Author Archives: Grayson

Life update, Halloween edition

Lots of stuff has been going on, mostly good things!

Social: I’ve been leaving the house and hanging out with people!  Which means I need to give a few people some nicknames. (Pause…)  Done.  I even made a page for my cast of characters.  Yesterday I hung out with Zelda for like 6 hours.  Her friend Domino joined us for lunch, and we hit it off too, and then the three of us spent like an hour in Joanns gleefully shopping for 70% off Halloween decorations.  Last Sunday I had coffee in the morning with Rose for two hours, and then spend the afternoon with Zelda.  I am such a social butterfly.

Hellooooooo nurse: I’ve been contemplating having a sex life again.  I don’t want love, but friendship with benefits would be awesome.  I’ve even been flirting with people.  Shocking.

Brain Fun: doing fairly well on most days. There was a four-day depressive streak last week during which I only left the house once.  And the week before that I struggled with occasional bursts of impulsive recklessness.  Like, “if I ride my bike down this 65mph highway, it’s not like I’m actually attempting suicide, right?  I mean, it has a bike lane…”  But mostly I’m okay.

Thursday I started decreasing my Lamictal dosage.  I’ve been on 200mg twice a day for years, and I’m fed up with the severe memory loss it causes.  I’ve forgotten almost everything I learned in college.  I don’t remember most of my childhood.  The memories are still there, I just can’t access them.  (Thanks to my psych degree and a stint volunteering in a neuropsych lab, I know a bit about memory testing and have done some.  I store memories just fine; it’s retrieval that’s the problem.)  I consider this to be the best way to lose memories, as it means I have a chance of regaining access.  If I wasn’t storing them when they happened, I’d be completely SOL.

Lamictal is what prevents my mania.  If I start getting manic I’ll just sedate myself and then resume my former dose.  Easy.  I hope this works.

Therapy: haven’t had an appointment since my last update.  I’ll have one tomorrow, though.

Cycling: still doing it, although not as much as I’d like.  That whole reckless thing has made me a little scared to ride much.  I’ll talk to my therapist about it.

I’ve resumed my daily walks, though.  Because outdoor exercise of any kind helps my mental health.

Crafting: two inches left of Nephew’s pillow.  I’ve been spinning a lot.  Nothing else, though.  I’ve been too busy reading.

Reading: alllll the books.  So many books.  Mostly paper ones.  All non-fiction.  Which reminds me, I should update my Goodreads account.

Cello: I’ve stopped lessons until January, so that I can afford school and Christmas presents.  I’m sad, but I’ll be back to it in the new year.

Follow-up from last update: I had to reschedule the dentist, because I’ve been having some trouble with nausea.  The craft fair this last Saturday was fun, although it was just me and Mom.  I got a new journal.  Now I just need to keep up with it.

Upcoming plans: Hiking November 11th!  So excite!

Happy Halloween!

Today would have been my 12th wedding anniversary.  Yay for being divorced!

It’s funny — I’m a goth and I love morbid, creepy, and spooky things, but actual scary shit really bothers me.  Some horror fiction is okay, and often enjoyable.  Movies, not so much.  I think the only horror genre films I really like are some of the Hellraiser series, especially the original, because Clive Barker is so good at eroticizing horror and I love that.  (I’m a huge fan of his books, too, and have been since the late 80’s.)  No, wait, I like some zombie stuff too.  And anything with Bruce Campbell in it.  Okay, some movies are decent.  Just not really scary ones.

Horror video games upset me, but mostly because my ex insisted on making me watch her play Fatal Frame and stuff when I really didn’t want to.  I liked some Silent Hill and Resident Evil, but only in small doses and only in daylight hours.  (So of course she insisted on all-night marathons with the lights turned off, and laughed when I got so scared I begged to be allowed to leave the room.  Because apparently I’m “cute” when I’m scared.  You know, the more I look back on my relationship, the more I realize how fucked-up it was.)

So I will spend this evening watching the new Ghostbusters, rewatching Nightmare Before Christmas, and cleaning off my yarn bins so I can put my new resin vulture skeleton on the silver platter with the painted zombie head and the black roses.  Because spooky is fun, even if I’m a giant chicken otherwise.

