Friday, August 31, 2012

"I want to take you through,
a wasteland I like to call my home."


Let's start with a quote and, for once, not a musical one.... well, apart from the post's title. ;-)

"My mum warned me about Nottingham. Always grief, she said, Nottingham” 
Stefan, Murder: Joint Enterprise, BBC

I arrived in Nottingham just over twenty years ago. Officially, I came as a student, but in reality, I just wanted to get away from the town I'd grown up in. With it being the nearest big city, my folks had taken us shopping there on many an occasion and I thought I knew a little bit about the place. I thought to myself that it wasn't too far from home if I wanted to visit and I wouldn't get lost. Clearly, I gave my potential new home significant thought ;-)

Why did I want to get away? Much as I loved my folks, in terms of prospects, there wasn't a lot going on back home. Plus, at the time, I was into the music scene - indie, metal, alternative - and my home town didn't cater to that, Nottingham did. Throw in the fact that my A level exam results were pretty poor, I needed somewhere I could get through clearing. With the grades I had in hand, there was no way I was going to a university and all of the London venues where out of reach. Yes, polytechnics, I am that old, kids  ;-)

Should I have done A levels, or should I have bitten the bullet and gone to the local FE college instead? I'll be honest and say I picked to go into the sixth form because I didn't want to risk leaving my friends and having to make new ones at college. It's perhaps ironic that some of the crowd I hung out with, would later turn on me; but, hey, lessons learned. ;-)

So, Nottingham became my new home and as a student I moved between the leafy suburbs of West Bridgford (posh), out to Sherwood (rough-ish), while wandering the streets between my rented room and my mates' digs in Radford. The night I moved to Sherwood, there was a Panorama programme (Ed: a BBC news documentary) about the rise of crack cocaine use within the city's red light zone down in Radford. It was a few miles from where I was staying and as I found later, where a number of my student mates lived. Welcome to the big city, country boy.

Skip on a few months and I was beginning to wind down on visiting home for social visits. With no student halls, you were in at the deep end with your own cooking, cleaning and washing. I didn't mind, it all seemed like a big adventure in some odd way. A few days before the end of the summer term and I got a letter from an old school friend. She was doing well somewhere Oop North: yes dear London readers, Nottingham is in the Midlands; Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield et al are Northern. :-)

Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but many of my memories - the ones I can easily recall - are the ones with a strong emotional response. Perhaps if I'd studied Psychology, I'd come up with the idea that important lessons (good / bad) come with such markers to ensure we do / don't do the same thing again.... but moving on. ;-) I'm sat on the bus, it's a pleasant day and I've got the letter unopened. Yes, kids, while the Internet was around, not many folk had modems and those that did, it was 14.4k dial-up. Technically speaking, a small amount of bandwidth up from banging two rocks together ;-) Oh, I've digressed again. :-) Bus, letter, sunny weather, open, read. Halt. Blood drains from face. Stomach goes tense as if I've just swallowed a ball of ice. Re-read. "... has told everyone about you wearing women's clothes." I closed the letter and stared out of the window, the graveyard on Mansfield Road flicked by. I don't remember anything else until much later, when a friend in the computer room asked, "You okay, Rich? You look like you've had a shock." I mumbled something about I'd tell him later (and I did, about five years later) and got on with my assignment.

I could have gone back home. I could have gone back to the pub which we all drank in and toughed it out. I could have said "yeah, and?", but I didn't have that confidence that I do now. Instead, I followed the lesson handed from Brave Sir Robin (of Monty Python fame) and ran away. :-) Those of you who are also from the 80s may like to hum a few bars of Small Town Boy at this point. :-P

Being in a new place, I meant I could leave my old life behind. I didn't have to be the computer nerd who liked heavy metal and role-playing games. Instead, I changed, rebooted if we're going to stick with the nerdisms. Perhaps in some odd way, being outed - which a hell of a shock - was just the kick I needed to sever whatever was left for me (socially) at home. Funny thing is, when I was out walking with a mate late on, he asked why I wasn't hanging out with the usual crowd. I said that it was due to bad feelings and the lies people had said about me. C looked me straight in the eye and said: "Y'know, if it's true or not, it doesn't matter to me." Perhaps I should have been honest with him, but again, I had a lot to learn. :-)

Where am I going with this post? Nowhere in particular. :-) The programme had knocked a few memories loose and having flicked through them, metaphorically speaking, I've put them back on the shelf to sit and gather brain dust as I get older. Occasionally I come back to them and when I read or hear of folk being outed, the shock I felt is clearly documented. However, what's different between now and then, is that I survived it. The world didn't end. Yes, a few doors shut, but I think it was me that pulled them to, rather than them being closed on me. Looking back, if that event had have happened, I wouldn't have come here, I wouldn't have met the friends I have now, my lovely wifey, I think I wouldn't have met the Chams massive either and then there's Invasion. All things to be thankful for.

