Friday, December 18, 2015

Slap

Hi,
A late post from Yours Truly, as the school holidays are now under way for the Jones Massive. Both Wee Man and Little Miss have been in need of some down time. To be away from both the routine of early mornings and all day in a class room. They’re not the only one in need of a break too, the Ever Lovely Mrs J will, I’m sure, appreciate dodging the multiple bullets of half a work afternoon, the dash home to collect the kids and start the tea. Meanwhile, I’m still bashing the rocks together, at work, before crawling home in the evening traffic. Not, that I’m complaining, the commute could be a lot worse and I do get to listen to the odd podcast on the way home. Sure beats listening to commercial radio, that’s for sure. :-)

Over on social media, I shared my photo from the Chameleons’ Christmas party. Helen, one of our irregular regulars, mentioned a make-over service that she’d been to. This got the gears of memory turning. Have I had a makeover or visited a dressing service?

Well, the answer to the latter is no. Not for any reason, other than practicality. That breaking into both economics and the distance they are from home. Much as I like to spend a little on life’s little luxuries, most services seem to come at a cost. A cost I don’t feel comfortable spending. I guess, there’s that magic figure in my head, that says “but that’s the price of a week’s food” or “you could buy a tablet for that.

There’s also a feeling that some dressing services, can be a bit formulaic. Please, before you organise a strongly worded letter of complaint (Ed: address to /dev/null/) I did say ‘some’. I guess, if you have a routine, or method, that works for your clients, it’s tempting to run with that. Equally, and perhaps from a personal point of view, I think the better ones – like high street, or image consultants, I presume – tailor the process to the individual.

Maybe another part of it, was that at the time I considered it briefly, I had clothes at home, flexi-time for the opportunity and I’ve got that type of brain, where I like to work things out. That’s not to say I don’t want someone to help (we’ll come to that in a bit), but I guess, I don’t want someone to do it for me. As my old boss said, “how are you going to learn to drive, if I’m the chauffeur?

I guess that leads us on to make-overs, and those, I’ve had the good fortune to have a few times. Each one was at Chameleons, and via reps. One, the Body Shop, and the second via Avon. The Body Shop one, was for me, the benchmark. The lady who ran it, gave us all advice and I learned a lot. She told me about colours that would work for me, and ones that would not. How best to apply and also remove.

Coming back to what I said earlier; she made is personal. As something Val said once, often, make-up folk who visit us, they do what’s right for women, but – and these are my words, not Val’s – under all of it, I’m a guy. I have a man’s skin and bone structure. Things that work on people with more delicate features, disappear on me, and likewise, stuff I do, would probably look heavy handed.
Other than sharing that little bit of history, if there’s a point to this post; it is: shop around and look for that personal touch. A few minutes and a few carefully crafted questions will, I hope, save you money and time.

Chances are I’ll schedule something for next week, but if I don’t manage that, I’d like to thank you for reading, and for those of you who comment, thanks for sharing your views.

Lynn
X

Friday, December 11, 2015

There in the storm

Hi,

I don't know about you, but I find the run up to Christmas, can be a bit fraught. I suppose, it's all about how much effort you put in. For me, there's family stuff, work stuff and, of course, trans stuff. I would say it's like juggling three balls, but that's only setting myself up for some smutty giggling. :-)

Little Miss had her school play this week and, bless her, it's wiped her out. Four performances in three days and a slightly later than usual bedtime, do not a good rest make. Or, some of those words in slightly different order. I can't work out if I'm channelling Yoda, or the great Mr Morecambe. American readers may wish to check YouTube here.

Work has been a roller-coaster of quiet times, panic and Xmas dos. Somehow, and perhaps due to my luck of position in the building, I've been invited to more than one Christmas soiree. The lunchtime one was a very nice country hotel, up in north Nottinghamshire. This was a thank you from a volunteer organisation, I, and some colleagues, did some work for in the autumn. It was very much an unexpected treat and certainly without the some of the macho chest beating that goes on in some teams. All reasons for Christmas cheer.

Clothing

Due to Black Friday, I'd order a sequin skirt and because of the Christmas rush, I had an email saying it was delayed. Cue a very sharp intake of breath. But, but, it's the Chameleons Christmas Party in a few days! Arrrghhh! Luckily, it was all a storm in a C cup, as I got a text on Monday, saying it had arrived. A bargain thanks to a discount code (Ed: half price!), so I was very happy with that. I had planned to team a lacy top with it, which mean getting a new bra.

Underwear

Oh, bra shopping: how can I count the ways I don't love you? :-) It seems, at least for part time trans people like me, to go like this:

  1. Find a bra in your size, colour and desired shape. A task, in itself.
  2. Traipse to the men's department and collect Obligatory Clothing Distraction (usually jeans)
  3. Hope it's not Declare All Goods, when you find an unlocked changing room.
  4. Go in the changing room and hope no one stumbles in while you're trying on.
  5. Weigh up if you can be bothered to repeat the above, to try another size.

So, no, I'm not a fan of buying bras. Which, oddly, you think I would be, given that we part timers are supposed to be all about the frillies, right? Gah, if only there was a system that could measure you and provide a decent fit that gave you a a modicum of cleavage. Perhaps, I'll have to wait for my time on Dragons' Den, That or RuPaul's Drag Den. Hmm.... ["Bitch, please. I'm out." :-) ]

The bra did have detachable straps and thankfully New Look were stocking the transparent plastic replacements. A set of those went in the basket and the rest is history. Maybe I should have gone for a 38, but the shop didn't stock them. M&S didn't have anything suitable, which I found odd given the number of lace or strapless dresses en vogue this and yesteryear.

Some Assembly Required

With everything packed and some food shopping done, I was off early to the centre. It was Little Miss's last play, and as I'd seen her singing in the chorus, the night before, I had an early pass. Good job I did, as there was some setting up to do, with fetching my old laptop and bringing in some party food.

I tried for a more glamorous look seeing as it was the Christmas Party. Fancy false eyelashes, a smoky eye and my new clothes. Nails were red and glittered, because why the Hell not. Once downstairs, there was time to catch up with friends and have some party nibbles. It was great to see some familiar faces and good to see Pat up and about, given her recent illness.

Not usually this glam
There was time for a spot of dancing and it had been a while since I'd had the pleasure. It's funny in a way, that my chances to cut some rug, are more limited. I suppose that's the thing with not going out, so much, although that's not something I miss. Dancing yes, being out all hours, not so much. 

It was also a while since I'd danced in high heels, so it took me a song, or two, to remember. Maybe it's like riding a bike? :-) The other thing about being a part timer, is remembering when you should dance like a bloke and when you shouldn't. The only way I can remember it, is flats equals lead with the shoulders. Heels means lead with the hips. :-)

Once or twice I caught sight of my shadow and - like the photo to the right (thanks Val) - when you don't see your male features, somehow, everything seems to go right. Maybe it's the lighting, the make-up, the clothes and the effort you put in; that's when it's awesome being trans. Those, are the moments when you look, smile and are happy with who you are. A very nice unexpected Christmas present. 

That's the last meeting and quite probably my last outing this year, but what a night!

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, December 04, 2015

Echo chamber

Hi,

The thing with skipping lunch, is I don't feel guilty when I go home a little earlier than scheduled. Ah, those dinner time meetings, where you're told to bring a snack and *ahem* man up. I've never asked, but I assume any women attending the meeting, must draw on a 'tache, with either mascara or a rare-as-rocking-horse-poo whiteboard marker.

Oddly, HR don't seem to quite so on board with a) people not taking a break, and b) said people then sloping off early as they feel they've done their hours. Still, HR's there to protect the business, not necessarily the individual. Shame, but there you go.

So, due to a lunchtime meeting being my meal ticket home - see what I did there? :-) - I had the radio on, as I drove through the emptier than usual roads. I forget the programme, but the discussion was about conspiracy theories. Don't worry, I'm not about to talk about the moon landings, 9/11 or what Big Pharma's planning for us. :-)

The presenter was talking about how conspiracy theories start and how they gain traction. One of the ways this happens, and the Internet is fantastic at doing this, is like-minded people meet and start to repeat the story back to each other. The echo-chamber effect, if you will. It's not new and it quite probably existed before the Internet, but I think it's presence is felt more readily on-line.

