New Year’s Reading

I’m so happy with how my reading went tonight. When it first started, I blanked. I was so tempted to just close out of the streaming programs and apologize later that I had a panic attack. But something made me take that leap of faith, and it wasn’t dissociation. It was bravery.

I was smart to put the poem “Joey” first because it loosened me up and made me smile. Ah man, I can’t believe there were like 10 viewers. It’s really awesome and encouraging.

I noticed a lot of patterns and themes in my writing that I hadn’t before. One of the big ones is longing to be an animal and relating with animals more than humans. I hadn’t realized how prevalent this was until I listened to the recording afterwards.

There were a few times I stumbled and lost my place but for the most part, I was present, in a way that I never used to be for my readings in 2011-2016. I feel really accomplished. And not totally freaked out now that it’s over, like I want to self harm or something. Not at all.

Woo!

I’m going to copy in a few poems I read.


Joey

He is effortlessly himself

Light blue eyes

And a messy ginger beard

His chest hair creeps

Above his white tee shirt

And I am left dizzy 

With the caress of my waist

I have been flighty

But he has been steady

Wise and kind

He is my man

We kiss among August fireflies

We laugh so hard over coffee

And when I’m in his arms

He smells like bonfires and sawdust

Like forests and home. 

A grey ambiance

Blurry winter sun

Lavender and yellow sky

A grey ambiance

Light orange mushroom

On a log that is the den

For creatures unknown

A peeling birch tree

One gunshot far away

The crunching of leaves

Black cherry towers

So heavy, tall, and dark

The creaking of pines

Birds

Bluejay lands on branch

Chickadees eat the ragweed

Sky is a pale grey

Pinetrees reach toward the sun

Needles cover the earth below

Dark green boughs; still, cold air

At home with the land

A red tail hawk flies overhead

I sing to myself.

The stratosphere breaks

Light and airy thoughts

Sky cracks of yellow, white, and orange

Brilliant sun through slate lavender clouds

Blush orange and cream horizon

Steel blue shapes, moody

Drifting whisps

Dusty rays of light descend

Ink on my cold hands

I long for community

And fear others humans

Navy hills loom

A pheasant thumps her wings

And disappears into the pines

Four crows fly overheard

Talking to one another

Humans belong to the land

Humans belong to the sky

And I have a clear vision of myself

(Writer, artist, healer, builder, animal) 

Then the stratosphere breaks

Revealing baby blue. 

Naked

My pale naked form

In the white winter window light

It’s Christmas and it’s snowing

Thick, warm air radiates

My walls are baby blue

My angled ceiling is larch wood

My blankets are soft fleece

I begin my reconnaissance

Of belly fat and cellulite

Of unruly dark hairs that poke out

Of the scars on my thighs

Whose origin I’m ashamed to recall

Of so called

Hip dips

But this time I halt

These reprimands are just habitual

Perhaps, maybe, bear with me….

My body is sacred

Male, female,

Or person on a journey

To be as I am, terrifying

But worth it

Just like my ancestors

I take this awkward, two-legged form

To the animals, we probably all look mostly the same

The ancient wisdom before Rome

That we are creatures of earth

The queer realization

That we are moldable clay

With solid frames

Our bones outlast us

This once horrified me

I read of a lesbian feminist

Who said we may parade as men

With privilege

But the archaeologists 

Will know the truth

This is absurd

But made me feel trapped

I dreamt of sanding  down my hip bones

Was there a way?

I was a frankenstein monster in my mind

Where is the border between gender affirmation

And endless dysmorphic struggle? 

I would transition, and still not feel alright

Testosterone gave me

The gift of my light beard

Fashioned me a baritone

Made me able to exist

Estrogen gives me

A shape and a softness

I now cherish

In which I feel at home, for now.

My pale naked form 

In the white winter window light

The expansive air

I breathe in deeply 

My own body

With no judgement

Just love

As a landscape


I will post the video of my

Visions for 2021

Reflecting on 2020 seems like too much of a task for me tonight. I will share some of my visions for 2021.

