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this year

since my last post, back in November, last year 2015, I have:
  • moved house.
  • had a redundancy package.
  • changed my name back to Lisa. Sort of. I guess. A bit.
  • travelled to the US, Hong Kong and Canada.
  • moved house again.
  • sold my first car.
  • made regular attempts at non-roller derby exercise.
  • bought a newer car.
  • got a new job.
  • changed roller derby leagues after months of soul searching.
  • refereed my first real games.
  • travelled to the US again.
  • moved to a new role at said job.
  • started going by L (or Al, if you want it to be a real name.)
  • made some big non-internet-journal decisions.
  • had an offer for contract renewal at said job.

this year was busier than I thought it was.

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Nov. 7th, 2015

Still looking for jobs. Still applying for 1-2 positions a week. I should do more but... it's hard and I feel like I'm getting nowhere.

My current job at the tafe is still kind of awful - they don't have enough work for us to do and my work is so often bullshit - printing out pages from databases one at a time (actually, that was the better part of three days of printing pages out), data entry, checking my data entry and basically being bored but not actually bored enough to start showing initiative and looking for extra work to do. (The previous admin, the one they sing praises about "invented all sorts of extra tasks for himself to do" but... nope. I am not inventing makework.)

That said, I've had a few job interviews - I wasn't corporate enough for the one with the temp agency (despite showing up in heels and stockings!) one for "retail-based customer service" at the tafe I currently work at but there's a $1/hour raise in it? And it won't be data entry? And one for the better paid version of my old job. I don't really want to work for my old boss again, mostly because she was a bully but I kicked up such a fuss when someone was appointed to this position at the start of the year that, now it's actually opened to applications, I had to apply. And then I got an interview. Whoops.

Mostly - I'm sick of applying for job after job and not even getting to the interviews. And, self doubt being what it is, I keep thinking maybe my standards are too high. Maybe aiming for ____ salary or only going for jobs that aren't just reception+admin is asking too much. (It isn't but I'm not getting interviews other than for those three and it's been months so maybe I am.)

Meanwhile, I miss teaching. I miss being challenged every day at work and being interested and having to think. I've never had that at any other job. But - my reasons for giving it up are still the same: I'd have to do emergency teaching to get back in and the year I did that? I made ends meet through Centrelink, admin temping in the holidays and living in the cheapest sharehouse of my adult life. It doesn't pay enough to live on. I'd love to do education support work but... it's almost all around 30 hours a week (6 hours x 5 days) and that, plus 48/52 (sacrifice four weeks pay over the year for extra holidays) drops the hourly rate down to something that won't - categorically won't, (even if it were full time) cover rent unless I were to move back to a sharehouse and otherwise reduce my cost of living by 20-25%. Sessional teaching won't pay the rent, either.

Basically, I'm feeling trapped. The job I have is boring. Jobs I feel interested in won't cover rent. They just *won't*. Jobs that are better that my current job - better pay, prospects, interesting work? They're not interviewing me.
Work continues to be moderately terrible in the "this is what it is and this is apparently what all the other jobs at your level in this place do" kind of way. (I always knew that I was doing higher duties at deafConnectEd but was never able to get more money out of them for it.)

I had a meeting with the head of faculty and faculty admin last week after getting the union involved because I really feel that position descriptions ought to contain phrases like "data entry" if that's what the job involves. The faculty maintain that they didn't write the pd. HR are on the "we didn't know what they wanted so they kept it generic" side of things and the head of faculty says that all data entry jobs in the faculty are basically data entry so deal, sunshine. As a result of rocking the boat, various heads of department have been seen saying things like "there will be delays in hiring because an admin got into a snit and got the union involved."

As the other admin is away for two weeks, I'm currently allowed to answer the phone, enter old files into the database and shred stuff in addition to my regular data entry. Today, one of the coordinators decided that I really was allowed to write addresses on individual envelopes rather than print out single labels. This is my life. It's boring and ridiculous but it would be so easy to just accept that this is probably the best I can do right now and stay here.

Which is all well and good but I always forget how - awful applying for jobs is. For instance, there's one at the local council - great pay, very much easy admin and reception but I already know that I'll be bored there in hardly any time. There's a really great support work position in a school come up, as well that I want but - it's 35 hours a week on a really low hourly rate and I wouldn't *quite* make ends meet on it, which is depressing and unfair because I'd really enjoy it. etc. Basically, applying for jobs is awful.