How does this apply to being trans? Well, we have forums, blogs and social media, just like everyone else. What can happen, is the someone posts about their gender issues and then the process starts. Live your life, just do it; all positive affirmation and consequences be damned. In fairness, over the last few years - although maybe it's the circles I move in (I'm old, so I'm not down with the kids) - there seems to be the voices of reason. I'd capitalise the latter, but it would make the line seem about a metal band. ;-)

The voices of reason, they sing a different tune - damn, I've done it again :-) - *ahem* They say something different: they suggest caution and taking things slowly. For some, this is just what they need to hear and just what they want to hear. For others, they want the Just Do It message, and to dive in. That's cool too, but personally, I do like to have a good long look, a think and a few cups of tea, before I leap. Well, I say leap, it's more like stepping off and dropping gracefully. At least, as much as a 40 something, tubby guy can do. Look out, below! INCOMING! :-)

So, if there is a point to this Friday night rambling of mine, it's do stop and think. Being trans, it may feel all about you, but it isn't. Am I saying bottle things up and stop, for the sake of others? No, I'll not say that. What I will say, is don't rush in and pause, to consider the consequences. Frequently, there's often another way, which will be the easier route.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, November 27, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

Hi,

Larks, it's a bit late. Still, that's the penalty for staying up, to watch a film with Little Miss. Usually, she's tucked up in bed before 9, but tonight, being a Friday, we've let her stay up a little. Mind you, she's another year old - 8 now - and full of character. She certainly knows her mind, when it comes to picking her outfits. No idea where she gets that from ;-)

Leggings and an old fave.
Thanks to Val for the snap.
Last night's meeting went well and we had quite a few new people come along. As per, the regulars mingled and said hi, so - well, I hope - that no one was left high and dry. The only slight snag was a lack of change in the money pot. Note to self: get a float sorted for next time!

Mind you, next time will be our Christmas party, so it's time to organise the food and music. I find it best to try and start sorting the latter early. Otherwise, you end up panicking at the last minute, and copying That's What I Call Overplayed Christmas Tunes, Vol 152. :-) Mind you, catering to everyone's music tastes, seems as tricky as ensuring there's enough variety of food.

In Nottingham, we have a thing called a fuddle. I'd never heard of it, until I moved here. It's when everyone brings something to the event. I guess, a bit like a buffet, only - and to use some modern language - it's crowd sourced. Those of a less nerdy nature may prefer the phrase, everyone mucks in. :-)

With a few new folk about, there are some typical questions that get asked. Not to belittle them, nor the person asking. I guess, Frequently Asked Questions, if you like. Last night, someone asked me, "how long have you been coming?" and "how long has the group been here?"

I think my first visit was way back in January 2006. Blimey, that's a long time ago and we - Chams - hadn't moved to Nuthall. The group was meeting up in Arnold and while the venue was very pretty, it was a real pain to get to. The new place - mind you, it'll be 10 years soon - is so much easier. Not far from the ring road and not too far from the M1 either. Seriously, if you live near Nottingham, it's worth a visit.

This week, Claire - one of our regulars - posted that she'd been coming for a year. That's gone so quickly and she was kind enough to say some nice things about the group. She's not the only one, as sometimes, people who visit email and they have this to say:
"The atmosphere was amazingly welcoming for a long-established group and I was put entirely at ease."
"I just want to say thank you for a great evening, I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and I'm really looking forward to going again."
"I was very nervous about coming last night , but you made me feel welcome. Thank you. I was so much happier on the way home and glad that I came along"
"I just like to say what a lovely evening I had and the warm welcome I had from all the group. I felt so comfortable with it all and it's certainly lifted my spirit up finally."
"I really enjoyed meeting the other ladies and felt very at ease. I've waited years to feel like I do at this moment and it is great to know that I am not on my own."
"As I said to some of the girls last night, it was everything I had hoped for and more. It surpassed my expectations and all the bad stuff that happened to me before getting there now seems worth it!"

I guess we're doing something right. :-) Let's hope the party goes well, eh?

Oh, on a random note, if there's a question you'd like to ask me, please let me know via the contact form. I'll post the answers - so long as the question's not too personal or rude! :-) - next time.

Take care,
Lynn




Friday, November 20, 2015

Being kind

Hi,

I have something to confess: I've started Christmas shopping. Thing is, with two nippers, a lovely wifey and some indecisive in-laws, experience has taught me, it's best to start early. Even with the blessings of rush delivery, or Prime, leaving things to the last minute, is not a wise move. No, lists are prepared, ideas jotted on scraps of paper, and evenings lost to the Internet search machines. Really, it's not that different to finding the perfect set of heels, only I'm shopping for others. ;-)

Having a mail room at work - yes, feel free to make a gag about a fe-mail room, if you like. I'll just wait.... :-) - is you don't have that faff of having to be in. Plus, when the parcel has the vendor's name all over it, you don't need to be Sherlock, to know who it might be for.

After two failed deliveries for some clothes the Ever Lovely Mrs J had ordered for herself - her mum and auntie will treat her for Xmas - I logged on and checked the alternatives. Last year, we started to get evening deliveries, which I though where a brilliant idea. Why have people drive around the country, to drop signed goods off, when most folk are out at work. What a waste of time and money! Sadly, most of the firms we shop with, haven't yet provided to a box to say deliver after 5pm. Maybe one day, eh?

So, with the lack of us being in, and the delivery company removing the why not leave with a neighbour? option, I opted to try one of those electronic drop off boxes. I'd seen this wall of white paint and metal boxes, fixed to a not so far away petrol station. I'd mistakenly assumed (Ed: duh) that these were boxes you rented. Nope, instead, you tell the firm to drop there and they text you a release code. How modern! :-) I did struggle a bit as the machine crashed once or twice, but, I was able to collect the parcels, with not too much fuss.

As to my two parcels, they included two bodysuits. Yeah, I know, back to the 90s :-) I should point out neither where in a Buffalo Bill style, or one of those plastic 'real femme' skin suits. Larks, it can be the wrong side of cosy with shapewear and a wig, I dread to think of the water loss wearing a plastic suit. But then, maybe that's part of the appeal. :-)

One has lace on the sleeves and around the decolletage - or, "boob area", if you're in guy mode, currently. :-) That's a little shorter than I'd like, but hopefully, some careful amendment with some additional material, plus sewing can resolve that issue. Failing that, there's always the returns option, if I don't fancy risking it.

Mirror, mirror

On an unrelated note to the above, I spotted this video, on my travels around the Internet. It's a clever little animation, imparted with some wisdom around accepting your looks.

It's funny, given that as a trans person, I've struggled with having to accept that outwardly, I'm always going to look like a bloke. Most of the days, this doesn't bother me and I try to avoid mirrors, or - even worse - video cameras, during my job. It's not that my mug upsets me, it's more that I don't like to be reminded of how I look. Equally, on a Thursday, the mirror merely helps me get ready and a photo preserves the memory of when I was content with the final look.


Having watched the video, and I hope you will too, I found myself doing some of the things it recommended. Not around my own appearance, but that of others. As I've said to people at Chameleons, I don't look at them and see their flaws. I look at them, and see what they've done well. Perfectly lipstick, being well dressed, cool nail varnish or toned legs. Sure, it may seem shallow, but another way to look at it, is to be happy for others. Sometimes, that positivity is reflected. Sarah, bless her, commented on my new wig and said I'd skipped having a fringe. I replied that I don't like to show my forehead, because it seems, to me at least, that it's this heavy brow man space. She took this and said, something about the lack of wrinkles and that my comments hadn't occurred to her.

Maybe, if we're looking for the best in others, we should also be a little kinder to ourselves and stop worrying. Just maybe, we're the only ones looking, because everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves. :-)

Lynn
x

[ PS : I have, up until now, managed not to mention the attacks in Paris. I, like most people, found the events deeply upsetting. Like others, I felt pretty powerless in what I might do to help, or push back against such tactics. Perhaps, it is best to carry on. Keep doing what we're doing. Yes, mourn the dead and try to stop such terrible things from happening, but don't stop living. Keep going to concerts, keeping seeing friends, and live. I guess: don't let the b*stards grind you down ]

Friday, November 13, 2015

Dress? Go. Lashes? Go.
Curves? Go! Make-up? Go!
We have ignition!

Hi,

This time last night, well, as I type with somewhat cold fingers, I had finally had chance to try on my birthday present. It was a gift from the Ever Lovely Mrs J. A dress, in fact. But, when you're trans-something-or-other, a gift from your spouse, such as earrings, a dress or suchlike. It's so much more than a present; it is, at least to me, acceptance. A twinkle in their eye, that they know what they've bought you, will delight.

