raybear: (collapsed)
I enjoy watching major cultural events, preferably on television, in my house, alone. Like the Oscars! So this morning I got that wish, and I wasn't really expecting much, just something in the background while I puttered around online. But remember back in November after the election when I talked about how I was still expecting to have a good cry? Not because I am the number one Obama fan or anything, but just because, ohmyjeezus, the past 8 years have just exactly as bad as I thought they'd be when the 2000 election went down the way it did (rememeber when middle-of-the-road people called us alarmists?), and I knew I needed to release some of that. It never really happened. Until this morning. I was watching them announce all the former presidents with their various congressperson entourages, seeing Clinton try so badly to catch Laura Bush's eye to shake hands while she snubbed him, marvelling at how zombie like the group around Bush was, and then they cut to Obama just walking down the hallway, towards the doorway to be announced, and I lost it. Lost it, lost it. Didn't stop. Laughed at myself for still sobbing, but didn't curb it. The dog came over and sat next to be on the couch and tried to lick my face, which is often what she does when I'm sad (it is astoundingly cute and sweet, when not annoying and intrusive). Then the wave passed and I went back to being the cynical romantic, or the romantic cynic.

I went to therapy today, and my last session a few weeks ago felt kinda weird, like he was graduating me, so I wasn't sure at first what that meant, but as soon as I got there, I knew that I wanted to work on all my writerly neurosis now. It felt like a needed shift, a good step forward. And gods know, I could use some help in that arena. So now I have to help communicate to him how my creative process works and he can offer feedback on the personal psychological aspects that cause blocks. He gave me writing homework that I don't want to do, but I know will be helpful. But I also feel a little cautious about sharing some of that with him, a non-writer, since usually I only talk about the indepth process (and struggles) with other trusted artist types I know. On the other hand, I've always wanted my writing mentors to be my life coach/parental figure/therapist, so this might work out just fine.

At work recently, a couple people have asked if I've lost weight, and I say excitedly, "no! I've GAINED weight!" which is true because I am chest pressing 125 pounds, mtherfckers!! I love strength training so much, its way more physically and psychologically appealing to add things to my body, then obsess about shrinking it.

I really wish they'd stop playing the section of Obama's speech saying "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off" because then I start singing "....and start all over again" and get the song stuck in my head.
raybear: (red)
This probably isn't a huge surprise, but I really love Kate Bush. Well, I love Kate Bush's music. There is a documentary dvd something about her that's been on my netflix queue for years and it sometimes works its way close to the top, but I always bump it down. I think I worry it will be boring or tedious or she will somehow be even more weird that I already know her to be and will completely turn me off from her music. I have this with lots of creative mediums, when I get to know the artist exclusively through their work and not at all through their biography, and then I sometimes get scared to learn about their real-life at all and decide that really, its best to only absorb the art/music/words for what they are themselves and not know anything about the creator at all. Which completely contradicts the fact that are certain artists who I'm very intrigued and interested in not only their creative process but also their personal life. (This also reminds me of when [livejournal.com profile] wearemany visited and told me Chuck Palahniuk was gay and I was floored, even though I've read 2/3 of the man's catalog.) I'm a hermeneutics-relativist. I am also a big nerd because I just made up that term to describe myself. But that's not a huge surprise either.

I got home last night and felt super anxious about being home alone and no longer around people to distract me, so I watched a movie. Specifically I watched 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days which is maybe an odd choice to watch while feeling raw, but sometimes I feel like rather than distract in a light fashion, I'd prefer to just go all the way there and watch something brutal. And that movie is brutal, but not in the way I thought. I'd sort of been dragging my heels on watching it, kinda like I do with most movies in that category of 'should watch' but seem so emotionally pornographic and possible problematic for those reasons (e.g. Hotel Rwanda, Schindler's List, etc.) but this movie was not what I was expecting. I mean, its still wrenching, but for these different reasons, and it was powerfully done in ways that are not usually conveyed in films -- its not in the least bit histrionic, but its actually more painful because its really just staying in the moment of these people experiencing or absorbing trauma(s). I recently watched Michael Haneke's Funny Games, the american remake, and fck, that guy is brutal as a director. Brilliant, too, but at what cost? I don't know. But I'm realizing, oh maybe I like those movies. I mean, 'like' is a relative term. How can I say I 'liked' Dogville and Manderlay? Unless you defined the word 'like' as: I wanted to vomit then take a hot shower and/or kill myself afterwards but I can't stop thinking about the performances and ideas and stories AT ALL and I'm dying to talk about it with someone else who's seen it but I could never in millions and millions of years every recommend someone watch them. Then hell yeah, I 'liked' them. But anyway, 4 Months, etc. is intense but not nearly as assaulting as the other movies I've mentioned, and I appreciated the themes more and that it focused on a woman, on women, and that it wasn't totally misogynistic, which is often the problem with most brutal movies, they always seem to brutalize women unequally, which, even politics aside (which I don't think HAVE to be pushed aside either), creatively seems kinda lazy to me.

