Saturday, 3 February 2018

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"You're one of the most dissatisfied people I've ever met,
said one character in Prime's Transparent last season, words that rumbled and resonated with me since. That haunting hooking quality of those unexpected occasional phrases, the jangling that they create, is being investigated by the mind way before the brain catches up. Similarly, a friend said at the pub last year, as she was approaching fifty: "You can see patterns as you look back through your life, patterns that point to who you really are".

Pavement Cracks

I'm seeing a peculiar pattern in my own behaviours that is distressing. I'm being reminded, especially recently, by this droning low mood, that something in life isn't quite constellating. I drift to memories of the summer, in a picturesque forest garden, an arch of climbing roses at the entrance. The horror hoops I passed through, the risks I took to get there. I think about the despair that took me to a cheap package holiday abroad so I could sort out my life a few years earlier. The result was the start of a life, or a chapter, in southern Spain. The final few pages as I remember, without irony, how little I wanted that unforgiving sun in November.

I look back at the time I spent at the Sunseed community, and how much bliss, amongst the challenges, was there. I think about the horror of art school before then, how uncomfortable I was, how I drifted, vaguely and drastically unable to focus. And just a few years before, the awkward stays at strangers houses while I was WWOOFing, not a clue what the difference is between a spade and fork, peculiar exchanges between hosts - one, a trained psychotherapist - where the tears wouldn't stop. What had she undone within me. And inevitably the end of that adventure to take a minimum wage job in England, to save again, to go back at it again, try again to get on the train that I liked to imagine was missing me.


I think about my difficulty as a graduate, with the flamboyant outfits, the teasing, the dis-comfort and un-ease within myself. The identity crises, the lack of boyfriends, the hours with magazines and music. The car crash year out after that, in which I gathered the odd pieces of my life after a brief stint at fashion college in the Big Smoke went disastrously wrong. Where I cried non-stop for almost 10 days. Where I couldn't look in the mirror or, rather, when I did, I couldn't see who was returning my gaze. The full-time summer of saving, serving coffee and pastries endlessly, to save for my Canada Water houseshare, all over in the blink of a banal undetectable trip back from London Euston to Rochdale. I responded by spending my last London money on singing lessons in Manchester and practised melodies from a very bleak Annie Lennox album.

The goth years at college, blank and uncomfortable. Skin caked in white make up, homemade black oversized outfits. Leather boots. The angst-ridden poetry. Where was I? Where was my spirit? An old photo of when my friend and I went to a Greek island after the exams,how I look a mess. But I tried. I tried to write, to connect, to paint, to sing, to get fit, to speak French, to be a human, more at ease. But something was never right, and I never knew what it was. I put it down to the difficulty of growing up. Stability would come soon, I knew. A job, the elusive feeling of easiness. Did I remember when I last felt that?

17 Again

Today? As always, the fine calibration of my emotions means the slightest thing sends me spinning into the ether, for days, weeks. I'm floored. The drama queen, apparently, the over-reactor, the 'old man' as my mum would call me when I expressed dissatisfaction as a child.

On an around-the-world ticket, trying to be the healthiest I could be, I was a screwed up mess. Jobs were difficult to come by. Money a constant concern. Relief, temporary, from food and occasional sexting someone I didn't intend to meet. I took up bikram yoga. I wrote astonishingly brutal, crude and long emails to friends. I couldn't bring myself to go to gay clubs. No-one was ugly there. A guy I dated firmly reminded me that I was not a pretty boy.

Despite all this terrible sequence of events, I am despicably happy when some of my smallest needs are met, namely - s p a c e. The primal frontier. Space gives me sanity. A bath (usually over 90 minutes), silence or singing, doing absolutely and utterly nothing. And then, like a wild fox cub's little snout sniffing the air to come out, deep joy from this incredible natural well uprises. And for those precious moments, like now, I feel utterly at-ease, sane, of sound mind, normal. What on earth yanks me away from this?

