Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Friday, 15 September 2017

Bad Mood

I have written a few time recently about fresh starts, new experiences, and indeed the passage of time.   Much of this has been without reference to my transition, and I do understand that many of you come to read a gardening, or a music based Blog, but since Paula's Place did start out as a Trans Blog I think it is now time to come clean about my latest big change, or at least currently still immanent change.

Back in August 2011 (or over half a million hits ago!) when I started out here I considered myself a "Plain vanilla cross dresser" married with daughter, my own burgeoning business, and no intentions of changing any of that.   Now I consider myself a single Trans Woman, I transitioned socially a few years ago, and have now been taking hormone therapy for about 18 months, and my whole life is very different.   But then again I am very different, I am occasionally asked what effects the hormones are having, and I'm sure that the questioner is primarily interested in primary sexual characteristics, I general choose to disappoint them.   The things that strike me most are not just a couple of physical developments, as much as my mental state.   In simple terms I am no longer angry, all the time.   I was not even aware of this underlying and permanent state.   I just thought that was how life was, a little like before I had glasses I thought everybody saw the world as fuzzy, that was simply how it looked.   Now I know better.

Sure my skin is softer, my nails brake more easily, and most fun of all my sense of smell is so much better! But the more placid me is much nicer, and I am a better musician for it.   All this has happened through more hormonal changes, yet they are still well outside of "normal" levels, so I am now having some enhanced medication.   It will be interesting to see what will change next.   I am rather excited about all this, but it is also tempered with some apprehension; especially when I consider what the next stage of this strange journey will be if I choose to take it. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Fresh Starts

In many ways it feels as though Summer is drawing towards it's conclusion here in South East England.   Temperatures are falling and day light hours are declining.   It feels as though we have had quite a lot of rain and wind, and some of the leaves are beginning to turn ~ don't be fooled by the horse chestnuts, their leaves having been turning very brown very early over the last few years due to the attentions of leave miners ~ this all makes me feel as though Autumn is about to be come in.   I shouldn't be surprised, I always used to think of September as the beginning of Autumn, the new school term starts, the Cricket season ends and the Rugby season starts, but over the last few years summer has extended well into September and even October, certainly at the moment I am still doing Summer jobs (dead heading, grass cutting, weeding etc.) and haven't started with Autumn pruning, planting or leave clearing. Long may it last, I enjoy every season in the garden, but I certainly earn more in Spring, Summer, and Autumn! In Summer the work is not too arduous, I can do longer hours, and wear my shorts!

Any one know what this is? it seems to be an annual
about 2.5 meters high,that grew up under a bird feeder.
The flowers look like a
Convolvulus to me but I can't find it in any of my books.
I haven't started yet today but looking outside I don't think I'll be wearing shorts today, and with my first customer I will be arranging a date to scarify their lawns ~ so this is a definite indicator.   The other big one for me is that my birthday is looming.  It's not a big one this year, but it is another year closer to my pension, at the moment I'm not at all sure what I will do on the day, strangely for a Saturday I don't have any Gigs planned so if anyone wants to send me a bottle of Champaign to aid the celebration feel free!   Last month both my Mother and Daughter had birthdays, they are now both of an age where every birthday is significant, and to be honest I'm not sure I envy either of them!

When I passed my last major milestone I decided that I had to address my Gender issues and start exploring what they actually meant and what I had to do about them.   I am now fast approaching a conclusion, after my last appointment with the GIC I find I need to make a decision, some would say the decision, I have to remind myself that this is not a one off chance where I need to give a definitive yes or no answer, I do have alternatives, including "Not Now"   Having said that I think I am approaching a conclusion, and maybe when I get back from my holiday next month I will have made up my mind. By then I will also have experienced a month on my adjusted medication, which may well also influence that decision.

I think it would be nice if I could get the whole thing sorted out within the decade, and then just get on with life.

I will be doing just that this evening as I take my second rehearsal with Croydon Brass, until we get our two new cornet players we are limited in our repertoire, so I have adjusted an arrangement I did earlier this year ~ originally conceived and arranged for clarinet choir it will be interesting to hear how it sounds on Brass!   I think I will be doing quite a lot of slaving over a hot stave over the next few months!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

I need a Dragon!

