Workin’ on My Fitness

Howdy Folks!

These past few months, while I’ve been working on the book, my workout routine has fallen off quite a bit.*

While it was necessary in the beginning for me to concentrate my time and efforts solely on writing (to get a good and consistent practice in place), now I can bifurcate my attention (and spare time) to the dual focus of writing and exercise.

So, since fitness is frequently a hobby of trans guys (as our bodies, with hormones and surgeries, get more in line with what we’ve always wanted them to be), I thought I would post my routine, in the hopes that to someone it might prove helpful.

Some caveats:

I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL TRAINER.  OBVS.  I am of moderate ability, in an average body.  I have no physical handicaps (other than some shoulder/knee issues).  Please exercise caution during all physical activity.  Use my workout as a base, and modify it to suit your goals.

I am not new to working out, so if you are, please start slow (lower reps than me, less time for cardio), consult a doctor, etc., etc.  I stress: modify my routine to fit your body type, ability, needs, time, etc., etc.

I hate going to the gym.  HATE. IT.  I like how I feel after, but dread going because of all the typical reasons: takes too long to get there, cardio is boring, weights are boring. Oh yeah, and if I’m doing it right, it’s hard.

I like this home routine I’ve created because using body weight is more fun to me than using traditional weights.  With this routine, all you need are two chairs and a broom stick (and a body and 30 minutes).

I chose 30 minutes to start for a duration, and when I did it this morning, I was plenty out of breath, and it took almost exactly 30 minutes (30:45:06 to be exact).

You’ll notice I do the bodyweight routine at home three days a week, and cardio (jump roping in the basement, more convenient than going to the gym and, for me, WAY more fun than a treadmill or elliptical) three days a week.  Even God took a day off, so I do too: it’s 20 minutes of yoga at home, so it’s pretty chill.  It’s not hot, or meant to double as cardio–it’s just meant to be some healthy bodily self-love at the end of the workout week.

Eli’s Weekly Workout Schedule

Body Weights: M/Th/Sa

Perform all exercises as a massive superset. Rest 3 minutes between. Repeat 3 times.

-Squat (10 reps)

-Plank (60 seconds)

-Pull-up (10 reps) (This is how I do pull-ups at home)

-Pushup (10 reps)

-Tricep Dip (10 reps)

-Wall Sit (60 seconds)

-Lunge (10 reps/leg)

-Crunches (15 reps)

Cardio: Tu/Wed/Fri

-30 minutes jump rope

Yoga or Lake Walk: Sunday

-20 minutes on the mat

Are you a gym enthusiast?  Have some pointers or feedback?  Let’s see it!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*There are other reasons, too: an injury, cold weather.  I just wanted to note them here to act as camaradic** fodder.  If you gave up a little, let’s get back up together!

**Why yes, I did just invent the adjectival form of camaraderie, thanks for noticing!

My Invisibility Cloak Came in the Mail! I Mean, in a Vial!

Hello friends!

Well, this past February marked 2 years on T.  I’ve been busy, so busy writing my book that I have had little time for this type of transition writing.

But I did want to check in, and write a little update, and talk some about today, the trans day of visibility.

First, to continue my cavalcade of odd anniversaries, here’s my 25 months on T update.

As far as physical transitions go, I am steady on my dosage, still doing IM injections on my own, and so the changes at this point are gradual.

My voice seems to have settled into a much deeper but still sometimes squeaky range.  I think the squeaking has more to do with operator error than range.  I have to push more air out, with greater volume, for deeper and more even results.  I can’t speak from the same place in my throat that I did before testosterone, nor can I use the same amount of air.

My chin remains the dominant place for hair growth for me, but my sideburns are slowly coming in.  The mustache is still struggling, but he’s there.  K talks about the “hair” on my chest occasionally, but I think she’s just being supportive.

Muscles are dependent on my gym routine, which has gotten more sporadic because of a knee injury.

Socially, I am 99.9% of the time read as male, with only the occasional “miss” from behind, likely because of my short stature.  I don’t care at all when I’m mis-gendered; it no longer feels like a deep personal wound.

The territory I’m moving into is of the “stealth” trans person.  And as today is Trans Visibility Day, I thought I would take some time to write a little about living a stealth life.

Most of you know I live in Chicago.  I believe being able to afford to live in a major city is a privilege when one is trans.  I’d like to write a little bit about the other ways I am privileged before I write any more about living a stealth life.

I’m white, and a trans guy, so as I pass I have the patriarchy on my side big time.

