Month In Review: May 2016

Thin wooden boards with contrasting light and dark brown colouring.

May was so fast and so warm. I think I can say I didn’t sleep enough (or well enough) this month, and I had more weird and nightmarish dreams than I’ve ever had before. Maybe a bad omen? I’m not sure. I’m going to keep this post extremely short. I haven’t had a great month, to be as honest as possible. There’s been a lot of confusion and self-loathing, but I’m not getting detailed about it.

A single adjective for May was contemplative

Did a lot of thinking about a lot of things. Didn’t come to a conclusion for most of those things. There was so much for me to wonder about and be confused by, both in my own life and in others’—particularly on Twitter with the #storycrafter chats and connecting with a heap of other writers.

In June, I look forward to
  • returning to Windsor (and my books, my own bed, fairy lights, and a decent tea stock)
  • a bookbinding event at the Windsor Public Library
  • a 30-day-salad challenge—eating one salad every day (I might post the calendar for this, but I might not; I’ve made the list of salads suited to my tastebuds)
  • more reading
  • more writing

Have a good month.

 

month in review may

Writing Wednesday 13

Sevenling 4

He left a voicemail on my new cell phone
and a letter at the backyard door
to tell me he moved out of state.

I called the number he wrote,
heard a message of non-service,
and sent a bounced email to his address.

Our daughter studies abroad.

Writing Wednesday 13

Should I Write A Cookbook?

I’ve been toying with the idea of releasing a cookbook. It wouldn’t be strictly recipes and pictures, however.

When I started university, I was shocked at how many of my peers didn’t know how to 1) do their own laundry; and 2) cook for themselves. I don’t know if it’s privilege to not learn how to cook (someone always did it for them, whether it was a cook or a relative) or a privilege to learn how to cook (having the means to prepare food at all). But I’m going to say learning to cook is one of the necessities in life, especially for someone who is on a budget, trying to eat more healthily, or suddenly living on their own—as most university students are. After all, there’s the “Freshman Fifteen” that comes with eating shit food on campus (or from the numerous takeout places inevitably nearby).

I’ve been cooking for myself since time immemorial. Or since I was, like, fourteen. Actually, I’ve been involved in helping prepare meals my whole life. My parents and grandparents were decent enough to teach me that helping to cook and helping to clean are part of the package of eating food in their houses. (Bonus: if you helped with food prep at my grandparents’ house, you didn’t have to help with food clean-up.) I consider this a privilege in this day and age—in the age of convenience and classism, that is. The “convenience” part is what I frown upon the most in the food industry. As much as I love hummus I can buy and eat immediately, my homemade hummus is infinitely tastier. Also, store-bought guacamole? No. Just no.

I’m still battling an eating disorder, and cooking is one of the few ways that I’ve been able to make progress toward having a normal and healthy relationship with food. I’m a hands-on kind of person. I like to make something and then use it—furniture, a website, stationery, and now food. Seeing that progress and success (or failure) helps me immensely with how I look at food.

I can’t exactly snub the people who dislike cooking, though. There are risks and inconveniences in every meal—am I going to burn myself? Is this meat cooked enough? Do I really have to wash all these dishes? Is there too much salt? Why are there so many dishes??

But, damn, the rewards are so much grander when you learn to cook.

So I want to compile a how-to, of sorts, for all the single ladies out there; for all the students out there; for all the people who lack the confidence to cook and feed theirself; for all the people who toss leftovers because they’re boring. Some of my friends and peers have commented that I eat well (which, I’ll be honest, 80% of the time I do! The other 20% of the time consists of Chinese takeout, liquor, and pizza). I’m a fiend for leftovers, whether it’s eating the same meal over and over, or using my leftovers for something else. I’m not sure why I’m hesitant to take on this project. Perhaps my fantasy WIP is eating at me and demanding my full writing attention—but that wouldn’t make sense, because I also maintain the blog. My mind is already aflutter with topics I can cover; with guides; with charts and diagrams I can make; with lists of the tools needed to start learning how to cook; with titles and chapters.

I guess what I’m trying to ask is this:

Do you think I can do it? Do you think it’d be useful?

Should I Write A Cookbook

Writing Wednesday 12

Sevenling 3

She wanted to ride the Ferris wheel
and see the pier on the coast
from the bumper cars’ queue.

Her father skimped on last month’s cheque
and gave her balloons with horses
instead of dogs

like I told him.

Writing Wednesday 12

Therapy Diary: Day 7

Blue and white paint splattered and dripping down a black wall.

