15 Albums (via Harpymarx)

I got sent this meme on Facebook by my friend Niki and Harpymarx posted her answers on her blog below so I thought I’d do the same. Perhaps I’m just procrastinating about the post I want to write with 9/11 coming up but this isn’t going to take me long. To be honest there’s something about my music at the moment in this savage crazy world which helps give me a calming secure attachment to my place in it. If it helps you then do it yourself. Just give yourself 15 minutes and then list 15 albums/LPs that you’ve heard and that have stuck with you in your life. There’s no order, no hidden meaning, its just good to share what music is important to us and a sense of why that is. Nothing more than that … for love of music and what it means to us all. Share your’s too … that’s the only rule … and don’t THINK too hard about it, as its better as a right-brained activity really ūüėČ

Here are my 15 …

1. Patti Smith – Horses: its just SO full of powerful female energy and Gloria is my favourite all-time track – HOT HOT HOT!

2. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours: every track on this album I can listen to time and time again

3. The Clash – London Calling: the one on my list I don’t have but the title track changed my life when I heard it at 12/13

4. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman: first saw her at the huge anti-apartheid gig in 88/89(?) calling for Mandela’s freedom. Just her, her guitar, singing ‘Talking Bout a Revolution’ – fell in love with her then!

5. The Beatles – Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club: as a kid I used to dash home at lunchtimes from school and play Beatles albums

6. Damien Rice – O: beautiful, haunting and melancholic for a depressive like me lol

7. Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: pure genius

8. UB40 – Signing Off: the very first album I bought for myself at 13 the year after Thatcher came in – back when UB40 were edgy

9. Blondie – Parallel Lines: even better with the vinyl scratches lol

10. Nirvana – Nevermind: the musical score for my first young adult breakdown :~

11. Faithless – Faithless: because God is not a DJ … God is Maxi Jazz lol

12. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds: reminds me of the 70s music geek reel-to-reel tape system my dad’s mate had and the power of music to tell a story

13. Bee Gees – Saturday Night Fever: I HAVE to have some classic disco in here and I just love this soundtrack

14. The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come: more teen angst lol

15. Culture Club – Kissing To Be Clever: because Boy George introduced the teenage me to gender shape-shifting and helped me feel ok being a freak

Sam on¬†his Facebook page has this great meme (include the meme on your blog as well!!). Fifteen LPs you’ve heard that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes, one album per band. Now that’s a tough one cos it will take me longer than 15 mins. so here goes in no particular order….. 1. The Beatles – Revolver: I always find the track, “For No One” really sad and poignant to listen to (“The ‚Ķ Read More

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Feral Daydreams – a poem

It has been nearly two years since I last wrote a poem. Two years at the end of September. That was a special poem as it was like a diary, recording my growing feelings soon after Carmen and I met and were on our first holiday together in Cornwall. I’ve always written poetry in fits and starts through my life. I have notebooks full of scribbles and musings and I even still have a plastic bag full of the torn remnants of all my pre-1993 poetry. I self-destructed one night after my lover at the time aggressively raged at me for writing a poem to my best friend on her birthday – one day I’ll get the sellotape out and put the pieces together!

This morning after I have written the poem below I began to think about why it is that I have not written for so long. Maybe it is because I have been waiting to find my authentic voice of my core self. My voice has broken and now it is time to sing again maybe. Be warned – my guitar-playing is getting easier now my fingers are stronger so watch out for me doing my version of the easiest song I know how to play, ‘Working Class Hero’ by John Lennon, coming to a YouTube channel near you before too long ūüėČ

I hope you enjoy reading the poem. I keep hearing the stories of other guys as they struggle with T-induced insomnia and other major body shifts. This is how it felt like to me, this morning, in my 12th week of testosterone….

Feral Daydreams

A lone bee busies himself in the lavender

While the blackbirds sing in the morning,

Tunefully sparring from the safety of their trees.

The world is waking again today.

I see it with my night eyes waning

Aware that I will sleep to the rising buzz

That marks the birth of each fresh solar dawn

Like yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Will it always be as this from now?

Upside-down in a non-nocturnal world?

Back-to-front in a land of office hours,

At least in the country I live in.

But I have to sleep when my body tells me.

When the birds and bees start their shifts

Is how it is for now, as I am on bat-time

Until the new me is fully born it seems.

For now I will have one last tea and smoke

Reflecting on the here and now around me.

Before climbing upstairs and into the nest

Nuzzling my mate in slumbering daydreams.

