldn’t learn that it would be tough for me as male, though, until I was about 25, and had tried living as one — with various interspersions of behavior that I considered distinctly, “unmanly.”

I don’t know where these ideas about men and women came from. But I suspect they’re learned.

The thing is: my society emphasizes two (and only two) genders. If a person isn’t one, the next step, often, is to believe that one then must be the other. However…that’s not where my journey took me. “Not-woman” is not the same thing as “man”. “Woman” is not the same thing as “not-man.” One is a positive assertion: many variations on one truth. The other is a negation: infinity-minus-one possible options for truth remaining.

I’m thinking that we’ve had a tendency to think the terms are equivalent, though (much as “not-woman” got linked with “lesbian” for me in high school), because of our particular historical and cultural locus. Most people repeat concepts in this sense without knowing where the concepts came from or why they think what they do, but ideas in this sense are inherited from the past, and sometimes they’re outdated to an embarrassing extent.

What I know is that trying to think of myself as a woman has done concrete psychological damage to me. Because I don’t fit. I’m not a woman — regardless of the shape of my body. Not-man and not-woman (at least, not as this current culture defines “man” and “woman”) leaves infinity-minus-two possible outcomes for me. Not all of them require medical transition or intentional alteration of presentation. Or, “masculinity.”

If one tries to think of oneself as something one is not, chances are that one is going to be riddled with senses of inadequacy. All the time.

When I try to think of myself as a woman, I expect myself to grapple from an inside position with messages about what women are and/or should be, which rarely ever fit. Which makes me angry, as I presume other “women” like “myself” also find those messages and concepts not to fit.

But is that the case? If so, the world really is a dystopia.

And then again, I see myself conforming for the sake of the approval of others. Trying to be someone who doesn’t exist, so I can stop being hurt and excluded. Only now, I’m the person hurting myself. No one else has to torture me: I’ve taken over that job. And I’m getting the perks of fitting in, knowing full well that the external torture and isolation and exclusion may resume if I let down my facade.

Other people then also expect me to conform to messages about what women are and should be — but they (almost) always do that, except when I let people know that my appearance does not infer my identity. On a baseline, people expect me to be able to relate on a level of commonality that I don’t share. Because right now, I’m a husk of a person. I’ve abandoned myself to take on a role that my heart isn’t in, for the purposes of pleasing others and smoothing social relations.

Boundaries. Somewhere in there, I’ve got to stand up for myself, or I’ll never be able to attain an authentic life. And my life isn’t for the pleasure of other people. It’s mine.

Somewhere in there, I got tired of this. Rebelling against compulsory “femininity” versus conforming to compulsory “femininity”; whereas if I thought of myself as male, even as a gentle one, I realized that what to do with this, isn’t even a question. If I discard the concept of “woman” as outside of myself; as meaningless in my domain; I no longer have to rebel, or conform. The concept no longer holds sway over me; my life is no longer led and controlled by the whims of other people. Let the people who don’t understand fall on their faces. Catering to their illusions isn’t my job.

Risk and Flow

It would not be true for me to say that relative levels of risk and emotional safety haven’t played a role in choosing between life options. At first, I began exploring things that were allotted to me because I appeared female, because I knew they might not be allotted to me anymore in the then-near future. I was trying to find anything good about my situation, before I might change it.

Yes, I’m talking about physical — chemical and surgical — transition. In my situation, the treatments were offered on a harm-reduction basis. It has not been unusual for people to attain things like hormones and surgeries illegally, out of desperation to escape their situations. If I was going to alter myself, it would be better to do it through a compassionate health care system than through the black market.

In effect, I was exercising what is known in sociology as, “agency.” Sociology is basically the study of power constraints on groups of people, and how ordinary people find ways to struggle and survive, despite them. In early college, I took up Sociology as my major, though I wouldn’t stay in it. I was told it was, “the study of groups of people.” That’s an oversimplification.

Sociology arose, most markedly to my mind, after WWII: as people tried to make sense of the Holocaust. Notes online, however, say it began much earlier due to the French and Industrial Revolutions. In my view, Sociology is the study of how power dynamics and methods of social control form among people and how culture is — at times — complicit in, or even driving, that.