I’m able bodied, and I’m in the economic middle class.

Oh, and I’m conventionally attractive.

IMG_7053

Not bad.

In short, I’m privileged as fuck.

So going forward in this conversation, know I know this.  I know when I talk about my experience it is a charmed one.

So, carrying on:

The other day I was at work, and a new co-worker and I were chatting, some issue of women’s clothing came up, and she made some comment to me, the jest of it being, “you boys don’t know how tough it is to be a lady.”

It was just idle workplace chatter, but it was nice to be affirmed in my gender.  I have been stealth for a little bit, but when a comment is made by a person who just reads me as male, without knowing me as trans, it’s still affirming and feels good.

I could have very easily said back to her, “Actually, I wore bras for years, and I know exactly what you’re talking about.”

But I didn’t say that.  Why?

Because sometimes it’s nice to not be a trans talking head.  Sometimes it’s just nice to be a man.

That’s what being stealth affords me: it affords me the privilege of blending in.  It allows me to “pass.”

God, I hate that word: passing.

And stealth, I hate it too.

Because stealth makes it sound like I am hiding.  Like I’m ashamed to be trans.

Let it be known: I AM NOT ASHAMED OF BEING TRANS.

But I don’t want to talk about it every time my maleness is innocuously brought into conversation.

Sure, I “pass,” but what exactly does that entail?

Passing is, in my case, short for passing for a man.

It implies I’m not a man, that I am an imposter.

And that’s not true.  It’s actually the opposite.

Actually, for so many years, I “passed” for female.  I responded to female pronouns, and a female name, and I used the women’s bathroom.  But it was always fake.  I was always faking it, and so I “passed” for female.

Now?  My body and my presentation are aligned with my internal sense of self.  The world is able to read me as the man I always have been.

“Passing” and “being stealth” aren’t indicative of a mis-aligned body; they’re indicative of a maligned system, a system that only reads gender in strict binary ways.  We have to work to broaden the terms, so men who can’t afford surgeries or DON’T WANT THEM can still be read as men.  Maybe some trans women don’t want hormones; they should still be addressed as women.

I think I’m starting to ramble, so let me say this:

I like being trans, and I’m happy to answer people’s questions about the trans community, as much as I can, because I can’t speak for all of us.  Sometimes I am just going to be a dude, and so sometimes that means I’m not going to bring up my trans-ness in conversation.  And thank god, because who wants to listen to lectures all day?  I guess I’m just growing up, meaning, I’m settling into my male body and in that way being trans doesn’t come up so much anymore.  However, if someone says some ignorant thing about the trans community, or the queer community at large…or about women, or people of color (because more broadly it’s about intersectionality, isn’t it?  We have to have each other’s backs, don’t we?), I would surely speak up.

And so this blog, and its role in my life is changing as well.  MLWT is still relevant, in that I am still trans, but the physical stuff, the hair growth and voice change and sex drive are no longer the crux of my transition story.  It’s more anthropological than biological at this point in my life.

So as things arise, I will still post here, but this blog is taking a bit of a backseat to my other writing project.  Feel free to still comment, as I will still happily respond to them.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

I’m Baaaaack!

Darlings!

It’s been thirty long days without you, but I return a successful man.  I completed my Nanowrimo task, and now have a 45,000 word first draft.

First draft of what, you ask?

A graphic novel memoir, title to be revealed at a later date.

I’m spending these next 2 months reading some supplemental texts, and on my weekends reviewing my draft and planning rewrites to dive into my revision process in February.

For appetite whetting purposes, this memoir is about my family, our multi-generational addictions and habits, war and fishing, Stevie Nicks and french orphans.  More details to come–

I am back to my weekly blogs starting this week, and November was a huge success in that I have a very solid writing practice down, clocking in at two hours each morning before work.  This last month has been enriching and full of surprises.  I worked hard, and lo and behold, it paid off.

I’m glad to be back to the ol’ blog!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

An Excused Absence: NaNoWriMo

Hello Friends!

It’s that time of year again…NaNoWriMo!  For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, click this.

Official National Novel Writing Month crest.  Image courtsey of http://nanowrimo.org.

Official National Novel Writing Month crest. Image courtsey of http://nanowrimo.org.

Yes, my participation in National Novel WrIting Month last year was, ahem, abysmal at best, but this year I’ve got new resolve and a functioning plan.

That project I’ve been hinting at in my recent posts?  Well, it’s a writing project. A big one.

