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Transitioning into liminal space

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Kitchen Rack, Equalizer [Feb. 20th, 2017|09:33 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[Tags|, ]
[State of Being |accomplishedaccomplished]

I just installed this pots and pans rack in the kitchen today and am pleased with myself!

Kitchen Wall Rack

We have a fairly small kitchen with little storage space. I recently weeded out some redundant stuff and organized the cabinets, but it was still tight. Now we can put all of the pots, pans, and lids on the rack for easy access, and we have a now-empty cabinet to move things off of the counter to!


Especialy for For cmcmck and other people who care about hi-fi stereo, here's the story of my lastest find. I was at Goodwill the other day (Are you surprised?) and made another good hi-fi score. Not as good as I first thought though. It's a Kenwood GE 7030 equalizer; one that uses buttons and a control knob instead of physical sliders that get dirty. Beyond that, the front panel indicated that it was not just a graphic equalizer, but a parametric one. A parametric equalizer provides the ability to change the center frequency of each adjustment band in small increments. It also provides control of the bandwidth of the adjustments. Together, that fine control allows for very precise tuning of a system's frequency response characteristics. Though I felt a little guilty about buying it, I still leaped at the chance for $15.

Once I got it home and downloaded a manual, I learned that that word doesn't mean what they think it means. Rather than allowing control of the center frequencies, 'parametric' mode in this context seems to mean broad adjustments (almost the opposite of what it's supposed to mean), and 'graphic' mode allows finer adjustments. I was disappointed. That aside, I'm going to use it anyway. It has excellent harmonic distortion and signal to noise levels; this was Kenwood's top of the line model in the early '90s. It also has a 27-band frequency analyzer (though only 14 bands are individually adjustable) that will be really pretty to watch. Fake parametric mode aside, it was a good buy. They seem to be going for $100 to $200 on Ebay. I found just the front control knob from a defunct unit on there for a dollar less than I paid for the whole thing!

Oh, another random audio-type of thing. At yet another thrift store, I picked up a couple of LPs by a company called Hae Shan records. They caught my attention because they were bright translucent red. I Googled them on my phone and learned that it was a label in Taiwan "of doubtful legality" that primarily served US servicemen stationed overseas. The records are scratched up and likely unplayable, but they're so pretty that, for 99 cents, I bought them just to hang them in a window or something. I also picked up a record whose label was just a blank red circle. There might be some text that got labeled over, or that is really badly faded, but I can't make it out. The grooves all look exactly the same to my untrained eye, and I think it might just be a test record or something. I'll give it a spin and see what's on it. Should be interesting!


I met with my psychiatrist today for a quick follow up from my first appointment a month ago. We talked about how I'm doing (pretty well) and about how I'm feeling on two tablets of Wellbutrin per day instead of one. I told him that I'm doing well enough that, in therapy, I'm finally going into deeper work instead of continual symptom management and putting out fires. (I still want to write about that. Soon.) We'll get together again in a few months for another check in.
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I sewed a thing! Two things! [Feb. 18th, 2017|01:18 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |accomplishedaccomplished]

The attachment point for one strap of my purse* tore this past weekend when I caught it on a stair rail. Tonight, as Danae played a game on the TV, I sat in front of the couch with a desklamp and sewed it back on. I used a piece of denim from a worn out pair of blue jeans as a backing and sewed both the strap and the torn edges of the purse to it. The other end of the strap got similar treatment from my mother when it tore a good while back, so I used it as a guide. I've had it for the better part of a decade, I like it a lot, and don't want to give it up unless I really have to.

While I was at it, I sewed a Black Lives Matter patch over a small hole on the front flap. I thought that was going to be the easy part, but instead it was rather harder for me. I'm not used to doing any of this, and keeping things lined up correctly was a real plain. A few straight pins managed the job tolerably, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. It only took half an hour or so and about half a dozen finger pricks.

Black Lives Matter Patch

*Most people in my position would call my bag a messenger bag or satchel or something. I feel that there is no functional difference between my bag and the kind of bag that female identified people typically carry and refer to as a purse. Since the only real difference is the presence of inherent and irrational gender expectations, I ignore them and call my bag a purse. Most of the time. My self-confidence isn't perfect.
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(no subject) [Feb. 17th, 2017|12:36 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |contentcontent]

Hank is a four month old stray at the shelter who looks like a St. Bernard and Border Collie mix. He's excited at seeing people outside the kennel, but is really shy about approaching once the door is open. I spent a little time trying to get him to approach me for a walk, but then another volunteer arrived who likes to walk smaller dogs, so I let her coax him. He's so adorable, and I feel so bad for him. I hope either his people find him or he gets adopted soon.

