Saturday, December 31, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I'm sitting by the fire in my Dad's old house. I've been thinking. I've been crying. I've been dreading the day of the funeral. Now it's tomorrow and there seems too little time left for anything. It's been of week of being at times quietly resigned to what has happened and horror at the unexpected twists and turns of events as a whole family prepares to say goodbye. Sister, daughters, brother in law, sister in law, nieces and mother in law all knew my father in their different ways intimate and distant. I'm sitting with a pack of small cards on the table for all these people to have tomorrow. Come the funeral in just over 12 hours, all these little cards will bear the feelings and thoughts of relatives and friends.
All these people had their own personal relationships with my father and with me as well as each other. If you joined all those relationships with yarn you would have a tangled web....and if you pull the wrong thread...a mess.
Earlier this week I discovered that one relative who really dislikes me as a trans woman had decided to be there tomorrow. I've always felt that he despised me. Since I started to transition I have watched helpless as the wreck of a once united family took place and feelings were mangled, bonds of love severed and relationships lay dying.
To those of my trans brothers, sisters, gay, lesbian and bi friends, none of this will come as much of a surprise I guess. Nonetheless, we none of us want this to happen but have it fall upon us. I have dealt with my own share of it as best I can but always with sorrow as I watched my young daughter and her nieces, nephews and so many others drift apart until the Grand Canyon seemed to open up between them. Try as I might, one by one, lights of relationship and friendship went out.
Earlier this week I wrote a heartfelt letter to my relative, welcoming him to the funeral, telling him how much I respect his views however painful I find them. I tried to explain how a lifetime of forever feeling a girl but having it bullied out of me as a child lead to me living a lie for much of my life. I asked him to try and be warm and understanding for the sake of our family.
This morning he replied. I read with tears how he felt he could never forgive me for hurting others within my family because of who I had chosen to be. I learned with sadness of an intention to appear warm in order to placate others but a promise that it would never be genuine. Of all the horrible words he wrote, the verb 'choose' was the unkindest he could have used. I never 'chose' to be like this. This is who I am. I am who I am and thankfully to nearly everyone I know and meet, who I am and always will be, is a woman.
At one time I too wondered whether it was me who had broken and wrecked my family; that by coming out I had somehow 'pulled the wrong thread' and brought about this tangled mess. If I had continued to believe that, I guess that I probably wouldn't be here now. I'll never give up trying to untangle it all using all the love and kindness I possess but faced with trans-phobia is that something that even love cannot untie?
Monday, November 7, 2011
It is never easy saying goodbye is it, even when the person you love has been telling you for so long that they’re going away and won’t ever be coming back. If you love someone enough, there is no amount of preparation that can help with coming to terms with a final goodbye. The person I’ve just said goodbye to was a very dear friend, a great adviser and an influence in my life. There have been huge arguments at times and periods when we have been distant but never with a finality like this. I’ve just said a final goodbye to my Dad, the one guy that I knew I could rely on and who wouldn’t let me down. My Dad died after a long battle with prostrate cancer. He ironically finished his life on much the same sort of hormone regime as many pre-op transsexuals and as a man he absolutely hated it. We had a good laugh together bout that one.
Relationships with men for a trans woman can be fraught with problems. I still can’t tell if a guy is interested in me because he likes me as a woman or because he has some interest in having sex with a T-girl. I still find it hard to trust men and their intentions. In a world like that it was great to have a man who always wanted the best for me even if he never quite understood why I needed to be his daughter and not his son.
My Dad was a Mining Engineer in the days when that was very much a ‘man’s’ profession. He loved machines, mending things, solving problems and making things work. Early in life, he worked in many dangerous situations underground and survived to tell the tale. During the 39-45 war he built diesel engines for the Navy. As a wannabe girl back in the 60’s I was very resistant to being taught anything mechanical but at least I have him to thank that I can change the wheel on my car.
