My Brain in a Five-Item List

I promise there will be a longer, much more detailed blog next Thursday. In the meantime, here’s another five-item list of what’s been on my mind this week:

  1. My Grandpa. My grandfather’s birthday was Monday. He would have been 93 years old. He passed away on Easter Sunday three years ago (on the 24th, which is one of the reasons next Thursday’s blog will be bigger). I still think of my grandpa often, but his memory is particularly close at this time of year.
  2. My nephew. This weekend, I’m heading up to Minnesota all by myself (my partner has to work, sadly) to meet the tiniest member of my family. I am the proudest of uncles ommers (ah, the joys of language in relation to non-normative gender identity), and I’m so excited to meet the little one, and to deliver the sweater I finished knitting today, which I hope will fit for at least a little while.
  3. My biological family in general. I don’t have the very best relationship with my biological family, for a lot of reasons. Things have been improving with my parents, but they’re far from comfortable. My brother and I don’t really talk, except (in the last six weeks since the baby’s arrival) about his kid, and I have zero confidence that he will ever consistently call me Alyx. (My relationship with extended family is essentially nonexistent at this point: my grandparents have said they will never call me Alyx, “because Alyx is an imaginary person,” and to the best of my knowledge are completely in the dark about the fact that I’ve taken any steps by way of medical transition. One of my aunts congratulated me on new-aunthood on Facebook after my nephew was born, and when I corrected her language, thanked me for the correction and called me by my given name in the same sentence, despite the fact that I have been Alyx (on Facebook and elsewhere) for almost two-and-a-half years.) Needless to say, there’s a lot of anxiety that builds up anytime I am going to be seeing my family, and so I’m feeling pretty tense at the thought of multiple days in a row with them. I’ll be seeing other people while I’m in Minnesota (some chosen family and my partner’s family, who are also chosen family, now that I think of it), but there will be more time spent with my family than there has been in a long while.
  4. Knitting. I tend to come at knitting in spurts. I’ve been in a dry spell for a while, but the pressure of finishing the aforementioned baby sweater before this trip has gotten me working on things again. Aside from the sweater, I’ve recently cast on for the second of a pair of socks, the first of which I knit in about two weeks at the beginning of December. I forget, when I don’t work on them, how much I enjoy knitting socks. Once I finish this one (I’m just starting the heel, and because I have small feet, the end of the heel marks approximately halfway through the sock), I’ve got another pair I started ages ago that I need to pick back up, and I keep looking at patterns and getting excited about possibilities, which has been fun.
  5. Finding ways to feel healthier better in my body. “Health” is such a nebulous concept, and being built as I am (short and stocky and round), I have no expectation that I will ever achieve someone else’s standard of what “healthy” looks like. I’m generally relatively comfortable being the size that I am, but I’ve noticed lately that I’m feeling less okay being in my body (in ways completely separate from dysphoria, which is thankfully not something that haunts me too consistently). I’m increasingly aware that I’m slower on my feet than the people around me. It’s harder for me to keep up than I’d like. I worry a lot about loss of mobility, between some issues with chronic pain and a history of back and knee problems. So I’ve been thinking a bit about steps I can take to do better. I haven’t been back to the gym since the whole misgendering fiasco, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t make myself go back, and that maybe a traditional gym setting isn’t ideal for me. So I’ve started looking around at other options, and have come back to an idea that pops up now and again, which is taking up Aikido. There’s an Aikido center here in Chicago that has a four-week introductory course that they say is appropriate for all body types and fitness levels, and there’s a session starting in July that I think I can work into my schedule. I’ve wanted to take up some sort of martial art for a long time, and Aikido’s lack of competitive spirit and focus on the safety of both the self and one’s opponent is really appealing to me. I’ve also started walking home from work (about 2.25mi) on days when the weather isn’t awful, and I’m finding even the handful of times I’ve done that have made a big difference in how I feel in my body. Admittedly, a lot of this processing is still very much just that: processing and thinking about change, and not a lot of actively making changes. But it feels like it’s paving the way for movement in a positive direction, and for right now, that’s enough.

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