I arrived half an hour early this week since one of our senior people is in Japan on a school trip this week and next. I started in early, walking the advanced-level dogs and got through three before other folks started arriving. I turned on a tracking app while doing the longer walks later in the evening and found that I walked and trotted two miles through the park, just counting the longer 'second walks' I took two dogs on after their short 'first walks' and dinners.

One dog I took out for a first walk really really had to pee. I got him out of the kennel, but had barely gone a few feet down the corridor toward the outside door when he let loose in the middle of the floor. At least the floor gets mopped every night anyway and we didn't have to mop out the kennel! Another dog I was walking stopped to poop while we were within sight of another volunteer and his dog. I bent down to pick up the poop, but before I could do so, my dog blithely turned around and started eating it. I think the other volunteer almost threw up. I just commented, "Ok, no face licks from you tonight."

Near the end of the evening the shift captain took me out with her and a large energetic dog named Tyro who's been there for some time. I've helped with Tyro before, but he's technically a 'supervisor only' dog who regular volunteers don't get to walk. The shift captains have been taught by the professional trainer the shelter works with on how to use prong collars for difficult dogs. Tyro is one of those dogs, and yesterday evening the captain gave me a rundown of how to use the collars and let me walk Tyro myself for a little while as she followed along. Technically, she said, she's not supposed to let people do that, but if they tell her at some point that she can let her senior people handle dogs who need prong collars, then I'll already know how to do it. The recognition and appreciation I get there feels so good. And when I look at applying for dog walking jobs, as I think I may do soon, I'll have good experience and references.

It would be nice to have a job where I get a lot of regular exercise too. I miss that. I was so sore after getting home last night!
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Cooking [Feb. 7th, 2017|08:57 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[State of Being |fullfull]

I've never been able to manage eating most vegetables and fruits. It's a texture issue, though when I was little I didn't know that and my parents spent many frustrating hours trying to get me to eat things like green beans. If forced to ingest them, I'd cut them up into tiny pieces and swallow them with water like a pill.

I've been branching out a lot more, food-wise, in the last couple years. I don't know whether there was some particular catalyst for that, or if I'm just starting to become more tolerant of things for no apparent reason. During our last trip to Canada, Danae's mother made bacon and maple roasted brussels sprouts. I tried them, and to my surprise, liked them a lot. I think part of it is that they have a fairly uniform texture and are a manageable size. Like giant, green, vegetably M&Ms that don't taste like chocolate. Of course, part of it is the bacon too.

I've been making a point of doing more cooking and trying new recipes, so I asked Danae's mom for the sprouts one and have made it several times now, most recently tonight. We like it so much that I've been doubling the recipe and cooking two pounds of sprouts. We have leftovers, but if I ate as many as I wanted, we might not.

I've made the sprouts, pulled pork, sweet curry (the latter two both in the crock pot), taco/burrito fixings, and hamburgers several times. I'm feeling the most comfortable in the kitchen that I ever have, and am excited to keep trying new things. I love making food for myself and for my partner. I'm happy to be getting more vegetables in me too.
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Could I...actually start being social? [Feb. 7th, 2017|04:22 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |hopefulhopeful]

Feeling so much better lately has made me want to leap into social stuff head first. I've been Googling to see what kind of events, activities, and social groups I would like to try to be part of, and thinking about starting to attend them. Particularly exciting are some explicitly LGBTQ-positive poly social event / play parties that encourage people to attend even if they don't want to play. I think that I'm getting to a place where I can begin to keep my own feelings and my own safety in mind in that kind of interaction with other people. I can imagine myself saying no to someone I don't know well about something I feel pressured by without it seeming entirely impossible; that's a nice step forward. I've found a couple of events that feel excitingly like the kind of thing I've wanted to be involved in for years:

  • A recurring weekly poly party at a local dungeon
  • One that happened a year ago, but gives me hope that there are safe, all-gender, sex-oriented socializing spaces out there that would make me feel welcome: this one seemed focused on safe spaces for self expression.

Great things!

That said, as much as I'm tired of and frustrated with waiting to be involved in this kind of community and event, I don't think this is a good time for it. And while I've been saying some version of that to myself for the better part of a decade, I feel for the first time that there is real potential for that to change in the immediate future. I have time, my brain is getting better, and eventually the primary reasons to delay will possibly be resolved. Those reasons are:

*I should probably work on my own brain for a while first. I've been fantastically better on the current medication regimen, but that's only been for a couple of weeks; it would be good to know that I am stable on a longer-term basis. I also haven't dealt with any major stressors that might throw me off, like taking really scary steps into a community I don't know, or actively seeking play and dating partners for the first time ever. Let's see how I weather some less turbulent waters before pointing the boat out into the open sea.

