Blake, the Up and Coming Artist

                        portrait of me, doing a breathing treatment

Recently in one of my support groups for trans folks, a young artist had posted examples of their work and was offering to do portraits of other members. By the time I got to the thread they already had at least fifty responses, or so it seemed. I didn’t really have any expectations, because so many portraits would be an overwhelming amount of work.  I hesitated but have been struggling with seeing myself in a positive light lately so I went ahead and dropped that selfie and let them know that I thought they were quite talented, and would love to feature them here on my blog. 

They said yes obviously because here we are, and to my great delight offered to do a portrait for me as well. Oh gosh. I was a little nervous, I won’t lie. What would I look like through someone else’s eyes?  The answer to that question ended up being, completely awesome. It was powerful and moving when I saw that picture of myself for the first time. A picture without the filter of my personal baggage. Wow. 

But that’s enough about me, and my experience. Let’s talk about Blake. Blake is a passionate, young, queer artist of color living in Florida. Some of the reoccurring themes in their art work include explorations of gender fluidity, self expression, and realism versus  surrealism. Blake, who is clearly an artist on several different levels is also a jazz vocalist, choreographer, and is passionate about social justice. 

When I spoke to Blake they were drawing my portrait and attempting to explain this stranger’s face to their ever curious toddler age cousins. The tenderness and good humor with which they related the conversation immediately won me over. (I’m a sucker for a cute toddler story) 

 “Hi my little cousins keep asking about you (2 and 6) what pronouns should I use?” they asked, “They keep looking at your picture, they are very interested in you… I just said that’s a person and they said, like me? I said yes, and they said, oh ok…. I love little kids”*

One thing they said that really resonated with me so strongly, that I find myself thinking about still was their saying,”…That’s one of the reasons I posted asking if people wanted pics, people deserve to be drawn! Nobody draws people like us and we’re BEAUTIFUL!!!”

 Thanks for the reminder Blake, sometimes I forget how true that is. We are beautiful, and we deserve to feel that way. 

Powerful. 

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If you would like to follow or support Blake in their artistic endeavors you can follow them on Instagram @fromasterflex, Tumblr: thefromasterflex.tumblr.com, or become a patron via Patreon

You can also support them by donating PayPal with the note “for Blake”
*messenger dialog edited for clarity and minor typos

Perpetually Spoon Deficient

or, it’s more than just limited energy 

I have been living with negative spoons for so long now, I barely remember what it is like to have them.* 
I have been so exhausted and overwhelmed for so long, the tax accumulating in myriad ways, until eventually I’ve gone so far past a straightforward shortage of spoons, that as the spoon deficits stack up, as each new thing drains me further, I end up with zero total spoons. Which basically means I have to borrow against future spoons just to survive, to take care of my kids, to feed myself. 

When you have to balance future health, current health, and life reality because they can not all exist in the same space at the same time, something has to give. I’m still alive, I have shit to do so something has to give. 

So I keep borrowing future spoons, because I have no other choice, knowing full well that I am only digging myself a deeper and deeper pit to crawl out of, if indeed I am ever able to rest enough to start recovering. Which always seems questionable when I am in the thick of it. How can I ever know if I will be able to conserve enough energy to ever get back to just breaking even when anything or everything tears me down even more. 

even when I have more spoons, they can be stacked or tied up for long periods of time. 

If I start out with 15 spoons a day I struggle to not overtax myself by overdoing it but is workable, barely. Then one of my chronic illnesses flare, which takes away five spoons a day. So now I am down to ten spoons a day, can I manage to do less daily? maybe. Then an increase in life stress and increased financial stress decreases my spoons by another five spoons. Now I am at a dire five spoons a day. I have spent months and months in which I could only do one single thing a day, no matter how seemingly small or inconsequential to most. One single thing a day outside of child care and feeding myself enough.  Any life emergency means I will have to borrow against future spoons…and something will happen. Crisis tend to pop up when you are poor, over exhaustion is inevitable when something as small as a toddler having a bad day or a night or two of insomnia will/can/has put me out of balance and extremely vulnerable for increased spoon deficit. At that point any tiny little thing has to be borrowed future spoons. Then slowly that deficit grows, each thing that comes up causing a deeper and deeper deficit. Eventually even daily life stuff has to be borrowed  for. The larger the deficit, the longer it will take me to recuperate; if I can get to a place where recovering spoons is even possible. When my health gets relatively (for me) better, an extra five spoons a day is helpful but doesn’t come close to covering the deficit even if a bad health flare was what initiated the downward spiral in the first place. 

