Tag Archives: personal goals

Recovery begins with the letter ‘I’ [tw: disordered eating]

My life, up to this point, was something I regarded as a string of accomplishments and mess-ups in no determined order of priority or relevant impact to my own existence. My unique forays into excellence and my individual tragedies have often been co-opted (rather than empathized) into my peers’ graduation speeches, or my colleagues’ credentials, or even my supposed loved ones’ dating profiles.

I’ve lived with the knowledge that my exes and ex-associates have been using my byronic fanaticism and  my academic achievements as *their* selling points in half-baked pick-ups.

Years before that, I learned what while my parents’ love was unconditional, there were some obvious lapses in the honest continuum of maintaining that truth. The unconditional love was considerably more loving  when my excellence was above average.

But then along the way, I’ve had smatterings of friends who haven’t gone the way of the dodo who have certainly not been hollow in their praise of my excellent qualities. However: 1. most of these friends have only been acquired during or after the foundations of critical self-loathing have been laid, 2. most of this praise is perceived as acting in defiance of my put-upon circumstances, rather than the actual result of them.

The way of the dodo: on a ship, sailing to exceed in the New World while I'm left shriveled and alone on an island surrounded by an ocean of my own tears

The way of the dodo: on a ship, sailing to exceed in the New World while I’m left shriveled and alone on an island surrounded by an ocean of my own tears.

Someone in my life recently praised me, telling me that I’m the most humble person they know, “even though [you] try not to act like it.” That was mortifying. Compliments to my supposed humility in this nature terrify me. They blatantly smash the life lessons from the Kanye School of Self Esteem that I try to implement in my day-to-day presentation—the ones that I put into practice to specifically scare people away from the horrible truths that 1. I’m not actually a god, and 2. I identify with this sequence more than anything else in the history of cinema.

Obviously this isn’t so simply said that “I have zero self worth and that’s why I can justify abusing/neglecting/actively sabotaging myself.” The problem is that I have worth, but that I don’t deserve it and it doesn’t belong to me, because while I’m some kind of Post-Modern Prometheus, it’s infinitely preferred that I’m a decidedly Bound Promethean.

If you are inclined to continue after the cut, please be conscious to the frank discussions of self-harm-inflicting behaviors that will follow and do not subject yourself if you can be potentially triggered by the implications! Safety first! [to bypass all of the ED-talk, please hit ‘ctrl (or cmd)+f’ and search for the sentence ‘And that’s where the line needs to be drawn’]



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Filed under Important post, Intro post, Not strictly school-related, Out of the field

In light of earlier tattoo talk…

Yesterday’s daily prompt fills me with the compulsion to share my newest short-term goal.

I’m no stranger to ink, nor am I a stranger to discussing my up-and-coming body mods on this blog. The POLITICAL JUSTICE chest piece remains my long term goal and tattoo dream, and/yet it is completely co-dependent to my overall transition. Between now and then, I have a number of piercings that I’ve scheduled to ornament my face at various transitional stages of my scholastic advancement (in honour of my first facial piercing, my septum, being done immediately before my first Oxford semester/my first semester of graduate school).

The desire to “mod up” is directly proportionate to my growth as an academic and as an overall person. Each addition signifies a new set of responsibilities and marks the permanence of what I’ve accumulated thus far.

My piercings and tattoos do and will continue to serve as evidence of my constant evolution.


Though maybe I should reconsider that phrasing…

I anticipate to get my next tattoo between the close of this Fall semester and the start of Spring–most likely after the MLA conference in order to maximize the potential of healing without aggravation from snug, abrasive winter clothes. Because I intend to get matching thigh pieces:

Two mirrored banners starting from the mid-front of my thighs folding inward with ‘GENERATE!’ scripted on each.

The dueling ‘Generate!’s are the title of a track from Johnny Marr’s first solo album, The Messenger:

The Messenger as an overall concept self-consciously challenges and celebrates the relationship of humanity with the advancement of technology, and “Generate! Generate!” particularly teeters on a very Romantic edge between rational and sublime as well as hubris and brilliance.

“Generate! Generate!” serves as both a motivator and as a reminder of checks and balance that will prove sobering as I continue to advance on a research track and on a track of digital humanities. At no point can I ever undermine or sacrifice the significance of my work, but nor can I forget what grounds me to it. The ribbons on my thighs, after burning excruciatingly for the initial recovery period, will cooly remind me of the significance of preserving the past to advance the future–not merely my future, and not merely the future of other academically minded persons with niche fores in Shelleyana.

