Week 29 As a Full-time Woman – Abroad As Andrea For The First Time….. With Mixed Emotions

17th August

Yet another day with a sore throat 😦 For work I wore a smart but, as it turned out, quite short dress, so although I didn’t think I would ever do it, I did in fact spend several moments pulling the hem of my dress down to avoid anyone trying to look at my knickers! I had a nice lunch with Liesa, who liked my dress, and we c had a good catch-up over some enjoyable pasta. On the way to the  train I passed a guy on the street who, I think, said “Hmm, very nice!” (probably the short dress)…. and then made the type of noise one night make to attract the attention of a horse to eat some grass! Hmm…

18th August

It was a lovely summery day…. which obviously attracted a lot of day trippers, as I had to stand all the way to Dublin again, for over 70 minutes. I was wearing a retro, flowery dress which Audrey and Agatha at work both said was very pretty; I had a fab chat with Audrey who, as usual, is full of good advice. Later I had an email from my brother, it seems he had just forgotten to email back… though I know he is making no progress with coming to terms with me now being his sister.

21st August 

I was very busy with work for the rest of the week as Pat, my PM, was off. On Friday I had a farewell breakfast with a guy who has worked with me for over 18 months, he has always been SO obliging, and a really nice guy. Once home, early for the only time that week, I picked up a clothes order, then went to the pharmacy at Boots as my throat was still aggravated by my flu bug, really not good with an imminent holiday – the lady pharmacist was lovely,said there have been loads of people in with the same vital infection, and prescribed a throat spray – dozy mare that I am, I left my clothing order there, and she rang me (as my number was on the little parcel), to tell me. I got home at a reasonable time…. but spent ages finishing off my packing for my first holiday abroad as the real me, as Andrea!

22nd August 

I was up at 4.00am!!! Not good as I’m not a morning person, but I got to the airport in reasonable time for the first flight of the day. Going to security, staff directed me to a less busy queue saying “Probably best this way, miss” and going through security wirh my hand bag and stuff in a tray he said “are these your only liquids ma’am?” which I confirmed, then he said “anything in your pockets?” and for the first time ever I was able to say “I don’t have any pockets! ” as I was wearing jeggings. For the first time in am airport I enjoyed uninhibited perfune browsing, with one woman giving me several samples and two others offering to help “madam”. At 8.00 I went through gate security, showing my new, female passport for the first time ever, and flew to Stansted where, after collecting my bag, had a late breakfast at a Costa, with the server madam-ing me several times. At 1.00pm, after a hectic experience through security and a crowded duty-free, I left the UK on my second flight, this time to Llubjana, the capital of Slovenia, where I was met by a travel rep who guided me to a minibus that took a few of us to a mountain resort called Kransjka Gora, with beautiful scenery along the way; I spoke to the friendly driver a few times, who was thankfully able to understand my quiet voice. Once at my little hotel I was warmly greeted by the owners of Pension Milka, Frank and Maggie, and was shown to my room, the view from which is shown below. After hanging up my dresses and a few other things I went for a little walk around the lake…. and almost cried, scarcely able to believe that I am here, as Andrea, on a summer holiday abroad, encountering no problems at all with my travels…. only 18 months after properly venturing out of my house for the first time as Andrea. With the weather warm and sunny I dined al fresco on the terrace, soaking up the views.

23rd August 

After breakfast I went to the holiday company welcome meeting, with about 25 other people, and were taken around the village and given useful tips. One stop I found very amusing, the girl was pointing out health facilities, and said “Behind you is the pharmacy, opposite is the doctor where I can make an appointment for you if you are sick, and for more serious complaints on the other side of the road is the village cemetery”! In the afternoon I went for a forest walk to an impressive waterfall, and back along a river – at some points during the walk I was gleeful  that I was here, as me, at other times I was sad that I was here in my own, as this is the first summer holiday I have ever had on my own. But, overall, life is good, I am happy, and seem to be fitting in with surprisingly little bother.

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Living Full-Time as a Woman – Weeks 27 & 28 – Walks, BBC Proms, and the Death of a Loved One

Monday 3rd August

I had planned with Kirsty to have a day out… but with my face still a mess after the treatment mentioned in my previous post, and me also in earnest starting with the flu, all plans had to be cancelled… which was a good thing because by the afternoon my body temperature was up and down like a yo-yo and my limbs and back had succumbed to typical flu-aches.

