Not Lazy, Just Strange: Living with Delayed Sleep-Phase Syndrome

For more than a decade I thought I sucked as a person and failed at life. I was met with confusion and anger by my parents on a constant basis who could not understand why I would waste the day sleeping as late as 11am. In university, I got half my sleep during daylight hours in the middle of class or on the science lounge couch. I’m sure it contributed to my low grades and eventual dropping out.

As an adult the situation got worse, and my natural sleep cycle developed to mean going to bed at 4-6am, and getting up past three. Mornings have even been known to make me nauseous. Delayed sleep-phase syndrome is a sleep disorder characterized by having a different circadian rhythm, one often completely backwards from that of most people and leading to a more or less nocturnal lifestyle. I’ve only worked one day job, and I was often late coming in. It lasted for less than three months before I quit. Since then I’ve worked second and third shifts at a hotel, online moderation company, personal care home for the mentally disabled, and now I work in a call center for a large bank. Late shifts are unpopular, so I’ve not only gotten these shifts easily, but often couldn’t have escaped them if I tried. Although, considering the health issues associated with living contrary to your internal clock, why would I? Living on a day schedule would mean facing the same health risks that most people face when being forced to work nights. Depression, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and generally poor performance are just some of many. Industrial and traffic accidents are often caused by sleep-deprivation.

This doesn’t mean that life has been particularly easy. Many people have great difficulty finding a job that works for them. Then there’s still the issue of trying to navigate relationships and a social life when everybody else is asleep. It’s lonely. And running errands and going to doctor or dentist appointments often means getting up relatively “early” to rush out before businesses close. Thank science and the flying spaghetti monster for 24-hour Walmarts.

Despite the frustrations involved, I feel way more at peace since being diagnosed with DSPS nearly a year ago. My doctor was one of few who are familiar with it, so I was lucky. Now that I know there’s a specific reason for the way I am I can be fully accepting of it. I don’t pressure myself to conform to a day schedule anymore because I realize that this is not my fault. 

But all this goes without mentioning the lack of understanding sufferers face from those around them. We’ve heard it all; “You’ll eventually adjust like everybody else,” “Just go to bed and you’ll fall asleep,” “It can’t be that hard, why would you want to waste the whole day sleeping?” We don’t! And yes, it is that hard. It just doesn’t work, and we’re much better off when we don’t have to constantly fight it, when we can be good to our bodies and live according to our natural rhythms. For many years now, if work doesn’t mean having to get up to make it in for my evening shift, I find myself eating breakfast at four or five pm in front of my very expensive photo-therapy lamp. In the winter this sometimes means going days at a time not getting any real sunlight at all. And you know what? It sucks. What we don’t need is a barrage of ineffective advice from well-meaning but ignorant friends and family. There is no cure for delayed sleep-phase syndrome. All we need is some understanding, and maybe a shift-working friend or two to keep us company during the long, lonely nights.

Dear Leelah

I couldn’t have said this better myself, so I’m just going to leave this here.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/01/dear-leelah-we-will-fight-on-for-you-a-letter-to-a-dead-trans-teen.html

For ways you can help:

https://www.change.org/p/barack-obama-enact-leelah-s-law-to-ban-transgender-conversion-therapy

http://theleelahproject.com/help

https://www.change.org/p/carla-l-alcorn-have-the-correct-name-of-leelah-alcorn-placed-on-her-headstone-in-true-remembrance?recruiter=203504061&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_facebook_responsive&utm_term=mob-xs-no_src-custom_msg&utm_content=rp_petition_fb_share_desc%3Acontrol

http://www.translifeline.org/

And to all the others in her position,

THERE IS HOPE. Don’t give up. You are loved, and you will be ok. Countless people stand behind you, including me. You are not alone.

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

One of the things I hate most is when people talk about shit they know nothing about as though they’re experts. We’ve all witnessed it. And Julia Serano is a woman after my own heart as far as this goes. Because there are certain experiences that need to be lived in order to be properly and fully understood. Here she is calling out all the so-called “experts” on gender and transsexuality for their ignorance and hypocrisies, and you can feel her anger.