We all have things that we like: certain bands, football teams (Ed: don't go there, Lynn), authors, gadget manufacturers, clothing shops, chocolates or films. I have, for a little while, been admiring Desigual's dresses. It's the cut, the colours, the patterns. However, even on sale, they are more than I am prepared to spend. Instead, I just admire them and enjoy them from afar.

Thanks for the snap, Val
Anyhoo, a series of unfortunate and unsuitable events, meant that said item languished, in my travel bag, for many a week. Nay, two months even. I'm sure I was due a warning letter from the people who issue Trans Licences. ;-)

My patience paid off, and served with an early start, false lashes and my new hair, I was feeling particularly pleased. I appreciate that may sound a little smug, and that's not my intent. What I would like to say is that sometimes, being trans can be a bit of a slog - like much in life. But, as with more regular activities, when it rocks, it truly rocks. So, serve up a batch of it-all-works-tonight, add a dose of new-threads, top with getting-your-lashes-to-work-and-wow and sprinkle some spouse-acceptance. There's a recipe for happiness.

A few people were kind enough to compliment me on the new hair, which helped too. I had been nervous about wearing it, having seen some less than flattering photos, during the purchasing. But, the Chams crowd are both kind and honest. If something doesn't suit, they will tell you nicely. So when they say it does, you can count on them.

Ignition Point

While I was getting changed, a new lady - Fyona - was also making herself fabulous. I won't say much of her background, as it's not my story, nor secret, to share. But, meeting new people is always cool and it prompted a somewhat unusual question: what was your waking up moment?

Or, to put it another way, why did you start? I've asked this of many people, and each person's answer is different. Both Fyona's and Kimberly's (who was sorting her lippy), surprised me. I guess, you get used to comparing what you know, and assuming that other people's stories may be similar.

My turning point, ignition, waking up moment; whatever you want to call it, was when I was 7 or 8. I remember a seeing the laundry basket and a pair of mum's tights. I can't recall the exact memory. I've heard that memory is mostly three facts, and your imagination fills in the blanks. Whatever the detail was, I put them on, purely out of curiosity. What would they feel like? That spark of curiosity was the start of an on-again, off-again journey that's still going on today. I'm still learning, still curious.

Kimberly's moment was much later in life, her 20s and  Fyona's much later still. My initial reaction, other than interest in what they were saying, was: Why not earlier? Why then? I'm not saying that me starting earlier is better, or superior; it's just early. No prizes for an early start. As I keep saying, it's not a race. Hell, if you want to compete, compete with being a different person than you were yesterday. :-)

A few more questions later and it seemed that it - being trans, or clothing curious, if you will - just didn't register, until later in life. I'm curious about you dear reader, about your first steps into this odd world of gender variance.

Beginner's Luck

Talking about starting and events for the new year, a few of us thought about doing a 'newbie night'. That phrase was soon changed to Welcome Evening. There are a few busy times for Chameleons. The first is around the end of September, as the weather cools and the nights draw in. The second is just after Christmas. Maybe it's a New Years' resolution thing, I've never really asked.

Happy smile
So, there are lots of folk who lurk on the forum. This is cool, we've all done that. What Sandi, Sarah and Tina suggested, was offering a make-over evening. We'll all bring in clothes, wigs, make-up and if anyone wants help, we'll all chip in.

I think part of this started, because Helen had asked if I'd paint her nails for her. I have a reasonable collection of nail polishes. Thing is over the years, with a make-up voucher from Boots when you buy lunch, it's easy to *ahem* invest in a new colour for the season. I don't wear nail varnish every day, so they soon build up. Still, my loss, is Helen and Sandy's gain. It felt good to share and give back a little. I also did Kim's nails too, so maybe when I pay my mortgage off, I can go part time and run a mobile nail art business. ;-)

Take care,
Lynn
x

Friday, November 06, 2015

Back to the 80s

Hi,

I was going to say, the calendar has fallen funny. But, that would make the opening paragraph, seem in need of a thunk, clunk or other onomatopoeia. Frankly, with that last term, it's just showing off and there's just no need.

Wait... Oh, pants. :-)

So, yeah, the calendar's.... distribution of days, has meant that it's a while yet until Chams. As I missed last times, part of me was thinking I'd be tapping my feet and counting down the days (as is Susie). Oddly, that isn't happening. Reasons to be cheerful, eh?

Talking of cheerful, the Jones Massive, are now back in the digital world. Earlier in the week, a certain driver ran into the small green box, that contains the village telephone lines. That, not surprisingly, didn't do it much good and we were off-line for most of the week.

The kids found the usual routine of being able to watch on-line videos, Skype with their mates, or play games somewhat more difficult. The Ever Lovely Mrs J took to her books, and that's par for the course. Muggings here, resulted in trying his hand - OMG! 'His' I've outed myself! ;-) - at finishing off a short story. Like a good blog post, some tales want to be told. It's been a while since I've written any fiction and it's proving to be an interesting challenge.

Going back to the lack of on-line access, I found it was the little things, that I missed. Being able to check on IMDB about an actor, or looking up back details. It's funny, in that back in the early 90s, I had to go upstairs, turn on the PC, dial up and after much waiting, get on-line. Now, you tap the glass on your smartphone and you're off.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J was out one evening, so being without any new DVDs, or on-line films, to entertain, the kids were a bit of a lost end. I suppose, after a full day at school, and with it being only a few hours before bedtime, you don't want to be breaking out the paints and crafts. Well, I didn't, knowing that there would be a lot of tidying up.

Looking back to my own childhood, I remember playing a board game with my my folks and it's one of those happy memories. With that in mind, I got out some of our old games, blew the dust off the lid (I know, the shame) and we all played happily for a few hours. It was so popular, they asked to play the next night! I guess sometimes, it's more about what you do together, rather than fancy, or expensive things.

I think it was Mrs J who said to me 'collect memories, not things'. If I look at anything I own, most of the things I think of as treasured, they have a memory attached to them. Not unlike of of the items in my dress cupboard, but that's another story. ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 30, 2015

It doesn't always rain here

Hi all,

I read the other day about a young trans lady, who'd had a disagreement with a journalist. Not so much, white is black, etc, but, perhaps a disappointment in the Trans tropes that were rolled out. Rolled out, on a seemingly all too frequent...umm... well, frequency. :-) Struggle. Dysphoria, Being trapped in the wrong body, etc.

Doesn't pretty much everyone struggle at some point? Yeah, we could play the Pain Game, or take the piss with a First World Problems meme, but I won't. A good mate of mine, who's not trans as far I know, still struggles with his depression. Through some coincidence, we both seemed to fall under the spell of the Black Dog at the same time. Whatever his reasons are - and while I expressed interest as a friend, I didn't pry - he's still not broken free of it.

A friend of Wee Man, he is out of school and on some serious pain medication, given his various disabilities. Not that they hold him back. He still gives life a bloody good go. He just has to watch he doesn't overreach, because that's when his illness gives him a kicking.

An on-line friend, she's signed off on the sick, following a nasty fall at work. The idea that she'll never be able to return to nursing, has deeply upset her. Much as I joke about an early retirement, it's another thing to be 'retired' and have to scrimp & save, to get by. The old joke of "as long as you've got your health, eh?" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J once had a job, that treated her so badly, she would cry on the Friday night, knowing she had to go in Monday. Mrs J does not cry easily. She is as tough as she is beautiful and clever. Quite a dangerous mix, but more on that another day :-) BTW, she quit that job. Money is not everything. Your health and mind are worth more. It wasn't easy with one wage, but it was worth it, to see her happy again.

Earlier this year, I met with an old school mate, who was bullied terribly at school. He has done well for himself and is a good man. I look back at those who picked on him, and they're living in a dead end town, doing very little. Little other than looking down the end of a pint of beer, or worrying where their future went (as one of them told me, not so long ago). Karma eh?

Where an I headed with this? Perhaps the trite phrase of Life is Pain. Okay, some of life, is pain. It reminds you that things hurt and hurt, if possible, is best escaped. We all struggle, but we keep going. Some of us are kind enough to help others, keep going. Play it forward. Be excellent to reach other. All the good stuff.

So, in a roundabout kinda way - and I don't mean traffic assistance or rotaries, for the American readers - everyone has crap they have to deal with. Sometimes, you just don't need to hear it.... or read about it, for that matter. That's not to belittle a person's journey, ignore what they've done, or dismiss what they're going through. But, our pain, if you want to call it that, may shape us, but it doesn't define us. We, all of us, I think, are more than sob stories or hard luck cases. We grow, we learn and, sometimes, we get to put it behind us and live. So yeah, ease up on the boo-hoo and if you're going to tell a person's story, start with letting them tell you.