Travelling has always knocked me sideways for miles; when I arrived in San Francisco after a 13 hour flight from Sydney, the waitress's expression captured everything I didn't dare believe when I caught my reflection somewhere. I'm so easily dismantled, devastated. Recently, back in Autumn, I took a 3.5 hour round trip to see an exposition on British woodland. The following day, despite a lie-in, I looked exhumed. Haggard, one person said to me. Safe to say, I have minus resilience. WTF am I going to do? How can I live this way?

My True Love

Get real is advice I've often received and binned. I feel authentically real, "too" real and 'too' able to feel, to sense. It's psychic TMI. The generic advice we hear a lot is that we should all feel more, turn to those in need more, give more; but how can we turn to anyone else when we feel such distress? What can we possibly have to give? This constant feeling forces me to feel and act like the selfish one, the abrupt one, the aloof one, as I struggle to just get up and gather a feeling of normalcy. If other people share this feeling, then no wonder many of us want to be left alone, to our own devices, lost with our earphones plugged in, glued to our screens. Thank God for the internet. Some of us are magically and terribly dissolving in the presence of others, the many voices, the many priorities, the many to-do's of the day, when all we want to do is - breathe, stop. And then, eventually - ah, go again.

I'm studying a part-time Masters supporting myself with part-time work that doesn't, in any way, support my highest values. Without a drip of hyperbole, the moment I enter one place - relentless artificial lights, an unrelenting pace of work, the 15 minute pump of the artificial air freshener. The dress down Fridays, the half empty bottles of Dr Pepper on desks and empty cans of Red Bull dead in the bins, the kind smiling tone thinly veiling the relentless urgency of the tasks. I reach for a coffee, a sugary snack, anything, to push the feelings away although there've been constant promises to myself to listen and respond more attentively. For my sanity, I wonder if UBI has yet been invented and am I entitled. I commit to playing the weekly lottery.  I take some breaks in the large unused disabled loo, lights off, doing Legs Up The Wall pose, Head Down Dog and taking deep breaths. Because I have to be here, at least for a few more months, as I pay for my post-grad. Does this skew my feelings about study?

I Saved The World Today

My hands are tied to try anything more in attempts to be better at this. I've always gone out "as the actress" because I value decency and kindness and our lives here far too deeply to not show up, to not engage my patience. I pushed through every undergraduate panic attack to attend every lecture. I pushed through the unease as I imagined the other side would offer something more golden, less frantic. I get a lot, "You're so happy" and I just smile. I'm hopeful and in love with life on earth, its wonders, its true beauty. Despite our complex use of the "natural world", its presence in my life has ushered my spirit to be strong, calm, full of courage. To strive for nothing really, just sit and look. Yet the architecture of the human side I have so desperately tried to want and belong to and need to inhabit smarts on me, the constant stream of anxiety about income or rather, the value and self-worth attached to a profession, a vocation. At 36, might I have to let that go? What now?

A Thousand Beautiful Things

This weekend I'm back home visiting my sick grandma in her room as she recovers from second round of pneumonia. Just her and I, we sat side by side, her in an easy chair, a close up of her snowy flossy hair, my warm hands on hers. We said little, sometimes just before she nodded off she seemed to access something deeper within herself where I could ask more intimate questions about how well she was, if she was being 'called' by those she had lost. And that gorgeous joy of life again, the authenticity of this slow, beautiful, entirely familiar and unstrange moment, creeps into the two of us. We are connected without contrivance, without etiquette or the superimposition of any other world; no plastic happiness, but a palpable real-ness. I ask her gently, as she is half awake half asleep, if she feels looked after, cared for. And she tells me that she has the world. And for that moment, firmly, we both do.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Night Hungry

"Baby we both know
That the nights were mainly made for saying things that you can't say tomorrow day" - "Do I Wanna Know?", Arctic Monkeys
Self-portait, 2012

Before going to sleep, I enter this dream state where everything seems a little clearer than it does when I wake up. It all starts to dawn from 5pm. Now it's approaching 1am and here I am unable to sleep because I'm excited about getting ready for tomorrow's party. Trying on outfits earlier, automatically I plump for a soft Foxy Brown-esque alter ego - it never occurs to me to go as a boy. I went for a baby pink afro and leopard dress.