It feels like puberty is feral, a special transition itself,

Where new order emerges from the chaos

Of the shiny and sometimes deadly sharp

Fragments of a former self.

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

© Sam Feeney

19 August 2010

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My American Dream (via [a])

“My dream: to have abundant food, love, and family. To work our asses off on the farm to sustain ourselves. To create a haven for queers, young people, rejects, freaks, and the lonely. To raise our kids outside of the traps of mainstream parenting. To be happy, together. To share dreams, art, and love. To be ourselves. To be OURSELVES. Open arms. Open eyes. Open hearts. ”

I love the sense of freedom in this post below. It’s not just about the collapse of the American Dream that can inspire new dreams of what freedom means – it’s about the collapse of the corporate capitalist dream all around the world, where promises of security for the future and capacity to pay for the present are shattering fast.

We could all do well to re-dream our future and what freedom, justice, compassion and sustainability all mean for humanity now. We all know in our hearts that we need to redress the deep wrongness of the world we see around us. If only we could discover our own power inside and work together to harness all our combined dreams, passions and collective will. Now that would be living the Dream alright!

“That‚Äôs my freedom, making me feel that I‚Äôm a man like all the rest of the men.” – M. Newhard I spent the last week upstate with a bunch of artists exploring the idea of the American Dream.¬† (Which is why I’ve been absent for so long!)¬†¬† The week left me with more to write about than I can muster in one entry, but I’ve got to start somewhere! We spent the week delving into the drenched, twisted, and dripping corners of the American dream, focusin ‚Ķ Read More

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Shapeshifting for beginners – my first three weeks on T

Three weeks  ago today I had 1000mg 1M of Nebido, a slow-release formulation of testosterone, injected into the top of my right gluteous maximus muscle in my bum. My girlfriend held my hand, and as I felt the sharp prick of the needle and relaxed into a wave of satisfaction, she wept ine the power of the moment.

I have begun my shapeshifting journey by way of masculinising therapy and I am feeling my transformation from the inside out. So much is happening to me it feels, I have to say, sometimes overwhelming and I have an urge to bolt somewhere to safety while my body, mind and spirit transmutes. My organismic self has never felt so alive, boosted in turbocharge by a hormone it hasn’t ever felt in such abundance before.

The most profound change I have noticed so far is how I feel about myself. My self-belief has soared and my understanding of who and where and how I am in the world is becoming clearer to me. I am also more profoundly aware of my personal limits than ever before too and have been wrapped up with a constant ethical dialogue going on in my mind about how I am relating to my young clients. I still have not experienced any negative issues with the young people as they discover my new gender identity. As I expected I can get some very direct and personal questions, e.g. “will you have a willy?” to which I answer that I am not prepared to talk about my private parts in the same way as I would not ask them questions about their’s!!! Questions like “will you be able to get your girlfriend pregnant?” I answer with factual accuracy (erm… NO!) and I respect that the questions are asked to satisfy a natural curiosity about an area of difference that most have never come across personally before.

I get a sense that my openness is encouraging healthy mind-stretching about what it means ‘to be a man’ and questions of self-identity. It’s probably not surprising that many teenagers are intensely interested in seemingly existential challenges to this thing we call ‘self’ and what it means. These years are all about finding one’s own self-identity, separating out from parents and learning to be independent. I remember acutely those moments in my puberty first time round when it all went so horribly wrong and I was left with a fragmented and shattered sense of self. This time round I get the most amazing opportunity to do it in a way that is¬†congruent with my gender-identity and I feel my sense of self has a much stronger integrity now. My boundaries feel clearer at a time when they¬†appear so fuzzy. Wow, at three weeks this can only grow now and my shapeshifting mind-body-spirit continuum can morph and vibrate with a freedom I have only dreamt of before.

This week particularly I have felt some strong and powerful changes.¬†¬†Some are subtle but intense, some are obvious and equally though differently intense. I am just going to list them here or else I’ll just get lost in the detail again and not finish what I set out to achieve in these wee small hours of a welcome Saturday morning. I am consciously working on having better endings in many aspects of my life and way of being now I am acutely self-conscious about my patterns of ambivalent attachment and my habit of starting things and not seeing them through properly!