It’s not a novel in the traditional sense, but it is large in scale, and would benefit from some deadlines and structure.  And NaNoWriMo is just the place to get encouragement and resolve.

So far, I’ve created a Pages Doc with to-do lists for the days leading up to Nov. 1st.  I’ve also made a calendar with writing prompts for each day in November to keep me on track.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Between now and then I have the following to do:

Plan secret surprise for wife (this will be revealed in December…)
Organize notes into one Pages Document
Write blog post alerting readers to my impending and epic absence
-Research & fill out calendar w/ notes for each daily prompt

Yeah, about that last crossed off one…

I’m taking a month off the ol’ blog.  I want to utilize November and get a large chunk of writing done when I’m energized and excited, and I just can’t focus on both this project and MLWT at the same time.  I love you guys, and will still respond to queries and comments and emails, but the posts will have to wait.

You guys know how hard it’s been for me to find a good writing practice.  It’s been so hard I’ve made private most of the posts in which I’m bitching about my writing practice because I sound like a preening ass in them, and so I have nothing to link to for this reference.

And I have a great project right now, honestly, you’re all going to be so impressed if I can make the most of November and come back in December with something great to show for it.  So I have to go.  But I will be back.  And we all might just be really proud of me.

Trust me.

And, in the meantime, be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Greatest (T)its

Dear Readers,

I’ve missed you!  I didn’t post these last two Fridays because I’ve been busy with another writing endeavor, one secret at this point, but as the project evolves, I’ll consider some sneak peeks…

I thought, in the meantime, I’d do a top ten list of the most viewed posts.

The Homepage, at 25,800 views, is killing it, and my About Me page was in the top ten as well.  I took those two out of the list below, as to limit to only posts and not pages.

And so without further adieu, let’s start this party off right with…

10. Post-Op Depression: Ugh. Ok…that was a rough start.  Anyway, on to number 9…

9. Photo Comparison: Face Shape on T: Wherein you get the pleasure of gazing upon me.

8. At Home in the Underground: Departures and Returns: Where your hero says goodbye to an old friend.

7. 11 Weeks Post-Op: What a slick baby!

6. Blog Brothers: Some of the dudes I looked to for fraternity and inspiration when I first started this journey.

5. Day Six: First Look at the New Chest, or Parade of Photos! Gross.  But informative!  (Still gross.)

4. Two Weeks Post-Op: You guys are really into the topless pics, you old pervs.

3. The, as it were, titular post.

2. Top Surgery How-To: Compression Vest and Bandages Daily Regiment: Boring.  But if it makes you happy, I’m supportive.

And the number one most visited post, with over a thousand views is…

1. Top Surgery Check List! Hooray!

You have a favorite that didn’t make it on the list?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.  Have a favorite trans blog you’d like to inform me of?  Leave it in the comments!

Thanks for reading, friends, and be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

The Tits Interview: Kim Guare

Hello Comrades!

Since the unveiling of The Tits Interview Series last week, I heard lots of positive murmurings from you folks, and I thank you for your support.  So let’s just keep the ball rolling, shall we?

This week I submit for your enjoyment, multimedia artist Kim Guare.

MLWT: Introduce yourself: who are you and what do you do?

KG: I’m an artist, an organic, local food enthusiast/volunteer farmer, and a chicken lover, not eater. I live and work creatively at all times. And I pack groceries pretty well and honestly…I’m pretty proud of that.

MLWT: Why bother?  (why do you do what you do?)

KG: I wouldn’t know what else to do with my time if I didn’t do this. It’s what I live to do. Art brings me joy and incredible opportunities. For example, I had the opportunity to be an artist-in-residence at the Wormfarm Institute in Reedsburg, Wisconsin were I worked on an organic vegetable farm 3 hours a day, 5 days a week and had the rest of the time to roam free and create. Art also brings me together with other creative minds and it has connected me with the majority of my friends. Art is how I get through the hard times and how I share the good times.

MLWT: Let’s talk process: what’s a day making art look like for Kim?

KG: It starts with me opening up my blinds and letting the sunshine in. My favorite time to make art is right when I wake up until I can’t take how hungry I am. I usually have some idea of what I want to make the night before. So I wake up pretty excited to make it happen. Lately, it more often then not starts with me grabbing my trusty little chicken stencil and some paper. I trace the chicken and then color her in depending on my mood and the quote I’ll have her say. Sometimes she is sassy (my favorite), other times she’s happy and inspired. Fortunately, she is sad less frequently as of late. I cut her out of the paper when I’m done. Then it’s time to instagram her and share her with the world…and my favorite part is picking fabric from my gigantic collection to place beneath her.  When I have a decent collection of little chickens, I drop them off at Chicago coffee shops and storefronts, free for people to take. It’s been a way for me to practice creating just to create and letting go. Not needing to hold on to everything.

