Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking forward


How was Christmas? I hope you had a good festive break. I hesitate to use the word 'holiday', on the grounds that the rush up the the big day, seems anything but. With all the present buying, wrapping, food prep and visits; I'm glad of the down time period between then and New Years. Not that we get up to much at New Year's. In days of old, the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I would go to an alt rock club in town, but that must be nearly 20 years ago now. I'm 40+ and I'm not careful, my waist will soon match my age. :-) So year, I'm quite happy to stay at home, get the kids tucked up in bed and then retire for the evening with either a good book or a boxed set. Luckily, Xmas is good in that regard.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J was very happy with her gifts, as were Wee Man and Little Miss. Amongst the t-shirts, chocolates and boxed sets, Mrs J was kind enough to buy me some new earrings. Certainly not work suitable ;-) In a nice stroke of luck, when I took one her jumpers back, the shop let me swap it and - as the item was now on sale - they put the different on a voucher for me. Yay for good customer service!

This being the end of the year, thoughts run over what's gone before and maybe, what may come around this new year. I'm not one for resolutions, although this year, having been away (and eaten well) and then having had a very good Christmas (and eaten well, again), I think I will need to start doing more exercise and eating more healthily. Partly because it's good for me, but also because I don't like being as wide/broad as I am now. Yes, that's vanity talking, but I'm trans and shallow: so sue me ;-)

On the upside - I'll skip on the obvious joke about plus-side - the snow and the holiday has meant there's been plenty of time for long walks and a spot of sledging too. Maybe I'm just a big kid at heart, but there's something fantastic about going for a long walk through the snow. Chuck in a chance to tab it up a steep hill and sledge back down it, and I'm happy as Lara. :-)

Last night I caught a review of the year show, which had a lot of doom & gloom about it. I don't think it was the fault of the show, I wonder if this is more the news in general.... and by that I mean current events, rather than the media as a whole.

Was it ever thus? Have we always been on this Penrose-like stair loop where things seem to be going down and down? Or, is it just how things are reported and that we hone in on what's wrong, rather than looking at the achievements?

Bill Hicks once joked that after watching the American news ("AIDS! Crack! War!"), he'd opened the front door and heard nothing but the chirping of crickets. It's a bit too cold (yay snow!) for crickets right now and maybe living in one of the UK top ten boroughs (number 8), makes where I live very peaceful and quiet. Maybe I am just very lucky? If that is the case, I hope that 2015 brings you some good luck and that it is kind to you and yours.

Thanks for reading and stay safe,

Friday, December 19, 2014

Willpower, Miss Jones


A little under one more week and Christmas will have passed. All the traipsing around shops, visiting the post office and the wrapping ("The horror! The horrorrrr!" :-) ), will - I hope - have been worth it. For me, there's little that meets doing something for someone else. Either, a little bit of help, listening at the right time, or putting thought into a gift, rather than an amount. But... maybe that's just me. I know a few friends who aren't keen on Christmas, perhaps matched by a small number who are crackers over it. If you pardon the pun. So, here's a question, what, as this is a hypothetical question, would you gift yourself with? Time, something fancy, forgiveness, peace?


A little good luck has come my way, this month and I am now the proud owner of a new job. Yes, I have finally been able to move on at work. Well, at least in terms of a new title, new manager and although there's some handing over to be done,

I should be officially shot of the drudge work, I've been saddled with over the last 18 months and instead concentrating on what I was employed to do. Yes, I shall be out and about, interviewing people and listening to their needs, before putting pen to paper, to plan an IT solution for them. Sure, this may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for me, at least, it is. I'm rather looking forward to it. Maybe not as much as the comedy wish of occasional attendance, in more, preferred clothing, but it's probably best not to freak everyone out. :-)


In last time's post, I mentioned privacy and a few folk on social media - yes, I appreciate the irony :-) - had had issues about keeping their trans life out of their other life. If it's any help, there's a simple way you can do this. Actually, there's more than one, but I'll go with easy, seeing as I've got a ton of wrapping still to do and really, you probably don't come here for tips on IT :-)

For the Windows massive, if you point your browser over to PortableApps, you can find some more Internet browsers. But rather than installing them into your computer, here, you can just copy them into a folder. That browser keeps all your history, favourites/bookmarks and cookies stashed away from your main one. There's Firefox, Chrome and others, so I think there should be enough to give you an alternative to whichever you prefer to use now.

When you're done running the browser, just close it and then zip the folder up (or bury it somewhere on the system), to keep your data nice and safe. If you were feeling particularly clever, you could even keep it on a USB drive, although you may need a quick one to stop the browser slowing down.


A year or so ago.
Must resist the snacks
Talking of technology, I've put Google Fit on my phone and I'm doing what I can to keep walking at lunchtime. Having to fetch presents from various parts of town is helping, although for each mile I do, I seem to fall foul of the mince pie monsters. :-)

Clearly, some willpower is required, so that January isn't a long, hard month, after the warmth of Christmas. Best to keep busy, and think thin (I must remember the importance of a waist!).

Take care and I hope you have a fab Christmas,

Friday, December 12, 2014

Heels, hemlines and hopes...


My brain is all of a spin at the moment. It's been a little full on at home and that's even with leaving work slightly earlier than usual. There's no major drama going on - thankfully! - I think it's more just one of those evenings where it's 60mph all the way until after tea. Then we're into teeth brushing, PJs and story time.

I also had a surprise visit from a friend, Sophie, who was in the area. Having not been 100% well, she missed the Chameleons Xmas Do (more on that in a bit), but didn't want to miss saying hi before Christmas and returning the favour with the festive gifts. I'd dropped mine off last week, although one wouldn't go through the letterbox. Agh! Planning fail! :-)

Anyhoo, we had a good chat over some tea and flapjack, while the kid's pudding baked in the oven. All went well and after Sophie left, Mrs J said to me that she really didn't recognise Sophie from before at all. Clearly being full time' for two years has brought quite a change.

Talking of the Ever Lovely Mrs J, I have tried to do the right thing this Xmas and I've used my Shoe Fund Stash, towards an e-reader that I know she really wants. Yes, I love shoes and shopping, but I love her more. I can always save up again and... umm... it's not like I've not bought something at least once a month this autumn, so maybe this will help me appreciate what I do have, rather than looking towards items I don't really need. Christmas and all that. :-)

Xmas Do

Squeezed between work parties and children's school plays, the Chameleon Group had their annual Christmas party. Luckily for us, it fell in December (yay!) and it was also our last meeting of the year (boo!).

Lots of people turned up, so the place was very busy. It was great to see some of the new people back again and also the regulars too. The tables had been nicely decorated with tablecloths and nightlights. Plus, a large table of food had been laid out for everyone to nibble at, as the evening went by.

I'd had an early evening pass as Little Miss needed to be dropped off for her last performance. I was lucky enough to see her singing in the school production the night before and although she's tired from a series of late nights (normally she's in bed by 8PM), she said she loved it. At the Xmas party, this put some of us on into talking about school plays and whatnot.

Outfit-wise.... I had packed my red dress and a selection of heels / shoe boots. I have gone back to my red/ginger/strawberry blonde (!) wig as I'm finding the cut more forgiving. That and a few people have said nice things about it, so that's convinced me to stay on this route for a time. I guess ideally, I'd like hair (!) a little darker, so I'm wondering if any of you have had a wig restyled and cut. If so, how did it go?

I also, took a risk in buying some sequin skorts. Yes, skorts. For some time, I've thought about getting some short shorts for a Christmas outfit because who doesn't like a bit of sparkle at this time of year? Heels, hemlines and hopes are high in December. I saw some at a knock down price and after a talking myself out of buying them.... I then threw caution to the wind and thought I'd give them a go. Hell, if they didn't work for me, I could always send them back right?

I don't often wear short skirts because I'm in my early 40s and I'm conscious that I don't want to look tarty. Seriously, this is a worry I have. I also, don't want to look like a spinster from Downtown Abbey. Go figure. But regardless of crossing a particular personal line in the sand, I felt pleased with them and the evidence is to the right.

Why am I sat down? Well, I've got my back straight and given the extra weight I've put on recently, it's the most flattering picture I have from the evening. I know, we're our own worse critics. I was saying as much to Kim earlier. I really must start eating more healthily and watching my weight.... rather than watching it go up, which isn't helping. But much as I'm getting to be at risk from drive-by attacks by Japanese whalers, I think the diet is going to have to wait until after the 25th December.

But, despite my grumbling, on the night, I was happy with my look and I felt confident all evening. I felt the night was a great close to the year and our next meeting is in January 2015.

