Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Life's too short......

I was tagged with this picture on Facebook earlier today, and off course I have to agree with the sentiment, it also got me thinking, we often hear people saying life is too short I thought I might compile a short list and decide which one I would embrace.

I thought about life is too short to drink bad whisky, but rejected that as although I do like the occasional whisky it is not my default drink.

Life is too short to for ugly underwear - certainly I will adopt and hold to this one.

But I think more to the point life is too short to go through it alone.   A friend recently died, she had been quite active in the trans world and had a few friends within the community.   Naturally her partner was devastated, and will be leaning heavily on her friends within the community.

Whenever we hear of a death we are reminded of our own mortality, especially as in this case she was very little older than me, It also makes us think about our own friends and family.   I am fortunate that I have several groups of friends, I have my trans friends, my music friends, my Church and my family.   I think it is important not to allow ourselves to get in to a ghetto of  a single interest group, we need our social groups, friends and family with different interests and experiences.   They will help us to grow, support us when we need it, and love us what ever happens.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Not blowing the biggest horn

With thanks to my friend Alan here some more photos from my recent concert with teh All Saits Concert Band at Eastbourne Bandstand last weekend.

And for once I'm not the one blowing a really big horn!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Who Am I

A post by my friend Joey on his Blog got me thinking about "stuff" all the "stuff" we accumulate, otherwise known as possessions.   The idea was that what you own helps to define who you are, and also what class you belong to. I'm not at all sure what my possessions say about me.

One of the reasons this subject chimed with me is, of course, because I'm moving and that means packing up all my possessions.  Since I am actually downsizing as well it also means assessing all of my possessions and trying to decide if I really need them.   I am going to have such reduced space that the question does have to be "do I need it?" rather than "do I want it?"   It was relatively easy to get rid of crockery and glasses I never use, the same with some cookware. Books are difficult and so are clothes, but when I really come down to it there is very little that any of us actually need.  

A lot of our possession rarely see the light of day, my bread maker rarely comes out, the food processor a wee bit more often, these are just tools, but for some they can also be status symbols, helping them to self define who they are, others define themselves by what they do.   Ask a man what he is and he will more likely reply with his profession than his family status, yet being a father is much more important than being a solicitor.

This all seems a little sad, surely we should be defined by our character, how we impact on other people. So, as for me am I a gardener? a musician? a christian? a father? a woman? transgender? a friend? well yes to all of these, and each one of them is more important than how somebody else might want to label me, and put me in a class.

I won't say I don't care what other people think of me ~ because I do, but I want them to come by their opinions about me, not what I own, or indeed don't own.

Now I will have to try and do the same, and not judge somebody's character by the car they drive.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

I'm Going Slightly Mad

I am just starting to write this post at 4:41 in the morning; it's not my habit to be up and about at this time, but I found myself just lying in bed churning things over and over in my mind.   Getting up having a cup of tea and doing a little more packing seemed like a good idea.   I am sure I will pay for it tomorrow when I will be sleepy all day, but the chances of any sleep tonight seem to keep diminishing.

I am currently feeling more than a bit intimidated by all the stuff that I need to pack away and move, or get rid of.   The storage arrangements I have been able to make are not ideal, and my van is too small, but I have to keep telling myself that I have time and a little each day will get things done.   I think I need to relax, make a list of all the things I have to do, and all the people I have to contact and do a couple each day.   Great idea but I start something get distracted move to something else and then hours later find the thing I started.   You may gather I am feeling more than a bit stressed!

I've filled six boxes so far yet I haven't started on books, or the kitchen, or my clothes ~ my clothes! this is the point when I finally realise just how many clothes I have! Why on earth have I accumulated ten black dresses?!

Right! Two hours till I should be getting up, one more cup of tea, one more box, and then I'll go and lie down for a bit!

Monday, 21 September 2015

May you live in interesting times

I am told that this is an old Chinese curse, and I can certainly understand the thought behind that; whatever the truth and the full meaning of the phrase, I certainly seem to be living an interesting time at the moment.

It looks as though I will finally be moving, we have managed to get all round agreement, and I am praying that God will make the decisions I have made the right ones, so it looks as though it could just be a matter of days before it all happens.   The reality of it all is now making me feel very nervous about the change, I know it has to happen and that I should be able to live a fuller life once it is all sorted out, but I can't help being a bit nervous, and bit frightened as I move away from the security of my home of the last 17 years.   I still have a lot to do, a lot of stuff to get rid of and a lot of stuff to pack up, some to move, some to put into storage. I also still need to find a garage for my tools and parking for my van. A lot to sort out in what may well turn out to be only a week.

