Monday, 10 January 2011

The Cockmule Returns

Happy New Year!

It feels like an absolute age since I last posted on this but I haven't been around much since what feels like almost a month.  I had Christmas to which I surprised my Mother by spending the festive period with her and Dad as well as E.  We had a wonderful snowy Christmas, in the Mountains in Switzerland.  It was really lovely there and I feel it was one of our best ones yet.  It was so relaxed and free in feeling and we all had a great time together. I didn't feel like vomiting through festive unrest which has been something that has usually been rattling around on previous years.  Not for anything direct but just bad memories and certain anxieties that like to pop up the minute "Jingle Bells" and "It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year" are played without irony, and gets played continually to the point that Chinese Water Torture sounds like something quite mellow, relaxing and soothing.

Nevertheless this year was different. There was snow, good central heating and I rediscovered skiing and was actually a lot better than I thought I would be.  E too tried her hands at it and liked it too.  But given what a (as she would say) 'Sporty Spice' she is, I had a feeling that skiing would be something she would add to her various extreme sports CV.  It was also fun skiing with her, especially as we are of a similar level to one another. I plan to improve my skiing though and hopefully I can gain enough confidence and control n the ski's to ski parallel a bit more and have more of a flow rather than my current stop-start technique.  Still the main thing I liked from it was the fact I enjoyed it and didn't feel I was under lots of pressure to be a champion skier or out of my depth.   I did have a wonderful teacher who pushed me well enough though but in a way that I would still enjoy it and could manage a chairlift and do a very long run. I couldn't get over how beautiful it was, to look at all of the trees, feeling the sharp bite of wind against my face and feeling that the skis were part of me rather than two extended things that I felt were going to kill me.

I'm quite sure than many a person has felt that at some stage...even if they were 5 or something like that.

Christmas Day was lovely too, I received a beautiful bounty of lovely gifts - but the main thing I liked was that I was spending the day with people that are very special to me and that I love dearly.  That to me was the best present I could have had.  I also enjoyed cooking dinner and I didn't have any culinary fuck ups or heart attacks in the kitchen and the occasionally hit-and-miss oven behaved itself.   It was a happy day. 

We then did more skiing, exploring, numerous card games inter spaced with Backgammon and a viewing of Inception. It was fantastic.

There was a very brief return to London, before going away again on the 29th to New York.  But before I went I got to see my beautiful sibling and the wonderful C and Badger as well as A and D. It was lovely to see them before the year was out.

Then We started our American adventure.  Had a great flight to NY, well Newark to be precise.  It is a bit more out of the way but the connections were spot on and we had luckily avoided some of the travel disruption that had happened on the days leading up to our departure.  I must say NY had it bad in terms of how the snow had hit them.  In the airport car park you could see entire rows of cars literally buried in snow. 

The pavements had what looked like icebergs that were as high as my waist and that was the bits that had melted! I really do commend the Americans for just getting on with it and doing things such as plowing and gritting the roads because they refused to be completely knocked out by the snow. 

I also can't get over how polite everyone was in New York and how helpful. I have never traveled anywhere that had such a nice welcoming atmosphere in terms of how it was towards a tourist.  The first time I went in 2008 I was astounded as to how pleasant it was and again it has lived up to everything I wanted and more.  Seeing New York in the cold and in extreme heat it is a city I really, really love.

We ate wonderful food, walked down practically every street and intersection in Manhattan, and the camera was clicking constantly.  Looking at amazing architecture from varying angles just injected something new and fresh to the senses.  The shops there were a pleasure to look around, trying on trousers in one store proved that I can now wear different styles of trouser which really made me happy! But I just love how the attention to detail, the levels of service are much higher than what I feel we get in the UK.  There is a much higher sense of having a can-do attitude to things and people want to help where possible.

We were very lucky to have a great place to stay too, H very kindly let us stay in her place which was situated in Brooklyn and It was a great spot in which to explore onwards from as well as hang out in. 

