Motivational Malaise

July 5th, 2015

I’m not happy.

Lately, and by lately I mean the past maybe four months or so, I’ve been feeling mostly just ok. I’ve had some fun times, some brief happiness here and there, but overall, I have this lingering dissatisfaction with life in general. My days are so routine. I wake up. I go to work. I come home. I feed myself. I attempt to keep myself occupied until I get tired. I go to sleep. Repeat. Nothing about it seems like something I could describe as fulfilling. It’s really odd too, because someone commented on a picture of me the other day saying it always looks like I’m happy and enjoying life. I wish that were true. I guess I can put on a face well enough in a picture.

Some days I am social. In fact, I’d say it’s more frequent than it used to be. I run in numerous circles, and I’ve had quite a number of weekend days that require me juggling overlapping events. I’ve felt bad because there’s one circle that, for whatever reason, all of them are the more spontaneous types. They always ask me the day of or the day before an event, and it’s always on the days I’m already booked for something that I was invited to weeks prior. Sorry, friends!

So yeah, it’s not that I’m feeling like I don’t get out or anything. I certainly have a lot of people that care about me. I know that. But I still sit here on the weekends staring at Netflix..or Facebook…or whatever…and I feel like I’ve just got half of a life. It’s weird. Nothing is particularly interesting. I daydream a lot. I come up with plans to do something, but as of yet, I haven’t followed through. Then I feel guilty for not following through, but not guilty enough to get motivated.

I feel like all my interests have died off. I haven’t had the desire to play a video game in the better part of a year now. When I sit down and start a game, I play for all of maybe 15 minutes and I turn it off. They all seem so procedural and tedious compared to what I used to experience. I don’t know if I’m losing interest in them overall or that I’m just depressed and everything isn’t interesting. I suppose its possible that nothing that’s out there right now interests me, but I guess it doesn’t feel like that’s the case. I just don’t know what to think about it.

I can definitely say that my self confidence is quite low. My self worth is low too. I’m simultaneously lonely while also feeling like a relationship wouldn’t work either. I’m not active on any sort of dating website. I’m not actively looking, and when I do get those feelings creeping up, I push them away consciously. If I find myself attracted to someone, I beat those feelings away. I tell myself that there’s no way it would work. There’s no way they find me attractive. I tell myself that I just make them uncomfortable or that they’d just hurt me in the end. I don’t believe I’m desirable or attractive. Deep down, I feel like by not engaging in any sort of pursuit of romance, I’m saving both myself the heart break and the time of the lady I sought after. I also consciously know how deeply flawed these feelings are, but I cannot seem to fight them off or change them. They seem pretty deeply and firmly embedded in my psyche.

I know one thing that has me down is my house in El Paso, aka the second biggest mistake of my life. The house has been on the market for almost 2 months now. There’ve been maybe 5 showings total since it went on the market. The area where my house is located has something like 22 homes for sale within a couple of square miles. The El Paso market is saturated. I have a feeling the house will be on the market for a long time. I’m thankful I can manage the payments, but even so, it’s the last remaining item tying my ex fiancee to me. It needs to go so I can close that chapter of my life and move on fully. It feels like an anchor keeping me stuck in the past.

All that aside, I struggle knowing what will make me happier. My daily grind definitely isn’t it. I can’t seem to get motivated to do anything else. I feel like I’m trapped in quicksand. I have all these ideas swimming in my head that I daydream about all the time. Yet I can’t take those dreams and get myself to do anything with them. All this depressive muck has me mired in melancholy.

I told one of my coworkers recently that every day I leave the office and I look up. I wishfully stare at the sky imagining myself heading up towards the clouds, feeling the wind in my hair and anywhere in the world before me. I’m not exaggerating either. I literally do this every day. So the question remains: what do I want out of this short time I have on this rock? What will help me to be happy?

I sure as hell don’t know.

Welcome, 2015!

January 7th, 2015

Hey all! Yes, I’ve been quiet for months. Rest assured, this is not a bad thing. No news is good news with me. My quiet on my blog essentially means that I haven’t had any emotional disturbances that had me turn to my blog to vent and cope. While my blog used to be a chronicle of my life, now it’s become a method for me to move forward after tough times. Granted, it’s not always that, but it is often what I use this platform for now. That’s something I’ve learned about myself in the past year.

Speaking of past years, it’s time to analyze my previous year and previous year’s resolutions, as well as make some new ones. Let’s see how we did.

Last year’s resolutions

1. Be feeling more emotionally healthy in six months – Fail…but success

I wouldn’t say this happened. It was a lofty goal, and that was good. It really took me almost a full year before I really felt back to normal, but I DID get back to normal. And that’s the big reason why this is still a success despite it not happening in the time I specified. I do feel like my proactive approach of going to see someone to deal with all the emotional turmoil of the fall of 2013 was wise. Big thanks to everyone that was there for me while I was at my lowest point. You know who you are, and you’re all amazing people. I really couldn’t have done it without you.

2. Replace my car – Success

Success! See February 2014 for that news.

3. Take a trip or three – Fail

I’d have to say this was a fail. I wanted to go so many places, but ultimately I only made it home to visit family, to Eau Claire a couple times, and that’s about it. This goal still needs to happen though.

4. Get out of my comfort zone – Success

A year ago, I was still pretty new to Des Moines. I had a lot of new acquaintances, but nothing solid yet. I did a lot of sitting around. I can easily say I got out there and did a lot of socializing. Despite my introvert nature, I made a lot of new friends and found a great core group…or two actually. I tried out new things, and really came in to my own here in Des Moines. I think it was a great year in that regard.

5. Be more physically active – Success

As cliche as this resolution was, I actually succeeded. It took a while though. Over the summer, I did a few bike rides that were great. Eventually the weather changed, and it got harder to get out there and bike. In November, I hired a personal trainer. Since then, I’ve moved on to a group fitness gym membership. So I’d say I really nailed this one despite it taking a while to achieve.

6. Save, Save, Save – Moderate Success

I didn’t save as much as I’d like. I did set up automatic transfers again. However, there were a lot of expense changes with the new vehicle, the new place to live, and some frivolous purchases. Still, I have more saved than I did a year ago, and I’m proud of that.

7. Take on new challenges and hobbies – Fail

This really didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still like to do so, but I really didn’t put much effort into it this past year.

8. Continue to write regularly – Fail

I do really enjoy writing, but when it comes to this blog, as I mentioned earlier, it’s more of a place of self examination now than anything else. I write when I am feeling down and need to vent. But you know what, that’s totally ok. Even with that, I had some great successes this year with writing. So I’m happy.

9. Do something creative – Moderate Success

Jessica the Nerd happened for a while. After my former roommate moved in, I stopped making the videos. I was really enjoying them, and now that I’m living alone again, I think I need to get back to being a content creator. It was fun, and it really felt like a great way to express myself.

10. Change my routine wardrobe – Success

Much like the being more physically active resolution, this took a while. But I did eventually change things up. I think it took a while due to my depressive state throughout a good portion of 2014. Once the depression lifted, I found myself really eager to change things up. I actually decided to join StitchFix to try new things too. It’s been great so far. I feel good about the changes I’ve made.

Overall Verdict of 2014

Not too bad. I had some successes and some failures. All in all, I’m proud of my journey through the year. I came out of 2014 much better than I came in to 2014. That’s saying a lot. I’m healthy now, both emotionally and physically. I have a great support group and a lot of great friends. I’m doing new things. I’m working out. It’s all been a great step in the right direction for me.

I think another big positive for me is that I’ve moved on from all the turmoil I struggled with a year ago. That’s huge. If there’s anything I am most proud and happy about, it’s that.

2015 Resolutions

Now that I’ve looked at my previous year, let’s look to the future. Here are my resolutions for this year:

1. Stay active

I’m really happy with how I’ve been with my physical fitness and my health. My goal is to maintain that level of fitness and health throughout the year. I like how working out makes me feel afterwards (despite the fact that during the workout is torture). I really hope that this year is the year that has me focused on a future path of health.

2. Eat better

Great Hera, do I ever eat terrible! Despite the physical fitness, I still get pizza a lot. I have thankfully cut the soda again, but I really wish I could get myself to be interested in cooking again. It’s so hard to cook for one person. Still, I really would like to change this bad habit and cook for myself more.

3. Spend less time on social media

I’m really terrible about use of Facebook and Google+. I know you don’t see a lot of posts from me, but I will spend a lot of home time staring at a screen, and I need to change that. I will have to plan on taking hiatuses from social media for chunks because I think I waste a lot of time on there.

4. Follow through on personal projects

I’ve been meaning to develop jessicathenerd.com for how long now? Almost a year? Yeah, that needs to happen. I need to jump on some other projects too, like making an inebriator, or learning to sew the rest of my jedi costume. Time to set some goals and make them happen.

5. Less frivolous spending

I really need to be smart about how I spend money. I could be saving so much more, and instead I do things like buy new tech or some other stupid thing. I need to budget a bit more on how much free money I have to spend in a month, and that should help.

6. Less screen time overall

I spend a good portion of my life in front of a screen, be it a monitor, a phone, a tablet, or a TV. Sometimes I’m on more than one at once. I just would like to have less of it and do other stuff sometimes.

7. Read More

I’ve already started down this path with an Audible account, but I’d still like to read more anyway. When I was younger, I read a lot. When I got out of college, that stopped. Audible has really helped me enjoy literature again, though listening is different than reading. I would like to get my head back into a book.