I’d like to experience a lessening of generalized anxiety. This is still pretty bad for me. I’d like to be able to sit with myself, most of the time, and feel grounded and safe and stable. Right now I have racing thoughts and a racing heart all too often. I want this to be a more rare state for me, and not a general way of living.

I want to connect with other people. I have some ideas up my sleeve. I want to build genuine community and friendships. One thing I have in mind is a writers’ retreat on our property, and I know Joey has ideas of bringing people here as well. I’m very excited about this. I’m hoping to surround myself with people often, with space to retreat of course, because I am an introvert. But I want to feel connections in 2021, like I never have. This will include branching out to see what offerings are available in my new town. I’m interested in taking lessons in all kinds of creative things if possible.

I want to use writing as a tool for healing. I really want to focus on this above all other things. I don’t want to focus on whether it is clever enough for an imaginary audience, or worse, marketable. I want to really express myself and create beauty in the act. I want to explore other art forms too, like pottery, clay, guitar, songwriting. I want this to be the year I do things without judgement and pressure from myself.

This is specific, but I want to have a website that better showcases my art, and not only my writing. I might be able to do that with this site. I’d also like to figure out how to get rid of the ads on this site.

I want to use my body more in 2021 and be more in tune. I bought an elliptical for the cold months, and I want to keep up my mindful walks and yoga. I want to focus on releasing trauma that has been stored in my body for years and years. I want to be physically freer.

I hope in general it is a year of healing energy and inspiration. Happy New Year, reader.

A Difficult Day

I’m reading live on Zoom in a couple days. Right now I’m freaking out that what I have isn’t good enough. It was a hard day. Why am I insecure? I hold onto past events and project a negative future. I sit in a brain state of judgement, rather than just letting it be. On days like this, I forget what it feels like to even enjoy myself.

*

Sometimes when I look at the horizon I feel nothing. Sometimes I feel empty and lonely and uninspired. I don’t feel I belong. I feel sad and afraid, and sometimes I’m not even sure why. All I can do is accept this, and breathe. Fighting it makes it worse. 

When I was a child, I avoided these feelings by constantly living in a fantasy world. When I got to be a teen, that magic ability wore off and I became depressed. I still miss that escape. My Neverland. It’s what I try to return to when I’ve abused substances or lost myself in another person.

We tell these stories about who we are again and again.We form grooves in our brain. We wear down pathways. Who am I if not my trauma? It’s a very good question with which to start. 

Self-criticism is a knife with which I cross out and delete words. Heaven forbid I appear trite. When sometimes it’s these words that are most true. But I cut out what might seem like crap to others. Who? 

Forget them. What is it I need from writing this piece? 

I’m trying to focus on how much I’ve grown. My resilience is amazing. Just this year alone, I am more independent, happy, steady, calm, secure, creative, confident, and stable than I have been in a long time. I am valuing and taking care of myself. I have an awareness of my mind and body. 

What would it feel like to be secure in myself as an artist? What would it feel like to be secure in myself, period? 

Cravings are intense. For sex, for drugs, even for too much coffee and chocolate. I am still an addict, and maybe one forever. It’s learning how to ride those waves, I suppose. What to consume in moderation and what to abstain from and when.

I hope I feel better tomorrow. That is my intention. But if not, I do think I am doing a good job of accepting my state. No matter what, I’ll be okay. I learned that with the trauma of losing Joey for a while. I lived. The chickens being killed was also a horror I survived. I can deal with sadness. It’s better than the anxiety to avoid it. It will pass. I will remember how to feel good again.

*

Here’s a link to info about my reading on New Year’s Day: https://www.facebook.com/events/730537194245523

Journey with Estrogen, Pt. 3

One of the first things I noticed when I went off testosterone was that I started crying a lot. It wasn’t necessarily bad. Sometimes I cried because I felt grateful. Another very interesting change, at least to me, was that I started getting goosebumps from music like I hadn’t in a very long time. Possibly before I started T. It started happening all the time and it felt really good. Music just became such an emotional, physical experience in a way it hadn’t since I had to/ decided to give up smoking weed and drinking.

