Monthly Archives: October 2015

The new apartment

First night in the new place! I was asleep before 10pm and then woke up at midnight starving and so sore I could barely move. So I found some crackers in the pantry and took a hydrocodone I had left over from an injury this last spring.

The new apartment is brilliant. Open, airy, light… The last place we lived was a dump, which wasn’t Mom’s fault. Like, the landlord had somebody come in to fix the plumbing. Plumber left four holes in the bathroom wall, and they never fixed it. They let Mom live with a broken bedroom window for three months before they bothered fixing it. It was fucking awful. So this is worlds better. And I don’t have to share my personal space with anyone. After 11 years of marriage, and then three months of living in Mom’s storage room, this is HUGE. I also have my own bathroom, which I have decorated myself!

Right now I’m sitting up in bed with my laptop. I don’t have to worry about waking Mom up because the guest bedroom is between us so she can’t hear what I’m doing. (If I closed my bedroom door I could even play my cello without waking her, but I want to get her to stand outside my bedroom window tomorrow and tell me if she can hear me play from outside, so that I don’t accidentally piss off the neighbors. At least we’re in an end unit so I don’t share a wall with anyone.)

Half a mile north of me is a large shopping complex. On days when it’s not too hot I can walk there and have an iced coffee at Starbucks. There’s a frozen yogurt place right there too, and a nice public park behind the shopping center. The library is less than a mile off, as is my psychiatrist’s office. Oh, and my primary care doctor is less than a quarter mile from me, so I can walk there too. There’s a communal bike rack just outside my back door, and when I get my bike from my ex’s I can ride to all sorts of places from here. Since I may not have a car come January, these are good things. Oh! And the city just started a bus line down the main road, and there’s a stop at the entrance to my apartment complex.

The babbies are settling in nicely. Catching them this morning before the movers showed up was easy — jumped trapped them in my old bedroom and loaded them into the carriers.  They weren’t happy but they didn’t freak out.  I brought them to the new place and shut them in my bathroom with their litter box and water fountain.  Left them there until the movers had finished bringing everything in around 11am.  The first few hours they were freaked out, especially Eris, but as of about 6pm they were fine, and right now they’re running around the apartment like they’ve lived here for years.  They’re chasing each other right now, and I heard a stack of empty boxes fall over a few minutes ago.  Yeah, the babbies are fine.

We have a guest room!  Currently it’s about a quarter full of boxes that can be slowly unpacked.  When I get my stuff from my ex I’ll be storing some bins of yarn and wool in there.  I have six of those clear plastic 3-drawer bins from the craft store.  Two will go in my bedroom under the window, and the rest in the guest room.  It’s large enough that it won’t look cluttered.

Let’s see…  I ordered a cheap chest of drawers and a nightstand from Target online.  Starting in November I can keep my cello case in the closet because my lessons will be here at my house, so my cello can happily live on its little stand in my room.  I’ve asked for a stand for my rigid heddle loom for Christmas; it will let me angle the loom so it can be stored in the corner by my desk completely vertical (and covered with a quilt so the cats can’t play with it).  I have my Mom’s antique rolltop desk in the corner.  I’ve wanted it for decades, and when I mentioned it to Mom she said, “Oh, you should have told me you wanted it!  I would have given it to you then!”  I’m glad I didn’t get it until now, though.  I wouldn’t have had a place to put it, before.  It needs to be refinished, but I can do that at my own pace.  (Also I’m not sure how to take the varnish off the creases in the roll top itself.  Maybe I should let a pro do it next year.)

In sum, I am very happy with the move.  (You may have noticed, if you’re still reading this.)  The only downside is having to go back to the old house and sort out some small shit over the next few days.  We had the movers put a lot of furniture on the curb for the garbage collectors, but there’s a lot of little stuff that needs to be thrown out or taken to the thrift shop before next Saturday.

Oh, and here’s a picture of the best part of my room.  Once I get the new chest of drawers and nightstand I can finish unpacking the last few boxes, at which point I’ll post pictures of the whole room.