Take care,

Obligatory skort close up

Friday, December 05, 2014

What price privacy?

Hi folks,

Unusually for me, I've been away this week. I don't tend to travel much with work, well, other than the occasional short journey between offices. This time, however, a work-mate and I were off down south for a two day technical workshop. It was very good to be both out of the office, and doing my old job: that of designing solutions and making things better. Much better than making things more complicated, but that's by the by.

My overnight bag was, oddly, considerably smaller than the Thursday night bag I usually take. Just a shirt, some smalls, spare trousers and a wash kit. Compare that to the Full Mary that gets packed - nay, crammed? - into a much larger bag every other week. Either I'm not as fussy in bloke mode, or I find it easier. That, or perhaps a bloke's wardrobe is easier to put together. Less patterns, darker colours, etc, but maybe I'm stereotyping. (Ed: and that's not using the keyboard with both hands)

Who holds the key?
While away, I got talking to one of the system builders and we got into a chat about how people treat their privacy. Take for example this blog, it's public and I've revealed some personal facts about myself (depression, early life, struggling with being trans, etc) and yet, paradoxically, it's also a private space. Something hidden in the noise of the Internet and very much away from my home and work life.

So too do others, maybe not so much with blogs, although that happens to, but their personal data. People happily upload information into social media, photo sharing sites, or file synchronisation systems, without looking too deeply into the small print.

There's also a generational aspect to it, or, at least, that's what the software wizard explained. It seems the younger folk, or sometimes, tech folk too, are less worried about their privacy. Perhaps, having become used to technology, or maybe not as fussed over it, they happily sign up and use the service, trading their data and location for a 'free' service. At odds to that, are those less used to the technology, or those who wish to hang on to their private information.

Conversation drifted and I was reminded of a Radio Four programme, in which an academic researcher spoke about the concepts of privacy. The two extremes being your ability to lock everything away, against that of total openness. The idea of the latter, well, that gave me a brief jolt of fear. And then, pausing the playback, as I queued in the traffic, I wondered, what would life be like it we didn't have, or attempt to keep, the privacy to the level we do now. Who would be shocked by my dual life? Would anyone care? Would I care? If enough people - part-timers, like me - were out, would it be less of a thing? Would the gossip run dry more quickly? Met with a shrug or a nod, something as unsurprising as a day out in the park.

I read on a t-blog last month, the author merging their two social media profiles and the non-event it seemed to cause. Sure, there will always be the small-minded, but as we (hopefully) move on as a society, and indeed, as a race, are we reaching a tipping point were being trans just isn't a big deal any more? It is more that we make a big deal of it, struggling to work out how it applies to us and what it means for our lives?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

Take care,

Friday, November 28, 2014

Not so much back to black


Am I glad it was pay day! The Jones Massive have nearly completely the Christmas shopping - yay, Interwebz! - and we will soon be moving on to the wrapping. By all that's unholy, the mountain of wrapping... Yes, I know it's not yet December, but we start early. Mainly to spread out the cost and also to avoid the seasonable comedy mess ups and risks of:

  • I'm not sure what I want 
  • The well loved (!) I'd quite like so-and-so, which you can't get in the shops, or on-line
  • Nothing really.... Thanks, very helpful! :-)
  • Spending each morning at the Post Office, queueing for a recorded delivery that has hidden itself at the back of the sorting office.
So, yes. For the sake of our collective sanity, we start work early... like any good project manager worth his, or her, salt would know. That said... I do need to get a few more things for the Ever Lovely Mrs J. :-)

Acceptance Rocks

Talking of said lovely lady, while I was getting ready for my usual Thursday Night Out - by the way, I should add, I don't mean slipping into some fabulous, just a wash and a don't cut your face close shave. Where was I? Oh aye, talking. Yes, we had a chat about what was left to sort for Christmas and then my lovely wife offered me some of her unwanted earrings. Some were gifts that while very nice, where never quite her. The others, just ones she's tired of. A quick dunk in the silver cleaning fluid and they were as good as new. Sure, pretty jewelry is nice, but it's nothing compared to the acceptance.

Back to my roots

It being the Christmas season, I have snuck a few items into my shopping bag over the weeks. Some 'day time' false eye lashes, a shimmer stick (Boots) and some pre-glued false nails. The latter were on a 3-for-2 deal, so I effectively got them for free (yay). I should add that there's a variety of sizes and they went on well. Certainly worth a punt given there are a few quid.

Maddy was also kind enough to post my old wig back - I know, the rock & roll lifestyle we lead eh? :-) - so I thought I'd give Old Ginge another spin. Dare I say, I felt very happy with the style and the colour. I think... I think that the cut helps with my jaw, whereas, much that I like the darker locks of my other wig, I think the ginger one is more flattering (as it's wider).

Make-up wise, I was aimed for a bold lip, subtle eyes and the No 7 Shimmer stick worked well. It's basically a fat lipstick, but for your cheeks and brow (I was careful there). When applied, you blend in carefully and it adds a summer glow to your complexion, rather than the matte look, we seem to get during the winter. So, pleased with that, but a complete and utter fail with the false eyelashes. I guess I must be doing something wrong, even though I gave the glue time to become tacky, still no dice with getting them on and to stay on. Any suggestions, ladies?

I decided on a new dress that I'd had in my wardrobe since spring and after the Ever Lovely Mrs J's suggestion, went with some colour pop opaques. Yes, I did over-pack, because I always take a back-up outfit, just in case. I needn't have, because I didn't have second thoughts.

The evening itself went well and we had lots of new people come along. We also had a trans-man (or F2M person) come too, and I think that'll be good as we have another regular F2M person. Sure, our paths are similar, but the journey's not 100% the same.

As a warm-up for the Christmas Do and because I've got a key to lock up, I got the group's photo backdrop out and took some snaps of the new folk. Hopefully they enjoyed that and it'll make a change from the usual spot on the stairs. I think the lighting is better, but I'll let you be the judge of that. Tracey has offered to bring her fancy camera at the party and we'll set up away from the main area. Sounds like a plan and I hope we can get a big group shot in, because it's been a while since we had one and I like to get a photo of everyone who comes along.

Lastly, I visited a researcher at a local university and she's coming to the end of finalising her work into releasing a survey on minority stress in our community. I think the findings could be interesting, but then I love that type of stuff.

Take care,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ghosts of the Past

Hi all,

How's things with you? For me, it's been a bit of a strange week. A gentle dusting of dysphoria, the work/home/work/home treadmill, and yet... it's the weekend, which always gives me a reason to be cheerful. Oh and Old Ginge - my wig has kindly been returned from it's holiday. I shall look forward to retrying being a temporary redhead. :-) All good things. Oh and I've had a whiskey and ginger too. Mmm....
The Girl of Christmas Past

I don't know what it is. For me, I've always found a Friday night to have a certain amount of magic about it. The magic of potential, or just an escape from the regular, I couldn't say. It might even be a mix of the two. That or the knowledge that I don't have to be in bed early, because there's a chance of a lie-in. Oh, and a lie-in now that the kids are a little older? A very welcome luxury.

Earlier in the week, I'd decided to tidy up my photo collection. Like a lot of us trans folk, I've got a reasonable number.

BTW, what is a reasonable number? 8: that's nice a round, with soft edges. 13? That doesn't divide well and poor old Judas's coat ticket is rarely popular. How come 7 gets to be lucky and not 2? What's so perfect about ten? You can't divide it by three. Perhaps this explains why Maths and I have never got on well. :-)

Anyhoo, working through the images brought some mixed emotions. Some good memories (see right) and some not so good ones. Early efforts, where I was a bit of a mess (but, we all start as beginners). I noticed a lot of people who no longer come to the group, the changes in my own style and the not-so-good snaps which don't make it to this blog or otherwise. The ones where you are all to aware you're just a bloke in a dress. Sure, it's a nice dress and fancy shoes, but if the snap's not right, your male qualities are more obvious than you'd like.

That did send me into a bit of a tailspin - "Pull up! You're too low!" (name the film) - it didn't last too long and other than a few stabs from the Pink Fog, all was well. Strangely, about three days later, another trans friend posted very similar body image feelings. Surprising in that I always thought of her as very stylish and seemingly happy with her image. I guess we all have our insecurities and while I think the trans mentality is a particularly interesting mix, it is by no means just our own. I know from chats with female friends, that some of them won't allow a photo to be put online, or taken in some cases.

It's easy to say 'be happy with what you have', although maybe that is the choice that I, and perhaps others have. Sure, you can diet, you could even have surgery. Although, like a lot of things, the rub is what is achievable rather than what is possible. Much as I'm a day dreamer, I still have my feet very much on the floor over what I think can be done.

