Monday, 30 August 2010

Out and about.

The last week or so has been a social whirlwind holding up work plans which the showery weather would have held up anyway. Usually by the time the garden is dry along comes another downpour. One was torrential with the water pouring over the guttering directly into the garden leaving the new pathway site like a reconstruction of the boggy first world war battle fields of Ypres for several days.
Friends is an interesting term which I once thought of writing a long blog about. What an interesting range of relationships that one word covers. My inner circle of friends and family are well acquainted with what is going on by now but There seem to be an infinite number of less close circles of friendships and in those not everyone needs to be told unless circumstances demand. As the hormones do their work and my appearance evolves it will speak for it’s self but at the moment if someone invites us for a meal for example they had better be updated to save any embarrassment for them and their guests. Not that there has been any sign of any so far.
I am now out in the world with an honest identity for the first time in my life. Until now I have felt like an illegal immigrant or deep stealth spy conscious of not fully understanding the world I lived in and being liable to being uncovered as a fraud at any moment. Even this past year when I thought I had become confident in myself feels a bit furtive and anxious compared to now where my focus is on me and what I want to do with no worrying about what anyone else thinks of me.
This confidence must be showing since it now takes much longer to go shopping since nearly everywhere there is a chance I have been finding myself in long conversations with those in the shops! I used to try to be chatty with serving staff, it makes their life better as I know from my student jobs, but now it is as if I have joined a new club!
As I start to push out to my new boundaries of presentation my happiness increases and we have tested it in various situations from small dinner party with some guests unknown to us, they requested contact details for further meetings, to a garden party where most knew me to some degree and all knew the new me by the end with several women nearly adopting me as their sister. Yesterday was an exhibition opening with about a hundred and thirty people at the gallery where I have had a couple of selling exhibitions and figured they should know, no point surprising them or hoping for another show only to find that they are spooked at the idea. They were fully supportive and have no problems for the future. Largest gathering since we have been back but never missed a heartbeat, chatted to numerous people not all people I knew, the new me is much more approachable it seems!
My official name change is now in progress and I have a letter from the gender clinic ready to apply for a new passport with appropriate gender marker. Must try to get a decent photograph this time, not that anything could be worse than the picture of a bearded terrorist which was on the old one!
Today I slipped on an old tee shirt for working in the garden, it was a lot closer fitting than most and if I had any doubt about the hormones working they are gone now as the concave patches which I had before are now firm nipples atop small pert mounds, just have to remember not to bump into anything or gather up an armful of anything unless I want to squeal out loud!

Friday, 27 August 2010

We meet at last.

Long long ago but not so far away I finally gave in and sat at the computer and started to search about. We had the machine sitting on a desk for years but it had never been connected to any outside contamination with the net. My beloved spent so much time at work with fast access it seemed foolish to have an expensive connection for the little she needed at home, I knew it would be a great temptation if I got a taste!
All my friends probably think I have spent countless hours mulling over endless photo websites when in fact I have hardly looked at any and then only to see how they had been set up and presented. I have yet to be impressed so if you know of something outstanding drop me a note.
The age of libraries, paper and books had been a disappointment for decades, you could search for ever and  find nothing of interest or if you did it was likely out of date or just plain wrong! I hardly need to say what my area of interest was and still is.
I had little idea what I was doing, had no instruction on how the machine worked beyond press here to switch on and still wish I could look over the shoulder of a good researcher to see how to really make this thing go. Tap in a few words and see what happens seemed like a good start, the thing is hardly likely to blow up, is it?
I tapped in the name of my local area and my area of interest, real life had never brought up anything so what would this machine? Much of what I found that first day is lost in the sands of time but a picture of a girl with a hugh smile on her face in command of the controls of a bus stuck in my memory. Here was a girl with similar life to mine and she lived just a handful of miles, that is 1.6 handfuls of kilometers, away. Perhaps we would meet in the city one day, who knows? At least I knew I was not really alone. Before such a meeting could take place she met someone and was gone and to all intents and purposes I was alone again but had found her website and occasionally dropped by to see how life was treating her. I had no idea that there was a way to automatically follow someone’s site posts! As I got more involved and read more blogs I felt uneasy as if I was looking over some one’s shoulder or listening into a conversation I did not feel I should be hearing. I was reading comments but had never joined in, the guilt was building until one day I had to give my two pence worth but how? I needed an identity, irony since I never felt I really had one in the real world! The site said sign up to comment so I tried to sign into Live Journal and wasted so long trying to find a valid user name, Caroline was already taken and I was not going to be a number! I wanted to comment on a site by another Caroline (Caroline and Suzy of the bus picture were by now an item), and I was a Caroline too, I took out the space and I was in. The comment is long forgotten but having a page of my own hung over me as a temptation for only a short time before I started to make my own posts into the empty void.
As it turned out live journal was not a real success for me, very few people found me and when they got statistics it became obvious I was writing a virtual private diary. When I mirrored the blog on Blogger what a difference, sure nobody made a comment for ages but a few people started to follow me!
For much of this week I read about someone not having a happy holiday in the north of Scotland and half hoped they would pass by on the way south to escape the wild weather but that did not come to pass. I felt strangely sad and bad about having hoped to meet a virtual friend, hormonal emotions! What snapped me out of this was an email from Caroline and Suzy who were heading this way for a family funeral and wondered if we could meet up! This is like busses, you wait for six decades and two come at once!
Their voyage north was enough to put me off the idea of busses for ever, hopefully our time together made up for it and we can do it again in happier times. I am just sorry that the beans were just a bit too over cooked, you just can’t get the staff.
Yes they are potatoes, pink fir apple potatoes and they are wonderful.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Grand day out.

