Friday, January 31, 2014

Down with the sickness


It's been a quiet week this time around. On Tuesday night - or Wednesday morning? - I woke up feeling very cold. Not the sort of cold you get when you've kicked the duvet off, or the heating's packed in either. Ah, hello random illness! I'll go prepare the spare room shall I? :-) I've been off all week feeling somewhat rough, very tired and unusually, not hungry. A small joy in all of this, although I don't seem to be getting thinner. Perhaps all the loafing around and sleeping hasn't helped the old walking routine.

Now, I have thankfully [touches wood] only had a few minor blips with my health over the years. Perhaps not a bad thing considering my mild hypochondria. It's a Virgo thing, although that might just be a symptom of something more serious... ;-) Weak gags aside, a broken arm [jumping on the sofa], a few bouts of food poisoning [death by egg? :-) ], the depression [ now long gone. Yay! ] and my broken collar bone [ car crash ]. So dare I say, I've had it pretty good compared to many folk.

Despite all the time I've had on my hands, I've done very little, except lie around, sleep and wander about doing that non-hungry cupboard search. You know the one, you go and look in the cupboards, see there's nothing that catches your eye, despite enough items to feed a small nation. Then you go back five minutes later, hoping that - as if by magic - the items have reshuffled themselves into something more interesting :-)

But that's not really what I wanted to talk about, although to does - I think - lead into it: my relationship with my body. At this point, I'd like to say that a few weeks ago I read a young lady's post entitled Dear Body. It was a very interesting read on her childhood issues and how she'd grown to become used to and finally like elements of how she looks.

That made me think. Being trans, our - okay, I'll stick to writing about how I feel, if you feel different, you know where to comment :-). Being trans, my relationship with my body has been complicated. Early childhood, you body didn't come into it really. Provided you have enough get up and go, you were off and that was that. In later years, I learned that I wasn't as strong as the other boys and my football ability was pretty poor. Mind you, what they gained in ball kicking excellence, I seemed to make up for in building Lego, or drawing (badly, but creatively I guess).

Skip to the teenage years and the Wookie Fairy descends on a moonbeam and sprinkles you with magic.... in a strictly non-vile way, I hasten to add. Say hello to body hair, smells and spots. I'd make a gag about being an Ork, but I got a complaint from the Goblinoid Working Collective last week and they were pretty miffed about such stereotypes. ;-) As a teenager, I wanted to be tall - just like my mates - yet there was also a bit of me, that didn't want to be tall. Would I be more passable if I was shorter? Ah, welcome to the mask, kid. Learn to blend in, keep your legs furry, your hair short and keep your head down ;-) Well, maybe item one, but the other three, not so much. Oops! :-D

So there have been times when I've been less than pleased with how I look. But, looking at the situation sensibly, things could be a lot worse. I'm healthy and daft as it may sound, I don't rue being a guy. I wouldn't be married to a very lovely lady, nor have two fantastic kids, if I'd taken an different path through life. I've got a big jaw, but then from an armchair psychology point of view, men with such features seem to go further in their careers. Maybe that's true, maybe it's not. It's not like there's a control subject we could compare the breaks to :-) Foot-wise, the Jones family will always need snowshoes in the winter. The Jones' men do not have big feet, so I'm nine, sometimes an eight, which makes buying fancy shoes fairly pain free.

As side note, I took Little Miss to a swimming party last week. She was so pleased with jumping in and out of the pool, I ended up taking her - and Wee Man - to the pool in the nearby town. Much fun was had by all and seeing Joe and Joanne Public in all their various shapes and sizes, is one way to put your own body issues to rest. One thing I did notice, is how lucky I am in the body hair department. Sure, I've got more than I'd like, but if I was like some of the guys there, I'd need to start shaving mid-afternoon in order to be ready for Chameleons. Small mercies eh?

Take care,

Friday, January 24, 2014

Check your six


Funny how some nights out seen to be damn near perfect. For those times, I think it's good to sit back and bask in the afterglow. Did anything amazing happen? No, not especially, but everything went to plan.

