Friday, December 30, 2011

"Right here, right now,
There is no other place I want to be."

Hi there,

New Year's Eve and the blank page of new day and year will shortly be upon us.... Well, unless you're reading this after the event. In which case, err, hello. :-) Psst, if you're a time traveller, any chance of next month's lottery numbers? :-P

So, Christmas has been and gone in a flurry of shredded paper and sweet wrappers. Honestly, I could be describing the inside of a hamster's cage, rather than the big day at Jones Towers. Really, all went well and good fun was had by all. The nippers didn't get up too early - too early being pre-8AM - and despite both being very excited the night before, they did manage a good night's sleep to set them up for Christmas Day itself.

Presents were enjoyed by all - Wee Man, Little Miss and the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones. I'll spare you the gory details and the looks on their faces made all the traipsing around the shops plus wrapping well worth it. I did well too - a few choccies, a kitchen gadget (not in a bad way) and also a very nice bracelet from Mrs J. No, not a man's bracelet, but something I was asked - with a sly wink - to open away from the kids. A very nice item and one that brought a smile to my face. Mrs J's parents turned up later on and by some miracle (Ed: she means Mrs J organising and each of them working together) the Christmas lunch was prepared without a cross word and it all came together nicely.

I've really enjoyed having the time off with my family. Sure, there's been a bit of running around between various in- and out-laws, but in the main, it has gone well and we're slipping into the last part of the holidays in a very relaxed mood. Sure, it'll be a shock to go back to work, but I'm trying hard not the think about that. :-)

One thing I was a little surprised about, was the reductions this year. It seemed that many retailers had decided not to wait until post-Xmas to reduce prices and as such, there were a few bargains to be had if you were quick. I know we did well replacing decorations that had become a bit tired and I was glad I hadn't bought them a week earlier. All pennies saved eh?

Mind you, I then spent said pennies on-line during a few of the sales. Oops. I'd had a look on a few favoured sites and it was as I hit Very that I could no longer resist - especially as two items where just around that tenner mark. What added to the experience was that Mrs J and I were looking together. Not just man and wife, but looking for each other and - as per last time - sharing our views. I really appreciated her time and patience on this - and yes, I did tell her so. She said herself that she was surprised that talking about buying clothes (for me) no longer bothered her.... which made me feel really happy.

Said items have now arrived and with the svelter figure the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones is now sporting, she had modelled the new clothes. Yeah, I can't wait to try them all on, but you can't have it all can you? :-) Only a few more days until the next Chameleons meeting.... and then an Invasion at the end of the month. Fingers crossed.

Talking of fingers crossed, I felt that we trans folk are slowly slipping into the mainstream media: what with My Transsexual Summer (Channel 4), Chaz Bono on America's Dancing With the Stars, a CD character in Coronation Street (UK soap opera), etc. Okay, we've still got a way to go, but I am hopeful that each time Joe Public sees us on the street, we become a little more visible, a little less ignorable - is that a word? - and ultimately, more acceptable as just another element of society. You can but hope.

I guess that pretty much brings things to a close for 2011 for me. Thanks for reading / commenting and I hope that 2012 is kind to you.

Look after yourselves,

[ Today's lyric: Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones ]

Friday, December 23, 2011

"I got me a car, it seats about twenty,
So c'mon and bring your jukebox money!"

Hello dear reader,

All ready for the big day? I mean, Christmas, of course, but if you're planning something else cool, good luck with that one too. :-) Here at Chez Jones, after many a long night at the kitchen table, I think we are there in terms of having all the gifts wrapped. I did find one skulking at the back of my Lynn cupboard (!) for Little Miss, but luckily that was a nice easy one to wrap up.

