Gratitude on a Sunny Thursday

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday, which I keep thinking is Wednesday…which is, I suppose, better than thinking it’s Friday. I hope you’re all hanging in there.

As of a couple of days ago, I’m officially two weeks out from my second covid vaccine and therefore as immunized as I’m going to be for the time being. It feels good to feel like I can start making some plans with (also immunized) friends again. It also feels weird. I am definitely going to need to relearn how to be social in person, and I’m sure my limit for how many people I can tolerate being with for an extended period of time has changed over the past year of isolation. (I’m an introvert, so that wasn’t a huge number to begin with…I’m a bit nervous about going back to group activities, to be honest.)

My tattoo is healing up nicely, though it’s in a very itchy stage right now. I can’t tell how much of that is the tattoo itself and how much is the hair growing back on my arm, but I’m trying to be careful about not absentmindedly scratching at it.

I don’t really have a lot to talk about this week, but let’s end this with a little list of things I’m grateful for right now:

  • I am grateful for my job. It’s still mindblowing to be in a place where I feel both challenged and appreciated, where I feel like my value is being recognized. It’s wild that I’m in a leadership position and enjoying it (not that it’s easy, but that it feels like a good use of my skills). It’s wild to have a degree of financial stability I have not had since moving out of my parents’ house.
  • I am grateful for my friends. I’ve had a lot of really great conversations lately that remind me that my people are the best people. I’m grateful for their trust and their insight and their love. I’m so glad I don’t feel like I have to carry everything on my own, or pile everything onto my husband or my therapist, but I have whole communities of people supporting me.
  • I am grateful for music. In the past couple of weeks, I rediscovered how much I absolutely adore P!nk. In college, I went from listening pretty exclusively to contemporary Christian music to dipping my toes into the waters of other options, and P!nk was one of the first artists I heard that really connected with my angsty, troubled heart. I hadn’t kept up with her music after graduation, really, but in diving into her newer stuff, it’s been a delight to see that, even though I am not an angsty college student anymore, her music still connects. We’ve both grown since then. I have immense respect for her as an artist. My current favorite track is this one (in case the link doesn’t work, or you don’t use Spotify – it’s the last song on her 2019 album Hurts 2B Human; the track is called “The Last Song of Your Life,” and it’s beautiful), but her newest singles (from the current year) are also incredible.

That’s it from me this week – keep taking care of yourselves and each other.

Spicy Dragon

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I nearly forgot it was Thursday today – I’ve been attending a virtual conference the past few days for work and it’s got my routine a bit out of whack.

I don’t have too much to report this week, except that on Friday, I got color added to my dragon tattoo, and I am SO EXCITED about it!

A bright red dragon clutches a purple and pink d20 and grins mischievously.

It turned out SO GOOD. It’s currently at a very gross stage of healing (the photo above is from when it was fresh), but I’m excited to get past that so I can show it off all the time.

While she was working on it, the artist was joking about this being a “spicy dragon” (by the end of the 3 hour session I was pretty sore), and that nickname has stuck, particularly since it was pretty tender for several days. They’ll get a better name eventually, but this spicy little dragon is bringing me a lot of joy this week.

I will have more news to report in the next few weeks (there are some big life changes afoot), but in the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other, keep wearing masks and washing your hands, GO GET VACCINATED if you haven’t yet.

Resting

Hello, dear readers! I’m a little late posting this today because I have been taking the last couple of days off from work – I got my second dose of the Covid vaccine on Tuesday afternoon, and I wanted to give myself time to recover. So far I’ve been mostly okay – tired, a little feverish here and there, and about 24 hours after getting the shot, the joints in that arm started hurting really bad. But Tylenol and sleep seems to be helping, and I’d much rather be dealing with the vaccine side-effects than the actual disease.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks (more on that soon, hopefully), but things are good. I’ve been using this time off to catch up on some knitting. I finished a stuffed friend for my older nephew, and am slowly chipping away at a blanket for the younger one. (I’ve also been playing a bit of Animal Crossing lately to get myself off my phone/computer screens, which has been fun.)

I’m going to keep this one brief – time for me to have some coffee and make some breakfast now that I’m finally up and moving about. Tomorrow I’m getting color added to my new tattoo, and I am very excited about that! (And very thankful I don’t feel worse post-vaccine, so it should actually be manageable.)

Little Gratitudes

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. For a number of reasons, I’m feeling like it’s already been a long week, and it’s not over yet. Thankfully, things have been mostly good and I’m feeling okay about it.

We have some big life changes coming up (which I will hopefully be able to go into more detail about in a few weeks). I am incredibly grateful to be in a place where I have the bandwidth to deal with these changes and make plans around them.

