Tuesday, September 12, 2017

21st of Elul 5777

The last day of Elul will be on September 20th, and that night will be the start of Rosh Hashanah or our New Year. (For us, it'll be the year 5778.) It'll also be the start of the month of Tishri. As well as the start of the High Holy Days, which lasts for 10 days. They begin with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is lit. the Day of Atonement. Those 10 days are a time of introspection. Reflecting on the previous year, and thinking about what we can do better in the coming year. It's kind of a bittersweet time. Happy, yet somber. 

Again, I won't be able to fast for Yom Kippur this year. I have to have food with my meds, and the meds wouldn't work as well for me without food anyways. Not good for someone with IBD to strictly go without food for so long, either. It'd be considered a sin if I didn't eat, because of all this, too. A similar one to if someone was healthy enough to fast, but didn't. It still gets to me every year for that holiday.
This is my wallpaper for September. From left to right: Takasugi, Gintoki, Katsura, and Sakamoto from Gintama. This is when they fought along side each other during the war against the Amanto (aliens). They're in their more traditional samurai outfits. This was also before they had split up. Takasugi becomes a rather complex enemy through most of the series. Gintoki is the leader of Odd Jobs, and helps people in his neighborhood usually. (He's the main character, and just in case people didn't know about him.) Katsura sometimes helps Gintoki from the sidelines, and they actually seem like they're still close friends. Katsura's basically a terrorist who hates the government. Sakamoto's hardly in the series, yet he's important too. (He shows up a lot more in the last season.) He's a space pirate who's good at doing business with aliens. He has helped both Gintoki and Katsura occasionally. He's a goofball, but very clever. I miss this show. It's my fave anime. There's going to be a new season soon. It'll most likely be the last one, sadly. The last couple of seasons were really serious. Not nearly as much comedy as they normally have. I miss that humor, too. Although, it was still awesome! 

The Pusheen calendar has her in an apron and chef's hat. It says: "Let's bake!" over her head. There are all sorts of baking utencils around her. Apparently, she made some sort of mixture in a big bowl, there's a cracked egg shell near it, and she was rolling some sort of dough with a rolling pin. She's happily sitting in the middle looking at it all. Also, has her front paws put together. There's a cupcake in the actual calendar part. It's cute. There's definitely a theme for some of the last few months. What with her own cafe and now baking stuff...Last month was different with the mermaid, though. (Or is it mercat?) 

The month-long holidays for September are: National Biscuit Month, National Breakfast Month, National Chicken Month, National Honey Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Cheese Month, Classical Music Month, National Piano Month. Some are for important causes, some are to make you appreciate things you may take for granted, and some are just for fun. 

I've had my iPhone for 3 years now. It's a 5c. It's been amazing, and I can't really imagine life without it now. I never had a smart phone before it. The mobile phone I had before wasn't the greatest. At least, it had a calendar, calculator, a few games, and notes on it. It was a lot harder to navigate. Feels kind of novel just to touch the screen. It really is like a mini computer, too. It feels like I've had it for a longer time than that. 

I've been sick with a nasty cold since the 3rd. It's a lot better than it was towards the beginning, but it's still lingering. It has mostly affected my nose, sinuses, made me dizzy, warm, the air hurts my eyes, and given me a sore throat. At one point, I did have a fever. Luckily, that quickly got better. Occasionally, I've felt cold and hot at the same time. That has felt weird and annoying. 

When it was at its worst, we were having a heatwave of about 90 degrees each day with heavy, sometimes hazardous, smoke. Normally with the heat and smoke, that would be a miserable combo. However, being sick during that time felt horrendous. Almost like nature was against me, too. The smoke was from the eastern Washington wildfires this time. (I'm from the western side of the state.) Before, it was the wildfires from Canada and then Oregon. For the last couple of days, it's been nice and cool, and there doesn't seem to be much smoke. A lot more tolerable. I'm still sick of being sick. Makes it difficult to do stuff, or even eat at times. I've gone through probably an entire tissue box already, and I still have a very runny nose. 