New Bedroom - Desk and Cello

Something else I’ll be getting from my ex’s: all my framed art to hang on my walls!  Yay!  And then it will be perfect.  Love.

Happy Geodon news

Turns out I am not actually addicted to the Geodon.  What’s happening is that I’m getting serotonin rebound syndrome as the medication starts wearing off.  Easy solution: smaller dose three times a day, with a goal of reducing it to a total of 40mg a day instead of 80.  It should be pretty painless, and I won’t have to start playing Medication Roulette again to find something new.  Whew!  I am so, so relieved.

Medication addiction

I just made an appointment to see my psychiatrist on Thursday.  I cannot handle being chemically dependent on Geodon anymore.  I just can’t.  Twice a day I get the shakes, chills, racing thoughts — withdrawal.  And it’s coming on earlier and earlier all the time.  I take my pills at 10am and 10pm daily, and I’m starting to shake by 9:00 twice a day now.  Not cool.  Going off it is going to be a bitch, but better than staying addicted.  It’s awful.

Musings on sex

I’ve had sex on the brain lately. Not just lusty thoughts, but… sexual philosophy?  Like, I’ve been thinking about what might happen the next time I go to bed with a cisgender man (which is what I want right now), and I realized that I’ll be really interested in learning more about what my partner likes besides just… friction.  Not in a submissive “let me please you” kind of way, but as equals.  I’m more interested in learning a partner’s whole body and how we relate to each other physically and mentally in bed.  I’m also not entirely sure what I like anymore, having not had sex beyond just fingering in years (and only a few times of that; my choice), so I’m interested in exploring my own reactions to stuff.  I know some things I still want, but I need to re-learn my sexuality.  Experiment.

I don’t know if this is a matter of age or gender transition or what.  But I think it’s pretty cool.  I’ve felt sexually pathetic for a decade, because my ex-wife and I weren’t very compatible in bed and I felt like a failure for it.  Which is sad, since for years before that I was confident that I was a decent lover and rarely had any complaints (although I know I’ve always been crap at blowjobs, thanks to PTSD triggers from childhood sexual abuse).  Now that I’m thinking about getting laid again (not dating, nothing romantic, just sex) I feel unsure about some things but confident that if I go to bed with somebody I can talk to, we can figure out how we work together.  It’s not rocket science, after all, and as long as the guy isn’t a selfish prick then it’ll be fine.  (And I respect myself enough to just leave if the guy’s being an asshole.  I don’t need a lover, and I’m not going to put up with a bad attitude in or out of bed.)

Maturity FTW!

Life update: a depression edition

When last I left off, I was about to head to the local mental health event.  I went, got there late, wound up not seeing anyone I knew except for one person I used to be friends with ages ago (and was very glad to see, and we’ll be hanging out some after I move).  So all that worry was for nothing.

Since then I’ve descended into a godawful depression, caused by school stress.  I got behind on my work, started freaking out about it, and that led to a vicious cycle that wound up with me hearing things: voices laughing and whispering about how I’d lost control, music that no one could hear but me, etc.  Plus panic attacks.  I saw my psychiatrist yesterday morning.  I went in telling her “I’m just stressed so there’s no need for anything but a refill on my meds,” but then she started asking questions about symptoms and I nearly started crying two different times because holy fuck, I’m more messed up than I thought I was.  She said she’d write a letter to my school disability office telling them I need an Incomplete for the term, so when I got home I emailed the office to say, “hey, I’m in crisis and my doctor will say so,” and they contacted my professor who agreed to give me the I.  You have no idea how relieved I was.  Am.  My sister, wonderful soul that she is, has been helping me get my research done for my term project and being extra-encouraging, despite having a full-time job and a family.  I don’t know what I did to deserve her.

