Pain is relative

Content note:  blood, needles, things that might make you squeamish, self-injury.

Three days ago, I did my 24th shot of T.  I started to psych myself out – for some reason, it suddenly seemed super-difficult.  The needle looked extra long, and it has been looking that way for a while now.  I decided maybe I should stick it in a “meatier” part of my quad muscle.  I did, and must have hit a vein – it HURT a LOT and it bled quite a bit.  I just felt like, “Damn, I’ve been working myself up about the pain more and more lately.  I just wanna do it like a routine, without any glitches!”

It then occurred to me to look up the gauge online and see what was the range.  I looked at my zip-lock baggie from the pharmacy, full of my syringes.  I suddenly realized that my newer ones were a different shade of green than my older ones.  I was looking at 23 gauge versus 21 gauge.  In addition, the 21s were 1.5 inches, and the 23s were 1 inch – my fear that I was gonna hit my femur was semi-legit!  I need to go back and get more 1 inch needles, pronto!

Needles are scary, right?  It makes sense that people would fear needles.  They hurt.  Also, what about negative associations to getting shots at a doctor’s office, as a small child, vaccines and booster shots, stuff like that.

And then there’s the taking of the blood.  Like, say, you have a medical condition that causes you to need regular blood draws to make sure everything is on track.  If you are transgender, this is a common best practice.

When I was 17-21, I had to get regular blood work done every 3-6 months, because of a psychotropic drug I was on.  I can’t remember the reason why. ( To check liver functioning, and/0r cholesterol?  I forget.)  It was a hassle, at the very least.  But I did start getting very comfortable with it:  I was present, it barely hurt – I just looked away so I didn’t have to see the vials filling up with blood.

Because of this, probably, I was intrigued by the idea of donating blood.  I did it a handful of times between these ages (17-21), both at my high school and at my college.  It was one of the most bizarre things, in my opinion:  Here we are, a bunch of us, all laying down on cots.  Any one of us might pass out at any time, and that would cause a chain reaction for others to pass out too.  There are these nurses hovering over all of us, making sure we can stand up OK as if we are rising from the dead, with these baggies of blood tied to us.  They are on hand with cookie packets and juice boxes.  We can have as many as we want…

The one reason I stopped doing it was because I had a hard time maintaining the minimum weight requirement during college (110 lb).  I didn’t have an eating disorder, per se, I just didn’t have an appetite or desire for much of anything at all.  I also struggled with anemia.

And self-injury too.  In that case, pain was my friend.  I guess I can best describe it as, I would work myself up into such a frenzy that cutting my skin felt like the only thing that would bring me down.  I was hyper-ritualistic about it.  It was a fairly common occurrence for years, but never “severe.”  And I don’t do it anymore.

Testosterone has changed my relationship to pain, for sure.  I’ve written about that here:
Differences In How I Experience Pain

Here’s a quick excerpt (I wrote this somewhere around 3 years ago):

Before I started taking testosterone, I had a peculiar, but not really uncommon, relationship to pain.  In many cases, I derived pleasure from pain.  I would create sensations of pain, within my control, in an effort to calm myself.  Also, when I’d hurt myself accidentally like for example, hit my arm on a doorway, I would feel alarm, followed by an adrenaline rush, followed by a pleasant soothing wave.

Now?  If I hurt myself, it hurts!  If I accidentally ran into a doorway, it would not be pleasant in any way, shape, or form.  I remember the first few times I got hurt in little ways, in the first couple of months of being on testosterone; I was so surprised by how much pain was coursing through my body.  I just felt like, aaaaaah!  I’ve been swearing under my breath and feeling unnerved by how much stuff hurts.

So what am I trying to get at?  I guess I just want to acknowledge that sticking yourself with a needle, in an ongoing way, is a really intense thing to do.  And it’s totally understandable that some trans-people would just have a hard limit and say, “I’m not doing that.”  For myriad reasons.  So at least there are other options:

– Gels, patches, and creams (unfortunately, quite costly)
– Sub-cutaneous injections (not as deep)
– Stuff like Nebido that’s injected every 3 months or so

Does anyone have experiences with switching methods?
Doing self-injections feels like a badge of honor, but I’m not quite sure that it feels like an “honorable” thing to do…


I finally made a resource page, of sorts

This is just an announcement that I added some stuff to my blog!  For the longest time, the additional tabs were “ask me something,” “what it’s about,” and “glossary of janitorial words and phrases.”  And that was it.