It all started to go right when the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I came to a mutually agreeable time on me going out. All was cool, calm and collected. Hell, I'd even managed to read to both kids and have a decent shave without damaging myself before leaving. As Bill or Ted would say: most unprecedented. :-)

Arriving at the venue, I was greeted by a group of folk waving their arms about while some other folk, in army fatigues, yelled encouragement at them. Funny how people choose to spend their evenings! Well, so I thought as I sat upstairs putting my make-up on ;-) Still, so long as they're not hurting anyone, what's the harm?

"Move it, Jones! Get those tights on. Don't ladder them, numbskull. Keep the seams straight on the toes. Move it, Jones! Move it, move it!"

BTW, five geek points if you read the above line in Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's voice from Full Metal Jacket. :-) I was pretty much ready when the shouting stopped and the bloke running the drill made them sing happy birthday to his colleague. I guess even drill sergeants have a heart.


Given all the glitz of the party season, I've started to look less at my Urban Decay colours, and more at the everyday palettes. I do like Urban Decay eye make-up, I think the shades are great, the colour goes on / blends nicely and they really do add to a party look. I've yet to save up for the Naked Palette, but maybe one day!

Anyhoo, the colours are all good when you're going out to a party, if you're looking for something more day to day, sometimes it's nice to take it down a notch and I think a bit of variety can be good. This time it was my trusty Model's Prefer set and despite a brief pause of oh, that's different, I was very pleased with the final result. Plus one on the good-mood-o-meter.

I'd taken two dresses, but the fitted one just wasn't working. It wasn't until I got home that I realised I'd been putting it on wrong. Duuhhh! So I went with a favourite wrap dress and some shoe boots I don't often wear, but I thought they worked given the hemline, so hey ho.

Oh and I got to try the other nail varnish that Sophie treated me to for Xmas. A rather fabulous red, with a wonderful finish. I really must start to log the better products. Maybe someone will find it useful! :-)

Money, money, money

The evening went well and later on I had a chat with Sandi, Tanya and Tracey over the rent situation. I did some totting up and given the new rent, we need to do one of two things: move to a cheaper venue, or increase the subs. The latter seems more preferable because the Temple Centre has some great benefits:

  • We have the run of the place after 8pm, which helps first time visitors. 
  • The council staff are a great bunch and are used to seeing us around. 
  • The place is fairly easy to get to being on the outskirts of Nottingham (most members are out of town and travel in)
  • Parking is excellent (lots of space, secure, private, etc)
  • The changing facilities are good (private, free with our booking, are a good size and not a set of loos!)

That's not to say we couldn't, or wouldn't move, but if we did, the new venue would need to be pretty special. Tanya mentioned a place near Sherwood which sounded good, so that's something to consider if we can't get our collective act together.

After a bit of basic maths - not my strong suit, I'll be honest - and it became pretty clear that we (the group) needed to sort things out over the subs. Now, I'm normally pretty good at plodding along, but when I think something can be sorted out with a chat, I'm afraid I'm a bit of a take charge kinda gal. I guess that's come from my mum, bless her ;-) So, a show of hands and some debate, the group's agreed to change the subs.

We're going to make it six pounds per visitor and four pounds for partners. We did debate the idea of reduced rates for the unemployed/retired, however, if we do that, we also need to increase the rates for working people. It's tricky to keep everyone happy - if indeed that is possible - but I think we've reached a happy medium. We did debate making it seven quid per visitor and keeping partners free, but that didn't go down so well. Personally, I don't mind paying seven quid, but I can understand that other folk feel differently. Luckily two of our regular partners offered to pay a reduced rate and that covers the shortfall nicely.

We're going to be stricter with the entrance policy. You pay on the way in, so no ducking the fee. Now, I think 90% of people pay without problem, so it's one or two people forgetting, or dodging it. I don't mind the former, I know there are times when it's been the end of the night and I've realised I've not put my money in. Ooops! But the dodging part is not so good.

The bottom line is we have to raise the money to pay the rent. We don't get a discount because half a dozen folk are retired. It's a shame we don't, but those are the breaks :-) So, it's all good - to coin a phrase - and I think this will secure our future for a bit. I still think that six quid for a night out is pretty good. You'd pay at least three just to park in Nottingham!

Looks like we're all okay, which is a very nice way to head into the new year. Here's too a good weekend!

