What can I do with this?

Weeping, again, this morning over something which happened six years ago.

My job role was funded to do a particular task, but my employer told me to do something different. I argued that I should do what we were paid for. My work was blocked, I was picked up over trivia- and lambasted over the actual mistakes I made- and we lost the funding.

In the CAB conference this year, I sat with two managers criticising the national organisation for working with another body to run a helpline rather than using local CABx to employ the helpline advisers. Probably, the national organisation made that decision because of the LSC phone line debacle six years before. I wrote about this a year ago. How do I process the experience, now?

It was horrible. It is one cause of my lack of confidence now: I thought at the time I could deal with the idiocies of any two of the funders, the CAB and the benefits system, but not the idiocies of all three.

I was right to make the argument that we should do the job we were paid for. And we should have done, having taken the money for it; what we proposed instead was arguably a worse service for everyone involved. Possibly I should have relented when  told “No”- the tasks I was given to do, by the people who paid me and were entitled to tell me what to do, were much simpler than the tasks the funder envisaged, and they found me another funding stream when that one ended. It was easier to get funding then. I would have been better off had I just gone with the flow. Seeing that, I might be better able to go with the flow.

I don’t think a similar mistake would be made now. And I might find myself in a similar clash of personalities. I hope, having more self-knowledge and self-respect, I might be less driven, better able to react, and more empathetic. That is important. I have done useful work this year.

Now I have shifted from negative to positive thinking, the question remains: can I trust the World and myself, despite this? I have to, is one answer, hiding away in a sulk is not a permanent solution. And- it was a clusterfuck, it is rare that so many things go wrong so completely.

Here’s a new way of looking at it for me. It is not proof of my general uselessness and incapacity and badness. It is a bad thing that happened. Despite that, I am a good person.

Breathe.

Metta meditation II

Probably, S would not think of herself as a bitch.

Nor do I, really. That one sentence, taking my entirely understandable action and making something mean out of it: it got to me, though I managed not to scream and shout swear words until after the phone call was ended. I admire her, I would like to be friends, and when she is around stuff happens and I can see that it might be interpreted in a colder light than I would like it interpreted. This is not entirely projecting.

It is the situation which makes us unfriends. There is nothing I can do about that, though I could try not to make it worse. When D, whom I also have some reason to dislike, suggested by passing on a chain email that I spend a moment of metta meditation on people I dislike, I felt some irritation.

On Christmas day at 12 miday to take a moment to think of just two people who have been a challenge in your life (currently or in the past) and fill their AURA with the rose magenta of love and mentally wish them well and then let them go.
 
This can be done while the lunch is cooking and will take no time at all really. If you care to join me a number of things will happen 1. If enough people join in there will be an outpouring of love across the whole world. 2.You will be letting go negative stuff you may have been carrying around for years. 3. you will be actively aligning yourself with positive forces that can only be beneficial to you at all levels, mentally, emotionally and of course physically.

It bears repeating. It is a prayer for good.

May I be safe and protected

May I be peaceful and happy

May I be healthy and strong

May I have ease of wellbeing

First of onesself, then a benefactor, then a friend, then someone one dislikes, then of everyone in the World, perhaps All Things, perhaps in stages, in groups. But I find it difficult, I cannot always pray that for myself, and have difficulty moving on to others.  So the suggestion that one just do it for a moment and feel the Love, and increase the Love in the world, seemed facile. I had already meditated Metta for S, because it seemed essential that we get on, for the next week at least.

I suppose I could forget things which happened years ago, even see them from her point of view. I might not have understood anyway. I find it hard to trust her after that, and I am not sure what harm she could do me. Generally, she is simply coldly correct with me, and mocking only occasionally. And it seems essential to my good that I see her in the best light I can, and respond generously.

I have had some lovely moments this Christmas season. I spent some time with H’s granddaughter, placing hundreds of tiny coloured cylinders to make Disney fairies. It’s the Joy of Six!

Cardiff

The man has a beautiful t-shirt: seeds blowing off a dandelion, and as each seed flies away, a man clings onto its stem. On the left there is a dandelion full of seeds, then the dandelion launch-pad, then on the right four diminishing seeds with people clinging on hands only, feet kicking. Dream-like and exhilarating.There are no words, but I wonder- in Arabia would it be reversed?