About two weeks ago, an outreach specialist who works for drugrehab.com reached out and asked if I would add their website.  She wrote,

“Studies have shown that individuals in the LGBT community are more likely to use and abuse alcohol and drugs and tend to continue abuse throughout their lives. We work to spread awareness and to be an informational resource for those impacted by alcohol and drug dependence.

I believe that our website would be a valuable addition to your resources listed on your page.  Would you please review our resource and consider adding it to your website to spread awareness”

And that got me thinking, because I don’t have anything like that on my blog!  But I decided that I could – she kind of got me going to start organizing a resource page.  I told her, “I’ll need to start from scratch because I have yet to provide a resource page at all, but I love the idea, so thanks for that push!”  And then I started working.

I had always been of the mindset that although many blogs do have links to online safe spaces, hotlines, etc., I don’t need to be one of those blogs – people can google whatever they want to google and glean information from myriad places.  I wouldn’t even know how to narrow down a page.  Some, like Micah’s on Neutrois Nonsense, for example, are so comprehensive, I don’t really have anything to add!

So, mine might be a bit random, and it’s definitely not complete, by a long shot.  I included the one for the drug rehab site first, since she was the one to get me going.  I then added two overarching sites for mental health, Micah’s blog (of course!), the blog of a professional gender therapist who is very hands-on, and then two sites that are geared toward brainstorming and creativity, when it comes to gender.

You can take a look here:  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources.  Please lemme know if you want me to add anything in particular…  (The GSM stands for “gender and sexual minorities,” because there are not enough letters in the alphabet to cover everyone!)

I’ll just end with a little more information about the drug rehab website, mostly because I was so tickled that they wrote and wanted me to “advertise” for them.  It makes me feel like, wow, cool, my blog really is reaching people.  (This is something that waxes and wanes for me, whether it’s really out there or not.)  So, the outreach specialist said,

We are a free informational resource for those  battling mental health and substance abuse issues. Our website tackles many issues currently facing society today. We have a team of doctors and writers who update our content daily.
We do have a hotline that you can call with questions about different treatment options, as we know every individual is unique and so should treatment be as well.
If you want further information, check out my new resource page!!!  LGBTQIA-GSM Resources

1 year post-op (top surgery)

With everything else that’s been going on lately, I completely forgot that my one year anniversary was on June 1st.  I think I was aware on some level, because I’ve been super vocal with my spouse, the past few days, about where I’m at with this process.  So I’ll try to distill those diatribes into something that  makes sense!

Most importantly, within the past few weeks, I would say I have grown increasingly more comfortable with the off-beat sensations that I have going on.  Nothing is painful, per-se, but there’s still a lot of tenderness.  I am finally OK with my spouse resting her head there without warning, and in addition, I’ve realized that the more I ignore/avoid that area of my body, the more it will stagnate.  ???  (That’s just a hypothesis, but I hope there’s some truth to that – I’ve been trying to actively “manhandle” some spots, in the hopes that’ll promote more nerve growth, haha.)

I am over the disappointment of it not being picture perfect.  At first I was angry with the surgeon (Dr. Rumer).  I held onto this anger for a long time.  But, as I noted at 6 months, I had been poking and prodding around my rib-cage a lot more, and I came to the conclusion that my bone structure is asymmetrical, and she (the surgeon) had to work around those idiosyncracies, and in the end, I think she did her best.  I’m sure it would have looked more even if I had gone with DI, but peri was one of the things I was not negotiating on.  I already have scarring on my chest, from my self-injuring behavior years ago, and I really wanted no additional scarring, if possible.  And that was accomplished.  (Aside from my drain holes – those scars are still visible!!!)