*Danae has just begun the process of getting therapy for some things that have been troubling her for more than a decade herself. Prior to a lot of really negative sexual and social experiences, she was very involved in the poly and kink communities where she lived. These days, because of those things, it's really hard for her to make connections with people and she's been really socially isolated. As I wrote before, I think that she and I are really in a good position to understand each other's experiences and fears and hold each other's hand through trying to open up worlds. But now, as she's just starting out and dealing with rehashing a lot of pain, may not be the time for her to do that. It's a scary, brave thing to start actively dealing with your own trauma and right now I want to focus on being there for her rather than start making significant life changes that would affect both of us.

*I do not have a job. Danae is financially supporting me, and while it's important to her that I'm able to spend money on things like visiting my parents or Posi, or CDs and things at thrift stores, I'm in a position where I do not have a lot of disposable income, and I have a significant obligation to help keep us living well on only her income (which, as a funded graduate student without another job, isn't huge).

There are lots of things I'm thinking about lately. Where's my brain at? Should I increase the Bupropion dose? I still haven't moved to the 2 tablets daily. I emailed the psychiatrist about it. I frequently get lethargic and unmotivated in the late afternoon or evening. I'm not depressed or anxious; just unmotivated. I want to chill on the couch with the dog or watch Danae play a game rather than do anything active. He suggested that maybe the Bupropian is wearing off and that I could take a second pill in the afternoon instead of two in the morning. I'm still considering that, and waiting to see how my brain and body continue to behave.

Do I want to look for a job? What would I do? How would that affect Danae, for whom I'm doing all the housework? Maybe a part-time job so I still have time for work around the house? Would that disrupt my mental stability? I think that the photographing babies job was a really bad idea for me; too much dealing with people. But if I could leverage my archives and library experience to get a part time job at a library (something Danae was thinking about for me back when I first moved back from New York), that could be near-perfect. Maybe. And would be good experience if I decide to go for an MLIS some day.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about going to a cuddle-party that happens in nearby Rogers Park. I've been to a cuddle party once before and really enjoyed the experience. I think that, with the reduced anxiety (particularly about meeting other people's expectations and not disappointing them), I would be able to say no if need be. Creating a safe space for people to say no is one of the goals of cuddle parties, even including an orientation wherein attendees practice saying no to each other.

So, there's that!

In other news, our housemate is talking about potentially moving in with his boyfriend out in a far suburb, so we may be looking for another awesome housemate. It was so hard to find someone we really meshed with; I hope it goes a little better next time, if this move actually occurs.
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(no subject) [Feb. 4th, 2017|10:26 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[State of Being |geekygeeky]

I haven't mucked with network settings for a long time, but the wireless here has been flaky for a long time and I decided to do something about it. During a few thrift store trips, I picked up two old wireless routers and scavenged power supplies for them (total cost around $10). Tonight I spent a while getting one of the new ones set up behind our existing router. I gave it static IP info, had it connect to Google's public DNS servers for name resolution, and put it in the first router's DMZ. Seems to be working well so far on our housemate's Chromebook. If it's better than the old one, I'll decommission the old network and transfer everything to the new one. I may also try reconfiguring the second router as a simple AP instead; that seems like it might be more reliable, but I wasn't sure at first if it was doable. Of course, I found a write-up after finishing it the first way.

I also recently managed to pick up a 4-port 1000-base switch (for $3; yay thrift stores!) for the entertainment center so we can get both my Xbox and the computer on hard-wired connections, as well as whatever else might end up in that area eventually. I don't particularly miss working in IT, but I can still get myself to puzzle through this stuff when it's helpful to.

One Goodwill I was at recently had a box of vacuum tubes. Vacuum tubes! Or, RCA electron tubes, as the box said. In their original box of 8! Where do they get these things?! No idea what they were for, but they were neat to look at.

Also, Danae says she loves it when I'm singing as I work in the kitchen. It's like, she says, "having her own Disney-princess houseboy!"
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(no subject) [Feb. 2nd, 2017|05:52 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |hopefulhopeful]

By request, here's a picture of the shirt I mentioned with NYC train lines on it! It's just Manhattan, but that's where I spent most of the brief periods I was in the city. Makes me miss the place.

NYC Transit Shirt

Danae has begun seeing a therapist, hoping to work through some really difficult stuff that's been affecting her life for over a decade. She asked me to go through her LJ from around that time and find some writing that would be a good place for the therapist to start in understanding it all. She started looking at them herself, but it's really hard for her. I'm really glad that I've been doing so well in the past week; she had a couple of days where I comforted her through bouts of tears. We're both pretty broken in our own ways, she and I.

