tsarina: (Default)
I've started trying to work out more, and longer. Rather than an hour every other day, I do one and a half hours, or two if I'm feeling motivated. I am trying to go two days on, one day off. It basically doubles my time - from three to four hours a week to six to eight. I am trying to ramp it up so I don't burn out or hurt myself.

This comes in large part because my cholesterol numbers were up some over the past year. Though just how much they're reliably up is questionable - two doctors looked at the same blood tests and had very different comments for me. One basically lectured me about how unhealthy it is for me to be fat as if I was somehow unaware of my weight, and how I really should just be doing cardio and losing this weight. The other simply said the year to year numbers were not unusual, still reasonable and maybe I'd like to take some B vitamins? Also that while cutting out fast food was great overall, I should look at how much sugar I ingest and try to level that down a bit to help those triglycerides. They were very different appointments.

While I am doing some intense cardio, I continue to also do circuits on the weights. I can lift things I would never have lifted before. It's probably not spectacular in the grand scheme of things, but I can lift 75lbs over my head and the novelty of that is still pretty great for me. (My long term goal is to basically double that.) My progress is slow, but steady.

I am still fat. I'm five foot four and I weigh 254lbs. I'm writing that because I don't want to be ashamed of this, and it's not like people cannot plainly see I am heavier than other people. But there is muscle underneath that fat, that I've never experienced before. Sometimes I touch my arms and marvel at how different it feels. I can see the shift in the back of my forearms when I clench my fists for the first time in my life. I did 75 push-ups today. If you had told 15 year old me I would ever be able to do more than 10, or even the me of last year, I would have scoffed.

My body changed pretty significantly when I started taking testosterone. A lot of weight shifted from my hips and my thighs to my torso. My hip to waist ratio changed pretty significantly, and my hips are about ten inches less than they were before.

That said, I do not pass often. Yesterday was the first time a grocery store clerk called me sir. It's weird. I have trouble figuring out exactly what it is. I don't correct a lot of strangers, because what is the likelihood of seeing that exact same HEB cashier again? And I genuinely don't want to embarrass some service worker just trying to get through the day. I try not to think of the potential for violence from strangers that comes with this territory, though that is certainly more on my mind lately.

The places I pass the most are the Alamo, and eating out with Mike. These days, servers ask if we want separate checks which never used to happen. It's the little things. Also I have a fondness for the terrible food of Taco Bell because the drive through people consistently call me sir. It was one of my few regrets about giving up fast food.

Sure, I would like to lose 20lbs because that's the American dream these days. I'd like for it to be a little easier to buy pants and shorts, a tiny bit more comfortable in an airplane seat. I'd like to not feel dismayed when I see pictures of myself. But really, for the most part it's better.
tsarina: (Default)
There is just nothing good to say about America. This country is cartwheeling into a hell that I'm not really sure we can climb out of once we're in there. I am fine most days, until I start reading about judges who want states to be allowed to criminalize homosexual sexual activity and my governor's crusade to keep me out of public bathrooms and the maneuvering in the courts here in Texas to deny the same marriage benefits to same sex couples and I start wondering how it will end.
tsarina: (Default)
Sometimes, I don't know what to do about how I will never pass. It hurts. I still haven't figured out what to say when the grocery store cashier or a waiter calls me m'am. I want to say "Uh, no." But I also don't want to make some minimum wage employee feel shitty, or have some weird conversation. It feels awful and overwhelming to just assert my basic sense of self.

At my last job, I asserted my male identity from the start. Even being introduced as a guy, I still had coworkers who would routinely fuck up and call me she. It's one thing for people who have known me a long time struggling to switch pronouns. It's another when people who are explicitly introduced to me as a man still refer to me as a woman.

