Date Night: The Science Museum

My girlfriend and I are going to the local science museum for a 21+ experience involving volcanos, so I am thoroughly pumped. I’m told there will be alcohol, music, movies, and “adult” experiments. I really don’t know what to expect.

I shaved my legs and armpit for the first time since October 2019 and I think I might have clogged the drain a little.

My mouth (FINALLY!!!) does not hurt anymore. I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen every day for the past week as well as rubbing clove oil on my gums every morning and night. I didn’t attend classes on Monday and Tuesday and was unpleasantly surprised with a test when I returned to campus on Wednesday.

Today is Valentine’s Day, yes, but it is also my coworker’s birthday, so a few of us brought baked goods. I made vanilla macarons and vanilla cupcakes. My coworkers brought a chocolate cake with coconut frosting and raspberries on top. It was delish.

I had a meeting with my advisor and I will officially be graduation in May 2021. My body is ready. I will also be starting full-time at my current job this summer, so that will be nice to have a little more income.

For those of you in school and for those of you that haven’t done your taxes: make sure you or your parents claim the American Opportunity tax credit if you’re in your first 4 years of college. It could get you $1,000 and I know ya’ll need it.

I am currently baking sugar cookie bars. I’ve attempted to dual color the icing, so we’ll see if it turns out as I hope it will.

The Freedom of “Not Caring” (in school addition)

When I was younger (ages 10 to 14, I’d say), I had this idea that all of shirts needed to be tight. I also needed my shirts to be pulled down at least halfway over my bottom. I didn’t feel like I looked good if this wasn’t the case. I can’t really explain why I felt this way, but I did. This was only relevant to the clothes I wore when I went to school. At home, I was always in shorts and tank tops running around the backyard.

All throughout grade school and into my first 2 years of college, I would hold my pee until the end of class because I didn’t want people looking at me as I walked out the door and also when I inevitably came back.

While being early to anything is generally a good move, there might be such a thing as being too early. I am still this way today, but for different reasons. Today, I am early to all my classes so I can choose the best spot and have some quiet time before the lecture. However, in grade school I was only early to school/class so that there would be less people to look at me as I walked in.

I used to have SUPER long hair (I’m trying to grow it out again!) and when I wore it in a ponytail, for a period of time, I was convinced that I only looked good if it swung back and forth when I walked. Thinking back on that now, I laugh.

I used to not blow my nose in class because I didn’t want people looking or hearing the ungodly noises coming out of my nostrils.

Okay, so I will stop writing of all of my past insecurities to interject with this: Today, I don’t care about blowing my nose in class, getting up to pee, walking in a little later, the shape of my shirts, and whether or not my hair swings.

Between growing up a little bit and getting more comfortable with all parts of myself, I just don’t care about the general public’s opinions anymore. I figure if I don’t really pay attention to people getting up to pee in class, why the hell would they be paying any attention to me when I’m getting up? Also, I don’t care about people’s clothes- either I like them or I don’t. I don’t make any substantial assumptions about someone if their shirts aren’t tucked or shaped a certain way.

I mean this next sentence in the nicest and most reassuring way possible: The bottom line is that you and I are not of enough interest to people to be constantly judged or shamed or looked at. 99% of the time, people are thinking about themselves and if they are the ones looking weird. They don’t care about you in that way! So, please, just be yourself, look good for yourself, be nice to yourself, and give yourself a fucking break.

Go pee, ya’ll- no one cares.

A Sad and Anxious First Day of School

Yesterday was day one of my Spring 2020 semester. I had only one class at 12:30pm. As per usual, I arrived an hour and a half early to make time for traffic, me getting lost, and any other emergency situations.

Turns out that I made the right decision in getting to campus ridiculously early because I spent 40 minutes trying to find parking that wasn’t full and would also accept my budget card that I just loaded $105 on. I finally found the sketchiest parking deck on campus; it also happened to be the one furthest from my class, so I got a nice walk in too.

The actual class was fine, but because of it being a new professor, new classmates, new room, new seat, etc., I was feeling a little jittery. I also hadn’t eaten enough or drank enough water- that’s on me. The whole parking situation didn’t help either, of course.

Unfortunately, my German grandfather also just died- as I was walking to class, actually, my mother texted me and my sister. So, that sucks. My mom just got back from Germany 5 days ago and now she’s going back for the funeral.

I have one of my evening classes today. I am trying to plan where to park because when I get out of my class it will be dark. I will attempt to park where I normally park because it’ll be after normal hours and the deck will hopefully not be full at that time.

Work update: work is going well, I hope they’ll ask me to be full-time soon.

Welcome to the New Year!

I must begin my first post of 2020 by saying that I was unfortunate enough to end my holidays with some not so great news: my German grandfather is in a coma with meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis. He’s in his mid 80s, so it doesn’t look great. My mother flew home on December 24th and she’s coming back tomorrow. He hasn’t woken up yet, but she has to return to work.

