Monday, 31 December 2012

Can't see the wood for the trees?

Given everything that is going on at the moment, maybe there is a time for levity.  Or even just a question that doesn't have an earth shattering impact on my entire world.  Its about mobile phone cases.

I can't remember if I've ever mentioned, but I am a little bit of an Apple fan.  To say the least.  I love my technology pretty too.  In the world of clunky big masculine laptops, my 11 inch MacBook Air is positively buxom.  Being both an Apple fan and an early adopter I bought an iPhone 5 pretty much straight away.  Before other companies who design accessories had even come up with new cases for the new phone.  So I've been waiting to buy a nice new case for my phone for a couple of months.

Yesterday I was travelling, so I thought I would pop in to the Apple temple, en route to my destination, to buy one.  We all know how cathartic I find shopping to be: I've documented it before.   Clearly a phone case wasn't enough.  I also bought a really cute pair of red satin kitten heels, some much needed hosiery, some items for my new apartment and some new eyeliner.  Based on hundreds of positive reviews and the views of the lovely S, I have switched to Bobbi Brown's gel liner - apparently it is amazing.  More to follow on that in another blog.

So, I bought a phone cover.  If you haven't looked at the picture already do so now.  I thought it was really nice.  My main aim was to get something that gave me a sense of not being completely blokey so I could use it for work rather than constantly changing cases, but that would be neutral enough for when I'm actually going out and about in Rhiannon mode.  I thought bluey green would be ideal for that - and it has an orangey/pinky trim that fits with the corporate orange colour the company I work for likes.

I arrived at my destination having already clothed my phone in its new cover.  The first thing the chap (one of my friends) I had come to see said was, "That's a girly phone cover, did you buy it for when you are Rhiannon?"  I was astounded.  Whilst I didn't buy it for Rhiannon mode completely, I certainly thought that it was one that would be appropriate for male time too.

My concern coming out of this is whether I have a problem with being able to select stuff for myself without it being a lot feminine than I think.  I'm wondering if my sense of male and female has eroded to such an extent that I can't see the wood for the trees any more.  There is part of me that is fine with my phone being a little nearer to the girl on the gender see-saw, but I also still need to impress customers with my macho, go-getting, hard edged persona.  Difficult to be all of that and then to bring out a vision of green and orange loveliness.

My question therefore is, would you use this cover in male mode or has my friend saved me from myself?

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The Christmas Verdict

Had a really nice Christmas.  Clearly the children didn't know, but everyone else round the Christmas table knew that this may well be the last of these.  Despite that sombre knowledge, there were smiles, laughs and even a little bit of fun.

In just a few short weeks the world is going to change and I'm not sure it'll ever be the same again.  How is it that you can love someone so much to the point where you catch your breath at the sight of them?  But that this is not enough to keep you together?

At the risk of this being a depressing blog, I am sad to the core of my whole being at the moment.  But I guess breaking up from the person you have loved for 19 years is difficult to get chirpy about.

Behind the scenes, I am gearing up for departure: new accommodation found and things that need to be bought are being bought.

In the centre of the relationship, we still pretend like it isn't going to happen.  We both look at each other and hope that one of us will flinch.  She hopes that I will stop feeling like a girl and I hope that she'll forgive me for it and let me stay.  I hope that she'll just let me hide it from her again and that we can both pretend it isn't there.  She's known and lived with this for our whole 16 years of marriage, so why not?   But the elephant in the room (the other elephant cheeky) is just too big and upsets her too much for it to stay there.  The elephant and I are both being evicted.

I'm becoming resigned to my future 'freedom' and I know lots of people (including lots who read this) will have been there, done it and worn the t-shirt.  But even knowing that, it is horrible when it happens to you.  When it is your marriage that is the one finishing.  I wish it could be different.  There is part of me that wishes I could wave a magic wand and be different.  To be the man they need me to be.  But I can't.  I have tried to fight against this for years.  Made myself unhappy for years.  Hated myself for longer than I can remember.  They want me to just do one more thing to try to stop: give it one last try.  But I'm spent.  There is no more energy left to fight it.  The girl inside me has won and she is getting her prize.

You know, the saddest thing is that I'm just consumed by guilt about all of this.  I know that it isn't my fault.  I know that I didn't choose this.  I know other people could have made a decision to support me rather than kick me into touch.  But when I look at the faces of my kids and know that I'm about to uproot their world, a piece of me breaks.  And I know the reality is that they may end up happier and in a better place etc.  But I feel like I'm fundamentally making a very very selfish decision and that they should be more important to me than how I dress.  Why should they be exposed to potential bullying, to an issue they can't yet understand, to a sad mother who's husband left her because he lost the battle of self control?  I'm being harsh on myself, I know.  But that's because we understand how hard this fight is - they don't and can't.  They just experience the aftermath of a storm they never saw coming.

But with everything within me, I'm going to try to not let this affect them in the way that it could.  I'm crying as I type because I love them so much.  I just want them to happy and want to find every possible way to help them continue to be so.  Part of being a parent is surely signing away the right to selfishly live your life.  I've never really done that for them before, but 2013 is a different landscape and I need to be a different person to cope with it.

It is all so raw at the moment and I'm not sure I've articulated myself well, or whether I'll even agree with what I've just written in the future.  But I desperately wanted to capture this moment for the people out there who I know care about me - and to remind myself of it before the world changes.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Two amazing days

Against a really horrible (and getting worse) backdrop, I managed to carve out two Rhiannon only days.  I have had the best two days of my life ever.  Which given my situation, was somewhat surprising.

The opportunity to do this comes based on the decision I took that I'm just going to be brave and not shrink back from going out and about.  Its been in the rumination for a while and a number of you have given me advice and encouragement for this over the past year.  But I finally decided so what if I am fat, so what if I'm tall - I'm going to do it anyway.   i have to be honest, I still struggle with the 'so what if everyone is looking at me' element but I'm starting to win on that one too.  You realise of course they are only looking at me because I'm beautiful  :o)

The adventure started on Tuesday morning.  For various reasons I didn't want to get ready at home.  Not sure it would have gone down that well to be honest.  So I drove into the office, before the working started and got myself ready.  Make up first.  Jeans, green top, light brown cardigan, flats and face the day.  My office is small with only one other person there mainly and other people cycling through.  The other person arrived, looked me over and was happy.  We worked through a busy morning of activity together - she was so fabulous and accepting.   Dressing in the office is going to become a regular feature.

At just after lunch, I needed to hit the road - the reason for the journey was that I was on a nationwide tour of present delivering in preparation for Christmas.  We walked out of the office together and this time did not encounter anyone.  That won't always be the case, but I was good with that as a starting point.  

I got into my car and headed to the first stop, Milton Keynes.  As I set off I realised that I had committed a schoolgirl error and not filled up with petrol while I was in boy mode.  I only had 80 miles left on my range, so I needed to fill up fairly urgently.  Deep breath and I need to get used to this type of thing.  So I pulled into a mediumly (is that a word) busy services and filled the tank up.  Got a look, but I will for the time being, so I'm ok with that.  Always more obvious when you hand over your credit card in your boy name to pay I guess.

With petrol in the tank, I set off again.   I arrived at Milton Keynes earlier than expected and had half an hour before I met the lovely Sarah.  Again a decision point.  Do I sit quaking in my car or do I go in on my own, order and wait.  In for a penny and all that.  I got out of my car and headed inside.  Smiled and said hello to the staff in the shop and arrived at the Costa section.  Hot chocolate and a granola bar selected and paid for, I sat down.  When I arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief, it was fairly empty.  All of a sudden, it filled up.  I just held my ground and thought that I'm going to have to be around people at some point, so I just smiled and got on with it.

Sarah was lovely and brought a friend along who was a lovely lady - we had a fantastic conversation and a really enjoyable time.  But before long I needed to get back in the car to get onto Hampshire to deliver presents, so I packed up and headed trepidaciously to hold Rhiannon's first meeting with my mother.  Flipping scary.

I arrived at home and went in.  My mother was absolutely fantastic, as expected.  She clearly found the whole situation surreal, but she coped very well and was very kind to me.  She thought I looked nice too which is always a bonus.  I had worked hard on my make up and look that day as I wanted her to get a really good impression of me - and she did.