Even when in stations and places like that, there was no stress as there was always something in place.  There was only one annoyance I would have for the NY Metro and that is the fact that at some stations you have to enter in the correct entrance otherwise you will be charged twice but in the grand scheme of things that is small fry for what can be a hindrance to one's travels.  Again these are things that you encounter and learn when traveling.

I really liked the pulse that NY generates.  It is a city I could explore and re-explore constantly and not get bored.  It is quick paced but I like that.  We went to the New Museum of Contemporary Art which was really fascinating and a lot of the pieces we saw were based around news, dissemination etc which I liked given that I studied Photojournalism. It was nice seeing some aspects of where art and photojournalism can find a common language in which to work collectively with one another.  A medium of which isn't usually celebrated as such.  I also made a new friend in the gallery in the shape of one of the gallery assistants there who made his own art and was really interesting to talk to.

The Museum of Sex was also a very exciting place to be not just on a personal level but on a professional level too.  Seeing how sex was communicated to the viewer was intriguing and in some ways I felt it was playing safe a bit but on another level it still made everyone in there (from what I saw) feel comfortable.  Which I suppose within anything sex positive is a hurdle it often encounters. People still get sensitive as to how to react to sex or sexual things and within my own work I intend to create I found this to be something important to remember and consider.

Not everyone is going to be as open minded as I am or certain people I know.  Many people keep a dual profile where this is concerned too as I feel we all have certain areas in which brings out a sense of our inner prude - or to be more precise, we all have certain boundaries and limits to what we do and don't feel comfortable in expressing or projecting openly. Certain things are private and rightly so.

Still learning and understanding others is something of which is a constant dialogue I feel we all have and will continue to have throughout life.

New Years Eve was a blast, we went out in the day, ate at a great little Italian in the Bowery, went home had a small nap then went to Prospect Park to see the fireworks and took many photographs of the fireworks (and in E's case some baubles on a tree).  There was such a warm, happy charged feeling in the air that left me with a really pleasant warmth on the inside.

It was also great that many places on New Years Day were open and we could walk and explore more the following day. 

On the 3rd we went to San Fran and luckily with times of flights we had a great morning in New York before we had to go to the airport.  At SF we were met at the airport by the wonderful K and M and they took us to where we were staying and then we had a delightful conversation at the Zeitgeist bar over an amazing bloody mary (if you go to SF go here for one as they are out of this world) and we had a nice chat about all things sex positive and kinky.

The house we were staying in was really nice too as there were two cats...that were very interesting.  One had a tuxedo for a coat and liked to sit on my shoulder and you could walk around with him up there and he was most content.  But discovered one thing about houses in SF in Winter, very few have heaters and it was cold but at the same time we had a duvet, thermals and each other! So all was not lost. 

The following day my friend V met us in the mission and we Had mexican with her, J and JK and then V was very lovely and drove us to the Golden Gate Bridge and we took lots of pictures and then they dropped us in Japan Town afterwards and we had some crazy rolls that had such wonderful fish. 

The sushi you get in SF just blows your taste buds away as does the mexican food.  In fact I think it's damn near impossible to get a bad meal in SF unless you play uber safe or go somewhere like Subway or McDonalds.  But there are many great places that mean you don't have to and are just as equally cheap if budget is an issue.

Whilst there we explored loads of places and met up with loads of people, also went to a very interesting queer party that was hosted by Original Plumbing Magazine. I have never seen so many transmen in one place. It was very packed, charged and had plenty of bonkers outfits going on too.  Prior to that had dinner with some lovely folks and hung out lots with A who enlightened us about all sorts of twisted pervertable things.

On our last night we also had a wonderful meal with some friends and some people that were friends of friends right in the heart of the Mission. 

 It didn't feel like we were there for long enough given that SF is a place about atmosphere rather than crossing off locations that are tourist sights.  Still Given it was my third visit and E's first I think we shall both be back at some point.

I love it there, for the ways in which it is but I also now have a slightly different opinion of the place too such as I am not sure I would handle living there in Winter but would happily spend long Summers there, especially when Folsom is on and a lot of other Summer activities. 

