Full-Time Life as a Woman – Week 17 – FINALLY, my RLE has started!

Tuesday 26th May was the highlight of this week – it was a day full of appointments relating to my transition, with a very positive outcome from the final one.

The first appointment was with my daughter’s counsellor, and its objective was to bring me up-to-date with how the counselling is going and to see how I can be brought into the process. Apparently at her first appointment her attitude was that she couldn’t cope with the new-me, whereas in her latest appointment it appears that she is prepared to try and progress things. Her counsellor is very nice – I gave her a history of my condition, to which she was very sympathetic – and we discussed various issues, such as what my daughter should call me (because I’m afraid that ‘dad’ is not an option with it’s male connotation), how I could enter the process, and a draft of a letter that would be sent to her with some input from me.

The second appointment, nearly an hour’s drive away, was with my speech therapist at City Hospital in Belfast. It was a lengthy visit, with quite an amount of re-cap and repetition of exercises, we talked about my goals for the sessions and then she taught me another technique for voice-improvement, around breathing, this time with focus on how I might attain more volume with my new voice. At my previous appointment a trainee had been present and I was given her feedback…. which was that my voice is ‘somewhat feminine’ and that my image was very good; so that made me quite happy.

I got to my third appointment after another drive, this one was my latest at my Gender Clinic and this time, as well as seeing my usual therapist, it was with the GIC head consultant in Northern Ireland, Mr Richard Ingram, who I thought was very nice. He discussed my progress and how things have gone coming-out (and was well impressed with my dear dad’s acceptance), went through the process and results of taking HRT as well as the risks, and how to minimise them… and then completed a consent form, which I signed, for me to be put forward for HRT medication! Yippee!! And the best news of all, that meant that that day was Day 1 of my Real Life Experience (RLE), of which a year is required before consideration for gender reassignment surgery. He left me with my therapist and we discussed a few more things before I headed home; I had thought about shopping on the way, but after all those appointments I was just too tired.

Wednesday I managed to leave work early… and was determined to do so so that I could meet my good friends and tell them my news. I went to Tesco in Newry for a few things, primarily for my forthcoming little holiday (I know, another one already), and had a nice chat with the checkout girl. Then I drove to Sprucefield and popped into Boots for makeup supplies where I had a couple of nice interactions – firstly I asked one of the beauty assistants for some highlighter for my cheeks, who was very nice and helpful, and then the woman who served me at the till was really nice too. After saying ‘Hi’ she said ‘I was just talking about you’, which I thought was highly odd… until the conversation revealed that Kirsty had just been in there for her own makeup; as I left she said ‘It was really good to see you’, which was nice. I met Kirsty and Michelle outside M&S and we went to the café where I first had a very tasty toasted sandwich, and then a hot chocolate… accompanied by a small piece of cake that I shared with Michelle. We had a nice catch-up, and I gave them my RLE news; there was also an amount of cycling chat, as Kirsty is fast becoming a keen cyclist as Michelle already is – I think I am gonna have to buy myself a bike!!!

The rest of the week at work was just, well, normal, but with some nice chat with the ladies in my office, including an amount of clothes-chat with Nuala, and with Liesa, in particular about her last-minute surprise weekend to Prague – how romantic!

And that post brings me and my blog up-to-date – lots been going on recently, mostly good… and that is how life feels.

x

Full-Time Life as a Woman – Week 16 – Divorce, Work… and Fashion & Beauty

Owing to my long weekend away with my best friend, detailed in the last three posts, it was a short working week…but quite a fun one too. I had a nice afternoon and evening out with my friend Michelle too on the Saturday.

Wednesday – it’s nice to treated by a lady… so when, carrying my breakfast in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, it’s nice to have a guy interrupt his conversation with someone to walk across the kitchen to open the door for me! The previous week I had asked for a place on the company’s girly event, and an email got sent to several women, including me, saying “Hi ladies, you are all invited to…” and it was just nice to be included in that group address. At lunch time I went to HQ for lunch and, after getting my wrap at the sandwich bar, on the way out I stopped at a table as Fiona, my colleague, said ‘hi’ to me and we chatted about our weekend – she was in the company of a girl called Amanda, who had met ‘him’ last year a couple of times but not the real-me, and so Fiona said to her “Do you know Andrea?” and Amanda said that she didn’t think so… so good to not be recognised!

Thursday – I was late into work as I went to see my solicitor… to go through, and sign, divorce papers! Alas they were in my old name, but that is because all marriage documentation is as such, and it doesn’t really matter as I won’t have to attend court, only my ex- will. With time to spare before catching my late train, I popped into my local VW dealership to book my car in for getting its brakes changed… but first I got them to change my name on their system, which went smoothly without the woman batting an eyelid. I got to work about 12.50pm… and the office was absolutely boiling, very warm, and so I took off my cardy and so just had my white floaty top, with much lace above the bust-line, on over a camisole top… and during the afternoon I had a nice email from friendly-Natalie saying “I meant to say about 10 times today the white is lovely on you”! Ahhh…. so I had to pop over to her for a chat and a catch-up, and it was great to see that she was well on the road to recovery after being knocked off her bike. I left work about 5.45… but not to return home, but to go to the first event organised by my company that I have ever been to… a totally girly fashion & beauty event at a hotel near Trinity College in Dublin! I arrived on-time, and was made very welcome by the lady from my work who had organised it, and then chatted to a couple of women for quite a while, over glasses of prosecco (note – not at all good for my girly voice), until we were ushered into the suite where the event was being held. Essentially it was two sessions of cat-walk modelling, split by a make-up talk, and it was all pretty good fun – the cat-walk stuff was interesting because the girl running it, a fashion journalist and advisor, talked through all of the outfits, how they could be accessorised, and where the clothes came from… and quite a few items were from Primark, M&S, or Primark! The make-up talk was interesting to – the lady conducting it had made-up half of a girl’s face, and then talked us through making up the other half, with an assortment of tips covering most areas of the face. At a jewellery stand I had a good look at the chunky items on offer… and the girl selling the stuff said she ‘loved my top’. After the event snack-food was served, and I had a nice chat with Joan (the recruitment girl that I first came out to at work) and Rosin, the HR girl I have dealt with since starting my full-time female life; after a while Rosin wanted to go out for a smoke, and Joan and her beckoned me to go out with them… and even though I don’t smoke and never will I went out for the chat; Roisin said I ‘always look great’ and when I tried to play down the compliment she said something like ‘No! You always look like you’re wearing designer clothes, something expensive’; well, I do try and make a good effort with my appearance… so it’s good to have genetic girls recognise it, even if an amount of my wardrobe comes from Tesco and Primark! Eventually the two of them left to go home, and I returned to the suite to gJurys Parnell Strab my coat… and ended up having a little chat with the journalist, asking her a couple of tips, and saying how great I thought the event was; she said it was nice to meet me, and I then thanked the event organiser who said it was good to see me as well… and then I walked to my hotel for an overnight stay, normally I wouldn’t bother but I SO wanted to go to that event… and as my work colleague, who stays at this hotel, gets such a good rate there, which he got for me as well (€55 instead of €169) then it was worth it, especially as it saved me four hours of commuting… and had quite a good night of sleep too.

