Friday, November 27, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions


Larks, it's a bit late. Still, that's the penalty for staying up, to watch a film with Little Miss. Usually, she's tucked up in bed before 9, but tonight, being a Friday, we've let her stay up a little. Mind you, she's another year old - 8 now - and full of character. She certainly knows her mind, when it comes to picking her outfits. No idea where she gets that from ;-)

Leggings and an old fave.
Thanks to Val for the snap.
Last night's meeting went well and we had quite a few new people come along. As per, the regulars mingled and said hi, so - well, I hope - that no one was left high and dry. The only slight snag was a lack of change in the money pot. Note to self: get a float sorted for next time!

Mind you, next time will be our Christmas party, so it's time to organise the food and music. I find it best to try and start sorting the latter early. Otherwise, you end up panicking at the last minute, and copying That's What I Call Overplayed Christmas Tunes, Vol 152. :-) Mind you, catering to everyone's music tastes, seems as tricky as ensuring there's enough variety of food.

In Nottingham, we have a thing called a fuddle. I'd never heard of it, until I moved here. It's when everyone brings something to the event. I guess, a bit like a buffet, only - and to use some modern language - it's crowd sourced. Those of a less nerdy nature may prefer the phrase, everyone mucks in. :-)

With a few new folk about, there are some typical questions that get asked. Not to belittle them, nor the person asking. I guess, Frequently Asked Questions, if you like. Last night, someone asked me, "how long have you been coming?" and "how long has the group been here?"

I think my first visit was way back in January 2006. Blimey, that's a long time ago and we - Chams - hadn't moved to Nuthall. The group was meeting up in Arnold and while the venue was very pretty, it was a real pain to get to. The new place - mind you, it'll be 10 years soon - is so much easier. Not far from the ring road and not too far from the M1 either. Seriously, if you live near Nottingham, it's worth a visit.

This week, Claire - one of our regulars - posted that she'd been coming for a year. That's gone so quickly and she was kind enough to say some nice things about the group. She's not the only one, as sometimes, people who visit email and they have this to say:
"The atmosphere was amazingly welcoming for a long-established group and I was put entirely at ease."
"I just want to say thank you for a great evening, I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and I'm really looking forward to going again."
"I was very nervous about coming last night , but you made me feel welcome. Thank you. I was so much happier on the way home and glad that I came along"
"I just like to say what a lovely evening I had and the warm welcome I had from all the group. I felt so comfortable with it all and it's certainly lifted my spirit up finally."
"I really enjoyed meeting the other ladies and felt very at ease. I've waited years to feel like I do at this moment and it is great to know that I am not on my own."
"As I said to some of the girls last night, it was everything I had hoped for and more. It surpassed my expectations and all the bad stuff that happened to me before getting there now seems worth it!"

I guess we're doing something right. :-) Let's hope the party goes well, eh?

Oh, on a random note, if there's a question you'd like to ask me, please let me know via the contact form. I'll post the answers - so long as the question's not too personal or rude! :-) - next time.

Take care,

Friday, November 20, 2015

Being kind


I have something to confess: I've started Christmas shopping. Thing is, with two nippers, a lovely wifey and some indecisive in-laws, experience has taught me, it's best to start early. Even with the blessings of rush delivery, or Prime, leaving things to the last minute, is not a wise move. No, lists are prepared, ideas jotted on scraps of paper, and evenings lost to the Internet search machines. Really, it's not that different to finding the perfect set of heels, only I'm shopping for others. ;-)

Having a mail room at work - yes, feel free to make a gag about a fe-mail room, if you like. I'll just wait.... :-) - is you don't have that faff of having to be in. Plus, when the parcel has the vendor's name all over it, you don't need to be Sherlock, to know who it might be for.

After two failed deliveries for some clothes the Ever Lovely Mrs J had ordered for herself - her mum and auntie will treat her for Xmas - I logged on and checked the alternatives. Last year, we started to get evening deliveries, which I though where a brilliant idea. Why have people drive around the country, to drop signed goods off, when most folk are out at work. What a waste of time and money! Sadly, most of the firms we shop with, haven't yet provided to a box to say deliver after 5pm. Maybe one day, eh?

So, with the lack of us being in, and the delivery company removing the why not leave with a neighbour? option, I opted to try one of those electronic drop off boxes. I'd seen this wall of white paint and metal boxes, fixed to a not so far away petrol station. I'd mistakenly assumed (Ed: duh) that these were boxes you rented. Nope, instead, you tell the firm to drop there and they text you a release code. How modern! :-) I did struggle a bit as the machine crashed once or twice, but, I was able to collect the parcels, with not too much fuss.