I want to reiterate that this is just my experience. I imagine it is different for everyone. A lot of my reactions to estrogen fall in line with gender stereotypes, but that doesn’t mean they do for everybody.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that some of my psychosis can come back when my estrogen is higher. Could be a coincidence, because it’s also happened before on T. But I do notice a pattern that it happens more with estrogen. I started having very paranoid feelings about the safety of our pets and our family. I also started seeing these dark, shadowy shapes all the time. It was scary. Luckily we adjusted my meds and that seemed to take care of it. I was also under a lot of stress with the election and covid.

I started feeling a spiritual connection with the moon. I left crystals out under the full moon light to charge them. I built an altar in the pine woods. I’ve been drawn more and more towards the mystical. I really would like to reach out to people who are pagan and learn more about how I can develop my spiritual side and a spiritual community. I’ve been really needing that, and its something that I struggle with. My interests are Celtic paganism, with a queer and anticolonial lens as I connect with my ancestors. I also really like a lot of the teachings of Buddhism. I feel like I need more structure with this.

I’ve always loved hard, but it feels even harder with estrogen. Sometimes I just look at Joey, or even just think about him, and I’m overwhelmed. It isn’t just emotionally, but bodily. I will remember a kiss and I literally get weak in the knees and have to rest for a moment to collect myself. It was ridiculous seeming at first, but it actually feel great. I’ve been celibate for mental health reasons for about a year, so I can’t say how estrogen effects my sex life. But I can guess it will enhance it. I feel more in tune with the moment. Of course, this is due to lots of factors, but the hormonal shift is definitely when of them. Waiting for sexual attention isn’t as excruciating, and fantasizing is much more rich.

Now, a story.

On one of my ketamine treatment trips, I imagined all the people in my life as a pride of lions. Thinking of holy cat creatures is a reoccurring theme. I imagined myself, and what kind of lion I would be. I imagined a sort of female lion, with some masculine characteristics (a small tuft of mane). I would have the female responsibilities (except I couldn’t be a hunter so….well, whatever.) I would be attracted to male lions and my partner would love me best of all the female lions in the pack. I wouldn’t get pregnant, but I would be submissive in a consentsual way, and I would be joyfully protected.

I also thought about myself in a “primitive” society, more in tune with nature, and how I would be likely more accepted (well, depends, but play along) as a gender nonconforming person, and how colonialism and christianity was what messed that up. I think I’d be an artist, and also learning the art of healing, with herbs but also spiritually. Including the healing powers of psychedelics.

Anyway, lastly physical. It’s weird to know that I can get pregnant right now, if I wanted. I sometimes have longings for it, believe it or not, or maybe just freezing my eggs. I also have very strong desires to get married. I do not wish to give birth physically, and I know I am not ready. But I NEVER expected to have maternal or even parental instincts in my life. It’s very surprising.

Some more bodily changes: curvy hips. More pronounced bottom. Softer skin. My beard grows slower and lighter, as does the rest of my body hair. Slimmer stomach. Honestly, I’m just thrilled with all of it.

Oh and for the record, I still use he/him/his pronouns most the time and I’ll tell you nicely if that changes.

Ok, I guess this is all about my journey with estrogen for now. Thanks for reading this 3 part series. A lot of this stuff is invisible, and I feel like no one sees me for the real me. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to be known. Good night.

Journey with Estrogen, Pt. 2

And now as promised, my reasons for going off testosterone. As you may have read several entries back, I had a heart attack in February 2020. This was a shock and still hasn’t been explained. But I found after I left the hospital that I gave a lot less shits what people thought about me. I think it was the brush with death.

The day that I went, I had decided that morning I was going to dress how I wanted and try not to care if people looked at me. I had on skinny jeans, a red camisole, and some makeup and nail polish. I planned to go downtown to Ithaca for therapy. So when I ended up at the hospital, there was even more confusion about my gender than there already usually is….After I said I was trans, they seemed to think I was a trans woman sometimes and were very frazzled. So I had to just grin and bare all that discomfort. Standing out with gender has historically felt unsafe to me. Or should I say, has been unsafe for me. Especially in medical scenarios.