Make up off and into bed ready for Day Two.  I woke up early and did some more work - emails don't write themselves, but needed very quickly to get ready to meet an awesome old school friend for coffee in Winchester.  This is without doubt the biggest thing I have done so far in terms of public appearances.  A busy and crowded market town full of people getting ready for Christmas.  I met N outside Marks & Spencers and we took a walk for a coffee down to Starbucks.  Honestly, she was amazing.  She didn't even bat an eyelid when she saw me and she relaxed me all the time.  I felt so supported and comfortable.

I was trying to explain (badly) to her that I think it is really brave for non-trans folk to go out with us because they share the stares with us.  But she didn't even seem to notice.  Afterwards we went to a couple of shops and to the Christmas market and continued to chat.  We've hardly seen each other for years, but we rabbit together on Facebook and it was like no time had passed at all.

Once we'd finished I got back in my car and headed off back to home.  But I couldn't let it pass at the that.  On the way home I regularly shop in boy mode at Fosse Park shopping centre in Leicester and today I had a little bit of time before I needed to get back.  I pulled into a very busy car park and went around doing some window shopping and bought a couple of bits and pieces that I needed.  I was bothered about being noticed, but the difference was that it didn't stop me.  And this time I was a girl on her own.  Another first.

Shopping done.  Back home.  Quick change in the car and I'm ready.  Sad that it can't last forever, but happy to have had my first full on two day experience.  I really can't begin to tell you how great it was and how often I forgot that I wasn't actually a woman and just was going about my daily business.

Sorry, its been a long one, but I was so excited that I just needed to share it with you.   Well done for lasting until the end. :o)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The best of times and the worst of times

This was going to be a weekend written, jokey blog, but life has caused it to take quite a serious and actually very sad turn to something I don’t want to speak of lightly.

On the very positive front, I have started to get brave.  I have had four or five experiences of going out over the last 6 weeks alone.  Admittedly two of them were with other trans ladies as part of the Chams group in Nottingham.  A really fab group - would highly recommend it.  But I also took the step of joining civilian life as Rhiannon.  The first occasion was a trip to spend the afternoon in a coffee shop with my friend Sarah.  Have I mentioned before just how awesome she is? And then on another day trip out for food on my own.  I have also been shopping recently and trying things on and having an absolute ball in many and various shops with some lovely assistants.  They have been fab.  On the Rhiannon front, I am now always just looking for excuses to go out pretty.  The photo on this blog was how I looked on one of the times I went out.

It will sound odd, but getting the new bag and I also bought a new coat, made a huge difference.  It meant that I was going out top to toe in girl mode.  Somehow that fact alone has given me confidence I never knew I had.  The mixture of reactions I have received so far have ranged from the very positive to the not negative.  No-one has been horrible or thrown a wobbler at me.  That has encouraged me too.

I work for a small company that I help run and over the last few months I have come out to a number of people who work for us and some in our office.  This has led to me gain permissions to be able to go to work sometimes in Rhiannon mode which is a major step forward for me.  The fact that I asked for it alone is amazing!

From a trans perspective, I've never been happier.  I'm in such a great place in my head right now.

But as I said before, something really sad has happened to counter it.  I’m really too raw to actually talk about it at the moment.  Still in processing mode.  But Mrs A and I have decided to split.  For more reasons than just trans, this woman whom I love so much, won't be my wife any more.  Part of me, I have to be honest is relieved.  Suppressing Rhiannon most of the time has taken its toll.  The bigger part of me is down and sad.  I will come back to this another day, but given that this blog is a record of my whole life, you need to have the lows as well as the highs to get the full picture of me.

A sad blog to write, but I know that you’ll keep reading and encouraging me.  That things will get better.  I’ll emerge stronger and hopefully happier.  But the journey to that point is not one I’m relishing very much.

Friday, 7 December 2012

More pictures...

I am actually going to write a proper blog this weekend!  So little time but so much happening from a Rhiannon perspective - I really need to bring you up to speed.  In the meantime - photos!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Chewbacca in a frock?

Hey that’s kind of a cool search to do on Google.  You get some interesting images back.  Also, some very unfair ones.  They are just wrong.  But who knew that you could even buy a Chewbacca dress - they claim its an Ewok dress, but I personally am not convinced.  It is very tempting though.  Sorry, I get distracted very easily.  None of this is the point of this post.   The point of this short post is to seek advice and most of all sympathy.

I’m planning, traffic permitting, to join the Chameleons Christmas party on Thursday.  In my exuberance, I bought a new dress.  It is so cute - a black skater dress with a lace top.  There is only one problem.  Chewbacca.  If you get my drift.  Where I can reach, I am smooth and silky.  Where I can’t, its not like its a furry rug, but its noticeable that I have some guy hair there.  That is really not a look that is going to rock my lacy dress.  So I’ve decided finally that a back wax is the order of the day.

Trepidatiously, I have booked my time slot and tomorrow...  Ouch. Ouch. And did I mention Ouch...  I’m going to have it done.  The pain is worth it presumably for the beautiful look that will follow?

So let’s have it.  What do I need to know that is going to get me through this scary scary rite of passage?  Hint: contributions that allay my fear are the ones I really want to hear. :o)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Its all about proportions

Its been a funny few weeks.  A lot has happened which I don’t have time to cover here right now.  But, to sum it up: shopping, bags, dressing in public for the first time and going Rhiannon-style to the pub.  The place to start is shopping and bags.  But I promise that a blog on trips out will follow on very soon.

One of my multitalented friends, S, helps people to think about how to manage their personal impact on the world.  As part of that she runs a biannual presentation on what is trending in ladies' fashion.  I’ve talked about this in a previous blog.  One of my other friends, L, ‘drags’ me along to ‘support’ her.  OK, so we say that to hide my embarrassment at being the only ‘man’ amongst 50-70 women.  And yes, I’m not going to include any more ‘air quotes’.  They annoy me too.

So one of the points of the excellent presentation this time round dealt with proportions.  Specially selecting bags that match your size.  Its hard to tell from my photos as there are no reference points, but I’m large.  Not tall as such (5’11).  But certainly rotund.  The point was well illustrated when S, who is a larger lady too, obtained a little bag from a member of the audience.  Against S’ frame, the bag looked ridiculous.  Apparently, if you are a larger girl, the top tip is to accessorise by using larger items - e.g. big jewellery and big bags.  Who knew?  Probably everyone except me.  But the point is that I rarely need a reason for shopping, so when I have an actual reason, I’m even happier!  :o)

But the question is where to go to obtain a well proportioned bag without resorting to buying a bin liner?  I searched in all of the obvious places and realised that I needed to go down the tote route.  On the night of the presentation, there was a company selling bags, so I strayed to their website and guess what - I found what I was looking for.  And great value too.  I’m not on their payroll - honest.  So, I went to MiaTui and ordered one of their Amelie bags.  In aubergine since you didn’t ask.  This week, it arrived! And in the flesh it is even better.  I thought that I could only get cheered up by buying shoes, but I now know that the magic works with bags too.

I tried it on the shoulder and I think the proportions work really well.  There is a picture of the bag above.  In a couple of weeks I am having some more photos taken at the lovely Trans-Femme.  I’m intending to include the bag with one of my outfits, so you will be able to judge the proportions for yourself.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Big milestones - the ultimate in ‘coming out’

Do you set resolutions at the start of the year?  This year one of my pledges was that I would finally tell my mother that I was trans.  Like most of us, these promises, set up in the celebratory glow of New Year’s optimism, are normally, to quote Mary Poppins, piecrust.  Easily made and easily broken.  Except this one.  About two weeks ago, I kept the promise to myself and did it, I told her.

It started really when she was visiting for the weekend around my birthday.  I turned 38 this year.  Yes, I know I look much older.  Its been a hard life.  I guess for 10 months I’ve been looking for the right timing to get it over and done with and had not had the opportunity.  Back in the Summer there was a window of time when we were alone together and I nearly did it.  We were watching television and one of those terrible daytime programmes, had on a very effeminate man reviewing fashion items.  He was dressed in a very feminine style and my mother remarked, with amusement, at what a weird bloke he was.  Needless to say, that made me run for the hills rather than say anything.