So is this a book by an angry lesbian feminist? Yes. But the more you pay attention the more you’ll realize that this is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s very much a good thing. Because one thing I didn’t expect this book to be was sad. To learn about all the ignorance this subject is steeped in and the very real negative effects this has on the great many people living it day in and day out is nothing if not upsetting. If the revelations herein don’t upset you, then I have to wonder how much you really care about this subject, and why then you decided to pick up this book. It should also be said that issues of feminism affect men, and likewise issues of transsexuality affect cis people. We’re all part of this world together and we don’t live in a vacuum.

This is a relatively new kind of gender-studies book in that it’s written by a feminist lesbian trans woman. This is a look not from the outside in, but from the inside out from someone who is in a position to experience discrimination, often perhaps unintentional, due to her inclusion in three different groups. To use the language of Hubbub‘s Emily Cockayne, she is an inpert, as opposed to an expert, as she relates to us her knowledge from first hand experience. She’s incredibly intelligent and makes her points very well, but she’s also completely unashamed of herself, and her personality – and anger – reverberate through the pages. This woman has earned her attitude and the right to speak authoritatively on this subject, and it’s for this reason that I really love this book.

Not only is this book heavily saturated in personality and real-life experience, but it brings to mind issues that many of us have probably not considered, as well as how these issues effect all of us as a whole. Julia Serano opens up and allows us to take a deeply personal look into her life as she experiences it and experienced it during the various stages that she went through on her journey to becoming the person she is today. This might sound especially appealing to those very curious people who want a look into something somewhat “taboo,” but while it’s definitely interesting, it also has a way of deeply humanizing this subject, and in the process showing us how very important it is for this to be done. Julia Serano is not only incredibly smart, but incredibly brave, not just in that she has been extraordinarily true to herself but in that she’s offered us the chance to see things from her own perspective in such an unashamedly honest way. By the end of the book you’ll no doubt see femininity and LGBT* issues from an entirely new perspective, and this to me is what makes this book an utter success.

Have a look at the video below for a discussion with Julia about her book.

Snowblack Corsets

With each new corset maker I try out, I get closer and closer to finding The One. Not being a rich person this has been a bit of a tedious journey, full of bumps in the road that have all taught me things that mean a lot more when you’ve experienced them than if you had just read about them. So I guess there’s that.

But I just got my new every day corset from Snowblack Corsets, and you’ll have to excuse me while I go nuts for a moment here.

Ahem. Excuse me. The thing is, I haven’t had a proper corset for everyday wear for years. That sounds insane, I know. Basically I wore my first one until it fell to pieces, then bought another standard one thinking it would be the same (it wasn’t), tried to get a custom one in gold that turned out not to have a suitable shape for me at all, and since then just didn’t want to pay for something basic and plain while just a little more money gets you all kinds of lace and feathers and beads and… all of a sudden I had a ton of “show” corsets, but no real reliable workhorse. Well, that moment has finally come.

The first thing you realize when you contact Marta is that her service is impeccable. I was used to waiting a month and then some for replies about a commission, but she responded immediately. And it wasn’t a fluke. She continued to stay in touch with me as needed and respond to my every message with lightning speed, never to leave me wondering if she had taken off with my money and disappeared. And she’s extremely friendly too, of course.

Now I also have to mention that she offers options that you really don’t see that often when ordering a corset. The hardware can be had in gold or black apart from the traditional silver, and the corset can be designed to close all the way or leave a gap (some people prefer this as it frees up their spine). You can even choose a different color of lining. You can tell that a lot of care and detail goes into these.

On the day it shipped, she sent me a message to let me know AND refunded part of the shipping fee I’d paid because it turned out to be less than expected. There’s that stellar service again.

The package had a tracking number so that I could waste hours obsessively clicking the refresh button to see if it was any closer. So on the day it arrived I was expecting it. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to come in a storage bag, and include an underbusk and stiff modesty panel laced into the gap. I’ve never had any of these things before because they’ve always been extra, and here they were included in the already super insanely affordable price (many similar off the rack corsets cost more)! These things offer huge advantages to make wearing your corset a whole lot less annoying. No more shirt or skin to get in the way of the busk or modesty panel that bunches up! YAY!