My Big Fat Greek

A few years ago when I was invited to a fancy dress party - the invite vaguely said, "Come as someone European" - I went as a Greek bride. It wasn't until I entered the Hall at the last moment - in my local average town - that it dawned on me that a full bride's outfit was a step further than others had gone.

A few years ago, around the same time as now, I spent the day with a treasured friend and we made videos as different characters; her a Halifax mum of two, me Beau Bow, an Amy Winehouse-esque East End girl who played Heads Up! on my phone (a digi take on charades). We had tremendous fun, laughing all afternoon, no shame or embarrassment (or similar) from me whatsoever. It felt so natural.
Heads Up

I've always had a habit of wearing hats. I've always felt super exposed without a hat on and it resulted in becoming an apprentice for 18 months to the fabulously eccentric Mrs King in Hebden Bridge then taking on a commission for a local theatre. Wigs seems like the next best thing. I've considered a helmet but that is a step too far. I wanted a big glass fish bowl, like an astronaut. Maybe next party.

Heavens Above

So now when I ask the heavens, as I am always inclined to do, to show me where my happiness lies, it asks me to surrender. And uncover the cause of my dissatisfaction, the reason to scratch an itch I can't seem to find the origins of. As a teen, I would be drawn to documentaries on transvestites and transsexuals, dated labels they had 10 years ago. Fast forward to a time where the word trans is much more in the every day sphere and the subject is no less fascinating to me. And, in conversation, my nana still refers to me as 'she'. No-one corrects her, including me. My BFF made the slip the other day and I enjoy it.

Self-portait. Mexilhoeira Grande, 2015
To be clear, it's never appealed to me to be trans. Or dress in women's clothes for sexual pleasure. My journey through gender as a child is well-documented on this blog and now as a adult, a real proper man adult on my way to 40, I still wonder about identity and its fluidity, the massive spectrum. The most brutal procedure I chose was at 18 when my facial hair began to thicken. I underwent painful laser surgery to have it removed. Once blisters healed and all the hair fell out, I couldn't have been more content as my fingers stroked a smooth face. But it soon returned and I couldn't face, or afford, more treatment.

Earlier, on holiday at 14 or 15, horrified at the sight of my legs getting hairier, I just felt humiliated, somehow. As if my body had let me down, that's the closest I can describe it. I feel very differently now and appreciate body hair but what a peculiar turn around. And what the catalyst? I really have no idea. But if my niece were to feel out of sorts and "like a boy", for this reason alone I would advise waiting, seeing how those feelings transform so the physical body doesn't have to undergo life-changing surgeries or lifelong medications.

On the badminton or tennis court, or when I am weight lifting, the hilarious thing is that I feel my most aggressive, the most cis-gendered. My muscles respond very quickly, I am super competitive and I bellow despair and victories. And then, off-court, a transformation - the elegant dancer, maybe, the studious reserved reader, the loner.

I'm still dangerously in love with the myth of the man. Recently, experiencing a friend opening the door for me, holding my shopping bags, paying for lunch...I was absolutely thrilled. I have never experienced that and I felt so in my role, he so in his. As much as I question the Hollywood-fed love mythology around us in films, storybooks, theatre, I am its victim well and truly. Not intellectually, but hormonally, bodily.

In relationships, the EQ levels of the partners I've had had altered, depending on the moment and the person as it will with opposite sex couples. In the last serious relationship, coming out of the shower with a turban towel around his head and another bath sheet pulled up under is armpits, I was forced to laugh then become to the archetypal man. I felt genuinely moved to care for him and treat him tenderly, and vice versa when I entered a softer mode. Beautiful, really.