Agency may be, in this discussion, said to encompass ways of individual or group existence alongside social control; defying it, without being destroyed by it.

So there are reasons — I would say at their base, coercive ones — for certain things to be considered either “men’s” or “women’s” work. Coercive, because one runs into barriers if they try to do work which has not been allotted to them by their social station.

I’m not a person who likes to fight. Unfortunately, I’m not sure how long staying neutral is, or can be, an option. These are not usual times. And, as I am learning, my voice can make a difference. This is still a democracy, after all.

There is something that just came to my mind…I’m not certain I’ll be able to communicate clearly enough to really explain it, especially as it has to do with what is known in the West as Philosophical Daoism (or Philosophical Taoism). I learned about this after having studied Chinese Buddhism. I was trying to figure out where the Buddhism ended and Daoism began. One could write books on this, though unfortunately I have pretty much no reading ability in any Chinese dialect, so research would be difficult (even if possible).

It has to do with the concept of water. Or, Water, if you prefer. The element.

Water always seeks the lowest point, the place where it can settle no further. It is stopped by barriers like dikes, and flows where it is given space to flow. But in floods, it can overwhelm and cross those dikes. In tsunamis and typhoons it can destroy towns. It’s a gentle thing that carves mountains. Crushes and splits stone. Comes down in drops and forms oceans.

It is also something which we depend on for life; without which, there would be no life.

I don’t aim to be a fighter. I aim to be like Water.

To know this is useful; to know this is also slightly frightening, because I know that I also will always have to deal with that drip, drip, drip…building up, building pressure, pushing against boundaries and walls, finding cracks, threatening to spill out. Always.

As for whether I’ve recently overflowed (I wonder if the Japanese term あふれる [afureru: to overflow; I don’t know the correct kanji] is related to this)…it’s hard to say. I hadn’t thought of the one recent instance in those terms until I wrote them, here.

There is also the difference between the “soft” martial arts and the “hard” martial arts, which may aid one in understanding what I mean. Hard martial arts, like karate, are force-against-force. In a battle between two martial artists each using force against force, considering all else equal, the bigger and stronger one will win. In a situation where one is going up against a stronger opponent…it doesn’t make sense to fight force-against-force. I’ve always had to be faster, smarter, choosing my battles. Choosing my questions, finding weaknesses, finding my strengths.

So even though I can’t say that my environment had no hand in shaping the person I am now, I can say is that what you see of me now is genuine — even if, under other circumstances, under different constraints, I may have grown in an entirely different direction.

That’s what it means to be full of potentialities.

That’s also what it means to be human.

“Women’s Work”

One of the difficulties of living in this transitional era is what to do with older identities, aspirations taught to us by our foremothers, made for eras which no longer exist. In my attempt to see if there were anything left for me in being female, I was in some respects immersed in pastimes which — in years gone by — I suspect must have been done by people who were stay-at-home mothers or homemakers, or otherwise supported monetarily from outside (as is the case with me and my parents). I can’t imagine their being able to survive any other way.

Implied in this is marriage to a person who can give one children, and financial support thereby. Also implied is the willingness to be impregnated, and to keep and care for the child(ren). It’s not a given that everyone wants that.

My relations with my own reproductive potential have never been easy. But neither have been my relations with anyone else’s. I’ve never given myself a chance to get pregnant. After having written the rest of this, I’m no longer surprised at having some level of discomfort around reproduction. But my dysphoria is minor, as I’m able to use birth control, in addition to abstinence — which may in fact have run on long enough to become celibacy.

Since I was in high school and realized that marriage to a man was likely not to be comfortable for me (given how few males I was attracted to at all, and the fact that the ones I was attracted to had a tendency to be gay or transgender), I’ve channeled my creative urges into the making of, “things”; objects; writings; not children. Instead of raising a child as my legacy, I’ve realized there are other methods of having an impact on society.

