Chapter 3: Check-In

1. I am averaging at about 80% on Morning Pages lately, at least as far as doing them only in the morning. Structured time is hard to come by, and unstructured time is easily eaten by medical appointments and random have-to-deal-with-it crap that comes up in my Outer Richmond Rapunzel-tower.

2. I have no memory of whether I did an artist date, which suggests I did not manage to do one. ūüė¶ I have a really hard time with it lately. At this point, a cup of coffee in a coffeeshop with my phone off would be awesome.

3. Synchronicity: do open parking spaces in San Francisco count?

4. Significant issues: I’m connecting how my wife’s gender transition is touching on some childhood trauma, especially with her new focus on appearance, and my deep gut-wrenched misery at her joy in patriarchal oppression. I am also suddenly more keenly aware of it as something I can’t just choose not to participate in, which is what I used to tell myself. Because I chose to be a feminist, I chose not to be oppressed – and I also chose men that weren’t assholes. Except…it’s becoming really clear even the non-assholes felt entitled to more basic respect than I did, and I somehow kept ending up in a service position anyway. Because oppression is like radon gas: if it’s there, it’s fucking everwhere.

My 3 Most Destructive Habits

1. Putting the needs of my loved ones before myself.
This is absolutely the worst habit I have, and one I need to really start pushing to change. While my partners may consciously agree with this one, I think when radical changes start happening with me there will definitely be pullback, possibly even temper tantrums. Admittedly I may be projecting and expecting them to behave as my mother and sister did every time I made any move forward in life. Especially since I am living in a place I don’t want to live, in a situation I absolutely didn’t want ever, in an apartment that just skates along the minimum standards I had set for a place to live that doesn’t even have a/c – something someone with allergies as severe as mine should have if at all possible. None of this would be happening if I weren’t expected to be the one to make sacrifices. Now I’m pushing for a move to San Jose, which realistically isn’t ideal with my allergy treatments. If there’s heel digging after my treatments are finally finally finished I’m just going to move on my own. I’ve had enough of this being the only one to sacrifice bullshit. I already made that mistake in my first marriage. As it is, I may be gaining weight because of proximity to estrogen shots, so one more way I’m being dragged down without my consent.

I can’t even get my primary partner to clear out the sink in the morning anymore, let alone think ahead to how her actions might affect the person she lives with. It’s nothing new but it’s profoundly irritating lately.

2. TV/Internet
These are my drugs, but at least the Internet is also necessary to my livelihood. They give me a sense of comfort – but that comfort also leads to me not writing, not socializing, making an effort.

And yet conversely

3. Trying to fix everything/overextending myself
I try way too hard to make everything good around me. I know consciously that I should focus on the things that benefit myself, but I still have this childish need to see the people around me happy, naively believing it will fix things for myself. On that I can take a first step: my partner has a date tonight. I have left a mess.

…I am not going to clean up the mess. Part of this is revenge, of course, – there’s no almond milk left for my cereal, I’ve gained another pound and I am PISSED OFF about it, and the one thing I asked her to start doing to make my morning life a little easier she did for a week and then just stopped doing in favor of spending all her time with her second-adolescence social life and putting on makeup. She’s happy, and it’s still at my expense.

So she can deal with cleaning up the goddamn apartment for her date. I have a volunteer gig an a workshop tonight – one where I will be attending feeling less than fully self-confident, thanks to the crap that’s been piled on me by my situation.

5 Traits I Like in Myself as a Child

Alter, Forwood & Co.
1. Curiosity
I wanted to know everything. I asked all the questions. While most people have the worst horror stories about Sunday School teachers stunting a quest for knowledge, I successfully exhausted public school teachers who did not want to assign me a new pigeon hole and got quite irritated at how I kept climbing out of the ones they put me in. I once prayed to God that I really did want to know everything…and I am convinced that God is still answering that prayer, to my chagrin.

2. Imagination
Now that I have my diagnosis, I realize now my ability to a)be in two mental spaces at once (here and not-here) and b)my corollary ability to completely enter an entirely different reality with my eyes open are one of the effects of PTSD and dissociation. My family’s constant drama – and I mean constant – caused me to find a way of shutting down emotionally, but also gave me a way to clearly and powerfully visualize entirely different realities. I imagined something better while standing right in front of the worst of it. My imagination combined with the dissociative reflex probably saved my life in some way, since as an adult my depressions are only temporary and the only serious suicidal thought I ever had happened after I accidentally deleted my entire writing folder.