Dad was ready to embrace modern technology. He learned how to use a micro-computer in his eighties, went shopping on-line and shortly before he died bought an iPod and a portable DVD player to entertain himself in his hospital bed. He watched his last movie only two night's ago; Buster Keaton’s silent movie tribute to the Civil War: ‘The General’. These days guys don’t impress me much. I take a lot of impressing having once been a reluctant male myself but Dad always impressed me, impressed and influenced me. He did what any good parent tries to do and sought to prepare me for life. It doesn’t matter that Dad had very little idea of how to prepare a son for dealing with being cast in the wrong gender. That was a path I had to find for myself.
Saying goodbye to my Dad has made me wonder about my own experiences as a father before I transitioned. I never saw myself as much of a Dad, indeed my youngest daughter seems to have seen my long years ago as a second Mom. Maybe I always compared myself to my Dad and found my own feeble attempt at fatherhood very lacking. Latterly as a daughter to my Dad and not a son, I learned the value of having my Dad complement me on my going out dress, or say I looked pretty. As a Mom I do that too with my daughters but somehow having Mom’s approval isn’t quite the same. Mom liking something usually means ‘this won’t impress boys’. All of this has left me occasionally feeling guilty about vacating a role in my children’s lives that I tried so hard to fill but failed. Looking back, it seems like my Dad ended up providing that much needed male angle in my daughter’s lives after they ‘lost’ their Dad as well as being their much loved Grandpa.
One more thing to be glad for from such a great man. So long Dad, I will miss you so very much.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Yes, it’s that time of year again, the weather alternating between autumnal stillness and a wind that sends objects scudding around the sky. In this Welsh town at the weekend, the streets seemed to be full of diminutive witches clutching broomsticks, pointy hats and masks. Halloween, great fun for the kids, parties,pumpkins and pranks. It’s also a time associated with the death, ghosts and spirits of the past. Meetings with ghosts and can be frightening, unnerving and disconcerting, even terrifying so I’m told.
When my long term relationship died after I came out as Trans myself and my ex entered a new relationship, as sisters. It seemed a shame to trash 29 years of knowing each other. Meeting in our mid-teens, we had grown up together, sharing as much common ground as many siblings. What started as a close friendship morphed into a marriage, probably not the best idea, but then I felt so much pressure to conform and I hadn’t the courage to talk openly about my sexuality and my mixed up feelings. That marriage has now morphed back into a friendship with the enhancement of so much shared experience. No ghosts there then, or are there?
The close relationship with my ex extends to our parents. She lost her Dad some years ago and I lost my Mom. Now that my Dad is terminally ill, we take it in turns to visit him. I value her support, she values mine. That’s how I found myself at her house Saturday whilst she was visiting Dad in hospital. The phone rang and I answered it after some hesitation. I dread phone calls these days in case they are THE phone call, in case it brings news that Dad has lost his fight with the cancer he’s battled for so long. Today however, the call came from a ghost, a voice I thought I would never hear from again.
The caller started talking to me, assuming that she was talking to my ex, she wanted to meet up. It was a phone call, just a voice, no body. I had to imagine an image of who I was talking to and it was one from a good many years ago. I recognised her immediately as a friend from College but someone who had been a friend of us as a couple. When I announced who I was, her tone changed completely. Friendliness was displaced by a detached sense of pleasantry and of politely enquiring about me but not appearing to listen to what I said My enquiries about her life now were brushed off like dust from a coat and the call ended quickly.
What had I done to require this dismissal from someone I once new quite well, but when I was apparently male? It left me wondering. Was this a case of someone not wanting to talk because of ‘what I had done to me ex?’; the sort of loyalty which keeps someone friends with ne side of a former marriage but not the other. Was it unease about the fact that I was now female, and even disquietingly, sounded like one? Or was it a prejudicial view of anyone trans/gay/lesbian/bi? Without ringing and asking, it would be impossible to find out and it was clear that wasn’t interested in talking to m ever again.
I have so many new friends now who have never known me as anything other than who I am, a woman with a short bob hairstyle called Jane, as a female musician, as my daughter’s Mom or as their friendly Teacher’s Assistant. Like any meeting with a ghost, that conversation with a disembodied voice from the past unnerved and disconcerted me utterly. It came as a complete shock to meet rejection like this from someone I used to admire and spend time with, with a ghost from the past.
