I need to remember to tell people:

before we go do mushrooms, you should know that for me this is less about entertainment, and more about psycho-spiritual intensity

Today it was JP and I at Burnaby Mountain. It was intense. And it was good.

Two facets; one person )

I can feel it now. I am in the process of settling to be "here."

My personhood is unfolding, revealed tender and vulnerable like a flower from a bud I now value my own existence in a way I never have before.

Wriggling out free and blinking like a moth from a cocoon: I had been only a placeholder, a "person" in theory only. In practice, I was mostly a means of support for others. I did so that Other People could benefit, because what was the point of benefitting myself? Often, whats was supposed to benefit myself just dug throguh the shell and into the hurt. In avoiding this hurt, I was like an Asimovian robot, built first not to harm, second to serve, and third to remain intact. My existence had little intrinsic value. For the most part, being alive brought little other than a gate to experience and a path to avoiding death I suppose.

Now though, I am alive. Fresh and tender, I see that I have needs and am alarmed that I have to learn to address them. Company? Sex? Peace? Travel? These are new. I can take on roles, successfully. I can see who I am without a sense of emptyness. I feel worthwhile. This is right.

Travel. There are real frontiers again: going afar is more dangerous than it used to be. Unfortunately, I now value my own life in a way I never did before. So I don't want to risk it just as soon as I've got it.

I ask, "What did I get myself into?" I miss parts of the old space; being normal; being intellegeable; largely unambiguous. But I remember the bad parts too. The feeling of not being as real as the people around me, or any person. I remember that "the alternative," to give up and go back, is strangely, a shade worse than death as it would strip me of my identity which I have worked so hard to free, then kill me.

I hear that this, what I do now, is what they call "living."

It is good. I think I will do quite a lot of it.

On Sunday, I went to Burnaby lake to enter a psilocybin-induced altered state. Each time, I discover new things.

I realize:

1 - Where I am right now may not be perfect, but it is the product of a long series of sensible choices; good decisions under disorienting cirucmstances. I guess that's good.

2 - (Speaking of "sensible choice:") Gender identity still confirmed. I have noticed that when I strip away habitual anxiety, there's a charming , sometimes happy, and often bewildereed me underneath who is more or less who I thought I would be. She's 21 though. Read more... )

3 - I feel sad and kinda distant. There has been a lot of loss and change recently. My Aunt died a month ago. There was no body to see, and I think I'm starting to feel it.Read more... )

This said, in the last few more-lucid days, I have found the following:

(4) It is really good to see some of my old friends. We will hang out more often.

(5) Going to BCIT from SFU is like going to the moon.Read more... )
Oh yeah. Things feel like they've gone back to "normal." Don't know why. Like the world returns to balance.
Swelling has narrowed my vision to a tear-streaked La-Forge-esque strip.

Indeed.It feels like I have taken a small muppet, stretched it and shoved my head up its ass until it fits like a belaclava.

Fortunately, I'm not having trouble sleeping on my back. I am having trouble with stress/narcotic-induced repetitive dreams that gradually turn sour and more baffling over the course of the night. I've been up for a coule hours, hoping to shake them.

Also, slight tinglings in numb places herald diminished swelling and the return of nervous sensation. Good.

Years after the sustained bullying at the hands of my classmates, I have still not acquired the knack of putting up with a room full of people intent on tearing me down.

No wait.

What I lack is the ability to try to do productive work in a room where a fair number of people are intent on giving me shit, a few blame me for the fact that others are giving me shit, and the remainder are split between just letting it happen so long as it's to someone else, or just don't know how to stop it.

I think that very few people have this knack.

"Just ignore them."

It's hard to do. It's hard to watch my body shake from hours of sustained attack.

But I pulled it off during the renaming! What was different?

The renaming was a mix of rational debate and blatant unfairness, while the CFS meeting deliberately blurred the lines. Considering that past CFS meeting rhetoric borders on the Orwellian (to paraphrase only slightly: "when the bylaws say that elections are in 'Fall,' they mean that they should be held in the Spring.'") you can see how this could occur.

Good. Good. Another tough lesson.

What does help is knowing that there is a world outside of CFS meetings, where the people I know are supportive, rational and kind, even when (or especially when) they disagree with me.

You know who you are. Thanks.

That reminds me. I've got to finish off the renaming. I'm tired of my supernature/religious narrative telling me that I'm still "dead." Conveniently, spending time at the CFS meeting will allow me to take a day or two off sometime this month.
[I've made a little edit]

The renaming/rite/of-passage/initiation is a little less than two weeks off now and it is dawning on me that this is a pretty big deal.

With "Sasha" I let an experimental pragmatic name hang on me to see how it affected my balance, so to speak. With "Amy," I am not only taking on a new name; grafting it on rather than simply wearing it. I am not only divesting myself of "Sasha," returning it to the not-so-big pool of transitional names. I am also discarding "Graham" as a name from my extended adolescence, and shedding some of the things that go with it. Furthermore, this also doubles as an adulthood ritual (and my Archaeology assignment).