Friday – can’t remember much about what happened on this day, apart from fashion event catch up with my neighbour work-buddy Nuala and a couple of other women.

Saturday – in the morning I had the brake pads of my car changed… as well as the discs, once the guy had rung me to say they were badly worn… and it all went so normally, just as any car-maintenance work has done in past years despite me now being a girl; I had a nice little chat with him when I picked up the car. While it was being worked on I went shopping, had a nice little bit of chat with a teenage girl in Exhibit who served me when I bought a dress, and had brunch at M&S where the guy said “There you are madam” when he brought the plate to me; the compliment was nice, but at that particular café it wasn’t up to all that much. In the afternoon I had arranged to meet my friend Michelle and, just after 2.00pm, she came across me at Sprucefield… thankfully, as I left my mobile phone at home. We had a lovely afternoon at Me in my sun hat 2a National Trust property called Rowallane Gardens… which, as it turned out, looked better than I have ever seen it, with splendid displays of rhododendrons in particular. As it was warm and sunny, and I had not put on sun cream under my SPF 15 foundation I thought I would play it safe and wear my sun hat, first time I have worn a hat (of the non-woollen variety) away from home. Before we set off around the grounds, we shared a pot of tea and I ate a brownie (not as good as my BFF’s), then we headed firstly to the walled garden before covering much ground around. We got back to Sprucefield quite early, and so had a hot drink… where Michelle got addressed as Madam by a pleasant girl who quite often serves us. Michelle retreated to the BBC to change while I headed to Sainsburys for a small shop, and then changed there myself in their ladies loos. We met at Hillsborough just after 7.00pm and ate at The Plough, one of our favourite restaurants where, as usual, the food did not disappoint and the staff were very nice and so obliging; as we left Michelle saw a guy looking me up and down as I passed him… which was perhaps due to my dress being 2 or 3 inches above the knee… or maybe coz he thought I was pretty! Rather than head straight off Michelle suggested a quick walk around the block, and I happily obliged, enjoying the cool air… so much so in fact that I suggested going around again, and I am glad we did because we soon passed an elderly guy tidying up his hedge sheering who said “Goodnight Ladies”! Ladies, that’s us!! J

Sunday I had a very quiet day, and even did some ironing… which was rather blighted by family health issues – my daughter had been admitted to hospital very early in the morning, for constipation issues yet again, and then when I phoned my parents in the afternoon I was told that my dad had passed out a couple of times that week and, following a hospital visit, has been diagnosed with a heart condition. I am rather worried…

Rhododendrons

Andrea & Kirsty’s 2nd Big Adventure – Part 3: The Lake District… and home

Our destination following goodbyes to Ruth, as per my previous post, was to the Lake District, widely acknowledged to be the wettest place in England, and with its weather reputation I wondered whether the visit would be a damp squib. On the way we stopped off at Lancaster for Kirsty to do some of her own reminiscing following my own the day before… and I will leave her to tell you about that on her blog; however, before the reminiscing began Kirsty was repeatedly phoned by one of the little Kirsty’s with a home-emergency and so I was booted out of the car to avoid hearing her Bob-voice.

Our first port of call in the Lake District was the busy town of Windermere, where we stopped by thKirsty and me at Windermeree lake for a little wander around… as well as a photo or two. With time marching on we drove the rest of our way, past Ambleside and Conniston lakes to our overnight stop, a pub called the Bower House Inn at Eskdale, without a break; the countryside along the way was increasingly impressive as we neared out destination. We didn’t check in until nearly 8.30 so after a quick change into a dress for Kirsty and me, already avec-dress, into a posh pair of heels, we hurried into the bar with five minutes to spare before ordering. The starters didn’t really grab us so we went straight for main courses… and it was a good job we did as the dishes were heaped – I had the biggest lamb chop I have ever seen, cooked medium-rare to perfection, and served with yummy mustard mash and assorted vegetables… and dessert was pretty good too; the waitress serving us was very pleasant. The bar was busy with locals, particularly a group of middle-aged men… and there was us, two girls, minding our own business, chatting away, with nobody taking any notice.