8. Have fun

I like to have fun in everything I do, but I think I’d like to make it a goal this year. I want to have more fun of all types. Last year was a lot of wallowing that changed into something much more positive towards the end. I want this 2015 to be a super fun year.

9. Learn a new skill

This skill has to be unrelated to what I do for work. It can be technology related though. It just has to be something new.

10. Stay Happy

Depression is not fun. Now that I’ve dug myself out, I’d like to stay here in the happy, healthy land. :)

Closing Thoughts

2014 was a recovery year. I think 2015 will be a growth year. Things are moving in the right direction, and I’d like to keep things headed that way. I have a good feeling about this year. As I said in my introduction, typically when I’m silent on my blog for a lengthy period of time, that’s probably good news. It means nothing tumultuous has been happening in my life. So here’s hoping my blog will be fairly quiet this year. That said, it’s overdue for a life update. I plan on getting to that in the next few days. So stay tuned.

Thanks again to all of you that helped make 2014 become the positive year it ended up being. I wish all of you a great 2015!

Rest and Relapsation

August 19th, 2014

It’s been a few months. I’ve been gathering my thoughts and feelings for a while now, and it’s time to send them out in to the ether of the internet. This episode will feature a few things: relocation, relapses, and real estate; dating, drama, and depression; Silence and Solitude. There’s a lot to talk about. I’ll start with the items that are the most on my mind right now.

Relapse

Not going to lie, it’s been a bit of a struggle lately. It began a few weeks ago when I received contact from the ex. It was cordial and professional surrounding the house and getting it on the market. The moment I saw the email…no, the moment I saw even the gmail label marked as having a new message…the blood ran out of my face. It made my heart drop. I hadn’t thought much about her in general for a while. I was well on my way to a healthy emotional outlook. All it took was that…one glance at one email to bring a bunch of feelings back from their carbonite storage. Apparently the carbonite kept the feelings very well protected. Perhaps I should consider different emotional storage options if I want them to decay faster…

I knew it would happen like this. I was dreading it as soon as I started recovering from the breakup. This is the reason I asked her back in the early part of the year to buy me out of the house. I just wanted to be done with her. I still want that. I really wasn’t looking forward to when I’d have to have contact with her again, and here we are. What I can say is that the emotional fallout from this is manageable, and it’s also quite different from the feelings I was feeling last winter.

Let me explain. Last winter, I was lamenting the loss of her. I was angry with her. I was feeling betrayed and very hurt. Those feelings are certainly there now, but they are faded. The feelings I have now are more of just a general emptiness. There is still a gaping hole in my life. I haven’t had a best friend for 9 months now. I miss having someone to turn to in which to share everything. It makes life kind of ho hum, really. Life has become this kind of…flatness. Each day is just another day. There’s very little that is exciting or that could even excite me. I also miss the intimacy of being with someone…the inside jokes, the familiar looks and touches, and shared experiences. Long and the short of it, I don’t miss her. I really don’t, but I do miss being in love.

I just finished listening to “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, and in so many ways I could relate to the main character of Shadow. He always seemed like he just followed where life took him, never really questioning or challenging it. I feel like the river of time is just pulling me along in its current, and there’s nothing compelling along the banks to make me want to pull myself out. Though lately it’s just been like I’ve been pulled under a few times. Sometimes when I’m walking down the halls at work, off to lunch, shopping somewhere, I find myself in my head wondering what’s making my legs even move. Sometimes it feels like I’m on autopilot. It’s a strange feeling that really makes me contemplate things.

I’ve dealt with depression a few times in my life. The first real difficult struggle with depression was before transition, and it totally surrounded not being myself. That’s situational depression. My struggle right now is also situational depression. I am grateful that I don’t have general depression that’s omni and ever present. To those that do, you have my deepest sympathies. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Robin Williams. My heart goes out to his family. With his loss being felt so strongly amongst those of us who only knew him through TV and movies, it must be unbearably painful to those that were close to him.

My own depression has had me thinking about ways to describe it to those that have never dealt with it. Depression is like dealing with a heavy weight on your chest. If it were weight lifting, the barbell would be almost impossibly heavy to push off your chest. On the days I’m very down, even telling myself that I’m going to be fine is like I’m struggling with total muscle collapse. It’s so difficult to do…like pushing back against the wind of a hurricane.  It occurs to me that I used to describe depression as a bit addictive, but that’s not entirely accurate. It’s more like an undertow. It’s just so hard to fight that you have to give in for a while to build up your strength to fight it again later.  So for a while, you drown in depressiveness.

So yeah, it’s a struggle for me right now, and it will continue to be one while I go through the process of selling this house. Here’s hoping the house sale goes quickly. I’m eager to be done with all this and really forge ahead in life. Eventually this relapse will be just a blip in my past.

Relocation

I moved. Again. My goal was to move out of the place that I lived with the ex and closer to where I work. I wanted no attachment to the memories of that place. Don’t get me wrong. It was a nice place. I had a great landlord. It was a bit expensive, but I had very few complaints. About the only thing I really wanted was a basement. Storage was a problem. It’s not really an issue anymore.

I moved in to a stand-alone house. No more shared walls! It’s a little cheaper and has a lot more benefits. There’s a full basement, which means I won’t feel as terrified next year when tornado season hits again. The yard is very green. It’s at the end of a street and backs up to a small forest-like area that is very lush. It’s very quiet, and also very pretty. I hear the chirping of insects every night. There’s lots of birds too. I walked out onto my back deck one night shortly after I moved in and was met by an 8-point buck staring at me from the tree line. I know there are a bunch of raccoons in the area too. I enjoy nature a lot, and this place is surrounded by it. I have no complaints there.

The house does come with a few downsides. The garage is not attached, and there is no keyed back door. So I have to walk to get in the house. It hasn’t been a problem so far, but come winter, it’ll get annoying. The driveway is long too. So I’ll definitely need a snow blower. There’s no way I’d be able to shovel that without serious back pain. I also have to take care of the lawn. So, there’s definitely more chores to do. I think the tradeoffs are worth it though. Alas, I’m no closer to work than I was before. Regardless, I think it worked out pretty well.

Dating

I had put in a lot of effort into going on first dates and using dating sites. After all that, I’m not dating anyone, and I’m done looking for now. It takes a lot of energy, and I just don’t have it. I’ve met some cool folks, and I’ve met some not so cool folks. It’s been interesting though. I’ve never done the dating thing like this before. In the past, dates have been few. A few dates led to a relationship. This whole “date a lot of people one or two times” thing is weird to me. I suppose it has helped me learn what I’m looking for, what I want, and what I don’t want. That’s nice, and I’m thankful for that.

Honestly, I don’t know how people can maintain this kind of energy though. There was a point in which I went on like…4 or 5 first dates in a week. I had a hard time keeping them all straight, and by the end of it, I was pretty tired of first dates. And then I hit this relapse period. I would say that due to my emotional relapse, it’s probably good that I’m not out there on the dating scene anymore. There was a pretty distinct change in my behavior after ex contact began, and that was sign enough for me to step away. It’s hard to focus on the other person in any way when I’m struggling with my own emotional health.

The other hard thing is that I find myself struggling with confidence issues. I’ve had a few relationships now that have abruptly ended. One ended due to my ego at the time, and the other ended due to my ex’s unhappiness with sex. There have been many times during this period of dating in which I found myself thinking “What the hell are you doing? You’re just going to disappoint her in the end. Just give it up.” The sad thing, and this is the honest truth, is that I believe it.

I’m not going to lie. That was really hard for me to write. It even made me cry for a while. It’s the honest truth though, and it’s likely that single thought is the fuel of the fire that’s driving this ongoing depression.

Drama

The drama in my life lately has been interesting. It’s probably the first time I’ve written about drama that isn’t mine. It’s actually drama between friends. I have mentioned in recent posts that I’ve been going to meetups. One of those meetups is called Drinking Liberally. This group has been really helpful in bringing me out of my funk and depression in the past. I’ve met a good portion of my Iowa friends there, and it’s been wonderful.

Several months back, something changed. There was a kerfuffle between the hosts of the group. The end result was a rift and a splinter group forming.  Now some people go to one group, and others to the other group. Few, if any, go to both. It’s a bit sad because I always looked forward to my Thursday nights. Now it’s still fun, but it’s definitely not like it was. There’s a different vibe. I wish the hosts could come together and work out their differences, but obviously that’s out of my control. I just hope that things get better over time. This group has really helped me, and I know it can help others too.

Family

I went home to visit my family a few weeks back. It was really nice to see them. If there was one thing I wish I could do more of is visit family. This visit I saw more of my family than I have in a long time. Not only did I see all of my immediate family, I saw a good portion of my aunts and uncles on my mom’s side. A few of my cousins were there too. One of my cousins I hadn’t seen in probably a decade. It was quite a bit of fun getting to hang out after all that time.

I think one of the things that I realized during that weekend was how fortunate I am to have the family that I have. A lot of my friends talk about their families in a less than stellar light. Some of them have estranged parental units. Others have siblings in prison. Still others didn’t have much family at all and went through the foster care system. I’ve realized that my family is a rare breed. My parents are still married. In fact most of my aunts and uncles are still married. There’ve been no falling outs or anything like that. In fact, we all enjoy spending time together. Must be something in our genes…or maybe the water. I knew I was fortunate to have a family that didn’t reject me when I came out, but I realize how truly fortunate I am to have the family I have. I’m very thankful for them.