In Other NewsTM, I spent almost the entire weekend around people and I think it was sort of necessary because I was kinda freaking out after going to the doctor on Friday and he told me his assessment of my rash is that I have discoid lupus, which is essentially lupus of the skin, which is essentially my immune system is attacking my skin, which means I'm causing the rash myself. I'm mean, quasi-metaphorically speaking, as is my thinking on a bad day/hour. Its not confirmed, he took lots of blood to have myself tested (also for systemic lupus, which is generally what people mean when they say 'lupus'), and I still have a dermatologist appointment for next week (at a different place than the I-Don't-Know-What dermatologist of two weeks ago) and I suspect they will skin biopsy as well. But honestly, it kinda feels right. It explains the non-responsiveness to all antibacterial and antifungal type treatments. It explains why it receded when I got sick, then came back stronger after (because my immune system was too busy fighting the flu to fight my own skin, thanks). It explains the face rash on my nose and cheeks that looks completely different from the rash on the rest of my body. It explains the intense flares of it after being in the sun. It explains why it seems to be doing lots better after applying steroid cream once and doing lots and lots of moisturizing -- I had been letting it dry out last week because I thought the dampness was making it itchy, but drying turned out to make me feel more miserable. So now when you see me in person, I will conceivably smell like coconut, because I am in love with rubbing that isht all over myself to get rid of the dryness and smell delicious in the process. Its also nice to have found something that makes me feel more pleased about my body and not so dissociated, which is what has been happening the longer this rash has gone on. So, who knows maybe in two weeks I'll be writing on here again saying, wait, no, its not scarlet fever, nor fungal infection, nor discoid lupus, its _____. But I sure hope not. Because as scary and troubling as discoid lupus seems to me in certain moments (there is a small but not statistically insignificant risk that is could lead to systemic lupus), its certainly not as bad as other things. It will probably involve lots of topical steroids and maybe even oral ones for a short period to make this outbreak go away, and then just ongoing monitoring/prevention.

I am excited to someday soon have back that 35% of my brain and emotional energy that seems to currently be permanently devoted to this problem. I'm glad that at least I care enough about all of you to not turn this into a total rash blog.
raybear: (scream)
I woke up Wednesday morning sick as hell. But the rash was fading! I went in for my acupuncture treatment and went home with herbs and only barely made it home and in the door, I was so woozy. Then I was crazy feverish sick for the next 6 hours. I mean, whoa. I probably would have sent scary fever-induced missives via text or twitter or e-mail but I could hardly move which is just as well. I watched a movie with Demi Moore instead. And the rash was fading! Then the next day, the flu-ish was mostly gone except for tonsils swelling. Now today, even that is gone and my energy is at nearly 100%. And the rash....is back to flaming red and possibly spreading on my right leg, but really, I don't even know anymore, I can't look at it objectively. Its also back on my face. There was sobbing. There were some phone calls. Its being handled. I repeat, its being handled. I also had a raw therapy session this morning which probably didn't really help my case. I've calmed down significantly. I'm at work. I found two miniature candy bars in my drawer that I left for myself on Tuesday. Thanks, past self.

But there are numerous pleasant things I'm starting to turn my attention on. One, the mix CD that the lawyer I have a crush on made for me. Ok, its not really a "mix CD". Its more that we got into a conversation about music and traded band names and I made him a copy of several albums and vice versa. Two, eating pollo campero tonight for dinner with [livejournal.com profile] dommeyourass. Three, going to the forest preserve tomorrow morning with [livejournal.com profile] jethead. Four, going to roller derby tomorrow night with lots of favorite people.

However, there's something else that has been torturing me these past few days, possibly even more than this damn rash. Anytime I don't have other music playing, or explicit dialogue happening in my ear, my brain has been playing this on a constant loop.



If this is God's attempt at a Saul on the road to Tarsus type of transformation, I shudder to think about what kind of God this is.
raybear: (Default)
I had this minor meltdown last week, and it just happened because sometimes those things happen, and I keep waivering between writing about it and not wanting to write about it, mostly the latter, except when I'd come here, I didn't know what to say instead. But now I have some stories to tell. And some other minor bits at the end.