My nipples, I believe, can be “tweaked,” (haha) for sure.  They look like they got shrunk and melted on – I think a different surgeon can really change the size and shape and it’ll make me much happier.  I am not going with Dr. Rumer any-further.  I was supposed to have my one year appointment either in person or over skype, on Thursday, but I cancelled it all together.  I am done, and am only now looking ahead to revisions.  The appt. wasn’t even going to be with the surgeon – just a nurse-practitioner, like I did over skype at 1 months, 3 months, 6 months, etc.  I’m done.

I am grateful that insurance reimbursed a large part of it – I really didn’t think I stood a chance with that.

And, just to wrap up, I want to reiterate how important this step was for me:  It’s not just that now I can wear tighter shirts and I don’t have to consider whether to bind or not, etc.  It has really affected my self-esteem, self-perception, and social comfort.  When I get dressed, I am excited to see how the shirt falls now – does it accentuate my pecs (which are now one of my favorite parts of my body), can I layer things in an interesting way, can I wear this as an open shirt and consider wearing a necklace as well?… etc.  Sometimes I will wear two outfits in one day, just to try out new-to-me fashions!

I told my spouse the other day that I used to just feel dumpy all the time, and she was shocked – she said I never looked dumpy.  Now it’s the opposite – I feel snazzy!


Priorities, at my most vulnerable

I was in the hospital for psychiatric reasons, for a week in mid-May.  It went so much smoother than my two other “stays.”  (Those occurred in 1999 and 2015).  I attribute that smoothness to:

– Having a complete social network around me for the first time in my life

– The fact that even though I had never been to THIS hospital, I was able to draw from my experience in 2015, and use that blueprint to (semi)-successfully navigate my way through, this time around.

– I was already on meds that were working pretty well, for the first time ever.  This means that my psychiatrist wasn’t just taking a shot in the dark.  She was just tweaking what was already working.  (For me, specifically, this meant getting my Seroquel (anti-psychotic) increased from 200mg, to 600mg, dispersed into three 200mg doses throughout the day, and discontinuing the Wellbutrin (anti-depressant), at least for now.*

So, what were my priorities?
1. Getting on an adequate sleep schedule.
2. Eating the hospital food without having too many digestive issues (this included not relying too heavily on food visitors brought me, even though I was so grateful that they were doing this.)
3. Interacting as opposed to shutting down:  Unless I was knocked out on meds, I was up and about, talking with people (sometimes shouting at them), pacing the halls (“going for a walk”), coloring with different medias and different methods / trying to do number puzzles (figuring out what was feeling more “right brained / left brained”), marking my turf / territory in ways that may have been specific to me (this, right here, would be a post unto itself… I’ll leave that for another day…

Some peripheral priorities / goals that I tackled / attempted and had some success with was:
1. Watching out for other people, checking in to see if they felt safe.
2. Micromanaging free-dance party / art times.
3. Getting other people condiments and other things they might need / want.
4. Modeling my behavior off of others / acting as a role model.
5. Pushing for Gym Time and Therapy Dog visits.
6. Reinforcing privacy vs. getting help.  Also reinforcing quiet hours and other scheduled parts of the day.
7. Taking a shower every day (night) at the same time (10pm).
8. Dispensing important information.
____________________________________________________

Notes:

I realize this post is a pretty vague sketch of some important things – this might serve as just an outline for me to fill in more interesting details / experiences / stories…

*I was also administered a shot, which I refer to as a “Haldol Cocktail.”  5 parts Haldol, 2 parts Ativan, 50 parts Benadryl.  Plus, of course, my Testosterone shot – 50mg.

 


Jeepster

Content note:  This post might not make a whole lot of sense unless you really like 70’s and 80’s music and/or gender.  And writing and the English language…

In my city, there are two chain-type places to go to get an average oil change within about a half-hour wait.  One also sells it’s brand of oil (nationwide? internationally? not sure).  The other is more of a gas station / car wash place.

For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call them:
LV – the oil specific place
SD – the gas station

I almost always go to SD because my parents give me coupons for free oil changes there, every xmas.  And also because there is one on my way to / from work.  About 3 years ago, I started trying LV a couple of times, but I concluded that it was too expensive, and I switched back.