Mid-month update

I seem to be stuck updating biweekly…

Therapy: not as intense as last time, but stressful nonetheless.  Talked about how I dissociate so much, both deliberately and involuntarily.  How it makes me feel safer.  How when I cried happy tears the other day, I had no idea why my eyes were watery and it confused me, and how once I realized I was happy-crying I was even more confused because how could I not know that’s what I was doing?  I have serious mind/body disconnect issues, and I want to fix it.

Reading: Saturday I started reading a book that wasn’t fanfic.  Since then I’ve read four more books and am almost done with a fifth.  The last one I finished was a novel, which delighted me.  I want to read more fiction.  I hope this lasts for a while.  Oh, yeah, and three were paper books.  Maybe I need to switch back to physical books.  Yay for good libraries!

Biking: still at it.  I’m having to take shorter rides now, though, because long ones hurt my bad knee.  I have dual rear baskets now so I can run more nearby errands on my bike.  In a little bit I’ll be riding to my sister’s to babysit…

Crafting: My ex-MIL loved the washcloths I made for her birthday.  I finished the pillow for my nephew, only for him to tell me one of the colors was wrong.  (Never mind that he had picked it out.)  So I’m waiting on new yarn to come in.  I warped for my tunic but haven’t started weaving yet.  I haven’t finished the dishcloth I started a few days ago, because I’ve been reading so much.  I got the yarn for Mom’s birthday present (washcloths that match her bathroom decor) but haven’t started those.  (Gotta finish the dishcloth first, as it uses the same needles I need for the washcloths.)  Oh, and Friday I cut out all the pieces for the change purses I’m making.  Now I just need to figure out how to sew on the zippers.  Haven’t done any spinning in a couple of months.

Mental stuff: much less depressed.  Not napping often.  Not eating junk food.  Still dissociating but not as much.  So, better overall.  I’ve been having more good days than bad.  Never did hear back from Hillary’s campaign.  I should call again.

Also… this is going to sound weird and sad.  For the last couple of years I’ve only had a libido when really depressed.  Like, I only get myself off when I’m miserable, because when I feel better I’m not interested.  What does it say about me, that arousal is a sign of depression for me?  I get anhedonic except for lust, and even then I frequently feel desire without being able to do anything about it.  But today I got turned on while in a good mood.  It felt weird, but I’m happy about it.

Also, watching cisgender porn as a trans person is hard.  Because my private fantasies are always with me in a male body, and so sometimes gay porn is awesome, but then like today I wanted to see my own physiology reflected so I was watching straight porn.  Neither feels quite right, but there’s a lack of good trans BDSM porn featuring submissives whom I can identify with even a little.  Stupid transgender problem #873987984789375…

Upcoming plans: Thursday I finally see the dentist.  (My appointment was rescheduled because of the last hurricane.)  Pride festival is Saturday, and I’m going to go for at least a little while.  Next weekend I’m going to a craft fair with Mom and ex-MIL.  In November there will be hiking in Georgia.  And cello lessons!  I resume those on Nov. 3rd.

Cycling, therapy, cello, etc.

Cello: I have cancelled my lessons for the month of October.  I need to go to the dentist instead.  Joy.

Therapy: Today’s lesson dealt with some unpleasant shit from when I was a teenager.  It was kind of awful.  Afterwards I went to the Harn Museum of Art to make myself feel better.  Except, parking was $4 and I had no cash.  Sigh.

Depression: The Sunday before last I decided to try to get a part-time job, just stocking shelves at the grocery or something.  The stress of putting together my resume made me suicidally depressed for the next three days.  So that’s not really an option.  I’m trying to volunteer for Hillary’s campaign, but haven’t gotten a call back yet about when to come in.

Crafting: I’m knitting a pillow for my youngest nephew, and knitting three washcloths for my ex-MIL as a birthday gift.  Both projects are by request.  Today I set up a spreadsheet for planning weaving projects, and I really need to warp for my black and green tunic.  And do some sewing.  Can’t focus on anything that requires brain cells at the moment.

Reading: I’ve been so scattered I haven’t been able to read anything, even slash.  Annoying.

Cycling: padded bike underwear are awesome.  They feel like wearing a overnight-strength maxi pad, but because of them I’ve been able to ride two days in a row.  Nine miles yesterday, at the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail, and seven miles today, around my part of town.  It helps that it’s been in the low 70s in the mornings!  More about biking under the cut.

