I made a YouTube video, which is the first of a series of me talking about DBT skills (Dialetical Behavioral Therapy) from a trans perspective. You can check that out here.
If you are interested in receiving a review copy or conducting an interview for your blog, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The book is released Thursday and can be pre-ordered on my website.
Growing up is hard, especially when you know you are different. This book is about being an Atypical Animal. This is the author’s original term for humans vary from the majority. Many people call this the Autism Spectrum. This book will also be relatable to kids who struggle with anxiety, gender dysphoria, ADD, shyness and sensitivity, and being different from their peers.
The author, Elliott DeLine, has a unique perspective. He is a transgender man, which means he grew up as a girl. However, he never felt like a girl. He related more to little boys, but he especially related to animals. He learned later in life he was on the autism spectrum. In his colorful animal illustrations, he captures how it feels to be an outsider. He hopes this book will give both young and old people hope. He believes Atypical Animals do not have to be isolated forever and hopes this book will help them to be more understood.
It seems like I am always acquiring more mental illness labels. This time, it’s psychosis. Of course, it was drug induced. I was smoking marijuana daily. But I think I was still smoking less than a lot of people do. I think I have a predisposition. I read today of a schizophrenia spectrum. I find that really interesting.
I have exhibited some traits of schizophrenia throughout my life. It got really bad this summer, with a combination of pressure and marijuana over-usage. My official diagnosis was, again, Depression with Psychotic Features. It’s a bit embarrassing to talk about, but a lot of it centered on the release of the movie England is Mine and Morrissey’s new album, Low In High School. I avoided these things for a while, because I think I had a subconscious sense that Morrissey is a trigger for my psychosis. I wonder if other people experience this… It makes sense, because so much of his work is about mental illness. But its always been kinda weird, how I have felt like he was singing to/ for me. Other people describe this. I guess it was more like, he was singing an opera of my life. Like our experiences were linking up. See my novel Refuse for quite a bit more about this.
I fall into a line of thinking where I believe he and I are spiritually related. And this summer, when my life and relationship was in flux, there was the new album. And a movie, which I was quite convinced was informed by my books Refuse. , I Know Very Well How I Got My Name, and Show Trans.
I remember, at it’s worse, I was very high, standing in my room with my partner. I had just played “I Wish You Lonely,” I believe. And I said, trembling, “I think he read Refuse, and I think he liked it, and I think it influenced him. And I think he wants to meet me. And I think I am going to finally be in a band and my books will sell and I am going to be rich.”
This wasn’t what prompted my partner to suggesting I be hospitalized. It was when I announced I was leaving, and I wouldn’t say where. We called my doctors. Everyone agreed I needed to be hospitalized….except me. I thought everyone was overreacting. I was also being pretty abusive and accusing others of being crazy.
All through hospitalization, I still held out hope that Morrissey and his band and people were coming for me. I also believed I was on the government watch list…and something to do with Chelsea Manning…and that they would be helping my family and I flee the U.S.
I still believed I was going to meet Morrissey when I went to see him perform in Philadelphia. My friend Nora had bought my front row tickets, and I was going to try to give him Refuse for the third time. I wrapped it and included a neclace. Unfortunately, Morrissey cancelled.
I still was convinced this had something to do with me.
My anti-psychotics were raised. I started to see how foolish I was being. I realized how horrible and paranoid I had been about people in my life. I also lost a great deal of my creative drive.
What is it about Morrissey’s music that has this weird effect on certain people?
I have now accepted that there was no plan for us to meet up. But the malady lingers on. Not psychosis. Depression. Unemployment. The meds make me sleep way too much. I attend classes that are supposed to help me, and I think they are. “Mindfully living with depression.” “Dialectical Behavioral Therapy” ( a more Buddhist, feminist approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Maybe even “Help with Employment” eventually. I am lucky that my partner has supported me through all this.
I miss marijuana on a daily and nightly basis. It’s like grief. It made me happy in a way that I hadn’t experienced since childhood. I hope one day, I can smoke again in a safe, controlled way.
Now, my days are mostly empty. This is the most I’ve written in awhile that I’ve felt pretty good about. I’m still in Ithaca. I have shelter. I have food. I have my cats, and some crappy old instruments, a computer, and notebooks. I have some friends that I am trying to get to know better. It looks like we will be here for awhile.