Today we had a grand day out.
I had to be in Glasgow for midday for my GIC appointment with the doctor I saw on my first visit back in February and had not seen me since. I made quite a bit more effort with my appearance than usual, it is something like going on a date I guess, not that I ever got much chance to ever do that. Blood test results went with me so he was able to see that everything was well within limits the rest was chatting about how I felt about the changes, how others had reacted to me, life the universe and everything…
Any surgery which may happen is what seems like for ever in the future but we are now agreed that is where I am hoping to go with this health, funding etc permitting. A year plus used to seem like a long time but at my age they seem to flash past so I am not going to think to much about it. If I get a date I shall not post a countdown on the blog because it would drive me crazy, I loath waiting and when younger did not let on that my appendix was playing up for fear of being on a two year waiting list, an emergency admission worked a treat! Don’t think I can pull that one off this time.
I had dropped Julie off at Kelvingrove museum where she bumped into old work acquaintances when heading for the galleries so was happy while I walked over to the clinic. 

Once we met up again our destination was “The House For an Art Lover” built to drawings by local architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh who is most famous for his Glasgow Art School. This house was only built in the mid 90’s though it had been designed in 1901 for a German design competition.
Somehow we had never got round to fitting in a visit so took advantage of today’s clinic timing to book a table for lunch, thank goodness we did, it was full when we arrived and stayed that way. Food was excellent and service from a young service team was impeccable. House was interesting too!
While sitting in the walled garden afterwards I suggested we call friends who live in the middle of the country and could be visited with minimal diversion perhaps missing out some of the interminable roadworks with average speed cameras for the 40 mph limit. I nearly lost concentration with so little visual input! One of the couple had gone to Berlin for a few weeks to paint. Again! George gave us drinks and biscuits out in the sunshine while we caught up on news from the last few months. Generally he was more shocked about our friends divorce than about my change of circumstances, shame his wife was not home though, I am sure she would have squealed with delight and squeezed me half to death. I was looking forward to her reaction!

Chat went on till mid evening before the chill forced us to give up the garden and decide to head home. The run home is a quiet fifty miles of near empty country roads at the foot of a line of south facing hills, hardly another car on the road and it was a joy to be driving the twisty route through the rolling harvest landscape.
Twelve hours round trip in almost summer weather till a few miles from home when everything got wet again!

Monday, 16 August 2010

A long strange week.

