Here’s a fact about me: I have no formal post-secondary education. There were a few (failed) classes here and there, an attempt to grow within the framework of the American education system. It never took—school was just never for me.

So I learned what I could on my own.

And let me tell you—once my wife and I reached a level of comfort in our personal and professional lives, we were able to truly settle down, and I was allowed to cut back on my working time. The process took longer than I liked, but by mid-2016 (which was also the time I decided to make a go at this writing thing), I had a surplus of open time for personal pursuits.

Which meant a lot of reading. A lot of it.

But I digress. No college. No real formal education.

There is always the sense of inadequacy around some of my friends. All of the stuff I know I taught myself, learned independently through a lot of struggle, dogged persistence, and more than a little ill-advised stubbornness. I have considered myself unsophisticated, or stupid, or provincial, or just plain ignorant, even though people tell me otherwise. Even if what they say is true, there is always a reflexive denial of their claim.

How can I really be that smart if there’s so much more that I don’t know? Sure, I figured out how capitalism works and learned to critique its systems, learned how oppressions combine and interlock into a nightmarish existence brought on by years of colonialism, learned what “reactionary” meant and how the term can be applied across a wide swath of right-wing and centrist political ideologies. And okay, yes, I did finally come to the conclusion that I was transgender through an accelerated period of deep reading on queer theory, reflection, and conversations with close friends and my therapist.

Yes, I did teach myself how to play the guitar competently. It’s not that hard! I already knew how to play several different instruments and could read music. Handyman stuff? That’s just watching videos and following directions.

Teaching myself stuff? That’s just what I do.

I’m a dumbass without a college degree of any kind, so I compensate by reading and learning and then feeling dumb afterwards because then I realize that there is much more that I don’t know and that I’ll never know everything but I have to keep going or else I’m going to get lazy and then I’ll really feel stupid and—

My therapist called me an autodidact, which I guess is true. I dunno. Bragging is gauche, but I needed to get it out somewhere, and look, I was self-deprecating the entire time!

Hello, I Am Transgender.

(Right up top to get it out of the way: you may use the pronouns he, she, or they if you refer to me in conversation.)

Hello, I am transgender. It’s the biggest step in my journey of self-discovery and actualization so far, and I felt like I needed to get it out in public, make it real. Reify my inner self, concretize feelings into action.

The simplest term I would use to describe myself is ungendered or agender—in other words, I do not consider myself to “have” or “be” a gender. My inner self is not tethered to my physical body, or vice versa. I have the ability to choose how I present, and I have some ability to control how I am perceived. I can wear makeup, wear different clothes, speak differently, etc. There is the chance to embrace ambiguity, and I finally feel confident enough to enter that space fully, rather than dance around it.

All of these revelations have happened on what could be considered an accelerated timeline—I spent most of my twenties in a repressed state, not fully committed to even being out as a bisexual, which, as you might guess, is not a great way to live.

As soon as I realized I was going to be alive to turn 30, I realized that lots of things needed to change. I realized I wasn’t a cisgender man in very late December 2015—like, New Year’s Eve late, and I didn’t confess this to my wife until a few days into 2016, when we saw The Force Awakens together (the less said about the state of Star Wars the better)—which triggered an extremely deep anxious depression, a crisis of identity. How trans was I? I knew that I was no longer definitionally a man, but what did that really mean? Was I a woman? Would I have to seriously consider hormone replacement therapy? What was my life really going to be like in the future?

It was the start of the journey I’m on right now, the journey that led to getting serious about writing, starting this blog, getting back in shape, and getting the medical help I needed, through medications and talk therapy.

I’ll go into more detail in future posts, but right now I can comfortably say that I will probably never transition chemically, and definitely never transition surgically. However, I know that I am no longer a “man” in any meaningful sense of the term.