He gets up, gathers his bags together to get out at the next station. There are people slumped on the floor of the vestibules of the carriage- one had said to me he did not want to block my way, but did not think there were any empty seats in this carriage. “I almost want to tell them of the empty seats,” I trill. “It’s up to them to find them,” says the bloont Northerner beside me. An announcement says that as we are ahead of time, and will remain a few minutes in Leicester. “Not worth getting up before we get in,” I venture, but this gets no response at all. When I get off I bid him “Merry Christmas,” and he relents as far as “cheerio”.

You can’t always have a conversation on the train. So many people have ear-buds off their phones. I am happy to be getting away, and people haul large bags of presents: that baby-walker, in many different pastel colours, is a beautiful thing, surely a delight for the child in it and the adults watching, but we are all quiet. I am in Presence or Awareness mode: the glistening wet surface where I bit my russet apple, the tearing noise as I peel the satsuma, the flooded rivers outside, hold my attention. I have so much attention to devote to the taste.

A man opposite offers to lift my bag onto the rack. No, it’s alright, I just want to check I have got my camera, I would not want to have left my camera behind, I say. And- why do I explain myself like this? He mocks his hobbledehoy son- “You broke my bicycle!” The boy mutters something. “Well, if it was so easy to put the chain back on, why didn’t you do it, then?” I can’t think of a better way to teach repartee, the child will pick it up eventually.

I have fifteen minutes to make my connection at Birmingham, and we are eleven minutes late getting in. A woman with her three grandchildren sympathises. If we were two minutes later, I would not be stressed at all. But I get there, because the train out is also late. This has discomposed me, changed my mood, and I need to relax, though I notice the beauty of the student I sit beside, who texts on her phone and listens to music.

Canolog Caerdydd. So familiar, and I have not been here since Easter. That Welshed English everywhere! “Platfformiau” is one thing, but I saw “helpwch” at the hospital. -wch is the imperative ending, surely they have their own word for help! Oddest I ever saw was a sign reading “Bag it and bin it” with a picture of a dog, and of what the dog-owner should bin for the absolute and utter avoidance of doubt- the Welsh was “Bagiwch a Biniwch”.

Mmm. Hospital. H is in the Heath. I am staying in her house with the cats (Sunday 23d)- she was taken in yesterday, having been unconscious, and is not yet diagnosed.

Leviticus 20

Sometimes, in arguing that Christianity or the Bible condemn all gay lovemaking as immoral, people cite Leviticus 20:13: If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. What?

Oh my God, they want us dead. We shall be killed. Americans usually explain that they do not mean this, that the punishments prescribed in the Law of Moses no longer apply for some reason, but the moral judgment still applies- so they have to accept God’s Holy Will that gay lovemaking is wrong, but do not want to take us out for a stoning. African Christians do not share these scruples, and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of Uganda proposes by clause 3 to execute those who are serial offenders, that is, make love more than once.

Pope blesses killer of gay people

The Pope obviously wants us all dead, as we can see from his blessing of Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Ugandan parliament and instigator of the Bill. If he does not, he should clarify immediately. I cannot imagine him allowing himself to be photographed similarly with an out gay man. Bizarrely, I read that the Ugandans were in Rome for the World Parliamentary Conference on Human Rights.

Among Americans, here is some evil nutcase who calls himself a “pastor”, endorsing the Bill. He is not alone.

What are we to say about this? One answer is that the Bible is a wicked and immoral book, which makes ridiculous statements. Another is that it records the old laws of a desert, nomadic people, and of a subsistence farming culture with a surprising degree of freedom and equality, which we may follow or not now as our own moral sense indicates. Just as the concept of ceremonial uncleanness has no particular moral value now, neither does the falsehood that gay lovemaking is always wrong.

Those who attempt to draw moral lessons from this may be criticised in all sorts of ways. They are picking and choosing in the Bible, probably wearing clothes of mixed fibres. But chiefly, they are taking as a moral principle something which is utterly foul, merely because it is written in the Bible. They have either abandoned their own moral sense, or corrupted it.

I find a great deal of value in the Bible, and I retain the responsibility to judge what it says as good or evil.

He that can’t endure

File:We Can Do It!.jpgHe that can’t endure the bad, will not live to see the good. -Jewish proverb.
Who wants heat, must endure the smoke. -Russian proverb.