Also - I failed fresh meat again. Again again. I'm that person now, that needs two years to ...still not have have all the skills to pass the easiest shit in roller derby. I am probably not built for skating, what with the whole "probably compartment syndrome in one leg" thing but - Monday's test came after I irritated my leg on Saturday. Even with panadol, and voltarin in my system, my leg was cramping enough that getting up from falls wasn't smooth - I was doing the down, up on one skate, stand, skate out one-legged and shake out my leg as I go around thing - so I failed the falls, the balancing (because hey! putting all my weight on one side) and the footwork, which were things I should have passed. The jumping? Well, two years in, I can't jump the cones on skates (it's probably psychological because I don't ever lift my bad leg high enough) and I can't get the endurance (the 5 minute timed skate) because my leg cramps up on crossovers after one or two minutes so I did the whole gliding on one foot around the apex, minimal crossovers on the straights thing. I was 2 meters off 18 laps, despite well... barely skating for the five minutes. This is - mildly - extremely frustrating because if my leg and shin just didn't cramp up, I'd be well over the minimum laps.

Derby being a stupid rigid sport, until I can actually pass fresh meat - all the skills in one go - I don't get to learn any other new skills. That's just how it is.

Sometimes I wonder what the hell I'm doing, putting this much time and effort into a sport I'm that bad at. But this is also just disappointment from failing the damn test again and knowing that I'm a minimum of ten weeks away from being able to try the test again. I have a lot invested in skating at the moment and knowing that I haven't passed that test (again) always knocks me around for a few days.
I started a new job at the same tafe I've been at for the last couple of years yesterday. Different departments, different duties (it's going to be about 90% data entry) and the same very mediocre pay. It's not precisely bad but it's very emphatically not great.

I disliked my previous manager but I quite liked the work itself so this is ... rather disappointing. I've been told that it's a "really good job" and that "it will be very interesting learning to use the data entry system" but - the thought of staying there for more than six months actually made me cry earlier this evening. I had an interview for another job today that turned out to be pretty much another receptionist gig but there will be chances to "help" with the various other tasks that go on in the office.

Sometimes I just wonder - did I make the right choice giving up teaching? I still don't think going back to emergency teaching is viable, not unless I give up a few of those nice middle class perks I've gotten to enjoy, like private health cover, not living in a share house and so on but...

Two and a half, almost three years ago, when I decided to give up on teaching I promised myself that if I wasn't going to be teaching that, in five years I'd at least be earning what an average bachelor degree qualified person aged under 25 earned in 2012 in their first full time job. (Incidentally, that figure still feels ludicrously high.) Not in 2017, but in 2012 when I gave up. It's disappointing to know that I'm halfway there and still haven't actually made it anywhere near that utterly arbitrary line.

And I really, really hate applying for jobs.

tl;dr I started a new job and it's worse than I expected.
I suspect that at this point I could write a short (probably repetitive) thesis about My Personal Experience of Gender Things.

About changing my name to Luke and the way it is or isn't used - friends are down with it, family deeply uncomfortable with it. About pronouns and who is or isn't wiling to ask (it's 'they', for the record) and about passing and not passing but being read as queer. About the days when I hate what I see in the mirror so much that I want to self harm and avoid catching sight of my reflection.

I started testosterone three months ago. We're going slow and still working up to a full dose. It's … weird because my relationship to gender is deeply complicated but at this stage it feels like the right decision.

So I'm a little hairier (there is neckbeard going on and more facial hair – I have to shave once or twice a week) and my voice is a little deeper and I have a fuck ton of bacne going on and I am so incredibly horny but nothing anyone who isn't me can notice.

I keep thinking that I need to really work on losing weight except that I hate what I see in the mirror so much most of the time that I'm not sure I want to make it worse by bringing in the kinds of feelings that I tend to get when I try to lose weight. (Also, at the start of the year I tried calorie counting and gained weight.) And yet – androgyny, passing, or even vaguely masculine presentation is something that would be so much easier if I were thinner. That's non-negotiably true.

Meanwhile, skating – I'm not right now.

Mystery Leg Injury continues: I have a chronically overstrained shin muscle – my tibialis anterior - and it cramps up like nothing else when I skate. It's not shin splints. It might be related to unstable ankles or who knows what, other than that it's not responded to physio and it's currently up to gentle skating for <5 minutes at a time without a lot of pain and no crossovers or anything that stresses it. Like stopping or transitions and sharp turns. Which basically means no skating till we resolve it.

I've tried taping (helps a little), no knee gaskets, changing or removing my knee pads to avoid squishing my shin, tighter trucks in that skate (now I can't turn as easily), wide soft wheels for stability, arch supports, physio and ankle braces (they offset the pain into new places and really restrict movement but help a bit. I also need to practice falls in them to get the feeling for how they limit movement)..