The week before last I managed to practice my clarinet every day, except during that weekend. That was nice. Hadn't gotten to it in a long time. Played better than I thought I would. Obviously, it wasn't perfect, but much better. 

I didn't get to it last week. Mainly because of how sick I was. I managed to practice yesterday and today, though. It was hard to play while at the same time I could barely breathe normally, and my nose was going. I had to take a lot more breaks than usual. Couldn't finish a phrase in one go, either. I'm still happy I was able to do it. Today, I mostly played jazz tunes and a few pieces from my advanced classical music book. It was pretty decent sounding today, too.

The week before last, I managed to write more of both books each day. (Again, except for that weekend.) I didn't write at all last week. I did end up getting to it yesterday and today, though. I've written about 170 pages all together. That's roughly 340 pages in paperback. Quite a lot. Got to another chapter today for the memoir. The previous one was about college, and this one will be about mental health stuff. This will probably be the toughest chapter for me. After this one, it'll be on 'physical' health. That one will have a lot to it, too. The college one was about 12 pages long, and I think it's the longest chapter so far. Moving along quickly with the sequel to Alliance, as well. I'm not sure where it's headed, but it has been fun so far. Also, had some ideas on the cover recently for it. All I'll share on that is it'll still incorporate the teardrop somehow. While writing out the ideas for it, it sounded cool. 

Went to the Washington State Fair on the 3rd. That was fun, even though I was starting to get sick then. I was a little disappointed that the cats and dogs weren't there. They would be later on that week. It was really warm that day. It seemed to take a toll on the animals. They looked so hot. The barns they were in weren't air conditioned. It sometimes felt warmer than outside. I can't imagine having fur in that sort of heat, either. 

We also went through the big insect exhibit. That building had ac. The insects looked happier. I didn't want to see the big spiders alive or their dead mounts, but I liked seeing the other insects. I don't have the same 'issues' with them. They had the big versions of stick bugs. I had the small ones as pets when I was little. I thought they were cool until they multiplied. They ended up getting into everything, and I didn't expect them to do that so quickly. They were worse than the stereotype with bunnies. 

The best animatronic there was probably the preying mantis. The arms completely unfurled, and the movements were cool. The worst was probably the caterpillar. It didn't do much besides loudly grumble and wiggle slightly. Sad. They could have done a lot with that one.

The produce displays were cool. So was seeing the largest pumpkins and largest cabbage there. The cabbage broke the state record. If I remember correctly, it was 65 pounds. That's a lot. 

The collectors' exhibit was really interesting. Some really went all out. There were collections on pez dispensers, legos, Elvis, Paddington Bear, clocks, matchbooks, Americana, and so much more. I was surprised by this one. 

I had an M&M's caramel apple there. I was surprised that they'd cut it for people. Made it easier to eat. It was really good. I don't have caramel apples that often. Makes them more of a treat when I do have them that way. That's the only thing I ate there. There were a lot of tasty looking stuff. I don't know if that was because I was starting to feel sick or something else. I just didn't feel like eating more.

Eventually, the heat was getting to us, so we left a little early. I needed to be somewhere with ac, and was thirsty. So, we went to Elmer's for dinner. I tried their special, which was pumpkin pancakes. It was pretty good. 

Before going to the fair, I got new sunglasses. This time, I didn't care about which side I looked at. That being the women's or men's section. It was a nice and freeing feeling to not care. I think I chose a pair that could have been found in either section. 

I think only looking at the women's section (or women's stuff in general) was influenced by my mom, and just wanting to conform. My mom only looked at the men's watches and shirts occasionally because they were cheaper. Everything else had to come from the women's section. She was strict on that stuff. I don't think people know that freeing feeling unless you're trans. Especially, for me, being agender or other enbies. It's hard to describe. Like I was forced to be a certain way either by society in general, or family and friends unintentionally. Then, the idea that I can 'allow' myself to not care breaks that. It was a small thing, but a nice step I think. 

