Author Archives: Grayson

Magick and racism

There are huge amounts of cultural appropriation in occult circles. So many magickal traditions base themselves on ancient Egyptians, Native Americans, Indian gurus, or “Gypsies” (which is the Romany equivalent of the n-word, so don’t use it. Ever). They romanticize non-white spiritual practices while simultaneously not giving a shit about the people of that culture. Sure, there are things that can be learned from those groups, same as knowledge of any subject can come from many sources. But (for example) writing off modern Egyptians as being “Muslim terrorists” while simultaneously believing that the ancient Egyptians held all the sacred wisdom is insulting and racist. And you see that a lot in some occult circles, especially ones rooted in European traditions like the Golden Dawn. 

Part of it comes from a desire for continuity — following a trail of secret knowledge established in prehistory, the wisdom of the ancients. But a lot of it is just a racist penchant for the exotic, codified into “tradition” by Victorian whites. It bugs the hell out of me.  

(I brought this up with an Egyptian-American friend last week, as I’ve been thinking about it a lot. She says she’s had people ask her who the current Pharoah is. WTF, white people?)

(In)visibility

Bisexual/pansexual erasure is weird.  I was married to someone with a penis for 11 years, a man when I met them and a woman when I left.  When my spouse was a man, people were constantly surprised that I was in a “straight” marriage.  Regardless of what gender I’ve identified as over the course of my life, I’ve always looked like what many cishet people think a lesbian looks like.

Oddly, when I identified as female and was dating mostly men, I had a number of gay people get mad at me because they assumed I was a lesbian.  Like I was co-opting the look of queer women.  Um… wasn’t trying to look gay, just went with what I felt comfortable with.  Also, I dated women as well.  But, you know, bisexuals don’t exist.  (I called myself bisexual until a few years ago, when the word pansexual started to be better known.  As someone frequently attracted to those outside the gender binary, it seems more fitting.)

A few weeks ago I started sleeping with a cis woman.  She is also pansexual, but we get perceived as a lesbian couple when we’re out and about.  I started thinking about this last night, when we were at a birthday party for a friend of hers.  Her friends know she’s pan, so it’s not that they were jumping to conclusions.  But we were being physically affectionate, and it occurred to me that most people would assume things.  I don’t particularly care about being perceived as a lesbian, although I find it hilarious because I’m not even a woman, but the fact that bi/pansexual erasure exists does bother me.  Most people see two female-presenting people being affectionate and assume “lesbian”.  That’s irritating.

But, then, I sort of did it too.  There were two women at the party who were obviously infatuated with each other, and seemed like a perfect couple.  And I was surprised later to find out neither had dated women before they got together.  One of them came across as pretty butch, you see, and I jumped to a conclusion about her myself.  And then had to laugh, because I’d done the same thing I get annoyed at other people for doing to me.

Life is a constant learning experience, isn’t it?  Or at least it should be.  I got a gentle lesson in making my own assumptions, so it makes it a little easier to understand why others assume things and how much I need to work on myself.  So thank you, universe.  I needed that.

What do I want?

I have a problem.  I find the universe way, way too interesting.  Which means I get very scattered with my desires to learn and do things.  I’ve never been the sort of person who could commit to one field or one avocation at a time.  But the list of things I want to learn is getting too out of hand.  I need to choose just one or two things and focus on them for a bit.

List of things I’ve been trying to learn:

  • More cello (i.e., resume my lessons)
  • Drawing
  • Catch up on new web development technologies (I was a webdev back in the late 90s)
  • Spanish and Arabic

Do I want to go to grad school for library science, or try for a PhD in statistics?  Or should I just get a part-time job and wait to go back to school?  I need to make more time for my tapestry weaving, and for reading things other than fanfic.  And I want to take calculus, chemistry and physics classes at the community college, just because I never got the chance in high school.  But I need to leave time for cycling and hiking, and I want to travel, and and and…

You see why I get so scattered.  I get to spend some time thinking about what I really want, what my true Will is.  And it doesn’t help that the mental illness shows up to the party and renders me useless on a regular basis.  Argh.

The Snake and the Butterfly

Has it really been five months since I last updated this blog?  Wow.  So much has changed, for the better.  I’ll do a longer update later today, but I’ve been composing this entry in my head for the last 45 minutes and I want to get it down before I lose it.  Sorry if this is a little disjointed.  My head’s all over the place at the moment.

In 2005 I went on Lamictal.  I’ve mentioned it here before.  It’s a mood stabilizer and anti-seizure drug.  I was on the maximum dosage from early 2006 until October 2016, as I wrote in my last post.  I’m now down to about half the dose I was taking.  And as I was driving home today, I got a sneaking suspicion that two things were correlated.  When I got back to my computer, I looked in my old journals to check same dates.  And my suspicion was proven correct.

I used to be very, very active on LiveJournal.  My old journal is still there.  I posted in 2005 about starting Lamictal, then the dose going up over the next few months.  A few weeks after I hit the maximum dosage I posted to LJ that I was quitting magick.

I used to be really, really into the occult.  A chaos mage, using Thelema as my primary framework, but with a handful of other techniques and theories thrown in.  I got interested around puberty.  By the time I hit legal drinking age, I was doing something magickal at least daily, even just 10 minute meditation-type rituals.  I kept it up until I was 30.  Which was 2006.

A couple of months ago, after I reached a lower dosage of the drug, I found myself dusting off my old collection of magick books.  Charging sigils.  Reading new books on the subject.  Talking to old friends who told me privately that yes, they still believe.  Not really practicing myself, but the intent was there.  Then last week I met a Thelemite, and my budding friendship with her seems like the exact right thing at the exact right time.  So yeah, magick.

There are two ways to look at the Lamictal correlation.  From a skeptic’s point of view, the medication gave me clarity and it’s dimming with my dosage decrease.  From a mage’s perspective, the drug dimmed the clarity I already had.  At the moment I feel like reality is overlapping layers, like transparencies on a projector: the objective and the subjective.  They line up almost perfectly, but it’s still uncomfortable to look at.  (Not literally look at.  I’m not seeing things.  It’s just a simile.)

There’s a maxim in chaos magick that says it doesn’t matter why something works, so long as it does work.  For example: if I do a working to get myself a job, and I get a job quickly, it worked.  It doesn’t matter whether it worked for esoteric reasons or because doing the working gave me the confidence to apply for something I normally wouldn’t have tried for.  It still worked.  So I think I’m going to take that approach.  Augmenting reality, not replacing it.

What started this train of thought was something strange that happened on a bike ride this morning.  My friend K and I were riding through the woods on a paved trail.  She asked me if I’d ever seen any snakes out there.  I never had.  Suddenly there was one right next to my front tire.  I didn’t hit it.  It was long, thin, green and silver lengthwise stripes.  K checked to make sure it was alive.  It was.  It was just sunning itself on the asphalt, totally chill.

We started riding again.  She joked that she’d summoned it by talking about snakes.  I said if we were going to summon animals, we should try for butterflies or–

My sentence was cut off by a butterfly swooping down to fly right between us.  Two more landed on the trail before us.

It was a really weird moment for both of us.  We laughed, said we were magic, joking around.  But there seemed to be something in that strange second when the butterfly flitted between our handlebars.  Magick.  Even if it’s all in my head, it still feels beautiful.

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!