Friday, July 29, 2016

Money, money, money


With the summer hols in full swing, it's been a doddle to zip down the ring road and into work. No more school run for me for a few weeks and plenty of people away on holiday too. As such, I'm ahead on my hours and an early start, means an early finish in my book. All good reasons for a good mood. Oh, and it's Friday. Woo! And it was Chams last night, Woo hoo! :-)

Talking of good things, Sandi and I have been on the look out for a way to help boost the group's funding. Luckily we didn't go ahead with our currency speculation or pole dancing club. Much as the latter would have been great for personal fitness and I own some perilous heels, I doubt I'd be able to muster the upper body strength to lift my ever increasing backside :-)

Why do all the bad foods taste so good? Gah! So much for Intelligent Design. This is a ruse! What a crock! I feel short-changed :-) Still, if you can't keep to your diet plan, you just have to work with what you've got, eh?

Where was I? Oh, yes. Good news. Despite the room hire increasing steadily [angry look to Austerity implementers goes here] and the insurance costs now being passed on to the group, we've managed to juggle our opening hours and trim back a little on the outgoings. Thing is, we need about 15 - 16 folk visiting a meeting to break even per night.

Most of the time, that's okay as autumn/winter, we're over that number and summertime is when we feel the pinch. We're not in danger of folding - thankfully! - we just don't want to eat into savings, or have to bump up the membership fees.

I'd approached the local council for help and was told that as most of our members were from outside the borough, we weren't eligible. In fairness to the local parish council, they do offer us a good rate compared to new hirers. Oh, for folk outside the UK. Councils: parish, borough, county/city and national.

By serendipity someone from Nottingham Self Help got in touch, saying they were dealing with Lottery funding and were we still interested in help? Oh, hell yeah :-)

A change of skirt, after some wise words
Thanks for the snap, Val.
Cue a few emails to the right people and then a telephone conversation with two very helpful people. Now it's a case of sorting out some paperwork, submitting it and crossing our collective fingers.

As I said to one of the funders, anything we could get would help us along. We don't need much in the way of equipment, as the Centre very kindly provide all that. That said, I think it may be time to invest in improving our website and forum. The former has done is proud, and with the loss of the forum recently; that hit the group's sense of community and history. I think we'd had that virtual community for nearly 10 years.

On a personal note, I gave a summer skirt a final try. I did like the pattern - pink with bold print flowers - but it wasn't quite right and despite chancing it, a friend was kind enough to politely point out its shortcomings. This, again, is one of the good things about Chams. We don't critique or tut at people's outfit choices. We do, however, give honest answers and I find that helps keep going in the right direction.

So, a quick change to a favourite skater skirt and I was ready for my close up. Second time around for the wedges and I think I've had my money's worth on the free lace top Mrs J gifted me with.

Take care,

Friday, July 22, 2016

"What sorcery is this?"

Hidey ho,

In an effort to avoid the last few weeks of 'bugger, it's Friday and I've not written anything', I'm going to strike while the iron is hot. Or, in more modern language, get ma shit together :-) BTW, if any of you know anyone who talks like that, get help as there's a risk of being stuck in 90s Slacker talk.

Moving on....


As I type - or more accurately swipe -this post, I'm currently sat at home on a work day, enjoying the warm sunshine in our newly tidied up conservatory. Thing is, we've used it as a bit of a dumping ground come play area and it was, frankly, a mess. Cue a busy weekend of tidying up, recycling the junk and giving some stuff away, it's now usable and comfortable. Certainly more space to stretch out and move around. We've not spent anything, other than time, and if anything we've given things away. The good thing about the latter is the rather nice twin feelings of de-cluttering and making someone else happy.


On Wednesday, Radio 4 hosted a programme about children and gender. It's over on iPlayer if you're interested. I've still not gotten around to listening to the rest of it and when I posted a link over on Facebook, there were mixed comments. Not that that's a bad thing. After all, our stories aren't all the same and what some listeners tolerate, or agree with; others, it upsets or enrages.

As I got out of the car and sloped into work, memories bobbed to the surface, stirred by the programme. I thought of a chap at work, we'll call him E, who I was talking to about children. E's are slightly younger than Wee Man or Little Miss. It seems E's youngest - a boy - was very much into Harry Potter and being a wizard. So far, so kid. I know Wee Man went through a cowboy and pirate phase, although thankfully he kept his looting of the high seas to playgroup. Anyhoo, short of a suitable wizard outfit, D's son was wearing a Disney princess dress. Floor length with long sleeves, apparently.