It's also a symbolic death, and judging by the countdown on my wall calendar, this particular variant of my identity has about twelve days left on this Earth.

On that note, here's what may be the most useful advice that I've picked up in the last twenty-six and some years....

...to follow up on the last post

Most of the other deaths in my life were expected The second death was my paternal grandmonther, who'd been fighting with cancer, and so her death was no surprise. I don't remember why my mom went to the funeral and not myself. My Paternal grandfather died suddenly, but I made the trip and saw his body. My maternal grandfather was obviously anticipating dying when I went to see him last.  My maternal grandmother, who died last spring, was the fifth human death. She was ill first. I went to see her knowing that she was dying. I got there, and she died the next morning, then I saw her again. Animal deaths too. Rags, my dog died suddenly and painfully, but I was there when it happened.

The exception to this is the first death: that of my father. He killed himself with car exhaust. I think it was in my grandparents garage. It know it was on Easter weekend in 1987. On Sunday, two men came to the door, I don't remember any more than that. I was told that he died. My mother was concerned that if I saw the body, my nightmares (which often shifted into walking night terrors, would worsen). I agreed: nightmares needed to be managed. So I didn't see his body.

As a consequence, twenty Fathers Days later, I will have dreams where he's still alive. Unlike the other dreams with dead relatives, I can't say "Waitaminute, I saw you on your way out." With my father, there's an explanation: he faked his death and ran off, or I'd been chronically misinformed. In my sleep, I have no evidence to contradict.

I guess this is one of the reasons why you might want to see the body.
It was good to go to dinner, and be surrounded by life.

I was wondering why the office was so quiet -
Laurine, our ombudsperson died on Saturday night;
I didn't know her very well, but I can see that my friends did, and that they're hurting;
an in-bed heart-attack; sudden; unexpected.

It still does not seem real: I expect her to show up tomorrow;
amicably baffled by this false rumour.
And, in the coming weeks, I will likely be surprised
that I haven't run into her, and then I'll remember.

This is one of life's post-its, it reads,
"you, and anyone you know, could die at any time."
"So act approprately"

New to me was this sudden desire to fuck.
You could explain it evolutionarily: a surprise death spurs the desire to repopulate the tribe...
(it's also the first death I've seen since with the new hormones)
...but that doesn't cut it. Rather, it feels like a way of saying "we're still here, right?"
Ever had a day when you lean down with a pair of nail clippers and realize that your toenails don't need clipping, even though you swore they were getting too long last night, and that the only logical conclusion is that someone must have cut them while you slept?
I am having such a day.

I sound like... Rosencratz. That's odd, usually I sound like Guildenstern.

Margaret G.            Frank E.
   1916-2006             1918-2002

My mother, three aunts, and one uncle stepped formard to fall on their knees around the hole in the ground. They were gently handling my grandmother's ashes at the end of the sevice. It was a heavy brass box - I'm told that eight pounds of ashes is a lot. They took my grandfather's box out of the hole. It had lain there for a little over three years. Had it really been over three years? The verdigris that tried to hide his name informed my time-sense. They put them face-to-face, then sealed the top and we tossed a little dirt on it. More service, popcorn prayer, then candles and shovelfulls of earth. The capstone will go on later, I think.

It's a stone's throw from my father's grave:
James R. Fox
It has Maple leaves on it. He liked Fall.
He was also an American, sort of.

It was good, or at least kind, that I realized that I could see death and grieve without feeling angry at someone. Not "I'm going to make sure this doesn't happen again goddamn it," but instead, "God, this really hurts."

Later, after the aunts and uncle were done, the elder cousins (this includes myself) were at my grandmother's, sorting through old belongings. We were giving a new home to masterless possessions. This felt right: full circles; proper scavenging.
Chronic psychological shittyness led me to seek out a physician and now I've taken two 37.5 mg doses of effexor. The big reason for this is that I was having trouble sleeping and, throughout the last 24 hours, I've felt as if I've  just had  two cups of coffee.

This raises questions surronding the word "am." Is this an altered state of me? Or would some medicated-to-the-point-of-"health" state be me? Or are they both? Or is the question moot?

Is this nine-volt-to-the-wet-part-of-the-brain feeling the medication? Or is it the medication under specific circumstances? Or is it just feeling good to be back, with my friends, at school, sleeping with Erin, and away from a really crappy week of death in Kelowna?
On the subject of feeling wired, there's an interesting variant on the placebo effect that bears consideration. I don't know it's name, but it goes...

"The worse the side-effects, the more potent the medication is perceived to be."

