rebirth

It took nearly a year, but for the first time I felt like myself. 11 months after the accident, I felt alive and in my own skin again.

Wow.

What a year.

I learned so much. At six months, it feels like an eternity has passed but after you leap over that mental roadblock, the days become that much longer. And then, when that dreaded year mark finally comes…it’s not so bad. Time: compressed, meaningless. Time: compressed, reminisced, meaningful. What’s any length of time when you’re happy again?

Nothing, that’s what.

I’m so proud of myself for pulling through this far. When I started to exercise again in earnest at the end of June, I couldn’t even fathom having enough energy to backpack ever again, much less maintain momentum over the past 3 months.  On Aug 1st, I spent my first nights outdoors again with my friends carrying our overnight gear and on Sept 15 I backpacked again, carrying my own sleeping bag, extra clothing, and food. Back in June I questioned if I could ever ski again, and now the promise of winter – of feeling free – tempts me with its lustre and proximity.

And I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve had. Even though I feel extremely lonely and heartbroken now for everything I’ve lost, I’m so grateful for the personal growth I went through and the opportunities that await me.

A year ago, I couldn’t push the words past my lips, the ones that I’d been mulling over for two years: I’m nonbinary trans.

I’m not a girl.

A year ago, I pushed them past my lips, but when my queer-looking counsellor didn’t respond with any similar personal anecdotes, I didn’t seek further connections with the queer community. To be honest, back then, and even now, I’m so desperate for queer companions that I assume queerness before binary/straightness.

Yesterday, after four months of waiting and a nerve wracking phone call: I went to my first Qmmunity counselling session. And the feeling of having a counsellor who wasn’t just an ally but a member of the community, sharing her story, was like coming home.

I would never have imagined when I first started this blog that I’d one day realize I was queer, genderfluid, nonbinary. This (https://lawnchairair.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/post-season/) is one of my most treasured possessions. It’s a completely self unaware account of gender dysphoria and devastating sadness at losing that oppurtunity to “be myself”. To be honest, I could probably find accounts of that in older journals if I tried looking. When I literally felt that I would die without snowboarding, I wasn’t wrong. I would die if I had to live a lie and wasn’t allowed to be the person I knew I was. I’m sometimes a man in a woman’s body and there’s nothing goddam wrong with that and I want to be able to shout that from the rooftops some day (while also having people talk about me and say “X is stronger than most men I know!” But something more gender-fair and not man-slamming.)

I was so sure I was genderfluid, nonconforming back in 2014. Now it’s 2018. I’m sick of hiding. I want to be me. I want to look back in the next four years and think, Wow, how my life has changed. I am so happy to be living an authentic life now. 

Maybe this is what it all comes back to. Snowboarding, snow, gender. The expression and exploration of gender through sport, my bridge between girls, boys, and the in between. In the dead of winter, the space between the cold that saps the breath, is when I’m most alive. Hauling heavy gear and feeling my thighs burn with power and feeling as if I had the musculature of a male is when I’m happiest.

Of course there are still ups and downs. Mostly downs it seems, and the road to full recovery it still long; I expect it’ll take another year for life to return tio normal. But the highs now have reached “normal” highs and the lows are fewer and less foggy. There is still lots, I wouldn’t lie, but it really only takes a moment of hope to turn spark into flame.

And thank you, writing, for always being there. Even when anxiety and depression convinces me that I lack the ability to wordsmith, I am ever surprised by your resiliency and sly way of finding me again.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost & Found Art

Drawn Jan 2017, while at Whistler. I had extreme anxiety and had to stop skiing, as I did every time I went there. I remember not being able to enjoy myself, and I thought it was because I hated art/skiing somewhere deep inside my heart. But what I really hated was anxiety, and despite the anxiety, drawing up at Whistler while looking at the beauty outside were some of the best moments of my life…

(Read left to right)

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To be continued…

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9 months/Cycling to the top of Cypress Mountain

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On Monday I cycled to the top of Cypress Mountain Resort. It was something I only dreamed of doing last summer, just as I had dreamed of cycling to Grouse and then doing the Grouse Grind. As fate would have it, both these things came true this summer, with an asterisk. I had to do it with my post concussion brain.

As much as it surprises me that I’ve nearly reached the nine month mark, what’s more surprising is how much I think my life has been a stand still. Looking back, I know that cannot be true. Although they feel like a mirage, these past nine months each had their distinct storylines, characters, trials and successes. Of course, the post concussion brain being easily overwhelmed, it’s only natural that I’ve forgotten some of the important moments. Maybe they weren’t the narratives I was intending on writing, but they are important nonetheless.

So without further ado here are some of the important things that have happened or I’ve learned in the past eight months:

It’s easy to beat yourself up for “not trying hard enough”. After the concussion I was still determined to develop my backcountry skiing leadership skills but after just leading one beginner friendly trip it was obvious something was wrong. Then I thought I could continue skiing and overnighting at easier destinations, like Elfin, but again, I was wrong. I took it personally to mean that I was weak willed in some way, but now I realize it’s easy to think of the decisions your injury forces you to make is you. They’re there to protect you, but you you still want to ski, and that’s what’s important.

 

Gender and sexuality. I am a bisexual genderfluid/nonbinary person and I am never, ever going to ever pretend I’m not ever again.

Six month mark. The amount of life lost that I deemed to be okay. That too, was mental.

It was maybe an assurance that things were going to be okay.

Life becomes what you think. If I think I am the victim, I am. If I think my life is nothing but bad luck, it is. Likewise, if I think I am a writer, an artist, I will become one.