Take care,
Lynn

Thursday, October 22, 2015

10

Hi,

I'm not one for a midweek post, but today, I think I'll make an exception. Ten years to this day, I started this blog.

2own OCTOBER 2005
So, welcome to my little spot of the t'interweb - soon to be filled with occasional guff and nonsense. I'll be straight with you (heh - straight*) I'm curious as to how long I can keep this blog thing going. Will it disappear by the end of the year or take longer than that? Hmmm... we'll see.
[ * note to self, don't laugh at your own jokes - it's naff. ]
One small step for a trans person. One, more upload of guff to the Interwebs. :-)

Looking back to 2005, life was very different. I had yet to venture out and the idea of going to a social group, seemed like a pipe dream. Like of a lot of part time trans folk, I'd been following blogs and posting in forums, as an outlet. I was also working in a job that had flexible working, so I could find an hour here, an hour there, to dress up and home, and keep myself balanced.

"...it's just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It's only a choice." ~ Bill Hicks

Things changed, as life does. Sometimes seemingly at random and othertimes, by design. I started to visit Chameleons and as my old friends moved away, or had families of their own, the Chams people became my social group and I've made friends there.

I have a life that I could not imagine, when I was a teenager. I'm married to a beautiful and clever lady, I've two wonderful children and I have friends who know all of me. Not the shell of masculinity I project, but the actual me, whatever label that sits under. Sometimes I appear in bloke mode, sometimes not. I doesn't matter if I'm called Richard, or Lynn; I'm still me. Just one appearance is take a little more getting ready. :-) From my TG bucket list, I've gone to restaurants, danced in nightclubs and just done things that regular people do, just, a trans person. That's not to brag, but merely a record of my luck and good fortune. I didn't think I'd get this far, at least, not with a lovely family to keep me grounded. Very much a case of reasons to be cheerful.

I fought with depression and with help, beat it. It might have laid me low, but it didn't take me. I know of others who've not been so lucky. Some manage to live under its dark cloud, while others, sadly, are no longer with us. So, now, I keep my eyes and ears open for those danger signs in others. If I can help just one person, that to me, is a good thing.

Once, I wondered if this dark cloak was down to me staying male, but it wasn't that. That's not my path. I know people who've gone that route and it's working for them. They, like me, have done what they needed to do and that's cool. Go as far as you need and no further. Push yourself if you need to, and there's no shame for stepping back. Indeed, there's no prizes for this ride. Just enjoy the journey and don't worry about the destination.

I've met people through this blog, Chameleons and Invasion. People I'd never have met, if I'd stayed hidden away in my closet. Some of them feature in Our Different Journey, a short lived but interesting view into other people's lives. I think my life is richer for having met them. In a moment of unusual emotional honesty: thank you for your friendship. That's as true of the Chams folk, to those of you I talk to on-line.

Thank you for reading, and for those of you who comment, your wit and wisdom are appreciated.

Here's to a few more years,
Lynn
x

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gorillas in the Midst

Hi,

Ah, the weekend is almost upon us. Well, it is at the time of writing. Little Miss is busying playing on her brother's Xbox, while Wee Man is having a sleepover at Granny's. That just leaves the Ever Lovely Mrs J to be provided with hot tea and quiet, while she reads. Me? Oh, I'll while away the early evening, enjoying a gin, a quick blog entry and and editing a photo to fit this post.

Earlier in the week, I was working from home and I had a long lunch, so I could visit a local wig vendor. I've been after a new do for a while and despite much research online, I'd not come any closer to finding something I was happy with. It's a tricky situation because you're.... no, scratch that, I'm - because I can't and won't talk for you :-) - in a trilemma of cost, distance and quality.

Sue kindly recommended a shop. That's down in Oxford, which is a serious trek from up here. I did, however, find three wigs I liked on their site and the price didn't break the bank. I did email them but I've had nothing back and that's over two weeks ago. Oh well!

With Raffles, they were local enough to be visited and having been passed a business card, by Pat at Chams, why not? Their shop at the back of a hair salon, in the outskirts of Leicester. Parking was easy enough and I was politely ushered through on arrival (hence the title). No fuss, no stress. I was offered a tea, which I think is always a nice touch.

The range of wigs was good and I tried on about five different styles. I had done some research on what was supposed to suit me, and that helped narrow down the choices.

Hair for those of us with square faces:

  • Coupled with layers that turn inward
  • An off centre parting
  • Use side hair parting, a side-swept fringe and flicks to take away the hard lines of your face shape and add some funkiness to your look.
  • Long bob : This long bob is perfect for adding length and a rounded appearance to short, square face shapes

At least, so the advice goes! :-)

I took a snap of each one - or a selfie, as all the cool kids are saying* - which helped me look back at what I'd tried and help me remember. After you've tried two or three, they start to get a bit of a blue and a photo, seemed a good a way as any, to keep track of what I'd tried and how to review them.

Selfies: didn't we trans folk invent these? Why haven't we been reimbursed with kind favours and money off shopping? Honestly, there's no justice in the world. :-)

Mmm, maybe, but not this colour., Nope. And lastly, nope again.
The ones that didn't work were a light blonde number (left), although the fit & style were both nice. The owner did say she may be able to get this in another colour, but it would be a while to order.

The middle one fitted well, but the colour wasn't there for me.

The black one made me feel very jaw-y and seemed a little too dark. Funny, I had something very similar a few years back and liked it. It did, however, have more flick to it, whereas this was straighter.

I tried one that was curly and it was terribly old fashioned - that made us both laugh. There's no snap of that, because it was on and pretty much, straight off again.

After some deliberation, I bought the first one I tried on. I like the shape, the colour, the feel of it on and it was different to what I'd had before. Despite a touch of buyer's remorse - or husbandly guilt? - a day or so later, I'm happy with my purchase.

I'm hoping to give it a proper spin, at the Autumn Party next week. New hair and a new dress from my birthday last month? I'll have some of that. I did have a chat with both owners about them visiting to Chameleons at some point. That's still to be confirmed and I'm hopeful that will happen.

My earlier comment about prices, did prompt an interesting discussion and a bit of 'behind the scenes' reveal. Raffles, they sell their wigs for people who've lost their hair due to chemotherapy, and a small number of trans people.

I was surprised to hear how low the trade prices are for some.... less expensive brands. Now, I don't mind an inexpensive wig, as in, it was a bargain, but cheap? No thanks. Someone at Chams once told me, to buy the best I can afford. Oddly, similar advice to buying a car, or a laptop. Buy the best you can, because you may regret not spending that extra 20 quid. It's not like you can upgrade your hair, is it? :-) Well, okay, maybe a trim by a professional, but they can't replace the fibres.

I guess, like much in life, you get what you pay for. Coming back to what I was saying, some vendors (not local and no names were named) had passed on very cheap wigs (20 quid wholesale) to NHS patients at quite a mark-up. Cue upset patients turning up, wondering why what they'd bought was looking less that natural, a few weeks later (heard this at another vendor too). Sure, we part time trans folk don't have to wear them day in day out, but I'd like my hair to be okay for more than a handful of outings.

I think the lowest priced wig I bought was 40 quid and that was from Natural Image, back when Debenhams used to have a branch. It was my first and while it didn't work for my features, it was, good quality. I passed that on to someone at the group, who was quite happy with it. Wow, I think that's nearly 10 years ago.

Anyhoo, memories aside, I bought this new one with the remainder of my birthday money. I doubt anyone will ask what I spent on it. They'll probably assume nerd gear and tech. Stereotypes eh? They do make for excellent shade ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 09, 2015

Planning

Hi,

In an effort to get a little more exercise, and to get our two lovely dogs to be a bit calmer, in the evenings, I took them out on a walk through the local countryside. Sure, we may not have a regular bus service, any local shop and the Internet connectivity could be a little zippier. But, the scenery sure is nice. Nothing but fields, rolling hills and woodland. Yay for autumn. Cool weather, the leaves begin to turn and we begin the slow trip through monthly celebrations, as we move to Christmas. All, reasons to be thankful.

The wood now has had a new public footpath put in, so we're legally free to wander through, and down across the field to the nearby bridleway. It takes about an hour, if you take the long route. It's not a bad view over to Nottingham, either. On a dark night, the city lights give an interesting break between the rural and the urban. Personally, I try not to be out after dark, mainly for the reason that it's pitch black once you get under the trees and I've never been one for liking falling in the mud. :-)

Wardrobe

Bah, can't make out my
patterned tights. Oh well!
I had a new skater skirt, which I'd found in the sales from Tall Girls. A bargain when I saw what it had been reduced to. Whenever I order from them, I have a wry smile, wondering how many of their customers run two wardrobes. Although, I very much doubt they're bothered. A sale, is a sale.