Navel gazing aside, it's coming to the end of November and the Xmas season is very much upon us. Time to crack on with the gift wrapping and start think about putting the tree up. Plus, party season: fancy frocks, fine footwear, fab friends and.... I've run out of Fs. Umm. Music? :-) What's not to like? Talking of parties, I may try and punt out some invitations to the old guard and see what happens. Be nice to catch up.

Take care,

Friday, November 14, 2014



How are you all doing? After last week's blog birthday celebrations, I am quite worn out. :-) Then again, maybe it's the late night I pulled, after being out at Chameleons and then visiting the all-night supermarket to grab some supplies. When will I learn eh? :-)


On the way to work, I listen to the radio - Radio 4 in the main, because I'm incredibly middle class and a bit farty. As in arty farty, rather than just full of gas, although... But self-depreciation aside, it might well be more because I don't like a lot of the music they play on the radio. Even as a yoof I didn't, but I'm drifting off topic. :-)

This month I've heard two news stories about former prisoners. Both men had completed their sentences for serious crimes. One of them had completed a life sentence for murdering policemen, the other, a convicted rapist. Now, I'm not going to go into the arguments about their guilt or in's & out's of the cases. No, my question is this - or perhaps more accurately, my initial question is: if you commit a crime and you complete your sentence (and are deemed not to be a threat to society or yourself), at what point are you deemed to have 'done your time' and you can rejoin society?

On a personal note, my (late) sister was involved in a road traffic accident many years ago. The anniversary - if you can call it that - of her death, was this month just gone. The accident didn't kill her outright, more complications during treatment much later on. That aside, the cause of her accident was one man. What should have happened, is that he should have not turned in front of her - and I'm trying to not use any loaded language, at this point. For whatever reason, he didn't and the die was cast.

I met him for the first time at the inquest. We sat about five foot apart, while the evidence was given. It was the same day I saw the Police photographs of what happened. The reports, the images, the analysis of what an awful, bloody mess the whole thing was.

What I remember, is just.... sadness. Grief, if you will, or loss. Knowing that I'd never see my sister again. But... I didn't feel angry toward him. At the end, when it was time to leave. I went up to him. My voice, in that terribly restrained, British whispered: "I'd like you to know... that I don't feel any ill will towards you. It was a terrible accident. I'm not angry with you."

That man was banned from driving. He lost his job and then his house. I'm not saying his actions aren't without repercussions - I mean, if you've got someone whose driving record isn't great, I guess you'd want to try rectify that. :-)

I think the lack of anger was because I felt that throwing the book at him, wouldn't bring her back. Maybe it's different with accidental death rather than murders or sexual crimes. Thankfully, and let's not tempt Fate, I've no experience of the latter, nor has anyone I know of.

Maybe want I meant to ask is, are there crimes for which you can never be forgiven? If a person is truly repentant and somehow rehabilitated, what then? Where do you go, how do you live? Is your sentence not the four walls of your cell, but the fear you might have, should people find you?

On a lighter note....

On a less deep note, I've been following a few more Beauty Blogs (the joy of smartphones) and trying to pick up ideas. Ideas on new products and the ever challenging how to.

One article made me chuckle this week. It was a review of a lip stain by Rimmel. Provocalips 16 hour Kiss Proof, if you're curious. Well, as the famous advert says, it does what it says on the tin: stains your lips! :-) The reviewer, bless her, tried everything she knew to shift it, but it would not come off....

...and there was me thinking a cool, ruby red, matt lip stain would be perfect for the Christmas season. Maybe not. ;-)


I was in a bit of a quandary about what to wear this time around. Torn between leggings + top, dress or office smart, I laid a number of items out on the bed, in an effort to get an outfit together. In the end - and thanks to some Facebook suggestions - I opted for office smart. Not that that stopped me packing a 'fall back' outfit, should my plans not work.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J was kind enough to let me borrow one of her rather posh skirts, but it didn't quite fit. Bah, humbug! I also thought I'd risk sheer tights as a spot of variety. Odd, considering the current fashion seems to be opaques. :-)

Anyhoo, I was okay about my final look and I did make sure I didn't re-wear my best party shoes. No, these babies are even older. I think they might be my second pair. Again, New Look, but New Look shoes are fab. A good fit and so well priced. Perhaps it's a good thing there's not a shop close to my work, That could only end up with me requiring an extra wardrobe.

Take care,

Friday, November 07, 2014

Nine years later


Once more into the Blogger interface, dear friends, once more. I could continue to torture that fine piece of English writing, but probably best not too. :-)


I've missed a week, given that the Jones Massive were away on a much loved holiday. A week away over half-term, somewhere up north and on the coast. Very windy, rainy and somewhat cold to boot, but that didn't put us off. I over pack for Thursday, so we're not short of coats and waterproofs. However, my T powers must have been a little off, because the Ever Lovely Mrs J had to nip in and by some extra scarfs and gloves for us all. Still, brief periods of horizontal rain aside, much fun was had by all. Forest parks, cream teas and long walks on the beach.

Our week away was also Mrs J's and my wedding anniversary. Not quite twenty years together, but we're getting there. I did manage to sneak some new jewelry into the luggage for her, because she's worth it. Not every wife is as cool nor as accepting and I feel very lucky to have found her. If I hadn't, I doubt I'd be as happy as I am, nor probably as tired, as my lovely kids like to keep me busy, bless 'em ;-)


October was also another little anniversary. Back in 2005 I started this blog and, nine years later, I'm plodding along still. How life has changed. We've two kids now, both young, but certainly growing up into fantastic young people, and each very much, their own person. I'm a bit wider than I'd like to be, but that may be as much the holiday, as middle age. ;-)

Each time I prune the Blogs I Follow list, I feel a little sadness, that there's another one gone. I guess all things have their time, and maybe those who have stopped blogging, have other things to do with their lives. Maybe they are content with who they are, or are busy, that they don't have time for it. It's part of the reason I started the Our Different Journey story collection, although, perhaps, interviews would be more accurate. People come and go, yet having a record of those I've been lucky enough to meet, is for me, at least, good to have.

This month, Calie, she of T-Central fame, was kind enough to ask me to put a few words together about this blog and also about me. Well, the post is now up, so if you're a new reader: hello :-) As the post says, I thought it would be fairly easy to rattle off a few lines about what YATGB is and me.... but it wasn't. Part of me felt - and I still do - that this was a bit of an opportunity. I could blah on - as I am now - or, I could take the chance to put a message out. I'll let you read the post and make up your own minds.

Oh, one thing that made me chuckle, is that one of the T-Central bloggers, has taken three of my photos and it's a bit like a short history of the looks I've tried. I did like being a redhead, although I think a darker version would work. If you look from the right to the left, it looks like I've grown my hair out. Which, I think is quite an achievement seeing it's artificial.

Too fab for one gender? Then why decide!

In other news, a Facebook friend put a link up about The Mirror's article on being 'bi-gendered'. From a positive stance, I think the article is well written and is sympathetic. Props Ria (Ryan) and Krystal, her partner, on coming out. Also, to The Mirror for getting it right, IMHO, because the piece is a far cry, from some of the horror stories (pardon the pun), put out by other aspects of the media. There's video from a well known daytime TV programme too, which adds more and is worth a watch. Oh, you may need to enter your UK postcode (assuming this isn't on YouTube somewhere).

Rocking the goth look. x
Do I get the term? Hmm.... I'm not sure. Not from I don't believe it's a real thing, nor to snub Ria's own identification. Maybe I am old-fashioned and I'm Trans 2.0, and the next generation are Trans 3.0? There's a gap for a Star Trek gag if you can be bothered (to go fabulously where no one as gone before....!) :-) So, iffy gags aside, is being bi-gendered a bit like being trans-something-or-other (waves) and being out? If so, I think I can get my head around that. I am, for the most part, in the closet, but if being bi-gendered is the next wave for people who don't want to be full time A or B, then I think that's very cool. Whatever it is, good luck to the pair of them.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, October 24, 2014

A top night out


Rejoice, smile and praise, for it is half-term and that means a break from the red tape machine! Freedom for the Every Lovely Mrs J and myself. No more meetings, no more school run panic and hello to lie-ins, cuddles with the kids and lazy afternoons. Get in. The countdown to not giving a ***t - that's hoot, BTW, Honestly! - has chimed and coincided with the opening of a bottle of beer and the snaffling of a very tasty tea.