So. My rash. Not scarlet fever. Its still here. It started to maybe heal (drying up, peeling) but then it got worse. And so I decided to try vinegar because I thought it might be fungal (and years back I had this mystery scaly patch on the top of my foot that didn't heal with over-the-counter antifungals or prescription steroids but did go away after a few days of swabbing it with kitchen vinegar). It seemed to be helping, some. But hard to tell. It also made me feel pretty disgusting, the thought of being covered in a fungal infection. Why is that so much worse than bacteria or viral? It just is. Finally, today I caved and called the dermatologist that [livejournal.com profile] dommeyourass uses. I called at 8:30 am, they said, how about 10:00? Ok.

I show up at just past 10, its an empty office. DYA warned me this guy is perpetually one week away from retirement and so is his assistant, I would guess. I fill out a form, which is this 1/2 page sheet of new patient info that was possibly copied on a mimeograph machine. But whatever, I overhear him talking isht about McCain and his tax plan, so I'm fine with it.

He points me to exam room one, which has all these leather seats, like, the metal bucket seat style with leather upholstering. He tells me to put my stuff in one, but sit in a specific one across from him. There's no actual exam table. There is a stack of his self-published book on Dickens references. He asks me about the rash. He tells me to take off my shirt and stand up. Then he tells me to pull down my pants. I start to kick off my shoes, and he says "you don't need to take off your shoes, just pull down your pants." Um, ok. I do. "Pull down your shorts." I.e. my boxer shorts. "Um....uh......" He waves me off, "just do it! I need to see!"

Well, okay then. I pull down my boxers. He pauses, looks, says "where's your....." trails off then says, "ok, turn that way." He inspects some more, then says I can put all my clothes back on.

To the man's credit, he just kept going in the face of my unexpected junk being directly eyelevel. To my credit, I didn't freak out or burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. I didn't even bother with an explanation. I mean, what more can you say after fcking showing your business like that?

Then he gave me his diagnosis: "I don't know WHAT it is." Then he proceeded to type out the prescription on this Apple IIE computer and print it out on a dot matrix printer, the kind with the strips along the side, and he busted out his straight edge to tear the sheet in half -- one copy for me, one for the file.

"What is this your prescribing?" A steroid cream. I'm supposed to pick one area of the body and apply it twice a day for a week. He suggests my arms. The rash is ALL OVER. It is spotting all over my back, belly, legs. It is concentrated in certain areas, like my arms and lower back and part of my belly, but still. So, I'm supposed to use this for a week, and hopefully it will work and when I come back he'll look and prescribe more if it does. If not, he will scrape one of the red dots off and send away to have it biopsied.

Hell, no. I mean, whatever, he could have fcking scraped off one today and sent it off if he wanted, I wouldn't have minded. But don't tell me you don't know what it is (he thinks its something something psoriasis, even though I've never had that before and it just happened to appear while on these antibiotics?), but then you prescribe medication for me on a lark? Don't get me wrong, I appreciate his honesty. But when I pulled up to the store with the pharmacy, I decided to leave the piece of paper in the car and not even fill it. Instead I remember, oh yeah, I have a friend who's a health practitioner now and she made an appointment for me tomorrow and called me today and I told her the story of my rash unfolding/spreading and she had ideas of what it is and how to treat it. I felt so relieved and taken care of and happy that I have good people to call up, if I can just remember to do it. So tomorrow, I'm also getting acupuncture for the first time. I've had no aversion to it, just never had an opportunity before to partake.

I bought myself Trader Joe's ice cream chipwiches as my treat after the dermatologist. I ate them on the couch with DYA while watching episodes of 30 Rock.

Then on the way to work today, I got a flat tire. Which sucks and is inconvenient, but I wasn't too worked up about it. I've been lucky to make it through the whole summer without one, which is somewhat miraculous given the ridiculous unavoidable potholes and massive strips of asphalt missing on Milwaukee Avenue (which is what finally burst this one). I was also not too far from a train station, so I parked my bike and made it to work relatively on-time. I had this idea of patching it up after work and riding home, but that is probably somewhat insane of a scheme, given its dark outside. I'll probably just bring the bike on the train and do it in the morning in the yard.

There's another piece of today, which includes reconnecting with an old and dear friend/mentor of mine via Facebook that even thinking about gets me all misty and choked up but that story will have to wait, I have to finish some work projects. But there was one line she wrote in her message to me that has just been sustaining me all afternoon and evening. And that is a pretty amazing thing, I am still almost working to really hear it and let it sink in. I've been thinking so much about the devastation of people and loss, I needed a reminder of the other side of the coin.