Update: Grayson Perry collected his CBE award from Prince Charles this week. A quick Google will show you the outfit he wore - Grayson, not Prince Charles ;-) I find Grayson's views on art and commentary fascinating stuff. I'm not sure I agree with all of his views on being trans, but they are his views how he feels. Mine are only about how it works for me. However, this line from his wife, Phillpa made me laugh:

Football eh? The Every Lovely Mrs J said the same thing. Be careful what you wish for ladies! :-D

Take care,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cleaning up

Hi folks,

Larks, it's late - or, depending on your point of view, very early :-) Unusually for me, I've been playing a video game into the wee hours. Normally, it's web pages, blogs, podcasts and maybe a view tunes of yesteryear via YouTube on a Friday night....

Blogger Challenge

The challenge this week is to write about skincare: do you have a routine? Are there products you like to use?

A routine? Well, not really, no, I don't do the regular cleanse, tone and moisturise gig. The closest I think I get is the every-other-day use of a Clinique Facial Scrub for Men and the daily use of moisturiser. I have greasy skin, so I'm careful not to use too much. I don't have a particular favourite, the Boots stuff seems as good as anything else. That said, I do look out for one with a Sun Protection Factor. Going back to the facial scrub, I find that helps keep my skin smooth and it's not too harsh to use most days.

When I'm lucky enough to have a fancy night out, I use Take The Day Off to get rid of my make-up. That, and some Garnier Soft Essentials facial wipes. The bottle needs a good shake to mix the fluids up and then it's a case of letting it soak into the pad, and after resting against my skin, wiping slowly. Rubbing vigorously leads to red eyes and sore skin - I wish I'd known that when I first started! :-) Anyway, between them, they seem to do the trick fairly well. I don't know if it's the handful of hours under full make-up, or a combination of the shower, moisturiser and then post-night out cleansing, but my skin feels wonderful the next day! Going back to the early 90s, I'd use sun block and/or moisturiser. I guess I've always tried to look after my skin as best I can. I really don't like the feeling of rough or dry skin.

Does beard-care fall under skincare? Well, I'm going to talk about it anyway. :-) I've not had much truck with electric razors; they just don't seem close enough and they seem to take ages to get a reasonable finish. No, I much prefer a wet shave - when time permits, or the occasion demands. :-) I did use the Mach 3 blades or a bit, but of late, I've followed the advice on Lifehacker and moved to the old school safety razors. You know, the double sided single razor blade. You do have to take your time with that and it pays not to press on too firmly. Oh, there's an anti-cut stick you can get for a few quid from Boots. Works a treat, but it doesn't half sting when you put it on. :-)

That's my notes. Clearly there's lots of other choices: what do you find works for you?


Midweek, I downloaded the Grant Theft Auto series, as I thought I'd see how the games play out. GTA III was really showing its age, although Vice City seemed to be okay. So far, I'm slogging my way through the drive and fetch and drive and fetch parts of the game. Maybe I need to give it more time.....

But in the meantime, Steam are allowing free play on the last Saints Row game. I'd heard that the latter was a bit of a poor imitation of GTA, but I don't think there is. There's a lot more humour and all round silliness compared to some of the 'gangsta' games out there. Even Saints Row 2 - which seemed true to the beat down the other gangs and own the town formula, had various darkly comic parts. It also lets you design and dress your character any way you want to. So, for a gamer like me - and a trans gamer at that - that's an added bonus to mess about with outfits. Oh, should you decide to put your character in a hotdog suit, or a 50s bunny girl outfit, the video cut scenes are played out dead pan.... which amuses me.

Last month, I was chatting to two ladies at work and they were both talking about video games. This was following a talk I'd been giving to school kids on design (which was a fun morning). One of them was saying that she was looking forward to hooking up her old console and replying GTA. The conversation rolled on and I had meant to ask her, what she felt of the media comments about violence and alleged weak women characters. Maybe next time....

Do you play any games and if so what? Do you play them on-line with friends, or are they more a solo affair, filling the evening rather than television?

Take care,

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wrong and then right. Maybe it's all in the mind?!