So I’m taking this weekend to recover a little and work on packing boxes.  The movers are coming next Saturday to take our furniture over to the new apartment, so Mom and I have to bust our asses this week getting ready for them.  Mom’s lived in this house for 25 years, and we’re throwing out more stuff than we’re taking with us.  (I have very little here, but I’m helping her go through all her shit.)

I also need to get back in touch with the nonprofit director; I had warned him I had major school shit going on last week and this week, and now that I can breathe again I need to do some stuff with moving domains and registering a new one.

My niece is finding me super-useful as Knowledgeable Adult lately.  I’m not going to get into details, but she’s trying to find herself and I’m able to give advice about some things.  I’m also babysitting for my sister whenever she needs me, and generally I’m trying to be a good family member and help everyone as much as they’ve been helping me.  I’ve been saying ever since I got sick (17 years ago) that I’m lucky to have an excellent support network.  I’m glad I can give back some.

It’s 4:15 in the morning.  I’ve been awake all night.  Being crazy sucks.  Maybe I’ll try to get some homework done…

Cello lesson #8 (wk 9)

Last week I babysat for my sister’s kids, and Sis got back later than expected so my lesson was canceled.  So tonight was the first one I’ve had in two weeks.

Sometime last week something clicked in my head and suddenly I sound a million times better.  I’m not good, but I don’t suck horrifically and on very short simple pieces I actually sound like I know what I’m doing.  It’s amazing.  At lesson tonight my teacher was shocked at the difference.  Yeah, I still fuck up a lot — a lot — but I sound like an amateur cellist fucking up, as opposed to some idiot scraping away at a beautiful instrument.  It’s like magic.  So the lesson was really high-energy and encouraging.  I have lots of new things to practice.

I get to use the G string in a piece for the first time, on “Long, Long Ago” (Suzuki #1-10).  All pieces thus far were on D and A only.  And my teacher’s having me play it with a weird bowing technique, so it’s challenging.  I have to learn another piece by heart, the “Allegro” (#1-8), which I can play already with sheet music, but Teacher says I need to stop paying so much attention to the written music.  I need to practice a variation of “Perpetual Motion in D Major” (#1-9). And I have to learn two more (short) etudes.  And all this by Tuesday, if I can manage it!

The last two weeks have sucked horribly, for reasons I’ll write about later, so it feels really good to have accomplished something and impressed my teacher and have doable challenges to focus on, instead of stressing over school so bad that I’ve been hallucinating and having panic attacks.  (Today I was able to get an Incomplete for the semester, so I can take a couple of days to breathe before diving back into homework.)

Publicly coming out as trans

I realized I was trans almost four years ago.  In that time I’ve been out to everyone online, my friends and family members, and the people at the yarn shop I went to when I was living 75 miles away from Hometown.  That’s it.

In a couple of hours I’m going to a rather large mental health awareness event, to help my new nonprofit group director work the registration table.  I agreed with no hesitation.  It wasn’t until about 10:00 last night that I realized that holy fuck, I’m coming out to the entire local mental health community.  I used to be pretty involved, as an activist and professional peer counselor.  My former boss and some co-workers will be there.  Some of my former clients might show up.  Future potential employers and co-workers will be there.  And everyone who knows me from Before will have to hear, “I’m Alex now.  I came out as transgender four years ago.”  And then there will be questions, which will be answered two ways: “When you get home, Google ‘trans 101’,” or “I’m sorry, that’s a very personal question.  It’s been nice seeing you.”

I am, naturally, terrified.  I’m doing it anyway, because I’ll have to come out to this community at some point if I’m going to be working in it again.  I won’t be alone — my nonprofit friends (who only know me as Alex and are very trans-friendly) will back me up, and my sister and her family will be there.  I doubt anyone will be rude to my face, because it’s a pretty liberal community.  But I am also prepared to (politely) say things like “it’s not my job to educate you” and “I don’t make comments about your masculinity/femininity, do I?”  I really don’t give a fuck about passing as a cis male; I’m a bit genderqueer anyway, and my gender identity/expression are none of their business so long as they use the correct name and pronouns and are respectful.