Thursday 6th August

By Thursday my face was starting to improve, after two days at work with thick foundation covering my moon-surface chin. For some reason, I felt awful when I got up, with literally zero energy and legs like jelly… but half an hour later, after a banana and a shower (though not together), I was just about okay for work… and, as typical as life can be sometimes, I got on the train at Newry and found it overflowing with people such that I had to stand all the way to Dublin, for 75 minutes!

When I got into work Fiona said “Oh, you look so pretty” (how nice), and that is how I felt, in a white dress with a subdued pink and purple floral pattern, white cardigan, and white shoes. I asked her if she thought the shoes were too bridal, and she said not… and then jokingly asked if she could borrow them. Alas, on top of the train calamity and my uggy feeling when I woke up, my lunch out with a colleague was also cancelled by her; overall, not a great day.

Friday 7h August

After a short day at work I got to Newry at 4.30 I drove home to quickly smarten my appearance for an evening out. I met my new friend Lynda for a meal at a place called Deanes Deli… which turned out to offer somewhat mediocre food, the main was nice enough, but the dessert was rather odd, with fingers of shop-shortbread chopped up in lumps, mixed with berries and topped with some posh custardy thing. But then the evening improved as we headed into Ulster Hall for a classical music concert with beautiful pieces by Brazilian composers played by the Ulster Orchestra, with an amazing young pianist featuring for a piano concerto. We sat next to a couple of Lynda’s friends, who we talked to before the music started and in the interval; they were really nice, and didn’t seem to either notice I am a transsexual woman or be bothered by it; at the end one of the women reached across and squeezed my hand as they headed off a bit early. Overall the evening was very good, and it was nice to see Lynda… even though the poor lady that day had to have her beloved 16 year old dog put down owing to ill health.

Saturday 8th August

I had a lovely walk with my Meetup group, which started at Belfast zoo and went up the top of a very windy Cave Hill; I had good chat with a number of people, mostly women a usual, especially a nice lady called Nuala who I seem to get on really well with – when I told her that I was going on the walking group holiday in November to Tenerife she said that she “was delighted that I was going”! After the walk we all went to a nearby bar for lunch, a very good value soup and scone/jam with tea affair – I took the opportunity to change into smarter clothing suitable for shopping, and when I emerged from the ladies a lady called Maria said I looked really well, and then outside Nuala said my top was beautiful and Maria said “She’s too nice looking for them to be walking with me”. In the afternoon I shopped in Belfast, including a visit to the Shoe Heaven floor in New Look.

Tuesday 11th August

I had three health appointments today, taking over four hours in total, with over two hours of driving altogether. I was pretty tired by the time I got home.

Wednesday 12th August

In the morning I visited my solicitor to re-sign some divorce papers that had been issued with errors the previous time. After we went through the paperwork she asked about one or two things, including my daughter, and I asked of her too. She said she had always wanted to go to Austria, and I gave her a couple of tips for places to go… and then she said “Good Man” – Good Man??? Oh please… even if she may not have even realised she had said it.

Thursday 13th August

I got madam’ed on the train again by the guard.

In late afternoon I went to a church service with my project manager for the mother of a nice guy who we deal with regularly who died earlier in the week. The service was for the removal of the remains, the day before her funeral; after the service, we went to give our respects and shook hands with him and all his sisters and brother – they all seemed like a really nice family, and the guy from work held my hand warmly as we chatted and thanked me very sincerely.

Friday 14th August

I woke up, showered… and shaved with incredible ease in only five minutes, after only one laser session the results are incredible, with only patches on my chin still having that grey, beard shadowy tinge… and that seemed to fill me with confidence as I headed off to the train station, where I ended up chatting with two people I have never seen before about the train delay. Then once on the train a marketing person sat next to me and asked if I minded taking part in a survey – not at all, he asked me loads of questions, I joked a bit, especially when he asked my age, and on the next page of his survey he automatically ticked ‘female’ for my gender… and why wouldn’t he!

In the evening I went on another walk with my group, a beautiful stroll along the coast east of Crawfordsburn Forest Park, with lots of good chat, especially with my friend Nuala… who, at the end, gave me a big hug and wished me a good holiday for next week.

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Weekend 15th / 16th August

On the Saturday, after a supermarket shop, I met up with Kirsty for a good meal at The Hillside in Hillsborough and then a cinema visit to see Man From Uncle, which was pretty good. Sunday I was really busy at home, gardening, washing clothes, and getting all of my holiday clothes laid out ready to pack… a very different packing experience from ever before!

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This post is dedicated to Lynda’s dog Sophie, a cute wee thing who brought lots of happiness and will be much missed; RIP.