Talking of second wardrobes, I finally got around to having a tidy up. Out went the work related paper and shopping bags. I shifted some old clothes to charity and I gifted the Ever Lovely Mrs J with two new pairs of ballet pumps. One grey pair, which she loves and a sparkly gold pair, that made her laugh. Perfect for work dinners, apparently. Space in my cupboard and a happy wife, what's not to like?

Eye Eye

I don't know if I've been burning the candle, eating too much, or I'm just getting old; but my eyes were not in a good shape, Wednesday night. Sort of, well, droopy. Not great, Hooded I can cope with, but my eyelids almost folding up? Really not good. So, I had a quick look on the Internet and with my budget (and the NHS cuts), surgery is highly unlikely. That means, eating less and trying some eye exercises. It's not as if the latter are taxing and I guess we'll see if they make any difference.

Chams

Last night was Chameleons and as I drove over there, I found myself working towards an edge of nervous energy. I don't know why I get this, I'm not sure I have anything to be nervous about. I mean, I know most people, and I think I've been going long enough, to take it in my stride. But, all those things aside, my tummy was fluttering a little. If it wasn't nerves, was it excitement? Was I misreading it? I felt calm enough and I still don't know, but I suppose when this all becomes just mundane and tedious, that's the time to take a break and walk away. Which, I guess, is what happened over Summer.

The evening itself went very well and I mingled a bit more than I would do. I caught up with Melissa, who'd somehow managed to get herself featured on local radio. Apparently, she'd rung up to leave her views on some trans* related news and found herself on-air, talking with the presenter. It seemed to go so well, that she was interviewed and that was broadcast a little later. I wonder if the radio station have realised how much of this trans* stuff goes on.

We had some new visitors, including a make-up expert, who had come along with one of her trans* clients, for moral support. Monica was saying she wanted to get to know the group more, rather than just visit, advertise and leave. She said she had a background with working with the trans community and with a bit of luck, we'll manage to fit her in, for some make-up advice, in the coming weeks.

The evening finished off nicely, with a few snaps with Val, who kindly stayed to have chat while I got changed and locked up. All in all, a very nice way to ease into the end to the week. Oh, I had a very nice birthday card from Sandy and Tracey, which was a really nice touch. I know they are away for the party, so I'll have to plan something in return. Talking of planning, there's the food to sort out. Jake, one of our trans-men, will be handling the music, so that's off my list. With a bit of luck, a local wig retailer may visit on the same night. I could do with a new do, so I hope it all works out. Lots of things to look forward to. Fingers crossed eh?

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, October 02, 2015

Learning to walk

Hi,

Over the last few years of answering emails for Chameleons, there are a few questions, that pop up regularly. One of them is around dress. Perhaps, not unusual for a group of cross-dressing people. But flippancy aside, a question about being judged when dressed. What do others wear? What should I wear? I'm new to all of this, everyone seems so together with their outfits, etc.

I think it's intimidating enough, visiting a new place, where you don't know anyone. Chuck into the mix, that you're worried that you'll look like a mess, must just add to the stress. BTW, I should add that the Chams folk are very cool and laid back. We don't judge. Well, provided you are not indecent, we don't judge :-)

Not me, BTW. I don't tend to
photograph appliances, as a rule. :-)
Going back a few years, I remember my first attempts. Learning to walk in heels took ages. Oddly, I didn't seem to mind getting the hours in. I used to Hoover regularly before work, because it would help me keep my balance and the manoeuvring around the house, meant I wasn't just walking up and down. Yes, the comedy value of a Queen video wasn't lost on me, either :-)

Make-up took longer and I'm still learning today. It's not like we transfolk, get regular practice. An hour here, an afternoon, or evening there. How much does that add up to in a few months? We don't have anyone to show us, as a rule, and YouTube can be a bit one-sided. I know I gave up on the Smokey Eye look, because no matter what I did, it just wouldn't work. Skip on a year or two, and I now know I've hooded eyes and that technique is never going to work for me. Instead, I've had to learn what does (Ed: mostly, anyways).

When you start off, buying clothes seems like going into enemy territory. What is someone sees me? What if someone asks what I'm doing? All of those questions rattle around your head. Then, there's the dreaded: Can I help you? Sure, you want help, but at the same time, you have the OMG, they'll know! panic. It took me a while to get over this and looking back, I don't know why I worried so much. I mean, what's the difference between me shopping for clothes, and me shopping for the Ever Lovely Mrs J's birthday? In practical terms, nothing. Yet, the latter was easier and the former had me in knots.

Eventually, the penny dropped and now, I'm fine with it. Fine with it, to the point that if it's for me and I need some help, I'll ask. Sure, I'll try to be discreet and ensure I don't weird out the sales assistant. But, hey, my money is as good as anyone else's and maybe getting shops to test their attitude to Equal Ops, isn't a bad thing.

With time and through the mistakes of buying the wrong thing, I started to work out what did suit me. I still get it wrong now, but that's all part of the fun of experimenting. I've learned to keep receipts and avoid stores who are funny about returns. Truth be told, there aren't many of the latter now.

So, if there's a moral, or a conclusion to this post of mine, is that, if you're new; it will take time. Enjoy the journey and don't rush. Don't be afraid to ask for help and practice really helps.

Take care,
Lynn
x

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tick tock, tick tock

Hi,

Last week, another year on the clock. Oh, don't mention clocks: this could be a terror threat. :-)

I did wonder, skipping back those *cough* 40 odd *cough* years ago. What was it like for my parents? Okay obvious joke, probably agony for one of them ;-) Did my Dad rush in from work, or had he been there since the start of labour? I may have to ask.

Skip on a few years, and a remember visiting my Mum, after my little sister was born. I also remember Dad taking us to the local toy shop (there were two in our little town). For some reason, he bought my sister and I toys. How this helps to adjust to a new baby in the house, I'm not sure, but I appreciate the gesture ;-) I got the Lotus from James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me. When I see the film, I think of that toy and then about my family. Memories, they're funny entangled strings aren't they?

Skipping forward many years, I was lucky enough to be there for both of my kids being born. It was crazy how the time shot by. I guess a mix of panic, repetition and being in the same small room for over 16 hours (we both had a kip) may have played a part. :-) That's not to belittle the experience in the slightest. It is, to coin a well loved phrase, but the beginning.

I look now at our two wonderful children and think that they're the gifts. Not fancy gadgets - although the YBF Primer and a Desigual dress from Mrs J, are awesome :-) - but the things we do as a family. I once read, don't connect things, collect memories. I'm slowly getting that message.

Take last night for example. I was going to go out, but Wee Man needed some help putting together an electronic drum kit together. Bless him, he'd been saving since Christmas and his birthday. Given his excitement, and soft touch that I am, I stayed longer, to put it all together. So, while I did get to go out, it wasn't in fancy attire. Still, there will be other times and he did have a big smile on his face.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Trans Rollercoaster

Hi,

Last week I was checking through my RSS feed of blogs and checked to see what the good folk over at T-Central had been up to. If you've not been over, the site is worth checking out. They not only keep a long list of trans blogs, but they also do a feature post. Usually, posting a link to a trans blog article that's a thought provoking read. They also link to those who've just been babbling away to themselves (here and here). ;-)

Anyhoo, on Saturday, I spotted a link to a post called the Slippery Slope, which was written by Nadine. It's not the first time I've heard those words. Not from the My Husband Betty books, but from my own dear, Ever Lovely Mrs J. In fairness, it was a long time ago and during my.... not sure what to call this. I'll go with experimentation phase. That time when you're sort of out, at least to your partner, and you're finding your feet. Oh, a slow hand clap for anyone who says, try looking down your legs. :-) I'd run out of nail varnish remover and came home with red nails. A quick clean up and I was fine, although I did make the bathroom bin whiff of chemicals. Naturally, Mrs J was curious and then felt that it was all escalating. Which, given that I didn't wear nail varnish when going out before, can't be denied. That's not to say her (righteous) missive didn't sting. Sometimes, the truth hurts.

So, how do those two wee facts interlink? Well, I'm glad you asked. There is, I believe, the phenomenon of the trans shooting star. See how it reaches into the sky leaving a blaze of fabulous sparkles and carefree behaviour. Nothing can touch it.... except the gradual and unrepentant gravity of reality, or the heavy handed slap of guilt. We've all been there, or know someone who has. There's no shame in it. We - trans folk - get a whiff of freedom and we're gone.... hence the graph (below).