 

 

7.5 Months

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 7.5 months since I last posted. 7.5 months since I first got concussed.

The moment it happens: you don’t realize. Or maybe you do, you just don’t want to believe it.

It feels like: Oh shit. Or: Oh shit, not again. After one concussion, another one is inevitable. As soon as it happens: oh shit. Life as I knew it…gone.
Oh shit. Oh shit. Again and again. Seven months. Eight months….I don’t want to think about it.

Who was I?

I wonder where that part of me goes. That part of me that was supposed to be.

Things don’t make sense. There is no reason.

I want there to be a reason, but there wasn’t one. Not one that makes it a good thing, anyways.

Athletes get concussed, get back up, win golds. Athletes are paid to do that. Sports are not just their identity; it is their livelihood. For the rest of us enthusiasts, it is our identity but after the concussion we have to turn elsewhere for our livelihood. It gets tossed aside because the barrier to re-entry is too high. Maybe it’s too dangerous. Another concussion out there: gone. Another year. It can’t keep happening.

I’m a different person now. Maybe that’s the hardest part. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow.” Again and again. I’m someone with chronic pain. I’m someone who isn’t active, who isn’t healthy. Who doesn’t dream.

You deserve better. Just because you didn’t get it doesn’t mean you didn’t deserve it.

 

 

 

 

5 months/Ebb & Flow

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Looking back on this blog and seeing the journey I’ve charted through its candid posts, I can assuredly conclude that life ebbs and flows to its own tide chart. There were dark days when I would feel like I was writing from the bottom of an endless well, and yet, lo and behold, there would be victories a week, a month, years, later. Things whose impossibility rendered me depression and anxious – graduation, jobs, making friends, hiking – each, in turn, came true.  Invariably, when things went beyond my expectations – getting an outdoor job, going ski touring, a relationship – they surprised me with their serendipity. It was only as if the limitless possibilities of my life were waiting patiently for their turn to meet me, and by being depressed and anxious, I was blind to the fact that they were there.

 

 

beauty

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After I had owned my DLSR for a year, I remember feeling frustrated that I wasn’t getting any better. Lightroom was a pain in the butt. I longed for the days of film. Now it’s been two years since I first got my camera – something I find extremely hard to believe. Every time I pick it up it feels like my third or fourth time. I’ve even got my first photos on this blog. I smile when I think about what I considered a big milestone back then – taking up my DLSR to Cypress Mountain for the first time, shortly after I had gotten it. Some part rational part of me said baptizing a $500 camera in wet environment was a bad idea, but I’ve since carried around with me in rainstorms and all snow conditions. I struggled hard to want to bring it along too since I was usually too tired to want to pull it out after backpacking to a destination. Yet, the extra pound or so it added inevitably ended up being a pick-me-up when something beautiful showed up and beckoned for me to capture it.

 

In high school photography was something I longed to get into. It was only really accessible to me via the a film photography class. So years later, when my brother generously offered to buy me a camera, I had to unbury that dream and dust it off and look at it for what it really was. A passion or just a whim? Well, I’ve been taking photos for two years now, and although I cringe at my agonizingly slow progress, the camera has consistently made it with me to all my backcountry pursuits. And it has showed me that beauty is everywhere, if I look.

 

But as I mentioned earlier, learning to photograph in the backcountry without any preexisting knowledge is hard. So this year, I’m hoping to do more city photography. I would like to improve at portraiture but also incorporate wild spaces in the city into my portraits. Now there’s so much more to consider than just pointing my camera at something beautiful that I want to remember – is this background distracting? Is the subject too small? Is there a subject? Is the photo capturing all the interesting things I want to capture, but in an interesting, uncomplicated and harmonious manner? Composition – this was something I didn’t comprehend at all when I started and am only starting to comprehend now. Camera settings – I’m a technophobe. But I’m learning. One thing I found out that photography, like art, is a lot like writing. The purpose of all art it seems, is to tell a story. An amazing photograph tells a story in just one still image, implying movement through frozen poses and linking seemingly unrelated objects in one frame.

 

My string of spending every weekend in the backcountry had been broken earlier this month due to a concussion/ I’d spent a lot of time indoors, reflecting about life, about art. At first it was impossible to think, and now it’s hard to think, but I think I’ve come to some conclusions. One is that while concussed, it was nearly impossible to “waste” any energy on anything non essential. Everything left me exhausted and I spent the majority of my days sleeping, so when I was awake, I was doing something at least somewhat meaningful and fulfilling to me, so that my days didn’t feel flat and empty. Secondly, I do like art – when words are hard to come for me, as they are now, visuals allow for creative catharsis. Sure, my photos aren’t great, but they are better – and if I continue practicing and pursuing and learning, because I love to and I need to, then they will continue to get better. And hopefully better writing will follow as I write narratives for how the photos were made and the people behind it.
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random art

I was not a very creative person on the medication. My art was robotic; I drew with straight lines and couldn’t fathom new landscapes for the life of me.

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I had no eye for composition or interest. I drew whatever snapshot I took or saw. cardCITYSPACE2Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 9.39.03 AMI revisited this one and tried to complete it and failed.Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 4.19.52 PM

sketches

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Haven’t drawn in a long, long time – sketched these at work at an outdoor day camp for kids at Mt Seymour. Jeffrey is our frog mascot. The top is a whiskey jack. I hope to get back into drawing – I think it’s improved in the 8 months or so that I didn’t draw (the artist in my brain never turns off apparently).