Friday, April 25, 2014

Mirror, mirror...


It's Friday, so shall I try and get my sh** together this time? ;-)

Last night was the first night out in a weeks. Well, okay, first trans night out, I should add. I was, oddly, not quite sure about going. Sure, I wanted to catch up with everyone, but it was the getting ready that I wasn't really sold on. But, as I tell myself when I'm packing a bag, hollow point or subsonic match? No, ah, sorry, that's the other blog. :-) Silliness aside, I tell myself, you'll be okay when you get there.... which, so far, has served me well.

It's only been a month, or so, but it felt like longer. It did seem rather odd, looking in the mirror and slowly making myself up into my other look. I won't say alter-ego, because I don't consider myself to be two people (No, I don't do I? - No, Mrs. - As you were, Jones...). Maybe a person with two very different styles of dress, but so it goes. The concept of mirrors came up in a piece a fellow blogger, Jonathan - of Male Femme - had written. He emailed me and asked if I'd have a read, before he sent it off. I won't spoil any of it for you, well, other than saying I thought it was very thought provoking (in a good way).

One line was "I can't remember any transvestite writing about the mirror..." and I found myself thinking on this, before moving along with the rest of the section. I think, I have a love/hate relationship with the mirror.....

On good days, I look in and I see a man. A man getting slightly thinner on top and rounder around the middle. I see laughter lines and I see an earring and I don't mind what I see. Sometimes, I look in the mirror, and he's doing his best to look female. He's wearing a wig, make-up too and it isn't too heavy. The clothes are working and maybe, there's even a hint of a smile. In either world, things are good.

On bad days.... neither image is right. The man looks tired. Not just physically, but in the eyes - as if the light is muted, like that of a cloudy day. Best look away now, don't dwell on the negative. Don't think about what you'd prefer, wishing solves nothing. His eyebrows are too trim, he looks camp. Sometimes, he's half made-up: a face full of slap half done, and he's not happy with how it's going. He sighs heavily, ploughs on, hoping that if he keeps going, if he could just get the eyes right, or the foundation blended, that maybe, just maybe, he'll look like he feels within.

On very good days, I look in the mirror and I'm happy with who I am. I don't see a woman, but I do see a trans person happy with their appearance. That makes me feel confident and I can walk tall, knowing I'm okay.....

How we - no, nix that - how I perceive myself, that's a tricky thing to define. I did say 'we', but I think I shouldn't write on anyone's behalf, after all, I don't really know what goes on in your head. I do use a mirror to check how I look and - dare I say it? - in trans mode, I'll use it to see if I pass muster. Not 'pass' as in pass as a woman, I'm not sure I ever will and I think worrying about that is just a hiding to nowhere. No, for me, the mirror is a tool I use to grade my own appearance. Do I find myself attractive? No. Do I feel I look attractive? Again, no and I'm not looking to attract anyone. What I am looking for - or even, more accurately is, am I dressed in an attractive - as in, acceptable, cool, presentable - way? Do I look a mess, or do I look okay? When it all comes together, the mood, the make-up, the clothes: maybe I feel I look pretty.... and pretty, is pretty good ;-)

Take care,

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Modern Friendship


How's things? Yes, I realise this week's entry is somewhat late. Not that there's a schedule or anything. Well, other than a personal promise to try and get a post per week. Still, now is the Easter of our content, so knickers to rules and work; time to kick back, enjoy the spring weather and try to avoid snaffling too many eggs :-)

Having been away and missed Chameleons, this made me think about friendships. Modern friendships seem, at least to me, very different to pre-Internet ones. I mean, before the web and social media, you could visit a friend, ring for a chat or - hold to your hats, kids - write to them via snail-mail. Now, things are much more connected and the word 'friend' seems to have altered a little. I won't lay this solely at the door of GoogleBookFace, but I'm sure social media's had an impact.

I struggle with the word friend and by that, I mean it's more than someone you sort of know. I can be friendly with someone, but they may not be an actual friend. A colleague at work, or the parent of one of my kid's mates, etc. There are People I Know (PIKs? ED) which is a reasonable list, as it is with anyone who doesn't live in a cave on their own.Some of the Chams massive are PIKs, just like the folk at work, on the school run and via the Ever Lovely Mrs J's social circle. Then, from that, there are people I'd consider friends. People who I will make the time to keep up with, chat to, email or call, etc, and if I'm lucky, they'll do the same. I guess for me, a friend is someone I care about.

So, here's a question: can people you only know through t'Interwebs be friends? I'm going to go with yes on this one. I've met people through tech forums (yes, I'm a geek) and also trans forums, and these people have moved from People I Know to friends. People who've shared deep and very personal conversations with me (no, not cyber, you perv! :-D ). I keep in touch with them, and vice versa. This doesn't mean there aren't times when we don't speak for ages. So it goes with 'real world' friendships too. People are busy-busy-busy, and there are times when you've got to juggle your priorities. I find it strange, and cool, in that there are some folk, where you can not see each other for months, and then when you meet, you just hit it off as if little time as passed. Good times.