I'm envious and sad. It reminds me of years ago, watching an episode of Queer Eye with my roommate. The guy was a young trans guy, and they took him out to buy clothes and all the usual nice stuff they did on that show. I remember going back to my bedroom and sobbing as quietly as possible, because that would never be me. I was still in the closet. Even now, out and effectively transitioned with the legal change, the hormones, the chest surgery - I still don't feel like I belong. I can not shave for weeks, and still get called m'am. No one is going to whisk me away to give me some magical makeover that will change things. I will just always be this person I am. I've been out for seven years, and so very little seems to have changed despite the thousands of dollars I've spent on it.

Nothing helps. I feel weirdly disconnected. The narrative of knowing, deep and intrinsically, that I was a boy is an old fashioned one. It doesn't sell well in this era. I'm happy for people who have more complex identities to get their voice. I don't want to begrudge anyone that. Like pretty much everything else, I am forever late to the party. It might be easier if I could be the sort of person who felt inbetween genders, and not be bothered so much by what people say to me. I'm not, though.
tsarina: (blue sky)
It is my birthday today, and I feel old.

I realize that objectively 37 is not Old. But I was thinking about some things today, and realizing some of my internal monologue was excessively cranky about The Kids These Days. (Ask my opinions on how The Kids want all the fun part of intimacy without the work!) It's not just my birthday bringing it on this year, or the increasing number of grey hairs. It also comes from going through my dad's stuff. Making sure that Mike and I have a will to sort out things in case one or both of us die. Dealing with a 24 year old friend who is massively depressed and needs to be in therapy. Being consistently horrified by the political situation and the increasingly fucked up things happening in America.

For a person who didn't expect to live past 20, I sure have come a long way. Even if sometimes I still feel like I'm a failure.

But I just didn't imagine the future would have so many actual nazis and monsters.

I'm not good at letting go of worries about things I can't control. Like death. Or the creeping racist horror show of America.

This probably sounds more depressed than I want it to - I'm pretty okay in myself. I'm deeply unhappy with how often people call me m'am or refer to me as a lady. If my facial hair wasn't so sparse and terrible, I'd stop shaving in hopes that it would change that. (I am not a beard person.) But aside from feeling kind of meh about how people don't see me, and being fat, I'm pretty okay. The only upside of the current political horror show is that I feel better about myself. I'm at least not one of these assholes, whatever my flaws are.
tsarina: (Nikolai)
Honestly, the thing getting me through this insane news cycle and terrifying time is praying for every asshat politician like Ryan or McConnell or Patrick to have their balls bitten by thousands of fire ants. Dear old gods and new, I will burn so many candles for you and bring you offerings, if you would lead the fire ants to the flesh of these men.
tsarina: (peppermints)
It's disgustingly humid, my anxiety is through the roof, and the country is ever so slowly descending into madness.

Finished: Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko reads like an older scifi novel crossed with a detective story. Pure fluff, kinda sexist, but the sort of escapist book I need right now. Probably won't keep, it will go into the pile to go back to Half Price or give away. I love his writing style, which is probably what kept it entertaining for me. I wish more of Lukyanenko's stuff was translated.

Also finished, the first three print volumes of Drugs & Wires which I loved a lot. It's an alternate 90s, with nods to all things Gibson, copious drug use, Russian, creepy mysterious malicious code, etc. Dan's a junkie desperately trying to fix himself and get back into VR, and this whole world is such a weird, messy place. It has all the things I like in this sort of fiction and I'm excited to learn where the story goes.

It's great. It updates every Monday as a web comic, and I've added them to my little roster of Patreons I support. (I gave myself a $20 monthly budget to throw at patreons and it gives me a bit of sorely needed happiness)

Currently reading: The Leavers by Lisa Ko, about Chinese immigrants and lost family. It's my book of the month selection, and I'm interested in what's going to happen. I'm only a short bit in, but so far it is intriguing.

I'm trying to spend more time consciously away from the 24/7 horror cycle of the news and reading, but it is hard.
tsarina: (peppermints)
Finished: Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s by Sheila Fitzpatrick. Obviously this a topic I'm really interested in, and one of my favorite time periods to read about. It's obviously well researched but. I found myself wanting more detail constantly. It felt more like an extended school paper turned into a book. It didn't really tell me anything new. Overall, kinda disappointing.