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Cycling, week one

I’ve been on three rides since my last post.  Two were at the Gainesville-Hawthorne Trail.  I was riding at the western (Gainesville) end, which is quite hilly for the first four miles or so.

My first time out, I went out to the Alachua Lake overlook, which is about 2.75 miles from the trailhead.  I was planning on continuing on, but I was having problems shifting so I just rode back to my car.  (I took it to the shop later.  I’d accidentally installed the base for my U-lock over the shifting cable.  Oops.  Easy fix, anyway.)

Second time, I rode out to the five-mile mark before turning around.  It is so, so, so beautiful out there.  There are different micro-ecosystems you pass through:  a forest, views of Payne’s Prairie, a sawgrass field, a hammock… and that was just the first 5 miles.  The trail is 16 miles long.  Next time (tomorrow, most likely) I’ll drive out to Hawthorne to try the eastern end.  It’s supposed to be flat, and I want to see how far I can go.  Eventually I would like to be able to ride the whole thing, all 32 miles of it, in one go.  I think it won’t take me too long to get there.  I mean, I can already do ten miles, and that’s the hilly part, and it was only my third bike ride so far.

My last ride, yesterday, was near my house.  Eight miles total.  Before I got a bike I was terrified to ride on roads, but yesterday I started on the sidewalk and then noticed how nice and wide the bike lanes were, and how little traffic there was…  Definitely easier than riding the sidewalk.  Although I wouldn’t do it in the dark, even after I get my lights for it.  Not that brave…

Right near my apartment is a scenic road a lot of Serious Cyclists like to ride on.  They all ride at the same time I like to ride or walk, so I’m used to seeing them every morning just after dawn. They ride the GHT, too.  They all have road bikes and are stick-skinny and go really fast.  I don’t want a road bike, I don’t want to dress all in Lycra and weave through traffic, but I can’t help but feel like a kid on a tricycle.  I got a basket for my handlebars, to carry my water and stuff in, and it’s very practical, but… kid on a tricycle.  Ugh.  I’m going to get a serious-looking commuter bag instead so I don’t look like such a dork.  Not as convenient for me as the basket, but I won’t feel as self-conscious…

Anyway.  I’ve ordered a pair of inexpensive padded shorts, because the only thing stopping me from riding every day is that my vulva gets sore every time I ride.  It’s getting easier, but if the shorts work I’ll buy a couple more pair so I can ride daily.  This morning I went for a walk, like I did every morning before getting the bike, and it was so boring in comparison.  I’m definitely hooked on cycling.

Divorced and cycling

On Tuesday, Sept. 6th, 2016, at 9:15am, I became a single person again.  So, so glad.  My ex was upset because her mom, my mom, and I were chatting happily while we waited for our turn before the judge.  We were making plans to see one another, gabbing about family and stuff, and completely ignoring Ex.  My ex-MIL likes me better than she likes her own child.  I should feel bad about that, but I don’t.

The day after, I went down to the local bike shop my sister likes, Bikes and More.  I’ve been eyeing a new bike for a while now.  I had a GT Aggressor hybrid and hated it, so I didn’t ride it for years.  At the shop I ordered a 2017 Raleigh Circa 1.

Circa 1 manufacturers photo

Circa 1 manufacturers photo

I picked it up yesterday.  The salesperson took me on a short ride to test my settings.  Several adjustments later, I was good to go.  It’s weird to not have my butt on the seat when I’m stopping and starting, but I’m getting the hang of doing it the right way.

This morning at 7am I went for my first real ride.  5.68 miles, fastest mile 9.0mph. So not terribly long or fast. Lots of fun though. Hopefully my crotch will stop hurting enough I can do it again tomorrow. (The seat is comfortable, I’m just not used to biking.)

It was more of a workout than I’d had in ages. I’ve been walking at least 3 miles a day, if y’all remember. I did it fast enough to get my heartbeat around 125bpm average, topping out at 142 or so. With the bike I got to about the same, but it was using very different muscles. And more of them! I wasn’t expecting to feel it in my biceps. My core is also achy, which is awesome. I need that.

I did have to double back for my helmet, having forgotten it.  I was a little shaky at first, but then it was like flying and I was in love.  I have some technique stuff I need to work on.  Besides starting and stopping more smoothly, I need to remember to pedal with the ball of my foot and not the arch.  And get better at stabilizing with one hand so I can make hand signals more easily.  But yeah, it was awesome.  Happy divorce to me!