My cousins, uncle, and I came up with a game that we played in the back yard. I had stopped and picked up three styrofoam gliders at the toy store before our evening cookout that Saturday. The original intent was to give them to my niece and nephews. As usual, the adults ended up having more fun with them. We ended up setting up a cross fire in the back yard. Two people would throw a glider back and forth while the other two would throw a nerf whistler football. The goal was typically to target the glider with the football and try to knock it out of the sky. This game went on for hours. It was a blast, and as you can imagine, it pretty much stopped when no glider was left with enough pieces intact to fly. If you have a gathering in the future, I highly recommend this game.

Birdwatching

I’ve been doing a lot of bird watching since I’ve moved. Now that I have a back yard and a deck, I’ve gotten a few bird feeders that I’ve mounted. This hobby of putting up bird feeders seems to be a familial one. My parents, my younger sister, and I all have them. I don’t know why we like it so much, but we do. I think we all have a desire to be around nature. Birds are beautiful creatures, and they are a lot of fun to watch.

So far the biggest challenge has been how to deal with the raccoons. All the feeders are deck-mounted. So the coons have been climbing up on to the deck and finding ways to get at the seed or suet cakes. It’s been a bit annoying. This morning I woke up to the suet cake cage thing missing entirely and only a chain remaining. I’m thinking they jumped and caught it, and their weight pulled it down.

Otherwise, I’ve seen a number of species of birds so far. Gold finches, sparrows, nuthatches, woodpeckers, Cardinals (the awesome kind…not the baseball team), grackles, house finches, doves, and black-capped chickadees. I think so far, the woodpeckers and nuthatches are my favorites. It’s a surprisingly expensive hobby though. Those birds eat a lot!

Video Game Break

I know this sounds crazy, but I haven’t had much interest in playing video games lately. So I took a break and have been doing other stuff. There’s been a little gaming in there though. I played a surprisingly difficult game called “Banished” for a while.  It’s a town building game, like sim city, but it also involves resource management and making sure you keep all your citizens alive. They have to plant food and hunt for resources. I thought it would be a much easier game, but nope. I have yet to have a very successful village. I tend to get by for a while and then suddenly realize I’ve made a grave error. It’s a fun challenge once in a while.

I also recently decided to finally get through the original Bioshock. Over the years, I’ve started the game around 3 times. I’ve played it to a point about a quarter of the way in and then stopped. This time I’ve already played it most of the way through. I have maybe a level to go before the game is done. I’ll probably finish it up this week.

Yeah, otherwise, I’ve been less interested. I don’t know if the stress of the move played in to that or if it’s perhaps the depression. We’ll see if my desire changes in the coming weeks.

Otherwise, for now, I’m living a simple, solitary (aside from the roommate), and quiet life. Some would probably say boring. That’s ok with me though…for now. I do have some things going on in the advocacy / education front, but I’ll write more on it when I know more. Until then, thanks for reading, and live long and awesome.

Brighter Days

May 26th, 2014

Awesomeness

Let’s start with something positive. I’m happy to say that I’m actually doing well. No really! I think the funk is coming to an end. I’ve noticed that it’s extremely rare that my emotions pull me down and keep me there anymore. My days fluctuate now between bright and neutral, and I couldn’t be more happy about that. It’s really nice to feel the weight of depression lifting off of my chest.

I think my last post, which was very negative, was a very telling sign. The fact that I was able to even be frustrated with my depressive state told me that there was a light ahead. I wondered shortly after posting it if things were almost over. Seems that thought was correct. I’m not going to say I’m 100 percent all good now, because that could be premature. There’s still a lot of things that have yet to happen. I have a house to sell with the ex, and who knows what that might dredge up emotionally for me. Thankfully that’s not going to happen for a few more months yet, which should provide me ample time to be even more healthy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Either way, right now I’m feeling good.

Allergies

I’ve never had allergies. I’ve always given my sympathy to those that do have them. I hate having colds and seasonal allergies seem like an unending cold. However, that may be changing. Anyone can develop an allergy at any age. What I’ve noticed between this year and starting last year, sometimes during the spring I get a random sore throat. I’ve had the thought several times “am I getting sick?”, but then it goes away and I’m fine. My experience this year was stronger than last year, which makes me wonder if I’m developing an allergy to tree pollen. That kind of sucks, but given the fact that I have no others that I’m aware of, I’m ok with it.

Biking

I’ve given thought to being more physically active, and every time I have that thought, I suppress it. Why? Cause I’m lazy, that’s why. I’ve never been fond of working out. That burn that some people really crave is something I have always hated. Still, the older I get, the more I realize I need to be more active. I’ve had a bike since I went to college back in 1999, and the bike is in decent shape. I’ve given thought to trading it in and getting something a bit nicer. It’s nothing special…just a plain old mountain bike, though a decent brand. It’s a Trek. However, I came to the conclusion that maybe I should see if I use it enough to make it worth buying a new bike rather than just going out and spending the money. So I decided to take my bike in and get it tuned up. It’s seriously looking great now. In fact, I got new tires and grips while I was at it. It’s like new.

So, on Saturday, I decided to go for a bike ride. It was the first bike ride I’d taken in probably 4 years…maybe 5. Seriously, I probably was living in Chippewa Falls when I last rode my bike. It’s really been a long time. Anyway, it was great! The bike trail system in the Des Moines area is fantastic. I ended up on a whim going for a two hour bike ride and rode 11.5 miles. Surprisingly I’m not sore at all. That kind of shocked me because there were some hills on that ride. I think I know why though. I’ll share more on that shortly. I did take my camera with, and while I didn’t take many photos, I did snap a few that I liked. I posted them on my Flickr if you want to check them out.

I’m hoping to make the biking a regular thing. I really enjoyed getting out there and seeing some areas I hadn’t been to before. It was really refreshing, and it totally reminded me of home. My parents live near a state forest, and I used to ride my bike through there all the time as a kid. I look forward to more of it.

Go Karting

This past week, one of my coworkers invited a bunch of us to go to a new go kart track in Des Moines. It was the first time I’ve been to a track that involves signing a waiver, wearing a head sock, and wearing a helmet. These karts go pretty fast. Apparently if they have a long enough straightaway, they can get up to the 40 mph range. This particular track has a lot of turns. So, that 40 mpg is a little bit too hard to reach, but you can still get going at a pretty fast pace.

Out of the 9 people that went, I came in second. I can’t complain about that. The coworker that came in first cheated a little. He went the night before and went on about 5 races that were 10 laps each. The rest of us were completely green to these karts and this track. So he had a bit of an unfair advantage. Do you see me making excuses? I do. Haha. Regardless I had fun.

However, remember how I said I didn’t get sore from the biking? Well, I think it’s because I got extremely sore from the karting. Apparently going that fast makes me, and a number of the other racers, rather tense. The day after, a good portion of my body was sore from my shoulders, arms and down to my lower back. Regrets? None…but ouch. Not only was I sore, I had bruises on my hips from sliding around in the seat and on my right knee from hitting the steering column. That’s what I call fun though!

Night of Terror

To contrast that, I had a night of pure terror recently. It’s spring, which means thunderstorms, and now that I’m in Iowa, there’s greater risk of tornadoes. A few weeks ago on a Sunday night, there was a severe thunderstorm heading through the DSM area. I knew it was coming, but I didn’t realize it was a supercell storm. At about 10:30, the sirens went off.

One important thing to note, in Wisconsin the sirens get set off all the time. Strong winds? Sirens. Rain? Sirens. Tornado? Sirens. Santa Claus? Sirens. I’m exaggerating a little, but they do set them off a lot, and there tends to be a bit of a “boy who cried wolf” effect. I never knew if I needed to take cover because a tornado was coming or if it was just another lightning storm. Here in Iowa, there are two reasons they set them off…ok three. Tornadoes, extremely high winds, and air raids. So, when the sirens went off…I kind of freaked out. And by kind of…I mean I totally freaked out.

I have no basement. When I lived in El Paso, I also had no basement, but they don’t get tornadoes there. So it wasn’t a huge deal at all. Here, it’s a huge deal. I really wasn’t sure what to do. I ended up failing to rally the cats into the downstairs bathroom, grabbing a blanket to throw over me, and hoping for the best. Even worse, when I looked at the news reports, I was essentially in the direct path of where the worst of it was headed. Reports were talking about a wall cloud headed my direction.

I was doing the stupid thing and looking out the window at the clouds, and I saw the wall cloud. The good news is that no tornado spawned from the cloud. So, I survive to live another day. However, it took me hours to come down off of the fight or flight adrenaline rush. I ended up not being able to fall asleep until around 1:00 am, which made Monday at work really rough. Still, I’ll take a rough Monday to a tornado any day.

Match

The more time I’ve had an account on Match.com, the better it’s been going. I’ve been getting a lot of positive attention on there. Several ladies have asked me out, which is nice. I’m starting to feel like I’m ready to start going out now. Sometimes I even think about heading to the local LGBT bar scene, but let’s not get too carried away. Anyway, I’m really feeling pretty good about it. It’s helping me feel attractive again, which is something I need since my confidence has been so low.