Living Full-Time as a Woman – Weeks 25 & 26 – Six Months without repetition, deviation, or hesitation… but now marooned at home after a severe blasting :-(

Monday 20th July

I wore a lovely, floaty John Rocha dress to work… that nobody commented on (grr), though Audrey liked my nail colour and Mary liked my shoes; had a nice, girly chat with both of them.

Tuesday 21st July

I got emails from my daughter, who is at Irish summer camp, and a guy that used to work for me who I haven’t heard from since Christmas… because at that time I was spending the last week with my daughter for what has turned out to be a long, long time, and then dealing the after-effects of my news to her… and then wondering ever since how I tell this guy that I am actually a girl. I had a really nice chat with an East European girl at work who I have never spoken to before, who initiated the conversation by saying how lovely my top was… not that I am likely to wear it that much because it creases while worn like nobody’s business!

Wednesday 22nd July

I was in a low mood as I realised it was six months since I have seen my daughter, as detailed in my previous blog post – I was weary, tired, disconnected, and clumsy. I had a meal in the evening with my two girly friends at Ed’s diner, and felt rather stuffed at the end of it; we got ‘ladied’ several times, and I got addressed as ‘honey’ for the first time which was nice.

Thursday 23rd July

I saw Debbie, a lady I have known to casually chat to on the train/platform for years, once off the train as we came down the escalator from Dublin station, and she said “I have to say, you’re looking fab!”, which was really nice, and appreciated as I was in a new summery outfit with wide-leg white trousers; we chatted about her recent hols before going our separate ways. In work Fiona said she loved my outfit too, that everything matched, and said “I’ll have to come to you for fashion advice” which is a huge compliment!! I was then mis-gendered at work by a guy who introduced me to someone and then started his next sentence “he…” though he immediately corrected himself… but it still made me feel really uncomfortable and deflated despite the earlier compliments… which I suppose proves that some people, such as me, tend to focus on the negative too much rather than the positive. I was quite happy with my voice on a conference call, where I was prepared to argue my point with someone trying to dismiss it. I met the nice East European lady again when I went to talk to someone else, and she said “you’ve brought summer into work”, then she compared the colours of our clothes compared to the guy we were with and she said that “we are two girls in pink”. On the train I was sitting with an oldish couple and their granddaughter, I closed my eyes as I was tired and after a while the girl announced that she needed the toilet “but the lady’s asleep”… so after a few moments I opened my eyes, and then the girl whispered “she’s awake!”. So, apart from one incident, lots of positive gender moments.

Friday 24th July

I wore a more casual, summery outfit, and Susan loved my trousers. For lunch I went out with Kenny to an authentic Italian restaurant where we had some nice paninis – it was quite loud in there, but most of the time he could hear me… something I often worry about, my quietly spoken voice.

Saturday 25th July

White Rocks Coast 3The forecast was, for once, good, and I was determined to do something different even though there were no meet up group events and no friends available for doing anything. So I drove for two hours to the northern Antrim coast to do some exploring of places that I had not been to before. I went to Downhill Demesne, a National Trust property that did not really inspire me – there was a huge, ruined house, but there was no interesting architectural detail at all as far as I could see; some of the coastal views were okay though, but it was cloudy, so after a while I headed east, and by the time I had got to Port Rush the weather had brightened considerably. Once away from the seaside town I was able to stop and explore the interesting scenery around WDark Hedges (V)hite Rocks Beach, so named for the limestone rocks and cliffs that stood to the east of it, with some amazing arches sculptured by the waves. I drove on a little, stopped for a quick photo of ruined Dunluce Castle perched on the edge of the cliffs, then on further along the Causeway road, where I stopped to take a look at a ruined castle, then along the coast road with splendid views to Kinbane Head for a walk down the cliff path to a pleasant secluded rock beach and another ruined castle. After a stop at the ladies toilet in Ballycastle at 6.00pm, it was home-time, but barely 20 minutes into my return journey the main road was closed (due to bike racing) and the traffic was taken down an assortment of B-roads… which serendipitously took me to another, unexpected tourist attraction called the Dark Hedges, a tree-shrouded avenue used in the filming of Game Of Thrones (or so I overheard from someone who had also stopped).