Last night was party night at Nottingham Chameleons and it was one of those nights, were everything seemed to go well. For those of you who aren't so interested in What Lynn Did Next, feel free to check the blog roll to the right for deeper conversations ;-)

Still here? Don't say I didn't warn you. :-) With the Dad duties out of the way, I made my way through the evening traffic and then through the fitness crowd who were busy doing some stretching exercises outside the centre. It did look very intense and I think I'll stick to walking the dog and taking the kids on bike rides.

Talking of the latter, Little Miss had her first bike ride without stabilisers last weekend. I was so proud of how hard she tried and she's really come on. Wee Man took a little longer, but a) he's like me and b) he was a little younger than her. Each child is so different, but equally lovable. Plus, it being half-term, we get a week together, which'll be great.

Mind you, if I don't start doing a little more exercise, I think I'll need to replace the corset's ties with steel cabling. I've put two pounds on this week... and another pound from last week. I think the working lunches aren't helping - well, sarnie at me desk, rather than going out for a brisk walk. Must sort that out... Mind you, extra bumps + tape + corset equal better cleavage. Hello boys, where'd you come from? A: chocolate factory.

I had a text earlier in the week from Dorothy Perkins saying that my new dress had arrived. I've not got/had a black dress and seeing a sweetheart cut dress in 'tall', was a chance too good to miss. So nice to have a dress that sits just on the knee, rather than shooting up upper-thigh when you sit down. I do love on-line ordering and being able to collect items from the shop and not having to pay delivery (nor be in to accept it), is the cherry on the cake. Mrs J was kind enough to give me a lift, as her car was being fixed that day. So, we had lunch on the way, because it's good to have some time on our own once in a while. Oh, I treated her to some jeans, which I then had to take back and swap, but that's what T-hubbys (tranny tubbies?! :-D ) do right? :-)

I team my new dress with some fancy tights and some killer heels that the Ever Lovely Mrs J was kind enough to let me borrow. Not sure if the wind around ankle straps can be seen in the photo. You can't make out the heel height and this was pre-platform too. Oh, how we suffer for our art, eh? :-) Ready unusually early (for me) and also, completely happy with my outfit, I headed downstairs to ming... sorry, mingle. :-)

The night, I felt, went well, with lots of people chatting: new people, regulars and regular irregular as a certain lady would describe herself (R x). I caught up with Isobelle, who I'd not seen in ages... indeed, I think it might have over a year. Strange how the trans lifestyle plays out; sometimes, people zip in and zip out, like comets around those of us with more stationary orbits. :-)

Plenty of tea lights and subdued lighting, helped make our large room, seem more cosy and welcoming too. A very nice touch, IMO. Sandi and Tracey did their very best with fetching and delivering the Chinese food which went surprisingly quickly. A note to future visitors: if Chams have a meal night, be quick, don't hang around being polite and gassing.... like Muggings here ;-) Sandi and Tracey were also very kind, in that they gave me a birthday card for last month. I won't go into what was written inside; I was very touched. It's the little things isn't it.

There was, as usual, plenty of food to go around, all comedy gags aside and I took some home with me. The kids certainly enjoyed the spare ribs and I think our hound loved the spare special fried rice. All in all, a very nice segue into the week off.

Look after yourselves,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Do walk into the light


All is quiet at Jones Towers. The Ever Lovely Mrs J is out with the girls and Wee Man is having a stop over at Granny's. Little Miss is fast on, having enjoyed a hot bath, after her school disco. She certainly has plenty of energy and our love of dancing. I took earplugs, because there are only so many times you can hear One Direction without wanting to chew your own hands off. :-)

Talking of ears, my first set of posh earrings arrived today. I have also ordered some others for the Lovely Mrs J, as it'll be our anniversary in a few weeks and stocking up for Xmas, isn't a bad idea, either, IMO. Would Be Do Gooder Husband that I am, I try, and while having a *ahem* gender enhanced hubby may not be to everyone's tastes: it does mean that when I'm sent shopping to buy Mrs J's friend birthday gifts, I don't return with an iron, or a red leather thong. Well, not unless that was on the list. We shall see how said gifts are received when my lovely wife comes home. Much as I love gift shopping, the slight touch of fear over 'have I bought the right thing?' is always there. Perhaps if I didn't give a hoot, that wouldn't be there, so maybe that's a good thing?

It's half term in a fortnight, so I'm on a mental countdown to a holiday. Hmm. Mental. Seems topical ;-) Work has... sadly got to me a little and after a few nights of poor sleep, I managed to get in touch with the Big Boss. Who, is, by the way, very pleasant and she's not at all a Pointy Haired Boss - if you read Dilbert. No, those f***ers are all stuck in middle management :-P

We had a long chat about my working conditions and the issues around my job being changed from what I do, to more paper shuffling and box ticking - I won't go into the gory details. She knows I've had a walk through the dark woods of depression; I make no secret of this if anyone asks me directly. I may be in the closet about being trans, yet oddly, I feel no stigma about having had a mental illness and having recovered from it. Sh** happens, as they say. :-)

That figurative woodland is long behind me, but if I stare back far enough - to torture the analogy a little more - it will always be there. Sometimes my path takes me closer, more often, further away. This past week, I have walked under the branches and stared back into the depths. Felt the coldness of inaction and dare I say, the welcoming whispers that it would be okay to stay and wallow in the sadness for a time.... which is, a lie. There's no comfort there. There's no sunlight to penetrate the gloom. If you let walk yourself too long in its shadows, there's a risk that the introspection begins and that, IMHO, is not a good thing. On comes the Second Guessing, the Reconsidering, the If Only.... Bad walking companions by all accounts; unhelpful guides that will only take you deeper. :-)

So.... why do I raise the above? Well, other than to give me something to write about? :-) It was because it was raised in the meeting: how are you holding up? The truth? Not well, I replied. Some sleepless nights and I know the warning signs when I'm beginning to slip back. I also know that, ironically, keeping the right type of busy is best for me. I don't want to be signed off, although I know that would be easy. The doctor offered me that in the past and I thanked him, before turning him down. I had only two days away from work when I was ill and that was only when things, were really, really bad.

Of course now, things are not like that and I am hopeful things will pick up. The conversation has cleared the air and again, maybe set things in motion for me and some of the people in my team too. So, my mental state has not been the best, but I didn't sink back into the depths and the fight ain't over yet.

I'm off to have a look at some little black dresses because it costs nothing to window shop. ;-)

Look after yourselves,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Go forth and be fabulous


It has been a week of highs and lows this time around. The good news is that I had a very good night out at Chameleons. Unusually for me, I was ready fairly quickly and by luck or fortune, I felt okay about my outfit, rather than being plagued by self-doubt and second guessing.

We had a number of new visitors to the group, as well as some returning folk. One visitor would I guess be FTM - female to male, for those not down with the gibberish - if we're going to play the label game. His female friend had come along for moral support and it was so good to see many of the group, rally round and offer support and to listen.

Much of what J had to say about feeling wrong (my words, not his), struggling with depression (as have many others in our group), even jealousy over people who are in the gender he prefers, not being able to be true.... all of these points rang bells for me and I could see as people talked, that they had similar stories. I guess, we might be on different paths, but we're all on a very similar journey. All you can do is be there, listen and offer help if it's wanted.

Now, in the handful of years I've been answering the group's email, I think I can only recall about four emails from FTM folk, and the bulk of our membership is MTF (male to female). Three such emails have been this year alone, so I wonder if we're seeing a change in society around this? I am hoping so, because I think it would be great to see the group's support capability extend and stay relevant.

Conversation with J's friend, who's name I didn't catch, sadly, was interesting too. I think what non-trans people have to say about how it might feel to be like us, and how they feel society is, is pertinent and often promotes polite discussion. Comments about what is normal? to their story of how they came to be involved.


I was going to mention work and how it's become a.... bun fight, and that's probably the politest way to describe it.  [ delete delete delete ].  I am finding it very hard at the moment to remain positive and it's really upsetting me. I'm trying to book a chat with the big boss (who is very rational and approachable) to see what can be done. I really don't need this type of stress, but enough about this sh**, there are nicer things to think about.


While out on Thursday, a trans friend - I'll spare her blushes - and I had a chat about what she'd been up to. These infrequent visits are accompanied by tales of this, that and the other: life sped up in some ways. Part of the chat, she said she checked this blog from time to time (waves) and asked why I blogged. Well, there is a question..... :-)

Much of this blog is very mundane because life is like that. It's slow, mostly quiet and there are thankfully, only occasional pips of drama to remind you of luck and accident. Hopefully, more of the good luck, than the other. I write about the everyday, well everyday-ish, because I don't feel it would be accurate to only blog about super-exciting things all the time. Mind you, given how I live, there wouldn't be a weekly post if I did that. :-)

Another aspect is that by writing, I can explore my thoughts and.... now this will sounds nuts..... sort of have a conversation. Get my thoughts out there. That begs the question, if I'm only doing that for me: why make this blog public? Why not keep a diary?