My first short-term therapy session was on January 15 and the last was on March 18. It’s been two months since I last saw my counsellor and I can definitively say that even this short amount of counselling was helpful.

What’s Changed?

I’m doing more yoga and I’ve been approaching it differently than I did last year. There’s something more to it now. Before, it was focus on shape and form and getting a pose correct. Now, I focus on how it feels: how I can feel my strength or my weakness; my inhales and exhales. In particular, I can feel a connection between all of my body parts. Yoga has been one of the best practises I could have chosen, since it drastically lowers my dissociation—though I still struggle with it.

I’m also more aware of what sets me off/what triggers me. In particular, what triggers my anger and my panic attacks. I can’t even describe how this has helped me be able to even deal with life. From talking to people to running errands to sitting alone, I’m aware of my emotions and understand how to express or disperse them.

What’s The Same?

My depression is still fairly the same. I’m not that happy and barely anything gives me joy. But I’m trying not to dwell on that, on how I should be, or how I want to be. I know my friends have noticed it, and I’m trying not to talk about it because it’s a cyclical conversation. I’ll start talking about being depressed and it increases. This isn’t something I’ve learned to resource/cope with/deal with/etc. Pick a synonym.

I’m also still struggling with my dissociation. It isn’t as intense as it was in January, but it’s still around. I feel like the film on top of a stew left to cool on the stove. Like, I’m still part of the stew—or my Self—but it isn’t the same. I can’t simply stir the film back into the stew to have a whole stew—a whole Self.

What Next?

I’m going to be completely honest here: I don’t know.

I do not know what to do next.

I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m not ready to take on more. I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing and hope that, little by little, something else will change. I guess there won’t be anything new to do: simply practising what I’ve learned in the hopes it’ll become habit or second-nature instead of a conscious effort.

Therapy Diary Day 7

Thoughts On Change

I personally don’t understand people who lament about change. The ones who get personally offended when a new house is built in the neighbourhood. Or a road is expanded. Or farmland is sold and upscale condos replace it.

I drafted this post while I walked in the trails winding through the village where I grew up. They had changed since the last time I walked them. Trees fell. Leaves covered once-loved paths. Water washed away chunks of cliffsides. Another rock in the rapids. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the changes, since erosion had affected the trails and I needed to find different routes, or the trail had gotten incredibly steep. But I wasn’t sad or hurt or upset. Two hundred years ago, before any of my ancestors left Scotland and Japan, these trails and this river housed water mills.

This is nature. It moves.

I know some people have difficulty adapting to change. They get anxious, or nervous, or angry, or confused. They have their reasons, and I’m not going to delve into why some people find change and changing things to be difficult. There are always a wide variety of why people can’t handle change. I have never been one of those people.

Sometimes I think back on how my surroundings used to be, compared to how they have changed. But the world does not need to line up with a single snapshot from my memory. Who even knows if that memory is accurate and truthful to what the past was? What if I’ve changed my memory based on how my life has changed since then? There’s no way to know, so there’s no reason for me to complain.

I think a large part of my understanding and acceptance of change comes from my childhood. Nothing was ever secure. The predictable aspects of life came from the disjoint and the sudden change. I could rely on change. I could rely on something abrupt. I could anchor myself and pretend that hectic chaos was normal.

Of course, that isn’t very healthy. Needing chaos to function? Only feeling security when something is up in the air? I’ve deviated from those childhood lessons. I plan things and prefer when things are either set in stone or set in motion. (Eyy, there’s a set of antonyms for you.) I don’t like when I can’t predict something, but it doesn’t matter what I like or dislike. Uncertainty or surety exist whether I want them to or not in a situation.

Even when there is a new rock in the water’s course, it flows around it. When a cloud is battered by wind, it doesn’t stand firm in the atmosphere: it shapes itself to the current. A flower wilts. A fruit ripens. A construction crew and a housing company sign a contract to turn the forest behind my childhood home into a set of unneeded suburbs. My grandparents put the childhood home on the market. I move from this village to Windsor to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. I contemplate—seriously consider, really—moving out of the province. My hair grows because I decide to change.

I think change and control go hand-in-hand. Maybe there is a conflict between them for people that makes them dislike one or the other. Even controlling something in order to get change, like controlling a diet or exercise regime to change your body. That’s an opposition between change and control. Using one to get the other. Changing something to gain control. Controlling something to incite change. If something is out of your control, then why the fuck are you getting offended? Or upset? Or disappointed? You can’t control everything, just like you can’t change everything. Maybe expectations and desires come into play too.

Writing Wednesday 10

Sevenling 1

Gas stop pork rinds,
scratched sunglasses,
and discount pornography.