My spoon balance looks like the national debt at this point. 

Hopefully I can get to a plateau soon so that I may in theory, if life ever decides to give us a break, maybe I can start that recuperation cycle again. 

one can only hope

Spoon Theory was created by Christine Miserandino

Chapter and Verse: An NRG Variant

A powerful piece in response to the state sanctioned murders of Philandro Castile and Charleena Lyles, by my beloved nesting partner and bestfriend.

Confessions of an Urban Shaman

This past weekend was a mixture of sweet conquest and bitter fruit.

While allowing myself to finally feel comfortable discussing my amorphous sexuality, the State continued to dole out various abuses to the psyche and spirits of the People.

I pumped my fist when Philando Castile’s mother expressed her rage and indignation at a system that has continued to fail the People no matter the blantant guilt of the offender.

And many of my friends also expressed their rage via social media. Not only because of the verdict but because of the verbal poplocking exhibited by their white liberal friends. Faux shock, grief, pat, pat, pat, and I was so sure THAT cop would be convicted.

Oh, you mean like Michael Slager, who was also caught on camera committing murder?

Jason Van Dyke, Timothy Loehmann?

Muthafucka please. So long as the system that enslaved us is still in place no…

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Leaning Towards Overwhelmed

or Coping with Small Changes as an Autistic Person at the End of My Proverbial Rope.  

That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight. losing my religion. trying to keep up with you…and I don’t know if i can do it. oh no I’ve said to much. I haven’t said enough.

R.e.m. lyrics, a comforting internal echolalia i have had since I was a teen, when I am feeling adrift in the universe.

I thought that I heard you laughing. I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try. 

I’ve been in various degrees of Autistic burn out for months, a result of the standard complexity of being disabled, broke, and in this world I suppose. Stress, the sort of stress you have to negotiate with on a daily basis just to get from one end of it, to the other. But it’s fine, it’s just life. I say that a lot. it’s just life. What else is there to say?

I have been plugging along like this for awhile now…and then school got out which is a major schedule change that has just about everyone in the house out of sorts. On top of all that the weather changed pretty abruptly. Heat and humidity working together to give everything an apparent damp, sticky film. My pores feel water logged. I feel water logged. 

The heat also means the loss of several sensory requirements. Oh you sleep under two fuzzy blankets, one quilt, and hate drafts? To bad because now you are going to lay in front of a fan all night, sweating, and being acutely aware of the movement of every single hair on your body. At three or four in the morning you may dramatically whisper “this is hell” to no one in particular. 

Then there is day time, heat is hot for everyone but probably not everyone has to navigate the heat with pre-existing practically non-negotiable sensory requirements…like shorts which have to be super soft, but not too hot, or too lightweight because that just feels off putting, but also not too short because my skin thinks it chafes if I sit around bare ass on things no matter how soft they are…..also my shoulders probably have to be covered unless it is just ridiculously hot, airflow on that skin is extremely abrasive. Compromise in these clothing requirements, while possible to avoid dangerous levels of over heating, leave me out of sorts and on edge.

Don’t even get me started on shoes…most sandals or flip flops are unacceptable for a list of sensory reasons I will not bore you with …even low tops are incredibly uncomfortable unless they are low enough to not touch my ankle at all while still holding my foot firmly…but high tops are so hot. UGH! 

These things are always extra annoying for me to get used to, but this year because of the preexisting stress and burn out it has become a small private but utterly exhausting ordeal. For the last week almost every spare ounce of energy I have (and a few I don’t), has been devoted to just getting used to the factual sensory truth of summer time. It’s exhausting, I’m ready for fall and squishy sweaters already.  

Also many members of my family, including my toddlers, have sensory sensitivities and difficulty acclimating to new routines and sensations. My toddlers and one of my teens in particular are having trouble sleeping, are wound up, and cranky over the changes as well. It is a given that it is a parent’s job to ease that transition and assist our children re-acclimate as well as we can. I do so gladly, it’s part of parenting.

 In the mean time I am getting little sleep and have very little down time….of course when do the lactational parents of toddlers have down time? I’ll have more space and independence as they grow and need more space and independence, which is all as it should be. I gladly expend the emotional energy, though loving them and appreciating them still can not unspend the emotional energy parenting sometimes or always costs. Parenting, even on the best days, adds a layer of complexity to everything. Thank goodness. Things would be so boring here without our small people. 

