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So I've been here a month. That rather passed in a flash. I'm not sure I've ever liked living somewhere this much and the space is getting comfier all the time. There is a gentle ease to living here that means I actively like coming home and spending time here. I cook and relax and even just gentle pottering about the place doing housework has an aspect of defining this as my own space, I've had a few people drop by and I find that I like that a lot as well. This is all very good stuff.

It's been the catalyst for a lifestyle reboot as well. I've picked up my cycle commute again properly and apart from during the heat wave last week when it would hove been downright stupid, I've been out on the bike more days than not. It's starting to feel normal again even though it's still exceedingly hard going and I'm still disconcertingly slow. 18 months of sloth have taken their toll but I'm hoping I can regain a fair chunk of the fitness I once had fairly quickly. I'm also regaining my cooking mojo. Having access to the kitchen that's both physically and emotionally unfettered is a delight. I know what's in the cupboards, I know where it is and I can eat any of it any time I like. I'm gradually building stock again to the point where I have the basic dry and tinned staples that will allow me to make good food on an ad hoc basis as well as a a few special items like a selection of cheeses in the fridge, wine in the sideboard and random things like cacao nibs and muscovado sugar which just make me happy. I *like* mucking about in the kitchen. I still don't quite make the things in my head but often the results are pleasingly close. I consistently have lunchpacks of a good variety of leftovers in the freezer as a result so buying lunch is now the exception rather than the rule.

These are all little things but there's a sense of agency in the day to day aspects of my life which in retrospect had been missing. When none of the bills were in my name and I was hermiting in my bedroom it did rather feel like I was the teenage child of my housemates in some ways. This in no way reflects badly on them but the reality of moving into an established sharehouse is that the communal spaces have already been claimed, particularly when everyone else in the house is a family. So having all the bills in my name and having the running of the household entirely up to me gives me ownership of my home that lets me feel like a proper grownup again. That seems a silly thing for a 43 year old woman to say but reclaiming all those basic day to day aspects of my life make me realise how much I'd missed them and how much that sort of thing informs my sense of being responsible for myself.

I spoke with the tattoo artist who's going to be doing my sleeve the other day. It seems the first half of this year is tied up with her dealing with already started pieces but true to her word, she's stuck me at the top of the waiting list for new large pieces which means it'll happen around June. I'll be seeing her for a consultation session in a couple of months and she made me realise that I can alter the existing image as much or as little as I like. I won't be playing about with it too much but I can feel free to do what is necessary to make it fit on my arm, not only spatially but pleasingly. I can play with the palette and mess about with some elements or even introduce new ones to make it work. It's going to be a bit horrifically expensive but I have bond coming back to me and have had a Medicare rebate for a potion of my surgery costs. Those two sums just about neatly cover what I expect this to cost so the universe is sort of providing in this instance. I am excited and impatient and very much looking forward to this. I adore my existing ink and have rather predictably been bitten by the tattoo bug. I like this bodymod thing, I think.

This is all very positive indeed. Let's see where this goes and what 2014 brings. It's about damn time my life settled a little.

Nesting

Dec. 23rd, 2013 01:16 pm
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A sudden explosion of life (not mine this time) has seen me move yet again. Actually, for all that moving is a fraught process, this isn't actually a bad thing. My once and former housemates are lovely people but that living arrangement carried with it the disadvantages which are simply inherent in moving into an established sharehouse. I've decided that it's worth the increase in living expenses to revert to living by myself. So I'm now living in a one bedroom unit not terribly far away from the last place and overall I'm very pleased with what I've ended up with. There are some repairs which need to happen and which I hope won't turn into a drama with the owner - interior doorhandles not fastened and the rear deadlock not usable as it's not possible to insert the key from inside as well as a cranky toilet cistern. I do love having my own space again though. I went on something of a household goods purchasing bender, both at the supermarket and Ikea. The place is starting to acquire a really pleasing character as I arrange my things inside it and I find myself looking forward to inviting people to visit me. While I love that this is my home and mine alone, this is also a space which I want to share regularly. this may have something to do with the fact that it will be the first home I've had without a cat since early 1998. I am the only living moving thing there which is slightly spooky.