Now for the corset itself. Usually when I get a new corset my reaction is “It’s amazing! Except maybe…..” Not here. No “excepts.” No “if onlys.” While I was worried the 7 inch length might come up a little (ahem) short, it’s actually the perfect length on me. My ribs are encased enough to give me the wasp shape I desire. It goes low enough AND has a stiff enough busk to not let any tummy escape from the pressure, but is short enough to allow me plenty of movement and not push up my boobs in the most unflattering way. If I’m going to sleep in a corset, it will be this one. It also feels very strong, something that can handle the wear and tear I’ll put it through, that can be worn every day instead of saved only for special events. That stiff busk also means this is going to be nearly invisible under clothes instead of showing the dreaded bottom ridge.

It’s perfect. Holy shit I have found something perfect that I can afford. It IS possible! Now keep in mind I really want to post some pictures of my own corset, but I can’t mar this thing up with a crap selfie. Give me a few days and I’ll update.

Performance as Meditation

The difference between “regular” stripping and burlesque is that in the former, you’re showing the audience what they want to see, whereas in the latter you’re showing them what you want them to see.

Or at least that’s the way I see it.

But deciding what you want an audience to see, and how they’re going to see it takes quite a bit of effort. It’s not just your body you’re revealing, it’s your talent and personality, and this involves careful planning. You pick a theme, you pick a song, you pick an outfit, you plan your choreography, and you might also have some humor or other tricks up your sleeve. Quite frankly it’s exhausting.

But what this means is that when the moment comes to show your stuff, you’re actually working quite mentally hard. You’re thinking about not messing up your choreography, not having a wardrobe malfunction, and with all that concentration you still have to remember to look relaxed and smile at the audience. What I’ve found in the incredibly short time I’ve been doing this, is that this really locks me inside my head. I have ADD, but when you have absolutely no choice but to focus, focus is what you shall do. I can look right at someone and my brain just doesn’t register their face because I have too many other things on my mind.

This is weird, at least for someone like me, but come to think of it, it really feels like a form of meditation. During those 4 minutes or so, nothing exists outside of your performance. Not your day job, not your money or family concerns, and certainly nothing from the world outside the stage you’re performing on. It’s really kind of amazing. I once saw a performance in which the performer tripped and broke her foot, but her focus on the routine was so intense that she not only didn’t show any sign of pain, but she didn’t even realize that her foot was broken until after. I can’t think of any other situation when this would be the case, maybe with the exception of feeling extreme fear, which is really not so great.

As my nerves build up the closer I get to my first official performance, I’m reminded of that old tip to picture the audience in their underwear. I wonder if that still matters when you’re actually going to be in yours. But it really might not, because honestly I don’t think I’ll be capable of picturing them at all or imagining much of anything. I’ll have to look engaged, and yet the reality is that for these few minutes these people probably won’t even exist to me.

Sometimes we need this, to take a break from the world and just slow down. Meditation is recommended for a reason. When you have a hard time focusing, sometimes you need to improvise as far as just how you’re going to accomplish that. I was surprised when I first found that this is what performing feels like, and pretty intrigued. This means I’m benefiting from burlesque in more ways than are usually cited, building your confidence and expressing yourself. It means my mental health is benefiting to, and who couldn’t use the little boost? I wonder if this will remain the case or if as I get more comfortable my mind will become more able to wander. I wonder if that would be a good or a bad thing.

I wonder if any of you out there, who perform in any capacity, have felt the same way. Have you felt any benefits from performing that are usually associated with more typical kinds of meditation?

Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty

Ever wonder why babies are cute, why gentlemen prefer blondes, or why the human ballsack is the size that it is? Hmmm, ok maybe not that last one, but the answers are pretty interesting.

The subject of beauty is far from only skin deep, and it strikes me how very perfect the book’s title is. Beauty isn’t just incidental, and the source of frivolous fun or petty envy. It’s deeply tied into our instincts as living things, something we share with even the flowers, and goes back virtually as far as we do. This book leaves no stone unturned, and encompasses science, sociology, and of course biology in a way that’s truly fun to read. Not only that, but Nancy Etcoff’s own personal touch is extremely compelling, and this alone makes the book worth a read. This combined with the huge amount of learning inside is likely to leave you with a whole new perspective on a subject you once held strong and long-lived opinions about.