Fan fiction through the lens of schizoaffective disorder

Until my breakdown at age 23, I read a shitload of fiction.  I’ve always been a big reader, but back then it was mostly novels.  After I started recovering enough to read again, I found I could only read non-fiction.  And I’ve figured out over the years why I can read some things but not others.

I don’t trust my brain.  I can’t.  For too many years it lied to me about what was and was not reality.  Novels require too much imagination.  I get lost.  It makes me deeply uncomfortable.  So instead I took up weird history books, because history is (more or less) true stories.  I still get to enjoy a good tale, but it’s a tale based in reality.

But about a year ago, I discovered I can read fan fiction.  It was a huge breakthrough for me.  It doesn’t require as much imagination, you see.  I already know what the characters look and sound like, because I’ve seen them in comics or films or television shows.  I know how the rules of their universe work.  I know they are played by real people.  So I can lose myself in fanfic, because I don’t completely lose myself.  Fanfic leaves me an anchor to the real world.  And I adore it for that.

I can also read comics for the same reason — I can see the characters and their world, so I don’t get lost.  I don’t have to trust my brain to fill in the imagery, because it’s right there on the page.  I read a fair amount of comics these days, but most of them are short reads.  For long reads I like novel-length fanfic works, if they’re written well.  And many are.  Ao3 has been a lifesaver, in terms of new reading material.

Sometimes I try to read regular novels.  I do.  But it’s incredibly difficult for me.  I’m so lucky I have other options.  Because stories are wonderful things, and I’d hate to not be able to read any at all.

Energy is back!

Since my last post, I went back up on my Trintellix.  (Which used to be called Brintellix, but it sounded too much like some other drug — Brillenta, I think? — so they recently changed it.)  I am happy to report more energy and more Getting Shit Done.  In the last two days, anyway.  It’s a start.

I have a skirt.  It’s ankle-length and black.  My sister got it for me yesterday at Target, as I’ve had the weird urge to wear one lately.  I put it on with a black T-shirt and my purple Docs, and I didn’t feel even slightly feminine.  Gender-bendy as fuck, instead, which is exactly what I wanted.  I look transmasculine/androgynous even with the skirt on.  It’s lovely.  It really brings home my personal definition of genderqueer: my brain leans more towards female even though I feel gender dysphoria about my body and want it to be a cis male’s.  “Gender dysphoria” is a misnomer, really.  My gender is fine.  I am very happy with it.  It’s my body that’s wrong.  So shouldn’t it be called “sex dysphoria” instead?  At any rate, I want to paint my fingernails and toenails black sometime soon.  And buy some boxer briefs to wear under the skirt.  Thigh chafing hurts.

Hurricane Hermine: why didn’t they call it Hermione?  It would have been so much cooler that way.  Anyway, we lost power several times during the night, but it always came back on within ten minutes or so.  My mom’s room is in the back of the apartment, and mine at the front; our rooms are the same size, as are our windows, but the placement of the rooms meant she couldn’t hear anything but rain.  I, on the other hand, spent all night listening to howling winds try to break my window.  It wasn’t scary, just annoying because I was trying to sleep.  If it had been daytime I would have enjoyed the sounds, but by two in the morning I was ready to get out my isolation headphones.  (I wasn’t the only one listening to the storm.  Several of my local friends were also awake and posting on Facebook at that hour.)  We weren’t damaged, our cars weren’t damaged (despite being under a giant tree), and we didn’t even lose internet for very long.  A lot of locals got it worse; when I went to get my hair cut Saturday, there were women there talking about not having their power back until that morning.

And now, for some goth shopping: Joanns has these cool 16″ vulture skeletons and I want one so bad.  Or the owl ones, the owl ones are badass, but more expensive.  I don’t want them enough to pay $30-40 for one, but damn they’re cool.

Boneyard Vulture at Joanns

Oh fuck, just looked at their site, to get a pic to share, and their Halloween stuff is 40% off.  It can go next to the head-on-a-silver-platter, which still resides on my bedroom dresser.  That really was a good idea, I think.  Which reminds me, I still need wall art for my room.  I should probably get that instead of the vulture, but I can buy art posters all year round.  Ooh, they have a small tombstone for $4.  My dresser is going to look awesome.  My wallet always hates me in the fall, because ALL THE HALLOWEEN STUFF!!!

