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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

8th Blogoversary!

I wasn't able to post on the actual day, so at least it's still within the same month. The actual anniversary was on the 6th. I had several blogs scattered over the internet before that. They were at places like LiveJournal, certain forums that had a member's blog area (most of those don't exist anymore), Wordpress, and Xanga. None of them were kept up on a regular basis. As far as I know, my LJ and Wordpress blogs are still up. Haven't posted anything to them basically since I started this blog. At some point, I realized I was spread out too thin, so I decided to make this my main and basically only blog. I still used/am using deviantART's journal for art updates or major events. (That's been less often than it used to be.) Nothing like this, though. Interestingly, I did make 2 other blogs eventually through Blogger. One's supposed to be a place to practice my Japanese, and the more newer one is to 'discuss' or put my thoughts, opinions, and ideas down. I haven't posted to that newer one in just over a year. I like the idea for this one. It's been a longer time for the other one. These 2 subsets of blogs are quite different than this one.

Hopefully, I can post more often on here in the future. It was way too hot to turn my desktop computer on earlier this month. There isn't really a good Blogger app, and it's difficult to type from my phone to the regular site. Kind of sucks. Otherwise, I would have been posting. 

Hopefully, this blog can keep going for many more years. It's been going longer than any of my previous blogs. I've never written in a diary/offline journal for this long, either. I wasn't into keeping a diary, but I did have one as a kid. It was off and on, and then I forgot about it within about a year or 2 of getting it. Even had a little lock on it.

If something happens to Blogger, hopefully I can move everything to another host. Blogger hasn't exactly been the best the last couple of years. It's been worse since their latest big update. Although, I'm grateful to have a place to post to. There are a lot of pros to it still. 
This is my wallpaper for August. It's Sebastian from Kuroshitsuji or Black Butler. Thought it was a cool one, although more serious than usual. The current arc in the manga has had a couple of the biggest twists to the entire story. (Spoilers ahead, if you don't want them, skip this paragraph.) The mangaka (creator) was hinting a lot about what would happen, and we somewhat suspected. However, it makes Ciel's life sound even more cruel and disturbing than we thought. There were elements that were unpredictable. The part that most people were suspecting that was correct was that Ciel has an identical twin. We couldn't suspect much more than that. That's what I love about the mangaka. She makes you think you have it all figured out, but she turns it around. Not only is she an outstanding artist, but her storytelling is brilliant! Anyways, he has an identical twin, but the Ciel we know is not actually the 'real' Ciel. It's not his actual name. We don't know his name (or even if he has one), but he's apparently a 'replacement' for the real Ciel in case he dies or something. He wasn't really treated as well as it seemed when his parents were alive. Sebastian seemed genuinely surprised that the Ciel he knew wasn't really who he said he was. That's saying a lot. It's hinted that the real Ciel was killed off, but he apparently has come back to life and showed up at the mansion. Most of the staff had no clue. Now, they're not sure who to believe. A lot of fans think the ones who were behind illegally taking people's blood were really saving it up to bring him (real Ciel) to life. Probably the Undertaker is really behind that. Not sure where it's really going with this. Does this mean Sebastian and 'fake' Ciel's contract is void? That could go down many ways. 

The Pusheen calendar has her as a mermaid. Or, would that be mercat? She has a head ornament that's a yellow star coming from her ear and 3 pearls coming off of it. It's weird to see her as half fish with the tail and fins. She looks happy, though. There are 2 different shells near her, and another one in the actual calender part. 

The month-long holidays for August are: National Panini Month, National Peach Month, National Goat Cheese Month. Some are for important causes, some are to make you appreciate things you may take for granted, and some are just for fun. Not much this time, but interesting mix. 

I started this post on my desktop computer a couple of days ago. The internet connection was pretty strong that day. However, ever since then it has been having issues with it. It recognizes the 'options', but usually doesn't connect. When it does, it's only for a few minutes. It's frustrating. So, I bit the bullet and am trying a blogging app on my iPhone. I'm not sure how good it'll be yet. The problem is Blogger itself doesn't actually have an app. So, it's a little iffy. We'll see how this goes. So far, so good, I guess. If this works out, I might post more often. (More likely to have much shorter posts this way.)

I noticed that my desktop computer is actually 12 years old. It was Dad's before it was mine. I think I've had it for about 9 of those years. It uses Windows XP, which Microsoft doesn't support anymore. This also means there are no security updates. That's risky. No matter how much I dust it, it still seems to 'overwork' itself. It becomes really noisy, fan sounds like it has issues, etc. Even writing with it using Word has been frustrating. It has been slowing down a lot lately. It's been a really good computer, though. 

In the future, I think it'd be nice to have in all-in-one desktop computer. It has everything packed into the monitor. Complete with USB ports, disk drive, headphone jack, speakers, etc. on the outside. They seem to have a wireless adaptor inside, some have Cortana, most have a webcam built in, and more. They've come a long way since this computer came out. Plus, it seems they're cheaper, too. I think I'd want another Windows one. I like and am more used to Windows for PC. Plus, Amazon and Smashwords (if I ever go back to that) only want Word docs for submitting manuscripts. So, in that way it makes sense. The only Apple product I'm familiar with is my iPhone. That's not the same to me. Although, right now it feels like it's turned into my main computer...