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Welcome to Paradise by Green Day ]

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"So stop you're cheap comment
'cos we know what we feel"

Hi there,

Well, I've faffed about long enough, I guess I should get my brain into gear and rattle (Ed: prattle?) off Friday's post. :-)

The week's been short as I've had a few days off for childcare purposes. To be honest, it's be fun - if a little full on - to spend time with Wee Man. He seems to be growing up so fast, a cliché I know. He was chatting (at length) to me about comics and computer games. I did wonder if he'd like some graphic novels at some point. Pretty sure Watchmen et al won't be suitable, but I guess there's a wealth of said material out there.


In other news, last week saw the release of the BBC drama series Accused, featuring Sean Bean (yes, he of Borromir, Sharp and Game of Thrones fame to name but a few parts. "One does not simply walk into Mordor, unless the shoes and frock are just so!" ;-) ). For those of you who've not seen the episode, SB plays a character called Tracie; yes, a transvestite. Whenever I've seen him act, I've enjoyed Bean's work and maybe that's because he doesn't play the character by the book/script. They all seem - well, from the ones I've seen - have their own little quirks and.... depth.

So with a chap like that in the cast, I was wondering what I'd make of it. The show is, ultimately, about a murder (a gruesome one at that, but not her nor by her, as way of a change) and as I've said to other (T) friends, Tracie is a character first and foremost. I don't think she's there to represent the trans community, any more than someone from Sons of Anarchy represents bikers. :-) But that disclaimer aside, yes, I think Joe & Joanne Public are going to look at Tracie and those who don't know anyone trans, will, I guess, draw their own conclusions from it. I guess that's the nature of the beast. That slight niggle out of the way, I read an interview which had this little gem in it:

"I think we have a perception of transvestites all being the same, as one block. It's not one mass or tribe. Everybody's got a different story. I thought that's something I never knew before - you just categorise people."

I guess looking from outside the community, we trans folk are all the same: we're just blokes in dresses or women in baggy tops trying to pass ourselves off as the opposite sex..... which, I don't think is really the case. I mean, the other night, I was talking with Sam and Sophie about the sliding scale of gender and also how the whole trans gig - for want of a better word - doesn't seem to be about transvestites & transsexuals. It seems much more fluid with some folk dressing up once in a while, some doing it for kicks, some doing it for fun, some going full time and some transitioning (aka gender reassignment). Those who transition, some stay within the trans community, while some go 'stealth'. Variety, eh?


The good vibes from last week's holiday have continued and despite efforts from a few choice twits at work and a broken mower, things remain good work-wise. Not only have I enjoyed some time off with Jones Junior, but I was lucky to source a new (well, new to me) computer from work's recycling initiative and enjoy a good night out at Chams too.

I had a lovely long chat with Pat as we got changed upstairs. I did have a slight wobble as I couldn't quite seem to get my head around how to do my make-up. Hell, it's not like I've not been doing it for years. It's odd though, there are times when I finish my base and powder and it's that gap between eyes, cheeks and lips that I seem to struggle. Perhaps its because I can see my "bloke image" so easily and it's the change in eyes that has, for me at least, the most dramatic effect (well, other than donning the wig). Alison was kind enough to sort out a photo for me, bless her.

The weather was nice and cool too, so that helped. I'm a bit concerned about how life is treating two friends, but with luck and time, things will settle down for them. You do what you can about trying to be there for people. I think it's a fine line between being there and being nosey. Hopefully, I'm not nearing the latter.

Okay. That's me done for another week. Here's to a long weekend as it is a Bank Holiday this Monday. Oh, one final thing, Vanessa - the lady behind the rather good Crossdresser Heaven website - has been asking for volunteers. Well, somewhat foolishly, I've volunteered. All I need now is to think of something to write about! :-) Perhaps an extra strong cup of tea and staring into space will do the trick. ;-)

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Pretty Vacant by The Sex Pistols ]

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Come into the garden, babe,
oh, come on in!"

