Friday, February 26, 2016

Keeping the green eyed monster at bay


The other day, as queued to get into the car park, a lady about my age got out, to request a ticket. This was during the day, and near work, so she was in business mode. Smart skirt, sensible heels, nude tights and a good coat. I don't know why I'm faffing around saying this next bit, but she looked great. I dunno, maybe commenting on random stranger's outfits, still doesn't sit well with me. Go figure.

But, her outfit, isn't main point, as it where, just the warm up. In the back of my mind, a little voice whispered: you'll never manage that.

I drove on and let that thought drift through my head. My gut reaction - and I say this as someone who feels with their stomach - was that dropping sensation. You may have had similar. It starts in your shoulders, as if someone is pulling a string from behind your sternum. That, or there's a drip of cold in your tummy. It varies.

Yes, I thought. It is highly unlikely, that I will manage to look as she does. But, as the car rolled along into the car park, I decided to take another tack. Sure, I could listen to that nay saying thought, or I could look at what I do have.

Having hairy legs is something I don't like. But, it's my compromise with the Ever Lovely Mrs J. I manage to work around the issue, most of the time, but, and on rare occasions, it does rankle a little. What, I thought to myself, would it be like if I did? Could I cope with the cost? The price, if you will, of ploughing that furrow and knowing the effect it would have on my relationship. As to wishing it were another way, if I could wish for something, smooth pins and the acceptance there of, would probably not be in the top five. Really, why waste the neurons on this?

Letting the green eyed monster hiss a little, I thought back to a book the Ever Lovely Mrs J, had suggested. The Happiness Trap if you're curious. I'd only midway through it and one of the mental exercises has helped. The idea is two fold: when you get a negative thought, or your subconscious starts prattling on with a bad narrative, try one of these. Firstly, append the thought with Oh, I'm having a thought about blah again.

So, in my case. Oh, I'm having that thought about why I have hairy legs. It took me back from the worry and the, frankly, sadness, and took it more to the abstract. It made the thought less real, less harsh, if you will. Instead, I could look at it more objectively and think about things I did have. A great family, a pretty good job (all things considered) and I don't do bad on the trans front either. Certainly a lot more than I'd ever imagined. Again, reasons to be cheerful, part six. :-)

The other idea, so says the book, is to repeat the thought, to a random tune. Say, He's a Jolly Good Fellow, or Happy Birthday. That does work and makes most negative things sound very silly.

Trick is: to block out the noise and keep the signal. Which thoughts are chiding but have our best interests at heart? Maybe that comes with practise.

Hair Today...

This Thursday I was reasonably quick off the mark and at the Centre at a reasonable time. We had a visit from TrendCo, who'd brought along some wigs to demo and plenty of catalogues. They'd also come along with a make-up artist, to could answer a few questions. I certainly learned something about lipstick and the discussions around wigs, were useful too.

I did take a few snaps of Fyona, who was trying a new do. It's one thing looking in a mirror, but a photo is different. It was something I stumbled on, when I went for a wig fitting. Different looks, shapes and cuts, come thick and fast, and - if you're anything like old Muddle Brain here - it's easy to lose track. Still, with a quick selfie, you can build up a catalogue of what you like. Plus, if you're not sure, you can at least ask friends for their view. That all important second opinion can be reassuring and save you buying in haste.

She wasn't the only person trying something new, so I think the event went well. Some further good news is that Trend-co said that if we had enough orders - say, four or five - they'd pop over with them, one meeting. That may help people. I mean, trying on a wig, it just doesn't work (IMHO) if you do it in bloke mode. You need your face on and to be dressed right. Otherwise, and as I quipped to the Trend-co staff, you look like a bad tribute to Def Leppard. One younger lady didn't get it, but the two my age did. "Okay, think Nickleback, then" and she chuckled. Damn those aging pop culture references eh? :-)

Faking it with 'nude'
opaques under sheers
It was an evening to mingle and move around, as there was a lot going on. Not only were there a few new folk, but a student researcher popped in for a chat too. Luckily, I'd worn lower heels - hello, office look! - which were downright comfy compared to some of the other shoes I have. Oh, how we suffer for our art eh? :-)

Funny, in that I'd packed a nice dress and yet, I found myself wanting something a bit more office / day time. Mind you, given the temperature that night, I don't think bare arms were a good idea.