Also, after [livejournal.com profile] drood and my work crush suggested the new itunes for the "Genius" feature, I'm hooked. Its like Pandora with your own music collection!
raybear: (sword)
I walk into work and my officemate is freaking out. "They need you downstairs, there's a HUGE project, they need to know your skills, it's due by 8 am, they need to talk to you, blah blah blah." Ok. I log into e-mail, I see that there's a power point presentation project. I wander down to the 12th floor, and every person possibly involved is not at their desk. So I come back to my desk and see that there's an e-mail about a birthday party in the main conference room for one of the namesake partners. So while my officemate is freaking out about whether she will "have to work overtime, I didn't want you to be lambasted, they said they would be busting heads if it wasn't done by 8 am, blah blah blah", I'm getting smoked salmon and cotswald cheese and roast beef mini-sandwiches and pouring a glass of champagne while talking to the person about the project, who is eating a piece of cake. I don't understand false emergencies and making everything a Big Deal. I mean, I have anxiety issues, but damn. We work at a place that is feeding us snacks and champagne and cake and no one is bleeding. What's your damage, Heather?

Today I called a 24 hour nurse hotline (my doctor's office is closed on Thursday) and discussed my rash. Based on all these fun things like the size of the dots, whether they turned white when I pressed them, and the symmetry of the placement on my body, and the circumstances in which it appeared, she said it was strep rash. That my fever and swollen tonsils two weeks ago were probably had strep throat, and the bacteria in that causes strep rash in some people because of reactions to the toxins, something something. When I had strep throat when I was 13, I had a rash after that too, and she said that probably means my body is just predisposed to it. So, no West Nile Virus for me. But of course I hung up the phone and googled strep rash and do you know what it is? Scarlet fever. That is way more literary and awesome and makes me feel less freakish about my rash. Just please, no one try to burn my velveteen rabbit in the leaf pile tonight while I'm sleeping.

I always think I don't like carrot cake, and then I have a slice of good carrot cake and I realize, damn, I really like carrot cake.
raybear: (scream)
I had a really stellar time this past weekend, it was packed with a balanced array of hanging out with various friends, being outside, eating tasty snacks, being at home, hanging out with DYA, cooking, even writing. I've been writing a lot, I'm on a self-imposed deadline which is partly why I haven't been writing here. I'm not sure I'm going to make the deadline, but I will get as close as possible. Also, last week, about 6 days into my antibiotics, I spent almost an entire day outside in the hot humid sun, and shortly after a rash appeared, mostly on the inside of my arms but with a few splotches on other body parts, including my right temple and around my eye, a few spots on my belly, and a few surrounding the giant scaly thing on my left calf that is an infected bug bite. Now, all this means that every time I sit down to write here, all I can think about is how obsessed I am with this rash and my amateur diagnoses from copious googling. I was mostly sure it was a reaction to antibiotics, that I'm mildly allergic to penicillin as well as the sun exposure. But today, after breakfast, I decided that actually I got west nile virus from the bug bite. This would also explain the fever and aches and chills and swollen lymph nodes of two weeks ago. But the prognosis for either west nile virus or antibiotics allergy is basically....wait it out. Seriously. Apparently west nile virus isn't actually that bad in most people -- 80% of people who have it are asymptomatic. And if anyone tells me to go to a doctor, I will crack my elbow into your skull, even if you live in another state. It is on my plan of action for later in the week to go to a dermatologist if things don't change, but I have no inclination to run to one immediately and have more prescription medications assigned to me. Especially since I do have a history of getting rashes/hives after being sick with infections (its just been so long since I had one, I forgot). Luckily the the rash doesn't itch too terribly, the weather is cooling off and I can even possibly wear long sleeves if I'm too self-conscious about it.

Last night at work, after radio silence for a week, I got bombarded with isht to do. I put the radio on NPR to listen to the democratic convention. The main correspondent kept doing this thing while interviewing people, where they would say something and she would "huh", in this slightly high pitched way that seemed to indicate a cross-between "huh, I never thought of that!" or "huh, you sound like a crackpot and I don't believe you." So she sounded either completely ignorant or completely condescending, depending on the "huh". She really needs to break that habit.

