Friday, December 30, 2016

Looking back and forward

Hi,

First off, I hope you had a good Christmas. At Jones Towers things were very family orientated which is just how we like it! Both Wee Man and Little Miss thoroughly enjoyed themselves and the Ever Lovely Mrs J enjoyed her surprises. For me, and apologies if this is a bit cliche, it was all about seeing the joy on peoples' faces, good laughter and plenty of welcoming hugs as family arrived.

I appreciate that for some, Christmas can be more a time to count ones losses or avoid conflict. The festive season isn't always a time of cheer. If this was you, I hope 2017 is kinder to you, whatever your situation is.

Talking of the future, what will 2017 have in store for us? I'm curious as to how the big political changes will play out. Both the cynic and the romantic in me - odd how those two bedfellows get on - would like to see those who lied (or post-truth, if you want a modern term) get called to task. I can only hope that we'll see an end to the populist and a-little-too-frequently-dangerous BS that's been doing the rounds this year.

What of this year? Well, ignoring the big stories, for little ol' me, there's been some highlights.

  • My family are doing well and that's something to be thankful for. 
  • Likewise, Chams keeps on trucking and the new website and forum, where somewhat of a challenge, they are bedding in nicely. Folk are posting regularly and speaking personally, I'm finding the out-of-meeting chat really helpful and supportive. Top job everyone!
  • I think we're on the cusp of sorting the funding out, which will help us. 
  • I've managed a few trips out and about.
  • I've met up with old (trans) friends.
  • I've come out to a dear friend and this went well. 
  • I've gave a talk about what it is to be trans and - dare I say - entertained and educated.
  • After the Xmas party, Laura was kind enough to say this: "Boy, can Lynn dance - she certainly got her 'groove' on with the scissor sisters track!". That very much put the icing on the cake.♥
  • I've changed my hairstyle and had a lot of fun trying on new ones when TrendCo visited.
  • I've been to the biscuit tin one too many times, my weight could be worse! :-)
  • I blagged an interview with a trans author for T-Central.
  • I've been happy with big event outfits (here , here and here) and felt happy in my own skin. I don't think you can put a price on the latter.
  • I've not seen much of the Black Dog, just a few early starts with our own pets.
  • I've been lucky enough to have this blog featured a few times on T Central (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).  
  • Val kindly wrote the first guest piece for this blog. Thank you!
  • I've been fortunate enough to have you lot read and offer thoughtful advice and/or witty comments on many an occasion.
All in all, numerous reasons to look back and think of the good times, and less of the occasional bad vibes. As to next year? I'm hoping it treats me, you and yours well. That's all I can hope for really. Anything else is a bonus.


Stay safe, happy new year and thanks for reading.
Lynn

Friday, December 23, 2016

Feeling festive

Hi,

How are you? All sorted out for the big day? I hope so. I think I'm just about there with the wrapping and other preparation. Fingers crossed eh?

Earlier

As I write, I'm sat in a shopping centre café watching the world go buy. The Ever Lovely Mrs J's car is having a service, so I've a hour or two to wander about, somewhere out of town. There's a gentle drift off shoppers through the store. They're browsing rather than buying.

I had a brief look at the sale rail on the way in, but nothing caught my eye. As I've sat here and enjoyed my little pot of tea, I realised there was nothing I really wanted. How nice a feeling that is! To feel content with my lot and not too feel the need or rush to get something. Be that a new top, or shoes to go with an outfit, etc.

I finished the Ever Lovely Mrs J's shopping a few weeks ago and.... umm... I may have got a little carried away. Ah well, I think it's great to make an effort and get things people actually want. I know it's a bit cheesy, but seeing the delight on your loved ones' faces is truly awesome. Perhaps that explains my relaxed mood? Well, it's either being happy in one's own skin, having had time to relax, or the universal cure-all for Brits: a sit down and a good cup of tea. ;-)

I guess I must be blessed and/or lucky given many in the world don't have the luxuries that I do. My health, a family, my family, a steady job, food, a wife who loves me and there's no violence. Not like others less fortunate.

So, if you will, please take a moment to think of the good in your life. Maybe that's your friends, a pet, an event, or maybe the perfect pair of heels ;-) Whatever you pick, there's something good going on.

After Christmas, I've got my Happiness Jar to open. I saw the idea from Pandora, a former blogger now on Facebook, and started to keep a note of Good Stuff ™ that happened to me, my family or friends. It seems the news pretty much reports the bad, which I sort of get, but at the same time, there's still beauty and wonder in the world. The good thing about having an iffy memory is that a lot of the folded up Post Its, will be quite a surprise. :-D

Later

Thursday was the last Chameleons meetings of the year. It's not often we have a chance to meet up so close to Christmas, so it was a welcome occasion. Sure, quieter than usual, but quiet isn't always a bad thing. It certainly gave me a chance to catch up with what people have been up to, even if I was late setting off.