Yet with all that I decided that I would have a busy weekend, with lots of stuff planned and I would simply choose not to worry.

So on Saturday I met lots of interesting new people at a Breakfast meeting in the Festival Hall about WOmen working in Classical Music ~ interestingly only one man in attendance. A quick visit to a conducting seminar, and then a dash across town into the City for a meeting of Two:23

Two:23 is a network of Christians connected by LGBT issues, this was the first meeting I have attended, and it won't be the last. They are a very friendly and diverse bunch, we had some very good worship and an excellent and challenging talk from Canon Mark Oakley on the subject of honesty, something I feel the Church could do with a good dose of!
Sunny Eastbourne,
the view from the other side of the bandstand, curtsey of Viv Edwards

Then on Sunday I was playing with the All Saints Concert Band at Eastbourne, a few of us made a day of it, caught an earlier train, browsed some charity shops and had a fish & chip lunch before the Gig. A nice sunny day, good friends, and some music, what more could any girl want? ~ Oh yes, beer! that came after we played.

After that I really had no choice other than to get on with some packing.   It looks like this is going to be a very strange interesting week.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Times they are a' Changing

As I mentioned, yesterday was my Birthday.   Despite the rain keeping me at home for most of the day I still managed to have nice relaxing time.   I was thoroughly self indulgent having a couple of my favorite (easy to prepare) meals, spending a little time going through my wardrobe trying out a couple of outfits I had been thinking about ~ different combinations, what can I wear with those boots? or that skirt? and even making a little (slow) progress towards my move.

I received two cards, one from my good friend and colleague the other from my elder Brother. I was particularly pleased to see the one from my brother, as it carried the wonderful word "Sister" on the front.

Only getting two cards did not make me feel unloved or neglected, since I received over 60 birthday greetings electronically! Friends I see regularly, family members I rarely get to see, friends I have yet to meet, and even one conductor I haven't played with for several years.

I may not have the row of cards to show off across the top of my desk (no mantle piece) but I did feel loved, ~ and lets face it that's the important thing.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Out of Control

Today is my Birthday, or perhaps I should say one of my birthdays.   I part of a select group that has three birthdays.   Today is the anniversary of the day that I was physically born, back in January I celebrated the 15th Anniversary of my rebirth as a Christian and next March I will celebrate the first anniversary of my formal change of name ~ the event usually taken as a trans person's "Birth"

I'm not sure that I had any control over any of these events, certainly not the first one!   As for becoming a Christian I don't think I had much control over that either, when I found myself confronted with the reality of the existence of God there seemed no other reasonable reaction, and even my name change just seemed to happen rather than being something I decided, planned and carried through.

Maybe it is just because I feel out of control at the moment, my home move is in other peoples hands, solicitors, estate agents and the like I just trot along behind hoping it all works out and paying the bills. My work is out of my control, I am so totally dependent on the weather, and it has been horrible.   And, (I know I shouldn't start a sentence this way, but it is a big AND!) my transition also seems to have been taken out of my control.   My problems with the GIC continue, in as much as they seem to just be ignoring me.   Last month's appointment was cancelled, and I was told I would be given another as soon as possible, despite several calls and an informal complaint I have yet to hear anything from them.   It makes me wonder why this isn't possible?

Monday, 14 September 2015

Staying in Touch

One of my friends has told me that I need to get back to regular daily postings, as one of her other favorite bloggers has stopped.   I find that I start to feel that the blogs I read are written by friends, I know them through their blogs, and when they stop writing I miss them the same as I would miss friend who moves away.

Earlier this year one of my Favorite bloggers gave up, changes in her life meant that the Blog was no longer a necessary part of her life.   I have to say that I miss her, I miss the little insights on her life, and way of life. On the face of it we would appear to have little in common, we live on opposite side of the globe, have very different occupations and pastimes; we even follow different religions.  I suspect that if we met at a normal social function we would not gravitate to each other, yet through sharing our blogs we became friends, and now she has stopped, and I miss her.

In many ways this is one of the motivators for my own continued blogging, a way of staying in contact with friends, those I have met and those I have yet to meet.