As to my two parcels, they included two bodysuits. Yeah, I know, back to the 90s :-) I should point out neither where in a Buffalo Bill style, or one of those plastic 'real femme' skin suits. Larks, it can be the wrong side of cosy with shapewear and a wig, I dread to think of the water loss wearing a plastic suit. But then, maybe that's part of the appeal. :-)

One has lace on the sleeves and around the decolletage - or, "boob area", if you're in guy mode, currently. :-) That's a little shorter than I'd like, but hopefully, some careful amendment with some additional material, plus sewing can resolve that issue. Failing that, there's always the returns option, if I don't fancy risking it.

Mirror, mirror

On an unrelated note to the above, I spotted this video, on my travels around the Internet. It's a clever little animation, imparted with some wisdom around accepting your looks.

It's funny, given that as a trans person, I've struggled with having to accept that outwardly, I'm always going to look like a bloke. Most of the days, this doesn't bother me and I try to avoid mirrors, or - even worse - video cameras, during my job. It's not that my mug upsets me, it's more that I don't like to be reminded of how I look. Equally, on a Thursday, the mirror merely helps me get ready and a photo preserves the memory of when I was content with the final look.

Having watched the video, and I hope you will too, I found myself doing some of the things it recommended. Not around my own appearance, but that of others. As I've said to people at Chameleons, I don't look at them and see their flaws. I look at them, and see what they've done well. Perfectly lipstick, being well dressed, cool nail varnish or toned legs. Sure, it may seem shallow, but another way to look at it, is to be happy for others. Sometimes, that positivity is reflected. Sarah, bless her, commented on my new wig and said I'd skipped having a fringe. I replied that I don't like to show my forehead, because it seems, to me at least, that it's this heavy brow man space. She took this and said, something about the lack of wrinkles and that my comments hadn't occurred to her.

Maybe, if we're looking for the best in others, we should also be a little kinder to ourselves and stop worrying. Just maybe, we're the only ones looking, because everyone else is too busy worrying about themselves. :-)


[ PS : I have, up until now, managed not to mention the attacks in Paris. I, like most people, found the events deeply upsetting. Like others, I felt pretty powerless in what I might do to help, or push back against such tactics. Perhaps, it is best to carry on. Keep doing what we're doing. Yes, mourn the dead and try to stop such terrible things from happening, but don't stop living. Keep going to concerts, keeping seeing friends, and live. I guess: don't let the b*stards grind you down ]

Friday, November 13, 2015

Dress? Go. Lashes? Go.
Curves? Go! Make-up? Go!
We have ignition!


This time last night, well, as I type with somewhat cold fingers, I had finally had chance to try on my birthday present. It was a gift from the Ever Lovely Mrs J. A dress, in fact. But, when you're trans-something-or-other, a gift from your spouse, such as earrings, a dress or suchlike. It's so much more than a present; it is, at least to me, acceptance. A twinkle in their eye, that they know what they've bought you, will delight.

We all have things that we like: certain bands, football teams (Ed: don't go there, Lynn), authors, gadget manufacturers, clothing shops, chocolates or films. I have, for a little while, been admiring Desigual's dresses. It's the cut, the colours, the patterns. However, even on sale, they are more than I am prepared to spend. Instead, I just admire them and enjoy them from afar.

Thanks for the snap, Val
Anyhoo, a series of unfortunate and unsuitable events, meant that said item languished, in my travel bag, for many a week. Nay, two months even. I'm sure I was due a warning letter from the people who issue Trans Licences. ;-)

My patience paid off, and served with an early start, false lashes and my new hair, I was feeling particularly pleased. I appreciate that may sound a little smug, and that's not my intent. What I would like to say is that sometimes, being trans can be a bit of a slog - like much in life. But, as with more regular activities, when it rocks, it truly rocks. So, serve up a batch of it-all-works-tonight, add a dose of new-threads, top with getting-your-lashes-to-work-and-wow and sprinkle some spouse-acceptance. There's a recipe for happiness.

A few people were kind enough to compliment me on the new hair, which helped too. I had been nervous about wearing it, having seen some less than flattering photos, during the purchasing. But, the Chams crowd are both kind and honest. If something doesn't suit, they will tell you nicely. So when they say it does, you can count on them.

Ignition Point

While I was getting changed, a new lady - Fyona - was also making herself fabulous. I won't say much of her background, as it's not my story, nor secret, to share. But, meeting new people is always cool and it prompted a somewhat unusual question: what was your waking up moment?

