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Transitioning into liminal space

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(no subject) [Jan. 7th, 2017|04:50 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[State of Being |hopefulhopeful]

Hopefully the plumber we like will have an opening early next week. I spent three-hours-plus snaking the bathroom drains yesterday, but to no avail. The clog seems to be further down the line than the nice powered Ryobi snake will go. It adds insult to injury that, because the tub isn't draining, I can't take a nice thorough shower to clean up. Home ownership!

There were a good number of volunteers at the shelter on Thursday, and it was so cold out that the dogs I walked with really didn't want to go around the whole park. I had some extra time, so I snuggled with a couple of them in their kennels, and then spend a good fifteen or twenty minutes brushing a big, bouncy Black Lab named Jessie. restoman, didn't you have a lab named Jessie? I've still never found a dog at the shelter who pulls as much as Lilly does! The shift leaders at the shelter have taken a class in how to use a prong collar for really difficult dogs and it made me think that maybe you'd be able to walk Lilly reasonably with one of those. I don't know how to use one properly and safely though, so I guess we'd have to look into it. But maybe it would give you a chance to do more with her? I keep thinking of you two and wishing I could help her calm down more.

Anyway, I finally got some work done on my winter bike today. I walked to the nearby bike store for a new cable to replace the rust-frozen one, adjusted and oiled things, and calibrated the shifter. Then I installed the rainbow unicorn bell that Danae bought me to match my helmet; cute! While working, I noticed that my metal-studded winter tires were made in Finland; I feel even better about them now. And finally I installed the bike computer I bought during an Aldi Summer clearance months back. With that done, and having located all my winter gear, I look forward to biking to the shelter next week instead of driving!
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Vet Visit [Jan. 5th, 2017|07:19 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |awakeawake]

It's a big day for a little pupper! Piper is going in to the vet in a few minutes for the spaying that her original owners should have done five years or so ago. Wish her little pain and a speedy recovery!

----

We'll have to postpone the spay again. The tech I talked to a while back said they ought to be able to work with the false pregnancy, but the doctor who called me this morning after dropping her off feels differently. They can try to work around the mammary veins and milk ducts, he said, especially if it's on the tail end of the pregnancy, but he's worried about doing that with Piper who, he said, "could supply the dairy" right now.

So we're going to wait another month-to-six-weeks and bring her back to see if she's ready for surgery. Ah well.
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Behavioral Health Appointment [Jan. 3rd, 2017|04:06 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[Tags|]
[State of Being |awakeawake]

Even if I don't do anything today other than walk the dog, eat junk, and sleep, I at least followed up on the referral from my doctor a few weeks ago and made an appointment with the behavioral health department at the clinic. That was the most important thing to do today.

Life has been this series of mental setbacks that I manage to almost recover from before the next one comes along and sidelines me. (I must be feeling off; I'm using sports metaphors!) In the last month or so, I can think of two really good days (right after getting back from Canada), which for me means that, for the majority of the day, I had enough energy and positive thoughts that chores seemed doable, activities elicited interest, and I didn't have enough negative thoughts to want to close my eyes and sleep and think about nothing.

I don't know if I would have gotten off of the couch today except that Piper's food alarm goes off and she needs care, and Danae texted me to remind me to eat real food and to make that appointment. So I ate a couple pieces of leftover pizza in addition to the chocolate and ice cream, and more importantly, I made that phone call. I am a terrible advocate for myself and am not good at explaining objectively what's going on in my head to someone I don't know (I feel embarrassment and shame about some of it), so Danae is coming with me to the appointment. Before Syracuse, I really disliked the idea of mind altering substances, including SSRIs and other meds. I've always been scared of the concept of not being in control of my brain. Now, I'm hoping that they'll raise my dose of Escitalopram and that more meds might help me feel as though I can rely on myself to be functional on any given day.
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Piper Update [Jan. 3rd, 2017|03:49 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |awakeawake]

Sometimes lately, I have a particular kind of trouble getting to sleep. As I start to drift off, I have a moment of fear or panic and suddenly I'm awake, often curled up on myself and breathing quickly. It typically only happens a few times before sleep, but it's been extra difficult tonight so I decided to get up for a while.