Ripple, "Helping" with the Blog
One of the things I have found since moving into my flat is the lack of companionship, not so much human companionship as the non-human.   We used to have cats, and then fish as well, when the cats left home the fish stayed, but in my new flat I just don't have space.   With plants on all the windowsill, books on the shelves, and tubas on the floor there is no room for an aquarium.   It may sound strange but I used to say "hello" and "goodnight" to them, watch them while I ate, or sometimes just sit and look.   Realistically I know I don't have the space, indeed ideally I would like to get rid of a couple of pieces of furniture, so any additions are definitely not on the cards.

A friend of mine keeps guinea pigs, another has hamsters, I even had a friend who kept ferrets, I don't think I'll be trying any of them.

Indeed I shall just have to get used to being on my own, with my plants and my clutter, that may be just as well since I am far from being the tidiest of people.   I do have a few stuffed animals, and I do have a few ornamental ones _ Ebony elephants, and china dragons, there may even be the odd dinosaur, but seeing todays Wizard of Id I thought I could do with a dragon like that!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Goodbye and Hello

It's been a funny old few days; ~ no change there then you may well think, but I have had a busy weekend with a couple of performances a couple of parties, and then tonight a rehearsal.   That may not sound so unusual for me but it has been packed with contrasts.

Lets start with the two parties, one on Saturday afternoon / evening and one on Sunday evening.   Saturday's was a birthday party for an old friend ~ I don't particularly want to embarrass him but it was a big one, and well worth celebrating.   It took me a while to actually believe the age he claims to be as I'm sure he must be younger than that!   It was a very civilised evening hosted in their lovely garden (for which I will claim some small credit) where I had a chance to catch up with some friends I haven't seen for some time.   As I had driven there I too was quite civilised and managed to display some self restraint for once.

I did feel as though I was dressed rather formally for such an event, but I had come straight from my first performance of the weekend.   I had been conducting the rather wonderful All Saints Concert Band at Ruskin Park in South London.   Over the last few years I haven't had many opportunities to conduct a whole concert so this was rather a special occasion.   This is a band I have been associated with ever since it first started back in the 1970s ~ I was very young at the time ~ and since then I have had two stints as assistance or associate MD, this concert represents the end of my second stint in the role.   Not because I am fed up with them, or indeed them with me, but because I have a new venture to pursue.

They were even kind enough to allow me to play Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock" rather a simple but jolly little piece, which was the first thing I ever conducted with them, or indeed anyone!

The next day I had to hit the road and get down to Herne Bay in Kent to play a band stand concert with the "Band of the Surrey Yeomanry".   It is a nice bandstand and one of my favorite bands to play with, and there was good ice cream!   The only fly in the ointment was that I was playing Euphonium, not my favorite instrument to play, and I'm well and truly out of practise on it.   Somehow I managed to get through without embarrassing myself too much, but by the end I did feel as though I had been continuously punched in the mouth!

I then made tracks back towards London for my second party of the weekend, this one celebrating a young couple getting engaged.  Certainly a contrast to the previous evening! definitely not as quiet and sedate, but once again it was good to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen for while.   Somehow I naturally gravitated to the end of the hall with the parents, aunts and uncles, I know my place!   It is encouraging seeing a young couple so in love, they just seem to be such a natural couple, I have to wish them a long and very happy life together.

So lots of contrasts, playing my forth (or fifth I lose count) choice instrument, final conducting performance with a band I have been around for over forty years, a sixtieth birthday party and an engagement party ~ quite a weekend.

Then tonight, my first rehearsal back as MD of Croydon Brass!   I used to conduct this band "in a previous life" but had to pull back for family reasons that simply don't exist any more.   So I was very pleased to be invited to take over again as my successor stepped down after several years in the role.   There are some of the same players I remember and a few new ones, there are also, of course, a few who have left.   This is a friendly band with a long history, but to continue we need to make a few changes, not least will be updating the website!   We have two or three performances scheduled before Christmas so we have plenty to work on, and then a whole new year ahead of us.