Or, to put it another way, why did you start? I've asked this of many people, and each person's answer is different. Both Fyona's and Kimberly's (who was sorting her lippy), surprised me. I guess, you get used to comparing what you know, and assuming that other people's stories may be similar.

My turning point, ignition, waking up moment; whatever you want to call it, was when I was 7 or 8. I remember a seeing the laundry basket and a pair of mum's tights. I can't recall the exact memory. I've heard that memory is mostly three facts, and your imagination fills in the blanks. Whatever the detail was, I put them on, purely out of curiosity. What would they feel like? That spark of curiosity was the start of an on-again, off-again journey that's still going on today. I'm still learning, still curious.

Kimberly's moment was much later in life, her 20s and  Fyona's much later still. My initial reaction, other than interest in what they were saying, was: Why not earlier? Why then? I'm not saying that me starting earlier is better, or superior; it's just early. No prizes for an early start. As I keep saying, it's not a race. Hell, if you want to compete, compete with being a different person than you were yesterday. :-)

A few more questions later and it seemed that it - being trans, or clothing curious, if you will - just didn't register, until later in life. I'm curious about you dear reader, about your first steps into this odd world of gender variance.

Beginner's Luck

Talking about starting and events for the new year, a few of us thought about doing a 'newbie night'. That phrase was soon changed to Welcome Evening. There are a few busy times for Chameleons. The first is around the end of September, as the weather cools and the nights draw in. The second is just after Christmas. Maybe it's a New Years' resolution thing, I've never really asked.

Happy smile
So, there are lots of folk who lurk on the forum. This is cool, we've all done that. What Sandi, Sarah and Tina suggested, was offering a make-over evening. We'll all bring in clothes, wigs, make-up and if anyone wants help, we'll all chip in.

I think part of this started, because Helen had asked if I'd paint her nails for her. I have a reasonable collection of nail polishes. Thing is over the years, with a make-up voucher from Boots when you buy lunch, it's easy to *ahem* invest in a new colour for the season. I don't wear nail varnish every day, so they soon build up. Still, my loss, is Helen and Sandy's gain. It felt good to share and give back a little. I also did Kim's nails too, so maybe when I pay my mortgage off, I can go part time and run a mobile nail art business. ;-)

Take care,

Friday, November 06, 2015

Back to the 80s


I was going to say, the calendar has fallen funny. But, that would make the opening paragraph, seem in need of a thunk, clunk or other onomatopoeia. Frankly, with that last term, it's just showing off and there's just no need.

Wait... Oh, pants. :-)

So, yeah, the calendar's.... distribution of days, has meant that it's a while yet until Chams. As I missed last times, part of me was thinking I'd be tapping my feet and counting down the days (as is Susie). Oddly, that isn't happening. Reasons to be cheerful, eh?

Talking of cheerful, the Jones Massive, are now back in the digital world. Earlier in the week, a certain driver ran into the small green box, that contains the village telephone lines. That, not surprisingly, didn't do it much good and we were off-line for most of the week.

The kids found the usual routine of being able to watch on-line videos, Skype with their mates, or play games somewhat more difficult. The Ever Lovely Mrs J took to her books, and that's par for the course. Muggings here, resulted in trying his hand - OMG! 'His' I've outed myself! ;-) - at finishing off a short story. Like a good blog post, some tales want to be told. It's been a while since I've written any fiction and it's proving to be an interesting challenge.

Going back to the lack of on-line access, I found it was the little things, that I missed. Being able to check on IMDB about an actor, or looking up back details. It's funny, in that back in the early 90s, I had to go upstairs, turn on the PC, dial up and after much waiting, get on-line. Now, you tap the glass on your smartphone and you're off.

The Ever Lovely Mrs J was out one evening, so being without any new DVDs, or on-line films, to entertain, the kids were a bit of a lost end. I suppose, after a full day at school, and with it being only a few hours before bedtime, you don't want to be breaking out the paints and crafts. Well, I didn't, knowing that there would be a lot of tidying up.

Looking back to my own childhood, I remember playing a board game with my my folks and it's one of those happy memories. With that in mind, I got out some of our old games, blew the dust off the lid (I know, the shame) and we all played happily for a few hours. It was so popular, they asked to play the next night! I guess sometimes, it's more about what you do together, rather than fancy, or expensive things.

I think it was Mrs J who said to me 'collect memories, not things'. If I look at anything I own, most of the things I think of as treasured, they have a memory attached to them. Not unlike of of the items in my dress cupboard, but that's another story. ;-)

Take care,