Diane had had her hair straightened - and very nice it looked too! - and she was kind enough to say she'd been happy with the snaps, and (limited) posing advice, I'd offered last time. Every little helps, I hope. So, come the end of the evening, we repeated the same routine. Val was on hand to provide help in shots of Yours Truly.

Not a bad way to lead towards the weekend and I hope you'll have (or have had) a good one.


Friday, February 19, 2016



Half term is drawing to a close, and we're now into the last weekend, in which homework (boo!) must be completed. Luckily for Wee Man, the Ever Lovely Mrs J is a dab hand, at helping him along. Certainly in the maths capacity, that's not my strong point. Luckily, for every maths piece, there's usually something to do with creativity - a story, or presentation, so it's not just one parent steering.

After last week's comment around "so long as you've got your health", I may have tempted Random Happenstance, as I've contracted a particularly unpleasant cold. I'm sure it would be man-flu, if I my gender wasn't betwixt and between. :-) Still, only five days into it, and so long as I keep taking the tablets eh? :-)

With the above in mind, it's been a case of early nights and very little going on. I have managed to catch a few films, with Wee Man, but generally, I've been too knackered to do much else. I know, break out the violins and prepare the funeral pyre :-)

Over on Rhiannon's blog, she was talking (blogging?) about shopping for clothes. A topic, I'm sure many of us can related to. Before we move on the my waffle about this, you could do a lot worse, than read her sage advice. The paragraphs about dressing your age, and playing to your assets, are well worth taking the time to consider. Larks, I've said something nice and she doesn't even owe me any money ;-P

Thing is... if you're anything like me, you'll have your doubts about how you look. Sure, people say nice things, which are, a) very kind, and, b) that I'm slightly embarrassed. That's completely my problem, not there's although I do try to say thanks, as a minimum.

I think we humans, are almost programmed - or perhaps, more accurately, have a leaning towards wanting to make things better. It's not just trans folk, I was talking to a colleague at work, who was expressing something very similar. Well, I assume he's not trans, but my T-DAR isn't the best in the world (eh Jenny? :-) ).

Anyhoo, we look at the things that need fixing, rather than the good stuff around us. Oddly, and as I was saying to Sarah at Chams, I can see the good things about my T-friends, whereas, they look at themselves and sometimes are disappointed.

I guess, the thing is that with all the years of 'being a bloke' and looking into the mirror, as you have a shave, or brush your teeth, you kinda get used to seeing your regular mug. Slip on a dress, get your wig and slap ready, and yet.... it is pretty much the same face that looks back. It takes a lot to break from that image. A good wig certainly helps, padding, a nice dress and the right make-up, that all makes a difference.

It's not so much that I want to look totally different. It's more that, when I've made all this effort, I don't want to look, well... male.

Going back to the compliment thing, others have said nice things, and that's not why I dress, as I do. I do it for me and no-one else. I do it because I like to feel pretty once in a while and by some odd alignment of random incidents, The dress that feels 'right', a skirt and top combo that make me feel good, or even - as happened at the Christmas party - a glimpse of my shadow on the wall, as I danced; it wasn't 'him'. So, I can feel good about how I look. Not great, or big headed, but satisfied.

There's a lot to be said, I think, about being satisfied.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Warm heart


A post of light and dark this evening. If this isn't your bag (baby), feel free to scroll on as required. :-)

The Dark

Last month, I visited a friend and found out, they'd been struggling with depression. Struggling, is now, perhaps too light a word for what they had. Swamped, drowned, consumed even. All words that may convey there sheer onslaught of what they went through, and, bless them, still are. They're having treatment, but by no means are they out of the woods. Yes, it's that type of serious, the poor bugger.