3. Passion…albeit buried
When I got interested in something, I got really interested. I always thought of it as “interest” but in truth it was passion. I still think I define passion differently from other people and a lot has to do with my near constant state of emotional separation. For me it’s intellectual. I don’t yell at people over trivial details, and yet I’ve heard that defined as passion. I don’t start unnecessary political arguments, yet I’ve heard that defined as passion. Nope – I just got really, really interested and enthusiastic about things every so often. Doctor Who was the first passion of my life, followed by my high school sweetheart, and later on occultism which has remained a lasting passion. Writing and poetry are expressions for me, but not what I’d define as passions – first, I don’t share the passionate love of language that some lit writers do. To me that “passion” for language looks more like vanity and undermines the real purpose of language: to communicate. Literary writing, for all its praise, to me seems to undermine more than uplift society because it actually makes communication more difficult while the authors congratulate themselves on somehow making the masses smarter/”work for it,” and lose a significant chunk of the people that might otherwise benefit from what the writer is ostensibly trying to communicate. While there are exceptions to this – notably from writers who also happen to be women of color most of the time – most literary writing reads to me as a form of oppression, and as another means of deepening race and class divides. Perhaps I have a passion for writing to be understood.

4. Analytical
Did I write about this before? By sixth grade my class became socially complicated as people began pairing off with best friends (those little heart and key necklaces were a big deal) and also having boyfriends/girlfriends. This was all very heteronormative at the time. I had no best friend at the time. This constant relationship interchange also fascinated me. At recess I would sit and watch people as they did their changes and interchanges and actually draw charts and venn diagrams to examine the relationships and the commonalities. I wasn’t sure where I was going with it, but as an adult with the sociology classes to back up those charts now, I’m sure what I captured might actually be quite revelatory given the boyfriend trade-offs, the socio-economic statuses of the people involved, and how much money parents invested in fueling girl-world/female social violence status markers.

5. Good-natured
I honestly didn’t care about winning most of the time. If I tripped and fell in front of the whole school, I got up laughing. While other girls especially took malicious pleasure in laughing at each other and making each other feel horrible, I tried to find things I appreciated in my friends – which was hard, since everyone was a bit abusive to me as the designated social outcast. As an adult, when that good nature disappeared into my PTSD, I think a lot of people were far more shocked than they should have been that years of abuse shorted out my kindness with them. So far though I’ve only had that complete depletion of kindness and humor with people that mistreated me. New folks in my lives still receive my good nature until I have reason to withhold it. In some cases, especially now I’m back in the dating arena, that’s about 2.5 seconds – but for most that will probably go for the rest of our lives.

Detective Work Part III

I am afraid if I start dreaming of new employment, I will simply fall off track with my writing career

I secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy reading sci fi/fantasy novels with lots of sex and compelling female protagonists. I think Laurel K Hamilton would be viewed and admired as a literary genre buster if she used a male pen name. Because a man writing a tedious sex scene is somehow considered art, but when a woman does so, it’s just treated like it’s tedious no matter what esoteric thing might be happening in that scene.

If I’d had a perfect childhood I’d have grown up to be something extroverted – an actor, a politician, a slam poet – something like that.

If it didn’t sound crazy I’d open that occult shop that I’ve wanted to. I am pretty sure San Francisco can sustain more than one, what with all the botanicas that do a booming business and the owners that look genuinely surprised when a white woman walks in.

My parents think artists are – meh. I really truly don’t care what they think or thought anymore. Approval was a zero sum game and living my own life my own way has reaped massive rewards. It’s not even about living a life they would disapprove of – relegating their opinions to irrelevant by itself has been so so freeing.

My God thinks artists are workers, that need to work constantly. That might not be God talking but some embodiment of a Protestant hangover.

What makes me feel weird about this recovery is how I’ve done these exercises twice before and they still reveal new stuff that is profoundly relevant to my creative life.

Learning to trust myself is probably the most important lesson I can learn right now.

My most cheer me up music is...yeah, Taylor Swift. Sorry guys, I am too honest with myself to dig deep into the profound.

My favorite way to dress is according to my mood – lately I’m all about ripped T-shirts and pleated skirts.

Detective Work Part II

If it weren’t too late I’d finish off getting an MFA, or move to getting an MA in sociology.

My favorite musical instrument is my voice.

The amount of money I spend on entertainment for myself each month is a baseline of $30.

If I weren’t so stingy with my artist I’d buy her that goofy kid fashion studio kit with the miniature dressform. Also, I’d send her to drawing lessons at that studio on Golden Gate Park.

Taking time out for myself is difficult to well nigh impossible lately. Too many high need relationships, but not a lot of relationships that support my needs.

Week 3: Detective Work Part I


Dividing this into three parts for my own sanity.

Favorite childhood toy: Usually a doll – Sally, Snoopy, a Raggedy Ann. X-files of course ruined them all for me. Looking back I think I really wanted a real best friend, the kind I never truly got.

Favorite childhood game: Badminton. It was one that was dependent on cooperation and concentration – it seemed like a good mental reset, and usually led to me getting on well with my sibling.