Given it was Christmas, I decided to give my fitted red dress a spin. It's a bit much for any other time of the year, but the festive period is usually quite glam, so hey ho, let's go. That and my lace cardigan which seems to drift back into fashion with alarming recurrence. Not bad for two items that are on the cusp of being vintage. They've certainly weathered the years better than the owner :-D

I wasn't late back, and I was back out 10 minutes later with a shopping list and Wee Man in tow. Mrs J likes to do a midnight run to get the Christmas dinner essentials, but as she was rather tired, we went instead. It was quite a hoot and we had a bit of a laugh. Clearly, we shouldn't be let out without adult supervision. Ah, father and son time, eh? Quality.

BTW, it did make me smile thinking I wasn't looking quiet so fatherly about half an hour earlier.

Wishes

Whatever you're up to this holiday season, I'd like to wish you a merry Christmas and that you have a good holiday with nothing but happy memories and good cheer.

Take care,
Lynn
x

Friday, December 16, 2016

Ladies who lunch

Hi,

Wow, am I glad this week is done. I don't know if it's the prospect of a long Christmas break, one too many middle of the night wake-up calls from one of our dogs (3am should only be seen after a very good party, otherwise, it's just plain rude), or the seemingly long period between our last holiday (October) and today.... Ah, but it is, at least, the weekend and it's not far until work closes down for a stint.

Oh, and I used the remainder of my holiday up. A half day to pop into town and collect the last few items for the Ever Lovely Mrs J's Xmas present pile. We, *ahem* had a monetary agreement of no more than X this year.... which I've ignored. I consider many rules to be more, well, guidelines. For example: always eat your greens (unless they are tasteless or you've had one Brussels sprout already), never wear something you were young enough to remember wearing the first time around (provided it suits you, do it) and women's clothing (f*** that. I'll wear it even if I'm a guy).

Where was I? Oh yes, a half day. I had, unusually, arranged to meet an old (trans) friend for coffee. Sadly in bloke mode, but you can't have it all. Anyhoo, it's been a while since Rachel and I met, quite possibly an Invasion about two years ago, so as she was in town, and so was I, it seemed rude not to . As I said, I was in bloke mode having come from work, however Rachel was not. She was, if I may say, rocking the office look. As we walked into the cafe, no-one batted an eye, 'cos it's 2016 and I don't live in a world populated by Daily Heil readers :-P

For a brief moment, as I sat down, I did wonder, what if someone from work sees us? But then, I thought, no, I'm just meeting an old friend for lunch and a chat. Perhaps, by doing the regular things of meeting up and just being out and about, we trans folk are pushing into the real world and showing that we're just like regular cis-people.

We had a good long chat about family, life, what it is to be trans and other things. We spoke about Chameleons, getting out and the pros & cons of coming out and not coming out. To say the latter is complicated for us trans folk, would be an understatement. One of the things we spoke about was how we arrived. Not the male guff about which road to take, but our trans journey. It seems Rachel - and hopefully I'm not sharing out of turn here - had given the idea of any "transiness" virtual no thought, up until five years ago. Then, after a chance conversation with a friend, she found herself exploring her gender, so to speak, and very much in at the deep end. Not in a bad way, just different.

Perhaps I found it different because my arrival here has been quite a slow burn. I've said before that I never quite felt like a regular boy ("I got no strings to hold me up" etc :-) ), and these feelings have been with me since the early years of primary school. Again, this doesn't make either of our journeys better or worse; just different starting positions. This isn't a race. For me, hearing people's origin stories, if that's the right term, is very interesting. Not only from a personal point of view, but also to hear the diversity within our community. Perhaps, if I ever got my act together, there's a book in there. :-)

Time drew on and it was time to say goodbye. Rachel headed off down the hill and I across into town. I popped into Boots and collected something for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. While I was there, the sales lady asked if there was anything else she could help with. Well, funny you should say that... :-) I explained that I helped run a transgender support group and that Boots had been kind enough to visit us a few years back. We would be very grateful if some good folk from Boots would come again, bringing stock with them and maybe run a demo or two. Said lady seemed very keen and I'm hopeful the manager (Pam, I think) will be in touch in due course.