Unusually, the fridge isn't groaning under the weight of enough food for ninety people. This time around we've tried a bit more planning - as way of a change! No, this time, we've pretty much got all that we need and last week's shop means we've got the necessaries in. I do need to get some puddings in for Christmas Day - as the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones's parents will be joining us. That'll please the nippers.... assuming I can get them to sleep on Christmas Eve. :-)

I've fallen behind a bit on my emails - both personally and for the Chameleons group too. Sorry if you're waiting on one from me. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Honest ;-)

Last night was the last Chameleons meeting of this year. We met up for an evening of tea & mince pies. Given the frenzy that surrounds Christmas, doing something laid back was very much appreciated. I had deliberated over what to wear the night before. Oddly, Mrs Jones and I were talking about it as she packed the presents away we'd just finished wrapping up. Why are you taking more than one outfit? A good question and one I still can't answer. I think I go for the scatter-gun approach to dressing up. :-) I took two dresses - patterned brown wrap + pink colour block; separates - cute cardy + short black skirt; lastly a long line wrap cardigan and leggings. Oh, don't forget boots and a set of heels.... and a coat, but we'll come back to the latter. ;-)

I think it's because I'm never 100% sure which way my mood will take me. There is the odd occasion where I look at what I've brought along and thing 'meh'. It's rare, but it happens on the odd occasion, so taking extra items to mix and match is a way to hedge my bets. Take for example Thursday night, I'd gone with the idea of the patterned wrap dress and boots, only to decide on separates instead. Changeable, moi? :-)

Last week I'd almost run out of boob tape - or Zinc Oxide tape to be accurate - and so I popped into Boots to get some. This time they had in some new wide paper tape for injuries (!), so I thought I'd give that spin. Okay, it's not pain free after a number of hours, but certainly easier to put on and certainly more comfortable than the thinner ZO stuff. Also quite inexpensive. Please forgive the chest blemishes - make-up hides a multitude of sins! ;-)

Anyway, while getting changed I had a lovely long chat about music (of all things) with Alison, Amy, Maddy and Sue (I think I'm right with the last name). We're all different ages, so I found it interesting to hear what people liked and how the music they'd started listening to had changed. Certainly, there seemed to be a bit of a rock vibe to the tastes in question, but that seemed to alter as we all got a little older. Twenty five years ago, I guess that's the label the teenage me would have picked, but even back then, I couldn't resist a good dance tune... or some camp pop (Bananarama, Army of Lovers, Pet Shop Boys, anyone? :-P). I guess you can deny all you want, but once you're trans, long will it dominate your destiny. ;-)

After last week's visit to town and Maddy's talk about a Karaoke challenge, I was thinking about visiting the pub again. Yes, a bit naughty, but so it goes sometimes. It's a pain getting changed afterwards, but I was glad we made the effort. Sophie and I said we'd join Sam and company after we'd dropped Kate's car off at the hotel.... oh and after taking a few snaps with Val. Despite being a little late setting off, we were lucky with the parking. I did feel sorry for Sophie in her vertiginous heeled boots. :-) Hell, it's not like I was wearing flats, but extra care had to be taken navigating the hill.

Once inside, Kate treated us both to a drink and we settled down with the Karaoke song list. Chatting and jokes en shewed plus Gayna, Tayna and Sarah arrived. A song was picked - B52's Love Shack - and Maddy and I put our names on the hit list. A few moments later we were giving the song a proper mauling. It was a hoot and I think we both got into it. I'm not sure what the rest of the pub folk made of it, but there were enough smiles to go around. A little later on there was a draw - purely based on luck, not talent - to win a drinks voucher.... and we won! Yay! Free drinks for the Chams Massive!

Sadly, no luck on the aural vandalism around Fairytale of New York as I had to disappear just after midnight.... perhaps much to the relief of music lovers everywhere. I caught Gayna taking a few snaps, so I guess we'll see if they surface on Facebook. Oh and the lady who ran the Karaoke seemed to have a camera with her too. I hope those snaps don't end up on a Pop Music Hit list. ;-) All in all, a really top night and a wonderful way to see out 2010.

I'd just like to thank you for taking the time to read and comments on my ramblings over this past year. All that remains for me is to wish you a very merry Christmas and what 2012 has in store for you, I hope it's only good things.


[ Today's lyric: Love Shack by The B-52's ]

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Five. Four. Three. Two. One!
Thunderbirds are go!!"

Jones? Jones! Where the in the name of all that's fancy is that... umm... woman? By the sacred bra-strap of Grayson Perry, you better have a damn fine excuse for being a day late!