This, upset D. "But it's a dress!" he muttered to me. I nodded and asked him what his lad did when he was wearing it. Tea parties for teddies, dressing up for fun, that type of thing. "No, none of those. He has an old stick we found in the woods and he runs around yelling cod Latin."

I asked if D's son enjoyed Harry Potter and he sighed. That special sigh parents - and some partners - do. The one reserved for use with a gentle drop of the shoulders and a knowing nod. So, he's a wizard then? I offered. To me and you, it's a red dress, but to him, it's robes. It's just let's pretend. D seemed happy with that suggestion. I didn't want to put the wind up him or anything. I did add that some kids have a different view of clothes and mostly this is temporary, and on some occasions, it's not. Doesn't matter either way to me as a parent. D seemed okay with this.

On a personal note, I wonder what is it to be young and trans now? Not that I'd like to be a kid again. Sheesh, Puberty and being a teenager. No thanks, once was quite enough! :-) Given today's trans exposure and - at least seemingly - more help to trans children, where would some of us be headed? It is a case that we can't look back, because we've got a few more miles on the clock? Or, is it that it's best not to look back? I mean, you can't change what has happened and for some, is there a danger that looking back will only bring regret, rather than seeing the distance travelled?

Gender chooses the person, Mr Potter
Like many of you - as in, both readers ;-) - I've thought long and hard about my gender. There have been times, teenage and 20s, when I've wondered if being a bloke is really for me. It's sort of like having a funky hat. Every now and then, I'd take it out of the cupboard and try it on for a bit. Sometimes, I'd spend days in it. Other times, the fit was wrong. There were times I was scared people would see me and I'd put it back.

Now. I've still got the proverbial hat, but I don't worry about if I have to wear it all the time or not. Instead, I try to enjoy it when I do, and not worry so much when I don't want to. It's not perfect, but then, what is...?

Take care,

Friday, July 15, 2016

A series of lessons


After last week's post in which I reset and started over, you'd think that I'd start to keep a note of ideas. An idea came to me as I was listening to the radio and driving to work. Ah, I must put that on a slip of paper, I thought to myself... and then promptly forgot. Gah! I guess this is what separates the triers from the capable, eh? Still, lessons learned! Note to self: make a note quickly. :-)

The long drought of all Jack and no Jill - I so hope that's not slang for something kinky - has been broken, as it was Chameleons in what was starting to feel like an age. So it goes sometimes, that occasional fall of the month, in which it's more than two weeks between meetings.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I try to think on the positive. Ponder outfits to wear, keep an eye on the shops and try not to listen to the Green Eyed Monster when someone fancier than you, strolls by.


In a related note, a researcher contacted the group many months ago and after - well, I guess, much work - it was now ready and I passed it around on social media. Social media: the thing you use when you're not socialising with the people you're with. It's a strange beast ;-)

Where was I? Oh yes, research. So the item in question did seem to cover some coping strategies. One of them was throwing yourself into a computer game (clearly, not literally). Now, I do like to play big, open world games. Epics like Fall Out, Skyrim or the Saints Row series. The latter, if you've not had the pleasure is a delightfully tongue-in-cheek riff on the Grand Theft Auto, only with a massive dose of irony and complete irreverence for its setting. Where else can you witness a Disney-esq musical number between Satan and the Princess of Hell? Quality.... and available on YouTube, should you not have played the game.

I'd like to think I don't play obsessively. I do drop back on what little TV I watch and that's not saying much. Most of my viewing is now via Netflix or Amazon and that's with Wee Man and I on a film night. We did binge watch I, Zombie, which is rather good.

One think I have noticed, is that I usually play a female character. While you could play the trans card, I just find it harder to identify with a big, buff male character and, as most of the games I play seem to be aimed at the male market - hello, dual gender issues :-) - playing as a female character can give you an edge. Plus, if I'm going to be seeing the back of someone's head or their booty for a couple of hours, rather a shapely derrière than some jar-head's fat arse. ;-)


New skinny jeans
As I finished locking up downstairs, I found Pat, Val and Fyona were hanging around chatting, while I slipped back into him mode. Given it takes 10 - 15 minutes to pack everything away and take all my slap off, it's a nice way to end the evening. Pat asked if Val and I had taken our snaps and then, what did we do with them?

