Friday, September 27, 2013

The Case of the Irish Jig

Hi folks,

Working weeks, sometimes they can be busy-busy-busy can't then? So it seems also true of home, and also trans-life too. On Wednesday I'd managed to swing working from home, so I could get my head down and actually get Stuff Done. You know how it is in the modern open plan office; more noise than a room full of reporters and a soon-to-be-sacked politician.

I also had booked the afternoon off so I could collect Wee Man and Little Miss. Sometimes, the Ever Lovely Mrs J - who, truth be told - does the longer part of the child duties (the afternoon), but if there's something on she can't miss, yours truly takes a turn. Wee Man also had a friend over, so once I'd finished being IT Assistant, they were happily engrossed in playing Minecraft. In the time between pick-up and finishing work, thought, that was time for a little time investment in more glamorous pursuits..... :-)

A change in style

With a little time to kill, I popped into town, parked up and headed on over to Hot Hair. I've walked by a few times and we - Chameleons [thirty one years and still going strong] - have had a visit from them a few years ago, but I've not been in. I had seen something in the sale I liked and armed with the pocket money (!) I'd saved up over the last year, I was in the mood for a change to change hair colour and the style of it too.

Anyway, said item was in stock but a) was well out of my price range and b) the lack of a fringe didn't really work for me. I think on someone with the right shaped face, it would have been spot on.

I asked what else they had and the sales assistant, was kind enough to go and find a few more that were along the same lines - colour, length and at a price I could afford. I tried on a few, but I went back to one I did like and yes, that's it in the photo. Sorry about the iffy colours, I'm not usually that orange :-)

Before I could warm up to the idea of asking Hot Hair visiting Chameleons, bless her, she offered! I know a few folk at the group have been asking if they'd come around and like many things in life, it was on my list of things to do. All done.

Oh and I saved 10% for being part of the Chameleons Group. Happy days!


My memory has never been one of my strong points, well, my short term memory. I really need to start writing more down, and I don't mean blogging. :-) Thanks to a bit of careful planning with the kids' bath night, The Ever Lovely Mrs J was kind enough to do the bedtime story routine, which left me to nip off early to Chameleons. Now, it's been ages since I've visited, I think the last one might have been July, and I had a spring in my step as it was a party night.

I arrived early, set the tables up and headed upstairs to put on my new dress. I'd found some heel pads in my cupboard, which have meant I can walk in those killer heels. Previously, they had a habit of slipping off when I walked. That's just not done, darhlink. ;-) As it was a party night, I thought I'd go for bold eye make-up, some false lashes and killer heels. I have been reading some 'how tos' on Pinterest, and I think I've got a better idea of what I'm doing. Well, I was pleased with the results and no-one laughed, so two points to Gryffindor . :-) It's nice to be able to be all fine and fancy once in a while. Alison popped up to say hello and we had a good chat while I got ready.

We headed downstairs and.... all the tables had been moved into the middle.

Ah. So it wasn't party night. That would be next time.....

Bugger. :-)

That slight slip-up of mine did not detract from the evening and I had an excellent night talking to old friends as it seemed like ages since we last spoke. Social media is all well and good, but it's just not the same in terms of being able to enjoy another person's company. It's tricky at social dos, there are people to catch up with and yet, I'm conscious that I don't want to snub anyone by not saying hi. Oh, I did remember to bring the Hot Hair book of wigs with me, so I've got a few items on the list for them to try and bring at a later visit. (Note to self - don't forget to ring them!).

I also had a quick chat with a new-ish member, Isabelle. She was asking about how to wash a wig, and somehow I got called over to have my brains (Ed: brrainz?) picked. Still, I think I gave the right answers. Cold water, gas mark six, right? ;-)

The evening rolled along and I was late getting changed. I had to leave with my false eyelashes still on. That was so I didn't keep the caretaker behind while she was locking up. Sophie was kind enough to work some photo magic - thanks Mrs!

I've now got a list of dates for the meetings, so there's a bit of web-site work to do. All in all, it's been a very good week.

Take care,

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rurban therapy


If I had to pick a month that was my favourite, I think I'd have to say it was September. For me, it's the slow turn to Autumn, but without the sharp cold, nor rain of the later months. The evening sky is beautiful and the heat of the summer has faded. There's less to do in the garden, more the time to enjoy long, leisurely walks and, if you know where to look, to enjoy a spot of blackberrying, picking apples or collecting sloes (hello, Mr Gin!).

I find picking blackberries a very relaxing pastime. Sure, there's that slight frisson of worry that you'll snag your trousers / top / hand, but I find that stops me drifting off. Instead, it's that gentle pull of the berry from the thorny briar and knowing that when you get home, you can divvy them up - who doesn't like blackberries? - or make something nice with them. Blackberry & apply crumble, blackberry rum, muffins, or just good with a little ice cream.