But that to me is the joy of finding locations throughout the world that are nice to stay.  Some places are places to visit once or twice more as other places I think could be revisited again and again.  SF is that to me and it has given a nice injection of fluidity that I think had been sapped from me prior to being away.

But that again is something that travel brings to the soul.  I am happy to be relatively quiet if I am saving to travel somewhere as a different environment, new experiences and memories are what makes life what it is. 

I love being immersed in a different place, culture and getting to experience things that I don't have in my current location. SF will forever occupy a special place in my heart and I definitely intend to visit once a year when I can. Especially as it is such a queer place and I feel there is a lot to see and experience there.

I have an appointment with a psychiatrist next week for stuff regarding my gender identity or more specifically to be referred on from him to Charing Cross. I really hope my appointment goes well as I do need this referral. 

I am still confused about a few things right now and I do seem to have the odd day where I flounder slightly.  I have on occasion become more sensitive which I know is normal but I don't like it and I don't like that people around me have to see this.

It may also sound odd but I am starting to feel a little bit strange about turning 27.  I don't feel I have time to be indecisive anymore about my objectives in life.  I need to knuckle down and focus more on making what I want to happen materialise.

I am aware that I do set high goals for myself and sometimes I do put myself under a lot of pressure but at the same time I need it.  I need to know what I am doing with myself or I feel even more lost than I usually do. The changes in my gender and expression of gender too have compounded certain feelings of vulnerability and a feeling of being lost. The main thing I have found is that how will the changes I have made and intend to make impact on the rest of my life? There are certain situations and things I know I will have to face that I didn't have when I was part of another gender.  Yet at the same time that felt wrong to me. 

Just like now I sometimes am unsure as to whether or not I am Trans.  I am not anti trans in anyway but there is a tension as to where I fit in to the spectrum.  I don't expect to fit neatly in anything as such but the feelings that hurt sometimes are feelings that I don't fit in anywhere and I don't have much data I can relate to. It makes me feel lonely and sometimes I feel as if I am a freak.

I hate it.  I recently read a book about people's transitioning experiences but I have had to put it down as it has so far been quite depressing to read. Most people's accounts state that they have either tried killing themselves or that everything got a lot better when they started taking hormones.

My issue is that I don't want to take hormones, if I was to I don't feel that right now I am ready to. I have come so far and I don't want to turn back but its the feeling of where do I go next is starting to push on my brain slightly.

On an honest note I know there is a part off myself I am sometimes struggling slightly to accept. If I knew deep down what it was I am fighting with that would make things a whole lot easier and offer some clarity. But this is something I am sure everyone goes through and it is a process.  It isn't called transition for nothing. I don't want to revert back to feeling miserable a lot of the time because I was too scared to be the person I wanted to be. I am not Cleo anymore.  Just writing my legal name feels as if I am referring to a stranger.

The fact is I am not her anymore. Yet I am not sure who I am either if that makes sense? I also have my usual pre Birthday thoughts bubbling away such as "What am I doing?" "Will I conquer the world?" and "I should really learn how to read a map" (anyone who knows me well or has traveled with me will know how seriously crap my map reading skills are)

Still in the meantime I shall focus as much as I can on what is good in life and what is good about my life.  I say this a lot but I do have wonderful people around me, I need to stop feeling that I don't deserve this or have fear that everything is going to go wrong. I really am my own worst enemy sometimes and I don't like to admit it much but it's true.

I know and have proven that if I want to change and achieve a multitude of things I can and I will. I am also know I have a strength and am not a weak person. I may be sensitive sometimes or more gentle in my approach to life but it doesn't make me weak. I just prefer to be honest.

I spend half my life living incognito and within that I don't want to start lying to myself. I don't see the point.

2011 is going to be an interesting year, I can sense it.  2010 was what I think I will look back on as an unexpected year.  Many things happened and many things changed and many new things were discovered. This is the beauty within the mystery of life...we don't know what is around the corner and what we experience puts us on a different path each time.

Still a few core principles shall always remain the same and that is love, friends, life, balance and structure.

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