Annoyingly, it's not spookily quiet. The walls separating me from the adjacent flat are not thick and there's one neighbour who doesn't know the meaning of "inside voice" and spends both morning and evening in conversations during which she shouts over the top of whoever else she's talking to with a kind of blustering posturing that will likely become wearing. She want people to know how dangerous and hardcore she is. I think I do but I suspect my impression isn't the one she hopes to give.

So, new home. Having my own space might prompt a lifestyle reboot and that's what I'm going to aim for but I've said that in the past and it hasn't happened. Let's see how I go this time.
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In a week's time I'll hopefully be mostly if not entirely moved. I'm in the process of packing and it's going slowly and painfully, mostly because I'm utterly exhausted and keep bursting into tears. I am not coping well. I keep telling myself that I just have to get through this last week and hold it together and it's all done. Just so long as I do what I have to that's enough. I don't have to like it. I don't have to do it especially well. I just have to do it. Please god don't let me miss something important. The money is paid, the consent forms are sent. I still have to fill me post-op care shopping list, but that's not huge.

I'm having not grownup responses like wanting to curl into a ball and have someone else fix everything for me. This is not reasonable but then that doesn't appear to be a criterium for how I'm feeling at the moment. I guess this was never going to be an easy week. So I'm whining.

I'm whining because I feel awful and my body does things to me like make me cry randomly (like right now) and want to fall asleep at inopportune moments and because I want to have this record of me whining so I can look back at it later and value what I have just that little bit more because fuck it, I have *earned* this.

Oh but I hate it though. I hate the feeling of not being in control of myself. I hate the feeling of suddenly not having enough time when the wait had dragged on forever. I hate not having the personal resources to simply harden the fuck up and simply DO what would at any other time be a fairly straightforward thing. I hate feeling like some kind of fraud because on some level I'm not registering that this is real stress and it feels like some weird scam I've concocted. I hate the way in which I'm kind of bewildered at my lack of ability to just get on with it.

Can I just be finished please? I really really want this to be finished.

Advent

Mar. 25th, 2013 12:01 am
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Two years, four months and two days ago I started taking estrogen. I've taken it every day ever since. Tomorrow will be the last dose I take for a while. This is because Tuesday marks the point where there are only four weeks until I go in for surgery. Apparently an elevated amount of estrogen ais a risk during surgery (it is for cisgendered women as well but there's no way to regulate it in that case)

I'm starting to pack my things, work through lists of things I have to do and I am thinking of little else but moving house and surgery. Moving house also happens in four weeks, the weekend before surgery. I could wish it was a week earlier but some things just can't happen so I guess I suck it up and deal. It essentially means that I'll do a quick and dirty setup in the room that will be my bedroom so I have a bed to sleep on and access to my clothes and everything else will be shoved into the other room to be dealt with when I get home after surgery. Unpacking will be a slow and gentle exercise, methinks.

I don't think I'm especially scared. I'm appropriately wary of the risks associated with surgery but short of not going ahead with this there's nothing I can do about that so it's not worth getting worked up over and I'm not. I'm a little more edgy about the pain that I know will be involved but again, that will be what it will be and falls into "suck it up" territory. Price of admission and all that. It's what comes after that. New home, readjustments to make to how I see myself. I suppose my life won't change that much but what will change will be that I will no longer have a major goal to push towards with transition. I'll have done all the big stuff and, to paraphrase Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy, anything I still can't deal with will therefore be my problem. What next? I broke my life apart, threw away several large chunks of it and then set myself to focus almost entirely on the process of transition. I need to be aware that I'm not going to have much in the way of goals after this and be ready for the "now what?" questions. If I'm honest, I think that's what I'm nervous about now. Once I've negotiated the big stuff I'll be left with just a life like everyone else. It'll come with a couple of extra challenges but so do many other people's. To survive isn't enough, I'll need more purpose than that. There's no big rush I guess but even so.

Having said all that I suspect that I really shouldn't underestimate the fact that there will be several levels of coming to grips with what I'm about to do. I'm not even sure what that will entail but it's not going to be a case of dusting off my hands and getting on with life as if nothing has happened. Even putting aside healing, I think I'm going to be re-examining myself yet again. Let's be honest, I have no idea how I'm going to feel at that point. Lots of general purpose bracing knowing nothing except that there's a significant probability of post-surgical depression. That's a very long winded way of saying that this is a big deal and I have no idea what to expect afterwards. As usual though, getting it out of my head helps it to make more sense.

