What are You Unpacking Today?

I initiated a conversation elsewhere on privilege with the prompt “What privilege are you unpacking today?” … One person responded, perhaps out of discomfort or lack of understanding – “Love wins. That is all” To which I responded, “Love needs help.”

So what are you unpacking today? And how far will you go to help love win?

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Fucking Anxiety

I’m a tense ball of unexpected over-reactions.  Triggered by innocuous statements and requests, my body goes from normal to super-heated and covered in sweat. I don’t smell right when that happens.  I don’t feel right.

I’m tired of the fight-or-flight cycle that never seems to let up for very long.  When I wake up, there are usually a few moments of peaceful calm before the worry-storm overtakes me again.  Am I doing enough?  Will it be over soon?  Will it work this time? Can I hold steady? Why is it so hard to breathe?

Every day is a fucking roller-coaster.  Good news … even somewhat positive news, sends me up.  Woooh!  I’m on top again!  And it doesn’t even take bad news to bring me rushing down. Lack of information will do it.  When will I hear?  Requests for my time, attention and commitment can send me into a tail-spin of doubt and anxiety. Just writing that out caused me to go into a full-body sweat again.  This is more exposure than I’ve ever given my anxieties and that is making me more anxious and yet… and yet, hiding this hasn’t made it go away.  I’m willing to try something new.

Even with that resolve in place, the internal fight rages on.

I don’t want to be like this!  This is not me! This is not the me I want to be! This is not how I want people to see me!

And yet, here I am.

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Live on Patreon Now

I am live on Patreon now as  OlyFictionWriter, on Patreon.  My current subscription levels are $5, $50, $100 per month.  All subscribers will gain access to patron-only videos and other special content.

I have some simple rewards in place for each level of subscriber.  I’m open to feedback and additional ideas.  Please go check out the page and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

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Getting Patreon Up and Running

I am almost ready to unveil my Patreon account – a cool way for artists and creators to get financial support for their work through subscriptions.  To begin with, I’ll have 3 monthly subscription levels and a simple list of rewards.

For those who can’t do a monthly subscription or want to contribute in some other way, I’ve got a PayPal account and you are welcome to contribute at whatever level and any time that you desire – and you will be eligible for contributor rewards.  As you are making that contribution, please note that you are contributing under the ‘friends and family’ account type and to include this in the note field “Contribution to the OlyFictionWriter” and include your name if you like.  I will respond to you through the email address connected to your PayPal account to give you access to contributor rewards.

 

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Nobody’s Perfect

There are no perfect heroes and no perfect villains.  Not really.  That’s where the interesting meat of story writing is.  It’s in discovering the dark secret shame of the hero and the villain’s soft spot.  It’s in the recognition that everyone is the hero of their own story, so what happens when two narratives collide?  It’s not always easy to determine who is the hero and who is the villain.

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Rising Waters

When I experience anxiety attacks, it feels like claustrophobia. My breathing becomes rapid and shallow and I feel like the walls are closing in.  The other analogy is that the water is rising and I’m struggling to keep my head above the water.  I don’t experience panic and anxiety like this as a general part of my life, unlike others.  I do experience it a lot when I’m stressed and overwhelmed.  Which is why these attacks have become a nearly daily experience in the recent weeks.  I’m unemployed.  I have three other people dependent on my ability to earn.  I worry about health insurance and the mortgage and feel bad that we weren’t able to get the eldest a cheap car to drive to college classes that will start soon. Though this load is not mine alone to carry – I have a partner – I have been the sole earner for over 8 years now.  My partner is anxious about getting a job after so long away from the workforce.  We are both watching spending like hawks.

Among other things racing through my head in moments of panic are thoughts about my value as a partner and parent when I can’t do the one thing I’ve taken responsibility for all these years.  I worry about something big happening, something expensive.  I worry about a lot of things and I know my wife worries and I know we aren’t expressing all of the worry we have to each other.

Someone said, “Hey, since you have time, you can do a lot of writing!”  It was meant to be helpful and hopeful, an optimistic take on my current situation.  And of course, I would love to take advantage of the hours I have now that I will surely be wishing for once I get back to the daily work grind.  The problem is, it’s not that easy.  I have plenty of projects to work on and plenty of incentive to do the work.  I have great ideas and great characters.  I also have stress and anxiety dogging my every step.  It’s hard to focus on creative projects when a growing chorus of voices in my head are nagging me about the job search. I want to escape into my writing and creating but those nagging voices follow me like a mother nagging the kids about their homework.