I have a bunch of stuff to write about, including good holiday stuff to make up for the bad before (though there's a little more bad as well). But for now, I'll write the dog post I've meant to write for a long time.

Piper is doing well. After returning from Canada, I took her with to the shelter one evening when I went in to ask about insulin and things for her. The shelter staff were effusive in their expressions of amazement at how good she looks and how well she's doing. "She's not the same dog!" I heard more than once, as well as praise at how well I've taken care of her. That made me feel really good about myself, and was nice to hear after how much of a handful she's been. We've had so many unexpected problems with her.

There was the fact that she went into heat right after we got her home. That finally ended, but while we were in Canada, I had another experience that, having never taken care of an intact female, was new to me. Danae and I thought her enlarged breasts were a result of her gaining weight until Danae was petting her tummy and found milk on her fingers. Piper is going through a false pregnancy and is lactating. So most of the time we were in Canada we were spraying her tummy with bitter apple spray to keep her from self-nursing, which would stimulate her mammaries to produce more milk for longer.

She's been extra growly and defensive, as she is trying to protect her imaginary babies. Noises set her off more than usual, and she spends a lot of time nesting in her crate, where we sometimes peek in on her to see she's not licking herself and other times just kind of throw up our hands. It does seem like that may finally be ending too.

We suspected she had vision problems, but we realized in Canada just how bad her vision is. It was hard to tell here at home because she was settling into a new place and by the time her behavior settled into a routine, she knew the space decently well. In Canada though, we got to see her learn a new space all over again. I understand why she's so scared of steps; she doesn't see them a lot of the time and just walks right off the edge and falls. This has led her to worry that transitions in floor color might be a step. While it made me feel bad for her to watch her at Danae's parents' house, I have to admit it was pretty funny and cute too. Their kitchen floor is a light color while the rest of their floor is dark wood. Piper walked into the kitchen without hesitation to get food or water, but she wouldn't come back out. She stopped at the transition to dark wood, and soon started whining and barking plaintively, asking for rescue. After a week or so, she sometimes managed to get out on her own, but she had to work up courage. She'd stand at the transition, moving toward it and backing away, toward and away, maybe make a few little barks, and then dash across it at full speed as though it was going to attack her.

Piper makes me feel so protective. She's still not the dog I would choose for myself, but I love her a lot. I'm glad the shelter is so careful about making sure dogs go to the right people, because I dearly want her to find a family who understands her issues and will take good care of the dear little girl. Hopefully she will finally be spayed in the middle of this month and she can start being available to meet potential adopters.

In a lot of ways, this has been like I imagine taking care of an infant. We can't take her anywhere for long without planning how to take care of her and packing a bag full of her supplies. We have to work our schedule around her feeding times and giving her insulin. We have to deal with her being loud and annoying sometimes. I'll miss her, a lot I think, when she's adopted, but I'll will be happy for she and us too.

Taking care of Piper is a reassuringly simply positive thing that helps me feel good about myself. I'm making life better for this innocent being who was miserable through no fault of her own. I'm making the world a better place by helping this sweet little dog, I tell myself. When I'm not telling myself that doing so is ignoring so many major problems in the world and getting sad and feeling bad about myself again.
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(no subject) [Dec. 20th, 2016|02:08 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[Tags|, , , , ]
[State of Being |okayokay]

The group of us (Danae, her parents, and me) were going to drive into Toronto on Saturday for dinner with her brother who lives in the city. The last time we'd had a meal together, I ended up feeling very distressed. They were discussing issues that touch on cultural diversity and media depiction of minorities in ways that I disagreed with. More than that, though, the group of them (Danae excepted) react to political correctness with a negative and dismissive attitude. I personally think the topic is very complex and accommodates numerous valid viewpoints. But their opinions seemed to me to be far from completely informed, and their attitude seemed dismissive of alternate perspectives.