Chicken courtesy of Kim Guare.

Chicken courtesy of Kim Guare.

MLWT: What role does your work play in the queer community? (And how do you define “queer?”)

KG: Queer to me is digging deep to know who you really are and what you are really about. Not trying to fit into the mold of what society expects from you and not trying too hard to define what you are because we are always changing/evolving and growing. When I’ve given myself strict definitions it puts me in a box and leaves me no room to just be me. I don’t want to live my life with any expectations for myself…I just want to be.

My chickens often speak of loving yourself and accepting who you are and embracing it. It’s currently a journey I am on and it has been hard but my life feels so much richer. I wish to share that deep love for myself with others. Cause if we truly love ourselves then we can be more compassionate, loving and understanding towards all the people in the world. A person who does not love and accept themselves is a person who will find it easy to hate and we don’t need that in this world!

Chicken courtesy of Kim Guare.

Chicken courtesy of Kim Guare.

MLWT: What work do you most enjoy doing?

KG: More abstract work. I love when I just start grabbing things and putting them together based on how I’m feeling.  It’s so strange (and magical) how much it makes sense to me.

But I also love making crazy, colorful, glitter covered, fabulous, silly creations too. I’m learning to embrace my funky side in my art. Because being serious all the time is a drag.

Chicken courtesy of Kim Guare.

Chicken courtesy of Kim Guare.

MLWT: You farm as well as create art: can you talk a little about the importance of farming to you and the specifics of how you practice it as a city-dweller.  Can farm work be creative?

KG: Farm and art have a lot in common to me. Using your hands, taking a plan or idea and making it happen, taking in the beauty and creating something to share with others.

An 18 x 24 inch page from Kim's fabric book, "Farmer Kim and the Feathery Ladies." Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

An 18 x 24 inch page from Kim’s fabric book, “Farmer Kim and the Feathery Ladies.” Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

Organic farming is so important to me because food is special. It brings us together and nourishes us. We are so detached from knowing how our food got to our table and that’s really scary. I love knowing the awesome people who worked so damn hard to grow my veggies. It makes me appreciate my food even more and dammit, food and the people who grow it should be appreciated!

I usually spend my summers volunteering on organic vegetable farms or urban farms/gardens in Chicago. It’s therapeutic for me. I get this natural high from it that inspires me to make more art and fill my belly. It’s an awesome cycle.

MLWT: What advice would you give to urbanites who want to get more in touch with the natural world?

KG: Well, we do have a lot of cement here. But there are still a lot of beautiful plants and trees everywhere. I think we forget to pay attention to them because they are so few. It’s easier to notice nature when you’re bombarded by it.  But when I take walks in Chicago I see cardinals, flowers, community gardens and trees. It’s about paying attention and not getting too absorbed in the crazy, fast-paced Chicago lifestyle.

As for gardening/farming…there are tons of places to volunteer. Farmers love volunteers, especially if you can take instructions well and don’t doubt your decisions. There are tons of urban agriculture projects popping up in Chicago who welcome volunteers. And I’ve often taken Metra to get to farms in the ‘burbs.

MLWT: Who’s your favorite contemporary artist?

KG: Molly Costello, Cathi Schwalbe, N. Masani Landfair and I don’t just say that because they are my friends. They just happen to be my friends because I think they are so talented and really saying something important through their work.

MLWT: Can you talk about an experience with art that has been profoundly moving for you? What work has shaped your work?

KG: Learning about Keith Haring’s work in 8th grade art class really changed how I viewed art and made me feel I could actually be an artist. Before I’d learned about Keith, I thought art was above me. His work was fun and simple. It was for kids and adults. And it got serious too with his work on AIDS awareness. He was just so real and he painted how he lived–bright, full, and funky. Also as a confused queer teen, it was great to see him drawing and loving penises all the damn time.

In New York at the Haring Exhibit.  Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

In New York at the Haring Exhibit. Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

In 2012 it just so happened I was in New York City at the same time the Brooklyn Museum was having an exhibition of Keith Haring’s work from 1978-1982. I got to be in the presence of many of his large murals. I was overwhelmed with emotions and I definitely shed some tears.

MLWT: Can you tell us about how you came to be invested in animal rights?