I enjoy yoga. I’m not drinking or smoking. I’m also going to addiction related programming.
I lost my therapist and got a new one. This was hard, but probably for the best. I had come to see her as more of a very close friend. Still, I grieve the loss.
I’m not really able to get into any project. I’m hoping that changes soon. I’m trying to lessen my negative self-talk about being a burden for my family, etc. It doesn’t fix anything. It will get better in time.
I am having lately some horrible conundrum of gender identity. I begin to feel I want to be feminine and lay off T some, and dress differently. But then it switches. Call it DID, being bigender…I don’t know. It’s saddening.
Anyway. This is a blog entry. I feel good getting it out. It makes me hopeful more will come soon.
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It’s been four whole months since I wrote on this blog. A lot has happened. We are no longer full-timing in our RV. In fact, Serenity is in Florida with Joey’s dad currently. So what happened? Well, after 9 months away, Joey was really missing our friend Erica who lives in Syracuse. I was also feeling lonely and drawn back to the east. I was feeling the desire to settle somewhere, and maybe part-time RV if we could make it financially feasible. We cut our Pacific Northwest exploration short, and hope to get back someday. We cut across the country, from Oregon to Washington to Montana. We pretty much just drove and slept. The Montana mountains and forests were pretty. Then it was on to North Dakota. The Badlands were also visually intriguing. I saw another buffalo when we stopped one night. It was all a blur, because we traveled cross country in about a week. Minnesota turned to Wisconsin to Indiana to Ohio without much excitement. Then we were suddenly back in New York State, and that was weird.
We ended up back on the west side of Syracuse, staying in Erica’s mom’s driveway. It was a stressful few weeks. Joey had to set up his tent and workshop in the front yard. I felt really lost. It was great seeing Erica and other people again, but everything felt really uncertain and I felt a little trapped. I knew very quickly that I didn’t want to be in Syracuse. Joey was starting to get really depressed, and he still is. The constant stress and work of travelling apparently held it off for him, but now it’s front and center. I was also struggling. We were looking for places to live, maybe for 6 months, in the general Syracuse region. I saw my therapist. I vented a lot about the difficulties of RV life and my fears for the future. I casually mentioned how I wished we could move to Ithaca, because that was probably our best option as queer, trans, and aspie people in Central New York, and I had some internet friends who lived there. My therapist asked me why I hadn’t told Joey this, and I realized I should. He was like, “That’s funny, I was thinking the same thing.” So we started searching for apartments.
We’re about an hour and a half south of Syracuse, but it’s a completely different world. It certainly isn’t perfect. It’s a very white, artsy, hippy, liberal college town. It’s still Central New York. But I feel way safer here, and there are resources. I have a new therapist who is queer and great, and an advocate for my disabilities, and it’s all free. I started a queer writer meetup group and I feel like I’m making some friends and slowly building community. Community seems really important to people here. And there are a lot of trans people. Actually, I feel happier here than I did anywhere else so far.
I realized I need people in my life that I see regularly and who I care about. More than just Joey and Drew and the cats. It’s not enough just to meet passing strangers and do readings in cities once a month. If I’m ever going to live my life to the fullest, I have to get close to people. I’m a lot better than I was when we left Syracuse. I feel like I’ve clarified my boundaries. I’m still super anxious around people, but it’s getting better. I think Ithaca is a good fit.
It’s funny, because my original plan was to go to Ithaca College. I was 17 or 18, and I thought it would be perfect for me. My dad communicated that it was too expensive. I was not a great high school student so I didn’t get aid, and this was before he left on disability (or whatever happened. Early retirement? I’m not sure.) Anyway, I got pretty much no financial aid. I was a traumatized kid too focused on trying to survive and transition to really care, so I let my dad handle most my college finances and decisions (for better and mostly worst). I went for SUNY Purchase, and eventually dropped out. And hey, I never would have written Refuse if I hadn’t gone there. And I got more familiar with New York City…a little. Beyond that, I’m not sure I got anything positive out the experience. I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I went to Ithaca from the start. The queers I’ve met here have seemed stable. Of course, I’m older now. But it’s interesting to wonder about.