I’m still trying to make sense of it.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Anyone who grew up as part of the ‘Motown’ generation will probably remember this Diana Ross song. It keeps going through my head and I can’t stop it. ‘I’m just a fool, still waiting’.
I saw a Psychiatrist in my GIC in the first few (and probably the only) warm sunny days of September here in the UK. The plane trees in London were full and green and I went out to see an evening show wearing a sleeveless dress and no cardigan. Its mid October now. Where I live and work here in Wales, the fields around about have been white and thick with hailstones. As we’re by the sea, the leaves have mostly been blown off the trees and I’m in leggings and a long warm cardigan. I’m still waiting.
My Psychiatrist had taken one look at my hormone levels and pronounced the testosterone way too high and the oestrogen way too low. No surprises there. My conservative endocrinologist, remarkably unsupportive of my transition had insisted on the lowest dose he could prescribe of estradiol patches. It was welcome to hear what medication I SHOULD be on. My psychiatrist would write to my doctor and advise of the changes that need to be made to bring my hormone levels into line with what is required before I have my surgical referral (4 months time). A month and a half later and my doctor is still waiting for the letter. As instructed I had checked with my doctor after 4 weeks and almost every couple of days since then. I rang the GIC. The letter, I am assured was sent out 4 days ago. It still hasn’t appeared on my medical notes yet as it needs scanning in (if indeed it really has arrived), still waiting.
When I do see my doctor, hopefully before the end of the week, I still have to make sure that he is willing to actually prescribe what someone else in a hospital hundreds of miles away has suggested. I’m still waiting and hoping that my doctor won’t defer to my unsupportive endocrinologist for further advice, delaying things even more. I’m still waiting and hoping that my Psychotherapist based in yet another hospital 50 miles away will support me by writing to my doctor to ask for a change of endocrinologist. I’m exhausted and drained with waiting….
I shouldn’t complain or should I? This latest waiting period comes after 6 long years of waiting and being passed from one person to another within the creaking health care system we have in Wales, UK. I know that I should be lucky that I seem to be beginning to come to the end of what has been a very long wait indeed. I shouldn’t be surprised at the delays and problems caused by lack of money and too few doctors having to work too hard for too many patients. Like the shy girl in the Diana Ross song I guess that I’ve waited patiently for what some day must surely come. I’ve had a life to live in the meantime, a family to raise and seven blissful years of being a woman anyway in the meantime. Today I guess I’m feeling a bit impatient. I’m beginning to feel I’ve had enough of waiting (stamps her foot). I just want the next bit of my life to start. Here’s hoping!
As a frustrated postscript to this blogpost I visited my doctor this morning. No letter has materialised almost a week after it was supposed to be sent. This left me talking amicably to my dear old physician about transition and frustration, the past and the future as well as all the waiting….He promised to get someone to fax the GIC and request a 2nd copy of the letter, so, until then, I’m still waiting,
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Why would a girl in a low paid undervalued day job want to consider herself a musician? Good question and one I keep asking myself over and over again. I am after all, a long way from earning my first million, or even my first thousand. Why bother, it’s such an effort and being a Mom and a Teacher’s Assistant leaves precious little time for anything else apart from coping with life. ‘Coping’ that’s a word that comes up all the time in my therapy sessions usually in the form of ‘How are you coping?’ I always get asked about whether I’m keeping any time and space for myself. Music happens to be my coping strategy, confined to that 2% of my time that is ‘coping with life’.
I guess that I have been a musician since the age of 9 when I picked up my first guitar and strummed a ‘G’ chord. Learning to play was physically painful. I had bleeding finger pads and mangled nails because like most beginners I fretted too hard (to little effect) and thrashed the **** out of my oversized jumbo guitar in order to make as much noise as I physically could. I hated guitar picks. They came between me and my instrument and I spent ages trying to extract them from my guitar when they disappeared like Alice down the sound hole. I used my fingernails. When strings broke as they inevitably did, the backs of my hands got lacerated. I also used to self-harm. Maybe that was the initial attraction. Playing music hurt and it eased the pain. Once I’d added a few more chord shapes there didn’t seem much point in just playing if I couldn’t sing as well. That eased the pain too.