I am hoping that the sports doctor can get to the bottom of it because I really miss it and I just want to skate with only minimal pain in my right leg.

And work – work is a little bit terrible, as they've brought in two new admins who do similar things to me but are paid 25% more “because they have more experience so they do it at a higher level” which isn't how awards work but is how my boss works. She's refusing to have the meeting where my position description is sent to HR to be reclassified so that I can move up to the next pay grade. She picks at everything I do so emphatically that I'm starting to wonder if I'm actually just really incompetent at what I do – every email I send out is questioned, every answer I give on the phone isn't good enough, every explanation for why I've made a decision is wrong, every piece of work I do is incorrect and it's still not good enough when I try to implement the changes she makes. She's a bully and has said in the past that “she wouldn't yell so much if I didn't get so defensive”. Gosh.

As a result, I'm looking for a new job. I enjoy my job (other than the terrible pay, that is, and the bully of a boss). I like the work I do. I just … cannot keep working for there.

Mar. 9th, 2015

Stacking the dishwasher at my grandma's, I get a kiss on the cheek, a comment "oh, you're such a good girl, Lisa." No. I just. No. The words catch in my throat as I open my mouth and I go back to the task. How do I even explain? Where do I start?

"Good work ladies," said at the roller derby tournament by another official and I manage a level stare. "And Luke," she adds, before muttering "you're not doing yourself any favours here". "Luke? Oh, she's drunk the koolaid and she comes to all these things," said while a little voice mutters 'don't call me that' deep inside.

Deep breaths in a public toilet - my shirt is soaked wet from water balloons - in my car, training in leggings and sports bra, not a binder this once - a rushed change of shirt in the morning before work because you can see my breasts - under the wet tshirt, as shapes under the business shirt, so large in that sports bra and I look like a girl and I look so absolutely, undeniably feminine today. And I look away from the mirror. Refuse to look down. Walk into distraction and tell myself 'stop' and 'who am I kidding?' and 'you will never ever pass, so stop wanting this' and sometimes it is easy and sometimes it isn't.

"Welcome to - - - -. This is Lisa. How can I help you?" and sometimes there is nails on the black board irritation to that and sometimes I don't much care.

"I get mistaken for male all the time." "I keep getting called 'sir'..." and all I can think is 'fuck you' because I don't, not ever and all I can feel right then is pain and jealousy and all I can think right then is 'yeah. Of course I don't pass. Fat as I am, as feminine as I am, as big as my boobs are, even binding, of course...'

I can think of dozen, a hundred moments, because I haven't told them, because I haven't enforced it. And sometimes I don't mind and sometimes it's nails on a black board wrong that I'm called this and I tell myself again that it doesn't matter, because I will never ever pass - too fat, too female, tits out to here, even in a binder. Fuck.

Distraction is good, then.

And sometimes I just don't care.
I started seeing a psychiatrist - Jaco Erasmus, if you're curious - a while ago (November) to look at approval for hormones.

I have that, provisionally.

Yes, what the fuck. What the fuck.

Full approval is contingent on me deciding what I want to do with regards to egg harvesting. At this point, I think I can say "I don't want to be pregnant" but .... what if I want to use my eggs? Yeah.

So I went and saw a gynecologist to discuss that and well, where I stand with everything because, due to either PCOS related weight gain or possibly weight gain which *caused* PCOS, I haven't had a period in about five years.

(As an aside, the gynecologist is pretty certain that, in my case, the weight gain caused the PCOS, rather than me being one of those lucky sods whose weight gain is caused by having PCOS.)

Long story short, if I want to look at egg harvesting or anything else that might be related to fertility, really, I have to lose weight. A lot of weight.

Maybe 10 kilos - I'm currently at 114kg. Maybe a lot more - possibly even 20 or 30 kilos more - I have never, even as a teenager when I was much lighter, had regular periods, probably because of my weight.

So. I don't know if I want to look at egg harvesting. I don't know if it's an option and I likely won't till I lose something between 10 and 30 kilos. It will, most likely, take me a year to lose that much.

Regardless of whether PCOS caused my weight gain or the other way around, I have the damn condition and that means that weight loss is harder than it is otherwise. I've started half-assedly calorie counting. I've gained half a kilo.

Once I've finished moving house I'm going to go see a dietician. There are just details - like, if I exercise this much, how much should I actually be eating? that I'd like to look at. The gynecolegist suggested the 5/2 diet. (You have two "fasting" days a week, where you eat 500 calories for day.) I laughed and said oh, hell no. I get too shakey when I skip meals and then I eat quite literally everything in sight. Not helpful.

Something that I'm more likely to stick to would be a good starting point.