I used to think that time was a constant. You know, the dependable oscillation of an electrically charged quartz wafer, the slow turn of the planet, or the slow arc of the sun across the sky. But no. :-) Instead, time seems to run at different speeds. Take for example waking up. The alarm goes and through Herculean effort, I manage to raise not only my eyelid, but focus my eye and swipe ineffectively at the smart phone.  :-) Apparently, five minutes pass, whereas in my head, it's ten seconds before the snooze function kicks in.

I wonder if this lost time is used to pad the morning when you get into the office and you realise you are short of something to do. Well, not without a list of things that need to be done, but rather, things you'd like to do instead. You know, the fun distractions or pet projects that you're actually interested in, rather than answering email, writing a report or pretending to be interested during a meeting.

The Return to Work

So, this full week at work started verrrryyyy sloooowly - see what I did there? :-) - and everyone seemed to be missing the Christmas Holiday spirit. Perhaps they drank it? Whatever the cause, folk were not enamoured with being back, but oddly, despite a morning of not feeling all that chipper, I found myself brightening up. It seems that if other folk are looking on a downer, I seem to bounce the other way and try to say it's not that bad. That's not to say I'm not capable of being a right miserable mare or a cynic, but it makes a change.

Talking of 'I', I read the other day about ideas towards being happier. Not being too introspective, not talking about yourself.... Well, sh**, there goes this blog then. :-) Weak gags aside, I did notice a comment about asking others and this was backed up in a Leaders Vs Managers technogibberish psychobabble thingy I read. So, for a wheeze, I thought I'd try and ask more questions during conversations and listen to what people had to say. Dare I say, it was all very interesting and made a change.

Oh, there's mutterings on the work grapevine about more Trans training and another Q&A. Seems HR can't get enough of this particular topic. Now, is this the time to load some questions about part timers? ;-)


The trip out to Chameleons was a little odd. Well, not the trip itself, that was fine. It was more the getting changed part. Do you ever have the situation when you know exactly what you've got to do, but for some reason, you just can't seem to get it right?

Loving the colour
and finish. Thanks, S x
I mean, thanks to a bit of planning and some careful use of the tweezers by the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones, my chest was not looking like a war zone....which, umm, it did pre-Christmas trip out. Note to self: shave carefully and do not press too hard.

Anyhoo, despite having just the one outfit - okay, I did take a spare dress just in case - I struggled to get the make-up right. I don't know what it was. Not exactly a disturbance in the T Force (not what you Yorkshire folk think: T'Force is strong in this 'un :-D ), but equally, I wasn't getting it right. I wasn't rushing, it just seemed that things weren't working properly: eyeliner seemed off; eye shadows too sparkly - so switch palette; eyebrow pencil looked more Magic Marker than gentle enhancement; but I cobbled something together and headed downstairs.

Oddly, come the end of the evening as I was getting changed (or de-princessed to use some slang I never do), I caught my reflection as I opened the make-up wipes and I felt pleased with the end result. What was that then? Nerves? Impatience? Answers on a postcard to the usual address. I mean, it's not just me is it? Surely not.... Perhaps the rather nice nail varnish that Sophie had given me for Xmas had helped. Liking this a lot!

Numbers were okay, although I think the group are going to have to raise the admission fee. At the mo, we charge a five pounds to get in, although it's free for first time visitors and partners. Numbers have dropped as people have spread their wings and as the rent has increased, we're finding we're not making the necessary number of attendees to cover the weekly rental. Yes, we could switch to a smaller room, but that would mean the larger room could be booked by others - so less privacy - and we'd lose the free use of upstairs for getting changed. Tricky.

Another option would be to become a monthly meeting, but I think that would prove unpopular. The Ever Lovely Mrs J is very good with numbers, so she had some excellent ideas about bridging the funding gap. I know Sandy is going to tot up the numbers and see how many folk we get over a year. I guess we could divide our yearly rent by attendees and that becomes the new admission fee. We could also start charging half price for partners, but I'm not sure how popular that will be. We don't charge for drinks and I'm reluctant to suggest we do. That would be a pain to tot up.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J also suggested that we try and tap visiting vendors for either a sub - if they approach us wanting to sell - or, if we invite them, ask if they'd donate something to a raffle prize. It's worth a go. It's not like the group is running out of money, but if we don't keep an eye on things.... well, I'd hate to see the group fold. I know it's been a lifeline for me and I'm pretty sure Chameleons has really helped other trans people too.

