Friday, March 27, 2015

Not everyone's the same, but we've got a lot in common


There is much to be said, in my humble opinion, in the pleasure of the first cup of tea, of the day. With the new job, I'm out and about much more than I was, and some days, you just don't make time to get a brew. Instead, it's more a quick cup of water, or swigging the diet soda I bought at lunch time.

Still, at least I'm up and about. I did read on the BBC News site, the amount of sitting down we do in our comfy office jobs. Much as I'm current sat down and staring at a screen right now, I'm not so screen focused as I once was, and that, for me, is a good thing.

So yes, between paragraphs, I'm enjoying the first cup of the day. Little pleasures eh? Oh, and I passed my two exams from last week. Reasons to be cheerful eh? :-)


A few people were kind
 enough to say nice things
about this dress. Woo!
It was time for the regular meeting at Chameleons, so with a bag packed and down to one outfit this week. By the Sacred Hosiery of St Charnos, what is wrong with the world? :-) Okay, I did pack shoes and boots, but you have to be prepared.

Well.... not 100% prepared. Earlier in the week I bought a new nail varish (love it!) and two new lip pencils. I've had a problem with a stronger lippy colour bleeding a little (why so serious?), and this seems to be the answer. So, I read up on how to apply, did the deed and then when I came to put my Rimmel Apocalips on.... Oh, the 80s shame! The liner was a little darker than my lippy..... Bugger. Don't panic, Jones! Ah, a careful repeat application, blot and retry... and I was good to go. Phew, nearly stuck in a time warp there... :-)

Oh, the nail varnish? Boots No. 7 gel look finish. Wonderfully reflective and goes on well too. Thumbs up from me!

Community and Debate

Talking of make-up (see what I did there?), we had a visit from two (genetic) ladies, V & A. They wanted to do a bit of a sounding out exercise, to find out what our (trans) community would like from a web site they were planning. They're looking to put together a site that will have a forum, series of how to documents/videos and a directory of trans friendly businesses. People such as image consultants, make-up artists, maybe hair/wig-dressers and that type of thing.

Personally, I think it's a good thing they're looking into this. Yes, it's a crowded market, because lots of these services are available elsewhere and as Val put, not all of us are loaded. Yes, it takes you a while to work out your look and what works for you. Sadly, both of these don't always go hand in hand, and I'm sure we've all had a few *ahem* 'fashion moments', where we've looked back and thought, what was I thinking? I know I have, but that's all part of the learning curve, I feel.

I think the value lies in the quality of the videos/documents they put up, and their understanding that as people get more confident, so they will just go to a regular store. Pat added something along the lines, that you have to be careful not to add a mark-up to your products, just because of who you're selling too. A & V were keen to point out that they didn't want to do this and I pointed out that competing on price, given the power of high street shops and Internet shopping, is going to be very hard. Instead, offering very good information and a quality service, may be their strength over the competition.

At one part of the evening, I did have to summon my mum's Polite but Firm Teacher's Voice. You know the one... :-) V's brother-in-law, is on the cusp of starting to transition. V talked about 'him' and 'he' and her 'brother-in-law' and then the question came up - in innocence, I hope - asking was he comfortable being addressed as him? V answered politely that her brother-in-law hadn't started to transition and then matters began to slide.

Now, I can understand that when you transition, or when you're in 't-mode' (for us part timers), it's more polite to use the pronouns that match the person's presented gender. I know I sometimes get it wrong and I feel bad when I do. Hell, it's not like I don't know who's coming to the meetings and yet, once in a while, like with Jake, I mess up too. We're all human, I guess.... except during a full moon. :-)

It felt a little - as another member said - that some folk seemed to know what's best for V's brother-in-law, more than he did. Points such as, you don't just switch this on [sic], or 99% of cross-dressers don't go out and are in the closet. Umm? Evidence please? Steph politely pointed out that that may be down to personal experience and that everyone is different. Before we got into a debate about what-is-it-be-trans, I politely turned the group back to the discussion around the original debate. I think things went okay after that. I do know the presentation was quite long. But speaking personally, I was glad of the change and I think if they can help just one person, that's a good thing.