Joe's our stereotypical transgender person, we'll go with male by birth, because I don't what it may be like for our trans-men cousins. Joe starts off in life and slowly, the trans pressure builds up. He either can't take it any more, or he's careless; it doesn't matter, He's coming out and down the mood drain he goes. Joe may question who he is, and maybe his partner is questioning Joe on who he is too. Maybe positively, or maybe not: every journey is different.

Slowly Joe starts to get his head around things. He begins to be more open, maybe drop his guard. Those who've been through this, maybe begin to hear the gentle calls from Mission Control: We are go for launch. Joe's launch into the trans world is underway. Off he soars to the nearest shopping area, or Internet site. Plain paper packages arrive in the post. Credit cards start to get a little warm and he's pushing at boundaries neither partner knew they had. Off he goes, sky high looking fabulous and without a care in the world. All is fine in the high T-Orbit. Nothing can touch him.....

Except, the real world. Joe cannot live in a bubble. He has to come down for air and that high orbit high over the world, sure, there are other passing stars, but he's left some people behind. He begins to lose height and that re-entry burns him. He's gone so high, so far and yet.... he's still him. He's still Joe with this new world and his old one to balance.

Will Joe hit the icy waters on his own, or will his crash be lessened by his friends & family? Who can say. That's up to Joe. Maybe he'll share with his partner and find he doesn't need to be fully off planet, to have escape. Maybe he's happy with a few times a year, once a month, or just a weekend. It's not our call, it's Joe's.

Over time, Joe will learn some home truths. Maybe he won't like some of them, maybe he'll give up for a bit and lay low. That interstellar flight wiped him out. Slowly, but surely, he'll feel T-Call and he'll start again. Not at the blistering white-knuckle speed of last time, but a gentle pace. He's tasted freedom and he's felt pain. Maybe Joe's learned enough to balance both. Maybe he's learned acceptance and maybe he's lucky enough to have a partner who loves him - all aspects of him. Let's hope he has. No more boom and bust, or worse: doom and dust.

Let's hope that Joe can look back. Realise that what's happened has happened and where possible, learn a little. Learn to be okay with who he is and who he sometimes likes to be.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, September 11, 2015

A chance to be you

Hey,

Not just something that sounds good for horses, apparently. Also good for bad puns and an opening when you're wondering what to blog about. :-)

Despite Saturday's gift of a morning to myself and plenty of time to pack, I changed my mind at the last minute (Ed: Not that this mind works better than the old one.), and swapped to what you might call a transitional dress. Something that's either summer or winter, depending how you wear it.

I have, thanks to some gentle cutting down on snacks, lost a little bit of weight. Not a huge amount, but enough to let my old clothes fit better and I was very happy to be able to wear my favourite blue ditzy print dress again.... even if I didn't bring it this time.

While I was getting changed, Sarah and Alison popped up to say hello and - as per - we got chatting. I mentioned that a recent video on social media, had asked trans people, what they took the word passing to be. Some started with one word answers, and then moved on to expand on their initial comments. One said prison, which may sound strong, but you don't know her back story. Did she feel trapped because of how people had treated her, or was she - so to speak - in a cage of her own making?

I used to feel it was important to pass, but that was many years ago. I guess it was a bit like trying to wish yourself thin. It ain't gonna happen. Likewise, for me, and a few others, passing is something that's not going to happen. I'm tall, got blokey shoulders and a jaw you can clear snow off the drive with. They all stack up to provide evidence that I'm not genetically female..... but, I don't care. Not any more, indeed, not for a long time. It was something I'll never do and I realised that aiming for this goal, was just bringing me down. Instead, I just aim to be content with how I look. If all goes to plan, well turned out too. That's all I can manage and on good days - like last night - all did go well. I looked in the mirror and thought: yeah, you'll do. :-)

Alison - who is now, shall we say, no longer in the boys club :-) - asked how do I identify. This was something that came up in the video too. She said that she knows I pick the label transgender and, possibly as I've said here before, it's because the word trans, at least to me, feels inclusive. Sure, I'm very part time; being a bloke/dad/husband all month, bar two evenings, or maybe a few hours once in a blue moon. That said, I don't feel different when dressed up. I might watch my language a little more, but that may more be able manners. (Ed: that or Lynn feels blokes are ruder, so she does that to fit in. The jury's still out.).

Someone asked: do I pretend. Yeah, I pretend to be a regular bloke :-) Flippancy aside, there's a truth in that joke. I do watch what I say and how I act. If someone I know is talking jewellery design, or the dilemma with what to wear to a work's do; I know to keep my trap shut. Much that I'd like to join in, I'm wary I'd either a) give myself away, or b) weird them out in some way. Then there's dodgy the question, when someone asks why do you have both ears pierced? I usually say I just wanted the variety, which isn't 100% wrong. :-)

That's probably the old bit about being in the closet I don't like. Having to old back. At Chams, and as I said to Sarah & Alison, I don't have to self-censor. Here, I can be me, regardless of bloke or lady appearance; I can talk about any subject (Ed: often at great length). Maybe that's the best thing about the social group: friends who you can just be yourself with. No masks, no lies, just you.

Take care,
Lynn

[ PS: I had a telephone interview today and I've a formal interview next week. Fingers crossed! ]

Friday, September 04, 2015

Changes

Hi,

You probably know that I answer the emails and keep an eye on the forum, for Chameleons. In the last two years or so, I've noticed a change -if you pardon the pun - in who contacts the group. Yes, a lot of our number are regular cross dressers (/waves), although we're seeing a gradual diversification.

Questions from women who identify as men, and also from younger people too. Okay, mostly teenagers, but still, I think we're, and to steal a well known headline, reaching at a tipping point.

It seems, well, at least to me, that the trans elements of society are making themselves known earlier. They are speaking up and early. I still see conservative type who are trying to push the genie back in the bottle. Good luck with that. You may as well try knitting with fog.

People are feeling what it's like to be free, and be true to themselves. I can only hope it leads to happier grown-ups. The full article is here and there's a GIRES leaflet here too.

Lynn
x

[ Update: By some strange turn of the planets and Fate, everyone, bar YT, was out of the house on Saturday. The Ever Lovely Mrs J and Little Miss had headed out to help at a charity thing, while Wee Man, was staying over at Mrs J's parents. For the first time in a long time, I had a Saturday morning to myself. What to do, what to do? :-) After Hoovering and tidying up, I went through my second wardrobe: tried a few things on and put aide the items I no longer want. The less-flapjack-and-more-fruit diet seems to be working. My weight may not have dropped massively, but my shape is less boxy and I found favourite clothes that fit again. Woo-hoo! It was odd not bothering with any make-up, but it was warm and I wanted to get the housework and lawns sorted, rather than worrying about removing all the evidence. All in all, a very nice start to the weekend! ]

Friday, August 28, 2015

Travel and Tiaras

Hi,

A short week, this week. The Jones Massive have had another summer break, albeit a long week. I know, lifestyles of the rich and famous, eh? Not that my bank account is looking well, that's for sure. Still, a good time was had by all and despite the dining out, the sheer amount of walking we did, has worked wonders. I feel I have much more energy and, I get finally get back into my 36" bloke jeans. Clearly, the daily 5 - 7 mile walks, have paid off. Note to self: more exercise. :-)

We went to Prague and if you get chance, and for what it's worth; I thoroughly recommend it. I think adding up the cost of the flights, the hotel and the food; it's not much more costly that London by train. Well, unless you live in London that is: I'm sure the Tube fair, is very reasonable :-P Plus, Prague's architecture and the sense of history, is fantastic. Yes, there's a stag do notoriety, but we didn't see much of that (two kids, remember?), so no problems there.

The climate was on the warm side and, me being me, I did keep an eye on the fashions and styles people preferred. It felt very UK, if that makes any sense. Mind you, skinny jeans with ripped knees don't seem to be in. At least, not as 'in' as they are in Nottingham. Fashion, go figure.

Ethnicity

There's no Chams for me this week, as the Ever Lovely Mrs J is away on business. I'm home being Dad and, dare I say, it's all going well. It's a bit of a rush in the morning, but I think we're on top of things. Go Team Jones :-)

I happened to see the Channel Four programme, Muslim Drag Queens. I won't review or spoil any of it, and it's on C4's catch up service for the next 28 days, if you fancy watching it.