One other little DIY project I want to do is get a bendy black Halloween spider and make it a tiny bit of knitting-in-progress and bend the front legs so it looks like the spider’s knitting.  I’ll give it teeny needles and everything.  Maybe stick it on a black wreath for the front door.  Spiders spin, and mine will knit as well.  Maybe the knitting will be from that fake cobweb stuff?  Oooooh.

Oh oh oh — I can buy fake black roses this time of year, too.  Neeeeeed.  Okay, shutting up about Halloween goodies now.  But when Eris (my kleptomaniacal black kitty) starts walking around the house with a black rose in his teeth, I will totally be taking photos.  (And, if they’re any good, using them as profile pictures in my online haunts.)

Knitting: the green and black shirt continues, in off moments.  My main project is place mats for the dining table.  They are bright yellow, in a basic basketweave pattern.  When Mom and I moved into this apartment, most of her decorating stuff was blue and yellow so we stuck with it.  Happily, the paintings on the walls look like Tim Burton took drugs (happy ones) and painted them.  So at least a little of the living room is to my taste.

Spinning, weaving, and sewing: haven’t done any of it since the last post.

Cello: not since Monday or so.  As I said, I’ve only been feeling better for two days.  Mom just left for a party, though, so I’ll play while she’s gone.  I feel weird about playing with her here, because I feel like it has to be annoying to hear me play the same thing over and over.  Especially when it’s the same three or four notes over and over…

Okay, enough babbling.  I think I need to go buy a vulture skeleton now…

Cello, crafting, and other updates

When I made my last post (August 8th, ouch) I was doing well and had some energy and… I hate medication changes.  My Trintellix dosage has been titrated to half of what it was, and I think maybe I need to go back up.

Today (technically yesterday, it’s 1:30am right now) I had my first cello lesson in a few weeks.  I hadn’t played since my last lesson.  Bad Switch, no cookie.  But it was good.  Toward the end we were doing a duet of the Jenny Lind Polka, and my conscious mind was just gone.  It was an odd feeling.  I had been lightheaded, and I just… see note, play note, no thinking.  It’s not like I was lost in the music, but rather the opposite; like autopilot.

Overall I’ve lost ground, and have to have tape for my fourth finger position again.  On the positive side, it helps me get into second position, although much to my amusement I did better at shifting once I stopped looking at my fingers.  Yay for having a good ear.  She decided that since pretty much every piece I’ve played in the Suzuki books lately has been bouncy, I get to do something more legato.  So I’m on the chorus from Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus.”  I think I’m going to throw in some vibrato.  I haven’t practiced that in a while.

Oh, and last lesson we worked on the Peter Murphy song.  I need to finish it, still.

Crafting: I had started knitting an afghan for someone but changed my mind three balls in.  So I sent the yarn back and have been focusing on the green and black shirt.  It’s going to take a while: size six needles and a 54″ chest.  Yeah, it’s a long-haul kind of project.  Also doing some spinning.  Haven’t used the sewing machine in a couple of weeks.  Too much effort, given my emotional exhaustion.  Knitting is as easy as picking up needles. I keep my spinning wheel next to my chair in the living room, and it requires no other tools.  For sewing I have to clear the place settings off the dining table, get all the sewing gear out, make the thing(s) I want to make, pack all of it back up, and reset the table.  I understand now why people have “sewing rooms.”  I have three projects I want to do, two little ones (zippered change purses) and a big one (tote bag for my mom), and I think I can get all of it done fairly quickly if I can find the energy for setup and breakdown.  But when I spend a week trying (and failing) to get up the spoons to go to the grocery store, sewing is just too much.

Other stuff:

I’ve been disappearing into daydreams involuntarily, even more than usual.  Yesterday it was so intrusive that it was exhausting and I had to sleep just to shut my brain up for a while.  Ugh.  Hopefully I will improve soon.  I’m tired of not being able to focus on anything else.

I had signed up for a college class, like I said I would, but because of money issues I dropped it.  I’ll start putting extra in my savings account so I can try again in spring.

I’ve done the research I need for my novel, but see above re: spoons.

Okay, bedtime…