There's also a fashion element to September, you're not into your Winter Woollies, and it's time to start putting away shorts and t-shirts, getting out old favourites, or hoping you'll see some new ones as the new collections come out. Of course, there's the hope that you'll find the perfect set of boots, even though there's nothing wrong with last years. :-)

Not Hounded

The old devil, the Black Dog, has been away for some time and you know what, I don't miss him at all. I feel a lot more balanced and relaxed than I did six, and certainly twelve months ago. With luck and the right frame of mind, I hope things will continue this way.

Why am I raising this? Well, other than enjoying life, I did something either a little brave, or a little foolish: depending on your view. :-) At the start of the week, I was invited to give a talk to a large number of people at work, some of whom I work with regularly, some, not so much. Some of them.... I had... Now, I almost put Let The Dog Snarl, but I think that would suggest that it was talking for me. Perhaps a better way would be to say, I let my inner anger spill out and I was rude and insensitive to some.

I started the talk with two items: one that I was very grateful for the collective work they'd done in getting the big project done in a very short space of time. I'm not a manager, I'm just a technical bloke, but I know hard work when I see it. I was also rather cheeky, in that I took the opportunity to say something like this:
...around a year or so ago, I was suffering with depression and to those of you I had been rude to, I would like to apologise to you for that behaviour. I am grateful for your patience and that person that I was - probably a bit of an ogre, if I'm honest (laughter)- is long gone. If you need help with this [project], please do get in touch. I'm here to answer your questions and move this further forward. 
I took a quick look around the room, caught a few eyes and then I moved on to the technical topics people wanted to cover. At the end of the talk, as I packed my things up, one chap came over to me and said how brave I was. I thanked him, but really, my aims were to apologise and try and dispel the ogre reputation that I'd built up. Coming back to the office, I had a few emails saying similar things, including one from a chap who was still fighting the fight himself. I wished him luck and that if he wanted a talk, I'd be happy to listen.

There's also a little bit of me that wanted to put out the message that a) you can beat depression and b) that anyone can get it. I've had it said, What you? depressed? But you're outgoing / confident / etc, but then, like any other illness - and that's how I look at it - sometimes it's just your turn and you have to plod on.


In other news, today I caught a radio programme about a feminist magazine that started in the 70s. I was only a young kid then, so I guess a lot of this passed me by. I heard such gems about women being sacked for being pregnant, women not being able to have a mortgage without a partner, etc. I was.... unpleasantly surprised by some of these reports and, if you dig further, there are probably some others.  Stunned may be overstating it, but I'm glad I live in the time that I do. If it was like that for women, what was it like for gay or trans people? I hope we never turn back that particular clock and that other less liberal countries, soon their societies will move on and being more accepting.

Take care,

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sometimes, good things happen


It's an early post for me as I've just finished one of those distance training courses. Not the old school learn by post kinda thing, but a learn-by-Skype style classroom. You get a little video of the class, remote access to the system you have to work on and you get to see the presentation slides. Luckily, there's no return video feed - and we'll come back to that in a mo :-) - but you can ask questions using the chat or microphone. It saves me having to travel to London and it saves the company money on a hotel. It all seems a little futuristic and everyday at the same time. How things change eh?

Some of the course I'd done before - so it goes with update stuff coming after you've done the actual work - so I had half an ear tuned to the topics I'd already done. Sooo..... I did what any self-respecting trans person stuck at home would do, practice some new make-up techniques and - thanks to last week's delivery - try my new dresses on.

Eye Eye

I, like a lot of blokes and some women too, have a hooded eyelid. Or, as a friend said on Facebook, I have fat eyes too. :-) I guess this explains why some make-up ideas, I'm looking at you smokey eye method - don't really work for me.

I caught a view video tutorials last week, so having made a few notes - yes, I'm that organised! - I gave it a spin. I'm not 100% sure at the mo and I'd say it is very much an evening look, certainly far too heavy for daytime.

It's fun to try these things and good to learn why things do or don't work. I think I may stick to my usual colours, but I shall try and put the ideas of different positions for the shadow and highlighting into practice.


With the regular dog walking and watching what I eat, I think some of the - shall we say, excess holiday baggage? - has now departed and I'm feeling much fitter than I did before. I guess I'd like to shift a little more and get down to the 170 mark, but much below that and I start to look too thin. I know, you can never be too rich or too thin. I may agree with the former - 'cos you could give some away and do things for people! - but the second, as far as I'm concerned, I don't want to go back to looking like Desperate Dan featuring in The Walking Dead. It's ain't pretty. ;-) [ Overseas readers may wish to Google DD :-) ]

Anyhoo - and apologies for the headless horsewoman pose, I wasn't fully made up - I did try on my two new purchases and I was very pleased with both of them. I had planned on sending one back, in case of a bad fit, but that plan has gone right out of the window!

Oddly, I've waited to post these pictures here, rather than on Facebook. I guess part of me prefers to keep something back for this old blog and I wonder if the rise of Social Media has eaten into the blogging world. Updates and replies are now almost instant. Then again, blogs, perhaps like those little back page fillers you get in magazines, they are longer and take a little more to put together.