I watched a video about body modification yesterday. In the middle of it, reassignment surgery was mentioned and there were some shots of surgery being performed. It was graphic and bloody and unpleasant and more or less intended to shock. I watched it with a degree of naked want that surprised me. I watched the incisions and the suturing with no fear or distaste, just a wish that I could skip the next four weeks. I have no misgivings about this, no second thoughts, no niggling wondering that I might not be doing the right thing. This is so so right.

For all that it's very definitely what I want though, I'm already wigging out slightly and by the time the weekend of the 20th of April rolls around, I'm going to be a bit incoherent. Anyone helping me out on moving day gets extra thanks for their forbearance in advance.
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Time rolls on. Tomorrow will be six weeks to go before surgery and it's starting to get big enough in my mental view that I'm losing perspective and it's now just a Very Big Thing™. How I will be feeling in a few weeks wouldn't bear thinking about except that I'll be moving house about then.

I confirmed my new home today. I'll be sharing with two lovely people from my derby league and the six year old son of one of them. They're both good, low stress friends and I'm really super pleased to be moving in with them. Rather nicely, what I'm getting for my rent is essentially a corridor that leads off the loungeroom; the two smallish bedrooms and ensuite that open into that are all mine except that the ensuite also constitutes the laundry. It's for all intents and purposes my space and that will be a very nice thing indeed. The rest of the house is a nice space as well.

The fact that I'm sharing with a couple of people from my league and that there will be a steady trickle of people from my league and others through the house will be a gentle way to stay connected that isn't going leave me overwhelmed. I've also got my own space in which to hermit if I have to. Being in Thornbury also puts me much closer to a great many friends. For that reason and a few others, I'm looking forward a great deal to moving back north of the city. The plan at this stage is hopefully to move in there the weekend before surgery. This could involve using most of my reserves of coping but at least it's positive stress. Then I get a full Monday to Friday at work. Having said that, it will also be the last week of my secondment, mostly due to the fact that I'll be away from work for five weeks after that. I have no idea what's going to happen after that. At all. I can't begin to predict my life post surgery. It will, of course, be much as it was before but I'm having trouble picturing it.

Eep.
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A day of doing today. Not especially sustained or arduous doing but doing nonetheless. I returned the keys to the old flat so that's done and then continued on to Highett to buy knee pads for roller derby. They didn't have the brand I wanted in my size but they did have my second choice and those seem to be reasonable things for about the same price so I got those. $110 is not a cheap purchase but we are talking about my knees. On the way home I stopped at a supermarket and spotted kilo bags of chicken necks at a quite reasonable price which got me all inspired to cook. This has been a sticking point lately so I went with it.

Making risotto with chicken necks is a somewhat involved process that has an almost alchemical feel to it. Chicken necks are full of chickeniness but they're also full of neckiness. You want one but not the other. So necks into a pot of water for a a couple of hours on the stove to make stock at which point I chopped up a leek, threw it into my favourite cast iron pot with pepper, tasty oregano, sage, turmeric, a little cumin and a little cinnamon. I poured in a generous amout of brown rice which makes the process take longer than with other kinds of rice but which I really rather like and started spooning the stock into the rice a little at a time, thus transferring the chickeniness but not the neckiness. I love how in making risotto you're condensing flavours. The stock and the portobello mushrooms which I chopped up and threw in once I'd gone through a few ladlesful of stock just get denser and more luscious as you go and I really like the end result. So in the end all of that along with semi dried tomatos, frozen spinach and red capsicum stirred through at the end after I'd turned the heat off resulted in rich concentrated chickeniness in the rice and concentrated, chickeniness depleted neckiness in the other pot (which I threw away). A yum thing.

Also, several boxes unpacked and resolved. My room is still just as messy at this point but there is a great deal more space and I can now access the wardrobe without difficulty. I also have the room to start putting more things away and getting tidier, possibly tomorrow. Unless I get a better offer.

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