I was overdue for an oil change, but I didn’t want to go to the SD in the suburb where I work, cuz I don’t really want to be seen out and about, while I am out of work for medical reasons.  So I went to one in a further away suburb.  I had been there once before, and it was kind of anxiety provoking (in my head, at the time).

Why?  Because the style was Drive Thru, as opposed to giving the mechanic your keys and sitting in a waiting room.  “Drive Thru” is one of my longest lasting fears, almost bordering on a phobia before I reigned it in a few years ago.  This included parking garages, anything with a “gate,” car washes, etc.

Anyway, I made it through no problem, but I was noticing all these little “masculine touches” / masculine underlying communications, body language, etc.  Stuff that’s barely worth paying attention to.  Stuff I generally am not around because normally I’d be sitting in a waiting room.  An example would be a giant truck in line honking, just because he(?) wanted to get an attendant to come over ahead of time for some reason.  (As opposed to reading signs to find out the information).  These are all assumptions, of course, but I’m just saying I was in tune to things in a different way than I normally would have been.  And I was the opposite of anxious.

While waiting in my car, I was listening to a mix CD that a friend gave me in our early 20’s.  Before he hardly knew me.  And now he’s one of my longest-lasting, solid friends here locally.

While hypo-manic currently, I’ve been spending most of my time at home organizing and cleaning and catagorize-ing things.  One thing I uncovered was this mix CD, which he had titled, “A DRUM IS A THING IS A DRUM,” (all caps.)  which, for me, is reminiscent of Wire’s album (one of my favorite albums ever,) “A BELL IS A CUP UNTIL IT IS STRUCK” (all caps.)  The song that stood out the most, from the others was:
T-Rex – Jeepster.  So GLAM / FLAMING / FLAMBOYANT!

When the CD ended, I could overhear what was playing in the garage / mechanic dock.  It was:
Elton John – Benny and the Jets.  SO GAY!

Anyway, I got the oil change and then went to this place that used to be called The Stereo Shop.  It’s now called something like, “Digital audiophile visual environments.”  I wanted to go there because there was a used cd / record store in the back of this high end Hi Fi Sound Equipment store.  When I got there, I asked the guy at the front about the cd store, and he said it wasn’t there anymore.  It had moved.  I asked if he could write it down for me, and he did.  I don’t think any music was playing in there, or if it was, I didn’t pick up on it.

Back in my car, I was listening to a station that claims it is the only station that matters (that’s their “tag line.”)  A song came on that is unusual for their roster, and also happens to be a song I sing along with / almost know by heart.  That would be:
David Bowie – Diamond Dogs SO GLAM!

I got to the new location, and realized they didn’t open for another 45 minutes.  So I went down the road to another record store.  When I walked in, what happened to be playing?
THE CARS – MOVING IN STEREO!!!  In my book, it doesn’t get any more classic / fabulous than that.

I was really just browsing, not looking for anything in particular.  A bunch of stuff popped out to me as “must have’s.”  I got a handful of 7-inches, and a couple of records.

I’d recently started thinking I need to upgrade a few records, if I come across copies in better condition, because I am a DJ (That’s a Bowie song!), and it sucks to play crappy sounding vinyl.

Five days prior, I’d told a friend that I probably need a new copy of Culture Club’s “Colour by Numbers.”  Me ‘n this record have a loooooong history together.  It doesn’t get any more basic than that.  Sure enough, at this record store, they had two options!!!  Either:
An original, still factory sealed, for $9.99, or
An original, still with the plastic plus promo stickers saying “Grammy Nominee,” and “All New Songs!” (and then it listed 4 song titles.  This one was $10 even.
I went with the one with bonus stickers!
(PS – $10 is pretty much the most I’m willing to spend on a record, and it better be pristine and/or hard to find!)
Another exciting find was:
PETE SHELLEY* – HOMOSAPIEN* (Elongated Dancepartydubmix) !!!

