Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Wrong Side of History


Well, how was your Christmas? I hope you had a pleasant one and that all went well. This year, we had somehow managed to duck much of the travelling and instead, the extended Jones Clan came to our little house. I could have said ...on the prairie, but moor would be closer. :-) We are far enough out of civilisation to be in werewolf country, but at least it keeps the door-to-door sales people on their toes.

So we swapped travel for the frenzied activity of cooking and preparing enough food. Honestly, I need to think about cutting down. Not only did I get a new postcode for Xmas, but I no longer feel safe swimming in case there are any Nordic 'pet food' manufacturers boating nearby. Sorry, I said pet food, I did of course meant to say scientific research stations. :-\ Moving on! All of the family visits went well, with plenty of good cheer, laughter and nom-ing our way through the tasty treats the Ever Lovely Mrs J had put together.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed opening their gifts and the Ever Lovely Mrs J enjoyed hers. I think most of the gifts were just about spot on for everyone - certainly no unhappy faces. As to Muggins here, I did very well, with some choice DVDs, a graphic novel (Batman), some wash products (and make-up remover LOL), choccies and some nice (bloke) clothes too. A very good haul, all in all. :-)

Daily Heil

The only minor dark spot in all of this Christmas cheer was the unwelcome shadow of bigotry.... from my own sister. We were have a chuckle about something-or-nothing at my Mum's over a cup of tea - so middle class and British, I know :-) - and then for some reason J. said "Bummers aren't natural. They shouldn't be able to have kids."

Whatcho talking about, Willis? :-\

What? Are we going for double points on moron-speak today? Well, technology and modern living isn't natural either, so what's your point? You know what you've just said is completely unacceptable, Sis.

Cue a rant in A Flat about how I lived in a pink fluffy cloud (It's cute and warm, what's not to like?) and that the rest of the thought like her. Yeah, well, even if they do, which I doubt - it ain't right to say such a thing and it's not true either. 'Natural'? FFS. 

Honestly, I wondered if this was a some somewhat twisted version of a hidden camera show for a moment. Where did this vitriolic hate come from? :-\ I asked her if it was acceptable for people to 'hate' on her - as they (allegedly) did in the 50s/60s - over being a single parent, being unmarried and having multiple kids by an unmarried man. Was that right? Would it be okay to judge/disrespect her like that? Of course not... Not that she got the point. Maybe I didn't help by saying she was on the wrong side of history and a bigot - whoops! :-) - but Mrs J stepped in to draw the conversation back away from finger pointing and keep it civil. Even J's boyfriend - a closet liberal? - stepped in to argue the case for acceptance.

Funny, or not funny - depending on your point of view, I now get why J's daughter is the way she is. Stephen Fry once made a joke about the dangers of passive bigotry and that wry comment has never seemed (sadly) more appropriate. Wow, am I glad I didn't think about coming out to her last summer, after we chatted about eye make-up in Debenhams. A lucky escape? There's a thought.

Pah. Wigged freak terrorises Nottingham. Wait until they get a loada me.... :-)

On to more pleasant things...

New Year is not quite here, so this is the lull period - not that we do much for New Years. It's never been a big thing and now we've got kids, it's a good excuse to stay home, have a tasty hot choccy and generally kick back. Mrs J asked me about New Years Resolutions and... well, other than trying to be less grumpy, I'm not really into them. Actually, that's not true. Pandora suggested a memory jar - Lord only knows I've lost mine! :-) - which you write PostIts of the good times and store them up. I think I'm going to have a go at that. Even if it's virtual, I think it sounds like fun.

Talking of looking at the bright side of things, I've had nearly two weeks off. Sure, my job doesn't (currently) thrill me, but maybe it's time to look at the perks, rather than the negatives. I think I've managed - through help and love - to send the Black Dog away. That's surely something to be thankful for! :-) Wee Man and Little Miss and Mrs J continue to fill me with awe, joy and laughter. I've switched from mid redhead back to long black and just this month, I had a piccy taken that made me feel like I'd finally got my head around everything. What a great way to end the year!

Oh and I've got a Blogger Challenge to do next year too. Something to look forward to - or not, depending on how you look at this prattle ;-) Talking of blogging, somehow I've managed fifty two posts this year, so that's one a week. Not that that's anything to crow about, it's more a personal goal to keep going.

Happy New Year and I hope 2014 brings you luck to you and yours. Thanks for reading and I'll see you in the future. :-)


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Gut-con One


It's odd this blogging lark. I've pondering writing this entry for a little while and, I'll be honest here, not one of the opening starting with a sweeping musical score, birds singing gaily in the trees (birds don't have an issue with silly marriage exclusivity rules apparently) and bring sunshine dappled across the the rolls hills and forests. No, most of them where the pounding crunch of flat boots across the gravel of bones, the swish of a dark cape and a fanfare of sonorous brass....