Round about the time I was 11 I started to dress less conventionally too. I was looking for clothes that didn’t scream ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. I wore mainly bell bottoms which I flared myself by stitching floral fabric into the outseams, jewellery and kaftans. Beginning to sew and make my own clothes helped me to cultivate my own individuality wearing off the peg clothes forced me to be someone I wasn’t comfortable with. I hated being identified as a boy but I was too scared to be open and be identified as a girl. It was the same with singing other people’s songs, they belonged to other people and they didn’t fit. I soon started to write my own lyrics and use my newly learned guitar skills to accompany myself singing them. I wanted to grow up and play music but not have a gender. Gender was too painful to have.
When I began my transition it was just such a relief. Now I could wear regular girl clothes. I wish I could say that the great thing was that I didn’t stand out any more. Sadly, as many of us find, it doesn’t quite work that way. You don’t spend the best part of 40 years being a guy, however reluctantly without learning how to survive and not be called names. It hurt like hell as a teen when people laugh and say you walk and talk like a girl. I ought to have been glad but I took it as the insult it was intended to be. As I grew up I learned how to cover all that up and survive by trying to deepen my voice and present myself in a way that doesn’t stand out. The ironic thing is that when I finally transitioned I’ve had to spend the last 7 years unlearning it. Wearing regular girl clothes became a battle to melt into the background and to be seen as no different to anyone else. Being a singer became a battle to be identified as a female artist.
Of late I’ve come to realise that having achieved that, you can start to express yourself, do things your way even though you have to learn how to be like everyone else first. I write and sing about what I know, about being transgendered, about feeling hurt, about the people who put me down and the experiences I have. If you were there with me or against me and you’re reading this, then like it or not, you’ll be in my songs. These days I don’t mind being identified as a transgendered musician even if it means some ridicule or unwanted attention of the wrong sort. I don’t know how long that will last. How long will I want to put my head above the parapet and put my issues into my songs? As long as it’s painful or raw? Until complete my transition? Until I meet that dream somebody and decide to ‘settle down’? Whilst ever ‘coping with life’ means ‘coping with being trans’? I really don’t know.
If that ever happens, maybe I’ll just want to be accepted as a singer/songwriter, period. Until that time comes, this is me, Transgendered musician, dress, guitar/bass, heels and a deep than expected voice. I am what I am :)
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
|Don't like Windows, nothing against Toshiba :)|
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Actually it’s not quite like that, sorry if you already knew. I’m a Teacher’s Assistant in a Community College. We see everyone here, our courses tend to be vocational, I deal mainly with young people for whom High School didn’t quite work out, who want a more ‘hands on’ approach to learning. My students tend to age between 16 and 18. On the face of things not an ideal group to work with on my first job after starting my transition! My students tend to say exactly what they think and the observe very closely. Are 16 year olds programmed to root out difference and expose and ridicule it?
That’s how it seemed six years ago when I began working here, in the early stages of electrolysis. I had only just started HRT and was living full time. It should have been awful but I’m eternally thankful that it wasn’t. Yes there were complaints about restroom use, the inevitable use of the ‘T’ word, so many intrusive questions, requests for the birth certificate I didn’t possess and difficulties with time off for medical appointments. But actually the overwhelming majority of people were okay. I was puzzled. A long time female friend summed it up for me:
‘You walk, talk and behave like any other woman. Why are you so surprised that people accept you as one? You ARE female, I’ve always thought of you like that, why should you pretend to be anyone else other than what you are inside? That would be stupid!’