I think a deeper truth is that this is one of those public-private things. Yes, this is a blog and yes it's public, but it's so buried in the noise of the Interwebs, that it just goes under the radar. Silly really, because if there's one thing true about the Internet, other than there's a site for every fetish, there's not really any such thing as privacy. :-)

There is also the aspects that I can ask you guys for advice, or I can write about a topic and you give it without me asking. That, I do like. I guess it comes back to my comment above about non-trans people at the group: I get to hear your story, what you think and feel. Sometimes you have a lot to say, sometimes you don't and that's fine.

Lastly, before I came out and I was struggling with who I was (and perhaps, even what I was), I read a number of other blogs. Becky's World, Jo Angel, etc. Blogs that have since quietly slipped away for whatever reason. They may have gone, but for me, their positive message that it's okay to be trans, stuck with me. I've said this here and at Chams: if I can do this trans stuff anyone can.  There's no special secret: you just need to believe in yourself. Now, go forth and be fabulous!

L. xxx

Friday, October 03, 2014

A gift of calmness


This morning I was late in for work, as I had an appointment at the local doctors' surgery. Nothing serious mind, which is all good news. I was due to see said health profession at 9.30, which gave me half an hour to kill, after dropping Little Miss off at school. Wee Man has been away all this week and while there was a brief moment of '....and relax...' as there was only one bedtime routine to do, I have missed him and the place wasn't the same without him. Far too quiet and a distinct lack of family banter.

Where was I? Oh aye, post-school run. :-) With 30 minutes on my hands, I could have gone home for a bit (and worked remotely), or I could head into the village - okay, small town, more like - and potter about. Having done a number of lates at work, I decided on not working remotely.

Instead, I parked the car on the outskirts of the village, just off the road near a nature trail and wandered slowly through the old houses. I wasn't in a rush, and although my new mobile works a treat at home, in the village itself, I don't get any mobile Internet. This has, oddly, turned into a bit of a blessing. Freed of the want - and ability - to check t'Interwebz and anti-social media, I find myself doing most non-modern pass-times: looking at the world and doing very little. :-) In all honesty, I can thoroughly recommend this.

A wander along the road let me take in the different types of building, a pause by one that was listed as being 18th century. Yes, the village, like a lot of Britain is that old. I pass another of the local pubs I've not been in. Then, into the village cafe and then a very pleasant sit down with a hot chocolate. Again, no mobile signal and - thankfully - no TV blaring out. Just a view out of the window to watch the world go by and nothing to do until 9.25. No emails to check, no calls to make, no one to answer to: just me and some empty time.

I concentrate on the drink I have in the mug before me. The rich aroma, the taste, its heat as a swallow. There is no room for my mind to wander, just time dwelling on this. A food meditation, which like a breathing exercise, I seem to find quite calming [ seems I'm not alone in this ]

The time passes, I pay, say thanks and leave, before making my way to the quack new doctor. After that, I must go to work.... but let's not take the quick route eh? There's path back through a small wood and on such a lovely day as this, why not tarry a little? Be rude to waste the chance ;-)

Take care,

Friday, September 26, 2014

Standing up to the fear


There's a bit of recurring theme when it comes to Friday night's blog. During the week, I store up ideas for things to write about, or rifle through my stash on drier weeks, and yet, oftentimes, I find myself staring at this empty white box. Not stuck for something to say, but running a monologue, trying to find a way to start the conversation - such that it is - and get going. It seems, as I read in a writing tips newsletter, to just 'have at it' - well, it was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, last week - and get going. As per, that seems to have done the trick. Umm... yarrr? :-)

Part One

There are times when something a little.... random comes along in your working life. We're going through a reorganisation at work, although this won't be about this directly. As part of it, we're all having to go through a touchy-feelie course to empower us. Yes, that word :-) As I was saying to a workmate, accept the fear, and act hasn't really been a problem for me, nor I'd wager a large portion of the team I work in. They're a brave bunch and have never been backward at coming forward. Yet, we're all going through this process, of what I can only describe as corporate self-help.

Now, I don't mind this type of stuff (generally speaking). I find a bit of naval gazing and pondering how things could be more idea, truly fascinating. You would think, I'd be in like Flynn when it comes to my turn in our little work group, but no. Ignoring my feelings that I don't think this will actually and truly help us change how we work, when it came to the session, I clammed up. There we were, about eight of us and a session leader, to help *cough* inspire us and direct discussion.

For me, it felt too much like group therapy and feelings I hadn't had in a long time, came rushing back, as I sat listening to the others. Eventually, it was my turn to speak. "Do you have a stand up moment: one where you felt afraid and yet stood up to the fear? One you'd like to share, Richard?" I was asked.

Time slows and my brain goes into overdrive.....
  • I stand in with my hand gripping the handle to the front door. I am dressed in a long skirt, flat boots and a jumper. The autumn leaves dance on the hedge as a gust catches them. I have never been outside before and my heart is beating like I've run a race. Next-door are out, I watched them leave and I am only going to the car to fetch something I need for work. I swallow, breath slowly and pull the handle down. Outside is bright and cars are passing at speed on the road far away. I step outside and my boot heel clunks loudly, announcing my presence like a gunshot......
  • The Ever Lovely Mrs J is driving and Wee Man is in his car seat, gurgling happily after his nap. We're almost home. My stomach is doing its best impression of the Gordian Knot, and yet I know, if I do not ask, I will not be able to sneak out. That's not how these things go. We crest the hill, hear our house and finally, I find my voice: "How do you feel about me going out next month?" I ask. Mrs J nods and makes that go on noise people do without speaking.. "It's to a trans group: up in Arnold." My mouth is dry as I wait. We have a chat about me being safe, who will be there, will I need to leave dressed and will I stay for the bedtime routine?
  • I sit in the doctor's chair and he looks at me patiently. It's too late to back out now. Memories of a conversation with one of his colleagues, plays back. Talk about 'why not take a holiday' echo in my mind. I think back to crying over the bath, as I run it for my baby daughter, or staring at the wall at work, pretending to think. Or, more accurately, pretending I am thinking, because I sit: unfeeling, uncaring about anything: just afraid that how I feel now will always be like this.
    He asks me how can he help and I feel tears spill down my face. Instantly his manner softens and he moves a box of tissues close to me. "I think... I think I might be depressed," I chuckle darkly. "My wife said I should come, because I'm not myself. I'm angry all the time and when I'm not.... I have no joy for anything." I wipe my eyes. "I just want to be happy again." He nods and asks me a serious of questions that help grade depression and my first step to recovery starts.
  • I'm in Leicester, out with a a group of trans friends and we've finished our meal. It's time for goodbyes, to melt into the night and for some of us, to go back to being dad. I check my watch and it's just after 11. The streets are busy and the only way home, is back to the car park on the other side of town: a good twenty minute walk. If only I'd followed the directions, I tell myself. Still, too late now. I wave goodbye, open the door and head out into the busy scene. No one says anything, no one calls out. It's dark and I'm just another tall woman in a coat in the crowd. You don't blend in when you're six foot and you're wearing heels. All you can do, is face the world head on and smile. I hold my head up and walk back to my little car. I get in, lock the door and shrug out of my coat. I steady my hands and then drive back.
  • I have practised my lines and I've got the routine memorised. I hear my name being called and I bound to the stage, zipping towards the light from the back of the room. I take the mic from the host, say good evening everyone and then my mind goes blank. I have nothing. My thoughts are gone: replaced by the glare of the spotlights and the slowly fading reply. I give a big smile and launch into filler material. I impro, I joke with someone from the audience and I wing it until The Fear ebbs away and I feel my memory come back.

I say none of the above. The feel too personal, or in the case of the latter, to me-me-me. Which is nuts, because we're here to talk about ourselves and you would think, a professional gobshite and rabid keybashing blogger like myself would find plenty to wax lyrical about......

It is too much like group therapy and I feel my throat beginning to tighten. A feeling I've not had for decades. I say: "I almost didn't come to today's meeting. Some of you may know, I've been through CBT - a therapy course, if you like - about depression a few years ago. This, to me, feels too much like that and if I'm honest, Excuse me, I'm starting to well up, just talking about it, which is crazy, because I'm open about what happened and I feel no shame for having had a mental illness." I pause, take a breath. "I'm struggling to come up with a Stand Up moment. I don't have problems at work standing up for who I am, nor for others, nor for what I believe in." I see the group leader about to cut in and wait. She asks about a personal one and I reply: "Nor in my home life. I don't have a problem with fear. Except," I pause and laugh. "Ironically, the fear about coming to this, which I've walked through."