Currently reading: Don't Feed the Trolls by Erica Kudisch. It's delightful, but goddamn it makes me anxious. I think because it is far too real. I'm about halfway through and taking a break. I suppose because I've known people in the games industry who dealt with shitty situations, and enough people who experienced the utter rage of the trolls and anons just because they had success or were girls.

Also currently reading Genome by Sergei Lukyanenko. He's one of my favorite contemporary Russian authors, and I am delighted to read something different from him. (Lukyanenko wrote the Night Watch books, which are some of my favorite modern urban fantasy.) This is science fiction, and so far I'm terribly intrigued. There's plenty of tropes but I love genre tropes. This is the sort of soothing read I need right now, where I'm just puzzled over who hired this ship and crew.

To read next: I have a couple comics I ordered, Drugs & Wires 1-3. Weird 90s cyberpunk it seems, and I'm excited to delve into it.
tsarina: (peppermints)
I joined the Book of the Month club, in large part because Sarah did. And who am I kidding, I'm going to buy books anyway. I'm so much more likely to read them if they're sitting around in my space. The kindle mostly gets used for trips away. I have a dozen books on there I haven't even cracked. Technology wise it is great, but I am just too used to reading paper I guess. One of my goals for the year is to write reviews for everything as I read it, because I know that amazon review count can mean a lot for some authors.

(if you are on the fence on the book of the month club thing, I have can email you a referral thing where the first month is a dollar.)

I picked up American War by Omar El Akkad and Startup by Doree Shafrir. I don't think I could have gotten two things more opposite in tone. Startup is a frothy, quick little jaunt through the absurdity and grossness of startup culture life, as seen by two women neck deep in it. It's good. It's not revolutionary or going to tell you stuff you don't know. I think my only real complaint is that I wish there was more to it - the end feels like it cuts off in the middle without telling me what happens to any of these people. But it is a fast, chipper read and just escapist enough.

American War is much darker. It's interesting to look at the idea of radicalization and what our 21st century wars would look like on American ground. Timely and grim and sort of despairing that we're ever going to be better than this. The only strange note for me is that the characters don't seem to deal with race as a thing. In this 2075 American civil war, I sincerely doubt the good old boys of Georgia and the South are going to truck much with black Americans. But aside from this odd omission, the book is pretty damn good.

I'm already champing at the bit to pick out next month's books. If nothing else, I think this pushes me slightly out of my comfort zone (Russians, vampires, scifi epics) and will make me read some contemporary stuff.

Currently I'm reading Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s by Sheila Fitzpatrick. You can tell it is meant to be a textbook by the absurdly small font which makes reading sometimes slow. It's also hard to eat an orange and read it at the same. Still, it is fascinating. It mostly focuses on urban life. (The author has another book about the rural life of the time.) This is one of my favorite periods of history, because between the Revolution in 1917 and the end of World War II, Russia achieved probably a century's worth of progress at substantial cost to the people of the country. What makes this all so unsettling is seeing parallels with the current situation. I think the part that struck me the hardest was the idea that many higher level Communists suffered from this shared delusion that they were not privileged despite having significant privileges over the rank and file. Communists who had access to special stores, received better quality goods distributed to Party members, or had access to dachas and even just bread obviously had more and better things than many workers. It's a weird and complicated situation I'm loathe to try and summarize. But mostly it made me think about many of my fellow white middle class people crying about how they're not privileged, how their suffering matters so much and they need someone like that rotting papaya shitgoblin in the White House...
tsarina: (Nikolai)
My nightmares lately have been about my mother, or my mother's house. I've had a couple that disturbed me - I would be ordinarily living my life, except that my house was no longer my house. It was my mother's. I'd realize halfway through the day. It just left me with such a feeling of dread.

A friend's post about burials and cremations and such things made me think a lot yesterday. My father's ashes are still in a cardboard box in my house. I haven't figured out how to deal with them because everything that seems "right" is exhausting.