They are our own ways, but they are also oddly similar ones in some respects. After a few hours of reading, I understand more thoroughly than I did the situation she was in. While our mutual issues have often not played well together, I also feel very strongly that they can contribute to a deep understanding of each other, and may make us really well suited to help each other process and overcome then. She's been supportive to an awe-inspiring extent to me, and I hope that me being so for her will help her pursue the life she wants. I hope both of us will be able to do that, sooner or later. Hopefully sooner; we've both been waiting for parts of that life for a very long time.
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New top! [Jan. 28th, 2017|04:27 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[State of Being |contentcontent]

Danae and I were in Andersonville (northish end of Chicago) for an appointment. Afterward, we stopped at the nearby Brown Elephant thrift store. It's a store in an old theatre that supports the Howard Brown clinic, a medical group that primarily serves the LGBTQ population of Chicago. We picked up a few things for me, including a pair of leather jeans for about $10! They will fit me when I'm again at the weight I was before I gained about 25 pounds while depressed and anxious.

As well as a couple of other great things (I got a t-shirt with a NYC mass transit map on it!), I want to share this super-sparkly green top with you! I found that I was much less uncertain about which items I liked and which I didn't while trying things on. I think I'm better able to hear myself without straining over the now much-reduced cacophony of self-doubt.

Sparkly Shirt

I love sparkly things!
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Spacerail [Jan. 26th, 2017|05:25 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |accomplishedaccomplished]

I'm going to try for a more even ratio of heavy stuff to light stuff. There's a bunch of good stuff to write about that, while I was depressed, I was convinced I'd be wasting people's time with.

When I was a kid, I had a marble roller coaster set (well, ball-bearings actually) called Spacewarp. I never actually built it; I remember being scared that I'd cut the plastic rails to the wrong lengths and ruin it. I've been fascinated by rolling ball sculptures and similar all my life, and I kept a lot of parts for it, as well as adding some from garage sales. In the last few years though, a company has started producing a near-exact recreation of those old Spacewarp sets under the name Spacerail. This is one of those that I put together over the last few days.

Spacerail Level 5

It's almost done. There are a couple points that still need adjustment, but three out of the five routes work and I still find myself captivated and soothed by watching the little bearings roll around. A couple more pictures follow, including one of the four-in-a-row loop with a second path that goes through said loops (that took a huge amount of tweaking to make work), and one looking down from above, in which sharp-eyed folks might see the tips of a few of my toes peeking into the frame, as well as our lovely household butter dish from the first picture. (For more fun, look in the first picture for the tips of the wings of our Halloween bat who is still hanging above the dining table, now with a baby Jesus, probably from a king cake, that our roommate found on the sidewalk as a rider.) It feels really good to have come back to this after so long and proved that I can do it. I rather want to order the level 9 kit now, but it's quite pricy, and and much bigger, and I'm already not sure where to put this one! (Danae thinks we might put up a shelf over my computer area and put it there.)

And with that, I'm off to get ready for the dog shelter.

Two more pictures hereCollapse )
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Better Living Through Chemistry [Jan. 24th, 2017|05:01 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |giddygiddy]

That gap must have been the longest span that I haven't posted here in a very long time! Unfortunately, it reflects my state of mind and general capacity for action during that span quite well. Major depression and anxiety symptoms were a daily fight. We've been approaching this in therapy in a really interesting way and I want to write about that soon.

This post, though, is about meeting with a psychiatrist for the first time and getting a new medication. Holy shit! This has been night and day! Four days ago I started on 150mg of Bupropion daily with breakfast to supplement the 20mg of Escitalopram. I honestly can't remember the last time I've felt as good as I did by that first afternoon. The endless, numberless, ever-present little worries and stresses are gone. The things I've worried about are still there, and I know they're still there, and I know that some of them need to be addressed, but I can think about them and prioritize them rationally.

I've been out on my bike three days in a row after months of feeling like putting on my gear was way too much effort. I've gotten four hours of housework for Danae done for three days in a row: it's been a long time since I've done that, and never have I done it with so little anxiety. And at the risk of providing TMI, Danae said that never in our entire relationship have I been, to paraphrase, assertive that way in bed. She said that it made her wonder how much of the time I was anxious during sex. That was an easy question to answer; all of it. I was anxious 100% of the time, during every single instance. It's an amazing thing to have unself-conscious, anxiety-less sex.

I'm supposed to move up to 300mg of Bupropion after the first week, but I'm going to talk to the psychiatrist about that first. I'm doing so well on the single tablet that I'm hesitant to change things. I don't want to either be on more meds than I need to be, or more importantly, break something that's working.

I'm also being careful not to dive headlong into too much right now. Several times in the past months, I was on a slow recovery trend but crashed after biting off more than I could chew. I'm going to take it slow, and enjoy feeling this way. I honestly can't say whether I've ever in my life had so little anxiety and worry.
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