I came here to drink my tea and blog.... and I've just finished my tea. ;-) Yes, a day late indeed. What is the world coming to eh? Tsk tsk and other onomatopoeia (Ed: Ooo, hark at her!), although for once, I do have a good excuse: Invasion.

Roll back a few months and a few folk got talking at Chams (I think) about 'doing an evening'. Something to fill those empty Fridays between Chameleons, BNO or Leeds First Friday. Like all social groups, there's often a fair bit of chat and exchange of ideas. This one, however, had a life of its own: perhaps helped along by Sam (lady of blog fame) and Maddy (lady of poster fame). Anyhoo, there was an ad on the group's forum, then a TV Chix post and lastly, a Facebook page too. Thunderbirds are go! ;-)

I cross my fingers and checked the family calendar. There's nothing on and as far as I know, nothing planned. I ask the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones if she minds me going along as it'll be 'another night out'. I'm conscious that she's not had a girls night out in December and by the close of the month, I'll have had three. Oops. Bad husband! :-) We have, of late, had a discussions and jokes about my trans state: all in a positive way I should add. Take Monday, for example: we both had a day off to finish off the Christmas shopping... which reminds me... I better finish the wrapping off before bed. Where was I? Oh aye, positive stuff. We bought items for our extended family and chatted without barriers. Forgive me if this sounds a little shallow, but stay with me; we looked and discussed clothes, make-up, jewelry, etc for the lady folk within our social circle and we were fully open: tran and wife if you will. Opinion was asked by both of us over ideas and I felt so at ease; a sense of release if you will.

I had in mind that I needed to buy Sophie a little something and Mrs J offered a few ideas here and there. She asked if there was anything I really wanted for Christmas and honestly, no, from a material point of view, not especially. What about a bracelet or a necklace? Make-up? The offer was genuine and as I gave her hand a squeeze, I couldn't help but smile and say something like that would be great, but I didn't have any wish list in mind. I also thanked her for being so cool about it.

Skip on the big night itself and I'd arranged to pick Sophie up and get changed there. Wee Man had been dropped off with Granny as like a lot of nippers, he likes to stop up and be indulged by grandparents. :-) As the Do didn't kick off until 8ish, I hung back to sort out a bath and story for Little Miss. Sometimes, fighting against the dreaded Tranny Flap (Ed: as in panic. If you thought anything else, you're very rude ;-P ) isn't necessarily a bad thing... plus it gave the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones time to unwind and put her feet up.

Peck on the cheek and Dad duties done, I was out of the door and on my way to Sophie's place. I was, as per, behind schedule, but Soph was cool about that (and was looking cool too!). I bribed her with a free cookie and Xmas present too. :-) I'm also - as Alison will attest to - not the quickest at getting ready. I had a fail over the application of false eyelashes, as for some reason I could not get them to stay. It was akin to wrestling with two drunken spiders covered in InstaStick. :-) I gave up and topped up my mascara to repair the damage. To try and speed up the process, I opted to try the nail wraps I'd bought back in November. While they were not much quicker to apply than nail varnish, they did give a lovely finish.

Once fully fabulous (see below for shot), we got into the car and headed into town. Now, I had made a plan to park in a local secure NCP, but once we were in, I found it shut at midnight. Duh! Cue a quick departure and parking just down from the pub. Luckily not too far to walk and nice and quiet. Bit chilly though and I was glad of my old coat. The funny thing about my coat is that I got it for a few bob in a charity shop. I've looked at replacing it, but not found anything I'm really willing to shell out on. Anyways, I had some lovely comments about it, which changed my perception of it.

[ NB: Talking of nice comments, in a much earlier blog post, I talked about giving compliments. There's a lady at work who has lost a fair bit of weight and really shaped up. Without trying to sound like an old perv, I asked her if she was sticking with the Keep Fit group, she said yes and I said you can really tell. She gave a big smile and said I had been the only person at work to say so.... and that it had made her day. Yay for good feelings! ]

The New Foresters was lively and I spotted a number of T folk in the crowd. The pub has a lovely welcoming feeling to it. The people within were welcoming and I felt very relaxed there. Sophie and I bumped into Tanya and a few trans peeps we didn't know (from the 'sarf' apparently, but iffy jokes aside, they were cool :-P ). We mingled, caught up with Maddy, Sam, Mrs Sam, took some snaps and had a few soft drinks before heading off to the second venue of the night - D2 - and I was glad of my coat! Brrr!! Well, except for Crystal who said she's used to far chillier temperatures. :-) It was an odd experience walking down the road in a city you know while in trans mode. I guess being well out of the usual Lager Loon areas helped, but I was a bit nervous and I was glad we went as a group.