  1. “I’m liking your stronger hands” says my girlfriend, “they’re significantly stronger, maybe 40% stronger”. This is good news for her as she’s often complained that my massages are a bit too gentle and she likes it now I am feeling my physical power more¬† – as I do too – not in a ‘power-over’ way but in a ‘power-from-within’ way as Audre Lorde writes of in ‘Uses of the Erotic – the Erotic as Power’ (link to come).
  2. my fingernails are significantly stronger too – my dad reckons I’ll soon be able to untighten screws without a screwdriver soon like he can!
  3. I’m not crying so much and when I have done it’s more of a smarting stinging in my eyes instead of letting it all go like before
  4. my libido is SOARING and it takes barely a hint of sexual connection or connotation for me to be set off on an intensely erotic moment – I feel this physically, coming on¬†almost like a cramp. If it’s at an inappropriate time I have to deal with an uncomfortable wriggling awkwardness until the physical feeling passes. Sometimes it is purely¬†a physical sensation of arousal that I can mentally ‘box’ using an old CBT trick on the brain until the feeling goes
  5. I have moments of rash impulsivity and moments of reckless egocentricity – my girlfriend has again noticed these acutely!
  6. my voice is deepening and is much easier to control at lower ranges – I had a wonderful time this evening in a candlelit bath discovering the new tones and sounds of my changing voice as I sung along to ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone
  7. my eyebrow growth has got thicker and more pronounced
  8. it is much easier to climb stairs and exert physical energy – I am enjoying feeling my muscles growing and it feels good to flex them and develop them
  9. My body fat is already shifting and my face is losing some across my cheekbones, my hips and legs are morphing perceptably
  10. My sleep pattern is all out of kilter, I can find myself completely unable to sleep some nights and every week so far I have had at least one night like this. My timekeeping is consequently bad – it was already with the anti-depressants I am on but the T is having a definite and very challenging effect on my bodyclock – not good for my punctuality record at work!
  11. My invisible whiskers are on constant alert, sensing¬†the emotional reactions to from those around me, looking for threats and signs of hostility. It’s tiring and¬†draining but it also carries a familiar adrenaline buzz for me. I feel more in control of my whiskers now than I ever did before I worked through my last PTSD episode –¬†triggered three years ago when I went to the police 25 years after I was raped by my then sub-aqua/canoeing ‘coach’ at 15 years old
  12. I am finding I am having to completely review and take stock of my entire emotional palette. What I have spent tweaking and tuning these last four years of my counselling training, through therapy, self-reflection, feedback from others, theoretical understanding and plenty of opportunities for learning in practice through my work with clients and people in general. I have this week expressed my anger in ways that are incredibly challenging to me and re-learning ways of self-regulation in the presence of new hormonal drivers is testing for me and for others around me – I hope I am a quick learner!
  13. I believe in me more than ever EVER before
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Review: The Killer Inside Me (via Harpymarx)

I haven’t seen this film but I’ve heard about it. The issues around blurring the boundaries between consent and abuse certainly need to be explored as do the issues around what makes people killers and brutal violent sadistic abusers. It doesn’t look like The Killer Inside Me is anything more than a voyeuristic window into a misogynist’s dysfunctional rage. I won’t bother watching it now myself.

I like stylish and convincing noir films, unlike film Derek Malcolm I found 'The Killer Inside Me' neither. Nor would I describe it as a 'serious film ‚Äď a haiku of despair'. The film is based on Jim Thompson's pulp fiction of the same name (he too wrote 'The Grifters') and I first heard about regarding this film a couple of months ago. I decided to see it, to make up my own mind. I had read Rachel Cooke's and Natasha Walter's reviews. This could … Read More

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Fire in my head

Peyote Ceremony w/prayer stick Spirit shaman is conducting a ceremony over fire with his peyote, prayer stick & candle. 8 X 8"

What is happening to me now feels like a rebirth. I am on the cusp quite literally of beginning my physical somatic transition. Each and every cell in my body will feel the surge of a hormone familiar from childhood and captured ethereally in my masculinity since then. Except that this time I will feel the full flush of pubescent male sexuality. My boy begins his journey into manhood and into hitherto uncharted territories.

It is at one and the same time the biggest and most exciting thing I have been dreaming of for as long as I can remember as well as being, well, scary. My adrenaline is buzzing, my kundalini energy is rising. I am actively hunting and manifesting what I need through my labour. I have plans. Sound plans. Plans that will take me where I want to be. It’s not a million miles from where I am now, there is nothing in the plans that fundamentally changes who and where I am in the world.

What I have learnt so powerfully in recent times is that peace, happiness and joy do not come from trying to battle, stamp on and repress my rage, despair and alienation. Neither do they come from chasing the trends and buying a way into fluffed-up-coziness-with-strokes that would pacify a stressed corpereal corporate being for the weekend.

