Wednesday, 28 July 2010


I've finally had all my graduation celebrations all done and dusted now and I can proudly sit with my BA with Honours!

My parents really spoiled me on my graduation day from Uni.  We had cocktails in Skylon afterwards and then we had an unforgettable and beautiful meal in L'Atelier and OMG it was AMAZING and I am convinced I am still digesting some of it but the glutton in me is as happy as a pig in muck and I still get gastro post orgasmic chills remembering it all.

I am also so happy that I got the degree that I wanted as I feel some of the sleepless nights and tearing my hair out really paid off.  But also I am glad that I have learned what I have and it really has changed how I want to take photographs and how I think about it all. I also like that it has exposed me and opened me to many different ways of thinking and has given me a liking for things I didn't think I would.

It has helped me to grow and I feel a lot more focused and mature than I did when I first started.  But then I think that is something everyone does especially when in their early 20s.  I do have moments where I remember how I used to think and react to situations and I am glad that I feel I am making progress and developing in a positive way.

I'm never going to be an academic, I don't have that kind of discipline or thought process.  I like to be doing things and creating things, be it photographs or doing things in the kitchen or just doing things in general.  I need to keep myself busy and not just to keep my weight down

Now I have thoughts of what to do next like everyone else is doing I suppose.  I have some work on at the moment so that has been good but last weekend and the next few weekends I have little mini adventures lined up and I am so glad we planned these ages ago as its really nice that everything is all coming around now in a nice sequence.

Last weekend we went to Sheffield and we saw some lovely people and their very lovely cats. Walked about lots. talked and gossiped until the wee small hours and came back to London feeling slightly refreshed to have got out.

Tomorrow we are off to Italy which I am mega excited about.  The party I went to last year was one of the best parties I have ever attended in my life, and what was more lovely is that my sibling met someone and they are still together now and they will be celebrating their one year anniversary! I love it when things like that happen and we all saw it happen too and it was so lovely.  As a result my best friend found love and I gained a very dear friend and made friends with a lot of other special people too. My friends are very important to me, especially my close ones as I feel its crucial to feel support and love from people and at the same time know that there are people around me that are all different and people that care about me to the point that if I am fucking up they will say so.

I find it's really nice to reflect on instances like that happening in life.  I also found myself thinking about where I was at last year and this was the time I knew I wanted to make changes, I just didn't know how. Again with good friends and positive influences it helped me start things.

I still remember a particular conversation with M that really helped.  We were drunk but some of the things she said to me really stuck in my mind and it was a great kick up the arse that I think I needed at that time.

My Mum is also good at things like that as is my Dad. But they are cool like that but one thing that is nice is when I am around them I don't feel so much like a child, I feel they speak to me and treat me like I am a grown up.  They also seem to have coped quite seamlessly with my transitioning and all of my changes. That is also something that I do value but it really, really helps.  Especially if I have moments where I feel uncertain or scared about things.

On a nice note I haven't experienced many of those feelings of late which is really nice. I am quite accustomed to having rollercoaster type feelings but gradually I am feeling that things are starting to balance a little more and I don't feel so much that I am getting extreme highs and massive dips. I think this time of the year helps as there isn't too much to feel like shit about.

I know some of what is in front of me and things to do that are around me right now which in turn I feel helps as that gives me some element of structure.  I also know that I have a few targets I want to achieve and will achieve too.  Not in an unrealistic 'can-do' type of way but in a way that I know I want to achieve some of the things I have set out to do. 

I am determined to get to 70kg but again it is happening, perhaps not as fast as I like because I do love food and traveling to places that has wonderful food might hinder that a little but I will get there! I just have to remind myself that it is possible and I can do it and I have already some down a lot from being 90kg so I won't beat myself up on not quite being where I want to be quite yet. There is no point or I will lose focus.

I also want to have a few writing projects finished soon too as that is happening but having a scrambled brain can be frustrating sometimes as what I want to say sometimes doesn't translate as coherently as I would like. Again I know I just need to continue with it and not lose focus.

I have a few things that I want to achieve before I am 30 and so far everything is heading in the right space I just need to keep it going.

Everything is possible and now is the time to start pushing on. Especially as I am now free of University and the Real World is now upon me. So far so good.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Graduate

Today shall be my graduation day and I feel a mixture of things to be honest.  I am so happy about my grade so at least when I get up to collect my award I will feel satisfied that I got the result that I wanted. It will also be lovely to spend the day with my parents and E is coming too.