Earlier that fall, after my depression started lifting, I was finding myself wanting to dress up again. I wasn’t just wearing the same plaid shirt and jeans everyday changing only my tee shirt and underwear (on a good day). I was showering or shaving….well, never, from when Joey broke up with me until when I started on ketamine treatments. That was a lot of months. That was how bad my depression had gotten.

I’ve always been someone who likes clothes. I enjoy putting together outfits that express myself. Have since I was a kid. After my depression lifted, I was able to start doing this again, and most my outfits got much more feminine. If I’m dressing more gay or fem and my hair and beard is styled, it’s usually a sign I’m doing well. Anyway, I started feeling even more comfortable after I left the hospital. I was just like, “fuck it! Life is too short.” I bought some new androgynous women’s clothes for our trip to Florida, and I felt great the entire time, even around Joey’s evangelical, pro-Trump parents.

When we returned from Florida, covid became a thing and we started quarantining. It was a weird time, obviously. I lost my job. I was doing a lot of hand-building with air dry clay and painting my sculptures. A lot of walks with my headphones on busy roads, yoga, and workout in my room. I was also struggling with a lot of body dysphoria. I was hating the masculine characteristics of my body. And they were becoming exaggerated in my mind. What’s funny is, as a teen, I wanted to be less curvy and I was so insecure that my butt was too round and large. Now I wanted the exact opposite. It was an obsession. This is awkward to talk about because it seems so shallow. But body dysmorphia is a type of OCD and becomes all consuming. It was a serious struggle. My body felt like it wasn’t me.

Then it occurred to me to go off testosterone. I never considered this; I did not wish to transition into a woman-presenting person. I didn’t really wish to shave my beard or be called She in public. Though I have wanted that, sometimes. More often I want to be a feminine/androgynous gay boy person. That sits the most correct with my soul and always has. Even as a young person, I conceived of myself as a girly boy, not a boyish girl.

I apologize if the way I talk about gender is confusing. I’ve kind of come up with my own language. It’s hard to explain how it works in my head. And established ways of talking about it don’t work for me. But I suppose you could say I am genderfluid and nonbinary or genderqueer. Many people would identify me as transmasculine. I have a lot of discomfort with that label. I conceive of myself as trans and feminine. But I also think of myself sometimes as a guy who transitioned from female (or FTM). Or a feminine trans boy. But I see myself on the feminine end of the spectrum. I have a lot of trouble with the word “man” though I want to be an adult, unlike the term “boy.” Not that I don’t also have masculine characteristics I suppose but….I mean, not really many. Of course this is all just gender stereotyping…….Argh!!!! I am sinking into the dreaded existential GenderHole!

Back to the point. I was uncomfortable in my body. It occurred to me that having a period once a month might be worth it. If it meant having a body that was less hairy and more shaped how I wanted.

So, I went off T. And every month I’ve been happier with how I look. I’ve only been misgendered as a woman once and it didn’t upset me. My face and clothed body pretty much just read as a feminine, somewhat androgynous guy. The change has been just dramatic enough. I’m lucky that it worked the way I wanted.

The people that I identify most with are femboys. The internet definitions would excluded me from this identity because I am over 30 and was not born male. But fuck that. I’m an adult, AFAB femboy.

Next time, I will write about the ways that I feel different: mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This was a surprise, as I was skeptical this would happen for me. Also I will continue about what happened next with the whole “trapped by covid in a shitty apartment without a job” thing. Kinda crazy how I went from there to living where I do now.

Anyway. Good night, dear readers. Peace.

Journey with Estrogen, Pt. 1

When I was a teen, I hated my body and any of it’s feminine characteristics. However, I have changed. I have been off testosterone now for about 6 months and I’m very happy with the results. Having a period sucks, but not as bad as it did back as a teen. To be clear, I don’t see myself as de-transitioning. This is just a journey with estrogen. Nor am I simply a woman now. I still pass as male and I am keeping my beard most the time. I don’t identify as a man or male or masculine. The only word I like is “boy” but that get a little weirder for me as I age. I need to invent a new word.