Bugger. Even my darker moments are camp. :-)

So, what's the big deal? The Drama Du Jour? It all seems a bit silly, but then - as I've said elsewhere - emotions don't make sense. They are feelings and much as my Spock-like Virgonian nature may say 'head rules the heart', that's not true. I do worry, and - if I'll ever get to the point - I'll let you know why....

This Friday was Invasion. A number of friends were off out, it's a sort of trans Xmas do and it was the last hurrah of the year for being fabulous. So, I made arrangements to go and off I went. So far, so good. The Ever Lovely Mrs J wasn't 100% pleased as I'd gone out the week before and the night before - when we were out with friends - I had stupidly forgotten to arrange someone to cover my Out of Hours phone. Yes, that was my own stupid fault and I felt awful for not having done this. Of course, being a wise chap, I did what most men do in this situation: I had a mardy about it for ten minutes (translation: a bad mood). Very mature... not. :-\ I embarrass myself sometimes, but all was sorted out and much fun was had by all.

Cue forward to Friday night and I'd promised to give Isabelle a lift into town - as it was to be her first Invasion. I found her house okay and we had a pleasant chat before getting changed. I'd made a mess of my chest, so it was time for a high neck number: the pink skater dress, my star pattern tights and favourite studded black heels. Rock on! ;-) We bid goodbye to Mrs Isabelle (so to speak), loaded my little car up and headed off into the night. By luck, we managed to park near to the venue without any trouble at all. All was going well.

Now, my stomach wasn't really itself for the last day or so - too much rich food? - so as we wandered up the hill to the pub, there was a feeling of Something Rotten in the State of Denmark. I don't mean the smell, honestly! More... a disturbance in the Force. ;-) I decided to ignore this and plod on. (Ed: when will you learn!?) The pub itself was pleasantly busy. I had a lovely long chat with Gaynor (who I'd not seen for ages - nearly a year?); Maddy (looking fab), Sam (rocking a Robocop's Ugg boot, but she's up and about); Rachel (life's on the move), Jenny (hello and state of the union etc) and introduced Isabelle to a few folk she may not have bumped into. There was no sign of Tanya, Sasha or Amanda but I heard they were due in later on.

After that, I think I was reaching gut-con one. Now, here comes the tricky part. :-\ I know I'm not going to make the night - I'm feeling rougher than the proverbial badger at this point. I'm conscious I said I'd give Isabelle a lift home and be there as a friendly face. I also had something to had over to Amanda (an eye pencil I won). I really didn't want to go and yet, I also knew that being 100%, the best thing would be to get home and rest.

So.... with a heavy heart - who says I can't do drama eh? :-) - I made my goodbyes and headed for home feeling cross, embarrassed and angry. My problem is, I felt like I let someone down and I hate doing that. I'm angry at myself for letting this happen and I feel guilty for leaving a friend to make their own way back. Yes, Isabelle did say she'd be fine getting a taxi back - and it wasn't a long haul home. But still..... Anyway, I've apologised and no doubt I'll do that again in the new year. Like I saw, I hate letting people down.

I found myself chewing over this - as I sometimes do - and I realised this wasn't doing my any favours. It's not that I shouldn't care, far from it. I think it's realising that I can't fix everything. Sometimes, you have to let yourself make mistakes and forgive yourself. At least, that's what I'm working on right now. By strange co-incidence I saw this on Facebook:

Regular readers will know I'm not particularly religious - of any faith. That's not to say I don't mind a bit of advice from time to time. So, after reading the above, I've been working on that. Letting go of the anger - because there's a toxic emotion for starters. It really can eat you up. Hope? Look to a time when things will be better. Maybe I'm making a big thing out of nothing, maybe I'm not. I don't know. Start a beginning by letting go of the past. Don't forget, but do release from going over the same old sh**. Look to the light - not so much literally; I mean, you wouldn't want to burn your eyeballs right? :-) But flippant gags aside, look for the good stuff.

Take today for example. The Jones Massive had a trip to to the park. The Hound got a walk, the kids got to play on the swings and the Lovely Mrs J & I had a cuddle on the bench. As I didn't spend anything last night, I had some money on me. Just enough to buy us all a hot chocolate each and some sweets for the kids. A lovely little spell of Xmas magic.

Good times..... and if I don't see you until the New Year; merry Christmas. Look after yourself and I hope 2014 is kind to you and yours. ♥

Take care,

Friday, December 13, 2013

I, Spy

Hi folks,

Well, it's been an interesting few days this last week. Interesting as in a rollercoast of emotions, which at least tells you are alive. Nothing serious, but I could have done without it, if I'm honest. To be honest, there's a lot of be said about quiet. There are days when I think quiet is vastly underrated. :-) I think the stress comes in when you feel you've got a lot on. Things organised at work, which impact on what you've got organised at home and then things you've organised socially... well, you get the idea!