This is just one example of how stressors can accumulate for autistic folks in specific ways that can result in overload or meltdown at things that may seem small to an outsider…or how coping through change can swiftly become an all encompassing task that makes it impossible to do other things we typically do. 

For myself, I am slowly adjusting to this new summer situation, trying to remember to take care of myself, and to give myself time to adjust with some personal forgiveness for needing the time.  Sometimes it is easier for me to remember my kids or partners may need time and patience sometimes, than that I do as well. So here I am, I was able to write this even through a fair amount of brain fog and autistic burn out, and that is a great start for me. Hopefully in the next day or two I will be re-acclimated enough to be able to add other things back into my routine beyond bare survival and caring for children. 

One can hope…as long as there aren’t any other changes on the horizon. *wry laugh*

Bodies, Space and Spectrum IV: Unfiltered

#30daysofpride

All our different coming out stories are important. This is beginning of Milton Goosby’s journey of self knowledge told in raw, honest, prose.

Confessions of an Urban Shaman

A storm rumbled belligerently in the distance as I stood on my porch. My partner urged me to go on despite my hesitation.

I knew I’d suffer the next day from lack of sleep. But everyday woes had begun to pile up on me. Listless, my mind wandering, wanting…

[Even now, the sense that I don’t quite belong to a community will sometimes affect my ability to communicate. I retreat, I read, write. And in general, grown folks blues.]

Determination won over any misgivings I had about fickle weather.

It cost me.

The storm unleashed as I was four blocks from the spot. Wind, rain and hail battered my already tired soul as I sought shelter under a weak awning at the transit station. I thought about giving up, giving in, going home to a hot bath and dry clothes. Snuggling my partner and our children. Enjoying delicious homemade Teryaki…

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On Defining Self

#30daysofpride: day 9: What subculture do you belong to?*

I have never really fit well into a specific group. In high school I hung out with the punks and stoners but didn’t consider myself a punk or a stoner. I hung out with the academic kids but didn’t keep my grades up at all, and over the years that lack of ease in a specific social group has carried over. 

I feel some connection to geek culture, to autistic communities, to non-binary communities, to the disabled community, to the chronic illness community, to transgender communities, to parenting communities, activist communities, multi sexual communities, kink communities, ethical non monogamy communities, art communities, fiber arts communities, literary communities, birth communities, and academic communities. But none of these sub-cultures explain me so thoroughly to leave it at that, to feel comfortable summing myself up as just this one specific thing. Just like everything in this world, each one of those sub groups has problems that need addressed or dealt with. 

In reality, just like anyone else I am not one thing, I am many things, I am none of them. I am myself. I am the sum of all my histories and all my futures yet to come. 

But I really like Dr Who, so there is that. 
*the original question used the word tribe, which is problematic for many reasons. Non indigenous people should not use the word tribe when we mean village or subculture, read more about some of the problems with that word here.

My Heart, My Heart

#30daysofpride: day 8: Who is your greatest supporter?

This might be the easiest question to answer so far. The most supportive person in my life is my nesting partner. No one in my life time has been so lovingly supportive and radically embracing of all that I am.

Before I met him I was certain that I would be fundamentally alone for the rest of my life. I joked that I was not fit for human consumption. It seemed impossible to ever meet a person who understood all the ways I never quite fit in. This person has renewed my faith in the power of human connection. Even now, years later, I am daily thankful for his presence in my life. It is better for knowing him. Even when things get stressful or strained, the complexity of living this life, when one of us mess up…I never forget how powerfully thankful I am to have met him, to be in this life with him. 

I also have two long distance lovers, queerplatonic-ish or romantic best friends who have always been as supportive as they have been able to be, and they deserve a mention as well. 

As well as a network of friends across the very world who help me in every or any way they can. I try to return the support and love any time and any way I am able. I hope I’m a decent friend, even with all my different ways of being. 

I am eternally thankful for each one of these spectacular people, and my life as it intertwines with theirs. 

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My love is unbound 

rooted in stars

woven into the very fabric of our universe 

my love feathers out through the galaxy

sun and strength and fingertips 

I love you eternally 

rebirth and death and struggle

I love you ferociously 

sweet whispers 

sweet dreams

Sweet, delicious, something 

tucked between you and me

sacred

my love, my sweet