I went on testosterone therapy as fast as I could as a young adult. I knew I was trans at 16 and I wanted to start then. Unfortunately my parents were combative, and you needed their consent up to age 18. But as soon as I was able to I got started on the process, and when I was 20 and in my second year of college, I was finally able to start getting the injections. 

It was so different then than it is now. As I understand it, you can not just get your script for T online! This would have been life changing. I had to go though all this psychological testing to prove I wasn’t going to change my mind. And yet, 10 years later, here I am. But I don’t regret any of it in the slightest. Well, that’s not entirely true. I have times I wish I had left my chest alone and not had surgery. 

It was such a battle back then. There’s more room for fluidity now, but not back then. Not if you wanted hormones. At least at the clinic I went to, you had to be a very typical, straight male inside. It was suffocating and abusive, being bullied into that toxic false idea of what masculinity is (and as I said, I’m not even masculine in my mind.) 

I guess I just feel I am living proof that it’s OK if someone goes on hormones and changes their minds. I mean, on days when I want to look like a woman, its not exactly easy, and some work needs to be done, but it’s not so bad. Plus I prefer looking androgynous lately. Anyway. People need to not freak out so much about “what if trans people change their mind.” I wish we could almost just remove hormonal preferences from gender identity. 

Back to the whole “boy” question. Maybe this will change, but I really only feel right when I think of myself as a feminine boy. A femboy. Even though I’m 32, most people see me as in my twenties. Some have even thought I was a teen, like when I was working. I don’t want to be a child forever, but I really identify with boy, especially being someone’s boy. 🙂

I think in my next entry I will try to get into the reasons why I went off T, followed by some of the changes I’ve noticed. I want to be careful because as I feel more in touch with my femininity I also try to be aware that I could just be falling prey to stereotypes (ie: easier to cry, feel my emotions). But there are some truths to those things. I’ve experienced it, bodily. At least for me.

Eventually I’d like to get into what I feel spiritually about my gender. Spirituality is hard for me, and I honestly am yearning for a feminine spiritual guide. But this is a whole other point. This is where I will end this first part of the series on my journey with estrogen.

Artistic Perfectionism

I’m an artistic perfectionist. I’d like to just be an artist. Artistic perfectionism leaks over the other areas of my life. I find myself miserable that I’m not working on something I “feel good about.” To give you an idea, this is the current state of my artistic affairs:

1. A romance novel that is supposed to be fun but I’m finding it impossible to get into writing. 

2. A blog that I update regularly with stories about life on the farm as well as creative pieces and general reflections on life. But this isn’t interesting enough and not enough people read it.

3. Usually a poem or two a day, at least started. They may be coming together for a collection. But I don’t know what I’m doing, and people won’t want to read poetry

4. A song I’m writing that I’ve decided is irritating, plus I can’t play guitar well. I am at least taking lessons soon and therefore not completely passive on this front. Oh, but recording music is too technical and difficult, so I’ll never be able to make an album. 

5. A journal I write in every few days, just about my feelings. I don’t do this often enough and I never write enough when I do. 

6. I have a pottery wheel and clay. But I forgot how to do it, and looking up lessons seems overwhelming. Plus the whole thing just seems overwhelming, especially setting up the ideal space.

7. I take photos daily, many of which are artistic in nature, and post them on Instagram. But this doesn’t count. 

8. I love drawing animals and plan to do a portrait series of our farm animals. But this is not speaking to me right at the moment, so I beat myself up that I’m not really even still a visual artist.

It’s easy to fall into artistic perfectionism. While this may seem desirable, it in fact stifles creativity. At the very least, perfectionist tendencies need to be saved until the final draft. Otherwise, why not just let it all out, and ride the momentum while it’s there?