Self-portait, Lancashire 2017
And so I continue to be in love with the idea of love, of the 2 doves, the swans, the elegance and intimacy of 2 people together, the private nest in the sky as clouds pass by. Tomorrow night, I will boogie with my girls as a the foxiest girl, absorbing all the attention that falls on me from the men who for one night only will hold all the glamour and restraint of the vintage men from the Fitzgerald books I cherish so dearly. And as the morning must come, so will reality again with its shattered slipper and stack of books and pdfs to read for uni; the soil, the flowers, the seaweed will call again to a person dressed simply as a man who no-one would suspect is still a girl underneath, somehow. A 2-4-1 Human Being. How cool.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues

"when are you gonna come down / when are you going to land?"
- lyrics from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John

I've had a glorious 12 month honeymoon period in the UK. Central heating, warm trains, badly varnished doors, strange voices that all sound the same, freedom, fairness, bamboozling requests as a barista, getting my yoga classes off the ground, existential and exquisite chats with a plethora of taxi drivers, diamond friendships, being metaphorical about eating again - pizza as a vegan cus I worked in an Italian restaurant and wanted to live that myth for a while. Train travel generally, magical. I don't think I ever took a train in Spain; a car is preferable and the roads never end, the traffic in rural parts only exists in the imagined future. Mhm the showers in the houses I live in are heaven, a shower and its glory will never cease to amaze me. And I will resist understanding engineering (if that's what allows this magic to flow above my head) so I can always see it as magic.

"Goodbye yellow brick can't plant me in your penthouse, I'm going back to my plough"

And STUFF...stuff, everywhere. You can have organic wholefoods loveliness from delightful places, or you can eat trash from packets that you probably can't recycle, depending on which Council takes your waste. It teaches one not to be so binary. You can have it all. Heaven yeah. The delightful mammothian skeleton of St Pancras with everyone going everywhere (but where? how can it be...) and whirring around the City, everyone occupying their own mythology about what they believe to be true, the values they hold. And, as Harari points out, unlike primates, there are thousands of us constantly sharing a space with so few incidents, relatively speaking. There we all go - up escalators, on bouncy castles, chatting incessantly to people who mostly hang up, defeated young girls with disheveled makeup propped up and sobbing or shouting at a friend cus Mr Right Now said something disagreable. Mind-boggling.

And later this year - a return to academia, where everyone imagines very seriously that putting ideas in order, dissecting them, then continuing to dissect them and the argument skeleton in which they exist to re-arrange and re-see...will somehow continue to be read or heard by someone who also wishes to study the same, and continue it all, tearing it all down, and nauseum without the nausea. Ad infinitum. Jesus freaks, out on the street. And for a moment, at least, in the academic sense, it will all make sense.

There are still people who believe in God which I marvel at. Mostly because I've always had an internal device that, if something gets popular, it computes as repulsive. Or at the least suspicious. I call it discernment. No-one was vegan or sugar-free when I was. And I think I liked that. The struggle made me build muscle and be a northern working class bastard fighting the forces. Now everyone is virtually vegan so gosh-darn-it I will eat burgers and hotdogs, and teach 'em a thing or two. It's just that there's getting less unpopular stuff to do. Less forces to fight.

I left the UK to find more folk interested in living off the land somehow and at least trying to be more literal. But then when after a dozen or so engaged me about it, I felt the device activate and immediately lost my passion. And I didn't trust them. I become a lawyer. Devil's advocate and argue against myself. Or maybe rather, another constellation glows - a pattern, being fleshed out by words. A pattern means that what we are saying, thinking, in that flow has impressed itself enough so that we can use it in a formula in a higher order of REASON! Hmm. Thank God I found academia.

"I should have stayed on the farm..."

GRAMMAR is a great word. I remember just being so happy when I discovered a band that uses it in their name. It's the original "paradigm". Now we can't move for paradigms; if someone wants strawberry rather than raspberry jam on their croissant at a Pumpkin when their train is late, it's asserted as a paradigm shift. I let them off cus words are usually insufficient, right? It's a paradigm shift in the making. Emojis, anyone. You'd be pressed to not find a paradigm shift. There goes one right now.