Monday 27th July

I had a girly lunch out with my work friends Liesa and Nuala to wish Liesa goodbye on her last day at work… except that it turned out that her plans had changed and she was now staying on, which was good news… for me, anyway. I received a load of photos from my daughter from her summer camp, which I showed to Susan, Fiona, and my PM Pat  the general consensus was that my daughter was stunning / beautiful, Susan said she should be a model and then earn enough money so I don’t have to work (LOL), I said I honestly don’t know where she gets her looks from, only her lips she really gets from me, and Susan said “Well, you hair’s quite long, like hers…” and, well, I can only hope that one day my hair will be that long because of course at the moment, as is apparent if you have read previous blog posts, I am still growing my own hair and currently still have to wear a wig… even if it is human hair, but it’s good she doesn’t seem to notice.

Wednesday 29th July

In the evening I met up with Michelle for a late supper at M&S café, the usual toasted sandwich and salad – she had told me to only come if it wasn’t out of my way, as it was late, but I was determined to… because I had a six month anniversary that I DID want to celebrate this time, it was six months since I came home from work, shed male clothes for the final time to start my new full-time life as the woman I now feel I should have always been. And this six months of life as a woman I have completed successfully without any hesitation or deviation at all (because it all feels so totally natural, like it should have always been, and every day has been positive), and I have also achieved my own little goal of not wearing the same outfit to work on any two days in that six months, I may have worn the same trousers or cardigans on several occasions, but there has always been one item of clothing covering, at least, my top half (either a top, jacket, or dress) that has only been worn once during the entire period! I am now also into week 10 of my gender-clinic Real Life Experience (RLE).

Thursday 30th July

OUCH! Today was my first, full-case and neck laser hair removal session… and it was REALLY intense and SO painful. I had applied Emla cream several times before I arrived, which is supposed to allegedly help with the pain, but I can only guess that I didn’t apply it very well because there didn’t seem to be much of a pain reduction as far as I could tell. When I arrived I had to wipe all the cream off, then wait for a while until paperwork and preparation was done, then the laser began, going backwards and forwards across my right cheek and neck, then my chin, then above my lips, and finally my left side. The nurse told me to breath deeply as she worked away, which I suppose was to try for me not to tense up quite so much… but when I climbed off the bed once finished my legs were like jelly, and she led me to a nearby seat and got a glass of water as I sat there trembling uncontrollably, and then eventually I went out to the waiting room so that the next person could go in… and then I cried, I don’t know why, whether it was because of the pain finally hitting me. Eventually I left, and got home about three hours after leaving, feeling totally exhausted and drained… and spent most of the rest of the day in bed.

Friday 31st July

I had hoped to get into work…. but when I awoke my face was still pink and blotchy, and also quite sore and tender too, and thus there was absolutely no way I could shave or apply make up to be presentable, and so had to stay home, though I did monitor my work email box the whole day and reply to a few things.

Saturday 1st August

This time I woke up and my face didn’t really look pink at all, though a bit tender but not actually sore, so I did shave, though left it until I really need to at lunchtime… and alas by the time I had finished my face was very pink and rather sore again; I applied lashings of aloe vera, which seemed to calm it down. At about 3.00 I went out, did some shopping and clothes-returns, and then met my friend Lynda at 6.20 at Sprucefield where we had a lovely chat for an hour over afternoon tea (well, for me, anyway). Poor Lynda was a little bit sad as her dog is going to be put down soon due to old age, and I was a bit teary-eyed over the phone when she told me earlier in the day, but our chat was good and not overly melancholy. Then we headed over to Lisburn Omniplex to see the latest Mission Impossible film, Rogue Nation… which was REALLY good, best film I have seen this year, great action sequences, with a Tom Cruise who never seems to look any older. About halfway through the film my face started to feel a bit itchy, and when I got home I wiped my foundation off as quickly and carefully as I could, and applied Vaseline as dictated by the laser nurse.

Sunday 2nd August

I woke during the night with an itchy face, though some aloe vera seemed to sort it out… but alas when I got out of bed at about 10.00am and looked in the mirror my face was a mess! Quite a number of little whiteheads all over my chin, and some also above my lips, and on cheeks and neck! Oh no, like teenage acne in miniature all over again… and then I remembered the nurse had said that I could get a skin infection if I shaved too soon, and so I can only presume that that is what it is… so I spent the whole day indoors with no make-up at all, cooling my face with a cold flannel, applying alternately Vaseline, aloe vera, and also savlon to the whiteheads that I just had to pop (I know I probably shouldn’t)… but more and more of them seemed to come during the day, I could literally feel them itching to break through and then an hour later they were there! I am SO worried what state my face will be returning to work on Tuesday, and have had to sadly cancel my plans with Kirsty for 3rd August (as I write) following advice from the laser clinic on my semi-ruined face.

Yours grumpily,

Andrea

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White Rocks Arch