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,