I also realized how much of my decision never to forgive my family centered around his death. No one asked me if I wanted to deal with things. No one offered to help. They all just kinda looked to me to do it. No one offered any care or concern in the aftermath. I mean, my family just expected me to clean out his apartment and deal with everything. Which would be one thing under normal circumstances. But also, they expected me to deal with this when he was dead in that apartment for a week, in August, in Texas. An apartment that was soaked in the smell of a decaying body. I have things belonging to my father in my garage that I haven't touched in more than three years and I still worry they smell like death.

That was the final straw I think. The point of no return. The deaths of my grandmothers, and my family's complete lack of communication about them, were just icing on the cake.
tsarina: (peppermints)
Writing here in some ways feels like Old LJ times. It's the interface I think.

I am completely unable to write about geopolitical events. My ability to be calm about the overwhelming horror I feel on a near daily basis is nil.

So instead, I'll write about how Nintendo discontinued the Classic today. I'll probably never buy a Nintendo again, which is sad. I desperately wanted a Classic, and they were completely unobtainable for months and months. (Unless I want to pay two or three times the box price from a reseller, which I've refused to do.) It infuriates me, this petty stupid thing. There was a huge demand, and Nintendo obviously had trouble filling it. They seemed to go out of their way to not supply this product. It was weird and depressing.

I have zero interest in the Switch or any of the other recent Nintendo offerings. I feel like a jerk but I don't care about Zelda. I'm not interested in the Switch. The Classic was neat because I could indulge in some nostalgia, sit on the floor in front of my television and play some old games from time to time. Playing an emulator on a modern controller on my computer doesn't scratch that itch at all.

This is so petty. I don't need this. It's selfish and absurd to be upset about it in the face of bombs and violence and the destruction of the country. But there you go. That's living in 2017 I guess. I can't adequately express my horror. I fax my political representatives every single day and mail a lot of postcards. I get irrationally upset about a Nintendo product.
tsarina: (Default)
I'm slowly figuring out how to be comfortable in this space, at once familiar and strange.
tsarina: (owl)
I have a hard time with change. With endings. With the inevitable passage of time. None of this is helped by this garbage fire year, where I've struggled with my depression and a raging storm of PTSD that's come out howling out of the darkness while we fight the destruction of our democracy.

Last year my email was hacked, in one of those "state sponsored" attacks. I suspect it has to do with this journal, with a Russian name, with the weird fuckery of what's happening with LJ's servers going Russia side, with the horrifying things that seem to underpin everything now. Some weird things have happened over the years I've mostly brushed off, but it seems sinister in retrospect. Especially given the political situation, the reports of anti-queer violence becoming worse and worse, the stories we're seeing about gay men being rounded up in Chechnya, the complicit actions of the president. Things are bad.

Permanent Account - Created on 14 December 2000 (#33314)

I remember paying the $100 in the permanent account sale, which was a lot of money for university me. I remember the strangeness of searching journals, finding strangers and their lives. I remember what it felt like to reach across the strange dial up darkness on my computer, to find you.

Seventeen years of my life happened here. There is so much I could not even begin to summarize. This place has been my daily routine for seventeen years, and it aches to think of not having it.

But I can't stay here, for a lot of reasons.

I've got a DW account under the same name. I exist on twitter and tumblr under another name. My digital ghost roams. My email still works, the yahoo and the gmail. I'm writing, and I sort of hope to actually publish something. I've backed up everything in PDFS. I'm going to save the icons I love, give it a little time, and then I'll probably delete this. Even if it hurts, looking at that five digit user number. Farewell Brad and Frank the Goat and my twenty year old self who started this journal while working nights at a shitty dot com job.

A southern drawl, a world unseen
a city wall and a trampoline
well I don't mind
if you don't mind
cause I don't shine
if you don't shine
before you jump
tell me what you find
when you read my mind

- The Killers


Jan. 22nd, 2017 12:50 pm
tsarina: (coffee)
I went to my first march yesterday, and not the last one. It was the largest crowd in Texas history, mainly women though I was one of many men there. The diversity of the crowd was awe inspiring. There were moments when it felt hard to breathe for how much my chest ached. It was the slowest I have ever walked a mile, in the enormous 50,000 person crowd flowing down Congress avenue.