I’ve been really pleased with my writing lately. Not from a project standpoint—I’ve got too many going right now and I can’t seem to find the right one to focus on.
Writing feels good because I’m just writing, and I’m writing a lot. There’s something satisfying about creating for its own sake, just opening up to curiosity and possibility. Writing time feels less like a chore right now. There’s a sense of excitement when I sit down and start that 25 minute timer to get warmed up.
Kicking a lot of the constant sources of distraction in my life, like social media and other streams of pointless content, has opened up a lot of reading time, which has had the pleasant side effect of reading more, and then engaging with the text in a more meaningful way. When I’m not bombarded and giving in to the free floating litany of distractions around me, I find that I can actually focus in on what matters to me, and get more done.
I feel like I have time to think for once.
There’s less frustration, less block, less depression and sadness from a bad session. Writing more means more good and bad writing, and I can shrug off a failed session more easily because I know there are going to be plenty more in the future. There’s less of a sense of being stopped dead in my tracks if I run into the slightest problem. Powering through it is an actual possibility now!
My next step is to figure out how to focus all of these good vibes and positive energies onto a single project, so I can hopefully get something major done this year (I have a few things cooking, but I don’t want to reveal too much until I really know what I want to to).
Writing just feels so good. I just have to get that out.

Liminal Spaces

I’ve been a delivery driver for one company or another for about four years now. Two incidents stick out in my mind as an illustration of liminal spaces. Here is one of them.

It was a pizza delivery to a nursing home. It was a warm and cloudless summer evening, and the sun was setting slowly. The nursing home itself was in one of the more affluent areas of town, and had regal but tacky carpet, walls painted in southwestern patterns—lots of angles and pastels—paintings of a West that never seemed to be real. The air was pleasant, smelled faintly like old people and expensive-but-not-overpowering air freshener, and a little cool inside, and the windows at the entrance filled the lobby with light. It was a soft, orange, pink, red, pastel blue, sandy tan, inner world. It didn’t even use florescent lights, instead using yellow bulbs. There was no harshness to this place.
My delivery was uneventful. I signed in at the front desk, took an elevator to the customer’s floor, got my tip, and went back to the elevator. I pressed the button and waited. The door closed. It went down one floor. It stopped.
I was on the third floor.
The lobby was on the first.
What I didn’t notice when I got inside was that the elevator had two doors, one in front, and one behind. I didn’t register it because there was only one floor panel in the elevator, situated on the right side of the outer door.
But, for some reason, I went down one floor, and the door behind me opened.
You understand that the world exists. Knowing that means some truths exist alongside one another in uneasy but necessary ways. Instinctually, I understood why I saw what I saw, but it was something that I could comfortably push to the side, file it away, pretend that it wasn’t there, that it didn’t exist in the same space I occupied, sort of like a perceptual object permanence. I could admit the reality of it, but not the realness of it, relegate it to a queasy nightmare.
It felt like the door stayed open for much longer it was, but I was frozen—in space and in time, as if to emphasize the importance and horror of what I was seeing.
Smells reached me before I registered it visually. Unmistakably antiseptic. Denatured alcohol, sterile chemicals, astringents used for disinfecting, the sharp tang of soap that disregarded pretenses of freshness and instead emphasized its total cleanliness. The smells of overwhelming and uncomfortable closeness, for those overwhelming and uncomfortable moments. Along the bottom, the faintest hints of bodily functions. Smells of work almost stamping out the smells of humanity.
I was staring down a long hallway, stretching for what seemed like the length of the building. On the other floors, the space had turned off at a right angle after a short distance. Evening was still in full swing, that much I knew, but that comforting dusk wasn’t going to reach me. There were no windows here, only a long string of florescent bulbs running down the center of the ceiling, covered to diffuse their harsh light. The floors were linoleum, slightly dull—hadn’t waxed recently. There were rooms, some with doors, some without. Gurneys and beds were arranged along the length of the hallway, a few monitors attached to the bigger beds. The walls were the same soft pastel blue as outside, but the lights turned them into a sickly teal, with the lightest touch of green.
There were no sounds, save the hum of the air conditioning. No shuffling feet, no idle chat, no moans or groans, no beeps, no pumping of respirators or the crosstalk of an emergency. I was apparently alone, the world of the objectively alive on the other side of the closed door at my back.
I was cold here, colder than I should be on a night in the middle of the summer in Texas.
And then the door closed on its own, and continued down to the first floor. The door opened into the lobby. I signed out and walked outside, returning to the world. I savored the slowly fading dusk in its comforting hues, breathed deep the humid thickness of the air, felt its heat. Even at this hour, it was warm enough to make sweat bead on my forehead, which comforted me.
Knowing something exists is one thing—we can all know that, push it out from even the farthest corners of our vision. But it is another thing entirely to see it, to feel it, to absorb its sensory information, to have its imprint on your mind. Knowing that a place so beautiful and comforting holds in its walls something that feels so sad, so thick with potential mourning and grief—I don’t know how it made me feel. More aware of the reality of things, certainly, but that was down to ignorance. No, there was something deeper, more fundamental, an emotion that reached into the walls.
I really felt a mournfulness, a sorrow for those that might have passed on in that place, plucked from their rooms for whatever reason, and placed here because of an unforeseen complication, a random occurrence that sealed their fate.
I didn’t make any deliveries there again.

