dariaphoebe: (redhead)
The route I was taking was one which I often cycled while crossing the city. Today, though, I was just riding in a circle, albeit one chosen to maximize the hills I'd need to climb. 35 minutes on, I felt as though I hadn't worked hard enough. My body yearned to be pushed harder. "It's a dynamo," I thought, "screaming to be spun up to full power." I'd just spent a while struggling to get some software I was developing to do what I wanted, and while it still didn't, my mental processes were every bit as engaged as I rode as my physical ones.

I turned the corner and climbed the slight upgrade several blocks before stopping at a traffic light. The ride was gravy, an unexpected bonus on a day where I expected no break in the weather. The remaining portion of my circle was not long, but I knew what I needed to do.

As the light changed, I pulled away, and after crossing the intersection pushed myself relentlessly at the hill. 10 meters. 20. 40. I'd climbed over 50 in the couple blocks the hill traversed, watching them tick off in the eyepiece of my goggles. When I reached the crest, I tapered off my effort, and let the breathlessness wash over me.

How do I bottle this up? How do I, in other moments where I am struggling to simply keep up with my load, tap this? Most importantly, I wondered as I coasted to the next light, how do I help others get here?
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I'd just finished having my vitals collected when he walked into the room with me. I was a bit startled: I expected to have to wait a couple minutes. Upon greeting me, he paused to read my shirt. After a laugh, he offered a compliment. That it seemed unfamiliar surprised me: surely I was not the only one of his patients who had one. Perhaps they hadn't worn theirs to see him. For me, it fit the occasion.

I'd dropped 17 pounds since the last quarterly weigh-in, 12 more since the one before that. Little wonder, then, that the first several skirts I paired with that shirt wanted to fall off my hips. As the average day involves a dress, I had no inkling until that moment. Still, I managed to make up something with the clothing I had on-hand, and biked to his office just after the morning rain had passed. We chatted about my hormone levels, as we did exactly two years earlier.

I asked whether my estrogen level was acceptable. This day, though, there were no adjustments to be made. "I'd prescribe more if you weren't seeing the feminization you wanted, but I don't think that's an issue," he said, looking me over.

I blushed.

Two years is a long time. On that day, I suffered sticker shock (literally) at the price of the first round of estrogen patches. After applying the first, though, I slipped out of the coffee shop I was sitting in to work, and in what has become a tradition, took a picture of myself in front of the mural outside. Its caption: "Say hi to Daria"
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
We sat on facing chairs in her office, and I shared my state of mind. "I am a f*king goddess," I said in almost-protest, while stifling tears, after recounting the things I felt I was doing right. But how do you own that when it seems that all about you is disdain? No one would ever lust after my body, I said, even as I hated myself for merely wanting such a thing.

My body, even as it increasingly converges with the one I was sure right along I belonged in, feels as though it's creating a palpable tension around me. And so even as I am offered both love and acceptance, I feel hurt, raw, exposed, ripped off, alone. And the recognition of the pure selfishness of those feelings merely compounds the pain. For all my progress, I am still excessively fragile. I am still damaged goods.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I wasn't sure what to make of the look on the valet's face as I strode into the hotel after dismounting my bike and grabbing my laptop. The wedge heeled boots I had on clattered loudly on the stone floor. Impressed? Judgemental? Leering? I mumbled a greeting and headed upstairs to my friend's room.

Last year I probably biked more miles not wearing a dress than most people in this country biked, period. And that was a bare fraction, surely less than 5%, of the miles I put under my wheels. The tight integration of those two wheels with my identity was only underscored while looking through old pictures, and finding a train picture I'd taken in Harrisburg several years ago where my bike was barely visible in the edge of the frame: I had slung my camera on my back and biked from my hotel, actually heading from the hillside above the west shore all the way past the city to the east that day.

With the cold weather, I felt pudgy, and unable to find a good way to work it off without risking frostbite, spills on ice, or worse. My cheeks felt fat, my waist bloated. And that was on top of the more ongoing dysphoria. Body image issues are part and parcel of life, especially for women. But the odd look from the valet drove home one thing: my body may not be behaving in the way I'd prefer, but it was 15 degrees, and I was biking anyway. My body may not be the one I want, but it's the only one I have, and it was mine to keep working at shaping it to what I need it to be for myself.

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dariaphoebe

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