And, astonishingly, having made the decision to hold off on everything till I've lost enough weight that I can decide if this is a thing I want to look into or not is ...helpful.

This year that was

This year - last year - has been alternately wonderful and so very, very difficult.

The good?

I've been surrounded by incredible people - funny, talented, brilliant people - who I adore all year.

I've been at my current job for eighteen months, I enjoy it and I'm good at what I do. I managed a full year of Auslan classes, succeeded in them and enjoyed them, even if it sometimes felt as though I was trapped in a never ending endurance trial, with long days, longer weeks and no free time.

I've only moved house the once and I get along (for the most part) with my housemate.

I NSO'd 25 roller derby games and a lot of scrimmages. I stuck at skating, because I fell in love with a stupid, ridiculous, difficult hobby despite all the times I wanted to give up because my progress has been slow (I'm not good at learning physical things and I've had a chronic ankle issue) and now, at the end of the year, I'm seeing real, marked, visible improvement in my skating.

I've picked up cross training sessions at the gym and swim more regularly than I have in years. I have muscles in my arms! I have the physical capacity to manage the life I'm living, which is something I would never have imagined was possible a few years ago.

I told my oldest friends that I want to be called Luke and the world didn't end. The sky didn't fall in. They accepted it. My family (my immediate family) know that I'm - there would be hand waving here, if this wasn't text - a sort of masculine-of-centre, kind of genderqueer person who identifies as male-ish and it's been okay.

The good has been very, very good this year.

And it has been one of the hardest years of my life.

I'm changing my name to Luke, one person at a time and it is terrifying. I'm working out who I am, my gender and my identity and - there aren't easy answers. Sometimes I'm not sure that there are any answers and I still don't know what all this will mean for me, for my life, my ability to find employment in the future or anything else.

I've found myself paralysed with indecision some mornings, because most of the time I don't believe that I can pull off even vaguely "masculine-inspired" when I leave the house. I talk myself out of self harming (because of something I'm not quite willing to call dysphoria, because fuck, I look like a woman) more often than I should have to and don't always succeed. I feel, more often than not, hideous and unattractive.

There's a level of discomfort with my body, my appearance and presentation that I can barely manage some days and sometimes I wish that I hadn't opened this can of worms but it's too late for that now.

This last year has been so difficult. I came out as genderqueer - I came out as trans - and I'm only just starting to figure out what it will mean for me.

But that year is over. And things will be easier this year.

Dec. 8th, 2014

There’s a fragility, if you want, to identity. It’s hyperbole, maybe, but it’s true.

Lisa doesn’t fit.

She doesn’t fit.

Not so much. Not anymore.

“What name and pronouns do you want if I introduce you to people?” she asks, smsing me on my way over. I’ve become that guy.

I’ve become that guy. Oh, fuck. Fucking fuck.

I find myself pausing, when I’m asked this, trying to balance out a thousand variables.

The answer is impossible to articulate. The explanation is …

There are words and I want to use them, but they’re gone, trapped in my throat.

I pause. Look away from the phone and draw a deep breath, closing my eyes momentarily against the traffic and pedestrians and noise of the city at 6 o’clock on a Wednesday night.

“Luke,” I type, “and he.” I think. I think, and shouldn’t I know? “Thanks.”

It’s a name that I don’t know I really have a claim to. Not really.

I shove the phone back into the pocket of jeans a size too small in the waist and drag them back up, pulling my stomach back under the waistband.

And already, my heart is pounding. “I take it back,” I want to say. Want to tap it into my phone. “I’m not sure if I should use that name with those strangers.” But I don’t.

This name that I both want and don’t want.

It’s questioned. Demands an explanation, when the name doesn’t match the face, doesn’t match the voice, doesn’t match the clothes.

And sometimes I think - do I want to go there? Do I want to explain? Do I want to deal with that tonight?

And sometimes the answer is yes. I can do this. I can do this. And sometimes it’s - no. Not tonight. I don’t want to have to explain myself to you tonight. And all of this is moving too fast and what the hell am I doing, that this is a thing in my life that feels right?

And other times…


Sitting in my car on Mount Alexander Road two weeks ago, playing with my phone.


Time to go and see the see the nice Doctor Man. Get answers to a question you don’t know how to ask, when you don’t know what the answer should be.

Because every time I stop and think, the anxiety comes back.

Swipe refresh on twitter. Read the article that comes up in the second-third tweet in the stream. I don’t remember the content.

Click over to facebook and back to 2048, meditative repetitive action.

What the fuck - what the fucking fuck - am I doing here?

Except - it feels so unquantifiably wrong sometimes when I’m called Lisa.