Best movie I ever saw as a kid was Clash of the Titans. I still haven’t watched the remake. I think it seeded the possibility of Paganism in my mind, even if I now do often feel quite unpleasantly like a chess piece that gets moved around.

I don’t do it much but I enjoy collage. I was resistant to it at first, working through Vein of Gold, but it’s actually both effective therapeutically and magically. I’ve been trying to find time and space to do it lately – I forget how much prep is actually involved though.

If I could lighten up a little, I’d let myself go to one of those TV writers meetups. I’m utterly daunted by the writing scene here which is why I’ve barely entered it as of yet.

Week 2: 5 more imaginary lives

Man in greenhouse Arboretum?

1. Bellydance instructor

That seems to be giving way to other things since I am far more interested in dance than I am in performance. Since performance is a measure, I have started leaning deeper into ecstatic dance despite wanting to learn more of the bellydance movement vocabulary. I performed and perform enough in my life. I need one less place where I have to be “on.”

2. Domme

This…is becoming a real possibility, actually. It’s also another place of having to be “on” which is why I’ve sidestepped it.

3. Occult shop owner

this is one of my happy little fantasies, even as I know the work itself would be relentless and consuming – stocking, book keeping, promoting, booking events, dealing with projections from the neighborhood – it’s all a lot. Especially since I would want to tie it in with a full service greenhouse and perfumery. That’s one hell of a lot.

4. Venture capitalist

I would only specialize in plus size fashions and superhero toys based on women. Actually one could well feed the other. I still have some ideas for developing City Center in Minneapolis.

5. Politician

I plan to do all the things short of felonies that should make it really, really difficult to be elected to public office and make all the things I did part of my platform. Things are happening where this could actually be true.


Week 2: Time Audit

My main activities in the last week have been:
Image from page 59 of "Higher psychical development (Yoga philosophy) : an outline of the secret Hindu teachings" (1920)

  1. Yoga
  2. Skype conversations/social media
  3. Face to face meetings with new people
  4. Making rose beads
  5. Getting from point A to point B, and then back to point A again. This has by far consumed the most time.

If I were to strike two from the list, 2 and 5 could go Рalthough 2 has its own significant value to me, which I can discuss later in the week.

There are also significant chunks of time that go to listening and caretaking for my partner, especially lately as a lot of the old teamwork has slide away for reasons to be explained soon.

How much time went to each one –

yoga, a minimum of 15 minutes a day, Skype – too much time, although much of it is also during transit time, 3, one or two evenings a week which seems good, 4, mostly a one or two off thing and it is very, very time consuming so won’t happen often, and 5 it’s a minimum of 3 hours round trip every time I hop on the bus. I may benefit from learning more about what’s in the Sunset as that’s a shorter bus ride for me. Or not, who knows?

Week 1: Check-in

1. Morning pages 7/7. I’ve been packaging them with a morning routine that includes yoga first since morning pages first can worsen my mood while yoga first improves it. I’m under a lot of stress. I need mood improvers any way I can get them.

2. Yes! I did do my artist’s date! I happened to catch the Legion of Honor on its free admission day – and figured out that parking on a weekday isn’t too terrible.

3. Significant issues with recovery: when it comes to artist’s dates, I often experience a sense of immobility. In Minneapolis it was the “have i run out of things to do?” Well no, but my schedule became pretty hard to manage when I made physical fitness a bigger priority and all my classes had to be at night because of the car situation. Here, it’s two things: many of my artist’s date things are tourist things. Tourist things are expensive in San Francisco. The other is that this is a new city i don’t know that well, so I experience brain freeze when it comes to getting there and exploring. Any artist’s date will pretty much consume my day because there is no easily getting around, there is no driving to a convenient location, there’s none of that. Since I live in the Outer Richmond, a place willfully ignored by the MUNI (and the 5 line is always overcrowded) it’s an hour bus ride just about anywhere in the city. So that’s just two hours in mass transit alone, and then the time I spend exploring. It’s not a great situation. I am getting more into Golden Gate park and discovering that – as my allergies allow.

Artist’s Way: 5 Other Lives

You’d think this would be easier for me than it once was. It’s not.
Snap Out of Your Stupor
(image from Wackystuff on Flickr)

5 other careers/lives I might enjoy/imagine:
1. A burlesque dancer.
Not really new for me, but it still seems like so so much fun.
2. A tour guide.
Seriously, that seems like fun work. I worked as a volunteer museum docent in high school and it was ridiculous. But a place that is well planned? That could be fun.
3. A character actress.
Actually, there are opportunities for people of all body types where I live now. I’m genuinely considering it.
4. An archivist
There’s something calming about daily acts of historical preservation – no to mention all the dirt I can get.
5. A boxer
It’s ridiculously risky, but it looks so gratifying. I am opting to start weight lifting so there’s that.