The issue — my main issue, at this point — is finding a way to stay alive while staying creative. To find a way of feeding both my desire to create, and my physical needs, at the same time. The system, as it’s set up…is there a method of independently supporting oneself while staying out of poverty, and still taking the time to do “women’s work”? I’m not certain. But then, I live in one of the most expensive places possible, in this country.

Then there is the fact that “women’s work” in the public sphere — nursing, teaching, clerical, childcare, librarianship — presuppose a level of social intelligence (and inclination to be social) that I just don’t have. The only one I can think of that doesn’t, that I know of, is housekeeping — but I’m not about to go there. Germ phobia, remember?

But that’s sexism, again.

I’m not entirely sure what to do about this. I’m a person who was raised to become a woman who is not; who has to enter territory long held by men in order to survive. That’s not easy for me.

む (Mu)

When I began writing this post, the idea of, “myself as a nonbinary person,” and, “myself as a woman,” were looking too close to call. The difference seemed like splitting hairs. To the extent that both nonbinary and woman identities are cultural constructions and not inherently existent in and of themselves, that’s still true. Hence, the question, “am I a woman?” could be answered in the single Zen term, む (or, “mu”).

The answer of “mu” to a koan, or riddle, means that the foundations of the question are formulated so that no right answer can be given. The example I’ve seen is the question: “have you stopped beating your wife?” when you have no wife; or you do have a wife, but you don’t beat her. The presuppositions of the question are faulty in such a way that to answer either, “yes, I have stopped beating my wife,” or, “no, I haven’t stopped beating my wife,” would be false.

Hence: む. Neither, “yes, I am a woman,” nor, “no, I am not a woman,” are wholly satisfactory, because the term, “woman,” is mutable and has no inherent reality. (Neither does, “man,” or, “nonbinary,” for that matter. They’re all terms which, on some level, most of us just loosely agree have similar-enough meanings to be able to get a rough idea of what the other person means when we say them.)

Of course, that doesn’t mean, in a different sense, that no women exist. But I like the opt-in model, based on authentic thinking and deep reflection; better than the mass-assignment model, based on surface appearances or biological statistics.

From the outside, it doesn’t matter on a large scale (likely to anyone except other nonbinary people) whether I’m called a woman or a nonbinary person — although I will get tripped up when I’m referred to as “that woman” (it has happened)! What matters to me most is how I think of myself, because that’s all I have direct control over. It’s much more important that I give myself permission to think freely about my own gender, than it is that other people agree with me about it or support me in it. (Though support is nice, when it’s asked for and given. When it’s not asked for…there may be a reason.)

At this point, however, I’ve realized things are much more complex than I’ve given them credit for.

To a greater or lesser extent, I believe that all of us have been subject to conditioning, based on the way we’ve looked; on our physicality, or on what little is known about us. But that’s not the total picture. There are patterns we have which aren’t immediately visible based on how we look, or which can be predicted by an image. Nevertheless, they are real. Going back over my history, showed me that.

My experiences as a child, youth, and young adult, are not something that everyone would have been vulnerable to in the same way. As an adult, I’m still not typical…even if my experience is more common or relatable than I imagine. And it is easy to imagine…easier, now…that I am actually truly “normal” even in my diversity. That people the world over have experienced what it’s like not to fit in, for one reason or another.

People are not always what they seem. I’m proof of that.

And that should give me hope.

creativity, personal, philosophy

Yearnings

No amount of purchases will get rid of the hole in my heart. Even art supplies. It doesn’t work if you buy them and then don’t use them.

Right now I’m in bed, fighting off the last of a cold which hit me over Christmas. Well: I’ve been sick for the last week. Although I’m in the mood to be vulgar with this, it’s wordpress.com (not .org), so I won’t be: the worst part of this is that it hit me when I otherwise had the opportunity to see distant family. (Distant in regard to space, not in regard to relation.) It’s good to be back home and not in a hotel. With a kitchen and my art supplies and medications and plentiful books.

But still, I don’t have much of a life here. In regard to friendship, that is.