Anyway 12 months on, Englishness is starting to grate on me. Not in a spectacularly obtrusive way but just in that way that started to tinkle the chimes in a previous life which brought to mind to go Elsewhere. When we go elsewhere, we don't think of churros, or palm trees, or cheese baguettes, or alien registration plates - although they feature in the imagination - but we just want something...else. Like those idiots we all know (you might be one) who are sold cus something it's "different". Well, it's different in't it someone might say and then proceed to forage for their purse and buy it. We like different things cus they are not what we have. Like the lovely negating squiggle in philosophical arguments. I want ~(that). Could be anything. A raffle. We all love a raffle. Except we win what we could have bought online for half the price. Or we actually gave it away last week in a charity shop. Because it's something different.

I'm sorry, could I just put the Reservation sign there? my friend and I leave the table. Sorry. Whoops. It's a thing in ASDA. I love Whoops. As a low-earner, a poor student (see my funding page) my innards are illuminated by a Whoops! sticker. It's unmistakeably English cus it's inherently sorry. I'm sorry could I just - sorry - get passed. Sorry. This is NOT a thing in Spain so I have to not be dense and literal and accept that fact, and smile graciously. But it irritates. It's detritus from colonial I just invaded your land and called it my own and probably everyone's dead so what I am saying I am saying to my alive people. Sorry about that. Thanks.

My Honeymoon hasn't come crashing down (as long as I refuse Smooth FM and its 6 songs) but it is evolving into intolerance of things. Is this adulthood?? 12 months is giving me patterns, rising like cream on the milk of life. Sorry. And the pattern that is apparent now is that I need to be inoculated into something else. Oh shit, something different! I'm a dead man. OK, once again - with feeling.

I am slowly reaching through the detritus of difference, botany Masters being mastered ....with a skeletal ~(vegan) hand to be a Treasurer of a veg coop, write for a corporate governance website and start spreading 2 year rotted manure on my home garden. I also just found a permaculture place a stone's throw from Canterbury (ish) so I want him to want me on his place in the New Year and show me why pigs don't sweat and why they deter foxes away and why soil is just the best yay. Because being around that world, as much as I am not that world, I'm more of it than being in a bright lecture theatre room or a bright aisle metal trolley Whoops! or central heated call centre world filled with Celebrations and smelling of diabetes and despair. Or, just boredom, that rots one like cowardice.

"and I think it's gonna be a long long time"
-Rocket Man, Elton John

Count the headlights on the had a busy day today. So I could invent a new business, or App, or strip for my Instagram and snog a trans person, or vote Brex-in too late, or I could learn Python or continue to invent a CV on LinkedIn and pretend to be employable or sing in a densely populated mall with just my toes or Google how to make a million..but I'm defeated just summoning these superficial frivolities. Which is why I will do none of these things and just stick to what I know about chickens, and feeding soil, and reading well-written books, hoping to be as articulate on at least one paper, learn how to regenerate landscapes with David Liu (please God), keep reducing packaging (sorry), flossing my teeth...and seeing patterns. And watching Elton John on YouTube. And wondering why I have always been fascinated by olde Hollywoode glamour. And keep wondering... as I improve the soil that people might remember not just in 20, 50, 80 years but is actually fun and needs doing. Right now.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Save The Planet: Be More Materialistic

Think you’re a doomed material girl? Think again. You probably can’t even change a light bulb.

Why is that when I write blogposts about environmental issues, I feel like a stern matron wagging her fat clean finger? It’s not as if I’m not wagging it at myself, too. But if I just wrote “bla bla bla”, it might make as much positive difference. Am I despairing? Not quite. But I do wonder at the value of reminders about the negative impact of our actions on the environment. Without resorting to in-depth study and statistical lines that zigzag vertically where everyone gasps, most of us know have this slow rumbling in the background that we might one day arrive at the petrol station and no oil will pour forth. Although I’m writing that and don’t believe that it’s true. 

And yet, how do we live with the guilt that we kinda have to go on leaving a trail of plastic-disaster? For sure, slowly surely we change as our culture changes: the overarching curve is unarguably positive. But day to day, how can the sensitive creatures not be driven mad by the contradictions? I wanted my life to be more like Wind In The Willows (the good parts). But at the bowling alley and amusement arcade last night, I might as well have been in the last diabolical scenes of Avatar. Fat rosy-cheeked children fed greedy machines with endless tickets. For prizes. Plastic prizes. I needed to have a stroke just for an excuse to become unconscious and make it all go away. (God, just so you know, I don’t want a stroke.)