But back to the plot.  A few weeks ago, she had been at our house for the weekend and by the Sunday, I thought this was going to be another missed opportunity.  Except then it happened.  As you may predict, dutch courage can be very helpful sometimes.  We both had been drinking wine steadily and were in a very frank mood.  Which meant that the conversation started.  Lightly, on a different topic at the beginning.  My mum really really likes Mrs A.  They get on incredibly well, friends almost.  I made a comment about struggling somewhat in my relationship.  My mum countered, dismissing my comment as a joke.  I set my face a bit more sadly and made it clear that it was true.

And then something very weird happened.

Seeing a recognition on her face, that she knew, deep down that it was true, I said, “you know why I am so unhappy, don’t you?”  The whole world stopped turning, every part of my body stopped moving as for a split second I waited.  I urged once more, “You’ve always known haven’t you?”  She looked me in the eyes and nodded.  I have never felt such relief in my whole life.  So the whole story tumbled out and I told her absolutely everything about who I am, how I feel and how I’ve felt my whole life.

In fairness to her, I don’t think she did know everything, but she’d guessed some.  But her response was extraordinary.  She is quite simply a champion woman.  She took a lot of time to reassure me that she absolutely still loved me.  In fact, she said that she loved me even more now that I’d told her because she had felt that for my whole life, I’d been holding something back from her.  The ‘worst part’, that I won’t dwell on, was that she said that I should have told her years ago.  In looking at my photos, she told me I looked beautiful.  She said that wherever this leads me in life, she will stand by me and that she would be proud to go out alongside me however I was dressed.  We hugged a lot.

At the time, a big part of me was in shock.  In fact, one or two friends got texts and one a phone call because I needed to know if I should pinch myself.  But the next day, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.  I did what felt like a ‘walk of shame’ into the kitchen where she was reading.  I didn't really know what to say.  We’d had wine and there had been a heat of the moment nature to the conversation.   I wondered whether she really felt like that and if she was still the same today.   I tentatively brought the subject up again and she reiterated word for word what she had already said.  Phew.

I guess that’s one big hurdle jumped.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

B minus and sinking - fast

A month ago, a friend commented on the fact that I had been neglectful of my blog with no recent posts.  They said that I should get only a B minus for effort.  Weeks later, my hope is that I’ve at the very least retained a C plus.  But I suspect that she would probably have downgraded me even further!  So here it is.  A post.

What’s been going on?  Lots, I guess, and nothing too.  I would reference you to previous blogs really where I have described a certain numbness with regards to my situation.  It is numbness really that I have been feeling - almost an indifference to my situation.

Following my last post, pretty much straight away, Mrs A brought up the conversation of Rhiannon.  As I’d suspected, she hadn’t bought the notion that I’d stopped my feminine ways.  This conversation nearly led to a break up, but a form of entente cordial broke out once she’d got it off her chest.  We went back into a holding pattern.  This doesn’t mean she is any happier with it, or more accepting.  In fact, to be honest, I’m not sure I really know what it means.  Or where we really are with it.  All I know for sure is that she wants me to stop, but is choosing not to bring the subject up.

But following that a combination of a slog of a month at work, not feeling particularly well and heightened guilty feelings meant that I have neither the time nor the inclination to girl it up.  My feelings have not changed, but I felt numb again.  Almost like I was watching myself from outside my body.  And I felt incredibly sad for a few weeks.

Over the last week or so, normality has resumed somewhat.  A couple of nights where Rhiannon was Rhiannon, including a 3 hour drive in girl mode have helped to reinstate normality.  The loss of a few pounds helped too.

I still feel a real discontent inside me - almost like an apathy that I can’t shake, a lack of energy and drive.  I’ve taken big action on the job front and to quote the Spice Girls, two is about to become one.  This will make things less complicated.  It is slightly risky and scary as I went for the less secure option.  Is that mad in the current climate?  But hard work and focus will, I’m sure, prevail.  But I suspect that professional upheaval is weighing on my mind somewhat as well.

All in all a turbulent time.  But I am still here.  Still enjoying reading other’s blogs.  Sorry for the absence - I should have taken you all on the above journey with me.

In keeping with C+, I will try to do better next time.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Into the archive

I honestly will get back to some 'real' content soon, but I was going through my old files this morning and strayed into my back catalogue, so for completeness wanted to add a few of these shots into the mix.  These were taken back in 2009-2010, which seems like ages ago, showing four main points:

1. my look has come on a lot in that time - I think for the better, although that black dress is cute - not sure I can qualify for LBD status given the Trades Description Act!

2. I was a fair bit slimmer then!  Really need to work on that now!

3. I have become more demure and less tarty.

4. brunette works better on me than being a redhead!  In my opinion - please feel free to differ!

Anyway, here you go:

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Make up shopping and the clear nail quandry

Sneaking around a little yesterday was probably a bit bad.  But I really needed to do a little make up shopping without Mrs A knowing.  Going back to my previous blog, I think that it is harder to buy make up than it is to buy clothes to be honest - in terms of the looks you get from other patrons.  But not only am I back on the horse, I’m kinda galloping at the moment really.  So I didn't really care.

The trip wasn’t a general browse, I was on a mission.  Considering it to be a mission actually helps - it brings out the Jane Bond in me :o).  I needed to get three specific things.  Clearly I went home with more, but that’s not the point!   But whole manoeuvre did end up involving two different Boot’s stores to get what I wanted.

So I went off in boy mode.  The first thing to get was the easiest: nail polish remover.  I don’t know about you, but I really hate that smelly bottle liquid stuff.  As well as the horrible smell, clumsy girl me and open liquid bottles don’t mix.  On a recent photo taking session at the lovely Trans-Femme, I managed to spill most of a bottle.  And woah, did it hum.  So I’ve always used Quickies.  They smell really pleasant, don’t seem to dry out for ages and are good at getting off the demon stuff that hides in every nail crevice and hole it can find.   Red is the worst.  Looks fab on, a cow to completely clear so that nosy wives won’t notice.

So I got these in my first Boots.  And you can’t buy just that.  Clearly.  So I also got some new nail polish: ‘Urban Purple’ and Clearly Clear.  More on the clear nail polish later.  I tried to look for the other two things, but no such luck.  Smallish selection in a suburban Boots and slightly intimidating looking shop assistant.   Both succeeded in putting me off.

Instead I decided to head into town to see if I could do any better.  I arrived at the No 7 counter in Boot's and after a wait - I don’t think they realised immediately that I needed help, I was served.  The reason it was easier this time than ever before was that the No 7 counter, now serves men products.  So I was able to surreptitiously inspect those while I waited.  Phew.  Meant I looked all manly and not like some big girl’s blouse.  :o)  Once I did get served, the lady helping me was lovely.  Thumbs up to Boots staff again.

The second thing I needed was new below-eye concealer.  Working too hard has led to ugly dark rings and bags on my eyes and I hate them.  This product seems to work miracles a lot of the time!  Last time I bought No 7 ‘Instant Radiance Concealer’ in Shade 2.  Can I be honest?  I bought it in that shade because I panicked when they asked me what facial complexion it was for.  I lied and made out it was for Mrs A.  Stupid.  She is much paler than me, so it has never quite worked.  This time I fessed up that it was for me.  The nice Boots lady advised me on getting Shade 3 - and she was right.  Works much better.

When I got my photos done earlier in the week - I was really happy with them.  Except for one thing.  My eyebrows.  Compared to the wig colour, I think that they are a touch light.  It bugged me anyway.  So I know you can buy eyebrow pencils, so I took the dilemma to my helpful shop assistant.  Switching on my phone and bringing up a picture from my blog, I showed her and told her that I was trying to match the wig colour.  She didn’t react at all.  But instead surprised me.  She suggested that instead of a pencil (which can sometimes be too harsh apparently) that eye shadow put on with a lip pencil would be a good solution.  I bought it.  Eye shadow in Mocha.  I haven’t tried that one yet, but will let you know how it goes.  Buying two things meant I got to take advantage of a buy two get one free offer.  Yay!  Some new non-clumping mascara got added to the bag.