I feel like until I can talk about more details, I don’t have a whole lot to write about, so I’ll fall back on what I often do when I’m feeling less wordy. Here are a few things I’m grateful for right now:

  • Friends/Community. This has been one of those weeks when I’ve been super aware of how many incredible communities I have supporting me in different areas of my life. I think I sometimes get it into my head that since I’m an introvert, I must only have a few friends, which is absolutely untrue. I have so many wonderful people in my life supporting me in myriad ways. I’m particularly grateful this week for those friends who have known me forever, who I don’t get to talk to often, but who are always willing to pick things right back up where we left off.
  • Family. I’m really grateful that my family (and I’m including myself in this) has been willing to put in the work to make our relationships smoother. I’m glad to be talking with them more. I’m especially glad for the photo updates we get from my sister-in-law of our nephews.
  • Stories. I come back to this one a lot. Whether it’s playing D&D and collectively telling stories with friends, reading books, or letting myself dream of possible futures, stories are such a crucial part of my life, and I’m so happy that that’s true.

Keeping it short and sweet this week – time for me to dive into my work day. I hope you’re all hanging in there!

Resilience

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday that I didn’t fully realize was Thursday until I’d been awake for a few hours, despite having looked at my schedule and literally written the word “Thursday” in my planner earlier this morning. The coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, apparently.

I’ve been thinking about resilience lately. Last week, I posted about how frustrated and sad I am about all of the anti-trans legislation that’s being considered across the US right now. I am definitely very frustrated and sad, but I’ve been thinking about how, even a year ago, that might’ve made me feel totally derailed. But I’ve been doing a lot of work in therapy over the past couple of years to build resilience, to increase my capacity to deal with hard emotions, and to be better able to self-regulate. And I’m finding that, despite the frustration and sadness…I’m okay.

I recently worked out a new schedule with the therapist I’ve been working with for a little over two years now. We’d been meeting weekly – we pushed things back to fortnightly for about a month, and now we’re just checking in monthly, because I realized I was consistently showing up to therapy saying, “You know, I’m actually doing really well!” and not having a lot to dig into. And even this week, when I’ve been wrestling with frustration and sadness alongside some general adulting that came up unexpectedly, I am okay with that decision. I’ve checked in with myself a few times over the last week, asking if I needed to text my therapist and schedule a check-in sooner, but really, I just keep coming up with the answer of, “I’ve got this.” I have proven to myself that I can do hard things, and I’m learning to trust myself more.

I’m really proud of the work that I’ve done to get here. I know this work is the work of a lifetime, and it’ll never be done, but that doesn’t overwhelm me like it used to. I’ve finally moved out of being in survival mode 24/7 and into a place where I feel like I’m thriving, even when things are hard or uncomfortable. (I won’t lie, this is thanks not only to a lot of hard work in therapy, but also to the fact that moving into a new job situation a year ago meant a significant increase in pay. It’s a lot easier to feel like you’re thriving when you’re not scraping by paycheck to paycheck and having to watch every penny you spend to avoid overdrawing your checking account.) It’s a welcome change.

A Holy Endeavor

Buckle up, dear readers, because this week I’m returning to the roots of this blog and talking about my life as a trans person.

This year, at least 28 states are voting on anti-trans legislation. There’s a lot that’s fucked up about this. Just this week in Arkansas, a bill was passed that bans gender-affirming healthcare for minors. The (Republican) governor vetoed the bill, calling it “vast government overreach.” The legislature overruled his veto with a dishearteningly large majority vote. Make no mistake – this bullshit that’s marketed as “protecting children” will actually do devastating harm. Taking away a trans child’s access to affirming healthcare isn’t going to make them not trans. It will just make them miserable. (I will again post this Twitter thread that makes some really good points about all of this.)

Today at work our Pride ERG hosted a half-hour hangout where people could come and sit with each other and with our feelings about what happened in Arkansas. I’m glad I went, and I appreciate the other people who showed up, but even as I felt seen in a way that was validating, I felt…exposed, in a way that was less comfortable. I am the only trans person I know of at my company, and I’m out as nonbinary there. Most people at work respect my pronouns (which are they/them, by the way, which is at least the third time my pronouns have shifted in the last decade, which I am not apologizing for, because identity is fluid and can be complicated) – no one is actively disrespecting my identity, but sometimes people forget. I do my best to educate people and stand up for myself and for the people around me. And it’s exhausting.

Inextricably tied to all of the feelings I’m having about trans identity being up for legislative debate are feelings around bodily autonomy. One of the hardest and most beautiful lessons I have learned in the ten years since I started coming to terms with the fact that I was not, in fact, cisgender, is that my body is my home. It’s a home that I struggled for years and years to relate to, until I realized it was mine to change and mold into a shelter I could feel comfortable in (at least some of the time). This has shown up in big ways – the changes from testosterone, and having gender-affirming top surgery – but it’s also shown up in smaller ways. I can paint my nails. I am currently sporting what feels like a super queer haircut that I love. In the middle space between those extreme examples, I can get tattoos.