Anyway, back to the story:  So I bought this stuff and went back to the music store I had really wanted to check out.  It was small and quiet (I think he was playing music, but I have no recollection of anything playing!) and there were just a couple of older dudes coming in and out, with special requests and just to shoot the breeze.  I was only there for about an hour, but I left with a HUGE HAUL.  I spent more on records and cds than I ever have before (meaning within one store at one time.)  Almost everything I found was $5 or under, and it was an extreme pick-through type situation.  Meaning, don’t go looking for anything in particular, just start looking at everything!

I had a nice conversation with the owner while he rung things up (in a way so as not to distract him, haha, he was super methodical with his calculator and his mechanical receipt machine.)  I told him he’s got lots of great obscure stuff, and I might be back within 6 months or a year or whatever.  He asked me if I live here or am passing through.  I said I went to his old store with my mom a lot and he then seemed to maybe remember me.  I said I do live here, I’m a DJ, I like 80’s music, etc.  It took him a long time to ring everything individually, so I started browsing to pass more time.  Found 3 more cds to buy, and then, as a last minute thing, the “DAVID BOWIE” category within the records popped out.  There were two records in there:
DIAMOND DOGS* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $15.98 and
LET’S DANCE* (pristine and currently hard to find) for $9.98

I bought Diamond Dogs because that more or less completes my Bowie On Vinyl collection (no new pressings or record store day garbage, haha.)  I left Let’s Dance behind because I already have it, but, hey everybody,

LET’S DANCE, everybody, DIAMOND DOGS and BENNY AND THE JETS included!  We’re all HOMOSAPIENS, we’re all JEEPSTERs, MOVING IN STEREO, sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll…

_________________________________________________

*All Capital Letters

NOTES:

This is, by far, the longest post I’ve ever written. 

Does the song “Bye Bye Love” by The Cars have 3 F-Bombs in it?  Also, are they saying, “It’s OMG Style.”???

Pete Shelley was the lead singer of original English punk-rockers, The Buzzcocks.

Another exciting find was TWO copies (one for me, one for my friend) of a pink marbled vinyl original 7″ EP by The Stranglers from 1977, one of our fave bands!  They were $4.00 each.  (Hugs Work!)

I’m listening to The Cars S/T debut while I write this.

If you haven’t yet, check out the music video for “Hello Again.”  It’s prob on youtube or some shit.


I was in the hospital (again)

Oh, hey, dang, I’ve been absent for a while.  I was in the hospital, again because I was manic (the time before that was January, 2015).  This time it was a week:  from May 15th-22nd.  I’m currently out of work until June 19th.  I’m sure once I’m feeling up to it, I’ll be writing a lot in the upcoming weeks.  For now though, I’m thinking I’ll have a handful of short, somewhat abstract updates to this blog.  The first one being:

I am a transgender person and I was hospitalized for mania and my blood was tested, and I was administered my testosterone shot, but my T-levels in my bloodstream were not monitored at any point in time during my stay.

I feel legitimately angry, like, about as angry as I am capable of getting, about this.  Because I experienced some really really bizarre symptoms while there, that I would chalk up to hormonal issues, but there’s nothing for me to measure that against.

I was shouting A LOT.  Like, I am not a shouter.  I was SUPER vocal, the entire time I was there..

My menstrual cycle came back in a super condensed, concentrated form, for about 3 days…

Digestive issues…

Sex drive??  Zero

I called people out in their shit, in real time (generally something might occur to me later, what I should have said)…

I was actually able to keep my anxiety in check this time…

Smells and tastes were all over the place…

 

Blah!  When will it sink in, that transgender people face different challenges, and these need monitoring too!


3 months on testosterone

Today marks 3 months on T-injections.  My prescription is for 50ml / week, but I’ll admit I was using more than that for the first 6 weeks.  I’ve been doing 50 regularly for the last 6 weeks though, leading up to my blood test, because I really do want to see where the levels are, at that amount.  I have an appointment on Thursday with the endocrinologist to discuss this.  I’m going to ask to be put on a higher dose.  Which I may or may not bump myself up to.  I… just really like to stockpile testosterone and to have some personal control over it.