We have a tiny apartment we can’t really afford on the Southside of Ithaca. It’s quite convenient to the Commons/Downtown area, which means I can bike places. We’re near a Wegmans. I can go to cafes, which is where I am today. I signed up and got a scholarship to take two classes a semester at the Community School of Art and Music. The queer writers group meets once a week. I am biking distance to water falls (which are mostly dried up from drought) and a swimming spot on Cayuga Lake. My needs are being better met. Joey’s business is doing better, even if he is really depressed. My book sales are pretty much the same.
Tomorrow I have an appointment my lawyer and advocate to talk about DSS and the stupid internal hearing for “intentional fraud” that I’m going to have to probably go to. They want $3,000. It’s total bullshit and bullying. I did nothing wrong. I will be glad when the meeting is over, and gladder when I just have SSI and don’t have to even deal with this. It’s been super stressful for me. I also have to see about getting foodstamps and temporary assistance while I’m here in Tompkins County. I have a meeting for that tomorrow too, which my advocate is also coming to.
Anyway, we have the apartment for a year. I really don’t know what’s happening. There’s been some talk of moving to Canada. I don’t know how serious that is, or if I really want it. But we are here at least until next summer. We may take a winter RV trip if we can.
I’ll post again when I’ve got something to say. There have been trips to the Adirondacks, New York City, and Buffalo that I have not covered. Oh well. Until next time. Thanks for reading my thoughts.
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I am realizing how much I missed pine trees, and shade, and rain. It’s such a relief to be here. This is my first time in Yosemite National Park. I’ve barely explored at all yet, but I already am in love. The smell of pine, and rain, and campfires… cool air… It’s wonderful. It’s supposed to rain most the time we are here, unfortunately. Joey and I are going to take a shuttle and go exploring very soon. We have an umbrella.
The AWP Conference in Los Angeles went really well. It was good for me. I sold books, and I’m hoping to reap the rewards long-term. I met people and networked and that kind of stuff that doesn’t come entirely with ease. I’m feeling good about it.
But I’m feeling even better about heading north! It feels like we are finally free. For the longest time, everything was structured around Joey getting surgery. Then I had my big reading in San Francisco, and then AWP. Now we can do as we please. Joey’s business is going well too.
We didn’t end up going through the Eastern Sierras via route 395. It was snowy. Instead we went via route 99 and 140. We stopped briefly at Red Rock Canyon.
Last night we were watching Joey’s Firefly DVDs and we realized that a lot of it is totally filmed in Acton, where we were staying. That was awesome, but I gotta say, I am ready for a long break from the dry south west. Especially Los Angeles County. Especially Antelope Valley.
It’s funny how I have trouble recalling specific anecdotes to share. I have this vague sense of them, but they are just beyond my reach. Memory is weird.
I’ve been stressed about the anti-trans laws and sentiment in the US lately. I’m privileged to currently be able to put some space between me and the realities of civilization.
So yeah, I’m gonna get back to doing that.
OH! OH OH OH. I almost forgot! We went to a wildcat sanctuary! With tigers, leopards, cheetahs, snow leopards (my favorite). It was awesome.
HELP KEEP CAT ROAD TRIP RUNNING!
Currently camping/staying in: Morgan Hill, Paicines, soon San Francisco…it’s complicated. But we are in California! Yes.
I started writing this entry as a reflection on my life since I’ve been with Joey. We realized early in our relationship that we wanted to move out west. So did his son, Drew. I wanted to give you a sense of what we had to get away from in Syracuse…but I’m realizing that would take another whole book on my part. Suffice to say, Syracuse was slowly killing us for multiple reasons. We had our best friend and family-by-choice, Erica. And while that was huge…we still had to leave. The original plan was to get to California. The idea for the RV came later (though it had been a longtime dream of Joey’s, one that he had almost actualized in his previous marriage).
And so, here we finally are, in California. I suppose I could say “back in California.” I spent a lot of my childhood school breaks in San Diego, because my dad traveled for work. I also lived out here a few years ago, on my own (see my most recent book, Show Trans). But for the most part I’ve been an upstate New Yorker all my life. We travelled from coast to coast. Within a week I swam in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. It’s pretty mind boggling.
There’s an Instagram feed on the side of my blog now, if you want to see pictures. I’m finding that’s way less hassle then trying to insert them in these text entries.
