Friday, January 29, 2016

Pink Thursday

Hi,

I'm glad that working week is over. It was a bit of a slog. But, on to finer tales of daring do! Yes, it was Pink Thursday at Chameleons, and if I say so myself - actually, I don't, lots of our number commented on how well it went. For balance, I'm wondering if we should do a session for our transmen. I know I could spare some shirts and trousers.

Pink Thursday

Unlike last time, I was away early and despite the issues with the traffic, I didn't arrive too late. Plus, and unusually for Yours Truly, I only had the one outfit with me. I did have a chat with two new folk, as I got ready. That, and Alison was helping one lady with her make-up and hair. It's a sharing group, Chameleons. If anyone asks - and I know I've asked a lot of questions over the years - people are cool about sharing what they know. Not in a condescending way either.

Late autumn and early winter are two of our busiest months. I think the dark nights and Xmas party season plays into the former, while January/February may be something to do with New Year's Resolutions. Maybe I should ask our new folk for the proper answer :-)

Anyhoo, with January being a busy month, we decided we run an event specifically for new members: hence, Pink Thursday. An evening of advice around hair, make-up and clothes. Steph was on-hand to talk about slap, but due to not being 100%, bless her, she had to disappear early. Luckily, Sandi (aka Mrs Tracey) stepped up and helped a number of folk with make-up and wigs. We had a Bring + Buy sale running too, and I think the Centre was very busy that night. It certainly pushed away those winter blues and helped pep up the group's funds.

Amongst the wigs, was what looked like one of my first purchases. For old time's sake, I tried it on, but sadly, it was rather flyaway and wasn't an old favourite. If you're in need of something to keep the kids from the fire, or yourself away from the fridge; printed copies are available. But, please, don't have nightmares :-)

Val had created herself a name badge, which is something we probably should do, for those who help out. If you've ever emailed the group, and asked who to see on arrival; it's usually Val, Pat or Helen, who gets volunteered. They do a grand job.

Performance

While mingling and chatting with new faces and regulars, one lady, said she'd like a word. I don't think it was quite as ominous, as I've just made out :-) Later on, we got talking, Lindsay and I, and it was around a theatre production, one of her colleagues had been involved with. It was one of those 'small world' moments.

What had happened, is that a production around LGBT life had got in touch with Chameleons. Now, you know me; I enjoy a spot of writing, and you try to support folk where you can. I put the kettle on, had a think and then rattled off something. I heard nothing back for a while, and then I had some more emails about how the production was going ahead, and, my entry was in the show. Fame at last eh? :-) It was all anonymous, I should add.

Now, if you don't fancy reading the item below, there's a video link below it. All mod-cons here! :-)
The Mask
I am the lie in plain sight. I am the man you kiss goodbye when you go to work. I am the man who teaches your children, who fixes your car, who works in your office, who is part of your family. I am all these people... and I am more.
I am male from the outside. But, inside? I am a mixture.
A mask of masculinity, a twist of femininity. Learned from afar with curious eyes. A heady brew of confusion. I am trans; someone on the sliding scale of gender. Neither one nor the other, but betwixt and between. Too soft to join the boys, too rough to join the girls. The outsider who hides.
Away from your gaze, I am different and I am the same. A different name and a different garb dress me up. The same heart beats within, the same mind thinks throughout. Sarah, or Simon: I need to be both. I need to have time to be myself. To be all of myself: sometimes femme, sometimes homme. This may be at home, in a hotel, or out with friends. Trans friends.
Without this balance, my world tips and I am lost. Sipping towards the black waters that numb. Waters that drown. If I cannot breathe.....I cannot be. I have tried, tried to stop, but I cannot. I can no longer stop being trans, as you cannot stop being male, or female. Our cards are dealt, how we play them, therein is the game.
I have battled with guilt, lost and won. Promises made, promises broken. I have cried and I have wept, but I will always walk this path. My only choice was to accept. How I have laughed and how I have smiled when the path I walk clatters with the echoes of heels, the brush of a skirt and the whisper of synthetic hair.
Would you know this to look at me? Could you see through the bravado, peek behind the mask? Have I given myself away? Those little tells: skin looked after and eyebrows shaped. The occasional speck of colour on too shapely kept nails. Perhaps you saw me gazing in the shop window, or picking out make-up on my own one day. Maybe...maybe you saw me as her. 
Just smile. Say hello. Say you’re okay and that our secret is safe.
You might even like the real me.
Skip on a few months and I received a video of the performance.