    ...if you're on a drug for chronic knee pain and you feel normal, it may or may not actually be working, but if you're on a drug that makes you dizzy and unable to see the colour green, you can be assured it's doing something. Besides, if the side effects are this bad, it must be effective.
...and Gilgamesh lost his

The urge towards self-______ is here again.

Self what? Not self-destruction; but perhaps a shade of self-annihilation and some self-escape with aspects of self-transformation.

This happens from time to time: the urge to slip away like ice cream under a brick. The urge to shift, change (from least to most) my dress, routine, hair, skin, sex, mode of speech, name, home, work, hobbies, values, sense of humour; it all has to go, or rather change, or rather stay with the something (i.e. "me") that's left behind. At least it feels that way.
                                                                I'm such a conservative dresser.

That which no longer is cannot be wounded. An old skin, left behind, is no more than a place-marking curio, like an historical plaque. It will not bleed when cut. The new will have slithered off and is somewhere else being... different, getting injured and forming new scars, but the new snake shed those too.

The catch is that snakes have to crawl everywhere.

Why this urge now? I feel death creeping up on me. It's custom to disguise yourself by inverting your clothes. Maybe death just hates exposed seams. Does anyone think it's strange that we wear the seams next to our skin?  I digress. It's good to digress.

Anyway. Change in the face of death.
Everyone here looks old, sick, worn out, worn down, worn away. Going. Eroding.
I don't want to be caught up in this, but I can feel it in me.

That's one explanation

Alternative or Conjuncitve explanation

Grandmother: dead. Job interview: done.  Current academic haits: unsustainable.

And so I think I'm going to dye my hair funny colours - baldness be damned.

Whether or not I take up street luge remains to be seen.
Grandmother's apartment. Same relatives as yesterday less one cousin.  Aunts and uncles who've finally got some sleep. Presbetyrean minister. Consensus decision-making. What hymns do we sign? What prayers do we say? Who says them? Tea. Uneaten cookies. You want ot talk and everybody's looking at you but you can't choke out the words. Moving empty cardboard boxes up from the van.

I feel a little alienated. I like my family's faith: it's beautfiul and it does good things; but I don't believe. I didn't appreciate this before.

Then to the funeral home. Muzak. Third-order Knights of Columbus crest on the wall signed by the Grand Knight and the Dungeon Master, or something. No one met us, so my uncle and mom sat while I wandered around and into a roomful of caskets.
When someone hands me their cellphone in a busy restaurant, what I want to hear is "you are on the global frequency," not "your grandmother is on palliative care."

A few people mention him, usually in passing. Outside of my mother, I've only heard "you remind me of him" once.

So be it: a man takes his own life. He's one of many I suppose.

But... I want answers. That I'm so interested disturbs me. For someone who's so gung-ho on society before biology (adopt!) (before god?), why am I so intent? I'm twenty-five, he's been dead for over three-quarters of my life for fuck's sake.

                                    but I hear this is the age of asking questions,
                                            an age that precedes a life
                                                    of living in unknown answers.

Indeed, it is on the edge of now. And now, much to my surprise, I may be able to consult a necromancer, or what passes for one nowadays.

So, speak to the man with the secrets, conjure a shade and ask some questions. It worked for Saul.
Burgundy, black, mother of pearl and teak. Old wood, deep night, fancy clothes, wine and shit.
    Being Bruce Wayne returning home from abroad, there's a somber funeral for my parents: elegant evening wear and claustrophobic sentiments. I feel awkward (?) and slip out.
    A few floors up and in the back of the manor, there's a party. Large windows open onto night and contrast racuous laughter and young folk drinking. Two (or three) together: man with a partially shaved head lies draped, a woman dribbles wine or blood on him and reads his fortune in the patterns. They offer to medium for me with my parents.
(I do not recall what happens at this point)
    The fake/phony/blasphemous fortune tellers call after me as I depart to climb the stairs through the back corridors of the manor. There's a rickety staircase leading to a short landing with a door at the end. The wood's going on the floor, worse at it approaches the door. The door's a flat sheaf of dry-warped planks, barely held together by screws.
    Inside is a spiral staircase. There's something important at the top, so I climb the helix.
    I hear a chittering swoop and fall back, there's a terracotta spray-streak and bat shit splatters over my pants. Then again and again. Then it hits me on the head and I close my eyes while it works its way (behind the lab goggles that I'm apparently wearing now). Close your eyes, you don't want to get guano in them, it'll burn.
    Blind and on my back, bats still shitting on me, I reverse-crawl my way down the stairs, one hand going over and clutching under the rim so as not to fall while I kick with my legs, bumping my shoulders on each step down the spiral.
    Eventually there's a door. I go through, stand. I've wiped my face and there are two gents from the funeral standing there in evening coats or bathrobes. They have their own suite, it's furnished in rich teak and burgundy drapes and I think they're gay. They see me, jest at my situation at four in the morning, and invite me to use the shower.



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