That made me look around me and think. I had spent my whole life comparing myself to a blueprint of what I thought everyone expected a man or a woman to be. In my mind I emphasized physical appearance but I’d been ignoring the obvious. Your gender is not the clothes you wear or the way you do your makeup, it isn’t a function of what people call you, it is simply who you are. No one can make you male or female if you are not, nobody can force you to be something against your will.
It was a revolution, and it allowed me to carry on doing what I needed to, to do my job, to be a Mom, to live and get on with my life. Okay, so, it wasn't easy, but I fnally had confidence that people might notice me for who I am, or rather NOT notice me because I was just like any other woman around the place.
That was the beginning of wondering if one day I could just melt into the background and go stealth. It seemed like an ideal to aim for, something to aspire to. Last year it became pretty much a reality.
At one time, I think that that is where I would have left things. But then last year I also had a couple of gay students in class. The College prides itself on preparing students for the world of work. Employment law gets discussed a lot, diversity, equality and attitudes. Debate gets pretty heated around those subjects and I found myself uncomfortably close to discussions about issues close to my heart. I saw that the Gay kids who are out come in for a lot of teasing, much of it good natured but incessant and demoralising all the same. I found myself questioning and challenging others about why they said what they did in order to defend them. I realised that stealth or no, you can't stand by and be an observer. Sometimes it must be fairly clear what my position is.
I know that some of my Gay and Lesbian colleagues in the education system have no problem with standing up for others, with carying a torch for LGBT rights. I have to be honest, the thought of being like that has sometimes scared me. I'm way from being able to carry a torch. I have feared being 'outed' when in reality I'm 'out' anyway by just being me and living and working full time as a woman. Strange isn't it? No matter how sacred I am however, I'm quite clear that I don't want to see others put down because of their sexual preferences or gender. So what do I do?
There are no clear answers to this one are there? I would love to know how others in the Trans community cope with this. I suspect that there are as many answers as there are people :)
Saturday, September 10, 2011
|Prince of Wales Theatre (Photo: Beth Ward)|
A night out in London's West End on a balmy late summer evening was just what I needed, a great way to relax and take my mind of that 'All Important Date', my GIC appointment the following morning.
After we left the theatre, we wandered around the West End, Leicester & Trafalgar Square, it was so lovely not to have to think. I wanted to be really tired before I went to bed. I had spent far too many sleepless nights worrying about the following day: September 2nd.
'Mama Mia, here I go again'.
By the time I was on the tube (London's Subway) the following day, deep breathing and relaxation just weren't working. I felt so sick. In spite of my best efforts to relax there were words and phrases from last night's show that kept sparking off thoughts about what was to come. This would be the fifth time I had had to sit down in front of a medical practitioner and explain why on earth I should want to change gender when I was born male.
‘I apologise if it makes you feel bad, seeing me so tense, no self confidence...’
In spite of all the agonizing about what to wear I had just gone as myself, wearing the same sort of dress and makeup I normally wear for work, adding a pair of heels because I feel more confident when I'm 'taller'. I'd taken along an album of photos taken during the 7 years since I began my transition as well as my Gender Recognition Certificate and a number of academic certificates I'd got in my own name. I even had my ID badge from work. I suppose that what I fear always more than anything else is being 'invalidated', being told that although I consider myself to be a woman that I somehow don't quite make the grade. It made me wonder whether most trans men and women are stuck with always feeling less adequate and less 'valid' than their natal counterparts or whether we should ever allow ourselves to be invalidated by how others perceive us.
'Standing calmly at the crossroads, no desire to run...'
'Is there a man out there? Someone to heed my prayer?'
The hardest part was the waiting. Isn't it always? Do you remember your first date and how you felt waiting if you were there first? Even if you had the confidence that he or she would meet you, you still didn't know what to expect.
It was as well that I took my photographs and documents, he did want to see them, though it felt so strange having to provide evidence that I actually do live and work day in day out as a woman. Normally I just do, I just 'am'. I'm not used to being asked to justify who I know I know myself to be, it felt odd. There were the inevitable questions about my childhood, 'Have you always felt this way?', 'How long for?', 'How did you cope at school'. It's painful to talk about these things at the best of times. It's not easy to talk about puberty as being that hateful time when you felt you were being dragged against your will into being someone you were not and began to hate.