Since I’m not going to reflect on how we got here– not at this time– I am going to focus on the here and now, and just what that is. Well, first actually, I will give a brief list of what has occurred the past week or so. We traveled to Jerome, AZ one evening, briefly: an artist colony in the hills. We stayed at a Cracker Barrel en route. We spent one night off of Ventura Highway, waking up to an empty beach on a weekday for sunrise. That was amazing. That’s when it all really hit me that I am here and this is life.
There has been a lot of low times. A lot of stress. I still feel depressed, often. This has been hard work. It is not a full-time vacation. And we are not rich, or even really secure yet…
But the cats seem happy. Drew has wi-fi. I’m in California. Joey’s about to have surgery in San Francisco on the 20th, which is both stressful as hell but going to be so good for him in the long run and make his life easier.
And I’m sippin’ coffee and vaping in my camp chair, putting off a little longer my plans to make today productive if possible. It’s 9 am here, and skies are blue and the air is perfect. Yep. This is the life for me.
The past few weeks have been a blur. That’s sort of cliché to say, but it’s accurate. I can’t believe how far we’ve travelled. We went from Syracuse, down through the southeast, and then headed west. We’ve been through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and now Arizona. We’ve been doing a lot of boondocking, over-nighting in Walmart parking lots and such to save money, but also staying at some lovely parks.
Some of the more memorable moments would have to be:
- Swimming in the warm ocean waters at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia in mid September. I love bodies of water and swimming so, so much. I’m trying to find a way to swim several times a week.
- The wonderful audience I had for my reading at the LGBT Center of Hamptons Road in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a support group for trans folks and I read an except of Refuse (“Dean and Teddy”) about the struggles, limitations, and ultimately beauty of human connection at a trans support group. So it was pretty perfect. People loved it, and I sold a lot of books. Then we stayed for the group. It was a much more positive experience than I had in Syracuse at such groups. It was really good for both Joey and me, I think. We sometimes lose our hope for community.
- Staying at a camp in North Carolina where we had to literally be the only campers without at least one confederate flag on our RV. Yikes.
- Things started getting really, really beautiful awesome when we arrived at Caprock Canyon in Quitaque, Texas. That’s when it started to feel like the West. They have a herd of buffalo there! I seriously fell in love with them. They were…adorable and ferocious herbavores. I. Love. Them. The canyons were also beautiful as hell.
- At Caprock Canyon we were able to go out into the canyons and find the perfect spot to view the lunar eclipse. You can read my partner Joey’s story about that here.
- Albuquerque was pretty cool. We stayed in the parking lot of a casino for free. But they had good gluten free and veggie options for us at local grocery stores.
- Joey and I jumped in “the Blue Hole” which is a very small but deep swimming hole in New Mexico. The water was super cold and clear. It was fun.
- Last night we stayed at Meteor Crater RV Park in Arizona, and now we are at another park, south of Flagstaff. It’s beautiful here too. Tomorrow we are going to find rivers and swimming holes.
Let’s talk about my state of mind. How am I feeling? Good question, self. I feel like I’m finally living a life I want. I used to always wake up every morning, feeling like today wasn’t the day. Like I was waiting for something to make me happy. I don’t have the feeling so much anymore. That’s seriously profound for me.
I’ve struggled a lot with mental health, as a trans/queer survivor of repeated sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse throughout my life. That struggle has included a lot of depression. I don’t feel depressed right now. I’m having some PTSD stuff still. Nightmares. Flashes of unpleasant childhood memories. Things piecing themselves together, slowly. I’m still very shy and anxious around people outside my family and my cats. I’m even anxious around Drew a lot of the time. But I feel like I’m living something worthwhile. There’s a lot of practical stuff that needs to be done, so I haven’t had all that much energy for creativity. I say that, but it’s not exactly true. I’m just hard on myself. Still, I feel like these adventures will inspire wonderful things. Art. I have to be patient with myself.
On a side note, I’m actually making more money from booksales than ever. The future is ever unpredictable, but I think it’s gonna be alright. This is surprisingly an affordable way to live so far. I’m privileged to have Joey, who can afford to make some investments upfront. That’s been the key. But it’s seeming to work out so far, for all of us. I’m not losing money.
Bottom line: I’m happy and hopeful. Pictures forthcoming. What I’d really love is to just install a stream of them from my instagram show up on the main page, and then use these entries for text . Maybe there’s a widget for that. I’ll investigate.
Anyway. The stars are out. The air is warm but arid and pleasant. Goodnight, readers.