Val said for her, it was a way of working out which outfits worked and I can agree with that. For me, it's partly that, and a mix of capturing the moment (I take a lot of family photos), working out which outfits work (and which don't) and also to share. The latter may seem a little odd, but then quite possibly no odder than typing madly every Friday night for goal, nor profit, to complete strangers for the last 10 years.... :-) On a related note, a few folk at Chams have been kind enough to say nice things about this old blog. Mostly around the humour, so hopefully something's going right.

Weak gags aside, I was surprised to find female friends taking snaps of their outfit pre- and post-night out. I had, perhaps wrongly, assumed the outing photo to be mostly a trans thing, but then, with the previous happening, I've started to reconsider. Not that I find this validates the hackneyed "Oh, that must make me female", but that gender may well be far more complicated than I'd previously considered. Again, lessons learned.


Friday, July 08, 2016

Trousers: it's all in the cut


It's been a long two weeks since the last Chameleons. A *ahem* mere 21 days between meetings, but who's counting? :-) In days go by, I think I would have been thinking about climbing the walls. As time has gone on (Ed: nearly as much as you have, dear), some times, the gaps don't seem as bad. Maybe it's the weather, or the gentle acceptance that I'll be fab again soon enough, I don't seem to get into the funk that I once did.

Reasons to be cheerful eh? :-)

Talking of looking back, I was at work the other day when a colleague passed me, wearing some rather fancy, tailored trousers. There was that brief moue from the Green Eyed Monster, but listening to that old bag, rarely helps. Instead, being happy for the other person seems to push the beast back into its cave.

It reminded me that fashion-wise, I don't mind trousers or flats. I remembered another trans person saying - many years ago now - that they would only wear heels and skirts, or dresses. Never jeans or leggings.

First off, that's fine: if that's your bag, or your sense of style, enjoy yourself. There's enough people in the world telling us what to wear and what not to, without we trans folk wading in to self-police. Knickers to all of that - if you pardon the pun. :-)

Meanwhile, a few weeks ago
So, with that memory fluttering by, I thought about my own choices. Sure, being fully carpeted in the leg department doesn't help, but necessity is the mother of invention! There are things you can do, even if this season's cropped trousers are out of the question. :-)

Perhaps, its the cut of the trouser that's the key. Skinny jeans aren't mens' jeans (certainly not at my age and weight). Nor are a good pair of tailored smart trousers anything like the rather tedious office kegs* I used to wear ( * or strides to our Australian reader ;-) ). There there's the wide leg trousers which, in my humble opinion, do rather well for summer... especially with wedges or a chunky sandal.

Perhaps its the sum of the outfit, rather than its parts, as it were? Then again, I just may have had too much whiskey in tonight's post-work-week cola.

The only jeans I don't really get on with - at least in my Lynn wardrobe - are a set of straight legged white ones. Culprit to the right, thanks to Valtography Services for the snap :-) Despite the colour and fit, I think it's the feel of those jeans - or rather, how they don't fit against my body, unlike skinnys, leggings or the flow of wide legged cotton trousers - that usually makes me reach for something else. Still, it's rather nice to have the choice isn't it.

Take care,

Friday, July 01, 2016

Quiet reflection

There are times when the words tumble from me like so much water over a cliff. Out they pour, backed by the need to get The Thought clear of my mind and to the screen, to freedom. This may be a blog post, a joke or even a scene from some imagined story. A short burst of clarity where all is as it should be and there is only the fast clack of keys, or the rushing patterns swiped around the smartphone's screen.

Those moments of brilliance are fanned with urgency. A haste to ride the thoughts as far as they'll take me because in a moment, the everyday will crash in and the glorious flood of creativity will run slow to a trickle.

On some days, when I crest the rise to  bathe my thoughts in the giving waters, the land can be barren and dry. Littered with broken rocks of half formed thoughts, or the sticky mud of distraction. On those days, it is best, I find, to withdraw and wait. I feel I cannot bring the rain, only dance in it, when the heaven's darken and break. 

So, dear reader, I feel if there's a point to today's ramble, is that some days the magic is with me and, that others times - like the lacklustre post I've just replaced - the Muse is not. Perhaps writing, is not unlike shopping: there are good trips and bad ones, but it's the persistence that lets you find what you want, not just luck.