Alas we woke the following morning to awfWast Waterul weather – hale, rain, grey skies – and once ready we donned raincoats to simply walk across the car park to the restaurant for breakfast… though when we stepped outside it miraculously stopped raining and brightened up; cooked breakfast was pretty good… even if it was served with plastic bread for toasting. I had worked out a kinda inverted-S-on-its-side-shaped route taking in many of the lakes in the area, and we set off for the first one where we had planned to do a walk, at the far end of Wast Water – the lake itself is very impressive, with steep sides, and the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, at its end. Alas the peak was buried in low cloud, and the surroundings quite bleak beneath greAira Forcey clouds and a cold wind, and as we neared the walk it started to rain; with gloomy weather all around we both decided to forego the walk in favour of some stops further along my route… and we were very glad we did as we were able to do little walks, along several of the lakes, including Derwent Water, and up to the impressive waterfall of Aira Force above beautiful Ullswater; the weather was very kind to us, and although there was quite an amount of rain, mainly around Buttermere, we did most of our walking in sun. Alas it was finally time to go and, after a coffee stop on the M6 motorway, panic set in as Kirsty’s iPhone indicated we would arrive at the ferry too late to board… but with some Lewis Hamilton-style driving and overtaking we got there with time to spare… although by that time we had almost been driven mad by the phone’s satnav-type app which fell flat on its face every time it tried to pronounce Stranraer! The ferry was very quiet, and we had a good seat right at the front – presently a waiter came around and said “Would you like anything from the menu, ladies?” Ladies! We both ordered ‘gourmet’ burgers, Kirsty beef and mine chickenUllswater… and she obviously made the better choice because when mine arrive it was stone cold! So, not one to have my evening spoiled, I took it to the kitchen and complained in my most sullen, disappointed tone… and the waiter soon returned, all apologetic, and I was allowed to order something else. After a while my replacement meal was brought by the chef himself, who was almost devastatingly sorry… and we ended up not having to pay for EITHER of our meals!!! So it never hurts to complain! At almost 10.00pm we had docked and were driving off the ferry… and less than an hour later Kirsty and I were hugging on my driveway, our holiday sadly over. But it was fun, with some good memories.

x

Derwent Water

Andrea & Kirsty’s 2nd Big Adventure – Part 2: Reminiscing in Hull (through the eyes of a zombie), Bronte-Country… and TG-Clumsiness

The daytime agenda for the Sunday of our little holiday took is to Hull – the primary purpose for going here, as mentioned in my previous post, was because this city is the setting for an amount of my first novel (that I have been writing foHull centrer many years) and thus it was an opportunity for me to refresh my aged memories of the city and re-visit some particular spots of relevance; it was thus a shame that, after another poor night of sleep, I literally resembled the living dead (at least on the inside, or so I imagine) and much of the day I felt like a zombie… and unfortunately when I am like that then I can be a moody, miserable cow, as has been confirmed.

To ease the potential boredom for my friends, Ruth came up with the good idea of a treasure trail, which I readily agreed to, having done a couple with Kirsty before, both of which were fun; essentially the idea is that the trail takes you around a place of interest, clues are solved using writing on buildings or monuments, and at the end one can enter a competition to win an annual prize. Unfortunately, when I am in zombie-mood my brain is rather slow to get off the ground… and so I felt of little use during the trail, especially accompanied by a Mensa member who seemed to know where to look for most of the answers before my brain had even digested the question! Fortunately the treasure trail did go to a few places relevant to my book, including Queens Gardens, the old town, the marina, and past Princes Quay Shopping Centre, which we did not get to go in; I snapped away with my little girly camera as we went, so have some research recorded, and it was great to reminisce in places wherKirsty and me at Hull Marinae I had not been for over 20 years. Lunch was at a café alongside the marina, but although the staff were nice and friendly the food and drink on offer was rather bland. At the end of the trail all clues were solved, and then we went straight home.

Back at Leeds we relaxed at Kate’s home, listening to her saxophone-playing; shortly after 7.00pm Ruth’s neighbour-and-friend Charlotte came around for dinner… and perhaps it was the excitement of meeting her, but I finally perked up a bit – she is a really friendly, enthusiastic, tell-it-like-it-is woman, and easy to talk to, so we had a very enjoyable evening of chat, a lovely dinner followed by Ruth’s tasty chocolate cake and Kate’s homemade ice cream. Alas Charlotte had to go at around 10.15, and a little while later we said goodbye to Kate who went to bed early in advance of an early start at work the following morning.

On Monday it was time to depart and, after loading all of our bags into Kirsty’s car, Ruth accompanied us to our first port of call, a touristy town called Haworth – if you are as old as me and from the UK, years ago you may well have seen adverts of a boy carrying a loaf of Hovis breadBronte Parsonage up a long cobbled hill to the tune of Dvorak’s New World Symphony… and Haworth’s most attractive feature is a street just like that, full of character. Alas when we arrived it was steadily raining, and we walked from our cars about 15 minutes to the town’s main historical point of interest, the Bronte Parsonage, a museum-conversion of the house where the Bronte sisters grew up and where some of their most famous works, such as Wuthering Heights, were penned. We entered through the front door and began a self-guided tour, with booklets handed out by a friendly guide who we all had some friendly chat with. The place was quite interesting, with authentic furniture – some reproduction, but also some original, including a very ordinary-looking dining table that the museum had recently paid £600,000 for! A few things stood out to me as we went around – exhibits of some of their writings were penned in microscopic scribbles, the life-conditions were absolutely appalling even though it was less than two hundred years ago (including open sewers and little proper drinking water), and the correspondingly high mortality rate… including the death of two of the Bronte sisters at ages 10 and 11; some of the lace exhibits were also very pretty.