There are things I’ve definitely learned from it. I’ve noticed that there are some ladies that will send single line messages and immediately want to start texting and sharing phone numbers. I’m very hesitant with those. I’m much more interested in getting to know a person a bit more before that. I can tell a lot about a person through how and what they write. I’m very attracted to intelligence, and if a person can write about their thoughts in a coherent manner, that’s more interesting to me than whether someone is super physically attractive and isn’t willing to write anything.

Either way, I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m ready to start going out and meeting some ladies, and that makes me happy.

Gaming and Twitch

I’ve been playing a lot of Borderlands 2 lately. I played a bit of the first one back when I lived in El Paso, but I never got into it all that much. However, the second one is great. The writing is fantastic, and the gameplay is a lot of fun. I’m already dropped about 45 hours of my life into the game, and it appears that’s going to continue. I’m not complaining though. It’s been really enjoyable. One of the things I really like about it is that up to four people can play at a given time, and friends on Steam can just drop in if they like. So I’ve had a few impromptu multiplayer sessions that have been great.

On top of that, I discovered that my video card drivers have support built in for Twitch streaming. So, I’ve started streaming my gameplay here and there. It’s a weird way of being social and not social at the same time. The strangest thing to me is the lack of audio from everyone watching the stream. I’ll have a transparent chat window overlaying my gaming. So I can see if people write things, but I can’t hear them. So it feels like talking to myself while I game. Still, it’s pretty fun, and I’ll likely continue doing it. Maybe I’ll set up a regular night that I Twitch stream…and then promptly never follow through, much like my “weekly” Jessica the Nerd videos. Ha!

Speaking of which, my twitch handle is jessicathenerd. Watch my twitter / facebook / Google+ for announcements on when I am streaming.

Temporary Roommate

A friend of mine was going through some serious relationship stuff recently, and she needed to get out of her living situation. I’m very sympathetic to someone going through the kinds of things she was dealing with, and I figured that I have a guest room that’s just a storage area for me. So I offered it to her. She’s been hanging out here for about a week now, and it’s been good. Honestly, I think I needed a roommate after all this time alone. It’s been nice to have someone to chat with, to share meals with, and watch stuff with. Plus, it feels good to help someone in need.

She’s in the process of getting back on her feet, and when she does, she’ll be finding a place for herself. In the meantime, my lease is up in a couple months, and I’m going to start looking for a place that’s closer to work. So I’m going to spend some time on Craigslist searching for something that fits the bill for me. I’m hoping for either a standalone house, a side by side duplex, or a condo townhome that is affordable. My place right now is really expensive, and I’m hoping to cut that cost quite a bit. Around here it’d be cheaper to own, but I’ve already made that mistake once, and I’m not doing it again. Renting is the way to go for me right now.

Productivity

I’m hoping to start making some schedules for my life soon. I’ve had a lot of ideas for projects, like my Jessica the Nerd website, a few video projects, and what not. I’d really like to start scheduling and setting aside some time to actually work on them. I think if I do that, and each week…maybe Tuesday or something, I go to a coffee shop after work, I’ll spend a few hours working and being productive on personal projects. From there I’ll be able to actually make those projects a success.

What do you think? Is that a good plan? How do you stay productive on personal stuff without letting yourself get distracted by laziness? Let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and being awesome people. Live long and Awesome!

Frustrations

May 7th, 2014

I have a lot of frustrations in my life right now. None of them are easy to deal with. Some are not even in my control, but they are frustrating nonetheless.

Frustrations with Dating

So on a whim, I decided to put myself on Match.com. I think it was my way of dipping my toes in the water to see how ready I am to get back to dating. I’m fairly certain I’m not ready, but I really wish I was. I’ve had a few ladies chat with me, and one actually asked me out. I was hesitant at first because, as I said, I’m not sure that I’m ready, but I said sure. As the morning approached, I got a message from her stating that she had to be honest and that she didn’t know I was trans. She isn’t romantically interested in trans women. She offered to be friends, but honestly, it’s a little hard for me to want that when someone is willing to categorically turn you away based on one aspect of you that has nothing to do with whether she was attracted to you in the first place or has any bearing on your personality at all.

I’ve dealt with this kind of thing throughout my life, as readers of old posts of my blog are likely aware. I’ve not been looking forward to dating. I’ve never been good at it, and when something like that happens, it just lowers my confidence even more. I find myself feeling like the last kid picked in gym class…aka the one no one wants on their team.

Let’s contrast that with another experience I had. A week and a half ago, I went to a meetup. Afterwards, a guy at the event asked me for my number. Based on his conversation with me prior, I could tell he was interested. I don’t think anyone has actively checked out my profile on meetup before talking to me before…pretty strong sign there. Anyway, out of curiosity, I gave it to him. He ended up asking me to hang out, and again, out of curiosity, I went.

My curiosity is simple. I know the guy is what straight women would say is attractive. I crave some semblance of “normalcy” in my life sometimes…whatever that means. I guess…being trans…being lesbian…having these overlapping minority identities can be overwhelming. Furthermore, if I was into guys, that would mean there’s a lot more opportunities for me to date. Alas…I am not. There was nothing there for me…other than friendship. I can tell he’s interested, but I’ve got nothing. I’m pretty sure it was just wishful thinking on my part. Being straight would open up a lot more dating options.

Back in the day, over ten years ago now, when I was in college, I used to discuss with my counselor about my attractions. I remember having conversations about how it would likely be easier for me as a lesbian because women are more understanding. I’ve actually found the opposite when it comes to dating. The lesbian community is less understanding than heterosexual men, and that’s surprising to me. Perhaps it’s just the numbers game. There are just more heterosexual men than lesbian women, and thus, more heterosexual men that are open to trans partners than lesbian women that are also open. Just a theory, but seems to be true based on experience.

So yeah…I’m still a lesbian. It’s nice to know that pretty confidently though. Ultimately, I’m glad I’m getting out there, but yeah…not ready yet.

Frustrations with myself

I’ve largely disappointed myself lately. My motivation levels have been extremely low. I go to work. I come home. I sit on the couch, watch YouTube, and stare at social media. I have so many productive things I could be doing. My place could use a vacuuming. I have a website I want to build. I could start writing a book. I have a superhero story that I’ve wanted to write for years. Heck, I even have Netflix movies to watch. I do none of these things. I sit on my couch and look at Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. How. Lame.

My eating habits are pretty terrible. I eat better at work than I do at home. I come home and have a bowl or two of cereal because I have no desire to make anything of substance. I order pizza more than I should. At least I avoid soda at home. That’s probably the only good thing I have going at home. Water and more water. Junk food is always a problem. I just wish I had the motivation to throw together some oven baked tilapia, or maybe some slow cooker recipes, or even something as simple as making a burger on the grill. I’m just so lazy!

I mentioned my usage of social media earlier, and honestly it concerns me. I spent entirely too much time staring at my computer screen. I totally view it as a huge waste of time, not that I don’t like seeing what friends are saying. But I can probably cut back a lot and not miss anything. The sad thing is that I don’t even post stuff. I don’t feel like I have anything interesting to say. So I just lurk. It bothers me.

My confidence has been really not great. The only place I feel really confident and appreciated is at work. I’m very thankful for that. I really like my job and what I do. I just wish that feeling bled in to the rest of my life. I feel unattractive. In fact, when I post the occasional selfie on Facebook, I’m really surprised at the amount of lies, because I don’t think very highly of the photo, myself. I know we’re all our own worst critic, but I think I’m only seeing the negatives right now.

So yeah, I’m frustrated with myself. I know…I’m probably just being too hard on myself, but I guess that’s a part of depression. I can only take it a day at a time.

Frustration with Distractions

And here I’ve been all talking about how I’m not doing enough with my life, I’m going to talk about the things I’ve been doing to distract from that. I started my YouTube channel, and it’s been fun. My lack of motivation has been making it difficult to meet my goal of a new video a week, but I guess that’s to be expected. I think likely a new video every other week is more realistic for me right now. Maybe I can ramp it up as I get a groove with it. I don’t know. The motivation issue I mentioned earlier plays into that. I just have a hard time getting started. Once I do get started, I see it through to completion. I just need to push myself to get my butt off the couch and what not.

I have also been putting forth effort to not be a hermit. The meetups have been good, and I feel like I’m starting to have a group of friends that care about me. It’s so hard being an adult trying to make new friends. I feel like I’m shoehorning myself into these people’s lives. They may not feel that way, but I can’t help but feel how I do. It’s my nature, I guess.

I still regularly go to my dungeons and dragons group on Sundays. I’ve gotten used to it now, and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve bought the basic few books that are needed and am starting to really feel like a part of the party. My neutral good archer is really kicking some butt. It’s actually made me consider picking up archery as a hobby. I used to do it a little bit as a kid, and I think in lieu of fencing due to a lack of rapier fighters here, I could do archery instead. Just something I’m toying with. Anyway, D&D is fun.

All those distractions aside, I feel like I don’t take enough me time to just recover and relax. Instead of enjoying my burrito on the weekends, I’m constantly thinking “I should be working on my website”, “I should be shooting another video right now”, or “I need to write a new blog post”. I stress myself out over not being productive enough and in doing so I worry that I’m not relaxing enough. How dumb is that?!! I’m chastising myself for pretty much all behavior. That’s super healthy.