When I wrote about it in a status on facebook, a couple of people seemed to not really 'get it'. They said things like: "I like men's bathrobes more." "I love men's pj's and dress shirts." I know they probably didn't mean it this way, but it felt like it was similar to women can like men's stuff, too. Yeah, that's true they can. That's great if they do, too. I'm not a woman or a man, though. It kind of feels like the argument that there are all types of women out there, and you're still one you're just confused. Like there's no such thing as being enby. That doesn't sit well with me. Again, I know they didn't mean it this way, but that's how it comes off to me. I honestly want to explore more of what might give me that freeing feeling or good (not sure if that's the right word...) feeling towards 'gendered' things again. It was great. Didn't get much of a response on this in the enby group I'm in on facebook. They don't seem that active, so I might look for another one. There was one person who loved it, and gave me a nice comment at least.

About a couple of weeks ago I started getting baby ads through the mail. Last week I got a big and heavy box of baby formula samples. The last time I got this stuff was when I started college, and it didn't stop until a few years later. I kind of understand at that age. Now...not so much. I also was getting Marlboro ads and samples back then. It got so bad, I had to call them. I've never smoked, and I've never had an interest in it. They were giving me things a lot more often than the baby product people. That's the weird thing with that time and now, the baby product stuff has been from different companies. A little more difficult to stop. Plus, baby and smoking stuff at the same time was bizarre. Maybe they were confused? 

Personally, I'm still iffy about having a baby. I've kind of always wanted one. For the mom and baby stuff, it can be very gendered. That seems like a slight headache for me. The idea that something might be growing inside me is scary. Sometimes, I think of it as like the Sims or an rpg where you can see what a couple's baby will look like. A fun sort of experiment that way, but not in an emotionless way like it might sound...I think it'd be cool to have a little me, too. I'd want them to have their own personality and such, but it still would nice. I think I'd have it done medically and not the 'old fashioned' way. It can be strange for aro aces to not do it medically. I wouldn't want to have a baby now, that's for sure. But, then there's the whole nature's 'clock' thing. If I wait long enough, I suppose I'd settle for adoption. Something about biological ones feels better to me.

It can be difficult for people with IBD to have kids, too. Although, some can have them. I also feel like someday I'm going to want my uterus/ovaries out. Mainly because of health issues, not necessarily gender. Although, recently I have thought about getting a double mastectomy. The main reason's because my mom had breast cancer, my mom's mom had it, and one of her sisters had it, too. I don't even know about others, because they never share that stuff. I saw what it did to my mom, and I don't want that. That's a pretty big reason in itself. 

Gender-wise I feel they're too big. I'd probably want a reduction if there wasn't a family history of breast cancer. This way I can fit into things better, and they wouldn't weird me out as much. Without them, it might still be better for me. They wouldn't get in the way, either. If I did have a baby, I would use formula instead. The whole thing about breast feeding weirds me out anyways. Something about it...I know it's healthier for them, but it just wouldn't feel right for me. 

Recently someone, in a general LGBTQ+ group on facebook, asked when people realized their sexuality, and how late in life is too late. Like, what's the cut off age or something. I think the first time I knew I was like this was when I was 8 or 9. Much earlier for my gender. Essentially, when adults started splitting boys and girls up, and treated us differently. Just didn't have the words yet. At 16, I denied it. At 31 (just over a year ago), I realized and embraced being ace. Realized I was aro around late October that year. Realized my gender much more recently. I think it can take an entire lifetime, and even then someone might never know their sexuality. Some might deny it their entire lives, too. This can also be applied to gender. It's sad. I think I read an article a while back about a man who realized he was gay on his deathbed. He didn't know what he felt towards men was actually sexual attraction. He just thought every man was supposed to get married to a woman and have kids. Just going through the motions. It's cool he realized it, but sad it took so long. 

Finished watching Shetland on Netflix. It was pretty good. Sometimes, it dragged a bit. It was interesting to see the landscape, and the accent was cool to hear. Most of the cases were 2-parters. However, the last season was all one case. So, it was 6 episodes long. Not sure if there will be another season. 