Once out of the museum we retraced our steps, thankfully in the sunlight as the weather had finally brightened up. We took a few pictures of the pleasant surroundings and then went into a café that, at least from the outside, looked quite promising from the displays of cakes in the window. Once seated a woman with slightly odd-coloured hair passed out menus; a few minutes later we ordered… as she raved about her own cakes. Then a man, who presumably co-owned the place, said “Hello people” (which is frankly an odd way to address anyone at all) and then said “I didn’t like to say ‘guys’ in case it offended”… and that made it totally obvious that we had been read, at least by him, as a group of transgender ‘people’. My stomach instantly turned into lead and sank to the floor, and I felt totally drained and put off my snack by this idiot’s incredible clumsiness… and after a few remarks between us-girls about the incident I decided I Me at Haworthhad to vacate the place as quickly as possible and cancelled my order, partly to avoid any further discussion about it, and partly because I can’t be bothered to pay for the services of someone so rude, whether it be through ignorance or otherwise… and I am glad I did because once I had gone the guy apologised and my friends were able to educate him on how to not treat TG people by drawing attention to their nature. In the cafe Ruth said “Think of us as pioneers”… and I suppose we are, but personally I only think of myself as a woman and anything that upsets that is unwanted. I walked down a few buildings to a shop called “…And Chocolate” selling hand-made chocolates sourced from Belgium and France – the owner was a really nice guy, he offered me a sample of a chocolate and we had some really jovial chat as I slowly picked a small selection of chocolates; he also let me try a couple of different pieces of dark chocolate, and we discussed just how different they were despite only a 2% difference in cocoa content; I also joked a bit with one of his other customers who came in after me and was bowled over by the quality of the chocolate. Once out of there I bought a bun from a baker’s and, after browsing a home-wares shop, sat outside and munched away, eventually joined by my friends. We returned to our cars… and that is where we parted, just a little deflated by the clumsy cafe incident… sigh… but I guess that it is further proof that the larger the number of TS-women in a group the more likely it is that eventually an incident such as this may occur.

Andrea & Kirsty’s 2nd Big Adventure – Part 1: Friends in Leeds are Friends Indeed

If I cast my mind back to October of last year I have fond memories of a long weekend away with my best friend Kirsty where we met a dear lady called Ruth at a transgender-support-group-specific weekend event… except that the fond memories are of the times that we spend as a threesome, out and about, doing real-world, every-day, touristy type things, shopping, and a drink at a local hostelry; a primary purpose of that weekend was to challenge ourselves, and relish having a long period of time away from home as our true selves the whole time… and that we indeed did, as numerous blog posts at that time attest. We had said tearful goodbyes to Ruth, with suggestions and hopes of meeting up again…

…and this is what happened mid-May 2015. Being a first-time novelist I had fancied going on a research trip, to Hull of all places, to refresh memories of this city which is the main base for much of my novel’s events… and as Hull happens to be within an hour and a half of Ruth’s home-city then it seemed a good idea to combine the two and meet our lovely friend again, with Kirsty along too for good company enabling our second getaway adventure together. In some respects, this vacation is of more significance to Kirsty as she is alas not able to live full-time as her true self, whereas I am into month four of a wonderful new life; but in some respects there were a few firsts for me too… such as this being my first holiday living full-time as a woman, my first trip away carrying my own, female passport (not that I had to show it), and so on. Overall we had a great time… albeit that as I seem to be permanently deficient of sleep owing to persistently awful sleep patterns, and thus half the time only part-Andrea and part-zombie, then I fear I was a bit of a moody cow for some of it and at times not vocal enough with my own desires.

Anyway, following on from my previous blog post, Kirsty arrived at my house on the night of Thursday 14th May and we were instantly filled with excitement; the next morning we set off at around 9.45 in the morning… and alas I soon became travel sick, as I often was in younger years, though not enough to bring up my breakfast. At Belfast ferry port we swapped car seats, and I drove us to the ticket barrier as the ticket was in my name and then onto the Stena Lines ferry where we ascended several floors to our Premier Class lounge and grabbed a couple of seats at the front of the ship. The crossing took about two and a half hours… and alas I felt sea-sick for much of it – I went shopping to try and take my mind off it, and did buy some perfume after much sampling and a necklace, but then had to go on deck for fresh air… where a mid-fifties Scotsman came out and asked me if I was okay.

Once off the ferry we embarked on our lengthy journey to Leeds, which took around four and a half hours – we stopped at a town called Gatehouse Of Fleet for some fresh air, where we viewed an old mill, avoided a kilt-making centre (a tiny building with the frumpiest-looking design show-piecing in the window), and went into a higgledy-piggledy nick-nack shop where, after a bit of looking around, the shopkeeper said “Can I help you girls?” and then proceeded to do a dreadful-sell of the ‘café’ there; after a loo-stop, we set off again (driving past a car with a bag of potatoes on its roof – obviously a local custom)… and at about 8.15pm arrived at the house of Ruth’s significant other-half ‘Kate’… who was out when we got there. Ruth greeted us with big hugs and much excitement, and showed us to lovely bedrooms within Kate’s beautiful house. After some catch-up we sat at the kitchen table and were served up some very nice stew… and about halfway through eating, Kate arrived home from band practise – she plays the saxophone… rather better than she claims. During chat in the kitchen, finishing off our food, and subsequently some delicious chocolates with cherries, it soon became clear what a lovely, accepting, and down-to-earth lady Kate is. We went to bed after midnight, and although I had a comfortable bed I suffered a dreadful night of sleep – new bed, drunken people outside returning from the pub, pigeons waking me up at 4.00am… such is me, the light-sleeper of the party.Owl earrings