On my way out of Boots, I spotted Alison, and we had a bit of chat, gabbing away in the cold about Xmas and family life. There was a quick hug goodbye, and then we too parted ways. With me heading off to lighten my wallet in the name of Christmas commerce. ;-)

Funny, you go to town and you don't see anyone you know, then, like buses, two friends come along at once ;-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, December 09, 2016

A series of excellent events

Hi,

The office is quiet at the mo, and I'm sat listening to birdsong with forest sounds on my headphones (Noisili). I'm feeling rather relaxed, although the large cup of tea probably helps along with the stillness. This week, it's mostly a good news situation.

Midweek

Midweek I met with Joanna, a representative from the Womens' Centre, to find out more about the funding we've been working on. That's gone well and I've a bit of paperwork to fill out, to get things going. I think we may be in the final furlong, to coin a phrase. Oh, that reminds me, to help find evidence of making a difference, if you're a Chameleons visitor - in the real, or virtual, world, I'd be really grateful if you could put a paragraph together saying how the group's helped you. I'll tweak your name, by adding the first two digits of your birthday, if you like. That'll make it fairly anonymous, and yet, you'll know your comments. . The contact form is here.

Joanna said the comments will go to the City Council, so please note you may see your occluded name in lights. I promise I'll do my best not to put anything to link your words back to your email or otherwise.

The group's bank account is now '...fully operational', or fully opewational, if you're impersonating Darth Elmer Fudd :-) I took the subs to be paid in, and thanks to e-banking, I can see what the group has in funds. We should also be able to pay for our room hire via the same route, which will hopefully make things easier, as there'll be less messing about with cheques and whatnot. An IT solution making things easier? Heh, I can dream right? :-)

Party

Last night was the Xmas Party and wow, it was a truly cracking night. Everyone had pulled together to bring food, drink, mince-pies and music. We had a proper disco set up thanks to Laura (thanks, Mrs!). Fancy lights, big speakers, a wide range of pop and retro. Certainly a change from me using an old laptop and some desktop speakers. I just need to use my T-Jedi powers to influence the play list. ;-)

Feeling fancy
I was lucky to get in on time and thanks to a midweek delivery, I had a new party top to go with last year's sequined skirt (itself another bargain). Throw in some killer heels and I was very happy with my outfit. As I said to Fy as I got ready, it's so good to feel pretty every now and again. Just to break the run of jeans and shirts.

The Changing Room was pretty busy, with Sarah, Alison and Val visiting (loving the new do, Val). Fyona, Diane and Amanda did our best to transform ourselves. With it being a party night, I dialled up the glamour with some false lashes, some Urban Decay shades and some golden glitter eyeliner. Much wow, such amaze, so not bloke mode ;-)

Downstairs, the tables were out, people were mingling and the music in full swing in the bar area. We had some visitors from far away too. Rhiannon from Oop North, and then three trans men, down from Yorkshire, via America and Saudi Arabia. Wow, it there's ever a country not to be straight and male, Saudi must be it. Geez, what a mess. :-\ Interesting to hear how they're finding things, and would've loved to have talked to them for longer. Seeing more trans guys turn up makes me feel happy, happy in that Chams isn't just for us MTF part timers. While that;s our core, having folk from across the trans community is, I think, a really good thing.

I managed to grab a few words with various people and 'cut some rug' to the tunes being played out. I've still got Don't Feel Like Dancing by The Scissor Sisters looping around my head. So good to lose yourself in the music and just dance. Just thinking about this, makes me smile. Again, thanks to Laura for working her sorcery and Diane for sorting out the lights.

Back again with the ill behaviour
I had a good chat with Rhiannon, who I'd not seen in ages. We had a chat about her work speciality, which i may allude to, but not share. I certainly learned a few things, and I was surprised to now get the difference between extroverts and introverts. Seems I'm much more of the latter, despite my love of the dance floor and other behaviours. Every day's a school day.

By the end of the night, there was much tidying up to be done and uneaten food to be packed and taken away. I think my stash of paper plates will last a few months yet ;-)

We had time for some snaps, because mais oui :-) That and I can look back in later months and jog some memories. Val was kind enough to do the honours of taking one of me and Rhi. Maybe next time, I'll get everyone together for a group shot....and not on the stairs. :-)

Merry Christmas and happy holidays
L x


Friday, December 02, 2016

Shared journeys

Hi,

A bit of a personal post today. I met someone for lunch. I'll can call her* W, (* as in a non-trans lady ) and while I think it's unlikely she'll ever read this, I'll extend the same courtesy of anonymity to W, as I do to the Ever Lovely Mrs J, Wee Man and Little Miss. For any of you wondering if this may take a salacious turn, may I be the first to disappoint and say neither of us are from The Fens, so it's not like that ;-P

W had made no secret of her struggle against the Black Dog. While we'd had a few shortish chats over t'interwebs, I don't know about you, but I find face to face much easier and well, more human. Sure, Facebook chats and forum posts keep you connected and Skype or video calls are pretty good too, but it's not really the same.