The evening came to a close and I was late setting off, as I waited while V & A packed up to go. In the end, I stayed with Pat, Val and a few others, as conversation blossomed again. This time around self-acceptance and learning to accept who you are. Sometimes, I think that the trans thing can lay us low, and yet, when you have talks with others - regular non-trans folk - who've also struggled along the way; that we're not that dissimilar, when you come down to it. We all have our doubts, not all of us fit in, and yet, with time and maybe a bit of help, we get along.

Take care,

Friday, March 20, 2015

What's a simple rural type like you, doing in an urban setting such as this?


I'm back after a week away on a course. One of those organisational training sessions. It's been fairly taxing, given the amount of revision and the sheer depth the course went into. Oh and did I mention two exams at the end? :-) Still, the deed is done and the die is cast. Just a case of waiting to see what comes back. Really, I'm just glad it's over, even if it did give me some new ideas and extra skills. I like training - just not that full on! :-) Perhaps I should be bothered by result, but worrying about it won't help and there's nothing tied to my job about the need to pass.

Talking of passing - you see what I did there? :-) - there was no room in my bloke backpack for fancier items and given the revision scheduled, little time for that either. I didn't just work and go to my hotel, I did catch up with an old school friend (he's done well and given he was picked on, he's really blossomed, which is great). I also met up with Sue, or at least we met up as our male alter egos :-) I was against the clock due to the exam revision, so it was a case of finding a suitable venue and making the most of it. Blogs and emails are one thing, but to meet up and talk, is quite another. Time rolled on and it was soon time to say our goodbyes. Maybe at the next visit, I'll be able to pack extra clothing.

When fashion becomes uniform
[ Pinterest ]
I don't come to London very often, so it's an interesting experience for a country bloke. See the sights, get some walking in and enjoy a meal out on the company cheque book. I did notice (mais oui) the office uniform of little boots, opaques and a cute skirt. More than once I wondered what would it be like to have a day out en femme and just blend in (as much as any of us do). Mind you, seeing a few ladies leave the hotel in their heels and evening finery, I'm not sure we trans folk always overdo it. :-)

I'm conscious that being out every other Thursday is a luxury many of our number don't have and I know I can (and do) console myself with that fact. Given the need to be (sort of working), there was little time for shopping - other than the ask important ones for the Ever Lovely Mrs J, Little Miss and Wee Man. How I've missed them all this week and if I'm honest with you, I had a bit of a moment at the start of the week because of that. As to shopping for Yours Truly, no time for that and really, most of the shops I saw were the same as there is back in Nottm.

Now, we're on to the weekend and back to the usual routine. Funny, sometimes that's a treadmill, sometimes it's a blessing. The work stays the same, maybe it's all how you look at it. Right now, it's very much a glass is full. I've typed this while taking the train back and I paused to look out of the window, while wondering how to sign off. I found myself looking out over beautiful green fields. It was like the sun coming out after a long week of clouds, you forget how nice it is. Hello, countryside. I've missed you.

Take care,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Don't panic, Jones


I had one of those heart-in-the-mouth panics the other day. Not from a Hannibal Lecter point of view, I should add. You know, when you're having a takeaway pizza. You tip the delivery boy and he says "you're all heart" and, well, things get out of hand. :-)

No, not quite the trans panic either. You probably know the one. That cold jolt of fear than runs through your core. You're just putting your lippy on and there's a clunk of the front door shutting. Or you're out and about in the day, and you spot someone you know who doesn't know. Dum-dum-dummmm!

None of those. I had simply mislaid my car keys while out in town. I'd gone into town during my lunch to run some errands, what with it being Mother's Day soon (at least the UK). While there, I popped in to New Look and bought some new heels. Well, the Dotty P ones are just not comfortable. I don't know who designs their shoes, but the size eight is too small and the nine too big. New Look, who have slightly lower prices are spot on for me. Go figure. A wide fit size eight is perfect for me. At least, I know that now, having tried them on, as the shop was quiet and they won't let you take shoes into the changing rooms. I wish they'd change that policy, but what can you do.

After completing my other collections (that's the Every Lovely Mrs J sorted and her Mum too), I popped into M&S. It's not usually a shop I buy things in. Not because there's anything wrong with what they sell, but it's not really on my radar. Anyway, after the last trip to Chameleons, where none of my skirts fit (goodbye size 14, it's been... swell), I thought I'd pop in and see what they had. I had had my eye on a knee length skater skirt, that I'd seen on-line. A good hunt around the store and I found it in the reduced section.... and being a 16, was a much better fit. Nice to have that swishy feel to it, rather than the usual pencil or fitted look.