I make no promises about posting everyday, unless I am on the A - Z Challenge or doing my Advent calendar, but I will do my best to stay in touch.

Today would have been my Aunt's Birthday, to be honest I rarely think about her and was never as close to her as my elder Brother, somehow I am sure that she would have accepted me if only I had been able to honest about (and with) myself much earlier.   Looking back on my childhood and youth I am sure that she may have been a much better role model both as a parent and as a woman than my own Mother.   It also reminds me that there are still people who were very important in my past who I have yet to tell about my transition - it is better that I do that now than wait for an event where I will have to turn up and frighten the natives.

A New Era?

Social media has gone mad! well I'm sure that's what the tabloids would say abou the reaction to our Labour Party electing Jeremy Corbin as our new leader.   I have seen messages from friends despairing of the future, convinced that we have voted for another 10 years of tory miss rule and Scottish independence.  I have seen other equally convinced that this is the start of a new era of politics.

Personally I am hopeful, if this many people can be mobilised to vote for a new leader then there maybe a chance that we get people to vote for labour at the next election as well.

It does make an interesting contrast, our current Prime Minister has stated that he will not be standing at the next election, so potentially the only major party that will have the same leader at the next election as the last will be the Scottish Nationalists ~ and they can hardly stand in all the constituencies!

It maybe just as well that David Cameron has said that he won't be standing after his comments about Yorkshire. I don't know which is worst that he said that they were hate filled or that it was alright since the greatest living Yorkshiremen had forgiven him ~ Geoffrey Boycott and Dicky Bird. SO people from Yorkshire hate everybody but it's OK because they are good at Cricket! If you think I'm over reacting, replace Yorkshire with West Indies!

I started writing this on SAturday morning, but ran out of time, and struggled to find a picture to illustrate it. ~ Thanks go to the Lad's Bible for this one!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Questions, Questions, Questions

I had a wonderful time last night! I went out with my daughter, which is always good, we saw a play and had dinner.   I am going to take on board my friend Joey's advise and not write a lengthy review of the play, suffice it to say that if you get a chance to see "The Origin of Species" by Tangram Theatre grab it, see it and you will enjoy. Slightly manic, brilliant songs with corny rhymes and some puns so bad they are good.

It was nice to be able to share the experience with my daughter, since the theatre is above a Croydon Pub, this was a first when I could take her into a pub and buy her a drink (without a meal), afterwards we just went round the corner to a Wagamama's for dinner which I think we must have spent a couple of hours over just talking.   I know all parents think their children are special, but I am so proud that my daughter is growing up to be an independent person, questioning the status quo, championing the oppressed, and making up her own mind rather than accepting establishment opinions.

Of course what pleases me most is that she accepts me. I am sure that this cannot have been easy, and it is only very recently that I have been going out with authentically.   So far she has refused to be embarrassed by me, and rather has made it clear that I have her support.

We did have one slightly odd encounter, I popped into a Sainsbury's local to get some change for the parking, After giving me my change the cashier paused looked at me and asked "are they real?" he asked with a smile and friendly manner so I said yes accepted his good wishes and left it at that.  Since he was looking slightly below my eyes I assumed that he wasn't referring to them! I also suspect that he meant something slightly different by the term real! but they are certainly not a figment of anyone's imagination.

My daughter was flabbergasted by the idea that anyone could feel entitled to ask a question like that of a stranger, yet somehow people feel that it is OK to ask trans people questions that they would never consider it decent to ask anyone else.   I'm not sure where I draw the line, indeed I think the line moves according to my mood; but, as a general principle I try to remember that when I am out I am an ambassador, I will try to be friendly, and informative and establish that we are normal people, just with this one issue. ~ I also find it hard not to try to be funny.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Hair today!

I know that some of my posts have been a bit introverted and even bleak recently, I'm sorry to say that this has been a reflection on my state of mind.   Bad weather, lack of funds, moving home and a few other things have combined to bring me down. I'm quite sure that I could handle any one thing but the combination of all of them was a little too much for me.

Having said all that I have decided to put my trust in God and get on with life. I have had a some good, fun gigs and a few nice days to get on with some proper gardening, suddenly everything seems a lot better.   I have also done what lots of girls do when they get down, I've had my hair done!