So... if you're in the area and you think about popping along, please do. It would be good to see some familiar faces and even if you think it's not your bag anymore, don't forget your roots, you might be glad to see the group in years to come. ♥

Take care,

Friday, January 03, 2014

Fitting in.... or not.


So we're a few days into the new year. Even if you didn't have a calendar to hand, the tip off would be the sales of get fit DVDs, the return of the nautical look and Easter Eggs (and not the ones the NSA sideloaded into your smartphone either :-D ). Due to the way Xmas fell this year, I've had the good fortune of a number of days off, and this week, I've only been in two days. A nice easy welcome back to the working week..... or 'turning up' as I like to call it ;-)

Last year I signed up for a Blogger Challenge and this involves receiving a topic suggestion and, well, you guessed it, blogging about it. This time, the statement was along the lines of, rather than write about a New Year's Resolution, share a quote of a picture that inspires you.

Well, where to start? :-) You know me and quotes. I do like a quote, not so much the soundbites that pepper the media, but moreover the ones that make you smile, laugh, sigh and/or think. Whenever someone mentions the idea, my cynical brain spits this up at me:

"It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations..." ~ Sir Winston Churchill
Which you can read as a wry look on the whole concept. But then a little more digging reveals the rest of what he had to say:
"It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations when engraved upon the memory give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more."
Which, to me at least, seems less barbed and more inspirational, but again, that's not something I'm going to write about. ;-)

The observant amongst you will have noticed that I've pretty much dropped using a lyric as my post titles. I liked doing that, but it got to a point last year, that I was spending more time thinking about a line from a song, than I was on what I wanted to write. Cart then horse? Nah, not right, so I gave it a break and now, a few months down the line, I find it a lot easier. Go figure.

So, a line or picture that inspires you and maybe others? Speaking personally, I've seen pictures of T-nights out when everyone is smiling, or laughing, and everything is going well. I can look back at those snaps and think yeah, it does get better. But that stuff is more personal and probably pretty standard for Joe Public. I thought about the rainbow flag that gets waved (pardon the pun) around. How that's more inclusive and how we - well, those of us on the side of mainstream society - are becoming more vocal, more accepted and enjoying a better quality of life. Sure, there is a way to go for equality, but I think we are further on that we were ten, or even five years ago.

But, I decided not to put that. Instead, I went for something a little more closer to home. I think it was the year before last when I was doing some work with some students and on the way to get a tea, I spotted a poster stuck to the wall:

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

Why fit in when you were born to stand out? I've sort of bumped into the Dr Seuss works via my kids, but that's about it. I guess there are a number of ways you could look at that quote. I think a cynic - or an egotist - could argue that it means if you're great, you should stand out and be better, but I don't buy that. Much as I'm a show-off and actually enjoy giving presentations (especially if there's a chance to sneak a joke in), I don't feel that there's anything stand out about me per se. I think I stand out because of what I am, rather than who I am and being trans-something-or-other, I can pick when that is. Sure, I get to lope along in deep stealth Bob Mode, but if you know how to read the (T) signs, I guess it's obvious.

Sometimes, it's not about the outside looks, it's how the inside works - if that makes any sense. I can be with friends, or at work, two days worth of stubble, jeans and a t-shirt, yet I can feel a bit of a fake when it comes to being a bloke. Please don't ask me about sport, cars or DIY; those are alien concepts to me.... but I can tell you what your wife/girlfriend might really like to set an outfit off. ;-)

No, I look at the quote from the angle of being true to yourself. Many of us are different, not in a bad or dodgy way, nor in that occasionally cheesy everyone's unique..... well, umm, in a way, we are. Sure, there are elements of our personalities that are very similar to others, and yeah, we sometimes do go along with the herd. But, not always. :-)

Then, if I think on it a little more, I wonder if it means that no matter what you do, you cannot fit in with everyone. Sometimes, you are going to have to go it alone and stand out. It won't be easy, but I think there can come a time when it's easier to be yourself, rather than spend your time being what other people expect you to be. When Life gets a little tough, I think back on Dr Seuss's quote and try not to worry. Well, too much anyway. ;-)

Stay safe,