Also, started watching a Taiwanese mystery series on Netflix called Close Your Eyes Before It's Dark. It's surprisingly good. It's about a high school reunion of a hiking club that vacation at a cabin in the woods. They used to play a game that has the same name as the show's title. Where they pick cards, and whoever gets the joker is the killer. Once everyone closes their eyes, the killer picks the victim he killed during the night. Then, they open their eyes, and the victim is revealed. They have to guess who killed them. In the present, people are actually being killed. They realize it's actually one of their own, but they don't know who yet. It has been kind of comical when they cut to the corpses, and they're talking to each other. The first person who was killed was even more funny by herself. They don't actually move, which makes it creepier. So far, only 2 have been killed. I think another one will happen very soon. They set it up in an interesting way. Each episode is an hour and a half. Really long, but they keep the tension going the entire time. I like the opening sequence, too. Very artfully done, and a bit edgy. Although, it seems to have spoilers. They hint at the deaths. With the first 2, I've noticed that they've shown things related to them. Like a gun firing off. The background music is great, as well. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Banana Lovers Day!

The holiday was yesterday. I love bananas! They seem to be a very unique fruit, to me. I prefer to eat one with breakfast. I've also cooked them in coconut milk. That was interesting, and really tasty. I think it was a Cambodian recipe. They're good toasted, too. 

The month of Elul started on the 23rd. It's the last month before the High Holy Days. A custom during this time is to blow the shofar each morning. (Except on Shabbat, of course.) It's to awaken our souls to those holidays. I managed to remember to do it today. Yay! Also, got a long note out of it the first time trying to blow it. Usually, I'm not used to it, so it takes a few tries at first. 

This also means Rosh Hashanah, our New Year, is coming up fast. I'm going to do what I've been doing for the last 2 years for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That's going to online services. Even though I know I'm not on an immunosuppressant anymore, it seems nicer to me. I also don't have sit in a very crowded room. Oftentimes, it gets really warm with that many people. The synagogues I can 'visit' are gorgeous, too. They sometimes have stuff going on between those holidays. Not just the Shabbat services in between. 

Dad and I were recently at a rally against hate, and some people I knew from one of the local congregations saw us. We chatted for a little while. I don't know why, but they seem to always try to encourage Dad to go to services. Funny, because she's not Jewish. I'm Jewish, and they don't seem as gung-ho with me. It's off-putting. I think one of them was surprised when Dad said she wasn't Jewish. It's not like she's hiding that. 

They did ask me why I wasn't going to services. I was trying to be polite, and told them for a while it was because of the immunosuppressants, which was partially true. I know both congregations have new rabbis, and one of them basically had a huge overhaul to what they used to do. It's just...I don't particularly like most of the members of either. There are a handful I really like, but that's not really enough. The others try to mother me every time they see me. Or, talk about my mom. Or, think I'm a mini version of her. Many also were rather rude when they found out my Dad's trans. (Some just continued to be that way.) Some have tried to set me up in the past. Some have inquired when I'll find another boyfriend. They get gossipy and catty sometimes. That's not my cup of tea, and I'd rather go to services to pray, than have all that other stuff. Also, we're supposed to be against gossiping...It creates a weird and semi-hostile environment for me. I haven't felt that way at other synagogues I've visited. Maybe because they didn't have a history with me? 

I had a gastro appointment last Monday. I wasn't able to get one with an MD, but the only one that was available was a PA or Physician's Assistant. She actually listened and gave me more options to relieve my symptoms. 

She wanted me to go on Lialda. It's a very similar to balsalazide, which is an anti-inflammatory med. Balsalazide was really great at first, but soon stopped working. Often, people respond better to Lialda if the other one stopped working. She said she was very hesitant about prescribing a biologic, but if this doesn't work out, that's my last option. I don't have to take nearly as much as when I was taking balsa. It's just 2 huge pills a day, instead of 9 huge plastic capsules a day. (Had 3 three times a day, and felt like I was just filling up on plastic.) These look a lot like they're ibuprofen on steroids. The only side effect I've noticed so far has been a bit of heartburn. 

