The real reason I didn’t give blood today

I had made plans to give blood today. Then minutes before I was supposed to go to my appointment I backed out. The reason is simple but indicative of the struggles I face. To put it simply I can’t afford to give blood.

Here is what I mean by this. In order to do it properly I need to drink plenty of liquids before I give. I also need to eat a hearty meal. I am on a budget hearty meals are not in my scope of affordability. I eat a pair of hard boiled eggs from the gas station and sometimes, if I have the money, a small lunchable. Hardly enough food to get my blood sugar up to where the blood center wants it to be for those platelets.

Then there is the hydration factor. Again it costs money to drink plenty of liquids. I have to drink additional Gatorade or water on top of my normal amount required to remain properly hydrated. I am broke. I have to ration my hydration products I just do. I can’t be drinking extra drinks to give blood when I barely can afford the necessary drinks to stay healthy as it is.

I am a person who is willing, and able, to give blood. I have O Positive a blood type that is nearly universal. Yet I cannot give today because I am broke. Not to mention I can’t risk running out of gas. This is what being poor is like. To broke to give blood to a center in desperate need because life decided to be difficult to me lately. I promise I will start giving again as soon as I can, trust me I could have used that free gift card they offered as incentive too plus I love feeling good knowing I did something good for humanity. I enjoy it tremendously but today I had to back out of my commitment because I couldn’t come up with the money to do it properly. Last time I gave without doing those things they stuck needles in both of my arms only to tell me they couldn’t get any blood out of me. I am not going through that again. So I chose to stay home.

Why I turned to smoking recently

I don’t regret starting. I suffer from a combination of mental health disorders that includes bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder and PTSD, among others. I am messed up. The fact I never turned to drugs is a testament to my resolve. So when I feel the need to light a tobacco-filled mini cigar, puff my troubles away and relax for a change let me assure you I have done everything in my power to relax already.

I gave up drinking. I used to rely heavily on alcohol to take the edge off so I could relax. Having bipolar disorder is a nightmare. I am on edge all the time. When I am depressed nothing can cheer me up. Likewise when I am manic nothing can calm me down. I would rather puff a small cigar and chill than turn to other, illicit drugs. I am medicated but the pills I am on only get me so far. Because I have multiple, conflicting conditions they can only treat some of my symptoms without triggering others. A patient with BPD, PTSD and Bipolar is considered untreatable in the mental health community I am damn lucky to have professionals trying to help me at all.

I didn’t choose smoking. It just happened one day. I was having a manic episode and was without my meds. I was at the gas station and I noticed someone ahead of me buying a pack of cigarettes. I thought I would give it a try as I have read others with bipolar said tobacco helps sooth them. I needed to calm down from the high of the mania so I gave it a try. Three cigs latter I was calling my sister in tears begging her to tell me to stop. I didn’t want to turn into an addict.

Then I discovered mini cigars. I bough a 99 cent black N mild. I smoked it and felt the most relaxed I have felt in my entire life. It took the edge off like nothing else before it, not even booze. So I made it a point to only smoke once every other month. Only when I really needed it. I want to avoid becoming hooked so I stuck to that plan until I lost another job. Facing the real threat of homelessness yet again I was tired of fighting life on my own. I needed something to take the edge off, to calm me down to a normal level. I decided then and there to smoke whenever I feel stressed as long as it reduces my stress. I did recently buy a bottle of wine with the intention of giving that another shot, no pun intended.

I need help. The mental health care system can’t fix me because of my overlapping conditions. Therefore I need to rely on alternative methods to feel right. If that means lighting up a tobacco-filled mini cigar from time-to-time, then that’s what I am going to do. No vaping for me, cigars only. Plus, they retain all their cool factor so there is that edge to them over cigarettes.

I didn’t choose to be a basket case. I am just working within the scope of the tools at my disposal. Cheers.

Getting into shoe shopping

Shoes. What a topic. Women are supposed to like shoes are we? I was conditioned to believe that. I always questioned the validity of it though. Growing up my dad was the one with all the different shoes not my mom. Then I began transitioning and oh snap it hit me. The shoe bug!

At first it was boots. I fell instantly into obsession with boots. To this day I still like boots I just can’t wear most of mine because they are uncomfortable and make my foot hurt too much. Still I love me a good pair of boots. 

I realized there are a lot of stereotypically female things I was never interested in until I started transitioning. Some of them were hormones I am sure like my newly found affinity for rom coms and movies that give me the feels. Then there are those that are conditional. I was conditioned to know women like to cook so I started cooking more to fit in. I suck at cooking so I reverted to TV dinners and prepared meals to save me on the headache of cleaning my kitchen all the time. 