A part of me still can't quite believe that Uni is completely and 100% over now.  I almost feel like I am a grown up now, even though I already have grey hairs but it is a strange feeling that a place that has been a part of our life for a lot of years is no longer. 

I have zero desire to do a masters and right now I want to forge ahead and see the world outside the confines of University.  It is a fantastic stepping stone and has taught me many things but now I feel it's time to live properly and do things to a structure that doesn't echo what term time dictates.

Still over this Summer so far have been having a really brilliant time.  My parents are back from Australia so its nice having them close by once again, and I really can't be happier than I am right now which is a really nice thing to feel. My weekends are always exciting and for the next 3 weekends I am away so that is more stuff to look forward to and last weekend was just amazing in every single way.

I started the weekend having a ride in a race car (and subsequently counted my blessings that I was still alive by the end of it) and the adrenaline rush was huge! It was like being on a fair ground ride. Also had lovely food cooked by my Mum and then we all played cards until what felt like all night.

Saturday went to a carboot and bought a beautiful Naval Uniform which fits perfectly.  I am convinced that it was made for me.  Or Admiral Montgomery...jury is still out on that one, but I love it.  It is cut so well and is really heavy so might have to wait until the weather cools a little before I wear it otherwise I don't think I will look as cool, calm and collected as I would want to look in it.  I also need to find the right shoes to go with it and maybe a hat but I am sure Ebay will have something when I have the desire to hunt it out.

Was meant to get out n Saturday night but didn't in the end as was rather zonked, as was E so we fell asleep instead.  Rock and Roll!

Sunday was epic, like really really epic. Woke up early and then I went home and was told I had to await further instructions from E.  So I did, and then I was asked to meet at a bus stop on Kingsland Road, so I get off the bus E meets me but before we head off to wherever we are going to she shoves a blindfold on me and marches me through the streets of De Beauvoir Town/Dalston.  God knows what people thought, not that I really give a shit but still that shall go down as one of the most random things I have done on a Sunday.  I like random so all is well.

After being guided around the streets we ended up in Michelle's flat! I was very surprised as I thought E initially had some sort of perverted plan in place and technically she did (if you know her its more a case of when doesn't she :P) but that aside I was amazed.  No one has ever done such a lovely thing and I know my friends were in on it too.  I still smile lots when I think about it. It was such a lovely thing to do and I felt very lucky and very special.  E also made a lovely brunch and made some very cool James Bond posters out of photographs of me.  They looked great and it was funny revisiting visually some of my hair cuts from over the last 5 years. 

I must say I am liking how I have my hair at the moment, although I sometimes miss having a bright splash of colour I think one colour is working just fine for now.

I was also given some kick arse presents: A bottle of Cote Rotie from M and her E. Lady V was very nice and got me the Ottolenghi book 'Plenty'.  I've wanted that book for ages, and that combined with that wine means that I shall have to make something that goes with it.  All for the purposes of honoring my gifts of course!

After the Brunch we all went to Lovebox and it was amazing! We saw Hercules and The Love Affair, Peaches, Hot Chip and Grace Jones! You can't really beat that for a varied line up.  The sun was shining lots too and I didn't get drunk so I did feel pleased with myself on that note. 

Ran into lots of friends, and saw some people I haven't seen in light years and enjoyed wearing a dodgy moustache. It was a good, good day.

That brings us to today.  I am still in my boxers and vest and for some reason I feel a bit nervous about getting ready.  It will be another event where Cleo shall be used and that feels strange.  I don't forget who I was but the more I think about being female and identifying as female it feels really alien to me.  As if it was another life or even another person.

Still until I change my name legally as well as gender then things like this will pop up from time to time. Still for today I will smarten up, wear my hair a little preppy (I have to wear a mortarboard after all) and I am intrigued as to where we shall all be going after the ceremony. We have the luxury of it being in The Royal Festival Hall so at least UAL has picked us a nice location, and it will be good to see the people I have studied with on both courses.

Goodbye old life...

Sunday, 11 July 2010


I have to say I am much enjoying the month of July. I have never been in such a flux with life where I feel so happy with the way things are going.  It's wonderful.  My weekends seem to get successively better than the last one and I am spending my time with really lovely people.

I know I will look back at this month in particular for 2010 with a particular warmth inside my heart.  I also have loads of really exciting things to look forward to as well.  Such as Peaches next weekend and Love box, my parents are returning from Australia on Tuesday, I am also off to Sheffield and then Italy and in the meantime I have been working on some writing and seeing friends and making contacts.

All in all it's looking rather eventful on the old calendar.  Oh and the lovely weather is really, really delightful too - it feels like being on holiday with all the heat and sunshine. It also makes me want to live on pimms but my liver won't allow that so have been settling for lots of salad instead.