We’ve been considering moving out to Hawaii for years. But…it’s a really hard place to live. I think I can say that. For most of the time we were out there, being indoors was constantly like someone had just taken a hot shower and vented the hot, moist air inside. It was everywhere, except the places that were air-conditioned. My books wouldn’t survive. I’d have to find a way to put them under climate control, or leave them behind, or forget about them.

The latter is hard to think of, as someone who has trained to be a Librarian.

Tonight, I broke back into my Baochong oolong tea, though I was out of it (fatigued) enough that I thought it was Jasmine. So when it was a little savory, I was kind of like, “I don’t remember Jasmine tasting like that.” Because it’s Baochong. Oolong. Not Jasmine green. Silly dumpling.

And yes, having the water temperature 15° F above optimal, for that oolong, makes it taste burnt. I didn’t know water could burn tea, but I think I’ve found, it can.

So…right. I now have enough tea for like the next two years, but a bunch of it “expires” (does tea expire?) early next year. (My Tieguanyin [Iron Goddess oolong], I was told, was likely fine even though 2-4 years past expiration, I can’t remember anymore. The Jasmine Pearls from that batch were better than the fresher tea I got to replace it, which meant I had to make a run to the good tea store in order to get decent whole-leaf Jasmine green, as versus whatever was in the bulk aisle.)

Granted, I’ll have at least a season to get through it and see what it’s actually supposed to taste like, before it ferments further. But it’s a pretty sure thing that given where I got these from (in Hawaii), maybe that data about expiration was based on Hawaii climate. Like mid-70° F temperatures and high humidity at the end of December. (What is it like in July?)

It was unseasonably cold while we were there, though. High winds, and a storm (with lightning) coming through right on Christmas Day. I still had the window open until the rain got too…sideways, however.

When I was a kid, particularly M would buy stuff for us as a token of love. She wasn’t great at expressing it to us after we got older (though I can remember plenty of times when she picked me up and tried to soothe me when I cried as a really young child — like I don’t know how young, I wasn’t paying attention to my age at the time — but it had to be under six years old, because I remember it happening in my first apartment).

I’ve been doing some reading about Reader’s Advisory and the value and neurological process of reading the narratives of others, which is probably why I’m back here writing this, now. I mean, you know, I’ve realized that writing isn’t totally worthless. Which, again, is a surprising thought coming from someone who has trained to be a Librarian. But it was made pretty clear in my Creative Writing program that Creative Writing wasn’t something one did to make a living.

A lot of that history, though, it’s kind of messed-up from the point of view of an adult looking back on it. If I had to do it over again, I would have at least tried getting back into the Japanese Language and Literature program. But I really wasn’t thinking that far ahead, probably like most people around the age of 20. Actually, around the age of 20, I was just trying to survive.

I won’t go more deeply into that, here, but I will say that my worst enemy was myself, at the time. I didn’t think I would make it to 30; so getting into my young adult years, I realized that I didn’t have a career plan. That’s why I became a Librarian. Or trained for it, anyway. I still have some experience to accrue.

I’m also, now, getting to the point that “young” adult, as a description, is no longer accurate. I’m just an adult, and I’ve got adult problems, albeit Millennial adult problems. Like worrying about how long any of us will survive. What to do if and when my parents are no longer here to help me. Disputing the personal value of faith and belief and religion in the face of guaranteed death and fragmented communities. (For some reason, the term “bad faith” just came to mind — can’t remember who said it, though. Sartre?) And, though I’ve been watching myself for the last 25 years, trying to figure out who I am as versus who I think I am. Because the two don’t have to align.

I am not even sure anymore that I’m a creative person, or if that is something that characterized me as a psychologically vulnerable youth. I mean, I know I’m writing, here. It’s just that I keep accumulating the props of being a creative person, and then not using them. Then that perpetuates the hole in my heart that I try and refill with buying more stuff, when not-being-creative and buying paints and inks and pens for some ideal future destination where I use them (and then don’t), doesn’t heal me.

I actually am using the pens for writing; that is one spot of healing. At the same time, I can only use one, maximum two, pens at the same time, unless I get into some gymnastics; so how many pens does it take to fill that one hand for that one session?