Saturday’s agenda was to include a trip to Leeds centre followed by a visit to a historical abode. We had a rather too-leisurely breakfast, such that a planned appointment for me to Yorkshire Building Society to change my name with them did not materialise… though it is difficult to tear oneself away from the breakfast table with scrummy home-made bread and jam on offer. As Leeds is the city of the owl, I wore my owl earrings – the first non-stud earrings I have worn in my pierced ears. We eventually got to Leeds centre just after midday, and headed to the banking quarter where I was able to go to another bank to change my name on a credit card, then joined my two friends to do a bit of shopping in a very busy city centre where I don’t recall anyone paying us any attention; I was rather proud of my self-restraint in only buying a single item of clothing, a lovLeeds Gallery cafeely dress half-price in the Debenham’s sale, considering the grand selection of shops in the city. We all had an upmarket panini for lunch at the café of a Leeds gallery which is furnished in grand style; on a trip to the ladies, I had a quick look at a few paintings, where I did see quite a nice landscape in France, but most of the portraits did nothing at all for me… and frankly seeing pictures of women sprouting breasts I find rather degrading. In the afternoon we went to Harewood House, a splendid building with beautiful gardenFlamingoes at Harewoods… and a ludicrously steep entry price, £10.50 each for only the gardens!!! We had a lengthy walk around the grounds… and I was sure glad I talk my coat, because a couple of hours later I was frozen! The first area we went to was the bird cages… and I suppose, typical zoo-like arena, half of the poor things either had too-little greenery or two small-a-cage; there some quite unusual species though, including a bird that looked like it had an egg growing on its head, poor thing… and it was quite unusual to see flamingos in Leeds!! We also watched a red kite diving for fish in the lake. Then we had a walk alongKirsty and me at Harewood part of the lake and into some really beautiful Himalayan gardens, with hundreds of beautiful primulas, a little pagoda-type structure, a wooden bridge… and some tall stepping stones across the lake’s outlet, a challenge in itself, that Ruth passed with ease, I crossed on my little legs with some trepidation… but Kirsty could not manage this death-defying test. Once back at the lake we passed some beautiful carpets of bluebells, and then went onto the formal gardens of the house itself… which included an out-of-place modern sculpture of a naked male that I just could not look at. Back at Kate’s house we had tea/coffee and Kirsty’s yummy brownies… though it did not spoil our appetite for our meal out at a Loch Fyne restaurant – we had a nice evening out, and it made a change to be able to drink some wine dining in the company of my BF…. but the meal itself was a bit disappointing, with a knife dropped in Kirsty’s lap, burnt toast with my lobster bisque, a fish pasta with too much seasoning, etc…. but it rounded off a pretty grand day out.

Harewood House

Full-time Life As A Woman – Week 15… including a chocolaty Thursday

This was quite a short, and easy, week, with something to look forward to at the end of it spurring me on… as well as the office-tranquility due to the absence of my boss as well as the dinosaurs from the software company who are usually on-site; I was still pretty busy at work though.

Monday 11th May – nothing of note at all that I can remember… probably because I had such a poor night of sleep that I was only half awake for some of it.

Tuesday 12th May – lunch was the highlight of the day really with two little encounters. I walked over to the main office building to get a wrap and as I went to go for the door into the main concourse on the ground floor a guy was coming through, but then he smiled, stepped back and to the side, and said ‘please…’ to beckon me past; don’t ya just love guys who like to treat you like a lady. Once I had got my lunch I saw a girl called Claire, who I have known for some time, and she said “Hi Andrea, you look great!” Later on I got a Linked-In message from a guy who used to work for me (well, the one who is consigned to history rather than the real-me), it was short and sweet and said “Hi Andrea, looking good! Hope everything is going great for you!”; that was really nice of him to make the effort to send that.

Wednesday 13th May – had a total wardrobe catastrophe while getting ready and got myself so worked up that I almost tore off the dress I was wearing, as it had a low neck and was showing my boobs (which are not real yet) and every effort to hide them looked wrong! But eventually a thought crossed my mind and I put a full-cup bra on, and all was well… as my work-buddy Nuala confirmed when I got to the office, as she said I looked pretty and summery. I had no lunch break, as I had to meet a systems auditor for a long meeting – he is quite an old guy, I think he is from Germany… and I really quite like him, he had met me once before, quite a while ago… but he said “nice to meet you” when I went into his temporary office, and then when we went to another PC in the building to check a few things he held open all of the doors for me. I managed to leave the office to get my earlier train and, as is usual when I have a few minutes to spare at the station, I pop to the ladies to check my hair and make-up… and I appear to be making a new friend there, the cleaning lady! The previous time I saw her, she came up to me and had a bit of a moan about the way some women leave the toilets after she has just cleaned them, this time she greeted me very cheerfully and we talked mostly about the weather; she said “god bless” to me when I said goodbye. On the train, 15 minutes before arriving at my stop, I did my walking-woman transformation in the toilet… and then once at Newry I put on my walking boots and drove to the next walk with my group, at Redburn Country Park east of Belfast – it was a beautifully sunny evening and we had a lovely walk amongst carpets of bluebells; I had a lovely long chat with a lady called Nuala… who, by the time I had got home, said on Meetup that it was good to see me.

Thursday 14th May – when I got to work I saw Natalie, back after quite a number of days off, and I think everyone thought she had been on holidays… but she had actually been knocked off her bike by a taxi and had been badly bruised and sprained, so she had one arm in a sling and the other in a support bandage; I felt really sorry for her, and tried to sympathise a lot, and decided I would buy her some chocolates later on. As usual, I had a good amount of friendly chat with my work-neighbour Nuala who said my top was really pretty… which I was glad about as I had got it online in a sale and I love it. A bit later on Nuala and I were chatting in the kitchen as we made tea, and when we got back to our desks she took a box of Ferroro Rocher chocolates out of her bag and gave them to me, and said “these are for you to eat on the boat”  – isn’t that SOOOO nice!!! I was filled with tears at her kind and friendly gesture. At lunchtime I looked in a few shops for chocolates, as well as sandwich, and eventually found something suitable; back in the office, Natalie was not at her desk and so I wrote a note on the box saying “Hope you recover soon” and put the chocolates on her desk – a while later she came back and found them, and then came over and said I was mad for getting them, but said “thank you so much”; a few minutes later I got an email thanking me again, and saying that I am “so sweet” (awww)… and something else, and that they put a smile on her face… so my latest mission to cheer some up seemed to work.