I do wish I’d had enough warning to get my hair cut first.  I’m a bit shaggy.  Yay for hair pomade, I guess.

Now, as to why I’m writing this at 5am: I haven’t slept.  At all.  I’m getting where I can’t sleep because of the Geodon dependency.  I spend the nights shaking and sweating, even if I take my meds on time, even with a Klonopin.  This can’t go on.  After my semester finishes (two weeks left!) I’m going to ask my pdoc to taper me off and put me on something else.  I’m really, really not looking forward to it, but it’s better than feeling like a junkie in need of a fix every night.

I’m going to take a shower and go get some breakfast or something.  I can’t just sit here twitching until it’s time for my morning meds.  (I can’t take them early, because then I’ll get the shakes even earlier in the evening.)

Volunteer job

I am officially the webmaster of a new mental health organization being set up here in town! Most of my work will be coordinating content, because the setup (get the domain name, install software, create email addresses) is easy as hell and I’ve done it a billion times. (I spent 10 years as a webmaster/web developer before I went crazypants, and I still own some domains, including this one of course.) I volunteered because they don’t have anyone to do that stuff, and I can do it in my sleep, so. They are delighted to have someone competent in the role, as they’ve talked to other people and there are a lot of people in the business who are good at tech but can’t communicate clearly or write site content (I’ve worked as a pro writer before, too.) So I laid out what they needed, what the costs would be, what I can do, what they need to get for me, etc. And they’re thrilled. (By “they” I mean the director and the board member I’ve interacted with.)

I’ve been tagged with doing social media stuff, too.  Which is cool.  I’m good at that.  Once we get the site going, set up I’ll start looking at Twitter and see if the director wants to Instagram pictures or anything.  (I’m already handling Facebook.  Started that the night I volunteered.)

There’s also going to be peer counselor training in a couple of months that I’m going to, because that’s my actual goal. The web stuff won’t take more than a couple hours a week once everything’s up and running, so I could still be a counselor a couple of afternoons a week without overexerting myself.

Now I just need to survive the next week — I’m moving AND writing a 12-page paper AND setting up their site, which has to happen ASAP — and I’ll be golden…

Cello lesson #7

My teacher was deeply impressed by how much better I sounded this week. She told me I sounded wonderful and my fake confidence trick has made such a huge difference and I should keep doing it because wow.

We started off with the usual C scale, then I was supposed to have learned the G scale but forgot and did D by accident and it really doesn’t matter because the fingering is the same, just on one string higher.  So oops, but no harm done because I was supposed to learn D this week anyway.

Then I played the two pieces I was assigned well enough that I get to move on to two new pieces.  One is my first piece that isn’t a folk song or children’s song.  (Suzuki’s “Allegro”, first book.)  It’s mostly staccato, which I haven’t done before, but we played it through and I think I’ll be okay.  The other is my first etude, designed to teach me faster bowing speeds.  Done on open strings, so no worrying about my fingering.  Just turn on the metronome app and go for it.

My lessons are going to be on Thursdays at 6:45pm from now on, at least until she gets her hours reduced at her day job (which she wants to do), at which point she’ll be able to do earlier in the afternoon. I told her I’m probably the most time-flexible student she’s got, as the rest either work or are kids in school. So we’ll probably change after she gets her day job sorted. I’d like that, because I don’t want my mom to have to hide in her bedroom every lesson, and we’re going to be doing them at my house starting at the end of the month. Earlier is better!  We’re also going to start alternating between half-hour and hour lessons then.  I’ve figured out some things I can cut out of my budget in order to afford the longer sessions.

Unrelated to the lesson: We also figured out that we were on the same local BBS as teenagers in the early 1990s (including recognizing each others’ usernames) and knew a lot of the same people in high school. All her friends did dual enrollment at the community college, same as me, but she did the IB program instead, which is the only reason I never met her.  This town is so small, even with a population of like 200K. Have I mentioned how much I love it here?