I went to the Swanston CAB Christmas lunch, and think, I can’t go back there. I like the people, but not the situation. Beyond March, they only have ÂŁ50,000 of funding in place: unless there is more that means seven jobs lost. Of course, that is always the situation in December, it just feels worse each year.

I have not been since 12 November. I just, well, don’t go. This week I did not go out at all Monday to Thursday, read a bit, blogged a bit, meditated a bit- kneeling in the ritual space rather than staring into space, actually, kneel down and start crying- over my cold, settling deeper into depression. I love the people. Well, they are voluntary workers: they want to give back to the world, and are also loving, creative, witty, erudite souls. And I hate the kind of advice I give: I hate the increasing meanness of our benefits system, and the  closing off of possible challenges to its decisions. Someone raised the subject of benefits and I started moaning, and I realised how much I loathe it. They loathe it too.

It is not only the uncertainty over funding, but the merger: we do not know about the reduction of service apart from that there will be one. And there is uncertainty about the audit, too: I get the impression that they do not really know what would make a good file record, and that is more important than a good service. Well, appearance is more important than reality, as you know.

OK. I have worked in CABs since 1993, this is what I know, and I can make that decision. I don’t want to go there again- I really do not have to, I just have to work out what might be better and get to go there. Age UK and the Royal British Legion also do welfare work, but charitable donations are down, and they are unlikely to be recruiting. What else may I do?

I am back to 1998, believing “Life’s a bitch, and then you die”. I don’t know what I might do. At the lunch, asked “How are you?” I even felt the need to justify myself, I am not there because I am depressed, and saying that upset me.

I do not need to justify myself in the eyes of any projection I might make on anyone- impossible, anyway- or indeed to any real person. I do need to support myself.

Friendship

If we respect each other, does our friendship need any other foundation?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/Marie_Bracquemond_The_Artist%E2%80%99s_Son_and_Sister_in_the_Garden_at_Sevres.jpgIn May 2000, I decided that I had to transition to female, I could not bear not. That was the Saturday. On the Wednesday, I went to the local TV/TS group, and sat with the trans women. None had jobs, one was studying, I thought their lives unbearable. So I decided I could not transition, I would make a go of presenting male. It was the Sibyls who showed me it was possible to live reasonably, transitioned, and especially F.

I saw her transition. She got a posting within her multinational company to another European capital, so when just starting to express herself female full time she was perfecting that other language and learning to drive on the right. We went on holiday together, once before I transitioned, and once after. She took me to Wimbledon, and on the centre court we watched Tim Henman and Pete Sampras. Tennis was her game, and she saw the skill in particular shots which seemed less spectacular to most of the crowd. It is not my game, I have never played and rarely watched it, and she paid me one of three compliments which I treasure: she enjoyed going there with me “because you’re interested in Life”.

I was transitioned, and we kept in touch by http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Marie_Bracquemond_Woman_with_an_Umbrella.gifphone- but then, it was me phoning, and almost all me talking about my concerns. “How are you?” elicited factual information rather than any real sharing, though she told me she would be seeing her daughter for the first time in years- how we suffer, for this thing which no-one would ever choose! Living with stuff which would be unbearable if you thought about it, we deaden ourselves to these pains.

So I stopped phoning.

I invited her to my ten year anniversary party, and she was having trouble with her emails so did not get the invitation on time. I phoned her, sent her a link to the photos, and just now got a Christmas e-card from her, a hideous saccharine thing of “Santa” coming down the chimney and leaving presents. Oops, I am depressed, I am not seeing clearly. A pretty, joyous animation with some touches of humour of Santa leaving presents, and flying off in his sleigh.

She kept one friend who had known her before transition, and apart from the Personnel department in England, no-one in the new office knew of her past. People do not see her transsexual history as they do mine- she told her best friend, who had not known. So, perhaps, she could not have me as a friend in case her secret came out, and did not want to talk to me to be reminded of her own transsexualism, which was now in her past.

We had respect! It is enough to found a friendship, unless there is something like this to break it. I felt such rage, I wanted to publish her name, photograph and a link to her business website here- a revenge at once mean, puny and misdirected. I wish we could be friends. And- I could resent all sorts of reasons for her to withdraw from friendship, but not that she was frightened and ashamed, for that is not her fault.