Looking at the darker side of social media, while it helps you stay in touch, is it lighter, less deep and real than a 'real world' friendship? Are we falling into the traps of Fear of Missing Out (been there, I'll be honest), or judging ourselves based on the twisted prism of what other's are posting? Is this friendship, so we can chat with mates and share their joys and woes, or is this just a machine for collecting advertising revenue and pushing the Look At Me mentality?

Take care,

Friday, April 11, 2014

The past echoes into the future


Gak. I've stared at this empty, white form, while ideas and stories run through my head. Strange, in that starting off seems to be the most difficult first step. True, perhaps or blogging, and other things in life too.

So, I'm - we're? - back from a short week in the North West and a grand time was had by all. Much walking was done, there was a little bit of cake therapy, a few visits to the adventure playgrounds and all round family fun. The time, did however, go all too quickly, although luckily, we've a few days before returning to work. Things to be thankful for, eh?

While out on our travels, I did wonder if each city as a look and what I mean by that is, a look for the people who live there. I know - from friends - that Nottingham menfolk (of a certain age - hell, my age! :-) ) seem to sport the skinhead haircut. Women's hair tends to be more varied, although, perhaps because I'm so used to seeing people here in a particular fashion, I'm no longer able to see the trend. I mention this because some of the women I've spotted, they're more made-up that their Nottingham counterparts. I'm not saying this is a good or a bad thing, just as an observation. However, saucers of milk at the ready, there are those who wear the warpaint well, and those who are worn by it. The magic marker hi-def eyebrows, the orange foundation and obligatory hair-in-a-messy-bun. Perhaps the look, if it can be called that, works when it works, and is noticeable when it doesn't.... and I'd be the first to point to some of my own make-up mishaps and nod in agreement.

The wide, wide world of sports

I'll leave you to get the reference (or Google it), but the line rang in my head when I followed the social media link to a project called Private Birthday Party. The art project (here), has this to say: scenes from drag balls throughout the 1950s and 60s. In many, men and women in drag are posed outside the famed Kansas City club The Colony, photographed red-carpet style on their way into the night's event.
It seems that someone was photographer du jour for the events and kept the slides of the event. By happenstance, these previously lost images, where found and we get to look back at how things were for some (Psst: there's an interview here).

On a side note, there's a Broadway play called Casa Valentina, which - I've not seen the play, so apologies if I'm off here - is likely to be inspired by the events at Casa Susanna (also FlickR). The latter wasn't drag, more a safe place for trans folk to be themselves.

Now, I'll be honest and say I had planned to write a little short story about the slides, but after bashing the keys for a little while, it didn't quite work. So, rather than bore you with a short story, I'll bore with with the idea of it instead ;-) So, here it is: will someone much further in the future, find digital pictures of us trans folk from now, and look back, asking 'what must it have been like for people to live with only two gender choices? How did we get from there to here?'

At least, that's what I'd like to think. I'd like to think we're on this road of continual progress. That things - from an acceptance and freedom point of view - are only going to get better. Well, that's my dream and I hope that's not a fiction.

Take care,

Monday, April 07, 2014


No, not the dance around your handbag, nor the US medical drama. No, the place we live and grow up in.

This week, the Jones Massive are on holiday and rather than opt for our usual rural idyll, we're in the suburbs. We're in a quaint 30s style semidetached that seems to be the archetypical suburban house. Three bedrooms, one bathroom, kitchen diner and living room. The drive is too narrow for most modern cars, so the concrete panel garages sit back from the road, nestled in well established gardens. Not doubt havens for mowers and spiders.

The house is compact, but not pokey. It doesn't have that anti-TARDIS gig going on that some modern houses have going on. :-) I'm somewhat surprised how much bigger Chez Jones is, in comparison. I hope that doesn't come across as bragging, it's merely a statement of room size and property design. Much as I really like our house, I now wonder how much room we really need, but then I think it's really nice to have plenty of room for bookshelves and big bedrooms for the kids to have their own space.

Which, dare I say, leads me to what today's post is actually about. That of how much your home has an affect on you growing up. I wonder if more compact surroundings lead to greater interaction - for good and bad? Does having lots of space mean people withdraw more?

I also look at our kids and know that where and how we live is all they've ever known. They're lucky in that they have a bedroom each. When I grew up, I too had my own room (although smaller), but it wasn't shared. My sisters didn't have that luxury, as necessity meant they had to share the big room between them. Well, at least until I left home. :-) I couldn't wait to get away, but that was not to do with my family; I just wanted to be away from that dead end town. That was the drive.

We drive through that town and I see the facilities, the shops and how the locals behave. I hear some of the words they use and, at times, I think maybe I was wrong to write it off. There are good people there, but when I do, I get a whiff of hate through subtle conversation that all is not well in the state of Denmark. It's that lurking rottenness of discrimination that upsets. But, perhaps I'm too PC for my own good ;-)

Nottingham's not perfect, but then neither are we humans ;-) I wonder what it must be like for my kids growing up where we are and what their memories of the house and growing up will be. I hope they have plenty of happy ones. Space to play, without being under each other's feet and room for privacy, without being lonely. Maybe it's not the house that sets this, maybe it is as much the occupants.

Take care,