And that’s about it, another week with some lovely, nice high points, but generally just normal activity… with nice people. Today I got home early… and soon will be welcoming my best friend Kirsty to stay the night, for tomorrow we begin our latest adventure! Better finish packing!!!

x

An Eventful Weekend

The weekend just gone was really fun and fulfilling… even if I feel rather weary after it. I spent quite an amount of it away from home. The title I suppose is a play on words… as much of my social life outside of my closer friends revolves around ‘events’ that are organised by people on the Meetup Groups that I am a member of.

Saturday morning I tentatively drew the curtains, half-expecting a miserable morning after the dreadfully bad weather Whitehead lighthouseof recent days… but it was a brilliant blue sky and a bright day, and I was up like a shot, eager to get ready for the latest walk of my main Meetup group. By 11.00 I had driven over an hour, stopped twice to go to the toilet, and was pulling into the car park on the coast at the pretty coastal village of Whitehead where the walk was to start. Out of the car I said Hi to a few people and we had a chat for a while as we waited for the group leader to arrive… and waited… and waited; a married couple who I had not seen for many walks said “Hi Andrea” and asked how I was, and it reminds me how nice it feels to be addressed by my lovely new name who know me as nobody else. Eventually the leader arrived, well over a quarter an hour late, and a few minutes later we set off, and I was soon chatting at length with a woman called Mags who I had met a couple of times before… wWhiteheadho before long suggested that if I wanted a friend to go on holiday with, then she would be agreeable to it. We walked up the hills and along the cliffs to the Whitehead lighthouse, and I talked to quite a few women as we went, all enjoying the fabulous sunny weather. Past the lighthouse we descended to a metre or two above sea-level, and then turned back south and talk the lower coastal path back to the car park, and then beyond along pretty Whitehead promenade, past pastel-coloured houses, to an old tea room where we had freshly baked scones, tea, and more good chat with the ladies. As it became time to leave, the weather was still lovely, and Mags showed some interest in doing something else, so the two of us decided to head a little way north as she fancied showing me some of her old walking venues. I followed her car onto Islandmghee, a strip of land joined only by a roadway causeway to the mainland, along pretty flower-lined roads, and did two walks together, a lovely coastal walk from Browns Bay and another shorter circuit walk at Port Muck, from a harbour to view a little bird-populated island off the coast. We had much good chat and were so lucky with the weather, which finally broke into torrential showers about five minutes after we had returned to our cars and set off home.

Islandmghee2

Sunday morning was not nearly so promising, with rain pelting the windows as I got ready for my next Meetup event, a tour of Hillsborough Castle with a different group, that included my best friend Kirsty; Hillsborough Castle is an official government residence in Northern Ireland the official residence in Northern Ireland of the Queen and her family when they visit the region, as well as a guest house for prominent international visitors. I met Pam, the organiser, and a French girl called Christine at a café nearby called Humble Pie at 12.15, by which time the rain has amazingly paused, where I had previously eaten apple pie with Kirsty. We made our way over to the tourist office to wait for other group members, and Pam showed us the old court rooms where another Christine, her 10-year-old son Benjamin, and a guy called Ricky soon arrived – Ricky soon explained that French-Christine and I were “two ladies that he had met on a previous walk”. Kirsty arrived MUCH later (well, a minute or two) and we started our tour, DSCN0377first going through a not particularly thorough security gate where we walked through a metal detector while our handbags (potentially filled with hand grenades and other weaponry) were simply put on a tray to be picked up once through. Then we walked to the house and began our tour, conducted by a lady full of interesting information and anecdotes – we saw several different rooms, including the main dining room, a drawing room, the throne room, and a sitting room… and the great thing was that pretty much everything there was in use, we were able to touch things, and even sit on chairs. There was an amusing anecdote about women in Bavaria, and the guide singled out Ricky as the only gentleman in the tour, while Kirsty, myself, and the other two ladies enjoyed the story. At the end I asked about an interesting painting that I had seen on the wall and the guide went off to find out; after hearing the information we left the building and thanked the guide for such a good tour. We had a short walk around the gardens of the castle in a windy day and, after bidding farewell to French-Christine, entered the Hillside Inn for a good old-fashioned pub lunch… and were there for almost two hours! The food was delicious and we all had such good chat, and several times enjoyed being addressed as ladies – Pam asked “Did you two girls meet on Meetup?”, Benjamin complained quite a few times how rowdy some of the group were but said, pointing, “those two ladies” (Kirsty and IDSCN0382) were ‘fine’, and Ricky said “That’s coz those two ladies haven’t been corrupted yet” (by the midweek mingle get-together events). As we left Ricky was in front of me, but then stood aside and said “ladies first”; ah, what a gentleman. At the top of the road Kirsty and I said goodbyes, Christine said it was really good to meet us, and then Benjamin bounded up to me with his arms out and said “Hugs!” and then hugged Kirsty; ah, how sweet! Kirsty and I spent the remaining hour and half shopping, first at Sainsburys and then M&S, and said goodbye in the car park… very much looking forward to the next time we meet. Once home I had a nice conversation on the phone with my parents, and finally started to tackle my ironing – oh how I hate it!

x

Full-time living as a woman – Week 14… including some positive health appointments

Tuesday 5th – a fairly ordinary working day… though I had a really nice chat with Audrey, who complimented my dress, as well as a chat with Gerry, the leader of the work’s walking club, who said he will get me out walking one of these days… and indeed he will if it EVER stops raining for more than five minutes!

Wednesday 6th – before I got to work I popped into a nearby Spar to get a scone for breakfast. As I was about to exit a retired guy and his wife were entering – the woman walked on in, but the guy stepped aside at the entrance and let me out with a nice smile; what a gentleman! At work I caught up with Liesa and had a nice chat about our weekends… including an alternative wedding show that she had gone to… some of which sounded a bit extreme. At lunchtime I ended up walking to a nearby M&S Food with Fiona, and had a nice chat with her… though alas we spent so long choosing lunch and then something for her dinner that it was pouring with rain on the walk back to the office. Two guys from a software company were on-site to provide assistance, one of who had not met the new-me… but I had some chat with them and all was just as normal as ever. Alas I had to work late, and so no outing for supper with either of my friends was possible.