It shocks me, how much of this shit happening is straight out of some shitty Soviet style playbook. There's no such thing as "alternative facts." That's propaganda, like those record setting five year plans and great harvests while people starved and died.

This is the most horrifying season of my life.

We must resist. We must fight. We cannot let them do this.

Also, fuck the idea you shouldn't punch Nazis. Dialogue only works when everyone comes to the table willing to respect the basic and essential humanity of each other. Nazis don't. The Nazi premise is entirely based on extermination. There is no arguing or debating. They will use you, drag you into their arguments while they dig a knife into your back. Fuck Nazis.

Sometimes, the fight is violence. We will have to fight.

Today someone told me about his grandfather, Cees. He was a resistance fighter during WWII, and was captured by Nazis. He was mistreated in a camp in Poland. But he survived, and he walked home through war zones when he was freed. He practiced a deep and radical compassion until the end of his days. He also punched fucking Nazis. So I want to remember this, and be like this man.

So I'll make phone calls. I will go to marches. I will donate. I will vote. I will speak the truth. And I will fucking punch Nazis if I have to, because we cannot ever go back to that.


Jan. 13th, 2017 06:40 pm
tsarina: (coffee)
I am making cookies, which is something I did on January 13th, 1997. That day they were chocolate chip cookies, big and heavy. I gave one to the mail man, and stood outside. It was snowing. I remember the peculiar sensation of falling upwards, into the grey sky as the snow came down. As if my tether to gravity was fraying.

Then I went inside and tried to kill myself.

For years I made morbid or maudlin or indifferent note of this day. Some years I referred to it as a second birthday. Once a boyfriend gave me a Russian translation of Alice in Wonderland to mark the occaision.

But here it seems, two decades is a significant amount of time.

I think a lot about it, about that fragile thread of chance and luck. About the darkness that gave no sign of a god or another life beyond this one. About waking up in a hospital bed, delirious conversations, the rage and betrayal of being shut in a mental hospital where the jigsaw puzzles were missing pieces and I had no schoolwork. About how I've always felt very, very different from the person I was before, as if a certain part of me had died. (I used to wonder a lot about what would have happened to that kid, if things had been different)

But here I am. If it was a waste or not, I couldn't say. I have lived a lot in twenty years. I am at times appallingly, painfully grateful to have them. I think about how different the world is now, in ways big and small. (And how some things seemed determined to warp right back into the bad old days.)

I am making chocolate crinkle cookies, the powdered sugar surface cracked and uneven. I had the air conditioner on today. It rained this morning. I don't know what any of it means, but I want to be alive.


Jan. 3rd, 2017 10:37 am
tsarina: (coffee)
For everyone climbing to the boats of DW, I have the same user name there. I will eventually figure out the crossposting thing. While I am largely sanguine that novy rusky wolves have no use for chasing me, I am concerned that pressures on the company could cause the closure of the servers for reasons financial or otherwise. What a strange thing, to think my LJ could be a victim of Novy Rus.

Anyhow. I've back up the past sixteen years of livejournal, online and offline. It's okay.

I went back to the gym today, after the long December. I gave myself permission to let that slide because there was a lot going on, and I was making a sincere effort not to binge eat. It felt good, even if it was hard. I have not lost as much stamina as I feared. One of the things I'm looking forward to in this strange new year is getting back into a regular gym routine.
tsarina: (yulecookies)
I'm so lucky, and I feel so unworthy of the kindness of strangers.

First, someone wrote me a full on Flowers in the Attic style story about Thomas and Lucille from Crimson Peak. Which is exactly the sad story I wanted about how two terrified children grew up to be murderers. Heed the warnings on it, because it is dark and grim. But oh so lovely.

Violent Delights, Violent Ends - Crimson Peak

As if that generous gift was not enough, I received a second story!