Changes have been occurring at a comfortable pace.  I’ve gained maybe 8 pounds, mostly in my abs, shoulders, and pecs.  I get more dark hairs on my chin and upper lip, which just means I gotta use the tweezers more often!  My voice definitely dropped within the last month – I’d say that is the most noticeable thing.  And I have mixed feelings about that, because it is such a permanent thing.  But, so far I’d say I’m getting used to it and will probably ultimately be happy about it.

We went to Easter Sunday at my Aunt’s, and it was the first time I’d seen my relatives since these changes have occurred.  I felt a little self-conscious, because they do know I’m trans and that I changed my name and some of them know about my top surgery.  But I haven’t said I am on testosterone.  And I’m not gonna.  It will just be.

Being out at work has been going super well.  Everyone is consistent with “Kameron.”  The “he/she,” “Mr.” etc is all over the place, which is overall fine by me because my gender is all over the place, and at least everyone knows that I said, “Kameron/he/Mx.”

Other than that, it’s been pretty low key.  It’s certainly not as big a deal in my head as getting on Androgel, 4 years ago, was.  I imagine I’ll be on the injections for a few more months at this point.  And then on and off of them, sporadically, for the rest of my life.  Probably.

I came up with a new term in my head, today, to describe my gender.  I’m definitely not “mannish,” but I do think that I am “male-ish.”

Here’s my face:  Other than not being able to get the lighting right, I think that my cheeks and neck have filled out a bit…

before injections

 

 

3 months on injections

Oh, also, I almost forgot!  I barely got my period this month – it was way late, and it was sooooo light, at that.  That was awesome.  It kinda freaks me out that that’s all it takes, and there are no health consequences(?) for the cessation of menses.  But, I guess it’s relatively normal, like with birth control and stuff…

Also, yesterday at work, we were using swing machines, which is uncommon (extra work over break).  And they require a lot of upper body strength.  I’d normally be sore after that, but today?  Not sore!


Drag king stories #6

First off, happy Trans Day of Visibility to you!

It’s been a long time since I’ve done any sort of performing.  I felt compelled to do something for a DJ’s birthday bash at a bar, because I thought it’d be low key and fun.  And because I had a good idea.  And because this is a group of acquaintances I’d like to get to know better.  And also I had been asked about a month ago by someone in this group, and I declined at the time, but it got me thinking.

So this was last night – it consisted of 2 DJs, one other performer and then me, and an MC kind of trying to get people to play ridiculous games for a little while, and then another DJ.

My plan was to get the birthday gal situated in a chair, have a birthday song play as I come out with so many layers on (including a motorcycle helmet with a party hat on top) that she has no idea who it is, pass out birthday hats and those tootle things, get people involved in a chaotic way, and then for this song, “Strip” to play, by Adam Ant, and just start taking off all the coats and other clothes I’m wearing.  Not to the point where I’m down to underwear or less, haha, please!  My “base layer” was a vest, bow tie, pirate pants, and socks.  Plus full on Adam Ant make-up, which was one of the best parts about it!

This is not me, haha – this is Adam Ant. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any documentation, cuz I was just focused on being there, in the moment.

My drag name is Adam Andro-matic.  It’s derived from Adam Ant, but, after all this time, I had never once portrayed him!  Not sure why!  One of the first CDs I bought with my own money, as a youth, from Media Play, was the best of Adam Ant.  I know almost all those hits and non-hits by heart.  As I planned out this performance, I really embraced it / him.  “Strip” is such a ridiculous song.  The video is even more so, I just learned!  But it’s also just purely joyous, which is something I’d never gotten from it, in the past.

Last night, also, was just purely joyous.  I didn’t have any pre-performance jitters or anxieties.  Generally, my anxieties around performing manifest themselves by being too much of a perfectionist and obsessively timing things out.  This time, not at all!  I just went in there, hung out, got ready, did my thing, and then stayed in costume for the rest of the night, talking to people I’d never talked to before, getting trapped into dancing with some drunk people who seemed to really want to dance with me, etc.  The birthday gal really really loved the striptease / lap-dance, and so did her boyfriend!  She hugged me a bunch of times and kissed my cheek.  This may have been the most fun I’ve ever had, during a night I was performing.  All the stress was out of the equation.  So was the extreme elation / relief when it was over, but I’ll take the straight up fun over all that intensity!