Talking of blogs, if anyone is interested in the Our Different Journey project, I'm still on the lookout for *ahem* volunteers to interview. I know a number of you have been kind enough to get involved and I'm really grateful for that.

Moonfruit, the company who provide free web hosting for Nottingham Chameleons, recently updated their platform. Those of you with a technical head may already know they are moving from Flash to HTML5. Those of you who don't have a technical head, you may read that - as I did - and go 'eh?'. :-) Whatever the server magic they employ, there was an option to upgrade and sometimes, it's best to upgrade when you have the time, rather than have the update forced upon you.

Perhaps typically for anything computer related, not everything went across and that meant I needed to do a spot of redesign. I'll be honest and say while I can push a mouse around the screen and waffle for England, I'm not a designer. However, I'm fairly happy with the site and sometimes, a little housekeeping, love & attention is just what a site needs.

Take care,

Friday, September 06, 2013

A series of conflicting events


How's things? It's been the first week back at school for Wee Man and Little Miss. They took it pretty well and despite a little bit of grumbling from one of them, I think they both enjoyed catching up with their friends. As is the case with a new year, they both get a new teacher. Wee Man is now in the last class before he goes to secondary. Little Miss, is in her second year and I remember her teacher being a big hit with her brother. Said teacher, he's.... what's the best way to say this? He's got that knack in getting kids really involved and keen to learn. Dare I say, it's a joy to watch and I hope he continues to do well.

What else has been going on? Well, I'm officially over 70 days since I was last fabulous. But, hey! Who's counting!! :-) Ah, it's been a bit strange really, but what's new. I'm trans; strange seems par for the course. :-) Where was I? Oh yes. Strange. Yeah, there's been family birthdays, holidays, the weather was just too hot in July and this month, the Ever Lovely Mrs J will be away on a course. That leaves El Muggins here at Chez Jones. Not that I mind, I don't do too badly considering and bless her, Mrs J said she hadn't realised I'd miss another one and I said it was fine. Despite feeling that I've missed my friends at Chams, I'm doing okay. She suggested that I go out to one of the Invasions instead. Maybe I'll take her up on that offer. It has been a while. :-) Odd really. Back in the dark past of the Shadow of the Black Dog - hmm, which sounds like a dodgy pub or even dodgier pirate movie - the idea of going that long without dressing up, would probably have sent me into a tailspin of fear and panic.

Perhaps I've somehow got the hang on the CBT / Hitch-hiker's mantra of Don't Panic. Actually, if any one is thinking of paying for CBT, save yourself a large bag of cash and instead, take to heart the above Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference and Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright-side of Life. Give or take some expert advice and psycho-babble, neither comedy piece is too far off the mark. :-) But cheap shots aside, maybe long term, the advice / training has worked. If I find myself chewing over an event that I can't affect, I try to take a step back and ask myself: "Do you feel lucky, punk?" :-) No, sorry, the other questions:

  • Does it matter in the long swing of things?
  • Can you make it happen?
  • Will it make you happy?

Subject to the outcome of those, I tend to find; not so much giving up on things, but more, not getting so wound up about things. Take for example work: there have been times when I've fought - from a political point of view - to Get Stuff Done because I've really believed that it would make a difference. Yet now, if the Powers That Be aren't interested or just don't want to follow my concerns, I try to let it go. A friend once said to me, save your breath for the "Well, I did say.." moment - just don't be an arse about it. :-)

Then from that, there's shopping. Which really, sounds incredibly shallow, but a) I don't give a hoot, and b) finding the right item, can help you. Sometimes, looking good on the outside, can help the inside feel okay too. I did have the good fortune to find a couple of dresses I liked the look of at Dorothy Perkins. Not only where they reduced, but there was also an extra 25% off that week. Armed with my meagre savings, a voucher and copies of the items I was interested, off I popped.

Both dresses are shown to the left and on the web site, they looked very nice. In the flesh, so to speak, they felt okay quality-wise. But once I got to the changing room and got them on, they didn't quite work.

I've said it before, but I'm so tired of this current trend of a high neck and short cap sleeves. It seems to have run for a full year and personally, I feel that cut does nothing for me. I don't know if it was the lack of boobs, but the neckline would wrinkle up and much as I loved the pattern, it just wasn't me. So, back on the hanger for that one.

The floaty red number felt good, but it was either the lack of my artificial curves, or that it made me feel a bit.... well, square. Chuck in the fact that it's close in appearance to a friend's dress (who rocks it, BTW), that too, went back on the hanger.

Still, the good news from this little shopping fail, was that on the way out, I spotted a dress - not my size! - which looked a bit like the Desiguel ones. Now, I love their clothes and once I'd got home and done a bit of web research, I had a quick chat with the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I've ordered two from the site. Throw in an eight quid voucher from Google, and that's two dresses for forty quid. No faffing about parking, no need to pack *ahem* 'curves' etc. I'm hoping they arrive next week, as I'm working from home and it would be remiss of me not to do a little office work suitably attired. Fingers crossed eh?

Take care,