At the moment our first priority is to find a couple of cornet players, we aren't looking for star players (although I wouldn't turn them away) we just need two reliable, regular cornet players to come along on a Monday night; we'll even lend them an instrument!

I was a little nervous about returning to a post I held before, but after tonight I am quite excited about the future and putting on some great concerts with this band. In the mean time I had better get on with writing up my bio for the Band web site!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Monthly Stats

In a month where stats may well include such important matters as Inches of rain fall, votes cast, average temperature rises my stats are a lot more mundane.

So here we go it's admit it time!

Weight 12 stone 7lb ~ 80 kg
BMI  25.3 over weight, but not by much
Units of Alcohol ~ too many, I am now back to just one alcohol free day per week
Chargeable hours worked 120

All this tells me that I am not very good at being good, have little or no self control and probably won't get into my gold swimming costume when I go on Holiday next month.

I know I will never look like this, and indeed never did or could have, but you can't stop an old girl dreaming!   I will be leaving the bikini at home, nobody needs to see that, indeed I don't know why I still have one, the original purchase comes under the heading of "it seemed like a good idea at the time" but the slightest bit of sober reflection shows it to be simply stupid.   Maybe I should consign it to the charity shop bag so I can use the wardrobe space for something more useful, like winter thermals!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

World Cup ~ The morning after

Part Two.

New Zealand's Toka Nadua touching down
Well England lost, and off course I am disappointed, but it was a fantastic game! So often finals simply fail to live up to the hype and can turn into a contest about who will make the least mistakes, and therefore be less adventurous and entertaining.   That was not the case last night, sure there was some pragmatic Rugby, but mostly there was adventure, there was physicality and there was a lot skill on display.   It is tempting to say that this was a good game ~ considering it was women, but this was a good game, no an excellent game, and one of the best final I remember.   Being partisan I am sorry that England didn't win, but as a Rugby enthusiast I am so glad that the women from both teams produced such a great spectacle and such a good close encounter.

England's Lydia Thompson running round in her try
Interestingly both teams played the style of Rugby that their Nations have become known for, but somehow by taking the testosterone out of the equation made for a better spectacle, not a worse one.  Certainly there are some areas of the game that can still be improved, most the kicking, but as an international sport Women's Rugby has arrived.

Indeed we have seen that the women show no lack of commitment, they have embraced the physicality of the game, and are showing some very good skills, but one thing they are displaying better than the men at the moment is the spirit in which the game is being played.   I did not get the impression at any point in the championship that winning was more important than the game, if I can be forgiven the expressions there was more sportsmanship than gamesmanship.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

World Cup

Part one:~

As I write this England's women are the World Cup holders in both Cricket and Rugby.   In a couple of hours that could have changed, or it could not have.    I have a pizza in the oven a cold beer at my side as I settle down to watch the final of the Women's Rugby World Cup.

England's Emily Scarratt, This Girl Does!
I have really enjoyed watching this World Cup, of course Rugby is my game and has the added attraction that my Country always has a good chance of success.   This is the first time there has been proper coverage of the Women's game and it has been brilliant.   It is not just that England are better than most of the others, it is that there has been some excellent Rugby being played. I may have started to watch the competition as a way of supporting "The Sisterhood" but I have carried on because I love Rugby.

Sure some of the teams are not yet quite up to the standard set by the best, but isn't the case in all tournaments?  Certainly England and New Zealand, the finalist, are the pick of the bunch and the most complete teams, but that doesn't mean that some of the others are knocking hard on the door.   Indeed the France Vs England Semi Final was one of the best games of Rugby I have ever watched ~ period!

My Pizza is almost cooked and the match is about to begin after the Black Ferns perform their Hakka. SO far the only conclusion I have come to is that it is just as well that New Zealand don't win much in sport as their National Anthem is not one of the best tunes around!

New Experiences

I have often been known to mention how blessed I am to be able to still have new experiences, even as I approach my sixth decade ever closer.   I am still finding new music to play, new friends to enjoy it with, new plants and gardens to enjoy, and indeed new aspects of simply being me!