I spent the last week of December dog sitting and taking care of my sick girlfriend; fast forward a few days and it was her taking care of a sick me.

A fever, a cough, some vomiting, a visit to urgent care, and an ear infection later, I am on day 4 of antibiotics and day 2 of being back at work. I am still coughing up a storm, but overall I feel much better.

Our Christmas tree is still up, our apartment looks a fright, and I haven’t baked in what feels like months! I also made an extensive physical and mental list of things I want in 2020 for myself and for my relationship with Chelsea (spoiler: it involves lots of travel!), but I haven’t had a chance to start on any of it on account of my getting sick.

I was supposed to have 4 teeth removed yesterday, but I had to reschedule that, so that’s happening next Friday. Woohoo. Braces are still on for January 30th.

School begins next Monday. I am taking 4 classes. 3 of them are HR classes and 1 of them is a marketing class. I am excited, but I am nervous because 2 of my classes are evening classes; I go to school in downtown Atlanta and I park in a parking garage that is known for armed robberies and assaults. With the days becoming dark very early, I’ll have to watch my back walking to and from my car and class.

I shall now bake brownies!

But What is a “Date”?

My girlfriend’s sister brought up an interesting question the other day: Why don’t Chelsea and I go out on dates? I suppose that’s what it seems like- that we don’t “date”. I would say the opposite, though.

After thinking about it and talking with Chelsea about it, I’ve concluded that we do date. We may not go out, but we make time for each other.

Both of our love languages are Quality Time, so it doesn’t require us leaving the house or spending money to have that fulfilled.

I do enjoy going out occasionally, but I don’t need to go out in order to feel like we’re being “productive” as a couple in the world of dating.

Here are some favorite ways that I like to spend time with my partner:

  • Watching movies and TV shows together
  • Cooking/baking together
  • Eating my cereal on the toilet while she brushes her teeth
  • Walking together to the mailbox [almost] every evening
  • Carpooling to the grocery store, events, my parent’s house, friend’s houses, etc.
  • Eating meals together

It doesn’t take much for me to feel happy in my relationship. Neither of us care for elaborate plans and as long as we’re together, anything can feel like quality time.

What’s your love language and how do you make sure your needs are met? How do you make sure your partner’s needs are met?

Putting My Dreams On Hold?

I was talking with a friend yesterday about the feeling of being caught between travel dreams and a good job (or meeting someone and settling down).

Long story short, my friend Blaire had plans to go on a month long trip to Europe with her sister this summer. Afterwards, she planned on joining another lengthy volunteer program or homesteading or just jumping in her car and driving across the US.

But she met someone in the first program she was in in 2018 and they now live together in Indiana. They both work and they’re both highly considering attending college after having not been in school for almost 2 years.

However, Blaire still has major travel dreams and doesn’t want to tuck everything under the rug just because she fell in love.

Additionally, she also fears finding an amazing job that won’t let her hit pause to travel every now and again. She hates feeling tied down and is concerned that a “normal” job will do that. In a sense, the relationship has tied her down as well, but she confessed that she is 100% okay with that at this point- she and her partner fit really well together and she loves coming home to her.

I told Blaire that my current job might be more of a long-term situation than I initially thought; however, I wasn’t concerned about not being able to travel because there are opportunities to travel through my company. They’re also just super flexible about all of their employees’ schedules and encourage travel and “you-time”.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any concerns about not being able to travel as extensively as I’d planned prior to getting into my current relationship. There were moments of concern, yes, but after falling utterly and completely in love with Chelsea, I no longer wanted to travel with anyone but her.

One day, I hope we can take an extended trip (6 months-1 year), but, for now, I’m okay with mini trips scattered throughout the year. In fact, we’re taking our first trip together to North Georgia in about 3 weeks!

Are any of you experiencing worry about putting dreams on hold because of a really good job or because of a relationship? Share them with me!

Correcting Pronouns

So, my girlfriend gets mistaken as a guy sometimes, especially if she’s wearing a jacket or if she’s in a low-light restaurant. I hadn’t experienced her being misgendered until a few weeks ago at a German event in my hometown.

When the waitress asked, “What can I get for you, sir” I was quick to lean over and say, “SHE will have the Schweinebraten.”

Now, there will be different reactions from you all to me doing that, I’m sure. Some people might applaud me for “having her back”. Others might tell me I’m out of line and need to let her speak for herself. However, my reason for correcting her pronouns is actually for a very selfish reason.

I corrected her pronouns because I wanted the waitress to know that I was a lesbian. That sounds so silly, but let me explain.

I spent years becoming completely comfortable with myself and my sexuality. I pushed through internalized homophobia, as well as homophic behaviors and comments from “friends”, family, and people who I thought were on my side.

I came to realize that I was going to be the only person who’s opinion mattered when it came to who I was. I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be gay because it is only because of my being gay that I am as confident as I am. I wouldn’t have been this strong without having gone through what I went through.