Remembering Depression

All of these experiences are reminding me of what it was like way back when I was struggling before transition, though not nearly as strong. I’d forgotten what depression is like: the lack of feelings about things, the lack of motivation, the lack of desire to do ANYTHING…even the things you enjoy. It’s a black hole that pulls down at you all the time. It kind of feels like trying to run while under water. Everything is sluggish and takes more effort. Even writing this blog has been a serious challenge. I so desperately want to not be depressed…to be happy. I know it will come in time.  Some days I feel ok. There are days that I almost feel like things are back to normal. However, they don’t last. It’s always very fleeting. I can only hope those days get more frequent.

If there’s one thing my therapist has helped me with, it’s to not beat myself up for feeling sad. For a while, when I felt sad, I would feel like I should be further along in my healing process than that. It’s been almost six months, dammit. I shouldn’t be reduced to tears anymore…that sort of thing. My therapist has helped me accept that it’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad. I can let myself cry and not feel like I’m reversing course or that somehow I’m a lesser human for not healing fast enough. There are going to be emotional fluctuations. I’ll get through them. Ultimately, when I look back, I know I’m better than I was three months ago.

Dealing with Memories

I’ve told myself over the past few months that I’d know I was ready to date when the random memories and feelings would fade. What I mean by that is that sometimes something will be brought up that just triggers a memory. Maybe it’s a conversation, maybe it’s an item, maybe a location, or even just a stray thought. There’s nothing that can be done to prevent them. They just happen, and they are frequent. It’s a natural part of any relationship…my guess. Honestly, I think I’m going to have to come up with a new rubrik for when I’m ready, because I don’t think those memories will stop. Maybe they won’t feel so strong or be so vivid, but I think they will continue no matter what. The only thing that will help now is to build new, better memories. I can honestly say my anger is fading somewhat, and that’s good. I don’t like focusing on the anger and the negative. Those are dark side feelings.

Shortest section on the ex to date…how about that.

Positive Stuff

I decided to stop being lazy about getting contacts again. Living in the desert was terrible for wearing contacts. My eyes would dry out instantly and feel like there were things in my eyes. I pretty much gave up contacts entirely while living there. Now that I’m in a temperate climate again, I’ve been thinking about contacts again. I went back to the eye doctor and got some samples. I’m loving it. I’m still adjusting to them as daily wear, but it’s getting more and more comfortable. I haven’t work contacts daily like this for years. Today I ordered a full year’s supply. So, unless I get lazy again…which is entirely possible…I will be wearing contacts for the foreseeable future.

Last weekend I also got myself out of the house. It was so nice out, and I really felt weird being inside. So I went for a walk with my camera. There’s a park nearby with a small lake in it. I walked around the lake and took photos of the birds and the trees that were blooming. There were some red-winged blackbirds, Canada geese, swallows, and ducks. I ran into a family of geese that had a bunch of goslings around them. They were very adorable.

And if you haven’t seen the latest episode of Jessica the Nerd, here it is:

 

I’ve also had some thoughts about actually doing something artistic. I’ve always been a photographer that just takes photos of things I like. I’ve never actually attempted any sort of art with it. I was giving thought to doing a self portrait series. Not selfies. Like…serious self portraits that reflect how I see myself. I think it could be really a neat way to express myself in a way I’ve never done so before. What do you think?

People Pleaser: Asking Myself Tough Questions

March 16th, 2014

I heard this term “People Pleaser” recently, and I came to the realization that it really represents my personality well. I rarely say no to things. If I’m asked to help with something, to work on a particular task, or even to go out with someone, I’m likely going to say yes. Why? Because it’s the easy path and it makes people happy. I don’t like being the person that makes things difficult. I also don’t want to disappoint people. So I go along with things. I’m realizing this is something about me that may need to change somewhat. Not completely, though, because I don’t think this is a bad thing entirely. I think in general I also want to be a nice person, and by saying yes, I am being kind. Being kind is a very important thing to me. However, when it comes to things like dating, I need to stop.

Settling

I’ve come to the realization that I’ve settled a lot. My therapist and I were chatting, and I realized that there has really been only a couple of times in my life that I was genuinely attracted to whom I was with. All of these were back when I was in or just out of high school. That’s a long time ago. That’s not to say I haven’t genuinely been in love or that attractions weren’t there to some extent. I’ve realized that my ex was right in that I wasn’t “looking at her with lustful eyes”. I think I did in the beginning of the relationship, but I think perhaps it was because it was new and exciting. I think perhaps I wasn’t as attracted to her as I’d have liked to be. I think I settled with her, despite the fact that i was deeply in love with her.

Attractions

I’ve spent a lot of time in my head thinking about my attractions, my desires, and what I want out of a relationship. I just want to be sure I know what I like and that I’m not trying to convince myself otherwise. I’ve also been trying to determine if I’m a sexual person or an asexual person. If I’m a sexual person, perhaps I just haven’t had the right person in my life. I’ve come to a few conclusions, and some things are yet unanswered.

The first big thing is that I am, indeed, definitely attracted to women. I knew this before, but it’s nice to confirm it. I can definitely tell when a guy is handsome, but men just don’t draw me. Women captivate me and hold my attention. Certain women I can’t take my eyes off of. They make my cheeks flush and my stomach all fluttery. If they get close to me, I feel like there’s an inability for me to form words or coherent sentences. That’s just the way it’s always been for me. So there’s that. Pretty clear as day. I also know that I am drawn to stereotypical females: essentially women that are probably even more feminine than I. I’ve noticed I tend to like thinner women and longer hair. Blonde hair tends to draw my subconscious attention more, but is by no means the only thing that draws me. I’m not very into the tomboyish ladies, the dykey ladies, the masculine / butch ladies. I really like girly girls.

Asexual vs sexual…that’s a tough one that I still just don’t know. I know my drive is lower from conversations with many people. However, I do know that I do HAVE a sex drive, even if it is just a lower libido than others. So the question I find myself asking is whether I don’t care about sex or if I just haven’t had the right partner because I’ve always settled. If it’s the latter, then who knows. Maybe my world will change in a year or two when I try to find someone new. If the answer is the former, then I worry that I just won’t find anyone that I’ll ever be able to keep satisfied or happy. I don’t want to see all of my future relationships start out awesome and quickly devolve into sisterly bonds and friendship because I’m not a sexy times person.

So I have more self discovery to do in that regard. I also find myself asking the question…did my last relationship continue for so long because I just wanted to be in love? Even though I was settling, I felt happy. I felt in love. I was totally committed and willing to spend my life with her. Is that a bad thing? I’d like to say no. Of course, in the end, it did hurt me more. So there’s that.

Emotional State

As to where I am now in my healing process, I can say that the depression is not as bad as it was. There are some days I still feel down though. Friday nights are particularly bad. One thing I’ve definitely learned is that exciting things are less exciting, successes are less thrilling, and accomplishments feel less fulfilling without someone you love to share them with.  Otherwise, I feel like I’ve come out of my shell quite a bit in the past couple months. I don’t feel like I’m wearing a depression mask anymore. I feel a bit more confident in who I am and feel like my personality is bubbling up to the surface again.

That being said, I’m still angry. When I have time to myself, my thoughts still return to how much I was wronged and how hurt I still am. I continually tell her off in my thoughts over and over. I still scream in my head at how she treated me. I know there is jealous rage going on in regards to the new girl she’s with. I think about how the new girl spoke to me over Facebook on Thanksgiving, and it just makes me furious. I imagine folks telling both of them off for their behavior. I just want them to feel the pain I’ve felt.

And I know these thoughts are not getting me anywhere positive.

I just want them to fade away. I’ve put so much energy into this anger, and I’d rather put that energy elsewhere. I want to move forward and live my life to the fullest. I want to just be happy again. I’m not quite there yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for once. I’m almost through it. Just a little more time, and I think everything will be fine. I just wish that time was now.

Five Minutes of Fame

March 16th, 2014

It’s been an interesting several weeks. I haven’t written for several reasons. The first is that I caught a sickness / plague that was going around at my place of work, and it lingered for about 3 weeks. I lacked energy to do much of anything for that time. Oh the joys of a cold that turns into a sinus infection. Anyway, aside from that, my birthday rolled around, my family visited, and then I suddenly got extremely busy. I’ll start with the extremely busy part that involved some professional writing.

Video Game Op Ed

This was a random happenstance. So, back before the move to Iowa, I remember seeing something about one of the Penny Arcade guys saying some transphobic thing, and a trans woman named Sophie Prell engaging him in a discussion about the issue. I was reading her stuff thinking “She’s awesome and has my full support.” Turns out she lives in Iowa right near where I was going to be moving. When I got the Steam Machine, I thought maybe she’d like to see it / review it. I discovered she no longer goes by Sophie, and now goes by Sam instead. So, I contacted him and offered, and it was accepted. I ended up befriending him, and we talked a bit via email.

Randomly a little while later, I got a message from him regarding an article being written by Ben Kuchera at Polygon.com surrounding the project being done by BeAnotherLab involving gender swap and the Oculus Rift.  Ben was hoping to talk to someone in the trans* community about the research, and my friend thought of me. I gladly accepted the offer. After chatting with Ben for the article, I was asked if I’d be interested in writing a companion piece to his article, and I was very excited about that opportunity.