So this past Saturday, I begged off from the dinner. I was feeling a little overly socialized anyway so I thought it would be nice to have time to myself to decompress. As it turned out though, Danae developed a nasty headache that evening and wasn't up to going, so we cancelled the dinner entirely and rescheduled for Monday. Danae and I spent some of Sunday on our own visiting thrift stores and driving around the city, and I was feeling much more able to manage socializing after some time with just she and I. I decided I'd go with for dinner on Monday.

Unfortunately, dinner was notably more difficult than the previous time we ate with her brother. I chatted with him briefly about winter cycling, and he and Danae and I talked about a few different computer games. Later though, the topic shifted to Islam and Muslim immigrants, who her father and brother tarred with a very wide brush. As usual, much of what they cited in favor of their viewpoints were news stories I was unfamiliar with or legislation that I'd never heard of. This put me in a position where I could not respond intelligently. It's the same reason I feel that I can't canvas for a political campaign, for example. I'm too well aware of how much there is that I don't know to feel that I can validly refute what I feel are incorrect opinions or conclusions.

As part of the discussion about Islam, they returned again to criticism of "the left" and "political correctness", saying that it's impossible to criticize Muslims without being called Islamophobic and racist. They referred to a statement made by the chancellor of Germany about multiculturalism having failed, and said that what she really meant was that it has failed with Muslims but she would not be allowed to say that in our politically correct climate. Again, I have no information about this event with which to respond. They talked about honor killings of brides and compared Muslim radicals to kamikaze pilots, saying there's no way they can be dealt with other than killing them. I tried to ignore this conversation and watch whatever was on TV over by the bar, making this one of only a handful of times I've been happy to see a television in a restaurant. I was feeling increasingly anxious and uncomfortable. I wished I could say something that they would take seriously, but I don't think I could have, and felt bad about myself for not saying something anyway.

They left that topic and moved onto one that, amazingly enough, made me even more uncomfortable: gender identity and trans* issues. They criticized a New York City law I'd never heard that imposed a $250,000 fine for mis-gendering individuals, and said that there are now 30-something officially recognized genders in New York City. Those pieces of information are, respectively, a misunderstanding and a near-total fabrication. At the time, though, I did not have enough information to respond, and I did not. They criticized people who prefer pronouns other than traditional male or female ones (which includes me, though they are unaware of that because I'm too cowardly to tell them), and then started, in their typically uninformed and assumption-laden way, to talk about how young is too young to begin hormone therapy for gender reassignment. There were so many problems with the conversation simply in terms of their understanding of the issues that it would be hard to know where to start, let-alone their attitudes about people like me and people I care about. I couldn't deal with trying not to listen anymore and asked Danae whether people would be offended if I went outside. She suggested I go to the bathroom, which I did.

I spent a while sitting, fully clothed, in a closed stall and rocking back and forth as I processed my thoughts and feelings. After some time had passed, her father came in and, on the way out after using the facilities, said that we'd be leaving soon. I waited a few minutes more. I hated that I might have made them uncomfortable. I hated that I was unable to be part of their conversation. I hated that I didn't do a better job of representing and defending myself and others. I hated that they must now know that I'd retreated due to inability to manage.

I already worry a lot about what her dad thinks of me. When his driving scared me a few years ago, I was too scared to talk to him about it myself and Danae did instead. Earlier on this trip, last week, he drove on the way to visit a butterfly sanctuary and Danae's mother has insisted on driving the rest of this visit because he was driving aggressively and she was worried about it bothering me (which it did, but I'm too nervous to say so). Her dad knows I failed at my attempt at grad school and that Danae is supporting me entirely. I just keep thinking that he must think I'm a leech.