I knew I wanted tattoos by the time I was in my teens, if not before. I got my first one eleven years ago this month, just a couple months before I turned 22. It’s a trinity knot on my right forearm. I wanted a reminder that the parts of myself that so often felt fractured – body, mind, and spirit – were all part of the singular being that was me. Four years later, I got three tarot cards tattooed on my left forearm: the Hermit (because I am an introvert and I believe in both finding my own truth and in lighting the way to help other people find theirs), the Ace of Wands (because I am a person with a lot of creative energy who finds joy in making beautiful things), and the Nine of Pentacles (which is my constant reminder that my body is the home that I am creating for myself). A couple of years after that I got a few more, which had less in-depth meanings, in some ways (there’s a leaf on my right ankle that I got because it was pretty; I have a classic Winnie-the-Pooh illustration on my right arm, and an earth/air alchemical symbol that reminds me to stay grounded and breathe under that), but all of them were ways to exercise my bodily autonomy.

On Tuesday, I got my sixth (or eighth, depending on if you count the tarot cards as one tattoo or three) tattoo:

D&D and other tabletop roleplaying games have been a big part of my life over the past few years – through them I’ve connected with people I might never have met otherwise, and I’ve found so much joy in collaborative storytelling and getting to play with my friends as an adult. Just in the last month I started DMing my first game, and it’s been a blast. I knew that I wanted a D&D-themed tattoo to capture some of that. I told the artist (who has now done the majority of my tattoos) that I wanted “some sort of dragon and dice situation,” and I could not be happier with what she came up with. This little dragon clutching its d20 is better than anything I’d envisioned ahead of time.

As I was chatting with the artist during the tattoo, I mentioned that as a teenager I had sketchbooks full of dragons. I drew them because no one could tell me “that’s not how a dragon looks” – it was one of the things I loved about fantasy. She asked me what drew me to dragons, and I honestly didn’t have an answer at the time, but I’ve continued to think about it since then. I think there’s something about the wildness of them that called to me. In all the fantasy novels I read, there was this sense that you couldn’t really tame a dragon. Even in the ones where dragons and humans got along, it was because the dragons chose to treat the humans gently. There was something about that power that was appealing, for a whole host of reasons I’m sure I could delve into with a little help from my therapist.

Last fall, I wrote an autobiographical song that I kind of set aside after that songwriting session was over, but the chorus has been stuck in my head the past couple of days:

I’m building this wondrous body, creating my home
Something more suited to housing my curious soul
I dress it up in ink, in wool, and in leather
I know this act of creation is a holy endeavor

I don’t know that I have a huge sweeping point in all of this, except to say that trans people (like all people) are sacred, and the act of self-determination and self-discovery is a holy endeavor. I was raised with the idea that humans are created in the image of the Divine, and while I have a lot of complicated feelings about the picture of Divinity I was raised on, I think trans people are every bit as much a reflection of the Divine as anyone else. I am angry and sad and disheartened that there are so many people in power in the world right now who refuse to see that.

Scattered Thursday Thoughts

Hello, dear readers. We have made it to Thursday. I am not feeling the greatest this morning, for what could be any number of reasons, but I’m here and I’m still strangely hopeful.

Yesterday was Transgender Day of Visibility. I updated a many-years-old post I’d done on a previous TDoV on Facebook and reposed it there yesterday…I’m not on Facebook super often these days, but sometimes it still feels important to say things. Visibility can be exhausting, though. I’m fortunate to have enough mental and emotional bandwidth most days to be okay with being an educator, but every conversation about why they/them pronouns deserve respect (and are grammatically correct, though this should be much further down the priority list than it is) and why cis people should care about the issues faced by trans people takes its toll. There are a bunch of bills in various states right now trying to restrict trans-affirming healthcare for trans youth and to ban them from sports and it’s all incredibly frustrating. (For a great perspective on the healthcare issue, see this Twitter thread.) All that said, it was lovely to see so many of my fellow trans folks celebrating themselves yesterday. We deserve to be seen and celebrated just like everyone else does.

I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Tuesday! (This may be a factor in why I’m feeling a bit under the weather today.) This means I’m about six weeks from being able to hug some people I haven’t been able to hug in a very long time, and I am excited about that.

I feel like I had other things I was going to ramble about this morning, but I have a training to get to in the next couple of minutes, so I think we’ll end here for now. I hope you’re all hanging in there, and getting vaccinated, and still wearing your masks. Keep taking care of yourselves and each other, friends.

