Journal

Welcome to my online journal, which I started in December 2002 after several very persuasive hints from friends. Although I obviously don't write about everything that happens in my life here, I hope it'll provide an insight into who I am and what's happening in my life - whether good, bad, happy or sad.

Warplucking

Posted by Anna at 22:38 on Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Wi-fi gets everywhere these days. Even my rather battered Vaio laptop has had it for a little while now, and I have to say it's really convenient not having to run cables everywhere.

With that freedom, there is of course a risk - security. If a wi-fi network is unsecured, anyone can wander in and poke around. For example, articles often talk of "warchalking"...an activity which involves driving around with a laptop looking for unsecured wireless networks and using them.

There are apparently plenty such networks out there, which shouldn't be surprising given how unaware many people are of the need to secure their desktop machines. Personally, I've not used wi-fi enough to come across security issues, and wouldn't even consider setting up an insecure network. To do so is just madness.

Tonight though, we encountered just that in the last place we expected - during my weekly electrolysis session (I've had 44 hours so far, incidentally). While I lay on the table being "stabbed, shocked and plucked" (it's worth it, honest!) by my electrologist Vanessa, Beth was writing on her laptop, and noticed that it had picked up an insecure network in the vicinity. Whose it was, we don't know (and didn't look to try to find out), but we know it wasn't in Vanessa's house. Most likely it was one of her neighbours.

The lesson is of course that if you have a Wi-fi network you should never assume only those your house can see it. Don't leave it to chance - make sure you have a network key setup to prevent unatuhorised access. It's also advisable to hide the SSID so the existance of the network isn't obvious to casual browsers or warchalkers.

On to new challenges

Posted by Anna at 06:46 on Friday, August 13, 2004
The laminated certificate I was presented with by the Sonardyne Escape Committee todayToday was my last day working for Sonardyne International Ltd in Yately, Hampshire. Amazingly, I've been there for six years (and in fact it's only my second job since leaving University!).

Until lunchtime today was almost surreal in its ordinariness. There were bugs to fix, emails to write, items to discuss...all the usual tasks that fill up the time in a working week. There's definitely something about going for your last lunch with colleagues though, and when we all gathered in a local pub (The Anchor) near work it all suddently felt very real.

Although at times over the last year I've felt rather isolated at work, that's all passed...and this lunchtime was a brilliant illustration of that. As well as a handful of people from my project team (most are on holiday this week!) the girls from the office came along.

The contrast with the turnout when I left my previous job at Racal Instruments in 1998 was quite noticeable. That says a lot about how far I've come.

Not surprisingly the afternoon felt quite surreal, a feeling which was compounded by the emptiness of the office. I certainly didn't expect the number of people who turned out to see me off...it really was a pleasant surprise.

At the end I was given a card literally covered in signatures, as well as an "escape certificate" and �60 worth of Argos vouchers I was very moved, but for once managed to make it through the occasion without tears.

Although I didn't plan this move, I soon came to realise that it is time to move on and face new challenges. As these things have a habit of doing, the opportunity for me to do so came out completely of the blue...a chance to do something new and challenging. From Monday onwards I'm working fo myself. That's a new challenge for me, and although it's a daunting prospect it feels like I'm ready for now.

If it doesn't work out, I guess I'll be looking for another job in a little while...

I'm spending less time tied to my bed these days

Posted by Anna at 23:39 on Tuesday, August 10, 2004
I'm talking about dilation of course!

For the first 6 months or so after my surgery in November, I had to dilate for now less than four hours per day - two sessions, each of two hours. At first it was crititically important that they be roughly 12 hours apart too...even a delay of 2 hours was very uncomfortable.

Although it was a drag, it was something you "just get used to"...and it quickly became routine. I hadn't come all that way to throw away my dream of being whole of course!

I maintained that routine until comparatively recently. What's made it easier is being able to chat to friends, write etc. Guess when I wrote much of my surgical diaries?

The biggest challenge was going back to work at the start of March. At first, I was getting up at 5:30am each morning to dilate. Coupled with a dilation in the evening, I wasn't getting much sleep at all...and as a result felt almost constantly tired. Fortunately, I was able to secure a change in my working hours, which certainly helped!

When I was able to switch from two dilations per day to just one at 6 months post-op made it far easier...but now, I find that I can dilate every two days with ease. It sure is odd not being tied to the bed every night!

This could well be the last public entry I write here

Posted by Anna at 00:51 on Friday, August 06, 2004
I'm sad to say that this could well be the last public entry I'll write in this journal.

Although I've tried to share as much as I can of my life (and to educate and entertain along the way!) how much I can do so has unfortunately been increasingly constrained by the antipathy of one person from my past.

Although that antipathy is born in pain - and a pain I empathise with and understand - it's now reached a level I can no longer ignore.

I know there are many people who will be badly dissapointed by the action I feel obliged to take, but there doesn't seem to be any real choice.

Rather than dwell on the negative though, I'd like to explain a little about why I started this journal in the first place, how it evolved and how it relates to me. In the introduction at the top of the page I say that I started this journal because of requests from friends. That's part of the story...but the roots go much, much deeper, and have their seed in my Faith.

If you've read my story you may recall my mentioning that on the evening of Monday 1st July 2002 (6 months before I transitioned) I was summoned to a meeting at my first Church. Although I knew in my heart what was about to happen that night, by that morning I'd finally managed to reconcile myself to leaving that Church behind...and although I went to the meeting feeling nervous, I was not scared in the same way as I was the first time I'd been summoned to such a meeting the previous February. As expected, they asked me to leave.

Afterwards I didn't feel like going home and walked around for a while, ending up sitting under the stars at the edge of a field on Old Worting Road...not far from either my house or the Church. I can honestly say I didn't feel sad or upset and as I sat there, all I could feel around me was God's Love for me and His trust that I was on the right path. The prescence I felt that night was incredible - stronger even that that which accompanied me after I gave my life to Jesus in April 2001.

I also felt a very strong sense that God had a task - call it a mission if you will - for me. Although at first it wasn't clear to me what that was, in the coming weeks I came to realise (through subtle messages of the kind most Christians will find familiar) that it was to help those struggling with the same condition where I could, and to educate and spread understanding among those who have not encountered us.

At first I wasn't sure how to do that. When I started this website in September 2002, it was with the intention of educating friends and colleagues about what I was going through, and why. However, as my transition approached in December that year several friends suggested I start this journal so they could keep up with my progress. I soon realised that it could fill a much more important purpose, and in that respect it's succeeded admirably.

I've really enjoyed writing here, and I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who's contributed to my journal or written to me. Some of your messages (over 500 of them!) have been truly heartwarming; others heartbreaking. Very, very few have been hostile.

The fact that this site has produced such an overwhelmingly positive response is testament to the effectiveness of this online medium - and to the fact that society is changing at an increasingly rapid rate. Of course there is still much to do, but certainly not as much as when I started. The popularity of trans contestant Nadia on Big Brother 5 is as good an illustration of that as any! If she doesn't win tomorrow, I'll be very surprised.

My website - and in particular this journal - has also become a big part of my life and how I express myself. Maybe too big a part in fact...I'm coming to realise that it's holding me back in some ways. Maybe it's time to move on anyway.

My mission isn't over (far from it!) but maybe it's time to take it in a new direction. Who knows where that will take me?

Finally, if you enjoyed reading my journal, may I recommend another - Real Live Preacher. If you aren't a Christian yourself, please don't feel reluctant to visit his site...he's no ordinary preacher, as the essay Mainlining Habaneros shows too well!

Farewell - for now. I'll be around...somewhere. Friends will always be able to find me easily enough, I promise that.