I have also spent some really nice time with E, and this weekend has marked meeting her Mother and Sister. I was initially nervous - but then I think that is normal.  I also realised this is the first time I have met someones family being male identified and they were fine with it all.  I think language barriers aside it's actually really nice that I am in a relationship with someone who has family that are just as open minded as my own.

In my previous relationship I found this not to be the case and that was when I was a lesbian! God knows what they would have been like if they knew I was transitioning. To be fair I was the first person they met and also I wasn't the right sort of person they would have in mind for their daughter. It happens. It also doesn't help being the first person a family meets if they weren't exactly OK with their child coming out in the first place - the odds aren't likely to be stacked in one's favour generally.

Needless to say I think I can safely assume for both parties that we are both glad we don't have to see or speak to each other ever again!

Again this is life. I am sure we all date someone at some point that our parents can't stand just as I am sure we might end up being the type of person that for whatever reason a partners family can't stand.  It's a fact of life.

I must say though it's a lot easier if there is a sense of harmony.

I do count myself very lucky that I do have such understanding parents, that have never made me feel bad about who I am.  My Mum has always had the attitude that when she had me she wanted to know ME no matter how I turned out. I like that way of looking at things.

If I have children one day I will adopt the same approach, as I do believe that when we have children it isn't to create something that is going to 'owe' us anything or have to live up to expectations. I think it is far more rewarding to foister love and not expectations upon someone, as like anything they will grow organically and they will shine in the way they are meant to.

Obviously guidance, care and love is needed but at the same time I think it is important to remember that the person created was made because of love and because of the desire to want to have a child.

OK that might not be the reason if the condom split or a number of other reasons but I think in terms of consciously trying for a child, making changes in your life etc to accommodate a child we also have to make shifts in our own minds to allow for these changes to take place and register.

As I have discovered for myself over the last few months, there is a difference between the theoretical ways and hows of a situation versus the actual reality of the situation in hand. Being honest about who you are, what your boundaries are and looking after yourself and others are vital not only to our own well being but I think everyone else around you too.

I can't believe how much I have changed and grown since this time last year.  In my last counselling session we did discuss this and I did feel that I had let go of a lot of old baggage that I had lingering around. I feel I have learned a lot and am still continuing to learn. I have made mistakes but I have also had many occasions where I have let situations get out of hand because I failed to assert myself correctly or haven't looked after myself in the way I should.

Strangely since identifying as male I do look after myself a lot better than I used to and will continue to do so.  My self esteem has always been a bit of a sore point but I feel a lot better about myself than I used to.  I must say that radically changing my diet and exercising lots has helped that along really well as now I am seeing my body change and my shape alter. It does take hard work but if you stick at it then there is a way to enable desires to come through.

I also need to exercise more now as I do want my body more than ship shape for when I come to have my surgery. Although it won't be for a while I know that I need to make sure my chest is well exercised and I want to be muscly and firm, especially as I won't be able to exercise for a number of weeks post surgery.

Still my current regime of 3 times a week plus 1 game of squash a week is paying off.  If this heat continues too and kills my appetite at the rate it has been I shall be slimmer soon too which is always a bonus and as I have recently discovered rather addictive.

That is something I am careful with, especially as sometimes I feel that I can't notice what I have lost but from last year I am almost 4 trouser sizes smaller so luckily my clothes remind me on a regular basis that the weight has come off as do people around me.

As long as I do exercise I don't panic and I love food and will always love food so there will be no ryvita and cottage cheese for me or celery sticks for that matter! I would make a noose out of lettuce leaves and have done with it all if that was the case.

(Yes I am also highly aware of how melodramatic that sounded too)

This is also another thing that puts me off taking T.  You get hungry all the time! Which for me right now is a big no no!

I do sometimes think about it but right now if I was to think seriously about it or to draw up a yes or no list the no is outweighing the yes right now.  I am not against other people taking T but I am a massive believer of only taking it if it is right for you.

I am still learning how to be comfortable and letting the shifts happen as naturally as possible. All I crave is to have ore muscle so my shape is more recognisable as male and to have no breasts and I would like it if my voice dropped a bit more, but you can't have it all - well not straight away.

The funny thing right now is that i sometimes forget that I was called Cleo only when when I fill out forms! Still that's another thing that I will be changing very soon, as the more I think about it the more I know I need to do this.

Still that's for another blog!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Pride and Misinterpretation

I have had a rather lovely few days. Really liked Pride (for once) and spent it with really lovely people and discovered the joys of staying in one place for most of the day, rather than spending all day surrounded by noise and trying to trudge through people.

