Blog

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.

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.

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.

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.

That's right! I have a new girlfriend. Her name is Portable Weighted Companion Cube. I call her Portia for short. Portia will never leave me. Here's her latest selfie and a nice picture of us cuddling together:

Portable Weighted Companion CubeMe and the new lady

And the reason Portia won't leave me:

Portable Weighted Companion Cube - It will never leave me. It has no legs.

Best Girlfriend Ever. I'm sorry to all who don't play video games, don't know about the game Portal, and have no idea of what a Portable Weighted Companion Cube is. This joke is completely wasted on you, and I'm sorry. That said, Portal's a fun game and you should totally play it.

Plans for the Future

I've been starting to think clearly about my future plans. I don't plan on staying in the residence I'm in right now. My lease is up in another six months. Once that's done, I'm going to move closer to West Des Moines, where my work is located. It'll mean less commute time, less money on gas, and hopefully a lower rent cost. I like the place I'm in, but with the cost as it is, the memories, and the location, it's just not the right fit. I'm going to try to find a duplex like the one I lived in with the ex back in Eau Claire. It was a 1200 square foot place with an unfinished basement, and that's more than enough to suit my needs. Here's hoping I can find something like that. I have the time. So it shouldn't be impossible.

Vlog

I've started a vlog! Those that have known me a long time or that read my blog in the past know that I have a history with video production. I haven't used those skills in a long while. In fact, it's probably been 4 years since I last was able to do any video work. I have plenty of time now, and I thought why the heck not. So I bought a tripod, some cheap work lights, and started shooting. It was a lot of fun. It's a little awkward, but hey, I'm a little awkward. So it's perfect. I've been getting suggestions from friends on what I should do for topics on future vlogs. I don't intend to do the same type of content on there as I would here on my blog. It should be a lot of fun. If you have ideas on what you'd like to hear about in my vlog, please add them in the comments. If you're interested, here it is:

 

Hobbies

Speaking of hobbies, a few have come to mind that I'd like to pursue. First, I picked up a refurbished Kitchenaid mixer, and I started baking. This is a hobby I've had since I was a kid, and I love it. Baking is great because it involves making tasty treats. I finally was able to successfully bake snickerdoodle cookies. I found a good recipe, and that's both a blessing and a curse. They are my favorite.

A friend of mine suggested sewing. When I was younger, I enjoyed sewing. I used to throw together costumes and what not using my mom's sewing machine. I actually don't own one right now. The sewing machine that was here was not mine. So I'll have to get one before I can start up, but I'm very interested. I have a bunch of patterns that I'd love to play with. I think I could have a lot of fun with it. Plus, I have a screen accurate Jedi robe that needs to be finished as well as the rest of the Jedi costume.

Website plans

I mention in the vlog about my website url, and I've mentioned in recent blog posts that I want to do something with this site. I have been brainstorming, and I know what I intend to do. My plan for the next several weeks is to find some time to throw together a prototype user interface. I have some fun ideas I want to try out. Once I have it together, I'm going to post a link to it here, and everyone can check it out. That'll allow me to get some feedback before I move forward with it. So watch for that.

Health and Stuff

I'm happy to report that my appetite has fully returned. I'm eating normally again, and that includes my taste for sweets. This is a good sign. My weight has been holding steady too. I've made myself several real home-cooked meals now, and it's so much better than eating freezer meals. I'll be endeavoring to cook as much for myself as I can going forward. Now that I've re-learned how to cook for one person, it's not so bad.

I've also noticed that my interests that I used to share with my ex I'm now starting to feel ok enjoying again. I've started watching SourceFed again as well as several other YouTube channels. It still feels a little weird, but I've decided to just deal with that. It doesn't make me focus on memories so much anymore, and that's great. It's nice to get back to a semblance of normalcy.

Bad Habits and Phobias

I don't know why, but for some reason, maybe personal growth reasons, I feel like talking about some weirdness about me as well as some bad habits of mine that I'd really like to purge if I can. Let's start with bad habits. I chew my cuticles. That's a mild understatement. I have a compulsion to do so. Apparently I have subconsciously attached myself to this idea that I don't like the feeling of rough cuticles, hang nails, and damaged skin. What's my response? Chew on them. That's so smart because it makes things worse. Chewing cuticles = more hang nails = more rough skin = bleeding = pain. I loathe this habit, but I can't seem to kick it. It seems to happen more when I'm anxious about something or deep in thought. It's also something that happens when I'm driving and not wearing gloves. I wish I could somehow get rid of this habit. It would make me and my fingers very happy.