So through that, I wrote an op ed that showed up on Polygon on Wednesday, March 5th, and as soon as it did, my Twitter exploded with tweets, retweets, and all sorts of comments. I went in to the article fully expecting that the comment section was going to be riddled with negativity and horribleness. I couldn’t have been more wrong (insert Thorin Oakenshield meme here). Everything people were saying was exceptionally positive. I can easily say that this was the greatest emotional high I’ve had in a very long time.

Since that article came out, I have been asked to do a few podcasts. One is already out, and another will be out sometime in the next week or so. I really don’t know if I’ll be doing any more writing for Polygon or any other video game journalism site, but I’ll welcome the opportunity to do so. I’m more than happy to be “that girl” in the game journalism community. If you’d like to see more of my work on Polygon, feel free to let them know.

Here are links to all the articles mentioned:

Being someone else: How virtual reality is allowing men and women to swap bodies

Gaming is my Safe Space: Gender Options are Important for the Transgender Community

Super Gamer Podcast: Episode 27 – Steam Machines, Gender Swap, and a new friend!

Vlog and 4chan

On a slightly related note, some of you may be familiar with the online community 4chan, which is known for being some of the best and often worst parts of the internet. Most internet memes are spawned there. It’s a place for anonymity and can often be a place for ridiculousness and hate. I ended up on the target of some folks on 4chan, particularly those that participate in an overlap of the gaming board and the extreme right wing board. I will link to the thread, but I would encourage care, because some of the things said there are so horrible, that it’s not the best place in the world to be for emotional sanity and health.

So anyway, they decided to target my Steam Machine video that I posted a month ago. Apparently they didn’t like the fact that a trans woman, or even any kind of woman, would want to talk about video games or review technology. So, they started spamming the dislike button and filling the comments with anti-trans hate comments. Some of them were sexual in nature. This all happened when I was home sick from work with the plague. My email and phone started getting notifications, and I was very confused with why. I then got a note from someone telling me what was happening.

I think the goal was to make me feel bad or bad about myself. They failed pretty miserably at that. I don’t need everyone’s validation, especially people I don’t know, to know who I am, and a stream of negative comments from children with no faces is really just an inconvenience. I was more annoyed that I had to waste my time deleting and banning people than anything else. My feelings were not hurt. My ego was not hurt. All in all, it told me that there are people in the world that spend a lot of time and energy deliberately trying to hurt other people. That’s a very sad thing. If you’re interested in seeing what these sad folks said, you can find the thread here.

New Friends

I have been going to a meetup on Thursday nights for a few months now, and I’ve mentioned before that they really feel like “my people”. I’ve grown a bit closer to all of them now, which is awesome. I chat with a number of the folks regularly through the Facebooks, and I feel like I’m starting to fit in a bit more. Making new friends as an adult is hard, and it’s definitely a bit strange coming into a group as a single person when every one of them is paired up. In the past, I think this would have bothered me a lot more, but it really doesn’t phase me at all where I am in life right now. I’m really enjoying getting to know new people and learning about their walks of life. I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to get to know them and for their open ears to my life experiences. I’m sure it’s strange and uncomfortable to have this weird, depressed girl come in and start chatting them up. So, if any of you are reading, thank you for your kindness and patience.

I had some of them over a week ago for a Cards Against Humanity night. Side note, if you haven’t heard of this game, you should look into it. It’s essentially Apples to Apples for horrible people. It’s one of those games that’s just really hard to get tired of. Anyway, it was my first night having people over by myself, and I think it went well despite there being a little bit of awkwardness in the air. I’ve only known these people since January, and I guess that’s to be expected. I am sure that will change over time.

Sisters

I just wanted to take a moment and say I have awesome sisters. In the past month or two, I’ve had several moments that just have made me stop and go…damn, why are my sisters so great. My older sister called me up randomly one night and asked me how she could make the world a better place for the LGBT community. She had heard the Macklemore song “Same Love” and thought I should listen to it (I tend not to listen to stuff that’s on the radio). It was really awesome to hear her say that. And then there’s my younger sister who routinely tells me how annoyed she gets when people post religious anti-gay stuff on Facebook. When my sisters stand up for me, I’m shocked because I feel like I made their lives more difficult. I feel like I should be thanking them for tolerating their weird sister. So thank you, Becky and Melissa, for being the best ever.

VD / New Car

Yup, everyone’s favorite yearly venerial disease known as Valentine’s Day happened, or as I used to call it / call it now “Single’s Awareness Day”. I was expecting this day to be rough, and thankfully it wasn’t. I decided to spend that weekend doing awesome things. I went car shopping. My old Focus was starting to feel like it was on its last legs. Yeah, the very same focus from back when I started this blog in 2002. I got the car in February of 2002. It had 14000 miles on it when I got it. When I traded it in, it had 175000 miles on it. The car saw me through quite a bit over the years. It’s been in the ditch a few times. It’s cost me a bundle of money to get things like the fuel pump or the rear wiring harness repaired. It was just not feeling safe anymore. Time to trade up.

I went looking around last December. At the time, I was pretty interested in the Ford Escape due to its cool body styling and technology. I test drove one, and I really liked it. Just for funzies, I decided to drive the step up from that, the Edge, and I pretty much fell in love with the car. It was exactly what I wanted: more room, comfort, bells and whistles, and pretty. I wasn’t ready to buy though. It wasn’t until the weekend of VD that I had the money set aside to put down on the car. I ended up with a fancy pants platinum white 2013 Edge. I’m loving it so far. It drinks gas a lot faster, which isn’t as fun, but so far, that’s the only downside. I feel safer on the road, and I just love having a car that’s new. Here are some sexy photos for you to enjoy.

Jess' new carJess' new car

 

Birthday

I ended up not being able to pick up the car that weekend. I had to wait until the following Tuesday to actually take delivery. As it happened, that fell on my birthday. I essentially got to say that I got a new car for my birthday. It wasn’t intended to be that way, but hey, I’m not complaining. It ends up being the most expensive birthday present I’ve ever bought myself. I’ll be paying for it for a long time, I’m sure. So yeah, my birthday happened.

My parents and younger sister came to visit me the following weekend. It was nice to be able to take them around town in the new car. I took them up to Snus Hill Winery in Madrid, Iowa (pronounced MAD-drid, not Ma-DRID…weird, right? I think so too.) I’d never driven on unpaved roads during February before. My brand new car was covered in mud. Turns out I’ve been to that winery enough that they now recognize me. That’s pretty crazy. We all enjoyed some of the wine and bought some to take home. Later that evening, we went out for dinner. They didn’t stay long into the next day, but it was cool to have them here.

Dungeons and Dragons

I have watched many friends play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) over the years, but I’ve never participated in it myself. When I recently discovered that a good high school friend of mine lives in this area not a mile from home, we started chatting, and I got invited to play D&D with his friends. It’s something the ex and I had discussed doing at some point, but never had a group to play with. I figured, hey…get me out of my comfort zone and try something new. So I went.

I created a female half elf archer / fletcher named Liara (after Liara T’Soni in Mass Effect). I’ve played a few times since in the campaign. It definitely takes some getting used to. I’m not used to having to speak for the character and know all the traits and what not. It’s fun though. The last time I played, I shot a lot of evil creatures in the face with arrows. I can’t say that I’ll go every Sunday because it’s a huge time commitment, but I’m enjoying it so far. Yes…yes…I’m a nerd.

Kitty Love

I’ve gotta say, my two kitties have been really affectionate since my ex left. It’s very noticeably different. They crowd around me on the couch and huddle up to me at night. They’re very social kitties, and it just surprises me. Scarlet has taken to snuggling up to me every night, and now she’s even started to clean my face. My entire face. It seemed adorable the first time, but kitty tongues are like sandpaper. Eventually it’s not so pleasant anymore. I’ve started to shoo her away a little just because it hurts, but it is very cute.

Vlog Ideas

Lastly, I’ve been working on my vlog. This weekend I shot the footage for episode 3. I’ve been trying to compile a list of things I’d like to do episodes on and what kinds of videos I’d like to do in the future. So if you have thoughts on topics that fall in to the nerdy category, please feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

For good and for awesome: the Tale of the Disappearance of Jessica

March 15th, 2014

Lately I’ve had a few minutes of fame in the video game journalism community. It’s been pretty cool and I’ll talk about that in a later post. With all the attention my writing has gotten recently, it got me to thinking about some things. In the past several months, I’ve spent more time on social media than I have in a long time, and some folks have asked me what happened to me in the past few years. I had been very active as a trans educator, activist, and public speaker. Then I vanished. I thought I’d take a moment to address that.

For those that haven’t known me through that period of my life, there was a time I built and ran www.translife.net. It was intended to be a resource for anyone going through transition and needing role models and good information. I was really bad about keeping it up to date and giving it the energy it needed. I eventually decided that there were better sites out there for the information I had on the site. tsroadmap.com is one of them, if not the best one. I also realized that though the goal was to have many people blogging on the site, it was really just me. So, I decided to just move my blog itself to its own site, which is where this site came from.

I still do the occasional speaking engagement, but it’s not nearly as frequent as it once was. I have spoken at almost every university in the state of Wisconsin. I still enjoy it when I do get to speak, but the events are few and far between. I’ve thankfully found my energy for it returning. So perhaps I’ll do more if I can get off my butt and make some promotional materials.