Most of the time these new experiences are interesting, maybe even exciting! but every now and then I have a new experience that isn't so good.   This morning I had one of those.   My musical career, such as it is, has been built as much on reliability as it is on ability so despite a very tiring week and stupidly busy day yesterday, when I got up this morning the first thing I did was go to my computer to check my e-mails for the details of this afternoons band stand job.   It was only then that it registered that it wasn't an afternoon job at all, but a morning performance.   Worse than that, having over slept from being so tired I was not going to make it in time, never mind I would be late for the start, I would not get there in time for the second half!

This has never happened to me before and I am very disappointed with myself, and very sorry for the band I had promised to play with. I know the feeling of I have not only let then down I have let myself down. This is one experience I do not want to repeat.

I have to take a message from this and slow down a bit.   I have been trying to work as much as I can to try and get myself on an even financial keel, I have also been doing a lot of playing with a lot of different bands, indeed it has been a long busy summer, and now I am paying the toll.   If I am so tired that I am making this type of mistake I need to recuperate a bit.   So today I will be mostly doing very little apart from watching sport on the TV and pottering around the flat a bit.

I have my holiday to look forward to, but if I am going to last out until I go I still need to take some time just to rest.   After all even God rested! and then created the Sabbath for Man, I have to take this on board and make sure that I have a Sabbath each week, even if it is not on the Sunday. 

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Girls Just Want To Have Fun

When transgender people transition it can be difficult, not just for them but for the people they work with, their families and friends.   I have been fortunate, or blessed, that I have not lost any of my friends or become estranged from any of my family, but I gather that in this, as in so many other things, I am unusual.   Many of the Trans people I come across are not working, or are working on their own much of the time, they live on their own and often don't have many friends outside of the trans community.

Inevitably within this community there are all too many fallings out.   With different people wanting different things, with hormones being all over the place, and many feeling embattled it is inevitable.   It is worth remembering that just because we happen to all be trans, that does not mean we will have other things in common.   I have yet to meet anyone in "the community" who shares my taste in music; most will not share my politics, or maybe my taste in literature or holidays.   The point is that we are a community of one shared characteristic, and if we rely on that community for our emotional and social support we will be let down!

I'm not given here to much in the way of handing out advice, but I do get concerned when I come across people, well mostly women, who are totally reliant upon the Trans Community for all of their social network, friendship and support.   As a group we are particularly susceptible to suicide and depression, so very much need social support.   Again I am blessed that as a musician I have a very large social network; I have friends who are not aware of ever having come across another trans person, they are my friends because they are my friends, because of who I am and what I do, not because of what I am.

I'm not trying to boast about what a popular and attractive girl I am, I am just trying to encourage others to stop reading blogs and other online stuff and go out and do things! Join a club, do AmDram, some sports, a cookery course, or a reading group, just get out there in "normal" society, get some friends, some friends who aren't going through the same stuff that you are, but can go to the pub with you and talk about something else! Have Fun!

Monday, 21 August 2017

I've done it!

I've only gone and booked a holiday! It feels as though I have been complaining for ages that I need a holiday, well now I'm going to have one.   I have a week booked somewhere nice and warm, where along with a couple of day trips I plan on doing a lot of lazing around in the sun next to a pool.   I may even get into the pool and do a little swimming!

I shall have to set myself up with a few easy reading novels, some music on my phone and lay in a stock of sun cream.   I also think that it might be a good idea to make a real effort to lose some of that weight I have been complaining about.

I won't say that I need to make my body bikini ready as that would take a lot more than a few weeks of careful eating, more like major surgery or a magic wand!   But it would be nice to be able to fit into some of my "Holiday clothes" and not frighten the natives too much when I am sun bathing.

I have just weighed in at twelve and half stone (175 lbs or just under 80 kg) I think I'd feel a lot happier if I can drop half a stone and get down to anything under the twelve stone mark ~ maybe I should start by laying off the booze for a bit, or at least putting slim line tonic in my gin!