The Week Starts

The first writing session of the week is the most exciting and the most anxiety-inducing. I’m coming fresh to the page after two days of rest! Ideas have had time to morph and change into something that wasn’t possible before! The page is totally fresh, the day is new, there is a profound sense of possibility in the air. Sitting down and creating—this is I’ve been waiting to do for my entire weekend! How can it go wrong?

Several ways, actually.

My weekend could be defined by a deathly lack or surfeit of sleep, rendering my brain unable to focus or produce the work that I know I’m capable of. My fingers will strain to push out words, my brow will sweat from the exertion (or from pushing out the last bit of alcohol in my system—hoo boy I should NOT have had that entire bottle of wine four hours before bed, I am overheating and my brain feels like it’s floating in a jar.) Sunday morning writing rolls around, and my head is pounding, hair much more sweaty than it should from such a low-impact run, and wishing I could just go back to sleep so I could not feel like I’m dying. That is an impossibility, though, because I have work in less than three hours, and it’s Sunday, which mean it’s going to be busy.

I could spend those two days doing absolutely nothing productive, spending too much time buried in pointless browsing on the internet, staying right in those shallows of fragmented attention and focus that Cal Newport warned me about in Deep Work (which, to be clear, he only mentions as a negative in relation to work, but being the ADHD person that I am, anything that offers constant dopamine hits just for scrolling and refreshing isn’t something I want in my life.). My mind will literally never be bored, which means I won’t have time to actually think. Ideas will stay suspended, and Sunday will come, and I’ll stare at the screen, wondering why I don’t have any ideas. “What in the hell was I thinking about last week?” I’ll think, referring to my notes, seeing the words, but unable to make all of the necessary connections, severed as they were by my gleeful overindulgence in bite sized social media content.

There’s the off chance that I could just straight up be unable to sleep, and I can’t shake my tiredness, and as a result I tremble when I start the timer, get overwhelmed by my inner critic—who is incredibly loud today—and give in to its pronouncements that I’m a complete and total hack. I put my tools away, defeated, and the rest of the day is spent trying to reverse the depression tailspin. I’ll convince myself that I’m terrible, that my work has no value, and that I should probably just quit while I have the benefit of being unknown.

Just a few situations I’ve experienced that I need to be wary of. Situations that I’ve taken steps to prevent over the course of the duration of my writing journey, through moderation, meditation, self-examination, and just taking the time to say “no”. My weekends are so much more relaxing and empty lately, filled with blank space that I don’t feel compelled to fill at all times. A blank space in which ideas have room to grow and change and surprise me when I revisit them.

I go into Sunday mornings with a rejuvenated creative self, ready to put something on the page, even if the going is slow at the start.

Remember to slow down, remember that your work has value, and remember to take care of yourself, from your brain to your fingers.

Checked Out

What do you do when you just don’t feel like writing? What is to be done when the words just won’t come, or you’re just not feeling it?