By this point I had to spend a penny and after I managed to find a loo that had a lock, I then had to faff about sorting out padding and whatnot. Oh the vanity eh? A quick lippy and hair check, then back to the bar. I caught up with Maddy and we managed to catch up (despite the noise) over what she's been up to and how things are going. Woo, that place was *loud* but the dance floor was good and old-duffer-in-waiting that I am, I didn't recognise any of the tunes (but then I've never really been a clubber) until a Katy Perry remix came on. Okay, I'm a trans cliche, so sue me. :-) It wasn't long before the dance floor was a-jumping and then we had to head off NG1 (next door).

Getting in before midnight meant we'd not have to pay. It's been a while since I've been to a club and having my handbag checked was a new experience. The bouncers were gents and we were in quickly. Sophie was kind enough to take a snap of me (see right) as I'd being taking snaps of people through out the night. By now time was marching on and I was aware that Sophie said she didn't want to be out until the wee hours. Neither did I as I know Little Miss doesn't really do lie-ins and it would have been wrong of me to try and blag a sleep-in as well as a night out. We said our goodbyes and headed off. A quick walk back to the car and then off to Sophie's house to get changed and go home.

All in all, a truly great night out. Top job to Sam and Maddy for organising!

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: The theme from Thunderbirds. F.A.B! ;-) ]

Friday, December 09, 2011

"I'm gonna marry the night,
I won't give up on my life,
I'm a warrior queen,
Live passionately tonight"

Hello again dear reader,

Today's post is live and direct from the top of my head. Nothing like winging it to give a completely unstructured and somewhat disjointed blog post. Mind you, I'm assuming you don't come here for quality writing. :-)

In the main, this week's been kind to me... which makes for good news. I did have a bit of a grump earlier on, but in the big swing of things, you have to let some work stuff just go and move on. You can't win them all. Sure, I guess you should aim to make things work, but equally, I'd say that at a certain point, you need to stop, rethink and if necessary, admit that some things - technically or politically speaking - just aren't going to happen.  Skip on a few nights and I couldn't quite see what all the fuss was about. :-)

Dark skies are not forever

Midweek I had my review appointment with a counsellor and it seemed to go well. I did go through a few of the same questions my doctor asked, but that's to be expected and not a big worry. I did clam up and then the tears came suddenly when I was asked....

Funny thing is, I don't feel that I should worry about the reply to the question because this - this blog - is supposed to be warts and all (Ed: you can get cream for that). Yet here I am dilly-dallying around the answer because... because I'm... embarrassed by the answer. Deep breath.

I was asked "have you though about ending your own life."

It took me a moment to answer, just as it's taken a moment for me to put the above line on the page. The answer, was yes; I had considered it, but not now. Only when it [the depression] was at its darkest, did I think about it. Before you panic, that was then and a lot has changed. It was also one of those 'what if?' moments where - and I do this mental exercise quite a bit - what if I do X? What would happen? What would the consequences be? So it was with suicide too. It would stop the pain, yes, but I would not be here. Yeah, to state the obvious, but then logic when you're ****ed up do not make easy bedfellows :-). Did I plan it all out? No, but I had thought about it and no, I'm not saying this for sympathy. I'm mentioning this because if you ever feel that way: talk to someone, anyone, please. There, that's my Xmas wish that any of us don't go down that route.

I was then asked, "why didn't you?" and there's two elements to that. My first is that a few years ago, I remember reading about a young chap who topped himself, leaving behind a wife and two kids. No doubt the gent in question was suffering greatly, enough to drive him to such an act. As I sat in the car some twelve months ago with the wind and rain beating against the window, the memory of that article came back to me. Family. I would not let this... illness?... take me away from them. Yes, it's my life, but to put them through that, it was the proverbial slap in the face I needed to get myself together.