Oh and what a story. It's the dub-con face slapping glory of Nathan and Caleb from Ex-Machina, and it's everything I wanted in that messed up situation. The dialogue is so good I can just hear their voices.

like satellites - Ex Machina

To my Yuletide authors, if you pass by here - thank you. Thank you for your generous gifts. Is it weird to say I cried? I feel like you reached right into my head and saw exactly what I wanted to read. How wonderful it is.

yule log

Dec. 20th, 2016 04:02 pm
tsarina: (holiday)
Last night I made a buche de noel cake for the first time ever. I had a good teacher, and I feel confident about trying to do it again on my own. I also feel more confident about getting Swiss buttercream and meringue right. Funny how simple things can feel overwhelming, but having someone show me how to do it in a very low key way helps.

I'm trying to enjoy the holiday season, even as I wake up every morning with dread. Mike said something that struck me. For eight years, we lived with a sense of hope and it seemed to go away almost overnight. I look at my friends and coworkers sometimes and wonder why they aren't as disturbed as I am about what's happening. It feels like we're screaming in a nightmare, the way you try and your voice is so strangled, so small.

Yesterday I looked at those photos from Ankara. He looked so young, that policeman. It made me hurt. A few days ago I saw a friend from high school with his son, which felt surreal. We whispered about our feelings about Star Wars, nuclear war and death. Which is to say after two viewings, I like Rogue One a lot. It's so much about death, and the terrible choices, and the people who aren't the heroes of the stories that get told to other generations. No one will talk about Bodhi Rook the way they will talk about Luke Skywalker to their children - but god I can't stop thinking about that man. (Who was young, as young as that policeman looked in Ankara) About how he makes the comment about trying to get right with himself, how his defection took him to a place he didn't have to be and how he kept making choices to do things even though you could tell he was shit scared and unprepared.

I never thought I would live long enough to see the lead character in a major video game be queer, but I also didn't think I'd live to find myself writing an email to a friend talking about what we might have to do when the neo nazis come to town.

Part of me loves December, the holidays and the lights. I've made myself a happy set of secular traditions and a life of my own. My tree, Christmas in our house, our private traditions. It feels hard to celebrate this year, when everything is so strange and terrible. I don't know what the right answer is. Am I failing by buying us gifts when I could have just given all that money to some cause? I have subscribed to two magazines to support journalists doing great work, thrown money at some charities, and none of it feels like enough. I suppose I won't feel like it is enough unless I'm actually punching one of those fuckers in the face. Not that such a thing is really going to do much for the greater good but fuck it feels so fucking bad every day when I wake up.

I don't know what to say. I've had a hard time coping with it. I managed to deal with updating my documents. But the anxiety hasn't gone away. I seesaw between something like okay and bleakness. I'm so angry, it seethes under my skin. Every time someone downplays the actual nazis, or makes a shitty comment about the generalized horror over 2016, or work fucks us over in some fresh way, I can feel it burning right through me. I haven't been such an angry fucking mess since I was twenty one. This is not a thing I'm enjoying, but I don't think it will just go away. I'll have to find some way to cope. Or maybe I'll just punch a nazi in the face.
tsarina: (coffee)
I made this sixteen years ago. I've never changed the name, in all this time. Weird to think I picked a Russian word long before the Russians bought LJ or it had any relevance there. I was just bored and angry and lonely at my job in the middle of the night, in the middle of university.

All my names are so different now. I think sometimes I should change the name on this to better reflect who I am but it exists as something out of time.

Funny how I'm still worried about the world ending.
tsarina: (coffee)
I just don't even know.
tsarina: (Grey Wardens)
I'm having a hard time not breaking down tonight. I distracted myself for much of the day. I cooked an elaborate, excellent meal. Now I'm just drinking wine and living with the terror of this night. I'm genuinely fearful about what this means for the progress of this country, for the safety of my friends and neighbors.

Half the country thinks a xenophobic, sexist bigot with no experience is a better choice than a woman who has spent her life in public service. Gods above and below.
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