Brief Morning Musings

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to another Thursday that I almost forgot was Thursday. I am dashing this off before starting my workday with a two hour training, so it’s going to be fairly brief. I feel like I need a little reminder to smile on this grey Chicago morning, so I’m going to share a few things that are making me happy lately:

  • Preacher’s Kid, by Semler. This album came out recently and I’m kind of obsessed. If you, like me, grew up a church youth group kid and are now an adult with a lot of religious trauma/baggage, this is an extremely cathartic listen. It also holds a lot of space for hope, and I appreciate that. This album has made some serious waves in the world of Christian music since its release (it was topping the Apple Music charts in that genre for a bit), and it’s just giving me a lot of hope for the future.
  • The arrival of spring in Chicago. I love that it’s warming up and things are starting to get a little greener and there are crocuses and we can often have our windows open…even though I’m allergic to basically everything outside, and have been a sniffly mess for days, something about this return to spring always makes me feel a little more alive.
  • Trader Joe’s gluten free cinnamon coffee cake muffins. I just learned about these recently from a friend and bought some last week and OMG they are life-changing. I let my partner (who is not gluten free) try one, and have confirmed that they are just good muffins, period. I ate the entire box of four in under 24 hours and have been dreaming of them since. haha
  • The new sweatshirt I got from Peace Coffee this week. We’ve been ordering from Peace Coffee since…sometime last fall, I think? Anyway, they’re great, and this sweatshirt is SO SOFT and delightful. The sleeves are exactly the right length and it just fits surprisingly well and it made me happy all day yesterday when I was wearing it.
  • My new glasses. My old pair kept trying to leap off my face at inopportune moments (like, anytime I went down stairs, or was walking down the sidewalk wearing a mask like a considerate, sane person), so I decided to get what I thought would be a backup pair…but I really like them and have been wearing them constantly since they arrived. They are very gay.
Do these glasses make me look gay? I hope so.

Running Late

Hi, friends. Late post today because I woke up later than I intended to and had a two hour training first thing in the morning, and then the rest of my morning was spent catching up on everything I missed while I was in the training. It was one of those mornings where I decided to make a full pot of coffee instead of our usual 2/3 of a pot, because my usual mug-and-a-half of coffee was NOT going to cut it.

I honestly don’t have a whole lot to talk about this week. It’s been a good week, things are going well in general, and I’m learning to be okay with things going well. I feel like there are some big shifts happening for me beneath the surface – now that I’m not in survival mode all the time, just doing my best to get by, and am actually thriving, I have the mental space to grapple with bigger questions (the sort that Douglas Adams would likely answer with “42”), and while that’s a bit daunting on one level, on another, it feels like I’m more myself when I can stretch my mental muscles around those questions.

Anyway, I’m going to keep this short and end here, because I have another meeting starting soon and I need to finish my lunch. I hope you’re all hanging in there and finding spacing in your lives where you feel affirmed and supported.

The Apartment is Alive with the Sound of Music

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to another Thursday. This will probably be a relatively short blog as I’m writing this before work on Thursday morning, and I have a pretty packed workday ahead of me, starting with two hours of management training (which, don’t get me wrong, I am immensely grateful for as a new manager…it’s just a lot first thing in the morning).

It’s been an exciting week on the music front in our household. Last week, I was poking around the Old Town School‘s music store website, and I noticed they had a used Seagull guitar in their lineup that I had seriously considered buying back when they were in production, but hadn’t had the money to justify. In a bit of a snap decision, I went ahead and bought it. It needed some minor adjustments (I put lighter strings on it and learned how to adjust a truss rod for the first time), but now it’s in good shape and will make a great travel companion – it’s smaller and lighter than my main guitar.

I’ve decided her name is Gladys.

The same day I got the guitar, my partner was looking at gear online for the home recording class they’re taking. Long story short, we now also have a MIDI keyboard and…A DIGITAL PIANO. We are both very excited to get the apartment in a more orderly state so we can get it set up (it’s here and ready to go, we just need to clear out a couple of things first).

I’m so excited about my private lessons I’m taking in preparation for recording right now. Yesterday was our second session, and even in the first week, I’ve learned so much. I have 13 tracks picked out to record, and have started a spreadsheet with details on all of them. It’s all very exciting.

We also heard this week that Song School is hopefully going to happen in August, so we are going to be keeping extra alert for when we can get vaccinated. I miss our Song School friends so much, and I really, really hope we get to see them this year.

In non-music news, I’m feeling really good about my new role at work, and am just endlessly grateful to have landed where I did when I did last year. I hit one year with the company on Tuesday, and while on the one had it feels like I just started, on the other, 2020 was at least a decade long. I could not have gotten through last year nearly as well without this job.

That’s it from me for this week – I hope you’re all hanging in there and taking care of yourselves and each other.