She said in the future I may need to have surgery. I really don't want to, and told her that I'd like to try everything before that. She seemed surprised, but still talked about the possibility of surgery. She said they'd have to know whether I have Crohn's or UC in order to see what would work. I've read/been told that it's important to know which it is, in general. I told the specialist before about that, and she brushed me off. The PA did at first, telling me the treatment would be the same. However, she changed her tune about that. She's making sure to write IBD on my records now. That was what they said I was diagnosed with at first. Not specifically Crohn's or UC. I like that more if they don't know.

She wanted me to try the trazodone my primary prescribed. I was unsure about it. Mainly because it's considered an anti-depressant. I have gone through countless ones in the past. I have something that's been perfect for what I actually have. I didn't want it to mess with that, too. She told me it's a very light one, and hardly prescribed for that. It's mostly for sleep. So far, I think it's slightly working. 

She wanted me to try peppermint oil pills. Didn't really elaborate on that much. Looked it up, and it's usually used for a variety of gastrointestinal stuff. Often, for nausea, abdominal pain, and heartburn. Sometimes for sleep. It wasn't available anywhere in town, but Amazon had a huge selection. It smells awesome! Not bad when taking it. The side effects so far have been burping a bit more, and burps tasting and smelling like mint. 

I also got some blood tests done. All of them have come back normal, despite still feeling several symptoms. My sed rate was the lowest it has been so far. Sed rate is how fast red blood cells fall in a tube. The stickier they are, the more they clump up. Those drop the fastest. Those clumps are an indicator of high inflammation. The normal range is 0-20. My highest was 44. This last one was 18. A good number.

She wanted me to try going back to a fiber supplement, and miralax when I need it. I didn't want to, but am trying it again. I noticed Citrucel, which is what I used before, is normally full of sugar. So, I tried to get the sugar free one. When I got home, I looked at the ingredients more closely. It had aspertame as one of the main ingredients. Something I can't have. So, I returned it, and looked on Amazon for one. I noticed regular Benefiber was sugar free and aspertame free. I got it. First time I had it was in water. It was really nasty. The second time I tried it in hot chai. To my surprise, I couldn't taste it in that. Maybe the heat dissolved it more or something. At least, I know a better way to take it now.

She also thinks the low FODMAP diet would help me. It stands for: Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. It's supposed to be a temporary diet, and is used for many gastrointestinal disorders/diseases. Main ones being IBS, IBD, and Celiac Disease. It's to help figure out trigger foods that make symptoms worse. Sounds great in theory. I'm not sure I'm ready for the diet yet. It's very restrictive, very small portions with some things (many people have issues with figuring out how to have enough calories for the day), elimination part lasts for 3-8 weeks (you take out the foods high in FODMAPs right away), and you have to add foods back in gradually after that. I think she mentioned I could do the main part for 4 weeks. It's also supposed to help give your gut a rest during that time. Many people feel much better during it. I could still have some of my favorite foods, at least.

I got a few other things from Amazon. One of those was pajamas. I was only down to one pair before. They were really old, winter-like heavy, and way too big. I could barely keep the pants up, and was swimming in the shirt. These new pajamas are amazing! They feel velvety, comfy, it fits me way better, and could probably be used in any season. The only issues I have with them is they're slightly too long in the sleeves and pants, and other parts of it are a little too big as well. I got it in 2 sizes smaller than my old PJs. Yay! 

I also got a purse. My old one was about a decade old, discolored, full of holes, and one of the zipper 'pulls' fell off. It had corduroy-like fabric and was really durable. I loved it, but it was time. The new one has more pockets, I think it might be able to hold more in general, and looks nice. It has vinyl-like fabric. The old one used to be beige with a leather strap and zipper pulls. This one is coffee-colored, and has metal pulls, which would be better in the long run. 