What I wasn't prepared for were the questions about sex. They were sensitively put but so difficult to answer. I'm not embarrassed about discussing sex but I find it hard to describe how it made me feel and would find it even harder to write about. I also felt guilty and ashamed admitting that I had to fake orgasm for so many years and put my ex through the heartache of thinking she couldn't conceive. It took a long time to get over the feeling that I was cheating on her because I had to imagine that I was a woman being made love to by a man while we had sex.
I felt like a limp rag by the time it was all over, but I did feel that I had done justice to who I am and how I felt. I was so relieved to be told there would be a second 'DATE', even if it is with another guy and I have to wait 6 months to get it!
Monday, August 29, 2011
You see, I really want this guy to take me seriously, to value me as a woman and possibly respect me as a mother. I know very little about him apart from him being well educated. Okay, I have to admit this IS a blind date, set up by a friend of mine, I'm accepting his judgment and I hope I'm right.
I'm looking for someone who can offer commitment, reassurance and support. I'm hoping for someone with an open attitude who won't judge me, who'll believe what I say and not constantly question and mistrust me. What is he looking for? I'm not sure, someone who is feminine, womanly and self assured perhaps? I suspect that he's also looking for a woman who can support herself and can prove that she's got an independent life of her own. If I dare admit it, I'm so scared that I'm going to be dumped after a first date for not being an adequate enough woman.
|How do I look?|
I keep telling myself that I'm worrying unnecessarily, I so hope that I am. I'm psyching myself up to just go as myself and relax. If all my working colleagues, students, friends and neighbors have long since accepted me as female why should a psychiatrist question that and why should he question why I dislike having to put up with my male anatomy? What woman would genuinely want to go through life with a penis, except on her favorite guy?
Here's hoping that I don't have to! :)
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I've blogged about my Mom, that was easy. Me and Mom had a lovely close relationship and a commonality of interests that made loving easy and fights sometimes inevitable. Mom was understanding, empathic, and intuitive. I'm pretty sure that she knew much more about me than she thought wise to discuss or ask about. She was simply very loving, openly emotional and a truly inspiring person, someone for me to look up to and model myself on.
My Father is a much more unemotional and reserved man. He has never discussed deep emotions, religion, belief, love or attachment with me. Professionally he was an Engineer and his mind appears to work with precision in the logical analytical problem solving way that you might expect. It's very alien to me, though I admire his abilities. I suspect that he has so much more to reveal but although I longingly yearned for hugs and emotional responses as a child, I seldom if ever got them from him. I wonder if part of that came from me being a boy, at least on the outside. What I wanted was someone to tell me I looked nice when I was going out to a school dance, a reassurance that I could attract someone and be beautiful. What I got instead was advice about girls or enough money to make sure I got home safely. Being who I was, I could never expect to be Daddy's Princess could I?
|My Father on his Wedding Day|
When I announced my transition, there was no shock, but at first a refusal to believe what I was saying and to cast around for reasons why I might be mistaken. It took many tearful conversations with him, of trying to convey how a lifetime of being unhappy had lead me to take the decision to come out before he understood. I wonder if in some ways he felt that he had failed as a father, done something wrong or not brought me up to be enough of a boy. As a child and teenager, my Dad tried very hard to get me interested in cars, mechanics, tools and the mysteries of the workshop. I tried to please and do have him to thank that I at least know how to change a wheel and see to other automotive emergencies. But I was a reluctant student and I'm sure it didn't go unnoticed. It would have been different no doubt had I been a transgendered girl.
In a way, all that has left me feeling that it is me also that has done 'the letting down', that I haven't been a 'good or adequate son'. It seemed a shame that we had both been left with the feeling that the other had failed.