The second element was something I've mentioned previously. When things were really bad, emotionally, I was a mess. Perhaps oddly, logically, I was with it. It was almost as if the logical side could say "Yes, it hurts. Really hurts, but you can beat this. Don't give up."

I guess it was right. Life moves on. Things get better. I get better and with help, I'm getting better each day. Although I can remember those events - that day sat in the car just numb - emotionally, I can't connect with what went on. It's a bit like.... walking out of the woods. Leaving a cold forest and as you walk into the sun, you can feel the shadows falling from your back.

That or I've had too much cheese before writing this. :-)

So, the upshot of all of the above is I guess I'm due to have my head examined by a professional. I don't think anything will happen before Christmas, but I've got quite enough to be doing between now and New Years. I think I'll need January as a rest month. What about you? All sorted yet? Larks, I've not even begun the wrapping.


Those of you with eagle-eye action will have noticed the email form buried someway down the right hand side menu. It's funny - and not so much funny-ho-ho - that most of the comment traffic comes in via the comments feed and that suits me just fine. After all, I like to think of this blog as a place to chat about stuff. Where was I? Oh aye, contacts. Well, this week I've had a sudden rush of folk writing in. None of it trans related per say. Two were marketing firms and I'm a little confused as to how I'd be able to assist, but that's more me being a numpty.

The other two were from two bloggers, so if you fancy a read of something different - different from my navel gazing and wardrobe wanderings, there's The Gay Stage (which is theatre / media news from a LGBT view) and the Slope Show which is a about a lesbian comedy. Seriously, go take a look, you might enjoy them! Oh, one last thing, I had an email from the Transgender e-bulletin and the findings from their survey are now on-line (well, that and other news!).

Party Time!

Moving on to jollier news, it was time for the Chameleons Christmas party. Owing to a slightly overlook on the planning department, we had to do much of the "who's bringing what" game on the forum. Despite my slight worry that we'd have half a loaf of bread, eight sausage rolls and a cake to feed thirty of us, my worries were for nought and everyone pulled together. The tables were very full and it was lovely to see so many home made treats. H had made a lovely cake - which I missed, rats! - and there were some yummy roasted veggies and very tasty treats.

After getting changed upstairs - including the very careful application of my new tights - it was downstairs to help set up. Luckily I'd remember a knife to carve the french sticks I'd brought along and with the weather being so cold, it kept the chilled items suitably cool in the back of the car. Not that I enjoyed fetching them in the blustery weather.

As a bit of a change, I decided to forgo nail varnish and go with the false nails I'd won in a previous raffle. Honestly, I don't know how women who have long nails get anything done! Now I remember why I stick to just pretty colours rather than a longer length. Still, no visitors were harmed during the food prep. :-)

I'd wrapped a small gift for Tracey and Sandi as a thanks for all their hard work during the year. Yeah, I do a little bit with the emails and web site, but between them, the admin - paying the bills et al - gets done without any fuss, so I felt it was only right to pass on a note of thanks. Sophie, the wee minx, surprised me with a card and small pressie (Ed: I wonder what it is?) which was both very nice and very unexpected. Then Amy did the same and I felt thoroughly spoilt and very pleased at the same time.

I had remembered the laptop, so we had a few tunes as background noise - the real dancing didn't start until much later. There was plenty of chat, time to catch with old friends and new visitors (Hi Melanie!) alike. We had the obligatory raffle and I won some chocolate for my Dad.

As we had a late night extension, there was chance for a spot of dancing and Tanya had me in stitches with her big-box-small-box-light bulb rave spoof. It loses something in the written vibe being a visual gag. Anyways, much fun was had and my tights did manage to survive the evening.

Alison was kind enough to provide a quick snap of my outfit and the dancing meant I got to road test (?) my shoe boots. Fingers crossed all goes well for Nottingham Invasion next week. I just hope it's not quite so windy and cold! ;-)

One thing about the self-adhesive nails, there came off quickly and a lot less of a faff compared to removing polish. Oh the vanity! :-)

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Marry the Night by Lady Gaga. Currently my tune du jour - (soir?) - and I did enjoy dancing to it. ]

Friday, December 02, 2011

"Turn me around and take me back to the start,
I must be losing my mind,
I've seen it all a million times."