Anyhoo, W and I sat in an out of town café chatting over tea and cake. We talked about W's relocation to Nottingham and how the new job was going. Conversation drifted, as it does and we talked about coping mechanisms, Jedi mind tricks and whatnot. Things you try and do to avoid going into the shadows, and how difficult it can to remember to do the right thing when you find yourself in the gloom. Not that I've been that way proper for many a moon, thankfully and I'm no expert by a long stretch, but you what you can to help don't you?

W asked about how did I slip into depression and I gave her the short and sanitised history. Chuck in a few wry comments to keep it light and give her time for questions, and also try to draw her in and keep the conversation two sided. I used phrases such as 'people like me', rather than saying trans, or euphemisms like that because I didn't want to burden W with knowing about my secrets.

We spoke about her parents and she said how much we were alike in many ways. A key difference is she's very religious and I'm, well, completely not religious at all. But despite that seemingly stark contrast, we're very similar: we try to help, we struggle a bit here and there, we love to teach and we sort of do our own thing gender-wise (W is very tomboyish and it suits her). W said that Little Miss is like her, in that Little Miss isn't pink and skirts; instead she's kick ass boots, skinny jeans and surfer shirts. Little Miss is an awesome little girl and like Wee Man, I'm proud of her standing up for what she believes in, but that may be a story for another time.

We skirted around why my depression may have started and how I sort help and where that took me. Some steps forward, some back, but ultimately, in the right direction. If W got the whiff that there was some underlying secret, or something I wasn't saying, she was polite enough not to say. I don't know what made me say it, but as we spoke about gender roles; W's non-nonsense style and how sometimes people misinterpret it as it defines her sexuality. It, of course doesn't, but you know how it is. Short hair, jeans and DMs on a lady? You must be a lesbian. Nope, no more than a gent sporting two earrings, nice nails and fancy eyebrows makes him gay. Now, if said lady or gent was spotted holding hands, and/or kissing their partner of the same sex; then you can make that call :-P

We spoke further around appearances and how they define us. I spoke about feeling like a minority: that story about visiting a poly and being the only other white guy there. I said, as with W's experiences, how experiences can help us empathise with others not always like us. I then heard myself say "but partly, because I don't always look like this." I wonder if my subconscious was ahead of me. That happens. W's interest was piqued and I realised I had to complete the sentence. "I am... trans, if that makes sense. Mostly I look like this, but you can't turn off who you are."

W nodded sagely and she asked a few questions such as how long?, did my folks know? (sort of), did Mrs J know? (yes), had she always known? (sort of) Little Miss / Wee Man? (no and no plans to say) and was I out at work? (no)

Conversation moved around as a good one does and we drifted in and out of various topics. W spoke about some of the people she knew who'd 'bottled things up', or who had tried to be someone different, a sort of grown up let's pretend. Do we pretend? I asked. Perhaps to try things on: ideas, approaches or - again, the old chestbut - of masks. It all goes into the mix to make us who we are.

I showed her a picture of me in Lynn mode - the daytime one (see right) - and she smiled. It's you, and also not you, W said. I wasn't seeking validation, but more to point out that many of us trans folk are decidedly Marks & Spencer, not Ann Summers. For some, that's fine, and if that's you, enjoy, but that's just not my handbag, baby. :-)

We wandered off through the rest of the building and out into the afternoon sun. W thanked me for coming and I her, for her kind treat of tea, cake and good company. We hugged again and she said she'd like to see more of the Jones Massive, and then she said thanks for sharing who you are, for trusting me and being honest. I handed over an early Xmas present, just in case and waved goodbye.

I felt that W seemed brighter and that knowing someone else has gone through similar things, and yet, survived, may giver her hope. Much as I'd like to know the magic words to stop anyone's depression, it doesn't work like that. It's a work in progress, and you need to be kind to yourself. A phrase that's easy to say, and yet so hard to do, when you're not yourself.

So, I'm out to another and it's been a very long time. Possibly 17 years since I told anyone. That last person not being just anyone, but the Ever Lovely Mrs J. Not sure if going to Chams counts as coming out, I think they've got a pretty good idea why you're visiting and it ain't to fix the heating ;-)

Thanks for reading.

Take care,
Lynn