For the first week of it being hot out, I wrote more of the sequel to Alliance and the memoir in Notes on my phone. Got quite a lot of it done. Even wrote down a lot of ideas for later on in those books. I'm not sure if I'll just write everything from Notes to Word on my PC, or somehow get the connection to work long enough to copy and paste from it in my email. (Notes can be saved to my gmail account.) I always save the Word docs to a flash drive, so when I'm finally done writing/editing these, I can probably use another computer to submit it or something. It's still frustrating, though.

Some people/articles on fb have been talking about teachers teaching kids about gender. Often, the articles exaggerate it. I wrote out my take on it on fb. It really comes down to: why would people have a problem with their kids learning about gender? What is so wrong or too 'mature' about it? I think many people get it confused with sex. That also needs to be taught, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms. Are people worried their kids will turn trans or something? The teachers aren't going to tell them how to think or feel. It's not like brainwashing. Kids, *gasp*, might realize they are trans or don't want to conform to their strict gender's rules. This could also greatly help with acceptance from other kids. What's so wrong about kids being educated about another aspect of the world around them? It's kind of like parents being up in arms about kids learning about Russia, and thinking they'll turn Russian or something. That's how ridiculous it sounds. The argument that it's the parents' job is very problematic. Some parents will beat up their kids just for asking, some won't know how to explain it (even if they're well-meaning), and some kids will be scared to even ask about it. 

I've been thinking about joing a closed non-binary group on fb. They don't allow people who aren't enby. Basically, a completely enby space. Not used to a group that excludes allies. However, it might help with finding others like me, hearing people's stories, and learning more about myself. I know that a lot of enby pages and groups on there are being attacked by haters lately. So, it's understandable. They want people to fill out a form before they approve you to join. Feels kind of weird. It would especially be nice to meet other agender people through it. 

I'm unsure if I have gender dysphoria or not. It's a bit different than people who have a gender. I hate seeing myself naked. I get dressed and undressed as quickly as I can. Been like that for most of my life. In the past, I never liked undressing in front of people in locker rooms, so I'd either change under a towel or in a bathroom stall. The only reason I wanted bigger breasts at some point was because the girls in the locker room made fun of them. (They somehow saw them.) Saying I had mosquito bites instead. I also didn't fill up tops/dresses too well. Then, my breasts suddenly grew big during college. I thought I'd like it, but I didn't. It's never felt 'right'. I'm seriously thinking about getting a reduction or a complete mastectomy. A reduction would be for things to still fit ok, because I do like to wear 'feminine' things. However, there's a history of breast cancer in my family. My mom being the closest relative that had it; but my grandma on that side had it, and I think an aunt did, too. So, there's a high probability I might develop it, as well. If they're taken out, that risk goes way down. So, multiple reasons for it. Again, I'm not sure if this stuff is gender dysphoria or maybe just body dysphoria...There are other elements to it, too. I suppose talking with other enbies would help. 

I recently got a newsletter from the enby group in Seattle. They apparently have been meeting at each other's houses, but now have an actual meeting place. I've been there before. It's a nice and quiet conference room at a cafe. Those regular meetings are only for enbies (no allies), and people who are 16+. They do have other get togethers during the month. Most of those are for all ages and genders. They have a camping trip coming up. That sounds fun. Very interesting group. Oh, they're getting big enough that they're thinking of splitting off into groups during their regular meetings. I wonder if that means there might be enough for an agender subgroup? That'd be cool. 

Since I wasn't interested in too many of this season's new anime, I've been watching mostly One Piece. Even Boruto has kind of bored me. Re:Creator is interesting, but seems to be really stretching it out. The others I was watching are somewhat old. I do want to go back to those, but I did get a bit tired of them. One Piece on the other hand, has only gotten better. 

I'm close to the 400th episode mark now. About halfway to where it's at currently. They now have Franky, who's a cyborg, and Brook, who's a skeleton. I like them both. Brook a bit more, though. His story is one of the most tragic ones so far. He ate a fruit that brings you back to life. He didn't know how that would work until after he died. I think he said his soul couldn't find him for 5 years, and he had already became a skeleton by then. He didn't see anyone for decades, and someone stole his shadow at some point. He mostly 'lived' on the same ship his fellow crew members died in, during that entire time. He's a musician. Apparently, can play almost any instrument, but prefers the violin and piano. In fact, the last thing he did before dying was sing and play the piano. Right now, they're trying to get to Fishman Island. It's underwater. There's apparently a way to take a ship down there. 

When it was so hot out, there was also a lot of smoke from the Canadian wildfires. So, 2 unhealthy things happening at the same time. I felt sick to my stomach every morning and afternoon. I think my gut issues got worse during this time. They actually had warnings about going outside in that weather. It was crazy. Luckily, we did go to other places during this time. Like the movies, eating out, going to Port Townsend, and more. 

We got a new clock yesterday! Yay! It's a big analog clock, on a brick wall, hanging over the fireplace in the family room. It's got an old looking map of the world, a separate seconds face, and interesting hands. Kind of reminds me of a ship or something. It's cool looking. 

Also, a couple of months ago I got some new towels and a bathmat. The previous towels were falling apart. These ones are nice, but the ridges/bumps to them take a bit of getting used to. I didn't have a real bathmat before. It was just a green towel. This is nice, though. Really fluffy, there's memory foam, and the backing sticks the floor. Just putting my feet on it feels nice. The cats are scared of it, for some reason. Especially Rosie. Like, it's some new creature or something to her. There's evidence that Tasha sleeps or lays on it, because of the fur she leaves behind. I would have thought both of them would love it.