Hi there,

Blimey, it's turned a tad chilly of late hasn't it? Righto, that's the obligatory English conversational invitation over with, shall we move on? :-)

I think the warm November had softened me up a little. I certainly wasn't ready to be sat on the wrong side of cold in the office today. Luckily we have an emergency heater that we keep stashed in the draw - just don't tell Estates. Shhh. :-)

Despite the lack of sunlight and cold, cold weather, I'm enjoying December. I think it's the run up to Xmas and all that it entails. Despite being slightly less flush in the bank department than last year.... Well, that's not strictly true. The Ever Lovely Mrs Jones's salary and mine haven't gone down per say, I think it's more that a lot of other items (like food and fuel) have gone up. We'll have to cut back on running the fire with wads of fifty pound notes at this rate. :-)

Still, the good news is that we're pretty much done on the gift front. The kids and close family are  sorted and just the other day, I had a day out shopping with my sister. She got a few items for the Jones collective and I finished off my shopping for the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones. As Miss Jones lives further afield than us, I don't see my sister as frequently as I once did. In many ways, she's at the other end of the economic scale with being a working parent and having an absent CSA dodging ex-husband. Cue plenty of chatter about how things are, a number of coffee breaks and liberal use of the bank card. We stopped off in Debenhams so she could get some more eyeliner. "Which should I get?" she asked.

"The purply one as it'll go with your green eyes." At least, that's what the lady from the Body Shop had told me back in the day.

The make-up lady nodded too, so Miss J asked: "How do you know that?"

"I'll tell you when you're older." :-) Which is a pants line, but I couldn't think of much beyond the truth and I think that may have been too much. Besides, when you're having a good time, why bring it down? She laughed and we moved on. All in all a very nice day and reasons to be cheerful!

Talking of which, I made my initial appointment with the therapist today. It's for next week and it's a sort of... investigation type thingy... where they talk things over and find out if it'll help. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Can - or even should I - stay on the anti-miserablist tablets long term? I don't know the answer to that. I do know that the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones has been looking into depression from a chemical angle (she's clever like that) and talk with someone at her work suggested that folk of my genetic origins may benefit from a healthy does of vitamin D (just bought), regular exercise (check) and keeping busy (check).

So far, so good which will put Monday's brief bad spell way behind me. I think it was a combination of a very busy weekend (from a work point of view), missing my tablet and then having a sh** day at work. There I was, pulled up in a lay-by in the dark watching the occasional car (Ed: what's an occasional car look like? :-P) drift by my rural hideaway. I think all of the previous - coupled with being tired - had built up to the modern cliche of a perfect storm. Off we went with the usual feelings of despair and half a pack of tissues used to dry the tears. Trannys eh? We're a mess. Depressed, self absorbed ones, doubly so. :-)

Yet as the tidal wave of emotion ebbed, the logical side of me (Ed: thanks Spock) realised I'd been here before and..... I'd survived. Pull yourself together, you've been through worse, I said aloud, wiped my eyes and turned the engine over. Macho BS aside, there are times when you've got to push the Black Dog back and walk away from its cloying embrace. I think it's still sat waiting in the bushes by the side of the road. It can bloody stay there too. :-)

With the above negativity out of the way, I can move on to happier news. I popped round to see Sophie on Wednesday night and much was said over tea and just the right amount of cake. I was in bloke mode, Sophie wasn't. We had a good old chin way about various things and a damned good laugh. Again, reasons to be cheerful as Mr Dury once sang. We had a brief chat about My Transsexual Summer and how that - and films - could push our emotional buttons. I know that Mrs J and I were both very moved by the hopes part from Trans-Summer (apologies for the contraction!) and for me, the comment - and I paraphrase - "these are my streets and I should walk them" struck home.

I've got a short list of stuff to do for next week: mend my dress properly this time, try to buy some of those sheer tights with the big stars on, sort out some new tracks for the Chameleons Christmas Party (thank you Lady GaGa) and help sort the food out too. Should be interesting.

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Paradise City by Guns and Roses... or Iron Horse if you like a bit of bluegrass. ]