One thing I've noticed over the years at Chameleons, is that we don't tend to have many people from Black or Asian backgrounds, attend. I think I've seen one Asian lady (who looked utterly fab in her sari), and that was at least six years, or so ago. A quick look on t'internet and the census stats for the county are 71.5% White, 13.1% Asian, 7.3% Black British and 6.7% Mixed Race. Given the struggles and abuse faced by some in the above programme, I guess the lack of attendance, given our mixed community; it makes more sense now.

Sure, trans and drag or trans and sexuality don't always go hand in hand. Ignoring differences, it is about being true to your feelings and being accepted for who you are. I think, regardless of what label, we pin in ourselves - and we're back to last week's talk around identity - we just want to be accepted and to be ourselves.

I thought we, as a society, were getting there. After watching this, I feel, we've still a long way to go.

Lynn
x




Friday, August 21, 2015

The C Word

Hi,

On the way home from Chams last week, BBC Radio 4 had a large night edition of Woman's Hour. It's not a programme I usually listen to, as I'm at work, but if it's on; I'll listen. Not from some faux woman within malarkey (well, false for me - it may be very true for others).

Moreover, you get to hear different topics of conversation. The Late Night Edition covered fanfic, cosplay and sci-fi & fantasy, albeit with a view of what it means to women today. If any of the above are your bag, there's a podcast you can download here.

So what's this got to do with being trans? Well, it wasn't discussed directly, although there was talk about identity and how different on-line communities allow people to experiment. Change who they are, how they wish to be perceived, etc. In the final segment of the show, one of the experts was talking about the drop of organised religion's hold over the UK, since the 80s. She went on to say that people have filled (or maybe, replaced) that community with their own.

What struck me, was the talk about religions and fan communities allowing people to be different from their usual life. A sense of belonging and a place where you can be who you want, without the binaries if everyday life. Hmmm. What does that remind me of? :-)

Part timers, full timers, partners, F2M, M2F and the undecided
So is Chams - or indeed any trans support group - effectively a church? It's not like we have worship, although do we have rituals. The getting ready, photos, parties and the return to drab, at the end of the evening.

All tortured similarities aside, the sense of community is fantastic. A mix of short, medium and long term visitors. You don't really know who will stay and who will drift away, or move on. All part of the variety of life.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 14, 2015

Breaking the dry spell

Hi,

This, is very much the life. I've had the luxury of a week off at home. I appreciate that may sound sarcastic, and in many ways, that's my default tone. One of continual dry humour, but honestly, the Jones Family Staycation (apologies for anyone who dislikes portmanteaus), worked rather well. It's not often you do the tourist thing in your local city.

We've visited some ruins, been on long walks in the woods, had some very nice lunches out and risked a family day out, ice skating. Me and sport go together like ham and bicycle clips. But, you do your best and try not to break anything, when you fall over. I've worn some, shall we say, impractical footwear, over the years, but ice skates take the prize. Tight and and loose in the wrong places. Pretty much like a bad pair of cheap opaques, I guess. :-)

Chuck in some time for reading and a better diet (thanks to the Every Lovely Mrs J's expert knowledge), and things are going well. All in all, reasons to be cheerful.

Chams

You may well recall me mentioning not being 'in the mood' for any trans stuff. Not that you can ever seemingly switch it fully off, but - and shall we say? - finding enough interest to express all aspects of my gender, was definitely lacking. Having written that line, I'm still not 100% behind it, but it sounds more in-depth than I couldn't be a**ed to get dressed up. :-) Hell, it's only been two months and a day, but who's counting?

With my customary large travel bag packed, and two outfits within, off I went. It took me a while (as per), to get ready and part of that was a pause. I took a look in the mirror and wondered: just what on Earth am I doing? Perhaps just uncertainty calling, than any panic, but I felt decided confused, if not a little odd. Still, when in doubt: accessorise. :-)

Thanks to Valtography
Skinny jeans, a borrow top and some Clinque CC cream worked their wonders. I skipped on the corset and the weight loss from the last holiday is still a work in progress. Getting there, mind, and gradual is probably the way to go.

Feet in my heels and I felt my posture change. That seems the second to last step, before the wig goes on and you're finished. All that remains is a wry smile in the mirror and a quick thought of "that'll do, Pig." :-)

Regular Folk

Once downstairs I said hi to the usual folk and took a seat. There was a chap on his own, so I struck up a conversation with him. I didn't know who he was and thought he might be a first time visitor. Most people email before coming along, but some just turn up and fair play to them.

Turned out he was a carer for one of our regulars and not one of our number. Cue a few jokes about "Okay. Well no-one will try and convert you, although I did visit just to sort out the plumbing.... then it all got out of hand." :-)

Conversation drifted around various topics and one thing he said had me thinking long afterwards. The idea that the carer expected us to be a bit more flamboyant. He said he only had to go on what he'd seen on TV, or what had been covered in an old diversity training programme.

I think the better elements of the media do try. Sometimes, they get it right and I think we're seeing things change for the better. There will always be a few voices; you know the sort: troll with an opinion column, or lazy editors. But, just as other discrimination is frowned up, lets hope things continue to move in the right direction for us trans folk.

Anyhoo, none of the above had really helped him decide, who we - we, being trans people - would be like. How would we behave, what would our ages be, our style of dress, what would we talk about, etc. Turns out, we're just like ordinary folk, and I'm fine with that.

Mind you, it's a good job the weather was bad, and we'd delayed the Wicker Man tribute. :-D

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, August 07, 2015

Step away from the pie

Hi,

To tell, or not to tell? That is the question. Let's give this record another spin. :-)

With apologies to the Bard, the above is a question that floats around my noggin from time to time. Perhaps, more accurately, you could ask, out or closet? I remember a news report about a researcher who revealed all of his secrets, on the basis that no one could hold anything over him, if he was totally open about his past.

So, why this thought now? Not that you asked ;-) With the Ever Lovely Mrs J's folks house-sitting, or Wee Man staying home alone (yeah, he's grown up quickly), I wonder, if either party are looking for something, if my extra clothes will be found. Now, I'm not saying they'll go rummaging around in our bedroom, that would be rude. That said, I know Little Miss has a treasure hunt for her Xmas presents one year. Not that she's done it again, because she found it took some of the magic away.

My wardrobe has bloke clothes on one side and my other clothes, on the...umm... other. I suppose there's the line that it's the Ever Lovely Mrs J's overspill. So far, so typical. Now, what about large cupboard near my computer desk? A fine selection of heels, more than one bag of make-up and a large cardboard box, that houses a wig stand and old Ginger? Well, I suppose, if you go digging, be careful of what you may unearth.

Years ago, I used to keep the more transtastic items in a locked treasure chest. The kids would gather around and wonder what wonderful secrets where held inside. It seemed a locked door had more interest than anything else. So, I moved it and once it was opened - behold, the wonder of old blankets! :-P After that, they were suddenly a lot less bothered.

Health kick

I had my over 40s health check this week. Hmmm...

F-- off, I'm thinking size 14.
Well, my blood pressure isn't great and my cholesterol levels are also the wrong side of healthy. Not dangerously so, but to ignore the warning signs, would be unwise.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J, bless her, has been working up a culinary storm; changing out diets for the better. Less trans-fats (wrong sort of trans, apparently), less salt, proactive yogurt (que?) and more veggies.

I'm trying to avoid thinking about being hungry and at work, that's easy enough. Just get stuck into a report or some coding; the time flies. At home, temptation is a little closer and I'm doing my best. Today's trip to the Lard Van, where they do the most fantastic bacon & egg rolls, was probably not the best idea, but I didn't crumble under duress. ;-)

Last week's holiday certainly didn't help (hello, weight gain), but I've got a reason to ditch the pounds. I've also promised myself, no new clothes until I fight the flab and there's a lovely new Autumn/Winter collection due out soon.

Fingers crossed eh?

Lynn
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Mr.... Smith, I presume?

Hi,

Subject to Blogger's scheduling system, you should be reading this, while I and the Jones Massive are lording it up on summer holiday. Those of you of a certain age, may wish to hum Cliff's eponymous critique of the yearly trip. While, those of another age, may supplement The Young Ones as a backing group. ("Did you just call me a b*stard?!"). Lastly, those of you under 40, or not from the UK, may consider what on earth I'm prattling on about and skip to the next paragraph. :-)

The next paragraph is a bit further down....

T'other day, a news stories popped into my social media feed. Entitled I was Transgender and Didn't Know it... I'd suggest you have a read, if only to distract you from my gibbering.