We spend the next ten minutes talking about something next to nothing and if I'm honest, I can't remember what half of it was. What I do know, is another member of our group was equally unhappy as this prospect of 'group sharing' and I'm not convinced it will help us long term. I'm happy to be proved wrong and that's fine. I do think there will be tears before bedtime if people are going to pry into people's personal lives and try and amend their world view.

We're all due back in the room in about four weeks and in that time, I've got to flesh out my 'storyboard' about embracing fear and acting on my wish to 'find a use for this technique and help others.'. Crazy. You would think someone who likes this type of self-help stuff would be more in tune, but to me.... it feels too much like a psychobabble CBT-like snake-oil gig.

Part Two

Most of this week, I've been camped out in another office, busily bashing away on an old laptop. A workmate passed me an old SSD and after some hardware tinkering, said lappy is now much faster. It's almost like having a new machine. Anyhoo, the screen was too low for me and that gave me a bad back (rock on, eh?). Despite my back starting to lock up and then some top quality pain meds from the doctor, I was determined to make Chameleons this week. If I could keep moving, despite a bit of serious 'owage' I did feel better and as we trans folk know, a few hours in heels works wonders, right?

Despite a bit of a flap over packing, I did get my outfit sorted and Kim was kind enough to gift me the corsets she'd promised as a swap for the boots I'd given her. Despite me offering her extra pennies, she was adamant. Control knickers and tights on, it was time to try a corset for the first time. It took me a while to work out how to open the back ribbons out and with some help from Kim, I got into it and tightened it up.

Now, I've got a bodyshaper from Figleaves and its very good IMO. It is not, however, anything like a corset. As I pulled on the ribbons, the corset did its magic and pulled my waist in. I breathed in, felt myself push against the sides - not uncomfortably so - and tightened up a little more. I stood and took in the view in the mirror: I already had hips from the padding I use, but now my waist went in: much more tapered than the thicker trunk-like torso I normally have. The added bonus was the *ahem* extra chest material, that when taped and shaped into a bra, really gave a good cleavage too.

Dressed and changed in an unusually quick time for me, it was downstairs to mingle and say hi to people. We have a number of new folk come for their second and third visit, which I always like to see. We had some laughs and chuckled about some groups referring to us as 'a knitting circle'. Well, Chams is very laid back and gentle: but I don't see that as a bad thing.

With September and October having a number of birthdays in it, we'll be having a party soon, so I guess I best get on with updating the web site.

Take care,

Friday, September 19, 2014

Personal choices


It's been one of those quiet, yet busy weeks this time around. While not much has happened, work and home life have been a bit of a blur. The Ever Lovely Mrs J has been away for work, which means Yours Truly has been wearing the parent hat full time. Don't get me wrong, it's great to do so, although it did mean I was a lot more tired than usual. I suppose it's the mix of an earlier start - to make sure Wee Man gets dropped at his friend's house - and then the rush through work, before it's time to pick up and make the tea. How do working women manage eh?

With Mrs J away and when the kids were younger, I would be working my way through my closet and no doubt, practicing my make-up routine. Yet, in the last few years, and possibly due to the luxury of regular nights out, I no longer feel the need. Instead, it was comfy socks, a few episodes of Hemlock Grove and a large mug of tea, before turning in for the night.

No, I don't know about you, but there's only so much TV I can watch, before I get a bit restless. The need to do something..... a bit more creative. Well, in my case at least, bashing the keys around until something that looks vaguely acceptable appears. :-) After last time's success in shifting the Our Different Journey pages over, I thought about doing something else like that. Well, a fixed bit of content, rather than a regular blog post.

I've tried my hand at emptying my brain over some reviews. Hopefully, not so much this is pants, buy this instead, but more.... businesses or products I've found useful over the *cough* *mumble* years I've been crossdressing (Ed: since the 90s?). I'd like to point out this doesn't make me an expert, by any means. Hell, I'm always wary when any visitor at work introduces themselves as an expert. :-) Personally, the more I learn about something, the more I realise there is more to learn!

But flippancy aside, I'm hoping to increase this reviews page as more ideas come to me. I am trying to do it from a personal stance, so if you do have something that works for you, feel free to share in the comments section. That doesn't mean I'll be posting it back to the reviews page.

Anyway, I hope you find it useful and if not, you know where the comments box is ;-)

Take care,

Friday, September 12, 2014

When in doubt, overpack.

Hey folks,

While shuffling a new monitor on my desk, I found a large round pebble. Nothing particularly exciting about that. It was grey, well worn and smooth to the touch. Perhaps one from a river, or the sea then? Turning it over, I smiled briefly, noting that I'd written Robin Hood's Bay, 2012, on it. It was then that my mind drifted, back to a pleasant stroll along an autumnal beach. hands behind my back and the sea air gently blowing in my face. Gone, was the hubbub of the office, and the ring of telephones; just me and a moment of tranquillity. So, is that a greater part of what life is? No, not messages on metamorphics, or scrawlings on sedimentaries, but series of small, happy events.

Regular readers may remember that I've moved the Our Different Journey content, to a page on this blog. Rachel has been kind enough to add her journey to the collection. That reminds me, I need to pick up my 'things that help' page too, but that's for another time.

It was Chameleons this Thursday, and Wednesday night, I was at a loss of what to wear, and therefore, what to pack. With both wardrobe doors open wide, I stared at the items hung up, but nothing spoke to me. Not literally, I might add. That's a) a bit bonkers, or b) a bit to Silence of the Lambs, for my liking. :-) More accurately, I can look through what I have, and have a feeling for what I'd like to wear and what may go together. This time, however, whatever inner guidance system I use, clearly, the batteries needed changing.

Remember T-rule #2: When in doubt: overpack. :-)

#1. No one talks about T Club, but it's okay to post pictures
#2. When in doubt, overpack
#3. More is less, unless it's more shoes, which is fine.
#4. Be as out as you feel comfortable with
#5. Know your exits and know you exist. You are a person and you're okay.

Skipping forward to Thursday, I was hauling my rather heavy bag up the stairs to get changed. I was, as a rare treat, slightly earlier than I would normally be. The doubt that I'd felt before had melted away, replaced by a feeling of what might be. Maybe, I said to myself, you ought to think less - worry less, even - and just enjoy more.

Bag open: I put the boots aside, that I'd bought for Kim (seeing as they were languishing at the back of my cupboard), and quickly sorted through what I was going to wear (see right). I was in a mood for a skirt. Don't ask me why, sometimes it's a dress day, jeans-day, or leggings-plus-ballet-pumps: today, it was skirt and top. I had replaced the medical tape I'd lost and coupled with the fact, I've not been out walking as much as I should, there was... umm... ample working material shall we say. :-)

Getting made up is somewhat of a strange thing. Okay, I'll gloss (!) over the social comedy (?) of a guy in full make-up, and say this instead: when I start to do my face, there comes a point when who I see back in the mirror, is less bloke with make-up, and more.... well, umm, more, not 'me'. I guess the change in skin tone, the use of liner, eye make-up, powder, and everything else, the everyday face I am used to seeing, goes away a little. This time around, it was as I applied powder and eyeliner, that that happened. Some days, it's much later, or even, not until I put my wig on. Go figure.

Talking of Kim, she reminded me about that eye make-up demo I'd promised her. Sophie had also popped in to say hi, so listened in too. I felt a little odd, but at the same time, hopeful that maybe what works for me, might work for someone else. Again, another little moment. Pat was back after a number of months away (eye op), so it was very much an evening of reunions.

Downstairs was busy, with at least six new people. Three people on their own and a family of three. It's rare we get families come along, and as Alison and the others, were looking after them, I felt it best not to barge my way in. All went well and a quick tot up at the end of the night, meant we'd covered the rent, rather than running at a slight loss.

All in all, a series of small, good happenings, making for a great evening. That was topped off by much larking about with Sophie and some snaps. Well, it wouldn't be a night out to Chams without some photographic evidence. ;-)

Take care,

Friday, September 05, 2014

To travel in hope....


According to the Blogger Challenge I signed up for, this time's chat is supposed to be around New Beginnings.

A brief spot of family news before we move on the main course, as it were. :-) Wee Man has finished his first week at big school. He's doing okay, and I'm proud of him for being brave, doing his bit in getting up and - to use a well loved 90s phrase - getting his sh** together :-). There was a minor incident between from kids who thought they'd try it on, in winding Wee Man's best mate up. He stepped in, gave them some serious - and rather witty verbal - to send them packing. Good on you, lad!