Yesterday, after yet another anxiety attack, I decided that having plans and tangible goals would be a good thing and help combat the sense of flailing and drifting I’ve had lately.  Today, I’m going to record my Patreon video and a reading of the story ‘Firm’ which will get me to the point where I can launch my Patreon page. I’m hoping that by giving myself assignments that are attainable, it will help me combat the feeling of helplessness I have with regard to all the unknowns and lack of power I have over my employment situation.

Back to anxiety attacks for the moment.  This is what I am doing to help get through them and come out the other side:

Belly breathing – taking deep slow breaths that inflate my belly; inhaling through my nose and exhaling through my mouth.  This helps ground me in my body and interrupts the panic response of shallow breathing which can in turn lead to more panic.

Taking walks – even if it’s just out to my yard, getting up and moving helps to interrupt the negative talk and gives me the opportunity to introduce positive thoughts and images.  Standing up and stretching are also helpful.

Drinking water/combating dehydration – though I haven’t cut back on my caffeine intake via coffee, I’ve upped my water intake and dropped my alcohol intake.

What do you do to combat or get through anxiety and panic attacks?  Do you mind sharing?

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Fucking Awesome

You know who’s fucking awesome?  Red is.

Red is a muse extraordinaire.

Red is sexy as fuck.

Red is solid and strong and Rawwrrrr!

Red is a wicked sadist with a dollar store bag of nasty tricks.

Red is a multitude of sexy, taboo, amazing characters rolled into one gorgeous body.

Red offers the masochism I need and encourages my sadism to grow and deepen.

Red knows me very well.

Red makes me feel safe when the world is spinning.

Red encourages me to write and knows I will do amazing things as a writer.

Red is my best friend.

Red loves me like no other.

Red is sweet when I need them to be.

Red is very patient when I have to stumble along and discover things at my own pace.

Red is very inspiring. Sometimes I am damp all day because of that inspiration.

Red calls me on my shit and trusts that I will get it together.

Red is an amazing cuddler.

Red has a beautiful big body covered with sweet soft skin that feels so good against mine.

Red is handsome and beautiful.

Red is extremely fuckable.

Red hits hard.

Red can knock the wind out of me one minute and caress me like a butterfly wing the next.

Red can also take the hits.

Red is very tasty.

Red is one of my very favorite humans history of ever.

Red is a necessary ingredient in my life.

Red is a pleasure I can’t live without.

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Red, I love you.

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Video Update 7/27/2016

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Mean People Suck

I haven’t forgotten about my blog or you wonderful readers.  I’m in the midst of some very challenging times with regard to my employment.  I am hoping to get back to regular posting soon.

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Trans*date 07.11.2016: My New Name is Two Years Old

Two years ago on 7/11/2014, I rechristened myself with a new legal name.  A month before that, I’d started taking testosterone. At the urging of some friends, I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned about myself, about transition, and about being transgender during the past two years.

1. The excitement of Whisker Watch wears off.  I don’t remember when it happened, but I do remember how eagerly I inspected my face every day, and how much I celebrated each new evidence of growth. And then I noticed that I had a bunch of new hairs that I hadn’t noticed while they were growing.  The obsession was over.  Also, about shaving: the first few times, shaving was an exciting adventure and a bit intimidating and now it’s something I have to remind myself to do – or get reminded about, as in, “Mommy, your face is too scratchy!” or Red noticing that I missed a patch on my neck.  When I do shave, I enjoy it, especially since I got a shaving kit from Red and can make luscious foam to put on my face.  I do my best to just shave the cheeks and leave my sideburns, chin strap and goatee in place - I’m not planning to shave it all off the way I did last November… sheesh, my chin does not look right bare naked like that.

2. Knowing ahead of time that you will probably lose your hair does not make it easier to clean out the shower drain every morning. The whorl at the back of my head is getting more and more bare, and the top is thinning in an alarming way.  I noticed that my dad at mid 20s had a hairline like mine and I know what happened to his hair.  Yikes.  The fact that I have hair on my chest, belly, shoulders and upper back in abundance does not really help me feel better about a future where my head bare.

3. I sometimes miss my old face. I have a ton of pictures from the past 8 years, so I have plenty to compare to.  Before testosterone, I’d look at my face and see all the feminine markers, the large eyes, the soft edges, the full lips.  I would sometimes see the handsome masculine side and I would cherish those momentary glimpses while wishing they would last longer.  Now my face hardly ever shows its feminine side.  Every morning, I look in the mirror and say hello to a man in his middle age.  Sure, he’s got a rather fleshy chest, but the hairline, the beard, the shape of his face is unmistakably masculine.  I’m told it’s a handsome face and yet, sometimes, I feel a bit of longing for my old face.  I can look at it now and see more of the masculine, more of the handsome.  I sometimes wish testosterone had simply planted hair on that face without changing the shape.  I also sometimes look at pictures of myself when I was much younger and have a similar longing, wishful thinking that I had appreciated what I had, when I had it.

