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