Hey folks,

Summer holiday time this week and very welcome it was too. A few days away from the rush of work and a chance to ignore the List of Stuff To Be Done on the fridge (home) and monitors (work). Instead, time to wander through the countryside, let the kids play without having to watch the clock and, if I'm lucky, to ponder life, catch up on some reading and generally do note* for a week or so (* Ed: for our visitors, note is a corruption of 'nowt' which in turn is a northern slang for 'nothing').

Earlier this month the Jones Massive went off to a party. It's not something we do regularly and it was with a number of the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones's on-line crew. You know how it is with modern friendship; some people you lose track of, you catch up via Facebook, or bump into them in the street and swap mobile numbers. Some friends you only know on-line (waves hello) and yet you can know more about them (I'm talking really personal stuff) than you do your long standing 'real world' friends. Strange that, I guess. The lack of physical somehow opens the gates to more personal secrets..... although from conversations with the Chameleons Massive, I'd say that's not 100% accurate. Perhaps it is more telling of my traditional male friendships that they are more stayed? But more on that later. ;-)

Anyway, said do was a few motorway junctions away and in a hotel to boot, so no worrying about leaving someones house in a mess, nor bugging their neighbours. It was (IMO) very good and as I commented on BookFace, while I wasn't the only dad there at the start; at the end, I was. I was also the only dad joining in with the dancing. This, of course, will not be news to anyone who's been on a night out with me. When it comes to cutting some rug, I am incorrigible. Sorry. :-) Both Wee Man and Little Miss lasted until the clock struck midnight. They also - bless them - got stuck in with the dancing on the tunes that they knew.

A few things struck me about the evening, both during and afterwards. Firstly, everyone (well, bar the scant handful of dads) had made an effort. Fancy outfits, killer heels and well applied make-up. I think that was in part because - and please excuse me if I'm wrong on this one mums - that when you become a parent, you can get a little lost if you're not careful. You slip from being you, to always being mum or dad. Perhaps that's part of the fun of Thursdays for yours truly? Don't get me wrong, I love my kids (like many parents do), yet a night out when you can live a little and drop your guard is a great feeling.

Another thing that gave me a secret smile was the reported comments (via Mrs J) about "her lovely husband" who is "so good with the kids" and is "a good dancer." where good for the ego. Now this bit did get debated on FB, so my apologies for the repetition. I do get a bit embarrassed by such compliments, but I guess like most folk, I'd rather hear nice things said about me than "who's that baldie bloke with the big bum and the funny eyebrows?" :-) Yet a little bit of me still feels a fraud because I wonder how many women would put up with a tranny with occasional depression? (There, I've been naughty and used the T word). Sickness and in health, etc? I'm not perfect, but at the same time; there are worse martial sins - or so I've heard.

I guess from the outside (and those without T-radar) think all is perfect between the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones and I. Friends have said it, my sister's said it. Don't get me wrong, it's great. We have managed to make things work, but like all couples, we have our arguments. That's how things work I think.

However, I am far from perfect - the trans stuff, the depression and the occasional time when I forget to be a good person and I act like an insensitive twit. I suppose if you take a look at most relationships from 10,000ft, it all looks normal and if you're not sure about your own relationship, that 10,000ft view of someone else's, things look advert perfect. Then again, maybe being a trans-husband has positive points: I wasn't on the perv, I know that heels = pain, always look a lady in the eye, looking good takes effort and a genuine complement about your outfit can make an evening.

Lastly, and hence the title for today's post (Secret Garden), I was added to a forum group so I could share the pictures and videos of the night. I do feel that there's a stereotype with us trans folk - well, at the cross dressing end of the spectrum where I stand - that we do like to use the camera a lot. I've been through that one in a previous post, but I will say, I felt a little less.... guilty?... a bit more... vindicated... that it was okay as the cameras where out in force for the party. Again, like us CD folk, there were photos of before (freshly made up), during (chat, drinks) and after (glowing profusely and hoping your lippy's survived).