Another trend I’m noticing is artistic pessimism. And like I said, this attitude seems to cloud over my entire life. I realized this today. While on a walk, I wasn’t even taking any of it in. It’s said that nature is healing, but not if you aren’t even seeing it, because you are so wrapped up in your frustrated thoughts. I was going over several of these projects, angry that I don’t feel like working on them. It’s no wonder why when I make it so negative for myself. And when I did realize I wanted to write poetry today, I felt frustrated anyway because where was it all leading? A poetry book? Who would buy it? How would I promote it? It just sounds like work, so I don’t even want to get started.

Another trend is the difficulty creating art for my own enjoyment. Appreciating the process, rather than thinking of it as a finished, consumable product. I’m completely wrapped up in if other people will like it, and it squashes my desire and enjoyment. Even when I am creating, which is most days, it is a waste of time because none of it may get used in a finished product. 

My goal in life is to create for my own sake, and maybe even learn to collaborate with others (I’m so bad at this with a few exceptions). Then, after I create what I love, by my standards, I want to share it with people because I want to share, not because I’m seeking something from them to make it all seem worthwhile.

This gets me thinking about all kinds of addictive behavior I engage in. I’m a strong believer that one can be addicted to most anything. Some things I’m addicted to now and have been in the past include drugs, alcohol, individuals, attention, sex…I could write another entry on all that. A tell-tale sign of addiction is perfectionist anticipation. “I will only be happy once ____.” It is also the desire to escape the present moment.

Why do I hate the present so much anyway? My gut reaction is, “It’s painfully boring.” But is that really it? I’m going to have to reflect more on it. I have a feeling it has to do with trauma and illusions of control. And just structures of the human mind. The kind that make meditating so difficult for most people.

Anyway, I want to work on this. Haikus have been a cool way of writing about what is in front of me. I will try other things as well.

Here’s the draft of a poem I wrote on the subject of artistic perfectionism while on that walk. 

Untitled

Let’s start an art of presence: What’s right in front of me?

Grassy soaked puddles reflect bare trees,  interrupted as I slosh through in my black rain boots. Brown dead leaves on the ground, coyote tracks in the snow, and two deer in the distance I almost missed with my head down 

writing this. 

there is a path, a longer way, and I take it, to think more on the futility of art to make you feel better. It is an addiction that doesn’t feed unless it is the art of enjoying the show, joining in, documenting the present. The art of enhancement, at least for me.

So much time and effort to escape the moments of my life.

The grey still pond. The patchy snow. The red Chevy pick-up juxtaposed with the dull-hued grasses. The old farm machinery on the horizon.

Let me use my genuine voice. Let me see things as they are. Let me enjoy myself, creating.

Mortality, Love, & Chickens.

I.

I sit at the fire and see the hills of my home. Or rather, not my home, for they belong only to our eyes (as much as anything can belong to anyone). But I’m beside the point which is about when I look at those hills. I think about the haphazard crossings of other lives with mine. I think about the reflection of the trees on the pond. There’s a row of pines and red berries on branches. This is my home. I think that I’ll look at these same hills when I’m dying. But mostly, I think about chickens. 

II. 

Chickens in the cold, pecking, fretting, and groaning. Chickens running and tottering, flapping their small wings. Chickens huddled in the shed, making their comforting sounds. Chickens’ eyes get heavy as they fall asleep with the warmth of their sisters. Thinking of them, I won’t have nightmares tonight. 

III.

But often I do have nightmares. Looking at the yellow and grey evening sky, I think how chickens, sadly, do die. A mink’s massacre… A kindness after injuries… Accidents. “This is why I’m not ready to have a child,” I say over breakfast. But I accidentally became a chicken mother. 

IV. 

If I told you to picture a bird, I bet you would not think of a chicken. Chickens are seen as commodities, not animals.

But did you know?

They can tell apart over a hundred different chickens.

They have close friends.

They solve problems.

They grieve, and they love.

Chickens are people. We are chickens in other forms.

VI. 

Six remain this morning. 

I swear their eyes got wider. 

Some have blood on them.

Layered cream feathers. 

Hefty yet delicate. 

Red faces, gold eyes. 

In those eye I’ve seen

myself, since they were babies.

They aren’t stupid. 

I think of chickens.

I wonder what it’s like

inside their minds.

I cry for the flock.