The Hydrogen Sonata

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/06/Culture%27s_orbital.jpg

 

In reviewing Iain M Banks, I am tempted to retell his ideas and concepts. The Hydrogen Sonata is a difficult piece of music, which he uses to raise issues about playing and composing and listening to music, and describe a musical instrument created especially to play that one piece.

Or I could describe the planets on which it is set. Seven planets are discussed, with how they have been altered by different civilisations, and how other civilisations have used the alterations. These are beautiful ideas, which give the novel variety and bring it to its necessary girth by going off on wild tangents.

The plot is simple. There is a truth which would be most inconvenient if it came out, so the heroine seeks to discover it, and the baddies seek to thwart her. This leads to much imaginative destruction. The one seeking to conceal that truth is a Banks villain as in others of his books, a psychopathic murderer certain of the good of his cause, but an unusually incompetent one who murders to rectify mistakes caused by his lazy inadvertence, and becomes pitiable in his stress and distress. One of his agents in the heat of the moment does an  act resulting in widespread horrible death, despite having a moral compass, and Banks draws the character subtly to indicate how that might happen. So while the inventive death and destruction is a large part of the entertainment of the book, and most of its excitement, there is some character development and human interest. Why would x, y or z act in that way? That question matters, and Banks gives back-stories for disparate individuals. Some characters could be summed up simply, such as the selfish, silly mother, but not all.

In the end, the truth is discovered, but not published, and the Subliming happens probably as it would if the truth had been published, or not discovered. What is Subliming? The transfiguration of a species to higher dimensions of reality, discussed in several of Banks’ books. All that effort, for questionable results. It raises the question of the value of effort or planning. He writes,

“The Universe says simply, but with every possible complication, ‘Existence’ and it neither pressures us nor draws us out, except as we allow. It all boils down to nothing, and where we have the means and will to fix our reference within that flux, then there we are. Let me be part of that outrageous chaos… and I am.”

And- there is meaning in the actions of his characters, and moral value, as well as a lot of running about and blowing things up.

Tudors

Mary http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d1/MaryQueenofScotsMourning.jpgStuart had a glorious “Fuck you, I’m Queen” mentality, even when powerless and imprisoned. In 1586  at her final trial, she declared, “I am an absolute Queen”, and “My mind is not yet dejected, neither will I sink under my calamity”, of the discovery of the plot to murder Elizabeth Tudor.

Previous plots were nothing to complain of: “May I not ask my friends to help me? I have meant innocently, and if they have done wrong, they alone are to blame.” Her word as a Queen could not be challenged, and her status as Queen made all her acts innocent of wrong.

Elizabeth had a similar attitude: “I am your anointed Queen. I will never be constrained to do anything. I thank God that I am endued with such qualities that if I were turned out of the realm in my petticoats I were able to live in any place in Christendom.”

Henry, on the other hand, did not have the face to pull off his reforms by himself. He would not have tolerated his reforms being refused, but he had his Parliament enact them. So came into being the concept of the “King in Parliament” making law, which we still have. The last Bill not signed into law “La Reine le veult” was the Scottish Militia Bill in 1709. So the Monarchy lost power in exercising it.

That is the kind of detail I want from my history book. As narrative history, Tudors by Peter Ackroyd drags. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/af/Darnley_stage_3.jpgSo many little uprisings, so many manoeuvrings, so dull. I am interested to know where the Church of England comes from. I wrote of “curtseying to the communion table” which makes no sense: the show of respect is Roman, perhaps to the consecrated host on the altar; the words “communion table” are Reformed. Elizabeth steering a middle path between the Catholics and the extreme Reform party fits our Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals today, and my wishy-washy ecumenism between them: I would worship with anyone.

There is not enough detail for the character of Wolsey or Walsingham to emerge, and little detail of the lives of the ordinary people. We learn that, just as now, the price of necessities rose, and the living standards of the common people declined. When Ackroyd says that the “Coach” came into use then, a horse-drawn vehicle for people to ride in, it feels like the first piece of fruit after eating bread and dripping for so long, but my questions of how did the rich ride before then, did they ever ride in carts except to the gallows, is not answered.

From my old Anglican chauvenism, I would like it argued that Mary Tudor and Pole were greater murderers than Henry, Edward or Elizabeth, but I do not have the detail from this book to make the comparison, though Elizabeth might have imprisoned more people, and arguably it does the country no good if a man outside it can tell the King what to do or command  the loyalty of some Englishmen.