Everyone has things they are afraid of, but not everyone has a legitimate phobia. A phobia is irrational fear of something. I have one, and it's weird. It's been with me ever since my childhood, and I have no idea why. I have a phobia of buttons. Not buttons, the kind you press, but buttons the kind on clothing. You'll never see me wear anything with buttons on it. Some are ok and tolerable. Like, the button on jeans are ok. Larger buttons, like on a coat, are ok. Buttons on a button down shirt...no. Anything around that size, nope nope nope. I have no clue where or why. I know it's completely irrational. I also know I can't control the reaction my body has to it.

Anyway, I don't know why I felt like sharing that, but there it is. Feel free to share your thoughts on it in the comments if you like.

Social Calendar

My social calendar has been keeping me busy. I've been heading to more and more meetups. In fact, this week, I've had too many on my calendar. I've had to back out of one in order to give myself time to relax. That's a good problem to have. I think the kitties are annoyed though. I've been missing their 5:00 food time a lot, and they are quite vocal about it when I get home. (Side note: I've noticed that since the ex left with her cat, there has been a significant reduction in cat vomit around the house. Interesting...) All this aside, despite all the meetups, I haven't met anyone I really click with. I seriously miss having a best friend. Of all the holes left behind, this is the one that's been the hardest for me recently. I'm going to continue with the meetups though. It really helps me feel like I'm a part of something again.

Relationship Crap

After all of her stuff was moved out, I've had no reason to have contact with her. Cutting any ties to her and going no contact at all has been really good for me. There are no things around that really remind me of her too much anymore. I've been able to think of her as a piece of my past. It's made thinking of myself as single a lot easier. I have completely separated myself now. I still get a little lonely here and there, but it's regular loneliness. I'm not pining for her.

To add to that, it's been two months now, and I'm starting to feel like maybe it was for the best that she left me. I've grown very tired of having to move around to follow someone's career in order to make a relationship work. I've really wondered when we were going to be able to really settle down and put roots down. Now, that's totally an option. I'm happy about that. Once I start dating again, I'll find some nice Des Moines based lady that will make me happy.

I had a chat a week or so ago with an El Paso friend about a lot of things, but some of it involved the relationship ending. There was something about having that conversation that really helped me feel better. I think it was the fact that the friend really sympathized with me and wasn't happy with how Jess treated me in the end. It felt very justifying somehow. Family and friends that don't know my ex will always support me, but will always be biased (not that I'm complaining. Thanks for being so supportive!) Having someone that knew both of us pretty well support me, I think it just validated my feelings. It made me feel like it was ok to feel like I had just been shat upon (Side note: I don't know if I've ever been able to use the word shat in my blog before, and I'm rather proud of it.) Anyway, that conversation really helped me.

Otherwise, I'm doing ok. I'm not ready to date yet and probably won't be for a while, but that's ok. I really wish I was ready though. I'm happy to not be an emotional wreck anymore. I'd say I'm operating at a good 80%. That last 20 will just take time to slowly trickle back in. The biggest struggle for me right now is the lack of a best friend. I've had a good friend throughout most of my life. This is the first time I've been without someone to hang out with regularly. It's lonely, and I miss it.

Confidence and Breaking News

She is dating the person I thought she was. It's been confirmed by several folks now. Having someone toss you aside and immediately jump in to a relationship with someone that looks similar to you is pretty tough on the confidence. This week in particular has been difficult. I've been thinking about my challenges with dating throughout my life and how difficult it's been for me especially since transition 10 years ago. As a trans woman, I struggle with feeling like I'm just completely undesirable. Both hetero and homosexual people don't have to come out to their potential mates. I do, and I have to worry about whether this person that was attracted to me just a minute earlier will freak out that I'm trans and reject me. To top it off, I'm most attracted to the stereotypical straight girl, which are 99 times out of 100...straight. That last 1 is typically into masculine women. So, my pool that was already limited is even more limited. I really do feel like unwanted, tossed out trash. It's really hard to feel any sort of confidence with that running through my head.

After finding out about that relationship, I find myself wondering how long it was going on before the breakup. She obviously wasn't honest with me about her feelings. So I don't believe for a second that there wasn't stuff going on in the months leading up to the move and thereafter. It really tells a lot about what she felt about me.  I feel like a fool. I can't believe how she pulled the wool over my eyes. I honestly feel like the person I knew never existed. I thought she was done taking things from me, and now I feel like she just took my self worth away. All that said, she doesn't deserve me and never did.