But I am anxious too. I have built myself up that barring any medical reason why I should not start testosterone, then the gender specialist doctor I am seeing for the second time on Friday will be able to give me my first shot. He has not told me this, I have read it in the paperwork he gave me following my first appointment along with the consent forms, clinical information about hormone therapy etc and my letter to get my documentation changed as far as I can prior to getting a Gender Recognition Certificate. What if I’ve got it wrong? What if, in my eagerness to start, I’ve misunderstood and I arrive on Friday all ready to go and I find out I have to wait some more? I feel really stupid for saying it, when in reality, even if it is NOT possible to get it going on Friday I will survive and just wait a little longer! But I am feeling every hour of every day as one hour closer towards radically changing every cell in my body. It IS a Big Thing. A Big BIG Thing.

I could have 42 hours left before testosterone begins its journey through a needle in my buttock muscle, to be¬†transported by¬†my body’s circulation system to the rest of me. I am intensely curious as to how my brain will first begin to sense the shifting subtle changes that will signal the beginnings of my second puberty. One thing I have been anxious about is how testosterone will¬†affect my emotional expression. It will affect it for sure and I am going to have to re-tune my empathy antennae to these new baseline emotions as I experience them in a new way. I am curious as to how others around me are going to perceive this change in me. I’m letting everyone know NOW that I really do want your feedback on any changes you notice in how you connect with me on a personal and professional level. It will help me learn to tune and fine-tune the empathic kaleidoscope I have collected in my limbic palette of felt emotional expression. Other guys might have all sorts of tools and gadgets in their workshops. My current tool-kit has its sharpest instruments in my relationship and communication skills… and now I’m moving from Venus to Mars I will need to do a full kit inspection and make sure everything is all gleamy, greased up¬†and works fit for its purpose!

So this fire is burning bright in my head* now and my initiation into manhood is taking its next inevitable step. I am hoping deeply that I will be able to sing Happy Birthday to mi chica with a broken voice… squeaky or not…. come her birthday in July. I have my first video blog to do either tonight or tomorrow evening so check out MrStubbornDog on YouTube. I will post a link as soon as he starts howlin’.