My new sneakers came today. They're Skecher's instead of Champions. I've never had Skecher's shoes before. I heard they were good, so why not? My old shoes weren't available in the same brand/type of shoe as a 7.5 regular anymore. They just had the wide version. I'm not wide anymore. I tried to find shoes that were a similar style and color. These ones are mainly navy with pink trim. The old ones were black with a lighter pink trim. Not that much different. These new ones have thicker soles, better tread, and are a lot more cushiony. At first, one shoe didn't feel good, but over time it has gotten better. Probably needs some breaking in. The only issue I have with them is the shoelaces are a little short. Although, maybe they'll be similar to my old shoes on that. Those laces seemed to grow (probably loosened) so much, I had to quadruple-tie them. 

With one of the recent arcs I watched of One Piece, I can tell Luffy is definitely aro ace. I know the mangaka recently said it, but this cemented it even more for me. He was thrown by himself to an island called Amazon Lilly. Like the name, it's a country of Amazon women. Men were banned from entering the territory. Most of the women had never seen men before. They threw in both the legends of the Amazon women and Medusa for that arc. They always had snakes around them, and Boa Hancock or the Snake Princess (their leader) has the ability to turn people to stone. Specifically, people who are attracted to her romantically/sexually or who greatly admire her. She's considered very beautiful and most men seem to have a thing for her. I actually think she has a slight masculine look. I can't pinpoint what makes me think that, though. The only man who hasn't felt anything towards her and her powers don't work on him, has been Luffy. Even her citizens aren't immune to it. He didn't feel anything like that towards the other women, either. Never felt it towards the men they've met on their journey for that matter. Since he's uneffected and has gone up against a group that once enslaved her, she's fallen hard for him. It's kind of comical. She's helping him a great deal now. I have a feeling she'll become a member of his crew. She can't seem to stay away from him for very long. That'd be cool. She came off as a bitch at first, but I like her now. She already doesn't like the idea that there are 2 women in his crew. There needs to be more. With her, it'll be 3 women and 7 men. Slightly better. 

I'm trying to be better about my writing this week. I essentially didn't write at all for roughly 3 weeks. Longest span of time between writing so far. That's not good. I'm trying to keep up with writing both the sequel to Alliance and the memoir each day. I've noticed my average page count has been 2-3 pages each. (4-6 altogether.) It's not bad, but I want to write more. The problem has been with my computer slowing down while I write. I probably would have done a lot more each day if it was up to speed. Honestly, I stop when I get too frustrated, do something in between, and write the other until I get frustrated again. If I had been writing during those 3 weeks and my computer was running smoothly, I might have either finished them or been close. I'm up to 145 pages altogether. (About 290, again altogether, in paperback.) That's a lot. 

I've made it to writing the 'college' chapter in the memoir. This might be a long section, as well. The previous one was on school up to that point. 

The sequel has had a huge twist recently. I'm even surprised that it popped up in my head. It's a huge turning point to say the least. Some questions have been answered with it, but it's brought a new crop of questions up. 

I'm also going to try to practice my clarinet on a regular basis. Didn't do much of it at all this summer. I did it today, and didn't sound nearly as bad as I thought I would. It was fun to get back to. 

I'm also trying to stick more to my normal 'diet'. For the last few days, I haven't cared. Always interesting to keep track of it with My Fitness Pal's app. I also want to be better about going to bed at a decent time. That way I can get up at a better time, and actually have more of a morning. Last night I went to bed at 9:30pm. I probably didn't actually fall asleep first until about 10:30pm. Still half-woke up every so often during the night. I fully woke up, naturally, at 7:30am. Not bad.

It was really warm today. About 90 degrees. So, I planned to practice my clarinet first thing in the morning, and write right after that. I normally get really warm when I practice. My 'break' between writing the stories was lunch time. I immediately turned off my computer after writing the last story. Helped with keeping it tolerable in my room for a while. It's going to be really warm off and on throughout the week. So, I might continue to do it this way for now.