Lindsay explained her involvement and how some of the lines resonated with her. It was great to hear the impact, that my evening of writing had had. How many out, or under cover trans folk were in the audience, I just don't know. But if it helped raise our profile a little, and made someone feel a bit more okay, about who they are; then it was all worth it. As to the people who organised it all, they've all gone on to do other things and good luck to them. They did a grand job, putting it all together and making it happen.

Take care,
Lynn

PS: Alexis, welcome back, mrs.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Dr Jones, I presume?

Hi,

The other day I was listening to the radio and one of the presenters was saying how rare it is, for people to get lost. Yes, feel free to make up your own gags about 'I wish Fred would get lost' etc. I can wait.

Done yet? Good, let's move on. :-)

The presenter was saying that with smartphones, satnavs and GPS, we - or rather modern society - don't make so much use of maps. I know I'm guilty of using a satnav, or whatever the smartphone equivalent is, if I'm going somewhere I don't really know the way to. It is, at least on my part, down to a combination of laziness and that curious modern disease: Always Being In A Rush.

Equally, I'll use a map to see where a place is and then plan a route. I don't think this is quite the same as just switching the GPS on. I like to think of it as having a rough idea which way you should be going. If more business and government projects could plan roughly, which direction to go in, we'd have a lot less waste, but let's not dwell on the impossible eh? :-)

Ignoring cars, I'll very rarely use GPS when out for a walk. Most of the time, I'm out somewhere I mostly know and it's at a time, when, really, time isn't of the essence. There's no rush to get back and indeed, just being out and walking is the purpose. That, I find both liberating and relaxing. It's the joy of not having to be somewhere and the chance to take in the sights of the world.

That said, there are also times, when I've, or indeed the Jones Massive, have been lost. Well, not completely lost. :-) That irksome feeling that you know roughly where you are, but you're not exactly where you should be. "That gate and pond aren't on the map. It says look for a path over a stone wall." etc.

At that point, you're faced with retracing your route, improvising or hoping the smartphone's in a good mood. :-) Usually, a quick look at the map and a pause, allows you to get your breath and rest for a spell. The only time this really failed me, was when I was in London.

I thought a walk from King's Cross down to the Houses of Parliament wouldn't take too long. The answer is that it doesn't.... provided you don't go in the wrong direction. :-) Turns out I was headed towards Tower Bridge and those of you who know the capital - clearly a lot more than I - will either be tutting or smiling to yourself. The Ever Lovely Mrs J is usually the first to point out that if I think that's the right way to go, you go the other way. Yes, satnavs were invented so people like me can find their way. :-)

But, I got to see a lot more of the capital than I'd planned and, again, I wasn't exactly in a rush. Provided I made it to the hotel before 9pm, I'd be fine. I certainly earned my tea and a hot bath that night. My feet did hurt, but if you can manage a night's dancing in heels, a few miles in walking boots is a doddle. :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 15, 2016

Just about 10 years ago

Hi,

We're a few weeks into the new year. Have you given up on your resolutions yet? Not that I'd judge you, that would be rude. :-) Plus, I've not set any. I'm going to carry on the following ideas from last year.

Firstly, making a note of good things that happen, and pop these notes in my Memory Jar. That's going reasonably well, and it seems to encourage being grateful and/or concentrating on the good stuff, rather than the bad.

The other one is not getting angry about work. In days gone by, we'd plan and we'd implement things. Some areas would not go well, because others (Ed: she means management) would either interfere, or refuse to adjust their course.
"Iceberg ahead! Turn the ship."
"Pah! Full steam ahead!. We'll ram it head on. It's the last thing they'll expect!"
Etc. :-) But, I'm taking the new approach of explaining in clear terms - and no technobabble - what the risk is, and then... Not getting involved any more. It's taken me a while to realise, I can't make people listen and I can't make them care. So, if they're happy to keep aiming at the proverbial iceberg, I shall be elsewhere preparing an exit strategy (namely, keeping my colleagues out of the firing line, and planning how to unf**k things). It's not a great state of affairs, but it's keeping me calm.

Recent

Thanks Val
Much as I really enjoyed the Christmas break, a little bit of me wished there'd been a Chameleons meeting, a little sooner. It seemed a long time between the Xmas Party (still over the moon about the outfit) and last night's meeting. Yet, oddly, when it came to getting ready last night, I wasn't really with it. (Ed: okay, what changes? :-P). Not so much disorganised, but more a I could take it, or leave it, feeling. But, as I've got the keys to lock up, my presence, was required.

Being late, meant I was late getting ready, but I think that's part of the ritual of going out: the getting ready and getting to chat with friends. I think I've blogged about this before. It's a chance to talk with those I wouldn't get to chat to, when I'm downstairs. Not that I ignore them, we all just get caught up in conversations and evening can go by so very quickly.