When I came back from the bathroom at the restaurant, it was clear some discussion had taken place. That made me feel even worse; once again, her family was presented with evidence that I am unable to fight my own battles. I hadn't wanted to step in and my own uninformed perspective to theirs. I'd just wanted to leave until that conversation was done. Miriam, though, as she explained later to me, had felt that me feeling forced to leave was not an acceptable outcome. She had told the others that this was a sensitive topic for me and that the conversation was upsetting for me. When she and I talked about it last night, just the two of us in bed, I explained that that felt to me like not the best way to proceed. I don't feel that it's my place to tell people what they can or can't talk about. In fact, doing so plays into this stereotype of socially left people who demand safe spaces as an excuse to not talk about real issues. I feel that it is my own responsibility to deal with this sort of thing or not, and I do not have a right to make it a burden for other people to manage. I also think that it adds to the impression that I am too weak a person to deal with my own issues, and thus Danae must do it for me. That was added to by a conversation that Danae and I had with her mother last night, wherein her mother said that if a sensitive topic for me comes up, then I should really just let people know and ask whether we can change the topic. But I can't do that. Not with those people and under those circumstances. If I'm talking to people who I feel mutual respect with, where I know we're all trying genuinely to listen and understand each other, asking for a subject change for a while feels ok. But not where I was then, at dinner. The only thing that feels ok for me to do is to remove myself for a while.

Danae understood and apologized. I told her how much I appreciate her caring and her defensiveness toward me. I feel so lucky to have her in my life.

For today, I feel really nervous about interacting with her parents, especially her father. I'm mostly hiding in our bedroom (they make their front room into a bedroom for us while we're visiting) with the dog. I slept all morning until Danae got me up to eat. Now I'm writing. After, I'll probably play some more Factorio. I have a four-digit seven-segment display working with a time division multiplexer now that cycles through a number of values related to stored resources. I think I'm going to make a video that shows how to do it once I get home.

As for her family, I told Danae last night that my feeling is that I need to just accept that they are not people who will listen respectfully to what I have to say about certain topics. I really don't mind having deep conversations with people who disagree with me on topics that are near and dear to me. It's stimulating and valuable. Maybe we'll both learn something. But underlying those conversations must be respect and openness. Without mutual respect and a mutual desire to understand each other, I don't see much of a point to that kind of discussion. Without them, it's just an echo chamber. There was enough of that on Facebook; that's why I left. I'm not up to dealing with it in real life. It's strange to have close family who will not listen respectfully with an open mind. My parents and brothers have never failed to do so. But not everyone is like that, and it's ok for me to react accordingly.
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(no subject) [Dec. 13th, 2016|12:14 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
[Tags|, , , ]
[State of Being |happyhappy]

Danae and I have settled into her parents' place in Hamilton, Ontario. They are very caring, friendly people who continually take us out for food or cook delicious dinners for us. Her dad walked Piper while we were out for the day with resonant, and her mother stocked lots of our favorite tasty things for breakfast and lunch. It's nice to be with them again.

Speaking of Resonant, it was fantastic to meet him in person for the first time! He treated the two of us to lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top of the CN Tower, where we talked about green energy and infrastructure and social justice and so many other things. We enjoyed his company so much that we ended up spending a lot of the afternoon and evening afterward sitting in a Starbucks with hot chocolate and continuing that conversation. We met around one and got on our train home around 8, so we must have talked for five or six hours. I'd say we got along pretty well!

As well as talking, we spent a little bit of time between the tower and the hot cocoa walking around downtown Toronto. We talked about going to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum), but upon realizing it was closing soon we opted for the nearby aquarium instead. On our way there, though, I spotted some old railroad rolling stock at a nearby roundhouse. (Yes, an actual railroad roundhouse!) I'd seen it from above, but didn't realize it was so close; basically next door! We changed course and spent an hour or so walking around what we learned was called the John Street Roundhouse (in Roundhouse Park). I was boggled to find that something as large as a roundhouse still existed in the middle of as urbanized an area as Toronto. I was just as surprised to learn that it was still in use until the late 1980s, though that helps explain how it avoided the wrecking ball. I regret not having my camera with me, though Resonant took tons of photos of Danae and I. That was so nice of him! I'm used to rarely being in photos 'cause I'm always behind the lens. He has photos of us in the tower too.