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Filed under Mundane academic, Not strictly school-related

The New Workout Plan

Approximately a month ago, I announced to the world (ak.a., the 230 people I’ve permitted into my world on Facebook) that I would be initiating a new workout plan. (The exact christening of the day was ‘The Day Augusta/s Cordelia Leigh Stops Being a Shrimp of a Husk of Human Being and Gets Ripped as Hell’.) This is definitely not the first attempt I’ve made at working out, but this is the first time that I’ve dedicated myself to the cause to the degree of publicly announcing it. Now I’ve no choice but to hold myself accountable by either 1. sticking to the plan and wowing my adoring public with my new hot bod, or 2. failing to keep up, thereby admitting my pratfall to all invested parties (i.e., anyone who “liked” my nominal life event).

Already, multiple obstacles have arisen, as well as multiple opportunities to drop the ball (figuratively, of course, as my workout plan does not utilize an exercise ball). I’ve caught multiple seasonal bugs. I’ve relapsed into depressive episodes. I’ve found myself bed bound until way-late into the early evening. Normally, this would be enough to pack it in and ‘prioritize’ other aspects of my life into generating my wellness.

But not this time.

This time around, my wellness is dependent on the necessity of my fitness routine. Because this time around, I have a vision, which I’ve informally announced to the universe (accounting for the slightly broader audience capacity I have for my twitter feed):

For the uninitiated into Trans*gender affairs:

“Top surgery” is the catch-all term for any gender alignment/conforming surgical procedure that alters the contours of the chest to create a “passing” silhouette/physical appearance. Though the term can be (and is) used for breast augmentation procedures, “top surgery” typically is the colloquial swap-out for a double incision/bilateral mastectomy or a keyhole/peri-areolar incision reduction procedure to create a more masculine chest.

My case beckons for the latter.

My ultimate goal is not necessarily to become uniquely masculine–as I do not identify as a trans*man, but rather, as a non-binary pangender-presenting person. However, I do intend to reconstruct my body into an idealized androgyne: fit in form and stature. The FTM Top Surgery Network recommends that before top surgery, one should:

Eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regularly. Increasing the muscle on your chest will provide more contour for the surgeon to work with, improving aesthetic results

Because this surgery is so life-altering and so expensive (most insurance companies do not cover the procedure, labeling it ‘cosmetic’), I want to have the finest possible results.

I took weight training/cardio as an elective in high school for a Phys Ed credit, but now my personal wellness is truly married to my academics. My gender and my career track are equally weighted in My Life.

It is so particularly important to me that I graduate into my Final Form at the same time as I graduate from my Masters and ascend into my PhD track. This gives me a timeline of approximately 2-3 years to get into shape and save up. As an androgyne, I don’t intend to undergo hormone replacement. However, I do intend to change my gender to the neutral option when such documentation hits the American shores as it has in other nations. While, due to costs, I have not yet legally changed my name, I have already professionally begun to introduce myself as and have registered for MLA 2014 as ‘Mx. Augusta Leigh’–sometimes ‘Augustas’–in preparation for the commencement ceremony where I’m formally announced and hooded as Augusta Cordelia Leigh, scholar.

Actual chart of my transition progress.

So, I’ve been pushing myself: past the sickness! past the crippling depression! past the sticky bedridden stays! Because this time, the way I present myself to others is everything. I have to maintain. I just have to.

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Filed under Important post, Not strictly school-related, What's a gender??


On this day in history, I found myself awake at 7 in the morning after a vicious all-nighter writing a defense of my will-be POLITICAL JUSTICE tattoo as an assignment for my graduate Foundations course. I was trying desperately to not sound like a schmuck, even though only a total douchecanoe would ever get a tattoo based off anything William Godwin ever penned.

The result was a composition completely necessary to share with an outside audience that will probably appreciate my intentions more than my professor who I’m convinced can’t stand me (most probably because of the assignment from the very beginning of the semester where I adamantly derided ‘library science libraries’ for the vestigial elitist boys’ club lodges they are).

In summer 2012 I beheld a unique and unforgettable privilege:

First and foremost, I was studying at Oxford. I, who in all of my youth spent in an island community grimly/affectionately dubbed “The Rock,” never anticipated a college education–let alone an advanced graduate degree at an internationally prestigious university.

Secondly, at said university I was entitled and encouraged to utilize the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest, largest reference facilities in Europe at my whim and necessity. Second-and-a-halfly, I was furthermore entitled and encouraged to seek out and handle original print works and manuscripts at my whim and necessity.