Is it worth working through those feelings? Is there some sort of reward for sticking with writing when everything is telling you that it’s not going to happen today?

Because that’s what I’m feeling right now. This particular feeling doesn’t creep up on me often, but when it does, it’s a powerful thing. I’ve got a list of chores and errands that need doing, a surplus of energy to get them done, and a lot of time to do them. Maybe I should just call writing today a wash and just get to the day’s real activities. Might be good for me. Fiction isn’t going super well at the moment, getting words on the page or the screen feels like a chore already, so what’s the harm in taking a day off? I haven’t done it in a long time—just treated myself to an early end to writing and took advantage of the extra hour or so.

Who knows?

I Quit (not here, of course)

I quit social media completely a few weeks ago. My Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr accounts were all deleted. My Facebook still exists, but I hate the site and barely use it anyways. The only thing I use with any regularity now is this site right here, but this is more for me to make sure I stay on top of my own writing goals and stay consistent in my output.

The change was pretty massive, and I’m still working through how totally the decision has altered my life.

Not having venues to simply broadcast what’s going on in my head at that exact moment has forced me to be a little more thoughtful. There’s no promise of easy and instant gratification, which could be read as a bad thing, but it also means that there is nothing nagging me in the back of my mind, telling me to constantly check on the performance of my content. I’m not fretting over writing and rewriting the same pithy thought for thirty minutes, hoping to find just the right combination of meaning and brevity—Twitter’s strict enforcement, even with the enhanced character limit, was a particularly intense source for this anxiety.

Reading is easier now. Focusing in on something feels less taxing, because there are no other distractions competing for my time readily available.

I’ve noticed an overall drop in my anxiety levels. The pressure to constantly update and post, either from myself or imposed on me (consciously or not) by the networks themselves, has all but vanished. I feel like I can be bored again. Time can be spent on nothing, for the first time in what seems like a very long time.

My writing time has lengthened and the actual writing I’m producing has grown in volume and quality. I still feel a slight pang of anxiety now and then when I realize I haven’t drafted out a blog post, but knowing that it’s the only real social media content I have to produce puts me at ease.

I have to say that this change has been a welcome one. Quitting social media has long been a goal of mine, but I had never managed to make it stick until now. Putting my news sources back together has been a challenge, but it has the pleasant side effect of only receiving news at specific times, so I’m not being bombarded constantly with information, which as you might guess, negatively affected my mental health.

Leaving it all behind has worked for me. Convincing myself that it would be worth it was the hardest part, but after living with the decision for this small amount of time, I know that I chose correctly. Not spending an hour catching up on all of my feeds first thing in the morning has been a blessing.

Word Count!

When I started this whole writing thing, I told myself that I need to write one million words before I even think about getting truly serious.

Out of curiosity, I checked my total word count since I started writing, which was around mid-July 2016. I didn’t check all of my work—a few projects that didn’t go anywhere got left out of the count, and it obviously doesn’t account for words written for this blog or by hand—but I got the big stuff.

My expectations weren’t high. I felt like 2017 was a rough year overall, especially considering my burnout and subsequent mass deletion of old work. I just didn’t feel like I’d been productive in the last few months, and my depression only made that pessimistic belief more intense. But I thought it would be a good way to gauge my progress so far, and make some reassessments for my future writing.

I’m at 400,000. A totally unexpected number, and much higher than I thought it would be.

My old tally, taken in July 2017 after a year, was at 250,000. Which means that in six months, I added another 150k of typed words into Scrivener. The tally is an average of 20-25k per month, and that’s a pace I’m comfortable with. The plan going forward is to turn that word count average towards a single project, and see if I can actually get something completely drafted by the end of the year.

I’m going to take another count in July, when I’m officially past the two year mark, and see how I’m doing.

How To Not Write

(this is a bit of an older piece, very rough, but honest. I’ll post up old work occasionally, because I think it’s important to show every side of myself in my work.)