Done yet? I'll assume you have, not that it matters if you've skipped it. :-) I'll state that I'm trans-something-or-other, in that I'm conscious that different people read different things into labels. Whatever badge you care to pin on me - perhaps like some politically sensitive Pin the Tail on the Minority  - there will be someone who doesn't agree with the definition, or even the labelling. But, moving on, one thing I can agree on: I'm not 100% bloke in my head. There's some influence in there, that makes me disinterested in 'being a lad', sport, cars and sexual conquests. Truth by told, it might be more that I'm a geek, and the trans stuff is just rather fabulous icing on an already tilted cup-cake....

Gah, I've lost my train of thought. [ drinks tea ] Ah. It was behind the saucer, under the chocolate biccie. Yeah, so I wouldn't say I'm trans as in need-to-transition-trans, but somewhere on the spectrum. After reading the above Didn't Know It article, I looked back at some of the stories the Chameleons folk have shared with me, and a little bit of my own.

I think the earliest I knew something was different, was the second or third year of primary school. I also knew that a small boy with a curious interest in pretty things, was something you kept quite about. The 70s was (sadly) rife with homophobia and even at a young age, you'd hear grown ups talk about "he's one of them' or "bats for the other side.". I didn't know what One of Them was, but from their tone, it didn't seem a good thing.

About this time, and in a city, somewhere far, far away. There was a house somewhere in inner city Nottingham. Gentlemen who were 'in the know' would occasionally frequent this venue. Men would arrive and would then, to use a well know phrase, slip into something for comfortable. Hours would be spent, socialising and mixing with other trans people. They'd be away from society, because the Good Old Days weren't good to everyone.

I only know of the above, from a chat from a self-described irregular regular at Chameleons. I very much doubt Miss R visited (too young) and we only have whispers and, possibly, legend to go on.

I wonder who lives in the property now. Are they aware of the history? Where they even part of it? Maybe we need a new additions to Blue Plaques that include this pre-Out history. So much was hidden, and to an extent, still is. We've still a long way to go. We're getting there.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer days

Hi,

This week has been a bit of a gift. Firstly, I've had three days at home, so I can attend a virtual training course. One of those modern things, where instead of community to spend most of the day in front of a computer screen, you - ummm - stay at home in front of a computer screen. :-)

I am, however, doing the process and the trainer a disservice and only from a (weak) comedy angle. In fairness, these remote training sessions mean I can balance home and work life, without any major difficulties on either side. For those of you with a technical bend (Ed: ooh, Matron!), this course was on Cloud Services. There were a large number of people on the course, who've moved a lot of their IT systems to these external hosts. It seems the idea of a traditional 'server room' at work, filled with winking (read it carefully) lights and expensive kit, seem to be waning (steady). Give it a few years and maybe some companies will have no servers on site. Then give if a few years more and the trend will reverse. That's IT for you. :-)

Other than the training, the weather's not been too bad, so I've been able to get out for a walk around the village (willage?) and the countryside. This, for me, is a very nice change from the dash to the canteen, or walk-of-fire through the industrial estate to a nearby sandwich shop. All reasons to be cheerful. :-)

The Trans Force continue to be illusive, but I'm trying to just accept and move on. In the past, when the training has hit something I knew, I'd experiment with make-up, or sort out my wardrobe. This time, I didn't do any of that, which means I can concentrate on what I need to and I don't have to worry about home deliveries or tidying up, before everyone comes home.

I think the closest I've got to any cross-dressing, has been trying on some false nails I found in the cupboard. They certainly reduced my typing speed. How do people manage? Is it a training thing? :-) Silliness aside, while they were somewhat of a clash to the Dad shorts I was wearing; they felt right. I guess to some people, wearing them may seem odd, but to me, they're just another part of my wardrobe.

So, all is ticking along and I'm only a few days away from the family holiday. Good times.

Lynn
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Friday, July 10, 2015

Nurse, she's out of bed again.

Hi,

Q. What do you call a cross dresser who doesn't dress?

If the answer is 'cross' then the hat certainly fitted earlier in the week. Thankfully, I have now calmed down a bit. I guess I was feeling stuck in the rat race. A silly prison of my own making. The feeling that it's the same ol, same ol loop. At least, if you're not thinking right and you start looking at things the wrong way.

What can you do? I suppose, rebel in little ways by not allowing yourself to be stuck. Doing things like a different route to work, buying your lunch from different places and trying to get out of the office. Make changes where you can and try to do the things I enjoy: reading, talking to people, a bit of gaming here and there. Oddly, that all seemed to help. It's certainly kept me out of the dark woods.

Cheer up, you arse
Mind you, I still don't have my trans mojo back, so it was a bloke mode visit to Chams. Maybe it's fallen down the sofa, or got lost in the Narnia-like depths of my second wardrobe. Wherever it is, the good news is that I've saved a mint on summer clothes and there's been a lot less rushing around, getting ready. I've certainly enjoyed not sweltering under a wig, during the hot weather. Mind you, the Centre now has air-con, so small mercies eh?

Anyhoo, a night out chatting was a welcome change. I also got to take a few snaps for people (hi Val), which brings me back to trying to do things for people. Perhaps I could do with the karma, as I handed over the lock-up keys to the group. Usually I lock up because I'm always last to get changed and I'm fairly regular. Hand them over I did (/Yoda) because it's holiday for the Jones Massive in a few weeks. Some time away with our new hound - a new addition to the family - may just what I need. Then, we're back for a bit during the summer holidays and we're off for a short break. The Ever Lovely Mrs J will be away on a conference, and the nippers and I will fly over with her. Should be fun!

I look back a wonder how I could stop; put being trans behind me and 'be normal'. Now, here I am, not dressing up and I'm wondering why. What a headf*** :-) Mind you, this still makes more sense than cheering 22 men chase a ball between some wooden posts. :-P

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, July 03, 2015

Distractions

Hi,

Larks, it's late and the unwelcome side of too warm. However, the weather's on the turn, so I'm hopeful it'll be a bit cooler. It's also the weekend, so no rushing about to meetings, or the school run. Just time with the Jones Massive. All things to look forward to.

Little Miss performed in her school concert and I was very proud of her. Doubly so because she didn't play a recorder. ;-)

The pressure from work seems to be clearing a little and for that, I'm very grateful. I also had a long chat with a work mate. Not around work issues, but a twenty minute chat and much silliness and laughter. Odd, when you get stuck under a cloud, I forget what it is to make others laugh, or just listen to them talk. I find it's a welcome distraction from the noise in my own head.

So, here's to cooler temperatures and welcome distractions.
Lynn
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Wake up, Jones

Hi,

To bother, or not to bother? That is the question.

I'm not fully sure how to start today's post and after two restarts, four paragraphs and watching a video with the line (below), I'm still no closer to paydirt....


I guess, it's a combination of work stress and summer. I'm not great in hot weather. I'd like to think the odd Jones family bio-chemistry of Scots and distant Dutch blood, does not warm well. Heh, perhaps like UHT left out, I go a bit sour ;-)

I seem to be drifting at the moment. Running through the cycle of wake, eat, school run, work, eat, work, home, eat, bedtimes, TV, sleep. I have little energy or interest, only the want of distraction for whatever is lurking, unseen in my head.

I also know, that to sit and dwell, is not the best path. Instead, I know I must get out. To walk, to just be outside in nature (I love the countryside) and not do, but just be. To be passive, for once, and observe the beauty in the world. It's a work in progress and I think, I need to take my foot off the gas, so to speak, and - to coin a phrase from another well known film - "let it go."

To that end, I didn't rush home on Thursday. Nor did I have three outfits crammed into a large bag, nor the need to dash from home to get changed. Instead, I took my time and spent the evening in bloke mode, at Chameleons. It certainly made it easier to close up and get home, that's for sure. Perhaps, a break is required. Just a night off here and there, but still to have the social. I know I don't go to Chameleons to just 'dress up', it's as much part of the social. There, I don't have to watch what I say and I can, for once, let the mask drop and just be me.

I think being in bloke mode threw a few people (Oh, It's you. I didn't recognise you dressed like that.) Mainly because most people - unless you're upstairs getting changed - don't see me in bloke mode..... and no, I won't be putting a snap of the male me on-line. It's bad enough being in a video conference and being reminded of how I look.

It's funny, and I'm circling back towards The Matrix reference. During the day, and maybe you have this, maybe you don't; you talk and interact with people and then, you catch sight of yourself. Perhaps a reflection in the window, or (shudder) video conferencing comes on and who you see jars with how you feel.

Still, best not dwell on the negative. It's the weekend, and there are two whole days to do more interesting things.

Look after yourselves,
Lynn
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