The thing about shoes is we do need different shoes for different outfits. You don’t wanna wear tennis shoes with a formal dress likewise you wouldn’t wear combat boots to a fancy dinner or a formal dance. I love my combat boots but I only wear them occasionally. 

It took me a while to find my stride but I now know what types of shoes I like and which styles to avoid. I love shoe shopping too, especially online through Amazon. I like browsing the different styles and colors. It’s one of those things I never thought I would enjoy but here I am obsessed with footwear.

The pain of social anxiety and how I hide it

I don’t talk about my social anxiety very often, I mean that’s kind of the point! I get intense anxiety in social situations to the point where I can break down entirely if a conversation goes too long or taxes me too much.

I have been this way my entire life. My therapist and I have it as a goal of mine to work on eventually. I learned to mask quite well as a journalist. I was capable of holding extensive conversations with people for long periods of time. I learned to make eye contact and everything, things that make me uncomfortable also.

You see my social anxiety is rooted in my borderline personality disorder, itself caused by all the bullying I received in my childhood. I am learning to work through that trauma with a therapist but for the time being it still causes me pain, physical pain to be in an uncomfortable conversation. I get tense. My heart races. I clam up. It triggers my flight response and I usually do flea those conversations that go too long or get too uncomfortable for me. It doesn’t take long.

I have to be in the right mood to discourse. Otherwise I am a mess. If I approach a person to initiate a conversation that doesn’t mean I want it to be intense or lengthy, it just means I found the courage to reach out and made an effort. Sometimes just saying hi is all I had energy for.

The reason I bring this up is because people keep telling me I am great at conversations. I see this because they see me doing a podcast or hosting interviews on my  TV show. This is cool and all because it does demonstrate the skills I learned, but it is also misleading. You see it is one thing to interview someone asking them specific questions with a set purpose. You don’t see the behind the scenes where I tell the person I am interviewing point blank it will be a short, to the point interview and you don’t see me wrapping up the interview nervously because I hide that well. But it is still intense discomfort for me. Even talking to my therapist triggers my social anxiety.

I mention this because I don’t often show people the pain it causes me. I hide that part well. But it is there, very real as can be. I write this because I don’t want my friends to worry if I go quiet and stop reaching out. I want the world to know I am hurting right now even. I will be fine but I can’t always handle social interactions. Sometimes it causes me pain and I can’t deal with that right now.

Why I believe it is okay to watch Harry Potter, eat Chic Fil A and listen to Marylin Manson even today

Life is short. There are too many things to worry about to get caught up in petty disagreements over things like fast food, media franchises or streaming platforms. Really the short of it is people have a right to enjoy what time they get on this earth without fear of retribution. Nobody should live in fear of being told they are a bigot or a bad ally because they watch Harry Potter or eat Chic Fil A. Those are things that shouldn’t be used against other people.

Here is a deeper reason why it’s disgusting to pick on people who can’t or refuse to give up Harry Potter or anything else deemed problematic from their childhoods. First there are the neurodivergents. People on the autism spectrum, people with ADHD and neurotypicals with mental health disorders such as PTSD or BPD can become hyper fixated on things that provide them comfort. In the case of autistics if they found Harry Potter to be helpful in their youth then they are not likely to give it up in their adulthood either. In the case of someone with Borderline Personality Disorder they might deem it not a fixation but a safety net, something that brings them joy and reduces anxiety and stress. If something considered problematic by one person brings joy to another, it’s the responsibility of all to let the one getting joy enjoy themselves. Especially neurodivergents.

I have been thinking about this for a long time. Someone once scolded me for continuing to listen to Marylin Manson after learning about his abusive scandals. My reasoning was simple, as a person with scars, and I have many scars from trauma, his music helped me through difficult times. If I didn’t have Tourniquet to get me through those tough days I might not have survived. While he himself is problematic, no doubts there, his music healed me at a time nothing else would. I am not going to give that up just because he is a monster in real life.

The same can be true to someone, neurodivergent or just struggling with life, who found comfort in Harry Potter. Just because one person was able to move on and find comfort elsewhere doesn’t mean everyone else needs to give up things that offer them safety. It really comes down to feeling safe for me. Neurodivergents fixate on things that make them feel comfort, things they feel safe. I wouldn’t want to take that away from them just because someone associated with the creation is a terrible person. Boycotting things is a personal choice. Giving something up is a sacrifice not everyone is willing to make nor should they be forced into that sacrifice unwillingly. It doesn’t make you a bad ally or a bad queer if you eat Chic Fil A. It just means you get comfort in a chicken sandwich that brings you some joy in this chaotic world.