Likewise, when it comes to getting changed, it's usually Pat and Val, who are last to leave, so the evening goes a little further, as we all lock up. Reasons to be cheerful eh?

Not so recent

So last year, I had a 10 year anniversary of this blog. It's not exactly a decade - 9 years, 11 months, 19 days - but it's not far, since I started going to Chameleons. Crikey. That's a lot of time. Wee Man was a toddler back then (he's at secondary school). Over Christmas, I remember worrying if I was asking too much, from the Ever Lovely Mrs J, in checking if she'd be okay about me going out.

Both Claire and Fyona asked what it was like when I walked through the door, for the first time. It is a long time ago, but I don't remember being nervous. I was concentrating on not getting lost in the wilds of Arnold (Chams isn't there now) and hoping the people I'd arranged to meet, would be there (Maddie and a lady who's name I've sadly forgotten).

Ah, young Jedi
I remember Sandi greeting us and showing us the changing facilities; some loos. The Nuthall one is so much better - which makes us quite lucky. Anyhoo, it was time to open the bag and get ready. It wasn't until I put my hand on the door handle, that I realised I was going to meet other trans people. They, may someone have mercy upon their souls, were also going to meet me - whatever state I was in. That's when the nerves kicked in. Still, I'd come this far, so deep breath and go and face the music....

That's pretty much how it all started and I'm still learning, still meeting new people and still having fun. It's... if you can forgive the cliche - very much a journey. There's been some bumps and even some breakdowns, along the way. But, there's been some great times too: making new friends, coming to terms with who I am, and learning to accept myself. Sounds a bit nuts, but that was probably the most difficult part. The acceptance and support from Mrs J has grown over the years. We can share a joke about it and occasional trans conversations don't freak her out.

Something, perhaps, for the Memory Jar.

If I have any advice to give, to anyone who's reading this and you're not part of the trans community: it can happen. You do have to work for it and you do have to be brave. But, going back to that journey, it's like a climb up a steep hill. Sometimes it will scare you, sometimes you'll need to go back to go forward, but you will keep moving. Perhaps, most of all, there will be people with you to help you along. That, I think, is the best part: friends.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 08, 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like weight gain...

Hi,

Well, that's the first working week of the year out of the way. In many ways, it felt a bit like a cross between a Carry On film and The Walking Dead. (Ed: Carry On Walking the Dead?) Various adults wandering around, some shuffling, as they try to shake off the late mornings and later nights. That and the extra Xmas weight we've put down for the winter. :-) But it's over - for now! - and it's back to family time and other more interesting things.

Umm.... Not that much is going on really. I think we're still getting back into the swing of things and my job as IT/gadget adviser is winding down nicely. Really, I'm so glad I don't do that for a job and then come home to the same thing. That way madness lies! :-)

What fakery is this?
Given it's a slow news week, I did say I'd share the secret around, how I achieve my curves. They are, other than the larger than average booty (see below), all fake. The, hopefully, simple instructions are here and you shouldn't need much to create your own padding. Just some fairly soft foam, two sets of shoulder pads and a little patience. Those of who enjoy a bit of 80s hair metal, may wish to sing the last three words. ;-)

If you felt you needed some more junk i the trunk, I think you could alter the shape of the pink tears (see right), or use extra shoulder pads, to increase your bottom. I don't need much help in that department (hello odd genetics), which is great when cross-dressing, but not so good when gentleman's trousers are a little snug in the wrong areas. Still, saves on a belt, eh? :-)

The upside of being back at work, other than seeing my work-mates, is that I'm out the house more. The lunchtime walks are back on the menu and it feels good to break up the holiday before it became routine.

Have you looked at any of the sales? They've sort of passed me by this year. I think it's because there's nothing I really want. Or, more accurately, nothing I really want that I can buy. Talking of the latter, I'm hoping the Chameleons' Welcome Event will go to plan at the end of this month. It's set for the last meeting of the month, and we're playing a sort of 'how to' / bring and buy event.

We tend to get a number of first timers after Christmas. I wonder if it's a New Year's Resolution thing? That or the pressure cooker of the Xmas holidays gives people a push to want to be all of themselves - if that makes sense.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Year That Was

Hi,

Welcome to the future, it's 2016. Or, umm, welcome to the present day, or maybe even the past, if you're reading this later than I posted it. Ah, perhaps more glorious speeches have been given, but this is a blog, not a rousing, morale boosting soliloquy from a horse. Maybe that's what today's leaders are missing, not using a horse in full battle armour. Certainly be more interesting than Death by Powerpoint. Ah, how my mind wanders.... :-)

Family Christmas

The observant amongst you, will notice I missed last week's post. It was Christmas, so I think a gap here and there's not too much to ask. I hope you had a good time, whatever you got up to. For me, it went very well. Very good company, good times and enjoying the look of joy on my family's faces, as they opened some of their gifts.