Much like a few other LJ folks I've come to know in the past few years like basefinder, kishenehn, and restoman, Resonant would be a fantastic road trip partner. I could happily spend hours looking at industrial sites or infrastructure works and discussing them. If I could get him to some of the abandoned mining sites in the Keweenaw peninsula that I love so much, I think we could be happy for weeks. (There's so much wonderful info about the industrial past of the Keweenaw over here at The Copper Country Explorer if you're interested. And Basefinder might like the old Keweenaw Rocket Range that was out at the end of the peninsula.) That would be such a great trip!

I guess I got a bit distracted there. Anyway, the railroad museum didn't seem to be open. Or possibly wasn't even ready for visitors at all. There was a large empty building that might have been the museum, and there was a caboose that signage indicated was a temporary museum, but it was locked. Regardless, just walking around the first roundhouse I've ever seen in person, even in the snow, was a real treat.

Thanks so much, Resonant, for being a huge part of a wonderful day!
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Traveling! [Dec. 8th, 2016|09:39 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |optimisticoptimistic]

Space buns!

Space Buns!

During a trip to the Wisconsin State High School Theatre Festival, my dad's students decided it was Space Buns Saturday. All the students (the ones with long enough hair anyway) had space buns. Of course I let them do mine too!

I want to start doing more interesting things with my hair than always having it in a tail or up out of the way. Now that my wrist allows me to, I may start again to teach myself to braid my hair. I can do it on someone else, but I can't manage to do it on the back of my own head.

----

The exciting news for today is that Danae and I are leaving to see her parents in Hamilton, Ontario tomorrow. We'll be there for about two weeks, leaving on the 23rd. Piper is coming with us, and is sadly unexcited by the prospect of becoming a canid international traveler. I'm going to the vet today to get her vaccination records for customs and some more syringes. Anyway, if you're in that Toronto/Hamilton area and would be interested in getting together, let me know! It would be fun to see Canadian friends I've never met in person.

I had a good meeting with my doctor yesterday. Danae was kind enough to come along at my request because I'm not the greatest advocate for my thoughts and needs sometimes. She told the doctor what I'd told her about hitting my head on the elevator wall on a particularly bad day recently, for instance, when I failed to mention it. It's hard for me to talk about that kind of behavior because I feel shame and embarrassment about it. I tend to downplay the amount of distress I'm feeling in general, taking refuge in more detached, factual descriptions of my activities, or abstracting worrisome activities into a general statement of how I've been doing (i.e. pretty badly the last few days, or really well this week). I think there are a few reasons for that and I'm still thinking about what they are.

Anyway, I'm currently on 20mg of Escitalopram, which is the recommended maximum dose. Since my doctor is a GP she is hesitant to prescribe above that herself, though psychiatrists frequently do so. Danae has a lot of experience herself with SSRIs, and discussed the issue with my doctor, who agreed that it would be good to talk to that kind of specialist. The clinic I visit has just this year managed to gain an in-house psychiatrist. I'll have an appointment with a behavioral health person once I'm back from Canada, which will be part of the intake process as a patient of the psychiatrist as well. Then we'll have a co-management situation with my doctor, my psychiatrist, and my therapist. That sounds pretty good.

I'm up thirteen pounds since my last doctor visit in June. While I wish that wasn't the case, not least because many of my pants and shirts that I really like no longer fit, it's less weight than I was worried I might have gained with all the stress eating. Every time I start trying to manage my food again, the effort is pretty short-lived, which I suppose is another indication that, while things could be a lot worse, they could be rather better too.