I think being raised in a house with 13 animals at a time played a big role. At an early age I learned that animals are special just like me. They have feelings and different personalities. If you don’t pay attention to them, you won’t see it and they just all look and act the same. But I know they are all unique because I take the time to notice.

"29 Feet Per Square Meter," 39 x 39 inches, twigs, wire, red tape, 2013.  Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

“29 Feet Per Square Meter,” 39 x 39 inches, twigs, wire, red tape, 2013. Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

When I was a freshman in high school it hit me that I was sorta grown up and I could just decide to stop eating meat. So I did and so did my sister…and there was hell to pay but we made it through. Also, I was in love with Davey Havok from A.F.I. and he was vegan…so ya know.

Animals are so incredible. It’s so lovely how we can connect with them without speaking the same language. I just want to let them do their thing and not get in the way of it.

MLWT: What’s a dream project for you?

KG: I’ve made 3 pieces so far about the seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables in the Midwest. With these pieces I’ve painted the fruit or vegetable on paper in all it’s many shapes and sizes accompanied by the months it is harvested. I’ve always wanted to have a space where I could fill the walls top to bottom with a ton of these pieces.  I think it would be really important and eye opening for people to enter a room like that because we are very unaware of when certain veggies and fruits are actually available in the Midwest and at their best for eating.

Also, I really don’t care for the conventional gallery setting of 4 pieces on a huge wall 5 feet apart from one another trapped in a frame. It works for a lot of people but it’s just not what my art is about and I’d love a space that would let me fill the walls how I’d want to.

"Harvesting the Strawberry in the Midwest", 35 x 14 inches, watercolor on paper, string, fabric, 2012.  Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

“Harvesting the Strawberry in the Midwest”, 35 x 14 inches, watercolor on paper, string, fabric, 2012. Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

MLWT: Let’s talk medium: you work in textiles but have a degree in watercolor and your city chicken series seems to be in neither of those.  What’s your favorite medium to work in, and what are its benefits and limitations?

KG: I use to go with watercolor artist, then mixed media artist, then installation artist, then fiber artist and now I’m just sticking with artist. Titles are the worst.

I think when it comes down to it, I love fabric the most, at least for now. I love the textures, the opaque colors, the way it naturally binds with thread. I use it like I use watercolor. It’s like I paint with fabric. It can be built up and layered. And touching it is part of the joy. Fabric has a story. I very rarely buy new fabric. I love donations from friends and the scrap bins at fabric stores. I have every color I could ever need and it brings me real joy to look at my pile of fabric each day. So many possibilities!

"Rosa Bianca Heirloom Eggplant", 32 x 28 inches, fabric thread, 2011.  Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

“Rosa Bianca Heirloom Eggplant”, 32 x 28 inches, fabric thread, 2011. Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

Limitations…its time consuming. I often want to have an idea and just make it with ease. With an abstract watercolor painting I could accomplish what I’m trying to portray in a day. But with fabric there is lots of messy thread involved, and cutting, and pinning before sewing, and bobbins running out, and being poked repeatedly from the needles and making huge mistakes that take forever to fix. But, I still like all that too in a way.

MLWT: Kim your chickens appear all over the city, can you talk about the intersection of art and community action?

KG: My favorite kind of conversation to have with another person is about feelings. So the chickens have been a way for me to share my joys, sadness, frustration, laughter with others and that makes me really happy. Some people have gotten in contact with me after finding a chicken and it’s great to be connected with another person through a mutual feeling. It’s so scary when we think we are alone in the world, the only one feeling sad. We are all struggling and enjoying life and it’s beautiful that we share that.

Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

Image courtesy of Kim Guare.

MLWT: Anything you’d like to add? (promo for an upcoming show, places we can find your art, shout-outs to homies, etc.)

KG: I currently have big chickens on display at Delicious (3827 North Lincoln Ave.), a vegetarian/vegan coffee shop in Lincoln Square in Chicago. I titled the show “Chicken Thoughts” and they will be up for the month of September.

Also! For the past three months I have had a monthly craft night at my place where people are invited to come over and create or just hang out with creative people. This month’s craft night will be on Tuesday, September 30th, from 5-9pm. Send me an email if you’re interested in joining at kimguare@yahoo.com.

And lastly, I have a website, KimGuare.com and a blog, KimGuare.blogspot.com. Check em out! <3

MLWT: Thanks for your time, Kim!

If you’re an artist who would like to be featured on My Life Without Tits, please send an inquiry to mylifewithouttits [at] gmail [dot] com.  Next week we return to regular scheduled blogging.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli