Friday, October 28, 2016

Every kinda wrong. Every kinda right.


A couple of weekends ago, I was sat reading the news when the Ever Lovely Mrs J asked: 'have you read that article by Grayson Perry?' Perhaps my TransRSS was on the blink, as I'd not, so she elaborated. "It's about What's Gone Wrong With Men?"

A word to the wise: you might want to read the above first and make your own mind up, before reading my thoughts.


Back? Sitting comfortably?

My initial thought to Mrs J's question around What's Gone Wrong With Men? was Why are you asking me? I'm not exactly in-tune with Joe Normal, but I've learned to keep remarks that might accidentally upset or embarrass, to myself. By the way, I mean upset or embarrass me, as much as the Ever Lovely Mrs J. ;-)

We had a chat about it and in the end, I Googled it and read it for myself. Grayson's walking his own path (there's that walking term again), and I'm fine with that. Some may not like his alter-ego and as much as I think it would be wrong for me to ask him to tone it down, it would be as wrong for him to tell me to brighten up. Yeah, I'm being reasonable again ;-)

There was much in the article that gave us a topic of conversation and later, me to ponder as I nursed a cup of tea.

One of the lines that jumped out was "I held a constant internal dialogue about how to pass as a man." Oh, how that hit a mark (Ed: Just a Mark, but not a Fred or a Bill, mind). For yes, dear reader, I don't have standard wiring when it comes to 'being a bloke'. I don't say this as a brag or a dis, just a statement. Sure, I get some of the male traits naturally, but other elements are alien to me and I just don't have the abilities, desires or interests of gents playing with a full deck. I was tempted to make a comment about Top Trumps, but a) it would make things sound overly competitive (we'll come back to that), or b) a set up a cheap gag about farting. ;-)

This passing lark is bloody tiring and I've alluded to this before about masks and not being true to yourself. Of course, being openly 'somewhere-in-the-middle' will draw you some flack with less then enlightening people or you'll be judged as being camp. Frankly, I could care.... but I don't. Life is short. :-)

Mrs J read out the line: "Though men might plead that their muscles, big cars and sharp suits are for attracting women, really they are for impressing male rivals."

I think I can see how that can work and I wonder if I'm guilty as charged too? I don't do big cars, suits aren't my bag and big muscles, I'm too lazy and worried they'd spoil the line of my dress. :-) But, do I compete in other ways? Do I compete on 'the slacker scale' by pushing disinterest and rejection of the mainstream male behaviour. Possibly, methinks the trans person doth protest too much. :-P

But I asked Mrs J about her view on a previously said media line that women dress for each other, not for men. She said she could see how that could work and beautiful as Mrs J is, she's not a girlie-girl. Yes, she'll wear make-up, but in the main, she's a boots & jeans kinda gal, not heels & hemlines (BTW, that's probably the campest Dungeons & Dragons spin off never written, but moving on. :-) ). Mr's J work-team is predominately women and not working in your regular office environment, the usual office clothing rules do not apply either. I notice when she changes her hair or wears something new, but then I'm trans* so I may be predisposed to noticing!

 Cyndi Lauper inspired
pun goes here
What about the question of people dressing for themselves? After reading Grayson's thoughts, I was reminded of a time I had upset Mrs J: the matter of the smooth armpits. It was back many a moon when the Chameleons folk had decided to have an 80s themed party and it being warm that summer, I'd been - shall we say? - attending to my underarms for a while. It wasn't until a week or so later that the heat, rather than the shaving, had given me a rash and Mrs J spotted what was going on.

As you well know, we have an agreement that I don't shave anything other than face or chest. I had either ignored this or thought I could get away with it. Whichever it was, cross words were exchanged, but the point of this anecdote was the comment: "Why did you do it? Are you trying to attract men?!"

I assured Mrs J that I wasn't and her comment has stuck with me. Mainly because it made me think why I had. The perfectionist part of me wants to say a strappy vest doesn't look right with man pits, but I could have picked something else to wear. It was, if I'm honest with myself, that I wanted to be pretty. Not for anyone else, just for me. Not for me in 'a sexual way', but that looking good makes me feel good. In the same way a fine outfit can put a smile on a lady's face and a spring in her step, so too, will that work for me.

Then again, given the 80s ensemble I'd put together (Primani ra-ra skirt), 'fine outfit' might be stretching the boundaries a touch ;-)

Take care,

Friday, October 21, 2016

Charging the batteries


These last few days have been a bit of a blur. That rushed loop of wake, eat, school run, work, sarnie, work, commute, tea, breath, Netflix and bed. In other times I'd have found that routine stifling, almost a treadmill. Yet, this month, it's been a familiar comfort. Perhaps, I am drifting, but I tell myself that the want of excitement, distraction or fun is not regular. They're the occasional peaks and without the mundane, or even the lows, there can be no peaks.

With Autumn's golden colours across the trees, I had a pleasant walk and a talk with Andrea. We don't work too far apart, so meeting up for a tea and a stroll is one of life's little pleasures. Maybe every second month or so, but with all that goes on a Chams, often I find you don't get to catch up with everyone. This time, however, its very different and that slower pace - of conversation and exercise - is something I love.

I remember Rebecca - in her own words, an irregular regular at Chams - saying that she found socialising with MTF friends in bloke mode refreshing. I was intrigued and she added that she felt there was less pretence. People aren't trying to 'femme up' - my words, not hers - but nor are they 'bloking up'. People just are. No need for the Machismo Mask or Faux Femaling, after all, you know who everyone is, so just let go. That, when possible, is I think very liberating.

So maybe, if there's additional wisdom in Rebecca's comment - and far be it from me to disrespect another's wisdom emitting ability :-) - perhaps that there is more than one way to top the trans* batteries up. Sure, there's dressing (obviously), personal grooming, but can we add unfiltered social interaction to the list? If so, maybe less pretending to be 'him' all the time might help?


Not got in in Spades
Talking of walking, makes me think of first steps. See what I did there? :-) So a number of years ago, I started this blog and I remember sitting in a part of the house that's no longer here. We used to have a little dining room at the back, but that's merged into the kitchen to make a much more family friendly place. I think there's a lot to be said about a big old kitchen-diner with seats for all. A spot for family memories: not just homework, but pet projects, art, Lego, Warhammer, painting, games and of course, the all important mealtime.

But when I think of that first post, I think back to the old room. The light from the window behind me and my hand paused over the submit button.


Submit the content or submit to my Fate?

Not that the latter has been unkind to me in the long swing of things.

Another year on and the trans* highlights have been giving a talk about being trans, replacing the group's website, another year being free of the proverbial Black Dog (I hear his howls, but he doesn't stay) and the continued awesomeness of the Ever Lovely Mrs J. So far the kids have kept their paws out of my auxiliary wardrobe, although as we give them time alone - my, they've grown up  - I do wonder if it'll happen.

But then, as I look back to that submit button, if it's going to happen, it will. I could pack everything away, hide all that I have in some secret, out-of-the-way stash. What mental or spiritual costs are their to always hiding, always watching your back? I'm no expert, I just walk this path of mine, but I'd wager that the time spent hiding and worrying, is time not spent living.

Take care,

Friday, October 14, 2016

The right type of funk

Hi folks,

After the last week posts of grumbling and negativity, it feels rather good to be able to post something altogether more joyous.

Oh, to be lost in the freedom of dance, with good* music and friends. To feel the rhythm and sway, strutt or swing as whimsy takes you. ( * A highly subjective term given the variety of peoples' music tastes.... and lack of. ;-) )

I had *such* a good night out at Chameleons. We'd thrown our Autumn party and despite a fairly quiet turnout, all went well. Sadly a few key folk were on holiday, but you can't have it all! But, there was food aplenty, dancing (well, for three of us!) and a quality array of party dresses and Halloween costumes. I think I spotted two witches and one Little Red Riding Hood. Always good to see folk make the effort.

I was slightly late getting there and due to a combination of too much talking, plus faffing about with false eyelashes, I was late getting down. Not that being late seemed to make much difference. Everyone was chatting away and mingling, which is all good.

Possibly some type of
strobe based seizure 
I did manage to find a Happy Birthday card for Fyona as it was her *cough*cough*cough*-ith. I did have a slight panic as on opening the card to write it, it was one that supposed to take a gift certificate.... which I hadn't bought. Doh! Still, it was well received. I remember getting a card from Sandi & Tracey a few years ago and I hope to pass on the good vibes.

Diane and I cut some rug - flooring, not the wearable type - to some tunes, while Val collected photographic blackmail material. Some is presented to the right for your amusement ;-) Andrea changed the tunes later on to her definition of good. Some more 80s and less 90s by sound of it. To re-use a phrase from the evening about politics and culture: not wrong or right, just different.

On a related note, Little Miss has been to a school disco tonight and enjoyed herself. Hopefully she's got my enthusiasm and the Ever Lovely Mrs J's moves. :-D Thing is, if most of your dancing is in heels and lets face it, stomping around just isn't the done thing; you've got to watch you don't go into the wrong dance mode at the next bloke social event. Still, it was National Coming Out day earlier this week. Something else I'm not ready for... :-)

Flutter, flutter or 'WAKE UP!'?
Clearly reading up on lash application paid off, as the wee buggers stayed on all night, despite... umm... 'glowing' somewhat after dancing. Seems the trick is to look down and bring the false lashes forward to your own. Here's the link if you'd like to hear it from someone who knows what they're doing and Tip 3 certainly helped Old Ham Hands. :-)

As the night wound down, it was time for a quick tidy up and luckily a few folk had remembered to bring boxes to take any unwanted items away. Mmm, iced party rings. So bad, yet so tasty!

After that it was time for some photos and I think I managed to take a few snaps of Diane and Fyona before they headed home. Val and I did our usual turn behind the camera. I had thought about getting the group's photo stand and sheet out, but with time being what it was, I didn't get around to it. I guess there's only so much you can do on a night.

With the evening at a close, Val was kind enough to take the key for next time, as while I'll be on holiday (woo!), I'll miss TrendCo's visit (boo!). Still, there will be other times and with them being in Nottingham, it's not too difficult to pop in and say hi to Nicola & Steph. If you're in the Nottingham area and in need of wig help, please do go and book an appointment with them. They're really friendly and very helpful.

Oh, that reminds me. The repair of old faithful - my brown wig - worked a treat, which is great. I also tried on my auburn wig, after Steph kindly restyled it. I'm wondering if it needs a little more off to shape the fringe, but that's something for another day. I took a snap of it (which I'm not putting on line), as my make-up was more brunette than auburn. Maybe my hair should always be dark... just like my soul ;-)

Working Hours

At Chams we spoke briefly about our French cousins suggesting a shorter working week. There was some grumbling about this and politer comments about cultural differences. It was a surprise to me, back when the Jones Massive went there on holiday, to find shop staff very strict about closing at lunch. I guess it's what you are used to and I can understand why someone would be protective of their lunch. I mean, of late, I've been skipping lunch in order to keep my work hours in line with the it's-not-a-rule-but-I'm-keeping-an-eye-on-you view of 36.5 a week.

Thing is, while working through lunch may seem the make the day go quicker and keep the time sheet in check, it's not great for the waistline, nor the brain. I'm a creative person at heart and my work now thankfully encourages this. The catch is that previously, I'd go for a walk, buy a sarnie and take in the view. This helped keep me fresh and I'm finding it ironic that by being in the office more, I'm actually achieving less. To that end, I'm trying to find gaps between meetings to stretch my legs and get outside a little.

Maybe, it's more about the quality, rather than the quantity? But then, would I feel the same way if I couldn't get through to a call centre doing the same thing? Ah, it's not always black & white is it.

Take care,

Friday, October 07, 2016

Don't mess with Mr Inbetween

Hello dear reader,

How's things with you? Are you, like me, glad it's Friday night? I know I am.

This week has been.... troubling. Not difficult or hard, but tricky. I have been - to use an English phrase - been occasionally swinging the lead, as my heart just wasn't in it. When I can get lost in my work, that's a good thing. Distractions melt away and I'm happily in the zone listening to people, thinking up solutions and trying to make things a little better.

But, when I can't, I'm listening to the less-than-useful circular thought patterns. They're like noisy planes stuck orbiting with no rush to land. Instead, they buzz and roar and generally get in the way. There are times, when it seems all their exhaust and dirty fumes is all I can hear.

Plane One is mostly filled with a cargo of worry. Worry around when will be the Next Time. It's a mere two weeks between Chams meetings and yet, I feel a frisson of fear. Perhaps, due to a packed work diary, there's no chance to work from home and express oneself, as it where, and bridge the gap. Plus, I know I'll be missing two more meetings: one in late October and a second in November. This stack of petty worry seems, on the face of it, rather silly. Yet, I can feel myself straining at my male boundaries. The odd joke here and there, or stronger thoughts that I should Do Something to keep my trans side balanced.

Do Something seems a good name for Plane Two and if this was a sci-fi book by the late Mr Banks, it probably would be. (Ed: If you've not been reading the works of the late Ian M Banks, do give his works a spin. They are very good. There's some minor references to gender shift within the Culture too). I find myself thinking about waxing my legs or other such 'grand gestures'.... I should know now that this does not help. Why not? Because on one hand, I realise this would greatly upset the Ever Lovely Mrs J and then with the other hand, I feel the rue of knowing I'm stuck as I am. Hard place. Rock. Etc.

It feels - to plumb for another analogy - that my heart, head or soul, if you will, is a bucket. I can fill this bucket with rocks. Dull, heavy lumps of worry, like the ones above. Or, I can try and think positive: be happy that I'm not completely closeted, that there will be time again and - as I read in the news today - my life isn't under threat because of who I am. Well, at least not yet. Not unless someone turns up the Nasty Party's hate-machine up to dystopian levels that Mssrs Moore, Orwell and Huxley warned us of. But, that's another rock in the bucket, if I give that too much thought....

So.... perhaps I need to - as the song said - Accentuate the Positive - and know that my (Lynn) time will come again. This is all temporary and that it'll be better soon.

Cheery thoughts eh?