I have been wondering what to do with my hair for a while, it was getting a bit shaggy and strangely ~ shaggely? Something had to be done, but I couldn't decide what, so yesterday I went to the hairdressers with a couple of ideas, but looking for solutions.  One of my ideas was to have a Bob, it seems easy to maintain, feminine, and I thought it might just suit me. And, a Bob is what we went for.

I like it! I like the way it looks, I like the way it makes me feel, I like the way it feels (I can feel my hair bouncing as I move) and I have had a couple of nice comments. best of all it only cost me £15 as I used a Rush Academy! OK it did take all morning, but it was a fun experience and I do like the results; so did the trainer, he tweeted the back of my head on the Rush twitter account!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Didn't we have a lovely time?

As it happened the weather on Saturday was not ideal for a picnic, but that didn't stop at least a couple of dozen of us meeting up in Kensington Gardens for the first event organised under the banner of the Trans London Network,

Kensington Gardens in London
I met some old friends I haven't seen for a while, some I see regularly and also made some new friends. I was engaged in conversation so much that I didn't get a chance to eat anything while I was there.   Once again I was reminded just how much we come from all walks of life, that as trans people we reflect the diversity of society, and that often the only thing that units us is being trans.   Some of us are socially confident (or at least know how to appear to be) others are less so, some are young and look a bit scary, some of us are older and a bit conventional, with all this diversity it can be very difficult to be fully inclusive and engage some of those who will always find themselves on the fringes of society.   As people who require a degree of toleration surely we should be even more tolerant and inclusive than others.

Later in the Pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery
It was great to see people from right across London, a very wide age range, (although I was quite definitely at the older end of the range!)  and from varying social backgrounds.  It was rather fun to find another woman there who quite literally lives just round the corner from me, but I couldn't help but notice that we were all white!

I say I noticed but in fact I only realised later when I started to think about it and to ask how inclusive we actually are.   I do not believe that being trans is a white middle class experience, but maybe it is that group that is now finding it easier to be out, and that for others, in different social, and/or cultural groups it is still very difficult to be honest about themselves.   I am only scratching the surface of this thought but I do understand that in the US at least trans women of colour are much more at risk than white women.   In the UK and especially in London we are probably safer than most places in the World, but I do not know if that matches the experience of Trans Women of Colour.

If we do not know them, how can we know their plight (if indeed there is one) if they do not come forward and join our groups how do we know them?   Are we being too exclusive without even realising it? I don't know the answers, I don't even know if these are the right questions.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Something to Look Forward To

I have quite surprised myself over the last few weeks.   I have always considered myself to be a fairly stable, well adjusted sort of individual. Maybe a bit unemotional, certainly a bit repressed and a bit self contained.   This persona has served me pretty well most of the time, although I would love to be able to show my wife and daughter how much they mean to me, my upbringing just hasn't equipped me very well to do it.

Well over the last few weeks I have found that some of my equanimity has been rocked.

With an impending move of home, lots of weather related difficulties with work, associated financial problems and the delays with the GIC exacerbating the emotional aspects of my transition I have found my emotions all over the place (and that's without hormones!).   On several occasions I have found myself close to (or indeed actually in) tears, on others I find that I struggle to find the enthusiasm to get out of bed in the morning.   Things don't get done, and that annoys me or depresses me, I find myself in a bit of an unhealthy cycle.

That having been said I do know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, the move will happen, my finances will improve and the weather will get better. Yet when I am feeling down none of that logic helps, what does help is my faith and my friends.

Today one of my friends posted this on FB

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18, Hebrews 12:28.

Sometimes it is difficult to find things to feel grateful for, but a little consideration of our own situations will come up with something, friends, family, occupation.   After that we can start to see things beyond ourselves, living somewhere where things grow, trees, flowers, and grass; the sun comes up and for most of us there is no one trying to kill us!

The knowledge that others are worse off than we are does not improve our own situation, but at least I do know where I will be living for a while, that I will have something to eat and that my life is pretty safe.

I know that you will not all be Christians, indeed I know that many of you are not.   There are people who claim to be Christian who actively go out of their way to harm, insult and degrade others who don't agree with their limited views, I find it hard to accept that these people believe in and follow the same God that I do.   Jesus preached love, hope, compassion, but mostly love.   He went to those who society rejected and loved them, fed them and gave them hope, and lets face it we all need some hope, and something to look forward to.

Right now I am looking forward to the first annual London Trans Network Picnic by the Serpentine in Kensington Gardens.