How they clung to the bodies.

(How they search and call for each other, still.)

All we can do now is heal.

VII.

I sit at the fire again. The cherry trees stand out dark and curvy on the skyline, stretching towards the long clouds and silhouetted by the white hills. I hear the chickens in the distance, clucking and cooing. The rooster crows. My hands are white and cold as I write in my notebook with my cherished pen.

When things go wrong, we must come together. When bad things happen, we are drawn together, huddling to stay warm. We tend to our flock. We are creatures of instinct. If we cannot do this, the hurt is deep. I’ve known that hurt. I belong now.

I belong with the forest, the hills, the garden, my rabbits, the deer, the grass carp and largemouth bass. I belong with the cherry trees, the maples, the ducks, the chickadees, the harriers, the swallows, the coyotes howling in the distance, and the foxes yipping. I belong with the grove of pine trees, the dirt, the clay, the rain, the snow, the sun, the meteors, the stars, and the moon. I belong in the woods, in the pine grove, in the lake, warm in my bed, in his arms on the couch, typing at my desk, walking across the fields, and here by the fire. I belong with the chickens.

When you love, life is brutal. When life is brutal, you must love.

Compassionate Chickens

Content warning: an animal death, discussion of animal rights/the ethics of eating animals

This morning I was part of something heartbreaking but also beautiful. It was life-changing. Our chickens live in a shed, divided into two parts for the egg layers (who we call “Brownies”) and the meat-chickens (who we lovingly call “Fatties.”) There are about 50 Brownies and 17 Fatties. 

Now the Fatties are the sweetest animals in the world and I bonded with them instantly, despite myself. I knew this would happen. We decided we couldn’t have them as meat. They are the most ridiculously huge, lovable birds. Funny and sweethearts. I really, really love them. So much personality.

This morning when we went to let the chickens out, Joey found that the barrier between the two areas had been ripped apart. It appears to have been done by the Fatties, believe it or not. Our best theory is that they were trying to get to the rooster in order to mate. We really don’t know why they did it.

Anyway, one of them had a badly broken leg and was clearly in pain, and we both knew she had to be put down. Joey and I were very sad. We raised these chickens from the day they were born. We care for them everyday and they make us laugh and smile. We have a lot of love for them. I don’t think either of us was quite expecting it to feel like this. Joey had chickens in the past and wasn’t this attached. He was able to be kind but utilitarian about it. I knew I would be attached, as I am with all animals, but didn’t realize how much I would love these chickens, pretty much like I do my cats. 

I was a vegetarian for about 15 years, since I was old enough to really understand. I can’t say exactly why I stopped. Nothing changed for me. Meat was just around. My family was eating it. It looked good, I was too lazy to cook for myself….I just sort of fell back into eating it. I never would have thought that would happen. It’s a weird subject for me. I care about animal rights a great deal, and I think about this subject a great deal. I’ve had to stop myself, because it becomes too painful. I think very often about becoming a vegetarian again. 

I feel like my thoughts on all this are too complex to put into words right now. Yesterday I started a post on my identity and also abandoned it. I’m not going to abandon this one, though I do know getting into it all too deeply would be very upsetting for me. Suffice to say, I’ve given these things a lot of thought….And I don’t believe that the eating of animals is unethical in it of itself. I know there are problems with all the things we consume. Anyway. It’s a spiraling rabbit hole of thoughts and I’d rather not get into it. 

I am glad that my family will be eating this chicken. I’m glad she won’t go to waste. I’m not sure what I will do. A part of me, spiritually, wants to take part. I can see how that works for someone like Joey. I’ve found a lot of sense to his way of thinking, of respecting and loving the creature/nature. I told the chicken when she was in pain that she would be OK, no matter what happened. I also thanked her for her meat, and assured her she would continue on as energy in other beings. It just sort of…came out of my mouth, before I even knew what we were going to do with her body.

I’m really glad she was able to die well. I love my partner beyond words. He was worried I’d see him as a monster, but even if it had been just me, I knew she had to be put down. If it weren’t for him, I would have found a way to do it, in order to be okay with myself. It was what had to be done, and it was the kind thing to do. 