Later we had pizza at Zizzi last night with the fam’s, trying to pretend to be normal. I ate chicken and ham, even though I constantly imagine myself to be vegan, despite being followed by a buttery haze. My sister asked for a straw for her daughter’s apple juice and I had an eco-itch to scratch. My memory vaguely told me that September is STRAWLESS. So I asked the waitress for a paper straw (glass was too far) because it's September, hello. “I’m already vegan for September. That’s enough.” I almost squealed I'M VEGAN TOO but spotted the meat feast slipping down my throat and put the seabird’s stomach bulging with plastic shit to the back of my mind. These small defeats crush me.

I’m managing a tiny team of people right now and I can finally understand why managers at least ought to get paid a LOT of money. The manager seems to have the worst job – managing not only one’s daily expectations of work, but those of others and, like a desperate mother, trying to get the balance right between breaks, aligning values, getting over the mundane stuff. Before you know it, you’re behaving like a d*ck royale because you have to pretend that since the manager title was bestowed upon you, all paradoxes, contradictions, sleepiness and boredom are things of the past. I think, are we ALL just pretending like managers do? That there's a world that all makes sense, that can be measured, with nanas who knit and make pies, or something.

Late night is my favourite time of day. It all makes sense then. It’s a small window of time, from about 8pm til I fall asleep. If I’m lucky, like last night, the place even smells like freshly baked bread. I read. Voraciously. Words soothe me. They promise a shiny future. Everything makes sense in a book. Writers are waving their magic wands. Where problems existed, writers banish them. And jangling-ly my alarm dumps me in plasticated earthland at 8am and all the concepts that massaged me to dream of furry animals are mostly forgotten. Here is the world. Full of over-flowing smelly bins, chicken huts full of poo, bathroom with congested pipes, furry veg that I didn't eat as a vegan. The world is terrifying.

At least it is for a sensitive poet, writer, artist or whatever I am. The last time I wrote a poem was about 3 years ago. And I can’t remember when I painted; I was forced to stop because I couldn’t bear pouring water-paint mixture down the sink. I thought of the ducks and the seabirds and the fish. Dead. With my shit picture hanging on the wall that would soon be forgotten. Even the noble National Trust isn’t to be trusted with our delicate lives. We visited 3 sites over the weekend and the candles, to make rooms smell of bohemian people and wildflower meadows, displayed a horrifying stylised picture of an asphyxiated fish next to the words “will permanently damage aquatic life if released into the environment”. Which environment? Ours? But there’s only one. The shop is IN the environment. The release has happened. Fuck. Where's the tea room to drown it all on a sugar high? It’s the only way to push down the feelings that with each scented candle, the vigil for life as we might not know it. 

I saw the picture of Angelina Jolie in The Times yesterday, quoting her as saying she was just trying to live every day. She looked beautiful, of course, but my sister and I remarked on the sadness in her eyes. At 42, having 6 children, recovering from a double reconstructive mastectomy and recently having her ovaries removed, one wonders just how afloat and unstrained any human being can be… especially since she has a string of charities to her name and her gruelling Netlix series has just been released. My God. I am sad, or exhausted, thinking about it. I want to give her a hug and a piece of cake.

The super-rich interest me because they have what many dream of, at least materially. The Jolie household fly from continent to continent regularly helping at various noble projects. The Kardashians zoom around equally, they all do; the air is constantly abuzz with the super-rich. They’re not chem-trails, you conspiracy believers - they’re celeb trails. Nicole Kidman. Madonna. Engelbert Humperdinck. They’re all up there, 30,000ft eating nuts and olives from some poor bastard in southern Europe whose worked his knackers off. I won’t verge towards any more logic. The reasonable people who think they talk “common sense” suffer the most.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Naming & Shaming: Beyond Sexuality

Bob McCune, Herb Lamm 1949, with superimposed text

Growing Pains

Are you... oh I just thought by...oh, never mind...but if you could just...sorry but we're full...yeah, sorry mate, maybe next time...or ...just silence. Going from family trouble-maker, to shamanic oyster via the domestic jungle fka the garden. Bear with me. Shit's going down. I thought I had washed my hands clean of this nearly 2 decades ago.