The MC introduced me as Adam Andromeda.  Haha.  I’ll have to think on that!

Oh, and also, later in the night, I was dancing to a favorite song – “Revenge” by Ministry, when a woman I’d never seen before came up to me.  She said, “Will you come with me for a minute?”  I followed her without hesitation, and she presented her boyfriend to me.  I knew this guy!  I’m not great with faces, but I narrowed it down to it being 2 possible people…  We shook hands.  He said, “Do you know me?”  I said, “You work at [the food co-op].”  He shook his head, no.  “You work at [school],” I said next, and he affirmed that.  I see him almost every day, at the YMCA after school program where I work.  His girlfriend asked me, “Is he good with the kids?  Do the kids love him?”  I just nodded slowly, because the answer is, “No,” from what I can observe, but she seemed to want to hear good things, haha.  He said he was buying me a drink.  I was pretty much done drinking by then, but I thought it’d be nicer to accept.  I said, sure, a PBR.  A couple of minutes later, he handed me TWO PBRs.  I shook my head and kept saying, “no, just one!”  But he kinda forced them, nicely, at me.  I took them both, drank half of one of them, and put them up on a piano, for safe-keeping.  Really the only reason I would waste beer – so that I can get home safely!

Also, I saw my neighbor on the dance floor.  This tiny, older woman who is ALWAYS out at clubs and bars, dancing and not drinking.  She just seems so mild mannered!

I stayed out till closing time.  Things had gotten really chaotic on the dance floor.  It was interesting to observe, dip my toes into…  When I got home I got ready to take a shower / get all the make-up off my face.  I noticed I had a kiss mark, from the birthday gal, on my cheek.  Haha.


Saying goodbye to my co-worker / ally

My co-worker’s last day was yesterday.  He is moving on to work security at one of the middle schools.  Some people have a lot of co-workers; I really only have just one.  I have a supervisor, a co-worker, and then a 3rd person who works per-diem 4 hours per day (so, a co-worker, but it doesn’t feel the same.)  We didn’t actually work “together,” but we worked at the same time, and for the majority of each day, it was just us in the building (along with after-school activity groups.)

He started roughly 3 years ago, and we got off to a rocky start.  I can’t really explain it, but it wasn’t just rocky – it was jarring, and jagged.  It was, in effect, a disastrous mix.  Things slowly repaired themselves, with time and effort, and I learned a ton about human connection and priorities, during this process.  Maybe someday I’ll really write about that, but it won’t be here.

In some ways, we are opposites  he grew up in a rough part of the city and now lives in the suburb I grew up in, and he generally stays put out there.  He seems to know everyone there.  I moved to the city as soon as I was able to, and I never spend time in that suburb, unless I stop at the grocery store after work, or get gas, etc.  I feel a comfortable level of anonymity within the city…

We had a complete turn around within the time we worked together – he was the person I confided in the most. He actively participated in being my ally in a bunch of different ways.  I wrote about this a little, over a year ago, here:
I came out to my co-worker

As soon as I told him about my preferred name, he started using it when no one else was around.  He called me “Kam-Ron” at first, and then just shortened it to “Kam.”  This later became, “Killa Kam” and “Cuz.”  He lightly pressured me to come out at work when he could feel it was imminent.  I appreciate it more than he’ll know. Well, he does kinda know – I explicitly told him yesterday that I wanted to thank him for being my ally, most specifically.

Super early on, he organized a district-wide work happy hour at his dive bar.  I was the only one who showed up.  Later, he narrowed down the guest list, and our co-workers / kitchen staff hung out one time outside of work.  That was a first!  He later bonded with me through my enthusiasm with a local community radio station I volunteer with.  He came on the air with me on two occasions, taking pics and putting them on facebook and just hyping it all up in general.  One time, we met for lunch before work.  That was a first.

Last night, I picked us up some tacos from that place we had lunch the one time, and we just chit-chatted one last time.  He had gotten a bunch of cards from students, like whole classes-worth, and a couple of gifts from teachers.  He was exuberant, like he often is, gesticulating a lot, not sitting down, etc.  I was low-key, like usual, trying to offset that a bit.  While still being interested / engaged.