Thursday 7th – a day off work for medical appointments, the first of the day to one of the hospitals in Belfast I have not been to before, for facial hair removal tests. My mood was all over the place as I got ready to go, because I had had to leave my facial hair since Tuesday and not wear any makeup apart from on my eyes; I also wore my backup hair rather than that which I normally wear, in case the hair-removal equipment fried my hair. I wrapped a floaty scarf around my head to hide as much of the facial hair and then headed off, feeling very tense… but the appointment went well, the two nurses were very nice, and the hair removal equipment very high-tech – a space-age looking IPL device compared to the one I had been treated by before, and a laser device with a vacuum cleaner-type affair surrounding it. One nurse went through an assortment of information with me, and then asked if I was on hormones – when I said ‘not yet’ she said that the hair removal would be much more effective if I was on hormones… which got me rather annoyed with my therapist who seems to have been dragging her heels with my hormones. The treatment was efficient, and not any more painful than the IPL I have previously experienced; I left with two red patches of skin, and charred raised hairs on the laser patch. I returned home, exhausted, and had lunch, made up the rest of my face part from the treated patches, and went to bed for an hour… and then off again to my next Gender Clinic appointment. My therapist was prompt, and after complimenting me on my appearance we had a long update chat, the highlight of which of course (as per previous posts) I was able to tell her how well the visit of my parents went… and, as usual, I got all teary-eyed as I imparted the detail. We then talked about treatments and appointments, she went through questionnaires I had filled in which she said I had obviously thought a lot about, where I said that one advantage of going on hormones was that it would finally be recognised that I was on Real Life Experience, as two years of RLE are required before I can be considered for Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS)… except that she corrected me and said that this can be considered after only one year!! That made me really excited because even quite recently I have known people who have had to wait the two years. So I left feeling quite happy, with the expectation that I may be on hormones in three months… though, as with everything, there are waiting lists for appointments required before that can start.

Friday 8th – what a miserably wet day it was today… but there were some good moments. Shortly after I arrived at the office, I was chatting about work with my PM when Breda came up, and mouthed “look at you” with a warm smile before commencing a work chat. I had lunch out with a colleague called Kenny, who I have lunched with once before (soon after I started my new life) – we went to a Japanese outlet and both got bento boxes, followed by a coffee and cake at a coffee shop; the outing was very nice, with some good chat with him, as well as actually spending a significant break away from the office just for once.

So, a fairly quiet working week… with an exhausting appointment day that was overall rather positive.

x

My Weekend of Dim Sum, Walking in a Giant’s Footsteps… and my voice

Saturday was probably the wettest day of the 2015! It was raining when I woke up, was raining when I put my light off at night, did not stop raining at any point in between, with a maximum temperature of about 6C… in May; such is the climate of Northern Ireland. Luckily my walking group were not meeting up on that day, and so I got up late, pottered around a little as I got ready to go out, and headed for lunch at Belfast as I had arranged to meet up with my hairdresser Paul at the Lee Garden, a Chinese restaurant in the Botanic area of Belfast. I went up the spiral stairs to find Paul at a nearby table, with his partner and a friend called Louise, who I recognised from a charity cake sale several months ago that I had helped out with – our lunch was very good, authentic dim sum starters and tasty main courses… all for only ten pounds a head. For the remainder of the afternoon I shopped, though without excessive spending – I bought several sets of new earrings from Claire’s (at a 50% discount, as that is where my ears were pierced), groceries… with the highlight being a visit to a Peacocks clothing store just outside Belfast, where I managed to find a top in my size that had been sold out in all-but-tent-sizes in my local store, but also when I was paying for it the till froze and so the checkout girl said to her colleague “Can you put this girls stuff through on your till?”… so it was another one of those treasured moments to be nicely addressed with my desired nouns recognising the girl I really am.

Sunday I stayed at home; the main reason for this was a rehearsal for a medical appointment, but I won’t go into that at this point. Quiet days like that sometimes provide moments to ponder… and this was one of those times when I pondered a few things, including my voice. For the last three-and-a-bit months I have used only one voice… and that has been a, somewhat, feminine voice – it is not perfect, though I get by with it, but what is most important to me is that is a voice that I am happy with, finally one that I like the sound of as I hear myself speak and one that matches what is going on inside my wee, girly head. The other thing that struck me is that I cannot remember any more what my old voice specifically sounded like, even if I know it was a fairly monotonic, downbeat-sounding drone, and at this stage I wonder if I could even get that voice back… not that I have any intention of ever requiring it again.