So, New Beginnings? This last month, I've had a bit of a change at work. Sadly, not to more *ahem* interesting attire, but you can't have it all ;-) The change has been to working again in a project team. Here, I'm doing the organising, running meetings, scheduling tasks, leading people in making decisions and generally, getting stuff done. The latter, for me at least, has been a true breath of fresh air.

For many months - perhaps even the last two years - I've coasted along, trying to get out the dead end, that my job was turned into. I think, like much in life, you have to fight for what you want and for what you believe in. It can be tiring, but I'm not willing to back down and become a screen watcher. I didn't join the company I did to sit there and be just a cog in the machine. I want to make new things and make IT work for people. IT should, IMO, be something that helps you - yes, you - get stuff done, not get in the way.

The project work has been stressful, I've done longer hours than I would normally and getting the supplier to commit, has been like herding fog knitting cats. At least, I think that's the right phrase! ;-) But.... I have gone to work with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I have - dare I say this? - enjoyed, nay, loved it. It is as if I've woken up. This interests me and that fire makes me want to bring the project team along with me, and push the message that we can do this if we put our backs into it.

Will this continue? Possibly not, but I hope it runs for a bit longer and while I know this is truly I long shot, maybe I can move to do this full time? It would certainly be a very welcome change and could give others a chance to fill my old role.

So, yeah. Right now, I'm very much feeling the message in the quote "...for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive..."

Take care,

Friday, August 29, 2014

Walking the line


I don't know how many posts it is now, nor the years that have ticked by, but making the first mark on the page - so to speak - doesn't get any easier. Lots of ideas and suggestions pop into my muddled brain, but it's only when I take a deep breath, dive in and prattle away madly, like now, that I seem to be able to get going.

Today I saw a poster about elderly LGBT people and their care needs. The poster had a snappy title about not wanting to go back in the closet. Getting old isn't something I really think about, although, with luck, it will arrive very slowly and there'll be a long, slow tail to my time on this rock. In many ways, I don't want to think about it. Not so much the worry about getting older and being less capable, but more that there may be people who I love, who are no longer here.

To a small extend, I was a little worried about a (trans) friend, as I'd not seen her for a number of weeks. I emailed, sent a text and the text came back as number not recognised. Said friend isn't on social media - yes, apparently some people are quite happy without Mr Zuckerberg's Advert Army not knowing about them. :-) - so I was at a loss as to how to get in touch. Anyhoo, Alison turned up and all was well. Just a combination of Real Life, work issues and whatnot getting in the way, not that it didn't stop me worrying something might have happened.

Talking of which, I had a lovely long chat with a new visitor at Chameleons. N. said she was very nervous about coming along, and, well, you do your bit to try and build a person's confidence. The chat was..... I think touching would be the best word. Somber, seems too harsh and wouldn't be accurate.... The conversation was about N's life so far and the sad loss of her wife just a few months ago. I simply listened, nodded and took an active interest in what N had to say, and how her life has played out in these last few months.

For someone who has been what she's been through, I think it showed remarkable courage of her to visit. I think that for those of us who've been active in the trans community, are sometimes, and I know I'm guilty of this, we find going out is second nature. I might be able to remember the first visit, but I can't remember my emotions (partly why I blog, I suppose). When I got home and before the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I nodded off, we had a little chat - pillow talk? - and she asked if this had made me sad. The answer, as I often say, is yes and no. I felt sad for N, but happy that - touch wood - I still have my family.

So, to go back to an earlier paragraph about elderly LGBT people; I wonder how our trans community will find retirement and possibly going into care. The trans spectrum is pretty wide and for a part timer like me, I know I wouldn't fancy a life 'back in the closet' should I go into a home. Well, perhaps I should say fully back in the closet, because I'm not all the way out, so to speak. I wonder if society will be ready for people who've had to - if you pardon the phrase - Walk the Line to get their much deserved respect and freedom to be who they are.

In minor news, I had a bit of a fashion fail on Thursday. To start with, I'd misplaced my boob tape... or fab plasters, if you prefer ;-) That didn't help. Then.... I'd borrowed a skirt from the Ever Lovely Mrs J which she rocks. But on me? I just looked washed out. Luckily, I had packed a spare (always be prepared), which was an old wrap dress. After all the thought about what to wear and the fact that my boobs (figuratively speaking) weren't quite right, I had one of those moments where you look in the mirror and what you'd hoped to achieve, is far from what looks back at you. I wonder, are we our own worst critics? Perhaps. When in doubt, reapply lippy, smile and make the best of it.

Oh, that reminds me. I've moved Our Different Journey to a new location. I should also say a quick thanks to Jonathan for the HTML assistance (thanks, chuck!). A few months ago, I noticed someone was re-posting one or two of the articles and that's not what the site was for. It was a record, a snapshot if you like, of trans people. It wasn't to be traded, or commented on, just there for reference. Partly because some people are in there who I no longer see, and partly because when I first started out, reading how others coped, helped me too. With a little luck, maybe the journeys will help someone else and with a little more, some new journeys will come in time.

Take care,

Friday, August 22, 2014



We're sliding towards the end of August with the cold fingers of September creeping ever onward. I, for one, am enjoying the cooler weather and the lack of Factor Fifty, merely adds to that. The nights are light enough and it's blackberry season too. The Summer Sales are pretty much well picked over and Back to School slogans shout from stores as we rev up for the new term.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J took Wee Man into town today to get his new uniform. I've not seen him in it and by odd happenstance, I found a picture of his first week at junior school. How he's grown, over the years. He's a kind, gentle soul and I hope that secondary school doesn't take that out of him. Certainly school seems to be different from when I was a kid - UK readers may like to hum Symphony for a New World at this point :-) - and a more sensitive school policy may not be a bad thing, in my book. Perhaps, in a similar way that our parents say their school days were different to ours.

Work, has been absolutely nuts. It's been some time since I've been involved in a project that is so disorganised. The firm have really left things to the very last minute and we're weeks away from the launch date. In some ways, it's good to be involved in something that keeps me busy and I don't mind a bit of organisation. People seem to be happy with me helping out, which is good; I mean, I wouldn't want to get in the way. I wonder how we managed to get people on the moon, when we can't seem to get a group of people to agree on simple things like photocopying costs and how posters should look. :-)

The only downside to this busy period, is that when I come home, my brain is a bit flat. I'm used to having some spare oomph at the end of the day, to channel into a spot of writing, blogging; rather than the psffft whummmm noise as my mind spins down like an old hard disk. Still, there must have been some slack left, as I managed to rattle off an article for another blog site. Hopefully, that will see the light of day later in the autumn.

Now, just the long weekend. Plenty of time with the Ever Lovely Mrs J and the nippers. Happy days.

Take care,

Friday, August 15, 2014

Leaving the woods behind


It's been a bit of an extended holiday for the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones and I. Last week, the Jones Massive were off Up North, to take in the wilds around Hadrian's Wall and stroll about other fantastic ruins. We also found a number of summer activities put on by English Heritage. If you do have kids, these free events are brilliant. Hands on stuff such as digging for artifacts in a sand pit, Roman Soldier drill, or dressing up as fierce Vikings. Hopefully, the stuff holiday memories are made of.

The extension has come is because Wee Man and Little Miss have been at my Mum and Dad's all week. I guess it's part of the modern life, that with both parents working, juggling the childcare with summer clubs, holidays and time off, eventually, you have to ask (very) nicely if your folks will help out. Which they do and the kids have a grand time and being away from home, it gets them away from the TV, Xbox and tablet(s).

So the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I have had some long walks in the park, with the hound (natch); a posh tea out and lots of lazing around. It's been a nice change and both of us are missing the nippers. Luckily we're picking them up this Saturday, so it'll be hugs all round and then it's off to a party at a friend's house.


With the kids being away, I had the good fortune to be able to get ready at home. Mrs J was cool about this and if I'm honest, this little luxury, really put a spring in my step for the week. It may sound a little silly, but being able to get ready at home - not that there's anything wrong with the facilities at Chameleons - it was a very welcome change and I enjoyed the ride there and back.

I had been flicking through the wardrobe and I found a dress I'd not worn in a while. I team that with footless tights, my new heels and some fancy earrings (not clip ons - again, something else to be thankful for). I had a good night out, plenty of chat and we had a research student pop in to hand out some questionnaires. These were about transphobic hate crime as she's part of a team looking into it's prevalence. Possibly, because a percentage of it goes unreported. [ NB: as happened to one of the Chameleon's members this week :-( ]

There was also an email to the group's inbox from a local radio station. They were asking if any of us would like to go on their morning programme and talk about Kellie Maloney, a former boxing promoter, who has come out about being trans. NB: you may also find this an interesting read from the BBC News site. I gracefully declined, because while offering to help with a spot of research, the group values its privacy and voices are somewhat of a give-away!