I’ve never met anyone like this person.  I observed the ways he navigates through situations with my eyes and ears perked.  Out of everything I learned from him, I think the most all encompassing thing was what he summed up as “teamwork makes the dream work.”  (He would say this a lot.)  But not teamwork in the way I knew of teamwork – this is a different brand of teamwork.  I thought of “teamwork” as doing the same thing at the same time with another person or group of people, until the job was done.  But whenever I tried to enact that with him, we would usually clash.  His teamwork involves a network of small favors with as many people as possible, like, “I do this, which motivates you to do that,” kind of thing.  Which may or may not work depending on the other person, but he is an extremely motivational person.  In addition to just going way above and beyond, in that rare situation which arises from time to time, just to help you out.

He made a personal connection with probably almost every single person, whether principal or teacher or part-time staff, in the entire school.  And now he’s moving on to go do that in a school that’s twice or maybe three times as big.

I’ll miss him.

I also wrote about the co-worker I had before this co-worker, here:
Saying goodbye to my mentor / co-worker
That was when he retired, two and a half years ago.


Emotions and taking testosterone

Lately, I’ve felt an increased breadth of emotionality, and I’ve been wanting to embrace that and document it.  At this point, I’ve been on injections for about 2 months.  I’d say I could first recognize this about a month ago – I saw the film, Moonlight, and I felt choked up / on the verge of tears a couple of times.  This was no small event:  I haven’t cried or even come close for a very very long time.

About two years ago, I was seriously depressed for a year.  It’s definitely different for everyone, but whenever I’ve been depressed in that way, I do not cry.  I don’t have any emotional experiences, really, other than fear and panic and deadened mental capabilities.  And physical pain, but not in the way where I want to cry.  Then, after about a year of trying different meds, I got on one that I actually like, for the first time ever.  It helps me sleep.  It helps me not think in obsessive ways.  It helps me absorb new information and changes and take those things in stride.  I’ve had some serious high notes, in this past year.  This drug has actually helped with that, perplexingly.  I’ve also had a couple of anxiety attacks, but they were extremely few and far between, and related to stressful times.

But I had not felt sad, or any of those nuanced pallets / ranges within the emotion called “sadness.”  Until I started (again) on testosterone – which is kinda interesting because the more likely narrative is “once I started T, I couldn’t cry anymore.”  I have yet to actually cry, but the sensation is there, and I welcome it.

Today, I was listening to a podcast, and I felt overwhelmed with emotion.  Like I said, this has been so rare, that I embraced it.  It was “This American Life,” the episode called, “Ask the Grown Ups.”  Tig Notaro was giving some advice to a teenage girl who’s mom had recently passed away.  It was so moving that the world around me changed, temporarily.

Also, I’ve recently been seeking out music that I listened to while I was depressed, 2 years ago.  (There’s not much at all to uncover because I listened to so little music.  It’s basically 2 albums by Royksopp, something by The Notwist, and, probably a couple more I could track down if I really wanted to dig…)  It’s been… interesting.  There have also been big changes in my life lately, mostly at work, that has triggered some images of violence to flash before my eyes.  I’m all too familiar with this, and in the scheme of things, it’s been super mild.  But, yeah, haven’t experienced that in a very long time.  Instead of acting on it or obsessing on it though, I just came home, took my pills, and went to bed early.  I feel sooooo grateful that that’s all I have to do.  And then the next day it is not too bad.  What???!!!  It’s true!

So, essentially what I’m saying is that I have felt some intense emotions over the past couple of years, but very rarely did that involve any form of sadness.  Which, is pretty bizarre if I think about it.  And that’s been due to depression and medication.  And then, this higher dose of T opens back up a world I have not been able to access.  It includes nostalgia and emotional connectedness and feelings associated with the weather and isolation and the season and the environment, etc. etc.

As long as I’m not continuously bawling my eyes out, it’s all good.

If you’re interested in this topic, I also wrote these posts:
Depression and taking testosterone
Depression and taking testosterone pt. 2