walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Starting Over ... Again

When I started this blog, I was living an entirely different life.

Back then, I worked full-time in software development for a large bank (and hated my job), was single (and lonely), wanted to be back in school but hadn't yet figured out how to make that happen (and was annoyed with myself about that), lived in a nice apartment in the Highlands (and -- okay, I loved that apartment and the neighborhood, actually).

Now, I barely work at all (and I'm happy about that), spend most of my time being homemaker-ly (and I'm happy about that, too), am happily engaged (and no longer lonely -- my circle of friends is also much broader), I'm halfway through my first semester as a Junior (still carrying a 4.0 GPA, booyah!), and I live in a cute little house in the South end, near Iroquois park. 

I am in the bizarre position of having achieved most of my life goals within a very short span of time (Husband?  Check [okay, so we're technically still engaged, but that seems moot at this point].  Regular house of worship?  Check.  Friends?  Check.  House?  Check.  School?  Check.  Time to write [both in the literary and musical senses]?  Check.  Horse?  Not quite yet ;D).  That's a startling place to be.  Admittedly, my life goals aren't terribly ambitious, and many of them were highly interdependent anyway -- but it feels a little weird to be my age and to have pretty much checked off the big, permanent items on your life list in 'one swell foop,' as a friend of mine used to say.  Thus, my life is no longer geared towards seeking those goals, but towards figuring out what the next set of goals is.

Moreover, even some of my remaining goals have changed.

When I started this blog, I was operating under the assumption that I would pursue a career in large animal medicine; now, I'm a psych major with no real definite career goals beyond wanting to continue to have plenty of time to devote to making my home a happy place to be (many people can swing a full-time career and managing their homes; I'm not one of them).  I used to think I would probably never race; I have done a couple of races now, enjoyed the experience, and will probably give it a go again in the future.  For a while, racing a lot was a major goal; now, that goal has faded into the background for the time being.  When I started writing this blog, I was planning on riding a full brevet series at some point; now, I'm not entirely sure I'll ever do that.  I like the idea, but it's not a goal I'm pursuing with great fervor.  I certainly hope to ride more populaires, and would love to do a 200k this coming year, but beyond that, I'm just planning to, you know, follow my bliss.

Between those lives, a few threads remain: I still love bikes and riding.  I still love music.  I'm still playing handbells at Saint Andrew's, though I'm having a rougher time with choir (mono made singing impossible; now that I'm feeling mostly better, a momentary bout of insomnia is making getting up at 8 AM on Sunday -- or any day, for that matter -- impossible).

Of late, I've been reflecting on those changes a bit.  I realize there's still something in me that's deeply resistant to change, especially in myself.  That part of me had a lot of trouble letting go of my racing plans for fall, but having done so, I've found that another long-standing desire has suddenly become possible financially -- specifically, the surgical correction of gynecomastia that resulted from my natural hormonal profile (which is pathetic due to a condition called hypogonadism)and an anticonvulsant drug I took when I was in high school.

 This will mean holding off on buying a 'cross bike, and indeed on a couple other big bike-related purchases I'd been hoping to swing, but it will also allow me to be a lot more comfortable in my own skin, and to pick up a few pursuits I've been putting off because I feel awkward about my body.

It's funny how letting go of one dream for a while sometimes lets you pursue another -- one, in this case, that's arguably a lot more important to my overall quality of life.

For a long time, I hemmed and hawed about this because I felt like I was choosing to trade an annoying but not potentially-life-threatening condition for a potentially-life-threatening procedure.  Then, I realized that being alive is important, but so is quality of life.  There are a lot of things I don't do right now, or that I do differently than I otherwise might, because I feel uncomfortable in my own skin.   I love swimming, but I do so very rarely, and with big, loose t-shirts on, because I don't want people to see me.  I would love to get back into ballet, but serious ballet teachers expect male students to wear fairly form-fitting clothes, and that's out of the question for me right now.  Even just walking down the street, I feel uncomfortable.

It will be nice to be able to feel comfortable swimming in public, or to be able to wear a trimly-tailored shirt without feeling self-conscious.  It will be really nice to feel less awkward in bike jerseys, or to be able to simply unzip my jersey when it's ridiculously hot in the middle of July. I don't know that I will ever be someone who makes a habit of going around in public without a shirt -- as I see it, my body is for Denis' eyes only -- but I delight in the idea of being able to wear a form-fitting tank top or rash guard or whatever while playing in the water.

A whole bunch of other changes have flowed from this one decision.