Bumped into quite a few friends and then went onto a party and then passed out! This time at home rather than on someone's sofa so I think I am getting better! On Sunday E and I spent the day together and we walked around Brick Lane, ended up doing a bit of shopping and then had an ice cream and went to see the LGSO play in the evening. It was great fun, and lovely to see a couple of friends performing too.  The night also had unexpected entertainment when the conductor managed to fall off the stage!

There was also a tenor singing with a choir and was singing with plenty of innuendo. Well unintentionally of course, but hearing him sing about the King's four fingers was enough to bring out the giggling schoolboy lurking inside of me. Ooops.

I try to be well behaved when on a cultural outing, honestly I do. It seems sometimes wherever I go, something dodgy seems to follow me, and no I wasn't referring to E on this occasion!

There has been something else I have noticed this week.  My end of year project got published by The Most Cake and for the most part people who have seen it have understood it, as did the people who came to my end of year show and the people in my University. What I wasn't prepared for was following it going up on the Most Cake, that someone has put a link of it to live journal and now there are a few people who seem to want to be offended by my project when in fact I didn't see as anything I was making was set out to be offensive.

Still people of the blogosphere seem to be a bit offended by my work. Here is a link to what I am talking about.

Now on reading some comments I do feel that some of my work hasn't been understood, which has given me some good food for thought in terms of how I am going to approach phase two of the project as I want people to be represented correctly as well as show what their opinions are. My project was intended as a slightly tongue in cheek look exploring femme identified people and their relationships - particularly looking at what their attraction to masculinity - in whichever form that might take.

A common misconception that is coming up is that I don't see Transmen as real men which I think is a pile of crap! Seriously, I'm transitioning for fucks sake and masculinity comes in many varied forms. I'm confused and I am sure a whole load of other people are too.

Still it has made me start to think about as to why people could be offended and also I accept that some people might have misinterpreted what I have made and are happily going on a rant based on reading something someone before them wrote or because they haven't realised what the intention of the project was based on seeing a fragmented link of it. Audience and way something is presented to a viewer shall be key as otherwise people do get offended it seems or start picking at things for the sake of it.

I do know and respect that anything to do with identities and particularly where gender and representation start to come into things that by and large people get offended very easily and sometimes it's hard to know why. But it's a fact that they do. 

This also kind of explains (to me anyway) why there is a dearth of work where these areas are concerned as for every group of people that will understand the work and will enjoy it there will always be a percentage of people who will be offended by what has been made.

Another thing to consider when having anything online is that there will be a further population (on a much smaller scale) that will troll around slightly. Woe betide that person you offended 2 years ago - on things like this there is the risk of something or someone popping up and having a bile fuelled typing vendetta with a few furious keystrokes and the hiding behind an online identity.

The age of the avatar is upon us after all. I still find it scary that people can immerse themselves solely in online worlds when there is a massive world right in front of us. Still we are all different and diversity is what makes the world a far more interesting place. 

But the main thing I am acutely aware of is that with anything creative, be it writing, art, photograohy, film - you name it that there will always be a percentage of people that won't like what you create or understand what it is you are making.  That is the way of the world and is what makes us people. Human beings are tricky creatures to please. Unlike our animal counterparts that just eat, sleep, mate and roll around. They check each other out by sniffing each others backside's and from that they decide whether or not they can be friends.  It seems that humans constantly need to find stimulation and satisfaction and most of all a sense of empowerment. Given we are most driven by our ego's that is why there are people who create work, and that is why they have admirers who understand the work and feel in some ways a connection in which their ego is satisfied.

Give something to someone in which it displeases the ego and then that's where the trouble starts, there will be no friendly bum sniffing or affiliation - it will be hissing and knives out. Repel the type who offends the territory and doesn't appeal to the intellectual propaganda being created by the surroundings of the people around them. Instead it is either thumbs up or thumbs down in what feels like a return to the Roman times.

Still as a photographer I know that not everyone will like my work a lot of the time. But I will still continue to make work, especially about topics I care about. If you don't make work or create anything then that to me signifies someone who isn't trying.  I also don't want to photograph topics that have been done to death or photographed so many times that there doesn't seem to be much else to say on the matter.

I also can't help but feel that in someways art is viewed in a very subjective and black and white manner. Generally it does get viewed as either 'good' or 'bad' which is a shame as there are many interpretations as to what does or doesn't visually please us.

Still it's always interesting to find out what people think and how people react to images too.