Monday 4th May was May Day, a Bank Holiday in many parts, and was the date for my group’s latest walking event… and what a day to pick weather-wise, as it has turned out it has been the only good, sunny day between prolonged spells of miserable weather. For the first time, I also decided to give someone a lift to a walk – it was longer than usual to get to, and the girl in question I had met once before and recalled having a sizeable amount of nice chat with. Over the previous couple of days I had made arrangements with her by text, and that morning I left home at 9.00 to pick up Jennifer in Belfast and, after a slightly altered pick-up due to the Belfast marathon, we were on our way… and for the next hour and ten minutes had a really good chat until our arrival in Portballintrae on the northern coast of Ireland. After an urgent stop at the Ladies, weAmphitheatre met with the rest of the group and soon set off, walking alongside a lovely beach and, at the Giant’s Causeway visitors centre, heading uphill along the cliffs above the Causeway, and onwards for several miles. The walk was simply delightful, with stunning coastline that I had never seen before around every corner, and lots of good chat with several ladies and a couple of guys, some of whom I knew from previous walks while others were new faces. We stopped for a lunch break above some impressive cliffs with basalt columns, then headed on for a while, to even more impressive views. Eventually we turned around and headed back, I chatted for a while with the group leader, who knows I am a transsexual woman, and she gave me advice about labour-relations boards if I have issues with my HR department about taking time off for appointments for the significant, life-changing (but, for me, fulfilling) medical condition that is gender dysphoria. Then I chatted to another lady who I had met only once or twice before, called Margaret – after a while she asked me “What brought you to Bassalt PillarsNorthern Ireland? Was it work or a man?” A man!!! So she, a genetic female, thinks I am one too!!! And inside my head I think that I am as well… but of course there are certain physical abnormalities that still need to be taken care of. At that point the walking group split up, an some of us, including me, took steep steps down to the Giant’s Causeway itself – for those of you not familiar with Irish folklore, this volcanic rock formation is the legendary remains of a causeway built by the giant Finn MacCool who had been challenged to a fight by a giant in Scotland. Although the rock formation is quite impressive, it is dreadfully over-crowded compared to where we had previously walked, and consequently less enjoyable… but I did have a nice chat with Jim who organises walks for another group. Back at Portballintrae we indulged in our traditional snack of scones and jam with tea and coffee, then Jennifer and I split, and walked back to the car.

Rather than head straight back, I had suggested in advance to Jennifer that we could do one or two other local attractions if there was time, and she was still agreeable for doing that and so that is what we did – first of all we drove through Bushmills, renowned for whisky distilling, and to the pretty little harbour at Ballintoy, where some early portions of episodes of Game Of Thrones were filmed. After a walk along the harbour wall, we carried on to Kinbane Castle ruins, situated on a rocky arched promontory at the bottom of a cliff that we walked down to along a wild flower lined path. Then it was time to head home, and drop Jennifer off as she had nine cats to feed! (She was baby-sitting eight of them).

So a pretty good weekend, with Monday obviously being the highlight in so many ways; it would be nice if it turned out that I have made a new friend from that day.

x

Walk end

Full-time living as a woman – Week 13 – THREE months… and counting

It still seems difficult to believe that little over a year ago, at the end of Easter 2014, I had enjoyed my longest spell out and about as my true self of three whole days… and now I have lived as my true self for three whole months! It’s amazing, but also reassuring, that life is so, well, normal… and yet at the same time so much more fulfilling and happy than it ever was before. Here are some highlights of this week:

Monday 27th April – I had my second lunch out with a senior IT manager called Karen, we (well, I know I did) had a grenailsat time, and good chat with her. She had phoned beforehand to confirm, and during lunch she said that I had sounded very cheery on the phone… which is very reassuring for me, considering that I used to be considered a bit of a misery. I told her I was worried about my voice, and how much I felt I was straining it during a long day, she said it sounded good, and she also complimented my nails – she thought they were false due to their length, but no, they are real. Had some good weekend catch-up with the girls in my office, Liesa said my makeup is good, neither over- nor under-done, which was nice to hear; I do try hard to get it right.

Tuesday 28th April – I had such a nice moment with Breda at work in the morning, I bumped into her in the kitchen as I went to make some tea, I was wearing a recently purchased dress and she said “Look at you! So pretty” – ahh, how nice. Then she asked where the dress was from, after saying it was exactly the kind of thing she would wear, and how wonderful for someone to enquire where I had bought something – so I told her it was M&S and we compared views on their general offering… which were not overly favourable. Then she got a bit excited, just like the first time she met the new-me, noticing on my neck either my  necklace or the way I blend my foundation (or both), and then pointed out how animated my hands get when I get into an enjoyable conversation… and then she said “I’m so proud of you”, kind of a motherly comment, and I almost cried.

Wednesday 29th April – work was pretty normal and unmemorable… apart from having to miss lunch due to work pressure and eating just a few Ryvita-thins (which are more tasty than normal Ryvitas) kindly offered to me by20150429_215240 my nice work-neighbour Nuala. So whether I would meet any friends later was a bit touch and go, but I got my usual Wednesday train and thus arranged to eat with Kirsty as I was very hungry. Beforehand I went to Sainsburys for a fairly sizeable shop… where the checkout was a total disaster, there were so few checkout staff that I went self-checkout, but first I started scanning at a station that wouldn’t take my bottles of wine, then at another station several things would not scan. Eventually I met Kirsty near our usual Costa and, as it was pouring with rain, we went to the closest restaurant, a new rustic looking place with an African theme; no idea what it’s called. I was a bit fed up – fed up with the weather, fed up at getting no lunch break at work, and particularly fed up with my voice strain… but meeting Kirsty cheered me up a bit, as did the realisation during the meal that it was exactly three months at that time since I had come home from work, cast aside male clothes, and embarked on my new and wonderful life as a woman. Near the end of the meal I went to the toilet, one of several unisex affairs… with a rather unusual décor.

Thursday 30th April – today was my true three-month anniversary – I told Nuala and, like me, she said she couldn’t believe it, she said “Time flies… but you made the right choice”. Today I had my lunch break at 3.20pm!!! Oh what a wonderful place I work… sigh.

Friday 1st May – for the first time in three days I got out to get my lunch at a reasonable time… though still didn’t end up eating it until 3.15. I had a good catch-up with Mary (who commented that I look so happy now… and later in an email said I look great), then a meeting with an IT manager… who told me that, along with most of the company, I would not be getting a pay rise or a bonus 😦 Late in the afternoon I had a wonderful long chat with Liesa, she is very understanding and a good listener… and I hope I am too for her, we talked about some personal things, and she told me something that she said she had not told anyone else, so it is nice to be confided in.

So that was my latest week at work – nothing exciting I suppose… but in this new life I was not looking for excitement, not looking for any radical change in the pattern of my life, what I wanted was to live my life as my true self, be able to look in the mirror every day and see a reflection of who I truly am, and feel right in everything that I do… and so far that it is pretty much exactly the way things are working out.

xx