I resented 'coming out'. So much so that I moved out to live with my sister when I was 16, determined to just be myself and not have to share what I had considered such a private concern. I wasn't interested in the sex lives of those around me, so why was I being nudged towards the platform of what felt like brutal or humiliating honesty?

My mum cried. I remember vaguely her mentioning grandchildren. My dad was silent. And I was a jungle of conflicting emotion, muted. I had the reputation in my family as trouble-maker in my teenage years. Always curious, questioning. Was I creating more trouble now, even against my better judgement? Other shadows lurking around the household felt more pressing; the half-empty packet of something called Prozac in the bathroom cabinet. In earlier years, the episode where bedroom curtain were drawn, and doctors with bowed heads left rooms by closing the bedroom door so tenderly, as if any more force would shatter it;the force of my father's volcanic temper that smashed my sister's enormous CD player. According to the convention, those times warranted no conversation, no apology. Shame, rewarded and inflated by silence.

Trouble-making was the mere spotting that there was a rug to look under, and to consider to dare to lift it up, let alone look under it. And luckily I believed that there was so little there, in many respects, but in terms of nourishing emotional worlds, there were whole galaxies of missed opportunity. Shush-ed. Orbiting in silent space. I wanted to be a grown-up.

And so I did what every normal kid might do. I silenced the trouble-making. I found solace in my bedroom, in magazines, in my sewing machine, in songs. I tried to find my voice by imitating the greats of jazz and blues. I wore my headphones as I screeched, badly, with knocks underneath my bedroom floor. Silence was preferred, was the reminder, regardless of the sound.

My ticket out of this shrink-wrapped world of ultra domesticity of 3 warm meals a day (2 of which were fed to Tara, our Rottweiler) and an annual sojourn to DisneyWorld was fashion college, I tallied. I worked such long hours that summer to pay for my fees and rent in central London. I had been accepted to LCF and my dressmaking teacher, who had created costumes for Danny LaRue (or was it RuPaul?) was thrilled. I was thrilled, in retrospect because it was the the necessity of the piercing of the shrink wrap. It was new breath after the hypersleep of suburbia. I imagined. It turns out that imagination can be so precariously balanced when it sits on top of the landfill of dismissed feelings.

Am I exaggerating? Maybe a little. But the kaleidoscope of the past and the emotional distance it affords allows one to see, in the context of something considered more normal, the true micro-horrors of a childhood or adolescence in which a potential wasn't able to be realised. Not through lack of good parenting - my folks did all within their power to make my sister and my lives comfortable - but through having a gift that I didn't recognise. The gift of causing trouble, it seemed.

Two situations happened this week that have pushed me to re-consider my relationship to responsibility to my emotional well-being. That might be a long-winded way of just saying, I wanna feel OK. And when people heckle insults at me, despite my belief that it is them who are wounded somehow, it's me whose internal playing cards collapse. Insults, specifically insults about my sexuality, are Kryptonite. Why?

The years I've spent attempting to inhabit the freedom I lacked as a shrink-wrapped screwed up teen allowed me to feel a sense of ease. I've been travelling, learned some basics in gardening, taken every course that has appealed to me...eaten everything that seemed good in my path. My mind has an insatiable desire to learn, to experience, to bring more understanding. So what's this sticking point? Why do I breakdown when some idiot calls me a name?

I have kept the same attitude as a teen to not wish to discuss or name my sexuality. Extended family conversations don't include my current love situation. Thank God. In all the places I have travelled, including many villages in the UK, for me the topic wasn't worth being on the discussion table; I was exploring this new thing and so like a thesis writer at the beginning of his investigations, my results were private. I never go to Pride, or really understood why it existed.