And while Michelle Obama's speech was nice and all, Ted Kennedy was the story that interested me more. Because I might not agree with everything Uncle Teddy has done in his life, but damn if he hasn't spent every moment living his passion, which is for politics. When he said he would be there on the senate floor in January for Obama's swearing in, I got a little choked up, at either the prospect of him fighting hard to sustain himself that long, or at the prospect of him dying before that can happen, but he'd probably go down while sitting there attending some vote he wanted to make sure would go through.

Ok, I'm a sap. I'll stop now. Maybe I should just go back to talking about my rash.
raybear: (sunglasses)
Tonight I was thinking, damn, once again I'm jonesing to sit down and get all this stuff out of my brain that's been swirling around on the topic, but I can't because even though I'm at work and its quiet, I have this freelance job I need to work on. So I sighed and ho-hummed and got down to it, but when I went to get started on the second part, there were technical errors outside of my end of the deal and its too late, there's no one in the office, so oh well, guess I'll do it first thing in the morning!

Onto thoughts about my body. )
And now I have the fortunate problem of a closet full of pants that are all too big for me. Not too big that I can't wear them, just not as terribly flattering as I'd like. But I'll suck it up because there are worse problems to have. Besides, I have some awesome summer wear that I can fit into now. I will seriously be wearing the same two pairs of short pants/long shorts ALL SUMMER.

And if anyone out there is in need of some Kenneth Cole Reaction dress pants, perhaps some sort of swap could be arranged. They are all size 38, some are 38x30, most are 38x32. But give me a few months to settle into this new body, I don't want to have to be acquiring pants 10 times a year.
raybear: (scream)
Day Two complete. Writing was harder today, but working out was easier, because I had the Lovely and Talented [livejournal.com profile] cocolola to chariot me there. She also worked out with me and allowed me to fulfill my dreams of being an amateur personal trainer. I think one of my favorite parts is when we were mirroring each other doing side squats in the Bears Den, while the three hardcore muscle dudes were acting like they weren't staring at us. After sweating it out, we tried to get an early burger at Kuma's, except it turned out they open at 11:30, not 11:00. Though before that, we killed some time on a neighborhood playground, and let me say, swings aren't as fun anymore. After about two minutes I was dizzy and thought I would vomit or pass out. Is it because my center of gravity changed or do I just need to re-train for that isht? Anyway, we decided on IHOP where I was mesmerized by the poster for the special and ordered it. I was convinced our waiter was gay and knew we were gay because I felt like he sort of was giving both of us that look, but I don't know, maybe its just something straight people do to each other too. After I had such a delightful morning with the Lovely and Talented Coco, I thought, damn, why don't I do that more often? Then I remember she runs a critically-acclaimed, award-winning Theatre Company and I work nights. But I think the YMCA will bring us back together.

Tomorrow I have big plans involving being on the treadmill watching Oprah because "the pregnant man" is the honored guest. I just let myself start thinking and feeling about this today -- up until now I would hear or see a snippet of a news report and just look askance, waiting for it to go away. Because it will. I mean, I understand people's frustrations and fears about all this publicity, particularly FTMs, and I have some of it too. But mostly I just think any damage it will do will be mitigated by any positive exposure it will also do. I say this as someone who hasn't 'legally changed' his sex. I say this as someone who lives in a loophole that gives me health insurance (I can be domestic partnered, even though technically Chicago only offers same-sex domestic partnership). I say this also as someone who thinks, people have BEEN kept from legally changing their name because of money and surgery and hoops and buearacracy. So now there's a chance that a group that previously had more access, now has less. Well, welcome to the Less Access Club. NOW, your ass is going to do something about the problem? Ok, get on it. Thanks for paying attention. As for the late-night jokes? Well, Jay Leno is still saying homophobic isht last week, why should I expect unequal treatment and not here some fcked up bullshit about "androgynous freakshows"? [Source: David Letterman.] There's racist isht on television every second, why should I think us trans will escape? I get angry when I watch everything on the Today show, The View, and even (and especially) Oprah. They don't get sex right, or bodies right, or ethics right, or feminism right, why the hell should they get gender right, especially anything related to transsexuals? I'm walking into this with curiosity, some hella low exectations and the knowledge that 8 years ago, a mtherfcker won an Oscar award for a movie where she played an FTM, and people who read Out Magazine still don't know what the fck that concept or acronym mean.

Ok, maybe I had some things to say about it. I don't mean to totally minimize it, I really don't. I'm just trying to remember to put things in perspective for myself. Hear it, read it, be forced to revisit lots of feelings of anger and frustration and shame and outrage about my life, then I take a breath and its next week and the world keeps moving at its glacier pace. Everybody hold onto the railing and don't slide off.

May 2010

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