Purchasing new shoes and a new skirt put me up another notch, from an already buoyant mood. Things at work have been going well and the new job is, despite being busy and out of my comfort zone, refreshingly challenging and I get on well with my new boss. I'm aware that this could well go Pete Tong at any moment, but, like the beautiful Spring weather (cool, clear and still), you enjoy it while it lasts.

So, back to the car keys episode. My bloke coat has at least eight pockets in it and having stashed sunglasses and a hat, for some reason, I'd stashed my keys in the hidden inside pocket. That's why I couldn't find them. There I stood, thinking now, don't panic. There's no need to sprint around town. They will be hear somewhere. Yet in my mind's eye - the bit that doesn't always listen to me - I could see myself dashing from store to store. Had I dropped them? Ah, here's where the CBT stuff comes in, I thought. Slow, deep breath and go through your pockets one at a time. Tissues, hanky, sunglasses, wallet, hat, list... Tap my pockets again. Clink-clink. Ah, the hidden inner pocket.

Panic over. Now, back to the car, an afternoon at work and then a night out with the girls. Chameleons went well and we had some new people visit. Another chance to hear someone's story and other than offering a warm welcome, maybe offer some help and friendship.

Take care,

PS: Thanks to Val for the snap

PPS: Alexis, where've you gone? I hope all is okay.

Friday, March 06, 2015

I find your lack of faith prevalent


Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to go to a funeral of a friend's dad. There is that collective noun of gentlemen, but, and not to labour the point, not all gentlemen are, if that makes sense. He was. But, and this may be obvious, I think there are two reasons to go to a funeral: one is for yourself, the other, is for other people. BTW, when I say yourself, if it's your funeral, your attendance is usually a given. Well, unless this is a spy story or similar. :-)

No, 'for yourself', I mean, if you want to say goodbye to someone, or suchlike. When you go for others, I think you go to be there for them. The dead, I don't think they care one way or another - although we may come back to that at the end - but the living is another matter.

Good words were said, tears shed and after the service, we nipped up to a local pub for the wake. As my mate said, and let's call him A, the funeral is the hardest part because it feels truly final. The wake, on the other hand, added A, is a time when you share the good things that happened. You laugh and look back at the good times, with other people bringing their memories along too. I know it will be sometime before I forget A's Dad.

Faith & Death

Distant star heats orbiting planet / Heaven
(delete as applicable)
No, not an usual Buffy episode. :-)

I had typed originally, is a death of someone you love, different if you're an atheist? but I'm not sure I want to play the who-gets-it-tougher game. For me, the answer to that second part from a funeral stance, is quite easy: it's those who loved the deceased.

As we made our way out of a cold church, and into an even colder Spring morning, I was struck by the fact that both my parents are older than A's father. In that, I am very lucky. Lucky to have such good parents and to still have them. I found myself thinking that at some point, they won't be here and, in time, neither will I.

Oddly, and perhaps because it - death, that is - is both at a great distance and yet an everyday occurrence if we look at the numbers. I can look at prospect of death from afar and not worry. I suppose, it's a bit like looking into the biscuit tin and seeing it full. You get half way and the odd thought pops in, but you take what you need and move on. Give it a bit longer and when you get down to seeing the base of the container, only then, does the hard fact stare you in the face.

To get back to the point, I wondered, what must it be like to have faith, or belief that there is something after this? I struggle to think that there is and I know I am not alone in that thought. If I did a straw poll of my social circle, the unbelieving camp (why am I thinking about showtunes? :-) ) would be pretty large. Not that it makes it right or wrong, just that there seems a lot of us now.

My half sister is a vicar and her faith is very strong. I guess it goes with the job :-) Her belief that there is Someone Up There seems, at least to an outsider like me, as sure as my feelings that we're just a bunch of clever(ish) former monkeys, faffing about on the third rock from the sun, in an uncaring universe. When our brains stop working, that's us... gone. Maybe that's a bit harsh and just maybe, I'd like to think that there is something for those who pass away.... but just because I'd like that to be true, I can't bring myself to believe that it is true.

Perhaps, it is best, as A put it, to make the most of the what you have, while you have it and while there are those around to share it with.

Take care,