I sat, listened, and sipped my tea as the story unfolded. I've made no secret, nor poster campaign, that I had depression. If being honest means someone else knows it happened, I'm fine with that.

For my friend, it was not, a happy tale, and, perhaps like my own visit from the Black Dog, it had no true beginning. Just a realisation one day, that you've had a string of Off Days, or you find your temper flaring up, for matters you'd usually shrug off. So begins the slow descent and crawling back up, when you're not your best, is far more easily said, than done. Before you know it, the Beast is your new Worst Best Friend and you listen to its lies:

Hound of the B*stard Ills
Stay in because what's the point? 

Don't visit, because really, who'd want to see you? 

Don't bother, because you'll just feel the same, later on. 

It's just you and me now. Let's lie here and just breathe. I'll always be here and you're mine. 

Sleep, or rather, lay, because you won't rest. We've a dozen things to worry about, haven't we?


You, and the slow ticking of a clock. A march of seconds that feel like minutes, and hours that drag. When you're stuck down in that pit, it may feel like there's no way back. Or... more darkly, there is only one way out.

I would like to point out, that doing yourself in, as I put so glibly, is not the answer. That's the illness talking, not you. Hell, I'll be as honest then, as am I now: I've thought about it when things were very bad. You take the idea out of its box and examine it. Turn it over a few times and run through some plans. What's the best way? Which would cause the least fuss and hurt the least?

But, you don't. A little bit of you says hang on, so you do. Even though it hurts like a b*stard, you keep breathing and take each day at a time. Eventually, laughter will return. Not gallows humour, but good, old fashioned jolly snorts, or inane giggles. You will feel joy again.


So, as per, I've rambled around the topic and I guess, I've a few things to say.

Firstly, if you recognise any of the phrases I've used, there is hope for you. People may say oh, it's an illness, you can't fix it. Maybe, and yes, I've used that line too, but it doesn't mean you don't have a choice. Let's put that last bit in underline, 'cos it's important: you do have a choice. Get help. Do something you used to like. Get out and walk, or visit people. The Black Dog hates exercise and misery sure don't love company. Friends won't judge you. Hell, you might find out who your 'real' friends are. People, in a crisis, surprise you.

Secondly, while I recognise those emotions, I can't connect with them, thankfully. They are distant memories: incidents compressed down to some tags and imagined scenes. They don't have any power any more, and if you fall over, there's no shame in asking for help, in getting back up. I might brush the dirt from my knees, but I'll not dodge the question, if someone asks if I fell.

Lastly, why are so many folk depressed or suffering with a mental condition? I'm sure there's some Followers of Woo, who will tell us it's down to the chemicals in our food, or other bunkum. Is it we're losing touch with each other, than modern life, is well, just rubbish? Or, is it more than we're getting better (!) at diagnosing these conditions, and that with people being open about their experiences, we're shining a light on what was once missed?

Here's Sarah, with the weather.... :-)

The Light

Chams went well, although I was late arriving. With the weather taking a turn towards actual Winter temperatures, I broke out an old favourite (see snap - thanks Val). Say what you like about fashion and style, but sometimes, there's a lot to be said about being cosy. :-) A jumper dress, good boots and leggings where enough to keep the chill away.

Downstairs, I managed to mingle a bit and catch up with folk, I don't usually get to see. We also had a new lady visit us, and I popped over to say hello, so she wasn't on her own too much.

Later on, I somehow got drawn in to taking photos. Now, I'm no expert, but I do know how to use Google :-) Seriously, kids, if you want an IT job, your first step to being a Computer Jedi, is knowing that you can use a search engine. Surprising how many folk just forget that. ;-)

Anyhoo, I read a few articles about how to pose for a photo, and found myself instructing a few would be photo victims, in what to do.