There are several reasons my presence diminished. One is that I just got tired. Activism takes a lot of energy, and for a time, I was bursting with it. I was out there a lot writing, speaking, and all sorts of stuff. After all of that energy, eventually I slowed down and just didn’t have it in me anymore.

I think the other major reason I disappeared is because I was living the life I always wanted. I had a good job, owned a house, and was engaged to be married to the woman I loved. It was contentment to me at its purest. I was happy to just live life and take things as they came. I wanted to let others with more energy and vigor to be the new role models of the community. And there are some great ones out there now. The internet has really helped the trans* community grow. I’m so glad to see that those out there now have many people to look up to as good examples. I’m proud to say I was that example for some.

Once that nirvana I was experiencing vanished in a puff of smoke, I realized how much the community had moved forward without me as a part of it. I am very happy to see my community moving in a positive direction. However, I honestly feel terrible that I’ve not been a part of that. I feel like I’ve let my community down in my lack of presence. Now that my energy has returned, I aim to change that going forward.

The way I aim to change that is not necessarily by talking directly about trans issues. I want to return to my roots. The goal of translife.net back in the day was to show people that trans people are just like everyone else. That remains my goal. I want to bring positive attention to the trans community by simply being awesome. Through that awesomeness, I hope to help people learn about the trans* community.

So here is my pledge to you all: I will endeavor to be more active out there in the trans* community and the world at large. I will strive to open more eyes to the trans*gender community and show people how awesome we all are. And I will strive to never let anything let me be lazy in that goal again.

There will likely be times I need to step away for some recuperation time. If this happens and I’m gone for too long, or if I’m being lazy, I encourage all of you to throw things at me…preferably not sharp or rocky things….because ouch.

So that’s where I am. I encourage you to chastise me below in the comments for my past laziness. This will be viewed as encouragement and in no way will I feel judged (yes I will) by your statements. No really…I won’t (will). ;) And hey, thanks to everyone that has stuck with me along the way. You’re more awesome than I could ever be.

10 Things

February 2nd, 2014

This past week and a half has been interesting. I’ve had some really exciting emotional highs and some really deep emotional lows. The highs were for good reasons. The lows just sort of happened. Depression just rears its ugly head whenever it feels like and saps what joy was there. I’ve spent a lot of time dwelling on the past, which I’m not thrilled about. I’ve had a number of dreams that haven’t been pleasant. They weren’t nightmares, per se, but they involved a decepticon showing up. I have her on my mind even though I’m trying to focus on other things.

Let’s start out with something random and fun.

A List of 10 Things I Enjoy

The pure sound of silence

I don’t know what it is about this, but it brings a sense of peace to me. The world is filled with noise. It’s a cacophony that affects me in ways I may not notice most of the time. However, there are times when all the sounds are gone. Sometimes it’s late in the evening. Sometimes it’s sitting in the car. Sometimes it happens when it’s unexpected. Pure silence. When it happens, I will close my eyes and take it in. All that I can hear is the ringing sound of nothing…the background static of the world. It’s something I deeply appreciate.

Waking up Naturally

I’d bet this is something a lot of people love. Waking up when you have nowhere to be and no alarm. Just that relaxing waking up because your body is rested. I cherish every morning this happens.

Music that moves me to Tears

I have a music background, and I love all different types of music. I don’t actually hear the words in music unless I concentrate and focus on them. I listen more for the melodies and harmonies. I love classical music, movie scores, and video game scores because of their focus on emotional moments. It moves me in so many ways. I also love popular music that can do the same thing to me. Lately it’s been a lot of Mumford and Sons, Great Big World, Daft Punk, Chopin, Beethoven, the Mass Effect 3 score, and some of Hans Zimmer’s work.

The Smell of a Campfire

My family went camping a lot when I was little. We traveled all over the state of Wisconsin and across the United States. I saw so many beautiful things, like the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, the Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, and Mesa Verde National Park. Of all those memories, I think my fondest is of my family sitting around the fire in the evening looking at the stars, roasting marshmallows, and taking in the sounds of nature. It’s a smell and an experience I will always love.

Wildlife

Going along with the nature theme, I grew up next to a lake and a state forest. Deer and wild Turkeys would meander through my parents’ back yard on almost a daily basis. We’d see birds of all sizes, like blue jays, doves, woodpeckers, orioles, and even larger ones. When I lived in Eau Claire, I watched a bear cross the highway. I’ve watched bald eagles catching fish in the Chippewa River in Eau Claire. On a field trip in high school, I canoed past a trumpeter swan and her cygnets. I had to duck under a bat when I lived in Eau Claire. It swooped in over my head when I went on the balcony to see what the strange motion was that I had seen earlier. I don’t know why, but I love experiences like these. Nature is beautiful, and I love seeing all the other life on this planet.

Pulling the Plastic off of New Electronics

On a contrary note to the prior point, there are fewer greater joys in life than pulling the sheets of thin plastic off of a new electronic device. I’m talking the stuff they stick to every surface to protect it from scratches during transport. For some reason, this brings me great joy.

Opening up Packages

In a similar vein, I love it when a new item arrives via mail or a shipping company. I really enjoy opening the box up and seeing the contents inside. It’s like Christmas, but in a much smaller sense. So fun.

The Smell of Coffee

Even before I drank coffee, I loved the smell of it. It took me a long time to enjoy the taste of coffee, but I could stand outside a Gloria Jeans, Starbucks, Caribou, or any other coffee shop and just smell the smells for hours. Unfortunately they are not like Jimmy Johns in offering free smells.

Cinnamon

I’m pretty sure cinnamon is my favorite flavor. It beats out chocolate and almond in my book. I can eat cinnamon anything all day every day and be totally content in my food choices. Cinnamon Rolls, bread, toast, cookies…pretty much any baked good with cinnamon will make me happy. That said, I do not like cinnamon candy or liqueur. Once cinnamon gets to the hot cinnamon point, then I’m not interested. Warm cinnamon is great though.

Looking up at the Stars

This is particularly special in areas where there is very little light pollution. I love being able to look up and see the vast sky above me and the hundreds of billions of stars above. Something about it gives me hope while also making me feel infinitesimally small. I feel this strong pull to want to see what’s out there and travel among the heavens. If only it were possible.

Vlog

I released a new vlog, though it’s more of a video review than a vlog. I had been thinking about posting my thoughts on the steam machine for a while now, and I finally took the time to shoot, edit and post them. If you’re interested in such things, here’s the video. I plan to return to silliness in my next video.

Emotional Highs

A week ago Thursday, I headed to a meet up that I had never attended before. A coworker of mine suggested it and said he met some really great people there. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was at a bar in an area that I was not familiar with. For the first time, Google Maps took me to the wrong place. I ended up finding it eventually. When I got there, I saw a group of 20 people sitting at a bunch of tables together. I sat down and joined the conversation, and for the first time since arriving in Iowa, I felt like I finally met MY people.

We chatted about Doctor Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, science, technology…it was fantastic. People all seemed to really be friendly and cool. I left that night feeling like a million bucks. After that, I went into the weekend with high spirits, and I used that energy to put out my vlog video that weekend. I’ve since gone back this past Thursday and will likely continue to go every week. It was a great time.

To add to that, I was invited by the very same coworkers friends to head up to Ames to play board games. It’s always a little uncomfortable heading somewhere to meet a bunch of people you’ve never met before. It’s certainly outside of my comfort zone. I don’t regret it at all though. I had a great time, met some cool folks, and played several new games. I’d never touched Seven Wonders before or Power Grid. Both were a blast. I look forward to the next event.

Creative Collaboration

Doing projects like my vlog have been really fulfilling lately. I think I’ve had a creative hole in my chest for a long time now. It’s been nice to be able to stretch my legs and let that part out of me again. Today I chatted with a long time friend from the Milwaukee area about it, and she and I randomly discussed collaborating on a project together. Hearing her enthusiasm really lifted my spirits and gave me something to look forward to. It’s been ages since I collaborated on any creative project with anyone. I think it will be incredibly fun to work on something together.

Being Introverted

I think my mood lately has caused me to be more introverted than I normally am. I’ve found lately that unless I get myself outside of the house by sheer force of will, I will sit at home and huddle under a blanket on my couch. I spend a lot of time staring at my laptop screen. I have a habit of turning on my TV like I’m going to watch something, but the Chromecast just cycles through images while I sit and think. I feel like I’ve alienated one of my local friends because I’m not chatting or hanging out as much as I used to.

I’ve also noticed, now that my introverted nature has been pointed out, how much time I need to recover from social interaction. If I go somewhere on Saturday, I need Sunday to recover. If I have a very active weekend where I’m out and about a lot, the following weekend needs to be totally quiet and me time. I have to stagger my social days, or my recovery time is longer. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy being social, or that I feel in any way put out when asked to do something. I enjoy it greatly, and the closer I am with someone or a group of friends, the less energy it takes.

I just bought a book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. It was recommended to me, and I’m eager to read it. I’m hoping to learn more about myself as I go.

Emotional Lows

The last week and a half was matched in its highs and lows. Wednesdays seem to be bad days for me of late. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but my mood started sinking Wednesday evening and continued into the weekend. After the weekend prior, I had hoped I had beaten back the fantasies, the tears, and the focus on the past. Seems that’s not the case. It comes in waves, I guess. By Friday night, I was crying on the floor of my living room. In fact, I cried a number of times this weekend.