I’ve learned how easy it is to not write. To get caught up in the constant stream of stuff that bombards me. To get sucked into the endless grind of arguing and saying stupid stuff, getting roasted by people, listening to their extremely weird arguments.
There’s a certain calm that washes over me when I’m not writing. It’s a weird thing. I’m able to disconnect with myself, detach from the current reality. In that space there’s nothing but brain static, a sort of calming background noise that foregrounds itself and takes over completely. I can simply disappear into the swirl of content and tweets, facebook and tumblr posts, pointless videos and podcasts about nothing in particular. When I’m in that space, there’s no emotion—there’s just me, the computer screen, and the constant hit of my pleasure centers.
When I write, when I try to block everything out, I’m panicked. I’m in the moment. I’m forced to reckon with the person that I am in that moment. It’s just me and the page, in a conversation. We’re attempting to communicate with one another, doing our best to simply see one another reflected in these words, across that space.
To write, to me, is to be terrified. It is an overwhelming thing. I am profoundly alone when words are being put on the page, and the thought of having to live with myself in that isolation, that sort of cold loneliness, blocked off from existence in a profound way, terrifies me. It’s an elemental thing. At the base of my brain, past all of the things that make and animate ideas, past even that primordial firmament that I shape like some sort of miniature Demiurge, there is a terror. It is a terror borne of need, of a desire to reach out. To shout. To scream from the void. It is the terror of living in fear of being silent. To quell that fear, I must write. To not write is to invite that terror to manifest in reality as a monster that will consume me, make me silent, make me artless, push me into the endless comfort that my brain static provides.
I cannot imagine a life where I am not making art. And now that I’ve discovered writing, I cannot imagine a life where I am not writing. Writing, putting words on the page, communicating myself to others, giving them worlds in words, that is all I want. I simply can’t countenance an existence where that is not true.
Terror drives me. Terror feeds me. Terror lurks in the corner when I’m writing, whispering. It says that comfort is away from the page.
I’m not ready to give into that terror. I must write. To not write is to invite death. An artist who does not create is not an artist, they are simply someone who is imagining art. The daily horror of existence is dulled by art. It is, in its own way, a pleasurable activity. It can be frustrating, enervating, and hopeless at times, but at its core it is rejuvenating. To work through all of the problems, to figure them out, to simply gaze upon work that is done, no matter how meager or subpar, means that particular thing is solved. What dogged you is now not doing so. There is freedom in that.
What I’m doing is running. I’m doing my best to stay one step ahead of the darkness that threatens to swallow me whole. If I stumble, it moves closer, and that darkness is the death of my artistic self. It’s a thing that stifles me, squelching all of my ideas and positive energies. When it pulls me in, I’m adrift in a sea of black, fumbling for meaning in a meaningless void—not very different than living, but in this particular void my mind is quiet and still, unmoving. I am unmoving, unable to simply reach out and paddle to the surface. Down there, it is all microcosmic bits of useless information, pieces of data that don’t connect to anything, and simply beg to be experienced and filed away for future use as a way to numb myself to the constant, crushing, stifling reality that I’m not writing.
To write is to be engaged with the possibility of moments. To write is to be fully immersed in experience. Art itself is like that, too. Distraction that doesn’t serve is death. Inability to focus is death. To make art, you must do simply that: make art. Ideas come from everywhere else, and they are animated by the work. That’s all. When you work, when you make art, you access those ideas and form them, shape them, connect them, place them in a sequence that pleases you. That is art. That is what you’re doing. And what that requires is committing to the work in the moment. Putting out everything.

Quick Post for a Rough Day

Keeping it short today. This week has been draining, both mentally and physically. Been dealing with personal things each day, making sure my car is in good working order, having a bit of a down emotional period in general (therapy helps me manage them, and I’m getting better at handling them every time).

I’m still writing, still creating, still dedicated to posting on each of my work days (Sun-Thurs). I appreciate every like, every view, all of that stuff that you do when you click or read. Honestly, it’s what helps me get over the humps of bad days. So, thank you. It means the world to me.