My immediate goal upon arriving in Oxford was to locate and rendezvous with the Frankenstein manuscript, which I knew to also be arriving in England from the American east coast (granted, from the distinct opposite corner of the Mason-Dixon) within the same time-span after its prolonged stay on display at the New York Public Library. Because of this time frame, the manuscript was not yet locatable on-site when I first arrived at the reference desk of the Duke Humfrey’s, though I was permitted to leave my name and email. Two days and apparently-dozens-of-fwd’d emails later, I finally received a much-down-the-line receipt from the head of Special Collections, Dr. Bruce Barker-Benfield (hereafter abbreviated to B^3). Dr. B^3 was not only in possession of the manuscript, but more than willing and gracious to facilitate my encounter with it.

To call my appointment in the attic of the Clarendon building with the pale, powder blue pages nestled in an acid-free shallow “shoebox” containing the manuscript “life-changing” would be a disgusting understatement. Dr. B^3’s modest passion for Shelleyana (excessive knowledge and only with the purest intention to share it) was riveting, inspiring, provoking—all of the above. His humble suggestions of where to grow and how to utilize the existing printed sources to their fullest capability outside of the Bodleian walls, promising that I could take my research back across the pond with me did everything to fulfill my prophecy of Shelley research—and thensome.

If the plot twist is that Dr. B^3 is my Uncle Ben, then I want off this ride.

If the plot twist is that Dr. B^3 is my Uncle Ben, then I want off this ride.

The necessity of my librarianship is to do the utmost justice to the persons devoted to the preservation and perseverance of knowledge and artifacts of knowledge within their facility (in being accountable for the objects themselves and responsible for their disclosure to inquiring parties of all backgrounds—even little ol’ metal-faced me) and beyond the walls of the library (by enabling clients with extensive digitized/electronic and commercially affordable print resources, as well as an invitation to continue email correspondence outside of appointment for unique expertise).

My desire is to work within sectors and initiatives dedicated to de-mystifying, even dismantling barred knowledge that serves absolutely no one in being barred. While objects may be best preserved in cool, dark spaces with minimal contact, such measures do absolutely nothing to fulfill the living humanities. Facsimiles and digitizations are more-than-ever necessary for the endurance a learned public.

My librarianship is 110% devoted to total transparency, self-sacrificing public service without discrimination, and dedicated maintenance and accountability. Open-and-extended access, librarianship outside of the library, is fundamental. While I was permitted the privilege of the Bodleian (and will once again be renewing my pink card in summer 2014), not every would-be-patron will, nor will they, by virtue, experience the compassionate outreach of Dr. B^3, or perhaps let-alone even more humbly “accessible” professionals that may be taken for granted.

In my litany of to-be tattoos, my most-oft-daydreamed is my will-be chest piece to brandish POLITICAL JUSTICE in bold, serif lettering at the hem of my clavicle. The placement is somewhat loud and abrasive (especially when considering that the piece will be imprinted on my body after my prospective top surgery, in defiance of heteronormative expectations of my body), as is the intent.

The statement is a shorthand form of An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, the anarchist tract outlining Mary Shelley’s radical father’s philosophies in total transparency, direct democracy and the dismantling of privileged institutions, seminally defined as noting how: “Enquiry, and the improvement of the human mind, are now shaking to the center those bulwarks that have so long held mankind in thraldom.”

"Cooled down" is a euphemism for "became a bag of dicks," sidenote.

“Cooled down” is a euphemism for “became a bag of dicks,” sidenote.

While Godwin’s radicalism cooled down considerably after settling down, he did very much hold strictly to his core beliefs in unrestricted access to knowledge and self-improvement by enabling and encouraging his young daughters to educate themselves utilizing the Godwin home library and to apply their knowledge in lectures and debates among esteemed contemporary intellectuals who also happened to be family friends.

The immediate result was Mary Shelley nee Godwin’s thoroughly sculpted magnum opus and the object of my passions. The extended heritage is the Halloween 2013 launch of the Shelley-Godwin archive, an immense undertaking in cross-platform collaboration in the quest, in the words of project director Neil Fraistat, to “create, in the archives, a platform for participatory curation and encoding of our manuscripts,” said manuscripts including the original and printed works of all of the principal parties of the Shelley circle which now exist at mouse-click public access totally free.

This prospective tattoo is the most apt and fulfilling representation of my afore-described philosophy of librarianship and my ongoing journey in knowledge access and preservation.

The fact that I determined that this tattoo was destined to imprint my skin after laughing so hard that I choked at its being the repeated anthem in Shared Experience’s production of the life of Mary Shelley is completely incidental and totally sentimental.

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Filed under Mundane academic