I also had a roll through the previous posts in the group, Just like us, there was much talk about what might go on, dressing ones age, finding something - anything! - that felt right, fitting in, does this outfit work?, etc. I guess there are somethings that are universal..... provided you're female or somewhere on the trans spectrum. :-) Glib comments aside, although I am an interloper - hell, I'm a bloke after all - I felt in a little way that I fitted in in some small way. Not sure the girls will be ready for me to turn up in Lynn mode for the next party, but a t-girl can dream right? ;-)

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Secret Garden by T'Pau ]

Friday, August 10, 2012

"Don't like to work, I just like to dream"

Hello one and all,

So we're the second week through the World Sports Day competitions. Team GB have done very well - or so I've heard via the news and chats with the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones. You know me and sport, walking is about my limit - maybe a bit of cycling - but watching it? Meh. Not that I'm not dead chuffed that our athletes have tried really hard. Anyways, with the sport being on and Wee Man's new found enjoyment of computer games, I've been catching up on my reading. I think I've finished off three books and the reading's been a pleasant break from the usual activities of web surfing, Facebooking, blogging and all round techno faffery. That said, I did manage to finish off another short story the other day. Maybe if I get enough of them, I could look into Kindle Direct. It's a thought. ;-)

Unlike previous entries, this blog will be unusually positive. I've had a few rather nice occurrences of late and they've all combined to form a rather good week. Other than enjoying a few books and time off with the nippers, my development review at work came back. For the first time since I started - I've been at the firm since 2005 - I got a rating that meant I can have a raise! Yay!! Yes, we get just below inflationary increments, but it's not quite the same is it. Actually getting that  acknowledgement that what you do has made a difference and is appreciated has put a spring in my step.... oh and the extra cash will be nice too. I have a sneaking suspicion it may go towards servicing my car, but hey, better than going in debt.

In my efforts to put aside jealousy of the fairer sex, I seem to be going okay. I think I'm doing okay in concentrating on thinking "they are looking good" or "she's well dressed", rather than "why I am not...". The latter I'm batting aside with the refrain that it'll be my turn sooner or later. Why not store up ideas for fashion looks while perusing the sales or planning an outfit. So far? So good. Fingers crossed it'll continue to work.

Talking of sales, I found myself short of anything cool short sleeved for Chameleons. I'd packed a bag the fortnight before and having failed to get dolled up last time (due the heat), I'd left it all packed up in the bag. Partly laziness, but more a case of being in a bit of a mardy (Ed: translation = bad mood).  Anyhoo, in there was two outfits: dress + leggings and long sleeve top + loose white summer trousers. Noting there was a sale on at our nearby Outfit, I popped in hoping I'd find a nice top. Maybe something floaty or a pink number to go with the white trousers. The Fates of Shopping smiled and there, resting gracefully on the sale rail was one as I'd hoped. Short sleeve, but not too short. Scoop neck (handy if you're all jaw and need to lengthen your look) and in a bright colour too: pink. Spooky! Plus it was the only one in my size and for seven quid, I thought, why not? On reaching the till, the young sales lady said it was extra off today, so it only cost me two pounds. Well, what's not to like? :-) I also bought Mrs J some new trousers - also in the sale - as she (bless her) has found that her weight loss means a new summer wardrobe.

Thursday night, despite being a little warm, saw me heading off to Chams with a departing smile from Mrs J (which was a lovely added bonus). In the bag I'd got three outfits. Yes, Indecision is my middle name. For years I thought it was 'Danger', but there you go ;-) I was a little later than usual, so I bumped into Pat as she stepped out of her car. We chatted as we got changed, with Alison and Maddy popping in too.

Now.... those of you who've read this little blog of mine for a while will know that a) I always over-pack and b) I can be nervous about what I wear. I - as per a number of (genetic) women - struggle with what to wear. I do like to wear (what I consider) nice clothes and I do like to keep up with trends. That said, I am... how can I put this? I am - and as I said to Maddy much later on - always conscious of dressing too young. Much as paying attention to folk on the School Run and the ladies at work helps, I'm still in a puzzle over the immortal question of 'will that suit a skinhead in too much make-up?' ;-)

Months ago I'd cut off some old jeans and turned them into shorts. Not hot pants or short shorts (as I believe modern parlance has them), but certainly mid thigh. I have seen ladies my age in them, but again, I wasn't sure. Still, with leggings and a quick try on and a positive answer to the question of "are these okay?" to Alison & Maddy, made me keep them on. I did swap shoes; from sandals to heels, but I felt happy that I didn't look a complete dog's dinner. Well, a t-girl can dream right? ;-)

Suitably changed and as the others drifted off, I popped downstairs to see everyone else. Sophie wasn't far behind and a few familiar, but less than regular, faces (Hi Roxy!) where visiting too. Rachel had a new do (wig), so it took me a moment to realise it was her. How a change in hair changes someone eh?

Val and Mrs Val turned up, so it was interesting to hear from both of them. The photo sheet was out for the obligatory snaps and then Sophie, Rachel (in new 'do') and Maddy headed off to the New Foresters for a drink. All went well and as it got late, we went our separate ways. Maddy and I got talking while in the car park. It was both a helpful and deep conversation, and as way of a change, a serious but not pretentious conversation about all things trans and modern life.