I had the good fortune to attend a training event on Trans Policy at a local university. There were lots of people at the event, nearly a hundred or so and from various walks of life. Some old school activists/trail blazers - I met a gay chap who'd led an occupation of The Guardian in the 80s; some HR folk, various LGBTQI officers, staff 'advisory' folk (that was my cover), union people, visitors, academics and a few trans folk too (waves to Alison & Sam). I bumped into an old workmate (small world huh?), chatted with some visitors and then I spotted Alison talking to one of the organisers. Bless her, Alison, had volunteered to represent Chameleons: field questions, hand over leaflets and whatnot (which I thought she did brilliantly - and yes I did thank her).

After a free lunch - it does exist, kids :-) - it was off into another room to listen to the event's main speaker: Paris Lees. I found her talk both fascinating, heartfelt and, ultimately, inspiring. By dumb luck, I'd sat at the back of the room, and so I got to see people's heads nodding when Paris made certain comments. Things such as her struggle with being brave, fighting depression, the sheer stress of making herself go out and... well... just being herself really. Listening to what she went through, and hell, I'm just a part timer, is it any wonder that so many trans people don't survive, or decide to stay closeted, rather than risk what she went through.

Interestingly, Paris did say that she felt she wished she had more positive stories, that than the... what did she say? Yeah, 'misery narratives' that seem so common. That said, she did go on to say how she decided to turn her life around, take ownership of who she was and be a force for good ('Happier than I've ever been, because I owned my identity'). If that's not a positive trans story, I don't know what is. She got a massive round of applause and one of the directors from the university gave her some serious - and well deserved - praise.

We had a quick Q&A session, which I'll gloss over and then it was time to separate the public from the training folk, for our workshop. I was a little late for the latter as I sloped off to have a quick word with Miss Lees. I dunno, why did I do it? All I did was say thank you for all the work you've done. "You make help make it better for trans people.... even us part timers." There was a quick handshake and a smile, then off to the meeting. If I came across as a nutter, well, so be it. ;-) It's not like I've not worked for the title eh? :-P

[ Update: Paris' article in The Guardian on her early life ]


The other element of the meeting was training lead by Tara Hewitt. Someone I'd not heard of until the event, and Tara's discussion points around gender and Trans people at work were fascinating. The training was lighthearted where it needed to be, thoughtful when required and never dull. The exercises in discussions were good too and ignoring my own feelings on this, the room felt that making this training available to others would be really handy.

It was a little odd being sat in on all this. On the one hand, it was wonderful to hear such positive views on the subject. But then, as Tara pointed out, it's a (mostly) academic audience, so we're pretty fluffy. We're not the old school stereotyped hard man business types.

On the other... I felt a bit like a spy. I wasn't going to out myself - although I wonder if my eyebrows and body language sets off alarms? I don't know - so it was a case of sit back, listen and occasionally chip in. The sessions were very much about people who want to transition, however, a number of people in the room talked about trans people who don't. It was a question I wanted to ask, and luckily I was beaten to it.

This popped up twice: once when a member of staff shared a story - with the trans person's permission - about how gossip had gone around the team, about speculation of Person B's bisexuality. Person B was upset about the rumours - gossip's not always nice - and their boss contacted them to find out why they were away from work. If this was being signed off, or ill, they didn't say and it doesn't matter. The manager asked if there was anything they could do to help, and Person B confided in them. Person B said that if people were gossiping about them being bi, which they were, how would people react if they found out they were a cross-dresser? There were many nods in the audience and it seems while the law is behind those who do transition, there is still protection for people who don't.

The other time was from a lady on the same table asking, what were the policies around trans folk when they first start. She went on to ask, was it an 'all or nothing jump', why should people have to commit so early on? etc. It was a very interesting, if short, debate. Does this mean you can be Mary on a Tuesday and Bill on Thursday? It seems not, from the feel of the various staff representing, but maybe that will come. Maybe it will be as one chap said: "In fifty years, we won't be having this conversation - other than to say, how different it was in 2013."

After all of the above, driving home was a bit tricky, as my brain was in a bit of a spin. I do find this and really, I guess I should learn to spot the danger signs. With all the positive vibes going on, I felt a little like it would have been fine to be out, or even fine to be as Lynn.... But, Sensible Brain says different. One afternoon does not a life make :-) It's not just me in our family and frankly, I don't have the time to do this all day, every day. No, I'm going to do my best to enjoy what I have. If I can help others along the way - which we try to do at Chams and I try to do at work with the HR assistance - that's good.