And yet, the tables turned when trouble makers looked under the carpet as soon as they sensed and felt and perceived that I wasn't one of them. Who were they? Mostly, but not solely, heterosexual men. They avoided eye-contact. Or just insulted me. And when you're swimming for your school team and the banter happens when you are virtually naked, your body dramatically changing...telling me I was to become a man, and the trauma escalated beyond measure.

To find my tribe, I would sneakily watch TV programmes on gays and transsexuals. I was always fascinated especially with transsexuals reported to feel wrong in their bodies. I strongly identified with that as girls were my homies. My big sister was my best friend and in sleepy suburbia, we played with the other girls. We made yucky faces when boys went past. We thought they were dirty and silly. The horror that hair grew on my legs and face as I past 12 years old is something I fail to find the words for. My physicality defied my inner sense of sorority.

A recent story of a trans chap (from female-to-male) attracted attention because his male look was criticised as too cis-gendered, a term which describes a man born a man who has the archetypal look. Say, a jock. This guy got pumped at the gym, he wore a baseball cap. He had that kinda James Dean raised-eyebrow look in photos. A year ago, I too opted for a baseball cap in TK Maxx. Red. Flattering to the shape of my face. And something under which I could approach cis-gendered. As much as possible. So I could walk anywhere and not be 'seen'. Until last Monday. "Oh, guy in the red hat..." and you know the rest. The same yesterday in a supermarket car park.

After all my yoga and body work, after all my readings into emotional intelligence, after all my supposed ease in my body, mind...after years of working on communication and smoothing the lines of family ties...I shatter. Right there. In fact, I felt so overwhelmed on Monday that I couldn't bear to cry because crying was admitting not only did I suffer but I was still resource-less to handle it. And I was confounded to remember that my first reaction to the comment, had I been closer to the source of insult and armed in some way, would have been to attack and maybe even kill him. As if that would resolve it.

Violence doesn't solve the emotions raging in me during and after these situations. I know logically that this guy's outburst is a result of something unresolved within himself. And my inability to hear and dismiss it as a silly comment, points to something unresolved in me. Hence the fireworks and imagined homicide. What am I not naming? And by not naming it, am I shaming myself?

As I look for work next month in a new town, I realise that I have a stark choice before me; carry on as always, or actually name this. Be creative with it. I have to name what people perceive me as. And while I am happy in my own world and see beauty in colours, flowers, trees, music, lyricism, song, movement, pattern ... as well as find men sexually attractive, it's the former things that shape my manner, my gait, my melody of voice... and point to the assumptions of my sexuality. The logic defies my reasoning. Except I know that it's true. and who it better to be kind, or right? I'm choosing kindness.

My logic now is this - if I own this perception of my sexuality, it has the consequence of showing others that I have confidence in who I am (or supposed to be..?!) and tells me that it's true. I used to find this way of thinking over-looped and ridiculous. Like the outfits that I wore to fashion college. But these 2 incidents are showing me that my lack of assertiveness around my sexuality allows a barbed and confused narrative to go on within me. Are other people interested in who I sleep with? No. Are they signalled that I am 'different' to them? Absolutely. And so far, I can't articulate those differences but they obviously exist to the extent to which they are visible and almost physical.

How will I choose to use this? Ideas so far? I am going to find out how to make a Queer Garden in my new town. Why? Because for those people who are visibly or perceptibly different to whatever the norm is perceived to be, they need a safe space. I never thought I would think that; I dismissed it as a cliche that they should just 'get over it' - surely, it's 2017 and no-one cares any more? And if they did, that's their problem. But those things are only true in a place that has finally come to terms with indifference around differences. The journey for that isn't over. Evolution, emotional, spiritual...hasn't reached some parts of people, some parts of the country; entitlement rages around people who consider it their right to not only notice something then to remark on it, and remark in a way that is intended to deride, humiliate and offend the person on the receiving end. This is beyond is a basic human right. We all want peace, safety, loveliness and to accomplish those things, we need an equal starting point.