Danae ordered me a surprise present; it's a bike bell that matches my helmet! Made by the same company, it's sky blue with a rainbow-colored butterfly, unicorn, and heart. I love it! It makes me want more rainbow stuff on my bike.
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I'm Still Here! [Dec. 5th, 2016|05:19 pm]
Transitioning into liminal space
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[State of Being |optimisticoptimistic]

Hey there; I've been away a while. Let's start with a picture of my fantastic new helmet!

New Helmet

Pride colors!! (I know, generally the pride rainbow only has six stripes.)

The chin strap snap (say that six times fast) on my last helmet broke and I haven't been able to ride my bike for a few weeks. And before that, I wasn't riding anyway because it seemed like way too much effort. I decided to buy a cheap new helmet (they are basically all equivalently effective if they are certified properly), but I have a giant head and nothing at Target or the local bike store fit. A lot of people claim that Nutcase's size large helmets fit their big heads, and there were a couple designs on sale on their site, so I was going to buy one of those. Then I saw the rainbow one, which though not on sale, was one of the small number of designs available in large. I had to have it. It makes me feel excited about riding again; it makes me hope people look at it and smile.

Yesterday, Danae and I had decided to drive up to Kenosha to see my parents before we leave for Canada this week (more about that later), and the idea of biking the forty miles up there got me more excited than anything else has for a long time. So I did! It was about 34°F (around 1°C) and the first snowfall of the year was happening here, so by the time I got to Kenosha, four hours after leaving, my jeans, jacket, and shoes were soaked with melted snow, my right arm was sore from where I slipped on an icy patch near the state line and took a fall (time to switch to my studded tires....) and my butt was kind of angry from a sudden four-hour-long return to the saddle. I felt warm when I got to Kenosha, but as soon as I sat down in my parents house and wasn't producing heat from muscle use, I started shivering violently, even after switching out of wet clothes. I sat under a blanket until I managed to warm up in ten minutes or so.

It was the best experience I've had in a long time! I wanna do it again! With different gear....

Yay! Pride helmet! It's so pretty that I'm not sure whether I want to put a genderqueer sticker on it like I did with my other one....but I probably will.

I haven't done a whole lot else recently, which is tied to my absence from LJ. As I wrote a few days ago on Facebook:


I have near-completely failed to cope in the last couple of days. I'm torn about social media. Either I stay away from it and feel anxious and depressed because I feel disconnected and lonely, or I'm on it and I feel anxious and depressed because I find out what's going on in the world (and still don't really feel connected to anybody anyway). Things have been bad since the election, but the last couple days were bad enough that I've decided to connect with my doctor again and talk about a medication change.

I may remove myself from Facebook entirely for a while. Maybe that will give me more energy for Livejournal where the kind of conversations I have are more in-depth and personally satisfying to me. I've been away from there too, and I miss the people there, even though the connections there feel kind of distant too.

If you tag me here, or message me, or otherwise contact me via Facebook, I may not see or respond for quite a while. Sorry about that.


Staying away from Facebook has been good for me, and I plan to continue doing so for at least the near-term. I also mean to get back to reading and writing here on LJ regularly. Now that I'm undepressed enough to have energy to read and write again, this is the place, you are the people, I want to read and write with. *hugs*
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Singing to the Kitties [Nov. 24th, 2016|11:14 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
[Tags|]
[State of Being |contentcontent]

This morning, I sang to the friends' kitties I'm taking care of while they're away.

"Got pettings? I'll do anything for you. Got pettings? Just tell me what you want me to do.
Bow down before the cats you serve! You're going to pet them 'till they purr!"

*To the tune of Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like a Hole".

The kitties were unimpressed, but pleased to get their treats.
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Space Buns! [Nov. 19th, 2016|10:09 am]
Transitioning into liminal space
The lobby of the arts building at UW Steven's Point is one of the most awesome brutalist interiors I've ever seen! I love this space! There will be a few pictures once I get home.

Also, thanks to my dad's students, my hair is in space buns!
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