I could have spent my time arguing you can’t boycott one company over another because frankly they all suck, that’s a cope out sort of argument although I feel it holds tons of weight. I chose to get personal. If an autistic person needs Harry Potter in their life it is nobody’s place to call them out on it. I am calling out the haters and the bullies that do this, you need to let people live their lives.

What makes being ace work for me

There is a lot more to being asexual, for me, than just disliking sex. I am averse to all things regarding sex. I dislike conversations about the topic especially graphic ones. I dislike pornographic material especially in movies and TV shows where I don’t expect to come across it. I also really detest being asked if I am a top or a bottom when I am technically neither.

It took me a long time to realize I was ace. I spent my entire life being called a Prude and a nerd for not wanting to talk about sexual stuff. I always begged my friends to change the subject whenever it came up. I was called a liar when I said I didn’t watch porn, even by teachers in school! Yet here I was as ace as can be the whole time still trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life. I tried convincing this guy I liked that sex wasn’t important to me but it didn’t go over well.

If you take sex out of the equation human interactions became so much more tolerable. It removes all the pressure of having to treat people with dignity because you just do. It removes the pressures of wondering what a person is like in bed when it shouldn’t matter. Being ace doesn’t make me better than other people. I have contemplated why I don’t feel sexual desire. I prefer to think of it as I am just wired differently than most.

Being ace is something I shied away from for the longest time. I wasn’t sure what it meant nor how to express myself as such. I decided I needed to explore it further when I started dating an asexual woman who shared similar feelings as I had felt. Her experiences were similar to mine. After talking to her I quickly realized I had to be ace this whole time, it just made sense.

Now I wear it like a badge of honor. I am asexual and proud to say it!

Why I am excited for a boring old office job

I am excited for returning to work. I am not exactly going back to my field but I am as close to my field as I have gotten since I left journalism behind. I spent the last year and a half doing a lot of odd jobs through temp agencies. I also dabbled in substitute teaching, tried my hand at day care and got close to going back into photography. Today I am going to work in an office.

This might sound boring to some people. Office work isn’t for everyone. The reason I get excited for it is simple. I have done just about everything you can do. I have had so many odds and ends jobs I am tired of being tired. I am ready to settle into a relatively easy job with few responsibilities.

I know it will be demanding for sure and I am ready for the work load but I am excited because I have earned my right to sit at a desk and work on a computer for a living. I know it is not the most glamorous job out there but considering I’ve had the glam job I am ready for an easy job. I am most excited about this because of the pay and stability. Office work tends to be where the best money is at if you can get into it. More than entry level data entry too. I will be making the most money I have ever made in my entire life. There is some pressure on me to perform well, but I believe I can live up to that challenge.

Today is an excited day for me. I am looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life. Here comes Stephanie with a job, the girl who gets a paycheck and goes shopping on the weekends.

I am saddened by the passing of Star Treks Nichelle Nichols

I am not even a Star Trek fan in comparison to others. I watched the movies, my favorite one being the one with the whales and time travelling Trekkies. As such my experience with Star Trek is primarily limited to the OG cast. For that reason hearing the news Nichelle Nichols has passed away tugs on my heart. She is an iconic hero for girls and female identifying people everywhere.

Star Trek has always been about showing the best humanity can strive towards. Lt. Uhura, the character Nichols played, was a strong, powerful African-American woman who had a prominent role staring in a very popular science fiction television series. Over the course of the next few days you are going to be reading dozens, nay hundreds of thousands of tributes to her and I wanted to get my thoughts out there while they are fresh on my mind.

Everyone talks about the kiss. That famous first interracial kiss on network television. I don’t think of her in terms of just her sexuality like that. To me she was a role model. She was a language specialist. As a student of English who took college courses in Linguistics I was inspired by her language expertise. To me I feel we lost an iconic character that was a role model for children of all genders, especially female ones.

I don’t feel like I will write some profound tribute to her life, how can I? I never met her. I am sure there are nerds out there with stories of meeting her at conventions, not to mention journalists and entertainers who met her in a professional manner who are likely to reminisce over the next few days. I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts I had. First I hope she gets remembered for more than just a kiss. Second, she absolutely inspired young girls all across the world and that needs to be addressed. Third, I never got to meet her but I felt like she was the kind, gentle type of person that would have been a treasure to get to know.

The day my mom gifted me the confidence to stand on my own

Shopping. I love it. Some of my best memories are going to thrift stores with my parents. I bought some of my favorite cherished treasures shopping at thrift stores. SO when my mom called me earlier this week saying she was taking me thrift store shopping for our day out together I was ecstatic.

I woke up with anticipation. I was going to spend the day with my parents shopping for clothes. I couldn’t be more excited!

I have had a rocky relationship with my mom since coming out trans. She is a very conservative evangelical Christian. I have had to endure misgendering, preaching and deadnaming from her this entire time. When she called me that morning with the news she was taking me clothes shopping for my new job I was in tears over joyed.

