My friend Patrick made a short movie called Abreast. He financed it through Indiegogo, a crowdfunding website, and that’s how it first drew my attention. I loved the idea of him making a film about his past and I paid a modest contribution for the production.
You see, Patrick is a transgender man. “Transgender” feels like a harsh word because of all the personal stories I heard from people: feeling trapped in their body, being judged and treated with hostility.
People like Patrick are the ones who are changing this, coming out, speaking openly about who they are and what they went through and make it ok for other people to do the same.
I don’t know what name Patrick had before he was Patrick and I never dared to ask about his past. This emotional film shows in 10 minutes a lot about him: shot in the village where he grew up, it re-enacts a conversation he had with his mother about the motivation of his transition and his admiration for his grandfather. It also shows the world of the village, a world in which I grew up too, where many people are afraid of change.
At this moment transgender identity is considered a mental disorder (though there are signs that that’s going to change (see this article in New York Times. World Health Organisation (WHO) stopped considering being gay as a mental disorder only in 1990. Enthusiastic and brave people like Patrick show that transgender is not a disorder, but an expression of identity.
His movie is being shown in Bucharest on the 18th of August (check here for details).
Read more stories of transgenders in Romania on Patrick’s website (both in English and Romanian):selfmademan.ro
Happiness is Elsewhere
"How hot does it get here in the summer", I asked Rupert, my partner, over lunch. "Does it go over 20 degrees?"
"Maybe on the warmest days", he replied.
My heart sank. I looked outside the window at the grey clouds. Last year in May, when I was living in Bucharest, I was already cycling in my shorts. It was always such a celebration to take out the sandals and the summer clothes out and stuff the heavy winter coats and boots in boxes. I was closing in those boxes all the cold and preparing for sun, sun, sun. That was about the time when strawberries and cherries flooded the farmers’ markets.
After a few warm days in Liverpool a few cold days followed. It was really discouraging and I wondered if summer, as I know it, ever comes around here. I found comfort in looking at low cost flights to places near the Mediterranean. Spain, Portugal, Morocco, they were a three hour flight away and still so far. If only I had booked a ticket, I could start planning for a holiday and imagine all the amazing things I will do. I once read an article that people are happier when planning their holiday than when they are actually on a holiday.
I didn’t buy any tickets. Continue Reading
Last Thursday evening, I was trying to look cool on the little stage of a Liverpool pub while preparing for my first ever public performance with a ukulele. I was nervous and waves of heat were passing through my body.
I wondered if I was doing the right thing but it was too late to change my mind. I was smiling as the microphone didn't seem to work properly and the conversation noise in the pub was louder than my instrument. Continue Reading
After a long day in Manchester, I got off the train at Liverpool South Parkway station, tired and eager to get home as soon as possible. Then I saw a cat and had to stop. It was lying in the sun, on a piece of carpet at the entrance in the station. As I approached her she raised her little nose just a bit to smell my fingers and then returned to her inertia. I stroked her fur and my mood was instantly lifted. I looked around to see if anyone claimed ownership of the pet, but no one looked back.
I wonder why not more businesses and organisations have pets. Imagine going into a shop where you have to wait for your shoe to be fixed, phone screen to be changed or your friend to try on all the blouses until she finds the perfect fit. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to play with a dog, stroke a cat or feed a canary?
I also found this interesting article about how the presence of a dog in the office changes the working atmosphere, reduces stress and improves teamwork: Does Your Office Allow Dogs? Maybe It should.
Photo taken by Rupert in Brighton, December 2015
Every week a delivery van from Tesco stops at our house, bringing food supplies. A guy knocks at our door carrying a crate and a list of what's in it. Usually the dialogue is very short: reading out a list of things we had ordered that were replaced.
The other day, before noon, I was really looking forward to seeing the Tesco van. I was hungry and kept thinking of the organic eggs and veggies we ordered. When I heard a knock on the door I was hoping it was the Tesco guy. My boyfriend answered the door.
"You don't have much of a Scouse accent," he said to the Tesco guy.
"No" he answered, "I'm from Cambridge."
I got interested in the conversation and tip toed towards the front door. He was telling how he used to be a logistics director for a big company in Cambridge. Then he had a heart attack. He left his job and was paid big money to not work in the same business sector for a year. He moved to Liverpool and set up his own consultancy firm with the money he got from his redundancy. He also got a part time job delivering groceries for Tesco.
"People ask me why on earth I work for Tesco," he said, "isn't it a dead end job? But I think it's great because I just follow instructions and it frees my mind to think about other stuff. It keeps me sane and my feet on the ground."
The time has come to get out of my hibernation mode and start writing on the blog again. Since I wrote last, a lot has happened: I moved into a new house, I'm going to a ukulele course and I started to see Liverpool as my new home. I now know the route of the bus going home, how to get to the park, where to buy ripe fruit and cheap candles. Not even the weather disappoints me anymore, though I still like to complain about it for conversation's sake. Continue Reading
1. Because it’s a great book. There’s an interesting little story on each page about a character or a historical event, a piece of classical poetry and an inspiring thought for the day.
2. Because this book will improve anyone's general knowledge. I didn’t know that Sartre refused the Nobel Prize, that Rimbaud wrote all his poems before he was 21 or Che Guevara had an Irish ancestry. Continue Reading
A fisherman who lived on an island married a woman from the continent who had never seen the sea. It was winter when he brought her to his cottage on the beach and the wind was howling. From there she saw the sea for the first time and was mesmerised by the wide horizon, the rhythm of the waves and the smell. Continue Reading