Buying stuff is not working. Using stuff, might; but as I realized on our trip, I do have a bent towards paint and brushes and inks and pens. I’ve overlearned pencils, though pencils can be the base of other art; it’s just that pencils and drawing the same stuff all the time has gotten so rote as to be discouraging. I realized over the holiday that I really don’t like pencils, now. At least, not the ones with tiny points and HB graphite lead. I’ve done enough of that.

In addition — I’ve decided to let the Art and the Writing go their separate ways. There’s no reason why I should, or have to, or need to, force myself to make comic art. Right now it’s influenced a lot of my work…but if I look at it on its face, I’m a much better writer than I am an artist, and I deflate at the prospect of illustrating a book of my own work. How much drawing it is.

With that out of the way, I’m free to paint and make mandalas and study plants, all I want. Right now, the mandalas are pointing me in the direction of abstract art, of which I think I have an inkling. Particularly, looking at some of my portfolio pieces from 2016, I know I have it in me to do this — I see things I was afraid of acknowledging before, like the shapes of women — and I hope that by getting further into it I can discover more about where these things are coming from. Of course, that might possibly lead into the place where I figure out I’m lesbian even if I don’t consider myself a woman and don’t abhor some sweet technically-male things who sometimes (or often) wish they weren’t; but forget judgment, this is your soul talking.

Well, this is your soul raging, isn’t it?

I think it took watching a Dr. Who marathon and voicing that I thought Clara Oswald’s character was cute, to get me to share that I can be/am still attracted to women. (I have a close female relative who cannot stand Clara Oswald [“she’s too perky”]. But then, she also can’t tolerate “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. It’s too screechy for her.)

To each their own.

I still haven’t resolved how and if a person can be lesbian if they don’t identify as a woman. Then again…I think I’ve already resolved (in my head) that the category of “woman” is a social construction, a name for a concept generated by people which is not real on any ultimate level of truth.

Like I was thinking of saying before, not believing in “God” doesn’t mean you don’t believe in “Christians”. You can recognize that Christians exist without proving the ultimate reality of God. I mean, seriously: it’s obvious that Christians exist. The thing they define themselves in relation to, however; that’s not obviously existent, but to them, it’s part of their reality; inasmuch as a multi-tiered system of worlds, dependent on internal personal vibration or resonance, is part of mine.

I almost went there in my last counseling session, but I didn’t. The person I was talking with seemed to imply that being agender (akin to “atheist”, as I used it [I don’t think that’s usual]) meant being “gender-blind”, which is something that I definitely do not espouse. There can be men and women (who believe that they’re “real” men and “real” women) without gender ever being a solid universal or ultimate concept that lines up with reality. It just means that the definitions are personal and vary among people.

That also should mean, though, that maybe I shouldn’t lock myself out of groups based on my own personal gender definitions, when I know that those definitions only apply in my own head.

That also means, however, that it’s possible for me with qualifications to say that I’m a person who has the potential to love a woman (or someone who looks like one or is similar to one in some way). I just look like a woman, though. Just let me get too close to a woman in public, and I’ll automatically be slotted as lesbian; because most people still don’t know about the nuances of the LGBTQIA+ communities. Some may even take any apparent gender difference to be proof of a preference where it comes to who I love. Because why would there be a gender difference if it didn’t have to do with sex. Or something.

In the same way as everyone has to be a “man” or “woman”, everyone has to be “gay” or “straight”. And some people’s ideas of gender boil down to, “like me,” or, “not like me,” which…is worse.

In my reality, though…I find it hard to deal with being in a community where no one else has seriously questioned their gender. I don’t know what it’s like to, “fit in.” Without trying. The closest I’ve come is gender-nonbinary community, but even there, it’s fairly obvious that…well, we’re not obvious. I’m not obvious. And I don’t have any obligation to be.

My reality is much messier than any definition could hold, but you know what that means? It means I’m being authentic to myself. The issue is, then, regulating a channel through which I can contact and interact with the outside world, and I’m not sure how to do that without compromising my identity.