This week I was told that I was really attractive by a close girlfriend while her husband sat just feet away! This makes her the third woman to say this to me in this lifetime so once every twenty years. That has improved my statistics tremendously! The real pity of course is that she was referring to my old self when she thought that I was a sort of guy, strange because we had spent a lot of time together over the years and our conversations were girl conversations. Anyway they now know the real situation which was accepted with a little surprise but caused not much interruption to the conversation before it wandered off into other subjects.
The oldest remaining of my wife’s family members finally died this week after watching himself decline over a number of years. We had become great friends in the three decades I had known him and we often spoke about this human deterioration project, nobody else seemed interested. This guy was something of a genius polymath and had been an eminent doctor at one time involved with the earliest attempts at dialysis he was in charge of the only working model in the world. Later his interest moved into hearts and early implanting of stents in the blood stream. Just last week we were speaking about the aging process and he agreed that it was a mistake not to have written a book about his personal journey towards death. I knew he did not have long left when he handed back mu iPod which I had loaded with university lectures on European history from the renaissance to the present day from iTunes since his eyesight had got so bad reading had become almost impossible. I know a little about everything but not enough about anything so we had spoken on a wider range of topics than with anyone else I know, he was eager to gain my knowledge of subjects which had passed him by but I had encountered, I even occasionally filled in the last gaps in his Times crossword if more popular culture was involved! Just wondering if the Queen will send a message to the family, he was her doctor for a long time.
Looks like we are going to get our forth summers day in a row, time to leave you and get some use of it. Below is some of the bits which I had been writing earlier in the week but never finished because everything became so hectic, must be some interest in there, what a week.
Our summer continues to be cold and very wet, naturally the newspaper I caught a glance of last week claims that it is the warmest summer for ages, please explain why the heating has to come on in the evening and I am wearing a polo neck top to go out to an arts festival today. Could not go yesterday because of the “heavy” rain!
Woke to the opportunity to get a warm cuddle and mentioned that today was a special day, no I was not in that kind of mood, it really is a special day. Is it replied the heartless creature who proposed marriage to me half a lifetime ago! She is still on a course of antibiotics for a dental problem so no Champagne but a box of fancy chocolates have fallen through the letter box so all is well.
Strangely I have done two very small photographic jobs in the last week which has had my brain trying to remember how the photo program works, The last paying job was at new year!
A fortune has been paid out this week to replace a timing belt on our wee car, what used to be a half hour added to the service when we first bought this model thirty years ago has become a half day job! How does this square with being kind to the planet? Every owner is going to have to find a small fortune by causing a lot of unnecessary damage to the planet just to pay for these design flaws, other cars can be worse than ours. Do the maths, number of cars multiplied by £400 / $600 and you have the GDP of many countries for something which has been designed into cars as a known fault.
Going to have to live off beans and rice for a couple of months to help pay for this and there are things like tyres which I soon need to buy!
We have made a few cultural trips out with friends helping spread my good news, nothing but support so far from everyone we tell. I met a painter, Morag, with whom I shared a gallery show last year. She greeted me with “ you’re looking a bit exotic”! as we embraced, once I told her why the embraces got even warmer as I was accepted into the club.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Welcome to Laura.

Greeting Lisa when she visited this week was painful! Doubly painful actually when we hugged! Think she was a little envious since in this barbaric country you will not be prescribed hormones until you go full time, everywhere but work does not count for anything and as you can imagine if you have a face to face job with clients that is just stupid of the so called “health service”! Rant over.
Still meeting those in my far flung circle who get told face to face, one alpha male type who I was uncertain about was perfectly ok if a little confused till his wife gave him a quick tutorial on words beginning with T. I never use them since any word with xse in it fries most people's brains at least temporally.
I am a big girl to say the least and used to worry about being convincing but today I had evidence that there is hope. Someone came to check on the work done rebuilding our storm damaged garden wall. He was greeted at the front door by me dressed in rags hair tied back since I had been cleaning and varnishing a floor. “Good afternoon miss, are you the person dealing with this claim?” “Err, no but I can show you the wall” I said and lead him out to the garden and we chatted about the fun the guys had building in stone rather than blocks, he saw Julie coming out of the back door and said he would now deal with my mum! Oooops, she is only a few years older than me and in very good condition. I left to prepare lunch and as he passed on the way out he made a point of saying goodbye in a very deferential way that women often get. I know that my confidence has increased dramatically from a position where I already thought I was confident, guess there is not much further to go in that department really.
It was marvelous seeing Lisa again, she too has gained in her confidence, everyone in France thought she had probably transitioned, that is just not fair for us big girls.
Just out of the sauna where I can admire my new bumps, just stuck on the last of the three month supply at my highest dose, I fully endorse this product!