Swam away the feelings two days ago when I saw my breasts in the mirror, glaringly visible under my binder.

And there’s a lifetime of contradictions there. My satisfaction in the way my body moves, stroking laps up and down the pool. Meditative movement till all the world sinks away again.

Except that I keep tugging the bathers up. Cover the breasts, the body I  don’t want you to see. Hide the scars - I had a bad day. More than one.

So I’m sitting in that car and I close my eyes a moment, head tilting back against the headrest, November sun burning through the glass.

And I get out of that car.

And what the hell am I doing here? And what the hell am I thinking?

It’s not too late to turn around.

Deep breaths as I lock the door, backpack over one shoulder.

They’re renovating inside. A middle-aged woman - grey hair, skirt and blouse - tells me he’s gone. The practice moved a month ago.

Pent up adrenaline, two weeks of don’t think don’t think don’t think escaping as I say I have an appointment. Today. Four o’clock.

And what am I doing here that I didn’t call to confirm that address?

I want this but - throwaway words delivered six months ago. I doubt that my sister remembers them. They weren’t intended to hurt.

“And what makes you think that there’s anything masculine about you now?”

Throwaway words from another friend about the kind of queer I am, that if you’re not overly masculine, you’re just butch.

And it’s true. There’s nothing masculine about me. It’s as true as my fear that this is all real. It’s as true as my discomfort with ‘she’. As true as my hatred (not too strong a word) of my body - fat, soft, unequivocally female.

“And what makes you think that there’s anything masculine about you are now?”

“I had an appointment today. I’m on Mount Road.” I’ve walked outside. leaning against the fence, two houses down in a scrap of shade, clutching at my phone.

“We’re in West Melbourne.”


“We sent the new address in the sms confirmation.”

“What?” A broken record. I mutter it again. “what? Can I reschedule?”

There’s a sigh on the other end of the phone. What am I doing even making this appointment? I just - fuck.  “Yes. Come in for your next appointment. Two weeks from now.”

A tear wiped away fast as I walk back to my car.

Nov. 11th, 2014

There is something deeply infuriating about poorly designed assessment tasks.

We've been asked to work individually on a research task. I think.

The instructions to the student say that students must:
"◦ Work individually:
◦ Choose an organisation from the Australian deaf community – must be involved in the welfare, social or political arena;
◦ You will prepare a powerpoint report about the organisation, including the following information:
◦ Information about the organisation;
◦ A timeline of the organisation’s history, from when it was founded until the present day;
◦ Key events and significant periods throughout the organisation’s history;
◦ The powerpoint report should be between 900-1100 words in length.
◦ The powerpoint may include link to video, photos and other graphic to assist the information BUT please note, these are not counted as words.
◦ The powerpoint report to be submitted to this assessment as attachment.

We are apparently discussing it in class

Key questions currently include "what is a powerpoint report?" "Do you mean a research essay combined with a presentation?" "and can we please get written clarification as to the standard of work and research you expect here, as my research methodology and sources are two of the marking criteria and you have not yet provided any guidance about that."

Basically, how much research do you expect me to do, what standard of writing are you looking for and how do you intend to mark me against the following criteria?

VU20239.4.1 Select an appropriate research topic
VU20239.4.2 Identify appropriate research methodology
VU20239.4.3 Use methodology to research sources
VU20239.4.4 Collect, interpret and organise information to create a coherent point of view
VU20239.4.5 Prepare and present a report

I have gone back to the curriculum. The criteria in the curriculum simply says that students are required to
"◦ Sequence events
◦ Discuss cause and effect and identify the ways in which developments in one time and place may influence those in other times and places
◦ Identify and interpret sources
◦ Discuss and express opinions on aspects of the history of Deaf people in Australia.
◦ Compare and analyse the ways in which Deaf people have participated in community life and engaged in political struggles throughout Australian history."

Uhuh. That's kinda vague, really.

The evidence guide and range statement seem to be equally vague. The curriculum is a little bit shit. I get that. It does not excuse you from putting the assessment task up on the student portal without a rubric and some standards. I want to know - do you expect me to look at 5+ secondary sources and 10+ primary sources? Are non scholarly secondary sources acceptable (because there's damn little in the way of the other out there.

and, really, what is a "powerpoint report"?

I feel kind of mean grilling my teacher on this because I know that these theory units are making the teachers freak out a bit (because I work in the department and all) but, at the same time, give me some information here, guys, and don't just tell me that we'll discuss it in class. I want this in writing and I want something more than "please focus on the instruction to student action and not to worry about element/criteria. You can do essay report, or dots report instead of powerpoint if this is easier for you."

Because that still ain't helpful.

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