Really, that was just the icing on the cake and I went home a happy bunny. I felt a bit bad coming in at one am, but you can't have it all. Still, I've next week off and it seems an evening in make-up has done wonders for my skin (the Ever Lovely Mrs J commented on how it felt. How kind!).

Oh, one final bit of news. I noticed on my Blogger Stats that this blog has clocked just over 90,000 hits. I'd like to thank you all for reading and for those of you who take the time to comment. Thanks!

Take care

[ Today's lyric: Chaos & Mayhem by Pop Will Eat Itself ]

Friday, August 03, 2012

"Throw your bombs and your blows,
But you're not gonna break my soul."


Just when I thought I'd snaffled all my Maltesers, I spied one rested at the side of the keyboard. Little pleasures eh? By a strange quirk of thought (Ed: Fate?), I guess that sums up most of the week really: small, but welcome bursts of good things happening.

The first part of the week saw me away from home on a training course. Some IT "what's new" gig and while you could argue it could have been a rather tedious death-by-PowerPoint marketing exercise, it wasn't like that at all. Instead, we - I say, we as a work mate went along - did learn a few things and overall, the course was very helpful. Having a few nights away in a hotel was relaxing too. Wee Man was off at my Mum's for most of this week, so the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones only had Little Miss to worry about (and only for a few evenings at that).

I managed to wrangle a last minute meet-up with some on-line friends. Not trans stuff, but more writer / role-player types. With regards to the latter, it's all very text orientated, so less of the clicky-pointy hacking and slashing.... not that there's anything wrong with that. Anyhoo, we met up and despite it being our first meeting in the real world, we all gone on just fine and nattered the night away over a few jars and an evening meal. All good stuff.

Now, one of said crowd knows about my trans nature and I had thought about coming out to the rest of them. I guess in part, I.... well. Hmm. Let's take a step back. I had told another friend sometime ago as we talked about her depression and how I was finding it. In the end, I came clean as to what I thought may play a factor (Ed; yup, trans stuff). So, Friend A knows. Cue a visit from Friend A to Friend B and Friend B was asking lots of questions about the stuff I write about, how I write and the choice of the people I write about. As Friend A didn't want to blurt matters out (bless her), it made for a tricky conversation..... so I outed myself to Friend B.... who was there on Monday night. Still with me? ;-)

So all the back-story aside, it didn't come to pass and I didn't come out to the rest of them. Really, we were having such a good time and there was no suitable point / questions / reason to do so.... so I just let it lie. I suppose there was an element of me not wanting to spoil the night. Honestly, I think they wouldn't have been bothered - they are an arty / techy / metal / alternative bunch - so I think it was more for me than for me. When we meet up again, if the subject gets talked about, maybe I'll answer honestly.

In other minor news, I had a brief shopping trip as I'd seen some nice dresses on the Dorothy Perkins' website. I popped in after work - pre-Little Miss collection duty - and tried them on. A good fit around the body and a nice hem line. Sadly, though, the sleeves were too short, so back they went. Okay, a dress missed, but pennies saved. Again, things to be thankful for.

There's been a lack of Pink Fog this week and I can only say that's a good thing. I guess after last week's moment of clarity, the idea that jealousy isn't getting me anywhere other than down, has left some residual thought in my head that I need to look at what I have, not what I don't. Not so much 'always look on the bright side' as not wishing my life away on stuff that won't happen. So far, so good.

The A Different Journey web site is in a state of flux at the moment. Alex has disappeared from Facebook and her site's gone too. I don't have her personal number, but more than anything, I'd just like to know if she's okay. That's the rub with online friends, unless you have their number, people can and do disappear.
With the original site unavailable, I've started up a Wordpress hosted blog called Our Different Journey and I've handed admin rights over to Maddy. Hopefully, she'll be able to spruce up the look and feel ready for the launch later on. Then I can get cracking on some posts for that. Not that there's a rush, but I don't like a story without an ending.... even if I have to write my own. ;-)

Oh and talking of stories, I received an email today (thanks Megan) about a production group on YouTube (I hope I've got that right). Anyways, Where It Gets Interesting have produced some free to view drama shorts and you may recognise a few actresses in them. Coming soon is a trans related story, so if you're interested, take a look over on YouTube or the main site

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Part of Me by Katy Perry ]