Then finally, the No 7 counter is next door to the wall of perfume.  I’ve wanted to buy some perfume for a long time.  So I got that too for good measure.  I don’t know about you, but the dilemma I have been considering for sometime was Mrs A smelling perfume on me and whether its impossible to get the smell off.  So I have to own up to some more sneakiness - I bought the same as she uses.  I can claim innocence if it lingers.  Wrong I know.  Again, would be interested in how some of you deal with that issue or whether you just don't bother?

And finally (sorry didn’t mean it to take this long to get to the point).  But my good friend Becca of muttering fame is an advocate of clear nail varnish.  Hence the purchase.  I put some on this morning and she’s right it looks lovely.  But it also still looks a bit too obvious that it is there.  In the little sunshine we have here, it kept glinting and sparkling.  I was wondering if any of you have any experience of wearing this and whether it is as noticeable as I think?  I would like to wear it as an ordinarily done thing, but I don’t want to constantly get called on it.

Phew that was long - sorry!  But hopefully you stuck with me to the end and your advice would be appreciated.  Have a fab day! :o)

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Photographic excess

Please forgive my photographic excesses, but new photos, just in...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

On black ties and dinner jackets...

Just a really quick one today - need to get ready to go out.  But last night was the long dreaded night of the black tie dinner.  I have avoided it every year, but last year promised that I would go in 2012, so I thought I better.  The order of the evening is basically every possible shade of a nightmare.  It is 60% women wearing amazing dresses, looking very nice with amazing shoes to boot.  As you would expect with this type of thing, they all make maximum effort.  The make up is great, the heels high, dresses short, legs shaved and tanned.  Everything it should be really.

By contrast, I was boiling hot in a humid room in my black tie and DJ.  If you imagine being at the North Pole and thinking, I knew it was better at the South Pole.  It was poles apart.  Sorry - couldn’t resist.

I actually worked out and perfectly executed my strategy.  The room was huge, so I went right to the side and sat where I couldn’t see lots of people.  Fortunately it was fairly dark too, with low lighting.   I sat with people who I really like and feel very comfortable around.  Extreme?  Possibly, but I know other people feel the same as me that this kind of thing can be the source of days of difficult self-reflection and unhappiness.  Whether that’s right or wrong, in some ways isn’t the issue.

The result?  I enjoyed it really.  Clearly I would have preferred to be there in something more comfortable Mr Bond.  But it could have been worse.  The interesting thing for me, which is a more valid question than ‘is this extreme?', is 'when did I return to this being such an issue for me'?  I thought I was making progress in being normal, but the last few months are making me wonder whether that's true.

The girl in me is raising her head at the moment.  And for now, I really like it when she does.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Diversity and arrogance

This week got me thinking.  I went on a training course for my own interest which is very unusual for me.  I usually avoid them like the plague.  It was really good - it was a Diversity type course - but was getting attendees to think about their own biases instead of being the usual legislation fest.  Great course, brilliant tutor.  I’m not sure how you would have approached this, but I (without really realising it really) I decided not to out myself over the 2 days.  Part of me wonders whether it was a missed opportunity and part of me is pleased that a group of strangers don’t know my secret.

Over the course of the two days, we were encouraged to understand our biases - and I definitely have some.  Even though actually they were irrational in some cases, they were there, hidden away.  But the thing that struck me (and I don’t mean this to sound pompous) but I was surprised at how few I seemed to have.  On one level, this might be viewed as me being in denial and that I’m kidding myself.  That might be true too.  But it made me think about my personal history and why I might not be so biased.

One of the personal traits I hate the most is arrogance, I really can’t cope with it.  I used to recruit people for a job and if you displayed lots of it, I was definitely not impressed.  Ah, well there is one bias I guess.  But I strive to be known as possessing humility and being non-judgmental.  This week made me realise that a lot of that comes out of the fact that, wrongly probably, I have a deep sense of being a flawed human being.  Some would chastise me for even thinking that my bisexuality and transgendered nature (or nurture?) is in someway wrong.  But hopefully we could at least agree that it is certainly not mainstream.  But being these things have caused me to have a deep affinity for other people who are not mainstream and who would easily be rejected.

For all of my faults, it was nice to realise that one of my strengths is that I care about people who others will more readily dismiss.  The next challenge for me, that I struggle with, is how to show that empathy.  To the outside world I’m a white, middle class, fat, family focussed bloke.  I don’t wear a badge showing what I really am.   I worry that, for example, a tattoo’d, pierced person would look at me and see normalsville.  That might lead them think that I’m judging them because of my outward appearance, where as inside I feel so positively towards towards them and respect the choices they’ve made.

I’m probably talking out of my bottom.  I call this a rambling for a reason y’know.  But this week started to make me think about something I’ve not consciously considered before.  I’m at the start of that reflection process, hence my not fully formed and probably nonsense capture of my thoughts.  But I thought they might be of vague interest.  Caveat over.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Back on the horse

So as I recorded recently, I was having a problem.  I have been a bit down recently and had lost confidence and which mean that despite needing to shop, I couldn’t.  The need to shop was not least because I have got another photo shoot coming up and I want to wear some nice clothes for it.  I mentioned that I have a black tie dinner in a few weeks.  What I neglected to include is that several months ago when I knew I had the dinner coming up, I decided to book a photo shoot the day after.  I figured that if I was all sad and depressed, that being able to dress up pretty would be a help.  Still not sure it’ll work, but its worth a try isn’t it?

So anyway, I needed clothes and long story short, I did it.  I overcame the confidence problem.  Yay me!

I was passing through Birmingham this afternoon - about an hour or so ago and there is a mall that I particularly like on the outskirts, so I went there.  I walked into the shop I wanted.  And I walked back out straight away - it was full and I panicked!  For a terrible moment, I figured that I just couldn’t do this at all, I was never going to be able to do it.  Ever.  Overreact? Me?

But after a restorative drink in Costa Coffee and a short time buying essentials in Boots, I tried again.  It was much quieter this time, so I carried on.  I’d been on the website a few days ago by way of preparation, so I knew some of the things that I wanted.  I was able to get those as a starting point.

The thing that was amazing was that as I began to shop and to get armfuls of clothes, the world seemed right again.  I began to breathe more easily and relaxed into it - and it became fun.  Like it used to be.  I found that I was comfortable, smiling again and giving people eye contact.  Well, at least giving the shop workers eye contact.  Other women shopping still avoid looking straight into my eyes.  But I suspect that’s nothing to do with me and more to do with a cultural thing.  I was presenting as a chap today.

So in a planned way I got a maxi dress with a big flower print, a white bolero style cardigan, a blue top with elasticated neck and some new jeans.  I so love wearing girl jeans!  And in a whimsical unplanned move.  Just because it’s the way I roll.  I bought a black patterned knee length dress too - and a set of blue jewellery to go with the top.  I have some really cute ballerina shoes in a shade of blue that I think will go really well with the jeans and the blue top.  So I am dead excited about trying them on.  I’ll be able to do it when I get there tonight.  Hurry up destination, I want to try stuff on!

Finally and with apologies if it is cheesy, but I really do appreciate your kind words of support over the last couple of posts.  It has been a really hard time recently and I needed your kindness.  It made me so grateful yet again, that there are such amazing people in the world.   I hope one day I can return the favour.

Blog ends.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Taking Control

No, this is not a review of Christian Grey’s twitchy palm.  Although if you really want a review of that I’ll happily supply it.  I have only read the first two - I’m making progress on the third and have enjoyed them quite a lot! :o)  I’m really surprised not to have seen more chatter on the books in the t-forums of the world.  Maybe we prefer our chick lit more romantic and refined and less mummy porn?  Or perhaps I’m just looking in the wrong places?

As for the actual topic of conversation, I have been thinking a lot recently about why I seem to have no ability to take control of my life.  I consider myself to be relatively bright, I’m certainly driven and like getting good results from my activities.  But when it comes to me personally, I always lower the priority and absolutely NEVER push myself to do the things I should.

Take weight for example.  I’ve been trying to lose weight for several months now.  As a yo-yo dieter, I’ve lost stones and stones of the stuff in the past, but at the moment?  Just impossible.  More than that, how about exercise?  Oh, the gyms I have known.  And at times, I’ve even been fit.   But try to get off my unusually large, but tastefully formed bottom to join up has proved to be an act of goliathic (is that a word?) proportions.  Nearly as big a problem as my bottom come to think of it.  And consequently I’ve failed.  I even signed up to a sponsored thing to force me to do it.  Except now I’m staring down the barrel of a sponsored thing when I’m still fat and unfit.