Consequently, in the last 7 years since I began my transition I have done my best to get closer to him and have set myself the task of doing my best to learn how to be a good daughter. It's a challenge that has sometimes made me laugh and sometimes made me cry. The handbook for transgendered boys about how to be a good daughter doesn't exist. Goodness knows what sexist nonsense it might contain if it did. Latterly, my father has become less mobile and increasingly ill, that has made me cry because I can do so little to make him better. What has made me laugh is the way that he reacts to having me around the house, cooking, cleaning and looking after him. He reacts in much the same way that he did towards my Mom. I find myself laughing at the idea that I might be turning into her. He complains about me organizing his untidiness in much the way he did with her.
My Dad never showed public affection for my Mom though I know he loved her deeply. I know it hurt her that he would never kiss her in public, place his arm around her or look at her lovingly in the way she wanted in front of others. He is so shy, I know that he would never be demonstrably affectionate towards me either even though he now accepts me as his daughter. I am touched however that these days he does at least sometimes comment that my hair looks 'feminine' or seeing me in a dress reminds him of something my Mom used to wear. I thought that was as good as it would get. I was wrong.
The Christmas before last, he gave me a watch, it was tiny, beautiful and unexpected. Of course, he claimed to have chosen it because it never needs winding, or a battery....always the engineer, but then he would wouldn't he? But I now have something for keeps, something that makes me feel like a princess whenever I wear it even if it's not in his vocabulary to say it. It's nice to be thought beautiful enough to wear something so dainty. Since I have been able to hug him, and kiss his cheek once or twice, I so wanted to do that when I was younger but I'm glad that I was able to do it now before it's too late.
Unexpectedly, I've found that transitioning involves far more than I imagined and challenges that even in a lifetime of contemplation came as a surprise. The biggest one has been becoming my father's daughter. I'm now making even more of an effort to get to know my father and to get him to talk more about himself and how he relates to me. It may be a bit late but it's all I've got and I need to make the most of it. I have to muddle through somehow. It's far from easy. I've been trying desperately to avoid the pitfalls of becoming a stereotypical 'good daughter' because I'm aware now that every father daughter relationship is a unique one especially when is forged from a 'failed' father son relationship.
Seven years after beginning my transition and long after my friends and those around me have come to accept me as a woman, I realize that transition is a continuing journey and there are other challenges yet to come.
Monday, August 22, 2011
|The Belfort seen from the Burg|
Don't visit Bruges with a guidebook in your hand unless you like that sort of thing. You need to stroll, wander, saunter, walk randomly and experience the city. That's 'flâner', just one word to sum it all up in French. J'aime flâner, not as Yves Montand put it, 'sur les grands boulevards' but round the narrow cobbled streets of this Belgian City with the sound of horses hooves clip clopping everywhere across the cobblestones, the slopping water of the quiet canals and the Minnewater, the chiming of the carillon from the Belfort on the market square.
Bruges is more fashionable, tidy, less decayed and far more expensive now with its many restaurants and chocolate shops. It's the only place I know of with two shops selling Christmas things the whole year round. Still, the charm and that other worldly atmosphere is there. If you only see one city in Europe, see Bruges.
Bruges is visible for miles and miles across the extremely flat Flanders countryside surrounding it. 'Le Plat Pays' was how the Belgian Chanson Singer Jacques Brel described it. A French teacher introduced me to the song at 15 and it made a deep impression on me as a young teenager. Brel talks about the towers of the cites as the only mountains in this flat land. It may be flat, but not monotonous. It is best explored on a bicycle, something I last did back in my teens with a french pen friend for my companion, stopping in bar-tabacs in villages here and there for cigarettes or a beer. Don't take any main roads. There are plenty of byways. You are always coming across long straight canals lined with trees, little pan tiled villages and way side shrines with small bunches of flowers.
I'm back now in Wales, a very wet and mountainous contrast to the flat landscape of Flanders. I came back with a substance abuse problem, large brown slabs which break easily and keep you perpetually wanting more, fresh hot waffles covered with chocolate from street cafes . I've tried buying Belgian chocolate and waffles here but sadly it doesn't taste the same as when you're wandering the cobbled streets, I can feel myself mentally planning my next visit...