What’s interesting here is the particular way that this information offers up new meaning to the subject of beauty. To understand how beauty has transformed us biologically and culturally into the creatures that we are, it becomes both more important and yet less important all at once. Without beauty, we simple would not be, but who we have become also gives us the power to appreciate it in the most enlightening way possible. This isn’t a book so much about sitting in front of the mirror, putting on makeup and poking at your belly as it is about humanity itself. It strikes me as extremely valuable, and it can and should be read by people of all genders and ages. This book is awesome, and as it meets both my demands of educational and entertaining, I can’t recommend it enough.

Rather just see the movie? Well, there isn’t one exactly, but you might want to check out The Human Face.

Other recommended reads:  The History of Beauty, Sex in History.

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Minutes

We’ve all had that one boyfriend/girlfriend/other who irritated us to death, but that we just couldn’t bear to break up with because we felt sorry for them. What if there was an alternative – a way to get rid of him that not only doesn’t include breaking up with him, but ensures he’ll be happy to leave you? I have the perfect plan. Mix and match any of these tips to your liking for the perfect lover-repelling experience.

– Make his visits to your place extremely unpleasant. Show him some very old vacation photos and talk about your favorite gas station. Put your male pet in a dress and baby-talk to him. And make him talk back. For you. All the time. Involve him heavily in every conversation. Talk all about his favorite hobbies.

– Attempt to recruit him to help you with some very unpleasant chores. Like scrubbing under the sink. Say you’ve been trying all day but you have a bad back, could he please help? Oh what a darling he is! Oh and don’t forget to get all around the pipes. And get rid of that mysterious corpse-like smell.

-Make your dad, or any other male member of your household walk around in very tight short shorts. He shouldn’t wear a shirt and he should scratch his belly a lot.

 

Then start making all kinds of negative comments about “The Jews.” And the “homos” and the commies.

– Turn the tables on him. “Hey Lover, when are we going to get married? Maybe next month, we should elope to Hawaii. You can afford that right? Of course there’s nothing you wouldn’t do for me 😉 How many kids do you want? I’m thinking 6. We will name all of them Lover Jr. I don’t think it will be confusing, because we can just say each one with a different intonation, you know? Or we could put a different symbol in front of each one, like a hashtag. Our family band is going to be amazing. Speaking of which you need to get on those music and marketing lessons, I will not have a lazy husband.”

“OMG I should tattoo your name on my eyes!!! Wouldn’t that be awesome?? And you can get MY name tattooed on YOUR eyes!! HOLY CRAP THAT WOULD BE SO ROMANTIC!! I’ll make the appointment tomorrow!!”

– “Oh and since we’re getting married I guess I should tell you now. I’m into furries. That’s ok right? I mean I participate in YOUR fetishes. I’m going to buy you a furry head as a wedding gift and you can wear it ALL THE TIME! You are the best boyfriend ever!”

 – Goth Rosary brand perfume makes gross smells. Including barf and body cheese. Wear them every time he comes over.
– This is you…
– This is household member/friend #1..
-And the rest just dress like this…
– INSIST that these people become the godparents to your 6 kids. After all somebody will need to watch them when you go on your very frequent vacations to Antarctica.
– Start serving Fancy Feast for dinner. Tell him you just learned how very healthy it is, so now you insist the two of you eat nothing else.
– Keep offering him a beverage, but wink every time you hand it to him.
-Tell him how excited you are about him joining The Last Kindred of the Forgotten Divination, which you’ve already joined.
-Tell him you feel strongly about all sexual contact being only through the use of your astral bodies.
– Pick your nose. With your fork.
-Tell him about your big plans for a career in Philosophy.
– Related to the above, tell him you don’t need an income, because you don’t like, believe in the economy. It’s just an imaginary construct of society, man.
-Tell him you absolutely adore the brilliant musical stylings of Kanye West.