Robin Williams

By now, you've no doubt heard that the incredible talented Robin Williams ended his life this earlier week. I found this quite a shock, I suppose because you just expect him to keep on being in the background. I wouldn't say I was a big fan - in that I've seen all of his works, etc - but his comedy and improv abilities amazed and amused me in equal amounts. I didn't read how he took his own life and in all honesty, I don't want to. I would like to remember him for his brilliant wit and while he may have lost the battle to depression, he gave it a damned good fight.

If there's anything good to come of this, I've noticed a lot of positive stories about depression. Many people have talked it and encouraged people who may be feeling this low, that taking your life isn't the answer. It isn't. If may feel like it - and there have been split second moments in darker times, when That Thought creeps into your mind and whispers It will make it all stop. No one will mind..... Which isn't true. People will mind. People will miss you and the world will be less well off if you go. I didn't really get this until I came out of the other side and I can look back at those dark woods far over the hill. I did walk through them and many times, I fell down. Friends and family helped me back up and slowly but surely, I walked into patches of light and then back into the real world. The world where you can smile again and feel.

On another note, I was talking to a colleague at work and he mentioned that he was glad that I'd come out at work - for a moment I thought, sh**! The trans thing?- about having been depressed (phew!). He went on to say that he'd been through it [depression] twice (the poor bugger) and having someone at work stand up and say that they'd had it too, made him feel better about himself. We had a long chat about things and I thanked him for his kind words. When I did come out about it, it was partly for selfish reasons: I wanted to publicly apologise for anyone I'd been rude to. Depression can make you say the nastiest of things sometimes. I guess it manifests itself differently for everyone.


Calie - of T-Central fame - dropped me an email the other day. Apparently, the T-Central team are working on a new feature for the site and she's asked if I'd do a short piece for them. I guess I better stop playing Minecraft and put my thinking head on!

Take care,

Friday, August 01, 2014



Like the real thing, only better

The other day I was reading an article on BBC News with the title Graduation photographs offer 'digital slimming'. A bit of retouching for graduation snaps: teeth whitening, removing blemishes and, now, being digitally slimmed down.

I do wonder where all of this Photoshopping - to use a modern word - will end. We all know about 'shopped fashion shoots and the mascara *ahem* adverts. I'm waiting for a flying car to be advertised and then see the famous words: enhanced in post-production. :-P

That gripe aside, who are we kidding? Is it the people looking at the photos or ourselves? I mean, if I could tweak my photos (more on that in a mo), am I moving further from reality into fantasy, or am I just amending the balance here and there?

For the record, the only photo editing I do on my snaps - which I why I can use them to keep the kids away from the fire ;-) - is changing the colour balance (because flash and overhead lights aren't always a great mix), removing awkward signs (fire escape this way, etc) or getting shot of red eye.

On the other hand, I did have the good fortune to have my photo taken by a professional - any many years ago that was too. Debbie did a grand job with the lighting, getting me to (just about) smile and then giving the finished snaps, that magazine glow. I can't complain and I think she did it well enough, so that I didn't look unnatural.

Our Different Journey

Regular readers will know that I ran a blog called Our Different Journey a few months back. The idea, for those of you who don't know, was to ask the trans people I know a few set questions about their life. This was partly because I know that I do meet a fair few T people and through the years, we do lose touch and in some little way, this was a bit like a personal record of people I'd met and I thought they had a story to tell.

Perhaps not all It Gets Better, but I wouldn't be being honest, if there wasn't a little part of that. Most of the trans folk I know are regular, well adjusted folk, who just get on with their lives. Some are occasionals (waves hello), some a part timers and some are transitioning (or have finished in some cases).

Despite a good start, and a few later leads on volunteers, the site has been very quite for nearly a year. To that end, I've closed it off to the general public. Partly because someone was reposting the notes without asking and also because the site had gone all quiet. I may move some of the stories to this blog, under their own section, and time will tell on that.


Despite my initial thought that I didn't need another pair of heels.... I did fold and buy them. I couldn't resist the cute mid heel and that they were down to a snip at twelve quid (that's more than half price off). Armed with a browser and an intent to buy, I picked them up Thursday and had a spring in my step as I took them home.

I'd ordered two pairs - one pair in an eight, the other a more sensible nine. I can never tell with shoes from Dorothy Perkins. Sometimes they come up big and if the shoe's not a good fit, it's a pain to walk in. Anyhoo, the eights have gone back and the nines were spot on. Easy to walk in and not too tight either.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J tittered with delight when I showed her them. Another black pair? she teased, and with a little front strap too.  Never let it be said that I don't have a favourite design and I'm looking forward to planning an outfit around them too.

It's the little things. :-)

Take care,

Friday, July 25, 2014

End of an era


Summertime and the trick is not to be cheesy. :-) Yes, it's scorchio outside and my body, being just a wee bit Scots, isn't really liking it. I'm set up for temperatures that match the inside of the fridge and if summer is warmer than the fridge's light bulb, it's too warm for me. But enough grumbling, there are things to be happy about.

School's Out

Wee Man had his last day at primary school this week and both the Ever Lovely Mrs J and yours truly, was lucky enough to be able to attend. We were treated to an hour or so assembly, starting with photos of when the class first came to school. I did enjoy seeing how some of the kids had changed, but also, how many of them hadn't really altered.

There was a poetry theme with lots of the class reading items out and then a sort of 'open letter' type thing. Here, the kids had written letters of their favourite memory, or tongue-in-cheek apology letters over some comedy misadventures. All very good and then there was a video slideshow of the recent adventure weekend and they all looked so happy, that it brought a tear to my eye. Damned hay fever ;-) Luckily, I had come prepared with tissues, as I'm terrible at these type of things.

We had some more poems and then it was time for a big finish. Wee Man's teacher had put them in a pop video and got them all to act little parts of it. It was funny and touching at the same time. That really was the cherry on top and after that, the Head Teacher, then stepped up and praised each child on their qualities. It wasn't Sunscreen, if you remember that, and it was honest and I hoped the kids took the words to heart. There was them a quick prize giving routine for The Kid Done Well and then lots of applause, tears and hugs.

Wee Man is both incredibly proud of his teacher's efforts and he says he'll really miss her, when he goes to big school. One of his mates said "Puh, on to the next prison camp then," which while ten out of ten for faux rebellion, I think he missed out. The other kids have left with a spring in their step, a heart full of wonderful memories and more than just an excellent education.


Thursday was very warm, but I was determined to have a girl's night out (so to speak). We'll be away in a week or so, and after attending Chams in Bloke Mode, I didn't want to miss this chance. I packed my trusty white cotton summer trousers, some cage sandals and, due to some careful pre-planning, managed to get my toes painted in advance. Despite my best efforts to take a slice out of my nose - when will I learn, you don't rush with an old school razor?! :-) - I did manage to get out on time.

The evening itself was a quite affair, with I guess, the weather putting a lot of people off. That's not to say it wasn't a good night out. I got to catch up with folk I don't usually talk to, and for me, that was very refreshing.

Earlier in the week, Diane, like myself, had visited a local PhD student to help with her research. S is looking into Minority Stress and if the measuring scale used for LGBQ people, transfers readily to Trans people. Although there is some similarity, I think there are also some very big differences and those differences grow again, when you think about occasional cross dressers, part timers and full time people. S's plan is to draw up her own stress system and then provide evidence to prove, or disprove, there's a correlation.

S and I had a chat about which element of the Trans* community, the research would cover and it seems S is keen to use the word trans as inclusively as possible. Often, it seems that researchers are interested in talking to people who transition, but I think that's not the whole story. I can think of a few friends who identified - in their own words - as 'happy just dressing now and then', but after a few years, they've found that their true nature means they want to live full time. While these incidents may jump out to some people, most of my trans friends have remained in their birth sex, but I guess, it's what's right for the individual. There's no right and wrong answer.... well, other than socks & sandals = bad. ;-)

Talking of shoes, I saw a very nice pair of Mary Jane heels in Outfit's sale email. They were down to just twelve quid - well under half price! Much as I looked at them, and thought how nice a new pair of heels would be, I have three pairs of black heels as it is. So, I managed not to give into temptation. That's the second time this week, as the Ever Lovely Mrs J had been in New Look and they had a sale on too. That's two sales skipped over in eight days. I think there's something wrong with me. ;-)

Take care,