Sluggish engine and
his feet on the dashboard,
the toolbox forgotten in my garage.

Route 66 was my idea.

Writing Wednesday 10

A Typical Boy Day

The Day Before

I notice sensations against my skin. The dryness of my elbows scratching on the desk, or pulling on sweater sleeves as I roll them up, and the uncomfortable pressure against my ribcage from the underwire of my bra.

When I get changed out of my clothes and into something comfortable, I stare at my chest, touch my breasts briefly, and find myself frowning. I slip into a large t-shirt and sweatpants and put in earplugs for sleep. I’m not going to bed yet. Just trying to drown out the noise around me. Something is askew in my universe.

The Morning Of

My hair is too long and my hips are too wide, and I stare at myself in the foggy mirror after showering. My body is a freshly washed series of misplaced lumps. When I wrap the towel around myself, I close my eyes and brace myself for the chill of nakedness.

As is my habit, I have set out my clothes the night before. I do not think well in the first few hours of waking (not necessarily the morning; sometimes I sleep past noon. #noshame). Clothes are too many decisions, even the order of putting them on: underpants, bra, jeans, t-shirt, socks, sweater. I put the bra back on its hook in the closet and pull out the chest binder from a drawer. Before I make the effort to slip it over my head, I remember how terrible it is to put on when my skin is even the least bit damp. I pat myself down again. Through the towel, I touch individual parts of a body I hate today—the one that doesn’t feel right and that I can’t temporarily change.

The binder is tight around my ribcage. I inhale deeply, to remind my lungs how much they can expand while being willingly bound. It isn’t nearly as much as I normally can. When I first bought and wore the undershirt-like formwear, it would barely budge past my arms while I shimmied into it. It moved like a starch-laden tank top and rubbed my skin terribly.

I change the shirt sitting on my dresser. The relaxed-fit t-shirt with the beautiful design can’t be worn today: the neckline shows part of the binder and it is too fitted for my waist to feel comfortable. I do not want to be touched. My body is a virus. I open the drawer, place the Girl Shirt back in its place, and pick a Boy Shirt from the other side. It is loose. Crew-neck cut. Longer sleeves. Reminiscent of my preference when I would harm myself and hide the wounds on my biceps.

When I’m dressed and brushing my teeth, I see myself in the mirror and feel better. I mess up my hair, still unsure how to make my face look the way it should. It seems as if it will always be a She Face, regardless of how the rest of my self appears.

I’ve thought of wearing makeup, not for enhancing my lashline or enunciating the shape of my lips, but for contouring my cheekbones, my jawline, and my eyebrows to seem darker; deeper; dastardly. I do not have the money. My teeth are clean. I spit and rinse and rinse and rinse and floss.

Interactions

Either everyone knows my secret or they think I’m angry. My step is involuntarily more aggressive, I think, or perhaps the way I carry my shoulders and arms says something. Do I slouch more? Do I seem more forceful? Do I seem like an angry woman instead of what I am today: a boy?

I can’t walk as fast as normal, or take the stairs as quickly, because of the tightness around my breasts and ribs. The bottom of my binder rolls up toward the bottom of my ribcage, which doesn’t bother me as much as the way my skin and fat tissue are pinched under my arms. (An unfortunate downside of being overweight and trying to combat body dysphoria.)

In classes, I take notes and keep my head down. I don’t chat with acquaintances. I’m on a mission: survive the day. Running errands, I ignore the casual “hon” and “miss” the older cashiers use. Am I a flat-chested girl to them? How do they know what to call me? My confusion is hidden after a brief moment. I don’t know if they notice—they probably don’t. I walk in a fog and jolt when I can’t remember if I put away my wallet and cards and cash and receipts. Disorientation, over and over again, and I settle into the movements like a mix of floating and sinking.

I don’t ask friends for hugs. I don’t want them to squeeze me. I don’t want to be touched.

The Night Of

When I’ve returned home and after I remove the binder, I return to the baggy clothes from the day before (sweater and sweatpants). The first time I removed the binder was in front of my boyfriend. He was the first to know about my wearing it the first time it was on. He said I looked good. He helped take it off, since I got stuck. It was like I had shimmied myself into a plastic Chinese finger trap.

But removing it now is an easy slip. I’m always sad to take it off, but the discomfort on my skin hinders me from wearing it too long.

Any intense efforts to feel better about the femininity of my body would make things worse.

After I place jeans and a t-shirt on the dresser, I snuggle into bed. The binder sits in the drawer and the bra hangs in the closet. I will decide tomorrow when I feel and see myself moving.

A Typical Boy Day