I found myself focusing a lot of energy on the past. My mind wouldn’t let go of reliving old memories and emotions. I wasn’t intentionally doing so, and honestly I was a bit annoyed that I couldn’t move away from those thoughts. I made mention earlier about my dreams. I ended up having several dreams this weekend featuring the decepticon that involved me asking a number of questions and generally feeling abandoned. I woke up already in this somber, self-defeating mood that stuck with me. On top of that, as much as I was looking forward to game night, I was also terrified. Ames is where she lives, and I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I could run into her there. The fear was foolish, and I didn’t encounter her at all. Still, it’s like playing the lottery. Buying a ticket immediately increases your chances of winning. Just going to Ames increases the chance of me encountering her.

Looking Forward

As I heal, I think I’m going to try to focus my energies into things that both distract and fulfill me in some way, like creative endeavors. I’m also going to try to keep myself looking forward. Looking to the past does me no good at all. All that said, I think it’ll be much easier to do all of this in six to eight months when the house is sold, and I’m no longer living in a place that holds painful memories. I look forward to then.

Let me know some of the things you enjoy in the comments section below. I’d love to hear what you all have in your lists. As usual, thanks for reading.

Anger

January 23rd, 2014

I apologize. There’s a lot of post-relationship angst in this blog post. Some of it spans multiple sections. I put a lot of that stuff on top because it’s the most prevalent thing to happen in the last week. There’s some other topics towards the bottom if you want to jump passed the angst. Be forewarned.

Relationship Crap

The news from last Wednesday hit me harder than I thought it would. It’s been a rough week. I find myself set back in my healing at least a month, maybe more. I lost my appetite again and started losing more weight. I’ve found myself a bit further down in depression land too. It was so hard on me that any plans I had for anything this past weekend failed to happen. I got no video work done nor any personal project work. And I cried again. It had been a number of weeks since I shed tears relating to my past relationship, and suddenly I cried multiple times for several days.

I had serious trouble sleeping until Monday night too. I couldn’t shut off the thoughts and memories streaming through my mind. I’ve been so angry. Any time I think about it, I get angry. Yet, no one would know because I hide it so well on the outside. The depression mask I wear is hard for most to see through, I think. I hate having to put that on, but it’s really the only way to get through the days. I look calm and neutral on the outside, but inside I’m a sea of sadness and anger.

After all of these recent revelations, I realized I’ve been dreading the fact that I still have a connection to her via the house in El Paso. The fact that I still have to potentially talk to her because of issues with the house, or to put it on the market, and to negotiate it in the fall is not a good thought for me. And the thought of what if we can’t sell it then? What then? I’d have to be stuck on a mortgage for the foreseeable future with the woman that completely broke my heart. So I made a choice. On Sunday, I emailed her and asked her to buy me out of the house. I really just want all ties cut at this point and to move on cleanly.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. She responded very briefly that she would talk to the bank about it. After a few days, I heard back from her that the bank didn’t give her news I wanted to hear. She can’t afford to refinance. She suggested that if I wanted ties cut, I could refinance in my name.  That’s just not going to happen. I told her that we moved there for her job, and she decided to end the relationship. Because of that, it should not be my responsibility to bear the burden of the house. It was very depressing to hear that news. I honestly don’t want to have to communicate with her again, but it doesn’t look like that’s an option for me.

Funny though, how acting on my anxiety surrounding not wanting to talk to her ended up making things worse.

Anger

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve just been so angry. I’m definitely in the anger stage of loss. She said in her email that things have been hard for her too, and I get so mad when I read that because it’s so insensitive that it’s actually downright offensive. While I recognize that there no doubt has been pain involved for her, there just is no comparison to being the person in my shoes in the breakup. I want to tell her that she has no right to say that to me. I want to tell her that I’m actually seeing a therapist now because of what she did. I want to tell her how frequently I have fantasies about suicide pass through my mind because of her. I want to tell her that if she is emotionally healthy enough to already be in a relationship again, the pain is in now way comparable. Yet I do none of these things because I’m too damn nice.

I shout at her in my mind. I scream my feelings out over an over wishing I could say them out loud to her face. These thoughts wake me up at night and keep me awake for hours. At the same time, I know if I said them to her, I’d likely regret it later. On top of that, what good would it really do? She’d probably not attend to what I said anyway. I’ve given thought to writing a letter, not to send to her, but just to get these feelings out. I wouldn’t post them here because I don’t feel it’s appropriate or professional to write these kinds of negative thoughts out on a public blog. But I do feel it would be good to write out my anger. It certainly would be better than keeping it pent up inside.

Depression

I watched a TED talk this week by Andrew Solomon about depression. He does such a good job of describing depression and how different people cope with it in such different ways. He talks about how some people have what would be considered mild depression and act miserable while others have what is considered very severe depression and look just fine on the outside. It really is amazing how the ability to cope with the pain is so different in people. He also said something that I thought was quite profound. He said that the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality. Life seems more difficult when you’re depressed. That’s probably because it actually is more difficult.

I thought of a metaphor that I think describes depression well. A healthy person vs a depressed person is like an insulated house vs an uninsulated house. When you’re healthy and you experience an emotion, that emotion sticks with you for a long time and takes very little energy to maintain that experience. It’s like running the heat in a well insulated house. When you’re depressed, you still feel positive emotions, but they don’t linger very long. It takes a lot more energy to experience that emotion as well. I can physically feel the difference. Recently, I’ve smiled at something and I could feel the emotion leave me and my smile dissipate so quickly. In the past, that emotion would have lingered much longer.

I guess it’s easy to read into this that I’ve been reading about depression because I have hit a full blown clinically depressive state. Last week’s news really made me aware at how bad things were for me. As I mentioned in the anger section, I’ve been experiencing suicidal fantasies for a while now. Last week made it worse. I want everyone to know that I have started getting help with a therapist and that I’m going to be fine. Fantasizing and planning are two very different things. I’m not going to act on these thoughts. In a way they are a coping mechanism. They are just thoughts. I very much appreciate all of your concern though. If ever I have need, I know who to call if I need support.

Video Game Idea

I have an idea for a video game that I’ve been toying with based on this whole experience. The concept is a story based game where you play as a genderless stick figure person in a very vibrant and colorful world. The stick figure is happy and in a relationship, and at the very beginning of the game, that relationship ends. At that moment, the color in the world fades away, and even the outlines of the items in the world fade almost completely. It becomes hard to see much of anything except your character and one framed photograph of your character and the now ex parter. That photograph is the only thing that is colored in the room. The vibrance of the game represents your character’s emotional health, and your goal is to return that color and vibrance to the world.

The first level of the game, your character moves very sluggishly. It takes a lot of button presses to do much of anything. Adding color will either be an action from a button press, or the result of interacting with things. As time passes and levels pass, the color becomes easier to restore and your character moves a lot quicker. However, there will be a point in the game in which your character encounters the ex-partner and loses a bunch of progress. In the end, the world will be restored, and it will be even more vibrant than before. The only item left that is colorless is the original photo that was in the first level. The game ends when your character meets a new person.

I think this is a cool concept for a game that I’d like to maybe pursue on my own. I’d like to capture moments of my healing process too, like the fleeting moments in which I forget that anything happened and then suddenly remember reality. Also, the difficulty of waking up in the morning, the constant stream of memories, the physical reminders, and the loneliness. I think it’d be a great creative outlet for me and definitely possible with the art style I’m thinking of. What do you think of this idea?

Friends

I’ve made progress on the friends front. One of my coworkers has been a really awesome person. We have a standing daily game of shuffleboard at work, which is fun. I lose a lot though. That’s ok. I’m not playing because I want to win. He and I talk a lot and have a lot in common. It’s been really nice to have someone around the workplace that’s an open ear about most everything. We both have had personal struggles to deal with, and I think it’s been helpful for both of us to have someone that understands.

I also have a good friend from a long time ago that I have been chatting with more lately. Her and my story parallel in so many ways, it’s not even funny. (Also, not sure what about that would ever be funny…such a strange phrase). We skyped on Monday for a few hours, and it was really nice to chat. She’s been going through her own emotional struggles lately. So we’ve been each other’s thunder buddies through all of it. The conversation really lifted my spirits this week. She’s such a great friend, and to think we’ve never met in person. Some people on the internet are awesome people. Sometimes I wish I had a transporter (OK, fine…I wish I had a transporter all the time), so that some of my bestest friends and I could hang out regularly. She’s one of those friends I’d visit all the time. She’s probably up there with best friends ever…a bff, if you will.

Introvert, Extrovert, or Ambivert?

So at my first counseling session I was asked if I’d describe myself as an introvert. I had to think about it, because I’m not really sure. Introverts are very comfortable alone and with their own thoughts. That’s been me most of my life. Social situations are fun, but they are more draining on me than it seems to affect other people. I am not afraid of social situations or anything, and when I’m around people I know, I really have a ton of fun being social. In some ways I feel like I can be extroverted. Maybe I’m ambiverted…not sure. I’m curious from those that know me, how would you describe me? Introverted? Extroverted? Shy? Annoying? Weird? What do you think?

Vlog Stuff

Yes, I know I haven’t posted a second vlog yet. I’m working on it. This past weekend had the sails knocked out of me. I have a few scripts to write that I think will work really well. I’m hoping to shoot those this weekend and get them posted. Don’t worry. You’ll get more silliness from me in video form soon.