First, I've set a new weight-loss goal, or rather, I've revised my existing goal in a more aggressive direction -- I will (WILL) weigh 150 - 155 pounds by the end of December.  The closer I am to my ultimate goal weight of 135 - 145 by the time I have the surgery, the less likely it will be that I'll wind up needing a 'revision' surgery.  So far, I'm sticking with the plan, though I won't know how it's going officially 'til I do my Wednesday weigh-in.

Second, I've decided I am going to revamp my wardrobe.  I've spent the last few years using clothes as camouflage -- not just hiding my 'moobs,' but also hiding the fat that makes me so violently uncomfortable.  Prior to that, I pretty much wore whatever I thought my boyfriend at the time would like, or simply worked the Harry Potter look (my permanent default Hallowe'en costume, LOL). 

The time I spent as a Buddhist makes me laugh at myself about it, but I've decided that I'm going to decide what image I want to project to the world, and I'm going to update my wardrobe accordingly.  It will be nice to have to the freedom to choose, and I don't think I'll choose quite the same kind of image I've been projecting for the past few years (that is: dorky fat boy).

Third, I am going to take up ballet again once I'm sufficiently recovered from the surgery.  I'd actually really love to learn some of the circus arts, but I'm not sure there's anywhere around here to do that.

Fourth, I'm going to try to be less retiring.  I bitch about wanting to ride with people more often, but I don't actually follow through.  I know plenty of folks who ride, especially the awesome guys from River City Cycling Society, but I don't make myself get out of bed so I can ride with them.  I put the miles in, but I put them in alone, in the afternoons, when everyone else is at work.  Likewise, I keep talking about getting a bike club going at school, but I don't because I don't know anyone at school who's into bikes -- which, I'm sure, is at least in part due to the fact that we don't have a bike club.  If we did, bike peeps at IUS would have a way to meet, right?  I joined some national leadership society thing that school nominated me for, so I think maybe I will make getting a bike club going a project under that umbrella, or something.

I realized not that long ago that although I'm an introvert, I need a social life as well.  It's kind of like how cars work: you need to put fuel in a car, but you also need to run the engine, or it gets all gummed up and breaks down.  Thus, I fuel up by being alone, but I need to better respect my need to 'run my engine' by getting together with friends.  Riding with people more is a good way to do that.  So is getting more involved on campus.

Last, I think I'm done being closeted about my body.  I have an intersex condition, and I was lucky enough to escape the usual fate of intersexed kids in the US (surgery as infants, with lifelong repercussions).  For a while, I was very much an outgoing poster-boy for the IS movement; then I went 'stealth' completely (largely, I think, as a function of being afraid that no gay man on earth would want to marry an un-'corrected' IS boy).  Now, I'm finding myself in places and positions where I have an opportunity to talk about who and what I am and to maybe do some good for other people like me -- so I think I'm going to get back to doing that, though not, perhaps, on the same level I used to.

Anyway, this is already way longer than I intended it to be.  I'll try to post some updated goals in list form at some point in the near future :)  Right now, I'm going to go hop on the bike and buy a chicken and some stuff for dinner.

More soon!


  1. Very interesting post ... it seems like you have made some decisions about what you want to do, and that's the first step. I didn't know what IS was at all until I read about it on your blog, so you are raising awareness already. And, I'm all for being more outwardly like yourself. I can definitely relate to that.

    About weight, I think you're being overly paranoid. For what it's worth, the couple of times we rode together, I seem to remember thinking you were pretty skinny. I'm not a small guy myself, so maybe my perspective is skewed, but that was my impression. Try not to worry about it so much.

  2. Thanks very much for your kind response! :) For what it's, DD also thinks I'm overly concerned about my weight.

    At this point, I think I could stand to trim down a bit, but I'm thinking I might be setting too aggressive a goal. Basically, I was historically really skinny (like, 135 or less) until a few years ago when I gained a bunch of weight while recovering from a serious illness; I wonder now if my sense of 'normal' might not be a little skewed. It's possible I was actually *too* skinny before!

    BTW, I think I might try to drag DD up to Bloomington for the opera some time -- if you and your wife enjoy opera, it would be great to have you along!

  3. Asher, I'm ready for you to get back to riding with us. Winter is a great time to explore and you're cordially invited to do so pending your health.

    As to weight, I feel the pain and support you in your efforts. I wish I had magic advice, but then I would have to be following it myself. You certainly aren't Clydesdale, so like Apertome I would suggest not to stress so.

    Let us know when you're ready to get out there on the open road.