It started out slow. We walked into that Goodwill store together mother and daughter. She walked to the back of the store to look at the junk first. She sent me off to find outfits for work on my own. I spent a few minutes working my way through the blouses, the dresses, the skirts and then the t shirts. As I walked through the women’s clothing section unable to find a single outfit that I would wear to work my mom walked over and saved the day. She said to me in a stern voice, “I hate doing this but I want you to look cute at work.” From that moment on she spent the rest of the day walking through the aisles with me asking me about my colors, style and dress size.

After a few minutes she picked out a pair of outfits that she thought would look good on me for my new job. She sent me into the dressing room to try them on. I went in and undressed to try them on. Once I figured out which blouses would work and which ones would and wouldn’t work I returned to my mom with the new information. She paid for my clothes and we drove to the second store to repeat the process.

Spending the day with my mom is a rarity since I started transitioning. I cherish every moment we spend together because I know I have to fight for scraps of affection from my parents. Scraps my cishet sisters don’t have to fight nearly as hard for. Getting to spend the entire day with my mom doing a decidedly mother-daughter feminine activity was more than enough to bring me to tears. I will hold onto the memory of that day for the rest of my life. Even as I write this I am wiping away tears from my eyes. I know my mother loves me. I know that she can dig beyond her bigotry and find a way to accept a small piece of my life in an effort to see me stand on my own two feet. For that reason I will wear those outfits as proud as I am queer in honor of her belief in me.

I will fight to stand on my own. I will use the tools my mother equipped me with so that I could succeed in that role. I will honor my mothers wishes by representing her in that office. I hope I can make her proud. I love my mother so very much.

How I can be Pagan, witch and Christian at the same socialist time

How can I be a Pagan and a Christian at the same time? How about socialist how does that work? Doesn’t the bible say if you don’t work you don’t eat or something like that? Here we go Christianity from the perspective of a witch.

The simplest reason I can claim to be a Witch and a Christian is because I am a Christian who practices witchcraft. It’s that simple. But what about the Biblical directive to avoid witchcraft? This is easy to get around.

First there is the different practices associated with witchcraft. The bible forbids talking to demons. It talks about divination using satanic powers. It doesn’t talk about using magic in a negative way except when dealing with demons. There are plenty of examples of the disciples and their followers using magical powers in the Bible. It’s as simple as that. Magic is not forbidden what is forbidden is getting that magic from Demons. Spells are not satanic inherently just spells that delve into the dark arts.

Second there is the entire notion of the New Testament. All things are lawful. It flat out says that as long as you LOVE your neighbor as yourself that is it you are saved you did what was required and thus have fulfilled the entire law. No sin. This is the easiest way to explain away those Christians who point to verses in the Bible that list sins. It talks about evil. It is in the heart. Those lists are not if you do THESE things you go to hell. It is if you are EVIL in your heart and do these things you will burn for your sins. Evil is the key. Now it is easy to label magic evil because it gets mistaken for satanic easily. But this is not the case. There are good Witches who are in fact Christians.

OKay but you said you are also pagan. Pagan means NOT Christian doesn’t it? Well no. There is no universally accepted definition for pagan. The simplest term is anti christian. But that is not the only meaning of the word. TO some it refers to the old religion that predates Christianity. Ah ha then it is Satanic! Right? Wrong.

You see the religion wasn’t forbidden itself either. Even praying to other gods is NOT forbidden, sacrificing to them is. That is all. You can pray to whichever entity you prefer as long as you don’t make idols and sacrifices to that entity.

What I mean when I say I am pagan is I practice some of the traditions of the ancients. That is all. I like to follow the Wheel of the Year. This is mostly pagan but also Wiccan in origin. I don’t worship false gods. I sometimes pray to them for guidance. Just like when I perform magic I don’t get my power from devils I get it from angels and nature. Using nature is not forbidden, otherwise science would be a sin and oops in that scenario electricity is satanic, sounds Amish to me.

What about socialist? Doesn’t the Bible say if you don’t work you don’t eat? SO what? It also says to give to the poor. It also says they sold all their possessions and shared in the wealth equally. Those are guidelines not rules. Remember the rule is love your neighbor and love God. That is all everything else is permitted. In a way. Obviously evil is not permitted but acts are not inherently evil thus deeds are not inherently sinful.

Now for the kicker. Even if I do sin, which I DO we all do. I just ask for forgiveness and I am cleansed. Sometimes I feel the need to attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation if I feel my sins are extra egregious but for the most part the standard confession is enough. There you have it a simple explanation how I can be pagan, witch, and socialist while still believing in Jesus as my Christ and Savior!