How to Pose for Pictures: 10 Tricks Every Girl Should Know

How to Pose for Flattering Profile Photos

How to Pose for Pictures

As I was saying to Helen, it's so rare I have my photo taken in guy mode, it's almost reflex to go into certain stances. When we had our snaps taken for work, I almost 'dropped' my hip and tilted my body on reflex. :-) Whoops. Nearly self-outted again. :-D

Take care,

Friday, February 05, 2016

A nation of shopkeepers


A few weeks ago, at Chams, we had a young chap come to talk to the group, for his research project. He opened with a simple question: What can retailers do for trans people?

The way we play these events, is we - okay, muggings, here :-) - makes a quick intro for the group, and then we set the researcher up, in a quiet spot. This allows people to pop over when they've got a mo, and it lets those who don't want to be involved, be... ummm... well, not involved. Seems to be working for us.

After a few folk had wandered over and the evening was in its final hour, I drifted over to see how things were going. I to, was asked the question, and it wasn't long before Alison, Val and Diane joined in.

So, what can retailers do for we trans folk?

1. Changing Rooms

If the person is dressed like a woman, or dressed like a guy, let them go in the appropriate changing room. If you're not sure if the person is male, or female; you could always just ask, which they'd prefer to go in.

I've been directed to the disabled booth and when I look back, I feel bad that I might have taken that space, away from someone who wanted it. I might be a bit dim, but I can get about just fine.

2. Shoes and Changing Rooms

In the dim and distant, a stealthy trans person could drop a few items and the obligatory baggy jeans on top, before heading to try these on. A dress, a skirt, some shoes; it was all good. Then, some wise spark, decided to make the rule that you couldn't take shoes into the changing room.

While that may have dropped the thefts, and I assume this was why they did it, it hasn't helped those of us, who aren't 100% out. Sure, in a town, far, far away, it's fine to sit down and try on, but closer to home - like lunch breaks - it's not so easy.

In the end, and the last time I was in Dorothy Perkins, I just asked outright and while the lady on the door was a bit surprised - it was her first day, bless her - she said yes and all was well. Not that the shoes fit. Why is it a New Look size 8 is fine and a Dotty P's 8 is like the re-enactment of the Ugly Sister and the Glass Slipper? :-)

3. Sizes

Which brings us on to sizing. Not all size 16s are created equal. :-) This seems an issue for us, as much as (genetic) women.

Also, I bemoan shops - I'm looking at you New Look! - for dropping their Tall range from the high street. Still, your gain in shop floor, is your loss in sales.

On a positive note, more shops are doing a size 8 and 9, in shoes. This can only be a good thing!

4. Help

If I'm out shopping and looking for something specific, sometimes I'm asked if I want any help. Sometimes I'm shopping for the Ever Lovely Mrs J, sometimes for Yours Truly. In either case, sometimes I'm asked, "is it for you?" Perhaps I give off some vibe, or new assistants spot the earrings/eyebrows, I dunno. :-) If it is for me, I'll say so, and there's no reaction. I am, just another customer, which is just how I like it.

Mind you, 10% off would be nice, you can't have it all ;-)

5. Make-up

We had a visit from Boots, a few years back and they mentioned they had a make-over room, which you could book. This was off the shop floor and plenty of (genetic) woman wanted privacy, when discussing cosmetics. It's all about the practice, practice, practice, apparently, and not all of us do that.

6. Trans Specific Brands

Or, as we like to call it - 30% mark up, 'cos you put the word 'trans' on it. To put it another way, no thanks :-)

Maybe it's the circles I move in, but high street, supermarket and on-line are king, queen and... umm... other royalty, now. The idea of specialist trans specific shops, seems to be on the wane. Maybe it's peoples' growing confidence, or the realisation that most of the goods in specialist shops, is just plain overpriced.


I think that was our six main points, although, as per, we did waffle around the topic somewhat. What about you, dear reader, anything to add to the list?

Take care,