Wee Man did a "OMG! OMG!" chorus, when he opened the wrapping on his new console. He had no idea about that, bless him. Both the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I had been stringing him along, saying he could ask for money towards one, for Christmas. Parents eh? Such b*stards ;-)

Little Miss got lots of drawing things and stuffed toys (or fluffys as we call them), which is so her thing. She's not one for princesses, or dresses; but she does like teddy bears. The fact that she'll go to a party in jeans and a t-shirt (in a cool way). This makes me chuckle, as the other girls her age, are often in party frocks. She may be only 8, but she's got fierce in the megawatt range. I should add, she's also very kind.

As to the Ever Lovely Mrs J, she was very happy with the new clothes I'd bought her. Tops, tunics and otherwise, all conspired to make her one happy lady. I think the 'treat yourself to plenty of books' voucher, also helped.

Xmas itself was spread out over a few days, as different outlaws - sorry, in laws - turned up to Jones Towers. Not having to pack in the travelling between various parts of the UK, was also a welcome relief.... and I'm not the one driving. All in all, it's been a rather splendid Christmas.

2015

Pandora, a former blogger and now Facebook friend, posted about having a Memory Jar. For those of you, not in the know, it's pretty much this: keep a pot, or mason jar; then when something nice happens, write it down and pop that note in. Do not open until the end of the year.

I've been looking through my notes and most of them seem to be about people, places and produce (Ed: Go go Gadget Alliteration!). The places have been some of the holidays we've enjoyed together. A week in the Peaks (with plenty of walking), a long weekend in Prague (plenty of sightseeing, walking and beer. Very reasonable prices. Do go if you get the chance), the Ever Lovely Mrs J winning a holiday in Devon (not been before, so something different). There's places closer to home, such as Sherwood Forest or just getting the chance of good weather at home, and walking through the countryside. Simple pleasures, if you will.

Work has been going well, as much as having to turn up and listen to people pretending not to wing it, can go. :-) I might not be earning big bucks, but the quality of life ain't bad and the holidays are excellent. Part of me says that it won't last, but then, what does? Well, other than a bad tattoo or over 40s weight gain? :-) No, it may not last, but I shall ignore that nay saying monologue and just enjoy things while the going's good.

Wee Man has been doing really well at school. We were a little worried that Big School might have problems, but on the whole, he's fitted in, stands his ground and is doing well in class. Little Miss, is showing us an artistic and creative side. It's great that they're both different. Chalk & cheese sometimes! :-)

Trans-wise, 2015 has been good. The Black Dog has not reappeared, despite the longer nights and dare I say, I'm happy with where I am. I get out now and then. Mostly to Chameleons, sometimes further afield and that's pretty good. It's far more freedom than I'd thought I'd have, and that can't be a bad thing. This year I've changed hair styles, helped a few trans people and had a few Awesome Outfit moments. Hopefully, you'll know the latter. The moment you look in the mirror and you think, yeah, I'm happy looking like this. Those of you with an ear for a film quote, may prefer, "That'll do, pig," but, to quote an Internet meme, that's none of my business ;-)

Office girl, spring, summer, autumn and Xmas
The Xmas outfit (far right), is I think my highlight of the year. For just a while, I was dancing without a care or worry in the world, and I felt fab. What's not to like?

2016

So what about the coming year? Well, 2015 seemed to be the Big Year for Trans People. So much so, that I felt it was worth capitalising the title. :-) So many people have come out and stepped forward, that it really feels things have changed. I'm not saying it's a bed of roses, as there's a way to go yet. Hell, we've still not sorted out equality for women, and how long as feminism been running?

But, for every nay sayer, or bigot, there seems someone stepping up to push back. Not just trans folk, but non-trans people too. I can only hope this momentum and - dare I say it? - acceptance continues. Just the other day, I was reading a somewhat anti-trans piece - wrapped up in some media tosh about identity - and other Facebookers (mostly non-trans, as much as I know), had picked up on the anti-trans nature and commented that this sort of thing isn't to be tolerated.

As for the new year itself, I'd wish for some luck and good health. Not just for me, but for you and yours, dear reader.

Take care,
Lynn
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