I know that I have a weensy teensy tendency towards procrastination, but girls, this is ridiculous.  Don’t get me wrong, its not in every area of my life.  I hold down two busy jobs for goodness sakes.  I could do both of them better, don’t get me wrong, but I get a lot achieved in my life.  But when its me and its my personal stuff, I just don’t do it.  Even when I know I should and that I’m unhealthy.  I just can’t work out what is stopping me.  Even the thought of smaller dresses doesn't motivate me - after all, there are loads of camping shops around for me to buy new tents.  I can stay fat and just go to a camping shops instead of my usual FatgirlsRus shop.

So I guess what I’m asking for, nay, crying out for, is your insights into what you do to take control?  Telling me to woman up, get a grip and don’t be a fat lazy cow might be what you feel like say, but if you could be more constructive, please do so.  I wouldn’t want the fact that I’ve run to the toilet crying with a bottle of wine and a carrier bag of chocolate to rest on your conscience.  Plus that would mean your advice defeated its own purpose.  And that would be wrong.

Please help,

Fat of England x

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Shopping - a bittersweet experience

Shopping has never ever really been my friend.  In boy mode, buying boy clothes, apart from one very memorable experience with my friend Sarah, I have never really enjoyed it.  Mainly this is because I feel I’m wasting money buying an ugly and frankly dull disguise.   Even buying girl clothes has only ever been done in boy mode or on the Internet.  I doth my millenary to Lynn Jones of YATGB fame for her posting this week on shopping en femme.  She looks amazing and her quick wit is just the coolest thing ever.

But back to the plot.  In the last week I have had two contrasting experiences of shopping.  Both unpleasant in their own special ways.  Both reinforcing why its such a tough thing.

Experience #1 
I don’t know about you, but buying girl clothes dressed as a boy can sometimes be slightly traumatic.  Over the last few years, I’ve done it lots and have grown accustomed to the stares and weird looks.  I know that I should have graduated to shopping in girl mode, but I haven’t yet.  Plus, I’m not convinced that the stares would be less if I did.  But needs must. I’ve got a photo shoot coming up in a few weeks.  I have only have one outfit sorted.  2-3 more are needed, I had some free time so I thought I’d make a start.  

In a strange twist, Cheltenham was the convenient location for this trip.  I live in a very weird travelling world.  Battle had commenced and I was in my second shop of the day.  Suddenly, from nowhere a big confidence zapping (and indeed sapping) machine came from the sky, cartoon style, hovered above my head and sucked every ounce from me.  I instantly went from confident would-be girl to rabbit snared by headlights.  I just had to escape as quickly as possible.  I got immediately into the lift to my car and I was glad that I was alone because I’m not embarrassed to tell you, I cried.

Does this strike you as odd behaviour?  Even now, when I reflect on it, I don’t really know what happened.  Despite promising myself that I would lose weight, I haven’t yet.  Its rubbish I know, but that’s life.  I wonder if it was just one too many shopping trips as a fat man that got on top of me.  Either way, the horse is there, I need to get back on it asap.

Experience #2
In a few weeks time, I have the transgendered person’s possibly worst nightmare evening coming up.  The black tie dinner.  Even as I’m typing, I have a sinking feeling at the thought.  It is an event where the men will have to look dashing and the women (most of whom are under 30 and impossibly slim) will look fabulous in their lovely dresses, heels, make up etc.  I’m sure you are starting to see the problem.

Yesterday I went to purchase my outfit for the night.  Given that it is a thing attended by lots of my work clients, the girl clothes possibility is at less than zero.  So instead, went to arrange for the hire of my tux.  Now that’s trauma.  Suit hire places, as I found yesterday, really do play to the law of averages.  My body refuses to abide by such boring social conventions.  I tried on the trousers - to get ones that fit my waist, they swamp my legs.  I tried on the jacket - to fit my chest size, the jacket has to be huge in shoulders - unlike me!  And I get to pay a load of money for the privilege of looking disproportionate.

Don’t get me wrong, every time I’ve gone to one of those events, I eventually enjoy it - I think that it may be the oncoming, stupefying effect of alcohol.  But its getting harder to watch half the crowd getting to look amazing while I am in a very boring, ill-fitting uniform.  And to watch the other half of them carry off dashing remarkably well.

I really don’t fit with either camp.  And the sad thing is that I'm not sure I ever will.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Doing it doggy (oo-er Mrs) :o)

Finally, it got bought.  The bag.  Front and centre.  And its a Radley.  

Despite the schedule from hell, quite frankly, and having had no time at all to shop, I finally managed to get to a bag store and now I'm happy.  I needed it to go with pink top, red cardigan and nude heels.  This, I think, will be ok.  The cute beads won me over.

Still have my eye out for another, but am waiting for the capable shopping assistance of the lovely Sarah for that one.  There are only a certain number of times a girl can fly solo on these things.

So probably doesn't suit me and cost way too much, but surely there is room for some frivolity in life?  Just occasionally?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Some days its Shrek, others its Fiona

Why is it that some mornings I wake up thinking I look like Princess Fiona and other days its Shrek looking back at me?

When its Fiona, its not the slim, long red haired princess version of Fiona.  Clearly.  Its an ogre either way, but sometimes I look at my body and think that although the build and shape all feels wrong, its wrong in a Fiona ogre kind of way.  I don’t about you, but I think the animators did a great job with her.  They really made someone, putting it kindly, who has the shape that is a cross between an apple and a rugby player look gloriously feminine and beautiful.  So what if I have odd taste.

When you look at a picture of her, you realise that they have used all the right tricks: proportion to other characters, hair, eyebrows, boobs are all well drawn.  But beyond that, she has the complete ogre look.  In the world of us having women we aspire to look like - and seriously, I’m not going for the sympathy vote, if I could achieve that I’d be really pleased.   A woman who looks great and feminine with a similar body shape to me has to be a little bit of a heroine!

Clearly I’d much rather look like the original slim Princess Fiona, but surely there has to be some realism into the mix?  Especially when there are some days when I look in mirror and all I can see is Shrek staring back to me.  Today is one of those days.  

I’d been building myself up to start going out a little bit and to testing out whether I would just be a stare-fest or whether I might at least get ignored by most people.  I have such high goals don’t I?  But I’ve decided that staying under the duvet is probably a better thing to do.  Let’s not inflict another Shrek wearing Fiona’s clothes into the world eh?

Oh and Diet?  Schmiet.  This month, I’m not going there.  But Monday sees the start of a serious and aggressive diet that I expect to shift large amounts of weight and quickly.  *fingers crossed*

Friday, 20 April 2012

It ebbs and it flows

I should be working right now.  I know that its 6am UK time, but at the moment, I really can’t stop to blog.  Yet, I want to get things down.  You know how it is: things bottle up don’t they?  Then a dam needs to burst out somewhere.

Life is somewhat confusing and frustrating at the moment.   I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked - keeping down (or trying to) two jobs that are both very demanding.  I was supposed to have stopped doing that some time ago, but it never happened.  The balance is about to change with me going part time in one to allow time for the other.  That was a blessed relief until this week.  This week was feedback week in the form of my annual review.  The backdrop is that I have worked harder this year than any other year, but also that I’m actually a relatively disorganised person, last minute person.  I’ve done loads to address this and made some progress, but from this week’s meeting, clearly not enough.  I’m redoubling my efforts because its what I do, but it was quite disheartening, even though it was deserved and I expected it.   Maybe the problem is that to hold two jobs, you need to be the most organised person in the world.  Maybe I’m really not playing to my strengths.

But all of that is bearable if I’m getting Rhiannon time.  But that is what has been ebbing and flowing.  Thinking about and being sad that I was born with a boy’s body hasn’t lessened.  I don’t know about you, but it very rarely escapes my mind.  At least every 5-10 minutes my mind wanders in that direction and I feel slightly choked at what I’ve missed out on.  But being busy has meant that I’ve just not been in a position to do anything about it.  This week I’ve been away from home: I left on Sunday and am going home today.  5 nights.  5 different hotels.  6 long days and have been out every evening.  All of the nights out have been really fun, mostly with people I care about.  But it does frustrate me that none of those evenings were able to be pretty.  Although in one case that will change in the future I think. Over the last couple of weeks I had two girl nights out planned, but both of them had to give way to work commitments.  Having gone through a period where I have been presenting as Rhiannon more, even if it was just to myself, it made things easier.

What’s also been weird at work that I just don’t get, is that transgender and dressing as the opposite sex jokes have recently become de rigueur in my presence.   Mainly by people who don’t know about me, so I don't think its targeted towards me, but its strange.  At a recent all day meeting there were at least 10 jokes about it.  On the face of it, you would think that I was wrong and that people just know and aren’t letting on.  But when the jokes are made, there is no embarrassment in the room or sideways looks at me - it is always genuinely good natured, albeit wildly offensive to me!   Then clearly I precipitated some more a couple of days ago by borrowing some hand cream for my very dry hands.  Not doing that again.  The comments from people who don’t know about me being a girl just for doing that were ridiculous.  Happy to be called a girl (I am one after all), but not through some attempt to embarrass me.

Its just a really frustrating and nondescript time where progress is slow and where, despite putting in loads of effort, I’m going backwards.

Plus - and this is the clincher.  I’ve been trying to get to buy a new handbag for at least 4 weeks and have not had a moment to do it.  I need shoes and a bag.  Retail therapy surely has to be the answer to my current out of sorts feeling? :o)

Monday, 2 April 2012

Still very fat :o(

I have to face up to it.  The diet has not made a very impressive start this month.  In fact, I have demonstrated a consummate ability to avoid starting it properly.  That has been good from a self-discovery perspective: I realise even more that I am excellent at planning to start to do things tomorrow.  

I have made a start though - 4 lbs came off (several times) and there were 4-5 days where no alcohol passed my lips.  But I didn’t set the dieting world alight and I didn’t drop any dress sizes.  That might sound rubbish, but some progress is better than no progress.  AND the more exciting thing is that I haven’t wasted the month completely: there are weight loss plans are afoot.  I know, I know... planning tomorrow etc etc.

I don’t know about you, but I find it very hard to motivate myself to do anything by half measures.  If I am working towards something and I know that it is just going to be ok, I won’t bother.  Whereas if I think it is going to be spectacular then I’ll work my (very pretty) socks off to accomplish it.  I need big goals and to really to drive towards.  Its the way I’m made I guess.  

Based on that build up, hopefully this doesn’t sound lame, but I’ve put myself forward for a 10k walk over big hills.  That's a huge deal for me - I've never achieved anything like that before.  3 months I have to prepare, which means I have to ring the gym up and get myself membership even despite the exorbitant cost.  I have also got a start date for a diet club.  April is really busy for me with meals out.  I have been saving them up for a while, so the diet club starts first week in May, but I am determined that I’m starting to lose some weight in April.

As an aside, as you will recall from my previous posts, I have my toenails painted most of the time.  What do you girls do when you go to the gym - do you just take it off or is there a way around it?  Especially when you have to go for a shower.  Tart-red nails are presumably quite noticeable?  (Actually it's grape sorbet at the moment, but I'm planning for a change this week! :o) )

The thing is that a lot of the over-eating and over-drinking is stress related for me.  I know other people handle it differently, but I respond to a really tense work situation, this whole weird gender thing and a tough familial challenge with food and wine.  The trick I’ve never managed to find is a healthy alternative stress relief.  (Did you notice I didn't even consider reducing the actual stress level?!)  Exercise has never really appealed or excited me and I’m not a hobby type of person.  A bit lazy out of work really.  Oh well, I'm going to try exercise again as a way to avoid it.  We’ll see.  Got to do something, I am getting quite sad about the current state of my weight and am worrying about the long term implications for my health.   Added to which, I keep being sent emails from all of the main clothes shops about the lovely clothes they have that I can’t fit into.  Now that’s annoying.  Hopefully worry (or frustration) at the very least will drive me to actually start.

Postscript: told another person yesterday about my secret.  An old schoolfriend.  She couldn’t have been lovelier.  Made me smile.  She was concerned for me, but so accepting.  Although we were chatting on-line, I felt so hugged.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

The cage

As usual having an email exchange with my good friend Becca of Mutterings fame, she, as she invariably does, set my thinking going again about my situation.  And this time with an analogy.  Of a cage.  Becca noted that, “I think that you have so much of you locked away that Rhiannon will always find a way to get out of the cage.”

I thought about it long and hard and with one exception this life does feel like being held in a cage.  I feel like I live in a carefully defined small space designed to trap me in and to hide away what I really am.  The cage has a big lock that can’t easily be opened.  The weight of expectations keeps it firmly shut.  Mrs A.  Family.  Work.  Friends who want the best for me.  Society.

There is one really important thing that a cage is designed to do.  It is to trap and confine the inhabitant, restricting their freedom.  But I said that there was one exception with this particular cage.  The exception is that unfortunately, I made the cage and its locked from the inside.  I let the scary monsters back me into it.  And so afraid of them I was, that brick by brick I built it around myself.  Shielding them from seeing what I really am.  Then, when I’d built it, I added the biggest lock to it that I could find, so that they couldn’t see me and they couldn’t know what I was doing inside.

When they stop patrolling outside the cage, aren’t looking or are asleep, I unlock it carefully and sneak out.  I run free.  Happy.  Hopeful.  Squealing with pleasure.  And just as they are about to spot that I’ve escaped, I quickly creep back, in the hope that I never get seen missing.  Sometimes I think they’ve noticed, but fortunately, for a long while, they haven’t.  They think that I have stopped unlocking the door and escaping.  They believe that I’m sitting in my cage being happy, content that I’m enjoying my life.  They surmise that I now take pleasure in my new cage-life.  But I don’t.  I really don’t.  I hit my head against it everyday.  I cry that I am trapped.  I wish I could knock the walls down.  But I built it really well.  Really well.  And I’m not sure that I’m strong enough to demolish it.  Or that if I did destroy it, whether the monsters would devour me anyway once I got out.

There is no prince or princess coming to rescue me.  Its just me.  I need to change the story.  I need some strength and some bravery to face the expectations and the monsters.  I need to bust free of these confines.  I need to take hold of what Becca says and find my way out.

Friday, 23 March 2012

On nail polish alone...

I absolutely love the stuff.  Don’t know what it is, but when I have painted fingernails and I catch a glance of them, or particularly when I’m typing and I see my digits whizzing across the keyboard with a whole load of colour on them, I feel so womanly and there is a leap of tinglyness that happens inside me.  Why is that?  Its just a coloured nail for heaven’s sake.

One of the huge risks I take in my daily life is that pretty much all the time, my toe nails are painted.  I’ve given up to a large degree on trying to blend my girl side into my boy side.  It was distracting and made me nervous about whether I’d be caught etc.  And whilst I don’t mind these days if people do find out, in some ways its a relief, I don’t necessarily want to make it really obvious either.  But there is something delicious, that makes me smile, when I’m in a boring meeting and I remember that my nails are painted.  It somehow immediately connects me back to my girl side and in the macho world of work, gives me a Rhiannon moment when I least expect it.  Clearly there are logistical issues around wearing nail polish and I have even developed a routine that means Mrs A rarely sees my feet without socks on.  Devious and wrong I know, but a small sacrifice for her I’m sure.

I don’t go to a nail polish, they do it for you, shop, it is all self applied.   This has meant up to press that a) it was a slightly wonky application and that b) I was using my own real stumpy nails.  Recently, I’ve been practicing.  So I’m actually now getting much better and I’ve been secretly growing my nails so that they aren’t stumpy.  By that I don’t mean I’ve taken them off and am growing them in a flower pot somewhere.  Honestly, keep up :o).  No, I’ve just been allowing them to grow a little beyond the end of the finger.  And apart from the lovely L, who ALWAYS notices, clever lady that she is, no-one has spotted it.

But the other difficulty I had was which nail polish to use.  I hate those bigger bottles with the long applicator with about three strands of brush at the end.  They are a nightmare to apply and getting the stuff off is horrendous.  And I put on finger nail polish and take it off with an alarming frequency, so I need something that is more gentle and easy to remove.  Up until recently I was using the really small little bottles of Max Factor’s Max Effect Mini nail varnish.  They are a pain because you get through their contents so quickly, but the really short applicator is easier for clumsy clots like me to use.

But recently, on a trip to have my photos done, the world of nail polish opened up for me.  Tracey of Trans-Femme fame introduced me to the world of Rimmel Pro.  Have you tried that stuff?  It is fantastic.  Not only does it come off easily, but the applicator is designed for putting the polish on in only a few quick strokes, so it is really wide, which is also good for us girls for whom nature has blessed with wider nails.  You get a great result.  So anyway, for those of you who like nailing up - go Rimmel!!  And they do that bemusing make up company thing of coming up with fantastic names too.  So I am currently enjoying my: Heart on Fire, Desire and Grape Sorbet bottles.  *big smile*

I know I could go false and they'd probably look better or last longer etc, but why miss out on all this fun?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Friendship with normal folk

Far be it for me to label myself, in any way, as not-normal.  Clearly, just a normal woman me.  Nothing unusual here.  All perfectly usual and what you would expect.  I don’t know why I feel the need to start this blog in that way - nerves perhaps?

I’ve got the chance to meet (dressed) with a ‘normal‘ friend - a genetic girl / natal female / real girl - whatever you want to call her.   For the purposes of this blog, I shall refer to her henceforth as Slim-girl.  And deservedly so, she’s gone from big girl, to fit small girl in the last 5-6 years and I am so proud of her.  But I’m not sure what to do really to be perfectly honest.  She is such a great friend, really lovely, I value my relationship with her really highly which is why I am nervous about meeting her in Rhiannon-mode.  Does that sound odd?  I’ve got some explaining to do...

I’ve never met a non-trans community person, who is a friend, in full Rhiannon-mode.  I’ve stayed with a couple of people who are good friends who were subjected to the sight of me in my nightdress in the morning!  Did I mention I sleep in girl clothes?  Probably not.  But when Mrs A is not in the bed, I do.  And I’ve met the very lovely Sarah in half and half mode - androgynous girl clothes and heeled boots.  But I’ve not met anyone fully dressed up yet who knows me in boy mode.  Its a big step -- or is it just another small step in the journey?

There are four things that are making me nervous - and I want to outlay them before you in complete honesty:

  1. The two people who had the nightdress experience have either not been in contact or have been a bit funny since.  Despite reassurances that they are ok with it, my completely over-reacting, hyper sensitive self has been worried about their lack of enthusiasm.  I know I’m probably mis-interpreting things, but it is a worry.
  2. I am worried that this will change the nature of our relationship.  I mean this in the sense that I don’t want her to feel obliged to have to put up with me dressing every time we meet.  In turn, I don't want that to put her off from meeting me in the future.  I asked her if she was sure and she said she had fully considered it before she offered and that it was up to me.  
  3. She doesn’t like what she sees, decides she can’t tell me and avoids me.  I know, we think that's unlikely - and she's seen photos, but its a natural thing to worry about.
  4. Clearly I don’t want her to be forever jealous of just how girly I look to such a degree that she becomes despondent because she can’t compete.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Clearly unlikely.

Truth be told, I would love to spend the evening with Slim-girl.  She is smart, bright, funny.  She is everything that embodies what a woman should be like.  She even shows off a lot of leg and she’s not trans.

You know that thing we’ve all been discussing about me overthinking things.  I think I might be doing that again...

What to do?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A very ordinary night...

Possibly the most boring (and short) blog of the year or of the ever.  But I wanted to share that tonight, I was happy.   Really happy.

Had a bit of a tough day what with one thing and another and the rest of my week is shaping up to be a challenge too.  But I am staying away at a hotel tonight working and I haven’t spent time in Rhiannon mode much recently for various reasons.  And I was feeling grumpy about it.  I arrived back tonight and just didn’t feel like it at all.  I watched some TV and then thought, actually, I’m going to do it.  Full on tonight and that’s it.

So I got everything out and put it all on.  My make up worked really well, the new wig was perfect, my new pink top is so cute and goes well with my red cardigan.  The new nude shoes were quite literally everything I dreamed they would be.  My new forms brought some authenticity and I just felt great.  I spent the whole evening relaxing, went on line, drank a couple of glasses of red and just was happy.

I don’t like tempting fate by posting such blogs normally.  But it was one of those nights where you know that being a girl is actually what you were born to be.  But, instead of that fact turning into overwhelming frustration at the gap between actual and what should be, it turned into a very satisfied, nice (sorry horrible word) experience.

There has to be a downside and the only two downsides were that I had to take it all off.  And that I know, at the moment, that I can’t do it all the time.  But given my last post and that actually I felt cute and feminine, it meant that more journies out have to be on the cards.  Surely.

Don't burst my bubble (and allow for it being a basic camera and less than ideal lighting!), but here you go:

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cross that I’m not braver

I’ve been using the weekend to get stuff in order.  No bad reason.  Just was feeling out of control in terms of what I had committed to do for people.  But its amazing that when you begin to get stuff sorted out that it frees up your brain to think.  So this weekend, I also thunked.

There is surely a balance between stupidity and bravery?  You can’t be daft with your girliness and just flaunt it?  Just saying ‘f**k it’ and going out irrespective of convincingness isn’t something people do is it?  Mini-skirts and fat legs are wrong aren’t they?  37 year old men in mainstream situations wearing women’s clothes is a hanging offense right?  Telling people that you are trans is tantamount to jumping off a cliff with no parachute isn’t it?

What’s the point?  There are people in this blogosphere of ours who do all of the above. They enjoy their girliness.  They don’t care about passing.  They (God forbid) wear mini-skirts without any regard for the prettiness of their legs.  They go into the mainstream.  They are open and honest with most people about who they are.

Let’s just make one thing very very clear.  I’m not one of them.  On the miniskirt front, you should be very grateful for that.  Although once upon a time, the pins weren’t bad.  But what is it that stops me? Why don’t I just get stuck in?  Instead, what I do is to constantly overthink the situation.  Most situations actually.  Last week's fashion event for example.  I play the mind games of "what are people thinking?" and are they are thinking negative thoughts about me. I should just get in there and enjoy myself.  Ironically, part of what I am thinking is that they might get the wrong idea about me.  Let’s just play that one through a second.  For fun.  A man, presenting as a man, at a ladies fashion event, trawling through stalls of ladies clothes, looking comfortable and happy.  What conclusion would you draw other than the one that is 100% spot on correct?  Why am I bothered about the fact that people draw that conclusion?  Its what I am -- and if I’m going to such events, surely I am putting myself out there as it is already.  So worrying about it means I end up not enjoying myself as much as I should have.

The thing is that I need to get a bit braver and just do it.  I need to stop worrying about what people think all the time and worry about the fact that I am missing out and not getting any younger while I’m doing it.  Sarah posted on my last blog saying that I need to, “stop beating yourself up and start living.”  She has known me a long time and she’s right.  I know that some of the above points are correct: there is definitely a balance between stupidity and bravery.  Turning up at work and knocking on the Director's door as Rhiannon without warning might be seen as silly.  Shocking Mrs A with my favourite dress would definitely be a negative life changing experience.   But there is more enjoyment of life to be had than I’m having at the moment.  Much more.  And I want it really badly.

I want to be one of them.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Half and half

OK, so interesting night.  One of my fantastic friends is an absolute guru on woman’s fashion, image and style.  What she doesn’t know about the subject isn’t worth knowing and she has amazing taste in clothes and just knows what works on anyone.  Tonight, she was running an event for women on what the trends are for Spring Summer, what has been on the catwalk and how its translated to High Street fashion.

Together with another friend, the lovely L, I decided to go along.  It seemed like a really good idea when I booked.  I love guru-lady to bits, she is awesome - and was just the most welcoming host.  There must have been 80-90 ladies there - and me.  Running late and going straight from work, I went in boy mode and it felt weird.  Don’t get me wrong: the presentation was great - and some great advice - in fact, I can’t wait to go shopping - I loved some of the new fashion styles.  I got really wrapped up in the presentation.

80-90 ladies having a ball and one very awkward looking, besuited and bespectacled large man kinda didn’t really work.  The situation bought out the paranoia in me.  Surely they are thinking, “what’s that man doing here.”  Or, “does he realise he arrived in the wrong place.”  Or worse, “he is making me feel uncomfortable.”  I know it was my issue, I was the one feeling out of place, they probably didn’t even notice.

But it brought home to me that I’m just in a weird half and half state.  I don’t fit in with men at all, I can’t do the bloke conversation.  After years of trying, I just can’t.  But I very clearly didn’t find it easy to fit in with girls either.  Maybe if I had been dressed and made up I might have.  But somehow I feel like that would have made it even more difficult.  L was lovely and I was so glad she was there or I don’t know how I would have coped at all.

Feeling frustrated, confused and like I’m never going to fit in anywhere.  Is this our lot, or is it just me?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

SAD and happy and sad: shoes and blues

I’ve been SAD.  It wasn’t diagnosed as such and I’ve not seen the Doctor about it, but I know it to be true.  I always get strange looks from people when I own up to the fact that March 1st is my favourite day of the year.  And that my second favourite is, this year, 24th March.  I hate the Winter-time with a dislike approaching hatred.  So the moment that Spring begins to poke through, the almost depression like cloud begins to lift.  The alteration in the clocks is the final nail in the coffin and we begin to enjoy long evenings of light and everything feels right again.  Seasonal Affective Disorder?  Who knows?  I just know that things get happier from here on in.  Well, until October / November that is.  As a result of the impending Spring, and a few other factors, recently, I’ve been happier.

Other factors?  Enter shoes, stage left.  Do you ever cringe when t-girls rabbit on about their shoes and handbags?  I must admit that I sometimes do.  I think that in the hands of some, conversations on the subject can feel put on and affected.  There is almost a sense that, “its what women do” ergo we should too: whether we feel it or not.  So please bear that in mind when I say that I have been looking for a particular pair of shoes for a very long time and now finally, I have them.   And as a result, I’ve become the object of my own cringe.  But actually, I really don’t care.  I’m completely swooning about them and if it wasn’t for society and my family and colleagues’ collective harsh gazes, I’d be wearing them all the time.

It will probably sound like I’m just a big trend follower: but I’ve wanted a pair of nude patent leather heels for ever.  Being a size 10, you have to put up with, to a degree, what’s available.  To press, none of the nude shoes that I spotted were perfect.  I’ve seen open toed, but I wanted closed.  I’ve seen suede leather, but I wanted patent.  I’ve seen flats and low heels, but I wanted 3-4 inches.  I’d just about given up.  And now, sadly, I’m happy.

About a year ago: in this blog in fact, I discovered the therapeutic power of shoes and the act of shoe shopping.  It really does work.  No matter how you are feeling, buying a new pair of shoes will reverse the bad mood.   Clearly if you can buy a new pink top, a scarf, some jeans and some new underwear at the same time too, that might possibly help too... :o)

Anyway, so clearly there is an upside to retail therapy, but based on the pleasure -- pain theory, there must be a downside too.  And the downside for me is complete guilt.  Guilt is such a downer when you are feeling happy.  With no surety of whether I shop because I chose to or because I have to, I feel that I probably shouldn't.  The thing about shopping is that it costs money and whilst I’m spending disposable income, given how Mrs A feels about it all, I feel bad spending money on Rhiannon stuff at all.  Maybe I should be saving it or spending it on mortgages or bills instead.  Y’know, useful stuff.  Stuff that is not the very thing I’m supposed to be avoiding and not doing.  Every pound I spend makes me feel like I’m going further along that slippery path to certain doom.  (Sorry, couldn’t resist the melodrama.)

The trouble is that as I’m sliding further along it, I’m smiling and shouting, “Weeeeeeeee”.  Oops.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

“And nobody else is going to put it right for me...Nobody but me is gonna change my story”

Do you ever get niggling little phrases that won’t stop going around in your head?  The above phrase is one of those.  It just won’t let up on me.  I blogged about a week or so ago on those words.  They are taken from the musical Matilda written by the sublime Tim Minchin.  But its almost like someone is putting them into my mind and whenever they go out of my mind, they pop straight back in.  Or maybe its just a catchy tune.

But its made me realise that there are areas in my life where I really need to take control.  And that at the moment, I’m not doing that.  At all.  I want to change my story.  I have an amazing story that I want for my life, but its not the story that I currently have.  The song from Matilda talks about the inevitability of stories.  For example that Jack and Jill were always going to fall down the hill and that ‘it was written in the stars’ that Romeo and Juliet would die.  She asks why didn’t they just change their stories.  They could have done.  Surely?  What would I say to Matilda about my story?

I’ve talked about this before, but the thing really that is wrong with my story, in the main, is that I seem to largely refuse to take any kind of responsibility for it.  There are only two situations where I get things done.  When someone else is chasing me for it.  Or where there is a deadline date that is within the next 24 hours that I’m scared about.  That is a sad state of affairs.  I almost never get things done in advance of deadlines and could even be accused of being late on occasions.  Where its down to me, things tend to just drift.  

I wish I could be different - I wish I planned and thought ahead - and therein lies the problem.  So I’m exploring ways of planning around taking a different approach.  I’ve realised that my ‘fire fighting’ of issues is becoming such a cause of stress to me and others, that I want to stop it.

In this case the thing that’s bothering me the most, that I allow to drift, is my weight, exercise and alcohol consumption.  All of them, with the exception of exercise are too high.  And I’m not tackling it because no-one is chasing me for it or chastising me because its out of control.  My whole story is one where since being young I hated exercise.  From 16 I began to yoyo weight.  And since about 25, I’ve drunk too much, too regularly.  I really have had enough.

So I want to change the story.  And I'm going to report on how the story is changing right here.  I'm going to address these three things and I'm going to put how I'm doing on-line.  It is only going to be one measly blog post per month, but I am going to report on my progress.  If you don’t want to read it, you don’t have to, but your kind support would be appreciated of course.  And although there is a danger of it being a car crash of a blog, I am going to report on three statistical figures:

  1. How much weight have I lost during the month.
  2. How many periods of exercise have I undertaken during the month (period = any time of physical exertion over 20 minutes)
  3. How many units of alcohol I have consumed over the course of the month. 

I’m going to be brutally honest about those three things.  You don’t need to do anything, but I think that some of you I consider to be friends and I know you’ll just stop by and look.  Given my determination, I hope that I’ll even get the odd yay for my now inevitable success.

It feels like the story is starting to change already.

Friday, 24 February 2012

And outings that make you beam

So for some who read this, their response will be a big “so what”.  If it is, I apologise for taking up your time.  My blog is probably too fluffy for you anyway!! :o)   But for those interested, it was a HUGE wow moment for me.

As you will know from my last post, I had some new photos taken this week and I was really pleased with them.  I emailed them to a couple of friends who for various reasons don’t read blogs very much.  One of my good friends, who is an awesome (rg) lady and a great supporter of mine, showed my photos to her sister.   The sister and I are unlikely to ever cross paths and I have no issue with her knowing my secret at all.  See previous blog on my ‘secret keeping policy’!  In fact, if she's anything like my friend, I want her to know!

The twist that made me smile is this.  When my friend showed her sister the photos, she didn’t tell her that I was really a boy - and her sister didn’t twig.  She just thought that I was one of my friend’s girlfriends!

Plus they loved the green top.  Yay me!

I know that its a small thing and that some of you are beyond needing this kind of affirmation or (lucky you) get it all the time.  But the reality is that I don’t (yet).  So it absolutely made my day.  I was delighted.

I’ve since had other really nice feedback from friends who have seen the photos which is helping to create a very positive feeling in my heart and is edging out the sadness.

Told you that you might think, “so what”!  But another milestone for me.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

More frippery...

Given how sad I've been recently, particularly about my self-image of Rhiannon, a photo session I'd set up before Christmas was perfectly timed to happen yesterday.  I booked a longer session so that it could be really relaxed and could enjoy myself.  Anyway, apologies for creating another self-indulgent narcissistic blog, but hey, you only live once!

My normal miserablist blogs will return soon, never fear!