What I most want to emphasize in this post is the life changing experience of being witness to the other chickens. First, there were her close sisters. I didn’t know before that chickens are very social creatures. They bond with each other, and form smaller groups and pairs. This one chicken was obviously very bonded to the injured chicken. She sat down beside her and didn’t leave her side. She leaned gently against her and made soft, comforting noises. She welcomed me when I sat down with them, and let me gently stroke them both. She kept looking me in my eyes, with her orange gold ones, and she seemed so aware of everything. It was kind of eerie and very moving.

Another one came into the enclosed area to join them, and sat on her other side. The rest of the flock lined up nearby with some distance, on the other side of the enclosure, watching, quiet and respectful. It was barely sunrise. I was completely moved to tears.

Chickens are very compassionate creatures. People say they aren’t intelligent, but I can say for sure that in their own way, they are. And they have big (metaphorical) hearts. I feel so blessed to share my life with them.

I wanted to add pictures to this post but can’t figure out how to resize them. Anyway, please see them at my Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/elliott_of_the_angoras/

Contentment

Something I daydream about fairly often in a post-Covid world is my own cafe and shop. It would mostly be a place people could gather. Coffee might just be available by donation, and I would sell my art and other trinkets and whatnot. I would love setting u the place, indoors and out. I would pick out the perfect furniture, lighting, music, and rotation of art for the walls. There could be live performances and groups. I like thinking about this a lot.

I’m having a lovely morning. I did another ketamine treatment, which I find inclines me towards writing. Each time the feeling seems to linger a little longer. It’s really quite nice, because I felt for several years now that I had lost my taste for writing. It’s interesting. I’m more focused on the actual act of writing and typing. One is a craft. The other is a dance. A finger dance, lol.

I’ve had several cups of coffee but am not feeling jittery. Now I’m having black tea. I’ve been greatly enjoying tea lately. It snowed here, which has been lovely. It snowed yesterday and today. We are working on building a screened in porch for the winter using plastic wrap! It may or may not work. We shall see…

I’m really loving my bunnies lately. I was watching a documentary called The Octopus Teacher and it got me thinking a lot about human/animal relationships. I started being a little more firm with my rabbits a few months ago, because their coats were a mess and we weren’t getting anywhere with grooming. I’ve decided to go back to a gentler, perhaps more respectful interaction now that they are tolerating and even enjoying grooming.

I will sometimes hold them longer than they want, but let them go shortly after. And I let them decide when they want to leave their kennels. I don’t grab them in their sacred space….I just have patience.

This has made me feel much less anxious about the relationships. I now know that it is important to get an angora at a young age to accustom them to touch and grooming. Some of the ones I see in my angora group on facebook absolutely love the attention. They will lay on their backs to be brushed! Maybe we will get there someday. I want to start carding the wool soon and using it.

I’m finding working with animals greatly rewarding. The chickens and ducks are also a delight. It’s my morning and evening routine to let them in and out with Joey. We also, of course, and to make sure all their needs are met. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing it, but they always make me smile and laugh and it’s a good feeling to care for them. Hopefully we will get some eggs soon!

The cats are also well. Not much to say there. They enjoy the fireplace and the new couch. Pretty much just being their same old selves.

I wrote a poem while doing my treatment, and I’d like to share it.

Snow Falls On Cedars

Snow falls on cedars

Look how beautiful the world

Now covered in white.

Jazz in my ear drums

A window to the outside

A cup of coffee on the sill.

Friends are far away

Positive vibes, still honest.

Sharing our pictures

Sharing how we’ve been.

Quality in old photos

Memories of old times

Remembering us

Remembering how it was.

Snow falls on cedars

I wonder, where the time goes

My world is now gold.

My life is in nature

My life is on Life’s terms

Snow falls on cedars

& I must quiet the music

Before I forget this thought.:

You cannot feel bliss forever. That’s just not the way it works. Come to terms with your moody heart, small joys, and even sorrows. Learn the art of contentment, and you will finally be free.