4. I often miss my old voice. I used to open my throat in song with utter, unabashed confidence and joy. I could do it without thinking and know I’d hit the notes.  Now I’m hesitant.  I don’t know my instrument any more.  It cracks and shifts at unexpected places.  I haven’t done karaoke in over two years – I used to jump on stage with a mic whenever I had the chance.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my T influenced speaking voice and there are times when I sing and feel that deeper vibration and enjoy myself.  However, I have lost a lot with regard to singing.  I can’t soar in multiple octaves any more or hit those amazing rock and roll notes of Robert Plant and Ann Wilson at full volume.  I am not confident yet in my new singing voice.  And I wish I had more recordings of myself before. That’s a bonafide regret.

5. Neither of those previous 3 items add up to overall regret about my choices.  I don’t regret my choice to take testosterone.  I don’t think it was a mistake.  I acknowledge that the changes I’ve undergone as a result of my choices has resulted in some losses, and I embrace those feelings along with the feelings of joy and self-acceptance.

6. I am not comfortable with my newly garnered male privilege.  Yes, it greases the wheels in a way that makes my life easier. I can now man-ditto and be validated, even though I’m just repeating something someone else said.  I immediately have more authority just by the virtue of being perceived male.  It’s gross.  I am sometimes not as aware of it as I’d like to be.  The advantages are still unexpected and I don’t always catch it when it happens. I spent most of my life not having that advantage and I don’t particularly want it now.  I can’t relate to it, it’s alien and unwarranted. And because I automatically get respect based on maleness, it feels artificial and less satisfying – it’s not a respect based on things I’m actually doing.  I have (a lot) more to say on that in another post in the near future.

7. I don’t cringe when I see my old name any more. I used to wince, and cringe and curse when mail came with my old name on it.  It was a phase, apparently.  I don’t want to be addressed using that name by people who know better, that’s still going to result in a glare and maybe a curse word.  But that’s not about hating my old name or wanting to erase it.  I haven’t changed my diplomas or my birth certificate, or that of my children.  I don’t want to pretend I never had a different name.  I’m not ashamed to have had that name, it just doesn’t fit me any more.  Like the clothing I’ve purged from my closet and the pronouns I lived with for the first 50 years of my life.  That name is just much me as my new name is – it holds space for a huge chunk of my life experience and is a kind of time machine for when I want to go back and revisit the past.

8. I want brotherhood without misogyny.  Here’s where a lot of my current struggle is.  I am recognized as male everywhere now.  There are occasional weird moments with people who knew me before and after who slip up with my name or my pronouns but those are the rare exceptions.  Everywhere I go I am ‘sirred’, ‘Mistered’ and treated with that little extra respect our society still reserves for men.  I love it and I hate it at the same time.  I don’t trust it and I understand it to be evidence of my male privilege – something that wasn’t on my list of reasons for transitioning.  Whether I wanted it or not, I have it now and I feel guilty about that.  I want and crave the camaraderie of other masculine people.  And I cringe and feel offended at the casual misogyny that gets thrown around in conversation among men. I know that I’m expected to wink and nod back.  But I don’t.  And I feel distinctly like an outsider when I don’t play along.  What I think that means is I need to keep being selective about where I seek that brotherhood, so I can find like minded men.

9. I feel more myself than I have for most of my life. Even though my voice still doesn’t feel entirely mine yet, and my face catches me by surprise sometimes and I have a whole lot of new privilege I didn’t ask for – I still feel more *me* than ever.  I am not someone else’s definition of man or woman, I am my own creation – at least in my head.  From the outside, well, we can’t control how we’re perceived.  That’s frustrating and unfair. And I’m still figuring out how to articulate my insides to the outside world.  That’s probably going to be a lifelong project.  If I had it all to do over again, there are a very few things I’d have done differently, but I would still have started taking testosterone and changed my name.

My name feels very me, it fits and I love the sound of it when people use it.  Pronouns sometimes catch me by surprise.  Not that ‘she’ would ever work at this point, but ‘he’ sometimes sounds odd too. Maybe I won’t ever feel completely at home with pronouns.

Two years ago, when I started down this fork in the road, I was excited, nervous and afraid.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t like all of the changes that were coming.  Well, as it turns out, there are some things I don’t care for.  And it turns out that I’m OK.  Even with the hair loss and having my singing voice change so much and not being sure about my face all the time.  I’m OK and I like myself and I like where my life is leading.  Which is a good lesson to remember the next time I’m fearful of change.

 

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