And, sometimes, it felt like I was going through Hell. And I’m not giving all that up just to be perceived as straight at a restaurant.

On a last note, I don’t always “look gay”. I can pass as straight, no problem. I think femme lesbian visibility is so important and I miss chances to be seen as such when I don’t correct my girlfriend’s pronouns when we’re in public.

I want other young lesbians to not be assumed as being straight and I want them to see that you can be gay and still wear dresses. I rely on my same sex relationship [and my “gay looking” girlfriend] to make my gayness known.

Some people are still not going to understand, and that’s fine. I should also note that I’ve spoken with my girlfriend about this and she will let me know if she ever doesn’t want her pronouns corrected or if she’d rather do it herself.

With that, I leave you all. Have a lovely night!

Vocalizing an Unfamiliar Fear

My girlfriend vocalized a fear she had last night that I’ve been pondering myself for weeks now: The simple fear of losing your partner. I suppose it doesn’t really matter in what sense- loss is loss.

I’ve confessed to this blog, as well as to my girlfriend, that I’ve never feared losing a partner. I don’t believe it’s because I didn’t have feelings for them, but I do think it’s because I didn’t let my feelings get as deep as they undeniably are now.

When previous partners talked about not knowing what they’d do if we broke up or if something tragic happened to me, I really didn’t relate. Sure, I’d be sad and mourn them/the relationship; however, I had absolutely no doubt that I’d be back doing my same old thing in no time.

I’ve always had a way of treating unfortunate events in a very logical manner and that allows me to move on very quickly. I’m not so sure that I could deal with the loss of Chelsea so logically.

Lukas Graham has a lovely song out: Love Someone. I heard it for the first time months ago- before meeting Chelsea. It’s a beautiful tune, but there were lyrics that I heard that I absolutely couldn’t relate to. I will even go as far as to say that I thought they were stupid.

“If you love someone

And you’re not afraid to lose ’em

You probably never loved someone like I do”

Fast forward many feelings later, I, for the first time in my life, am scared to lose someone in the way that this song refers.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: this just feels different. It feels complete. It feels right. It feels like home. She feels like home.

A First Attempt

Today will mark the first day that I will exercise after having started exercise/exposure therapy. The plan is to stretch and use the treadmill for a total of 30 minutes all-together.

When I started exposure therapy a few months ago, my therapist began by having me only step on the treadmill. The purpose of this was to get used to just being on it and physically touching it. Previously, the mere thought of exercise sent me into a breathing panic because I anticipated the inevitable suffocation sensation before the real exercise even started. The brain is very powerful.

Sessions following only involved walking at a slight incline at a pretty slow pace- slower than my normal walking speed. Throughout my session, my therapist asked me to name 3 things I was thankful/grateful for. He asked me what my intention was. He asked me to verbally express mindfulness. When the session came to an end, he asked me to step in front of the mirror and talk to myself. He asked me how I felt, what I felt, and what did I have to say to the person starring back at me.

In the more recent sessions, we have picked up speed. My therapist still asks me to name the things that I am grateful for; however, he has also added in the following tasks:

  • ABCs
  • ABCs backwards
  • Count to 100
  • Count backwards from 100

The purpose of these tasks is distraction. The goal is to have my brain so focused on letters and numbers that it has no time to think or panic about the increased heart-rate. For the most part, this does work.

The last session I had, I went the fastest I had gone yet. There was also less distraction and more of me controlling what I was saying/doing/thinking. My therapist actually played marching band music in order to cause a disturbance, but hearing marching band music has never been a trigger, so I enjoyed it. We ended the session with 30 jumping jacks.

At the end of that last session, my therapist gave me permission to venture out on my own and give exercising on my own time a go. I’ve decided to make today my first day.

My intentions for today are to just do it and have no expectations. I forgive myself in advance if I have difficulty getting out of my head. I forgive myself in advance if I have a panic attack. I give myself a high-five for making it this far and not giving up.

Therapy is coming to an end.

My first therapy session was 166 days ago. I have had about 20 sessions. I started in sit-down therapy, a variation of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and I shifted to exposure/exercise therapy about 7 weeks ago.

While I came to therapy on my own accord, I was still hesitant to fully expose myself to a stranger. I knew that I needed and wanted help, but because so much of the process was unknown, I was nervous and withholding.

I remember how uncomfortable I was when talking about difficult times and then feeling my eyes water. I remember how I started to sweat when my voice started to shake. I remember adverting my eyes to the floor and pinching my thigh with my fingers to distract myself from the emotions that were bubbling up.

4 weeks ago, I cried my eyes out in front of a mirror in the downstairs gym during a session with my therapist. I didn’t love it, but I was more accepting of my tears and the [good] reasons behind them.

By the end of 2019, I will be done with therapy. It feels good. The progress that I’ve made was not recognizable overnight; my progress pops up randomly throughout my days in between all the little tasks I do. It’s a slow crawl towards mental liberation, but the [long] journey has been well worth it.