Oww..oooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOoo ūüėČ

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The Meaning of Life

The simple beauty of the Fibonacci numbers in nature as in this coneflower

I am feeling like a pre-pubescent boy, flushing in anticipation of the rising tide of masculinity that comes with the boost to testosterone which puberty brings. Sometimes I cannot even think straight. I have a lot of adrenaline flowing through me right now, like an energy is rising as I transition. So it has got me thinking all about the meaning of life all over again.
Three massively positive things have happened to me in the weeks since I last wrote on Stubborn Dogs.
The first is that I FINALLY qualified as a therapeutic counsellor after a hard long slog of working out who the hell I am and what I am living this life for? I don’t claim to ever be able to know all of the answers to those questions. But I have grown into my new self as a result of much self-reflection on old patterns of feelings, thoughts and actions and relationships with others. I have also changed aspects of myself I found I wanted to change in this process over the last four and a half years as a result of truly experiencing myself through my relationships with others. Every single person I have connected with along the way, and you all know who you are, has mattered deeply towards my understanding of myself and of my place in the universe around me.
Although for ethical reasons I will be on a break from counselling work until I am stabilised enough on my hormone therapy and have worked through any issues of ‘fitness to practice’ in clinical supervision, I am actively researching my areas of interest and preparing for client work in the future. I will also be developing some educational workshops and trainings around working with gender diversity, as well as other areas of interest. I am working with my friend Claire on developing a new website so it’s watch this space about my services available soon. Any editors out there, I’m also in the market for any publishing opportunities too… so drop me a line if you’re interested!
The second brilliant thing is that I have also had my first appointment with a private gender specialist in London who has taken me on as a patient while I wait for the NHS wheels to slowly grind and catch up with where I am in my transition. Luckily my GP is ace and is backing me all the way, but I need to get a prescription initiated by a specialist first so unless I am prepared to wait an unknown but lengthy period of time and continue to struggle with dsyphoric feelings, thoughts and behaviours which impact on my mental health, I NEED to pay for it. It works out about the cost of a budget holiday so it’s a no-brainer for me. I have my blood and liver function tests to be done on Tuesday and I am booked in after the results come back for my second appointment for next payday! I am so hoping I might get my first shot then, all things being ok. If that’s the case then I might only have twelve more sleeps left until I can feel like my body is beginning it’s biggest transition since the last time it hit puberty which was the wrong one and was a disaster. My boy will begin his physical journey to manhood at last and soon I will start to talk like a man too. I’m curious about how it will affect me individually. I have excellent empathic awareness right now and my emotional expression is full and expressive. Testosterone will affect this and I will have to learn new ways of dealing with this. I am already learning to ‘tone down’ my non-verbal and tactile communication with men I meet in casual encounters!
The third thing is an existential dilemma posed to me by a Facebook friend, Kate, who is a Christian lesbian and who sometimes speaks at church services. Kate was preparing a sermon on what god looks like and had asked her FB friends to share their thoughts with her. Kate is cunning like that, getting her mates to write a stunning sermon for her! They’ll fall for it every time ūüėČ
Now I, like any good revolutionary marxist, am an atheist. I do not worship any god, or any goddess for that matter, and am resolutely opposed to religious dogma that keeps the masses in their place in fear of divine retribution and going against the patriarchal authority on high. But like every human being, I have my contradictions, and one of these is that I can simultaneously be an unequivocal atheist as well as having a shamanic spirituality. I rationalise it intellectually by appreciating the weirdness of quantum phenomena and the vast forces, energies and masses that form our known (and even unknown) universe(s). I don’t expect any one at all to share my beliefs, I just find they help me ground myself in this brief existance I will have on this Earth…well, until the next one comes around maybe lol ūüėČ
But yesterday, on top of all the stupendous emotional peaks and troughs I have been walking through in recent weeks and months, I had a brush with death. Well, both me and my girlfriend had a brush with our mortality to be precise when an idiot stopped dead on a fast A-road without indicating, and after a bend, and I had to perform an emergency stop at 60mph without losing control of the car. Luckily, I have once performed this driving manoevre about thirteen years ago when I did my advanced driver training while working on London Ambulances. Luckily, body memory works. Luckily we did not have someone driving behind us. Somehow, someway it worked and we are alive and my car is in one piece.
Later on we were watching a cracking FA Cup Final where my girlfriend’s Chelsea boys beat Pompey, and there was a thud on the conservatory window and I caught sight of a bird drop to the ground. I went out and found a greenfinch out sparko on the grass below the window. It’s mate was nearby chirping frantically. I picked the bird up in my hands but it looked like his neck was broken. Tending him gently, it became apparent that he had died. All I could do was leave him in a position where cats couldn’t get him so his mate could see for sure he had died. Then I left him to be taken by the night animals. Life and death. It’s all part of the cycle, but we often do not have any idea when our cycle is going to come to an end. A fluke accident can end it all.
It got me thinking about Kate’s question again, and after some more pondering I wrote the following:
“I guess, god to me, is the creative and destructive energies or spirits of the universe so to look at god is to see everything around me in all its dynamic glory. To truly appreciate the beauty of the Fibonacci series, numbers hidden in the patterns of life. DNA. To see a greenfinch dying in my hands today and looking at its mate grieving as I was powerless to change its fate. God looks like the man who stopped the tank in Tianamen Square. Or the look in the eyes of another being, human or non-human, who truly loves me unconditionally. I see god in the Eagle Nebula where stars are born or in the form of the event horizon of a Black Hole. I see god on the blade of the knife that respects the boundary of skin on another. I see god as a instantaneous flash of white light in my brain when the car in front of me stops dead on an A road without indicating and I have to do an emergency stop at 60 mph without killing me or my lover or the jerk who caused it. I see god as a stag, as a wolf, a red kite, a badger, a trillion beings and none.”
Kate had more than 50 contributions to her sermon today and a fantastic response. I imagine the diversity of thoughts and images was tremendous. And to me, that’s just what it shows…. how wonderfully diverse human beings are in their search for meaning in their lives.
As a counsellor I am feeling an existential drawing in to this search for meaning in our lives. I found a rare clip from 1972, on Ted.com of the legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl who delivers a powerful message about the human search for meaning — and the most important gift we can give others. It feels right to end what is now this morning’s post with a link to Viktor Frankl’s own words about Why To Believe In Others. No matter how hard life is, we can find meaning inside ourselves to keep us going, to help us survive, and to help us find meaning in our own lives no matter what our ‘bosses’, our oppressors, our abusers chuck at us to break us. http://www.ted.com/talks/viktor_frankl_youth_in_search_of_meaning.htmlNeurologist

Psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl pioneered an approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the human search for meaning.

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