Obligatory Chams Photos and Other Stuff

Chams itself was quiet, possibly because we're into Xmas party season and school plays (oh, Wee Man and Little Miss did brilliantly in there's... proud Dad moment ahoy!).

I got to chat with Alison about how she found the event, even if she only got to hear the first part - which I think is a shame. Not sure why visitors were not allowed to attend. It wasn't like it was top secret. Who knows?

I'd gone for a more casual look after the previous party weeks. I was pleased with the fit of my denim mini - I'd wanted one for ages - and I'd taken a risk on using a copper-like colour on my eyes as way of a change. It all helped balance me out upstairs.

I had a slight issue at work, which was a combination of lack of communication and people chucking their weight about (I include myself in that statement). I know I'm far from perfect. Maybe I need to realise that I need to let myself be wrong and just because someone else acts up, I don't need to behave like that either. Funny, we had a different meeting today where everyone was very relaxed and We Got Stuff Done. Maybe I should try to encourage more of the latter. Even if my 'blood is up', it's better to be a grown up right? ;-)

Oh, I've also signed up to a Blogger challenge, which is to write about a given topic in the new year. You can read a little more about the idea behind this here and given the amount I waffle on, hopefully you'll see some notes on this soon.

Take care,

Friday, December 06, 2013

"You may fire when ready."

Hey folks,

Yes, it's another of those in-betweenie posts. One not quite about a night out - which no doubt reads What-Lynn-Did-Next diary kinda thing - but the random, wanderings of my addled brain. Curious to see what I prattle on about, I thought I'd pop this blog's URL into one of those meme cloud gadgets. Well, it passes the time doesn't it? Oh, there's a shoe design. Step on! :-)

I suppose for maximum cliche, I should have selected some vibrant pink colours..... but really, shades of suede would have been more my choice. Oh, black shoes. How can I count the ways....? :-)

So there you have it. A list of the key words yours truly regularly punts out in this little blog of mine. Clearly trans pops up a few times. Not sure why bit or ago, feature so promptly. I guess they must be key words that I use. Hmm. Nice to see Good and People pop in there though.


On a completely different note, someone at work asked me for some advice about a tablet. No, not the Follow the White Rabbit, nor Ooo-Boobies! ones either. Wow, that would have been a different film wouldn't it. Unfortunately, no one can be told what being Trans is. You have to see it for yourself. That and experience foot pain from shoes too fabulous to mention.

Where was I? Oh yes. Tablets. Those flat plastic and glass squares that seem to be rocking the PC industry. I was asked the simple question, which one should I get? Well, my typical answer is to ask the questions

- what do you want to do with it?
- how much do you want to spend?
- what type of computers do you like now?

Some folk like Apple kit, some like Android stuff and some like Microsoft stuff. It's all a bit... personal really. They all do similar things and they're aimed at different types of people. Take for example the difference between your common-or-garden Android tablet vs the more managed interface of the Kindle.

What I will say is this, I don't like companies - particularly tech companies - who attempt to compete by rubbishing another parties products. Yeah, all's fair in love, war and the damned lies of the marketing department, but it isn't :-) Just.... tell the truth. Some people like different things, not because of the *ahem* facts, or that it's better/faster/cheaper/hackable/expensive/luxury brand; they just have a personal preference to how a particular system works.

I had the displeasure to share a meeting with a tech evangelist. For those of you not familiar with this particular type of luser - sorry- user; they are usually vaguely technical and they - as per the alleged religious stereotype they get their name from - sing the praises to the Cult of the Object.

I'm afraid. I cannot help myself, but ask politely awkward questions to push their buttons. "It does look nice, but does it run the Apple store?" A good one for Surface tablet fetishists. "It's nice, but I think the Android interface is easier to use." That riles Apple junkies. "It's not got the upgrade path of the MS stuff has it?" which bugs 'Droid folk. :-P I really don't mind what tablet you want to use. What I do mind, is when you want to convert everyone to your way of thinking.... or perhaps more cynically, buy more stuff.

Do I have a preference? Am I really unbiased? No, I'm as biased as the next guy. :-) I like tablets I can tweak, hack and generally mess around with. I don't like being told what I can and can't do with something I've bought. To me, a tablet isn't very different from a computer. Okay, no mouse or screen, but it's essentially a tool to do something. Should someone tell you want tools you can use? Maybe you like cooking a meal a certain way, or maybe you like to vary your route to work. Should I be able to tell you want you can or can't do because I'd like to control your experience? Maybe you don't care and you're happy to run with the device as it arrives, that's cool too.

I think it's personal choice and you should have the freedom to do as you want, with the gadgets you own..... with all the risks and learning curves associated with it.

You may fire when ready. ;-)

Take care,