Remorse, Forgetfulness, a Six-Month Anniversary to Not-celebrate… and can a girl ever have too many clothes?

Most of my posts I suppose are of the this-is-what’s-happened-since–I-last-wrote–type, that some of you consider a bit simple and, perhaps, uninspiring… though they do often contain indications of how I have felt about certain things or particular high and lows of my new life, as per the title of this blog; well, it’s my blog, my journey, and it’s life-changingly significant enough to warrant recording it for me at this point in time, and perhaps for others to read, to digest and reflect on. Anyway, this post is not one of that type, it’s a reflection on how I feel about certain things at this point in my new life.

I have not quite got to the point where I have lived full-time as a woman for six months, though that’s arriving soon enough, and of course that IS something for me to celebrate.  The six-month anniversary, that occurred at some point in the last week, is that it is six months since I last saw my daughter – being a parent who has dearly loved the daughter I thought was a miracle when she was born, this “milestone” is not a happy one. On the plus side, some of my previous posts indicate that my daughter IS in contact with me, via email only… but emails received in the last week from her, indicating how much she is enjoying her Irish summer school, have made this anniversary feel worse, as although I am thrilled that she is having an unexpectedly (for her) good time, it has served to remind me of our distance and how much I miss her at times. In my emails to her, I have responded in a style that I believe is quite similar to how I ever might have before I told her that I am a woman, with a certain humour that we share between us. But she is 13 years old, a typical terrible teenager going through lots of change herself, with her own desire to fit in… and, of course, having a parent who has revealed her gender to be the opposite of what she has known all her life, a fairly special but unusual situation, is not what most teenagers can take on board. Perhaps I could criticise myself for not trying earlier in her life to teach her about diversity, though I tried hard in recent years during the limited exposure that I had to her compared to my ex-… who I am sure, as a much less hands-on parent compared to myself, made little effort at all. And, no, it doesn’t make a difference that my ex- didn’t know about my gender dysphoria, it is important for people to be educated as early as possible in life that everyone is equal regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and so on, and regardless of any circumstances of their friends or family. So, I guess you are all perhaps thinking that this is the remorse I hinted at in the title of this post – well, actually, no it isn’t, remorse indicates to me some kind of regret at one’s decisions or situation in life, and this is certainly not the case. To-date I have never regretted the decision I made to tell everyone about my true gender or my life-changing switch on the morning of 30th January 2015 when I began living full-time as a woman, because that’s the best decision I ever made in my life because, for the first year ever, I have felt more happiness and fulfilment than ever before. I may feel sadness that my daughter, and my brother too, cannot handle my gender-revelation, but my feelings don’t really amount to anything more than that.

Since I turned 40, nearly nine years ago, I began to have quite a number of little health niggles – most of these were due to the fact that I became increasingly fat, neigh obese, largely as a consequence of comfort-eating while trapped in an unhappy marriage where I was continually criticised, never complimented or thanked, and, as it spiralled downwards towards oblivion, I became aware of my feminine side starting to bubble more violently under the surface. Over a similar period my sleep patterns have become disruptive, largely perhaps as a result of increasing worries over revealing my feminine side. I have also become increasingly absent-minded and somewhat forgetful… and all of those issues in this sentence are also side-effects of hormones. I suppose they are all a consequence of each other too – I get over-tired so I don’t focus satisfactorily, I don’t focus enough and so I become absent-minded, and so on. I hope that one day, as I become increasingly content with life, that some of those mental issues will reverse or diminish…

Some of you who have read my posts over the course of the last year, or those that know me personally, may have an inkling that I have a slight penchant for shopping. Okay, that was a bit of an under-statement, I luuuuuuuurve clothes shopping… NOW that I can finally express my feminine side freely and with confidence, it feels a natural pastime that I should have always done – that is the feeling that I felt last Saturday, after meeting an old friend for the first time as the new-look me, while clothes-shopping in Penneys (Primark to some of you) largely for summer clothing for my forthcoming vacation, it felt like I should have been able to shop in that way for ALL of my life, to shop as a girl, the gender I should have been born with… and that filled me with a convoluted mixture of joy over where I am in my journey now but sadness that I had been deprived my true life for so long… and THAT is what I felt remorse about, that only now, after almost fifty years of being on this earth, am I finally living my life in the manner that I now feel it always should have been, and it all felt so unjust and unfair. Oh well, at least I have permanently sorted this out at long last, and I have largely done it all by myself with careful planning and determination…. albeit with advice along the way from good, supportive friends, who I would never have met had my gender dysphoria not metamorphosed itself.

As I returned home from Dublin last weekend, with several bags of clothes acquired from different stores, I wondered to myself whether a girl can ever have too many clothes… and I guess there are several factors to consider in answering that myself. I don’t propose answering that from a transsexual’s point-of-view, and that is mainly because I do not consider myself as such, except from a medical point-of-view, where I am having to undergo certain, essential medical treatments purely because I am not a biologically born female; also if I answered taking that into account, I might consider addressing it from the point-of-view of someone who is not yet full-time and who generally would not require clothes for all those occasions that I now do. But from my point-of-view I do not need to do so – I live everyday as a woman, like any biological woman who presents as such, and thus I require clothes to suit all eventualities that that entails. As to how many clothes a woman can have depends to a certain extent on the girl’s interests, their job, what type of holidays they go on, and in fact whether they actually have much of an interest in clothes, fashion, or their appearance – it is quite clear to me that some women that I come across clearly have either no interest in clothes or not the slightest clue about how to put an outfit together that suits them… though of course there are plenty of women where that is not the case, and I don’t necessarily get it totally right every time myself, though any wardrobe errors of mine I feel are pretty much rectified while getting ready when initial thoughts may end up cast aside in favour of something that does work, or at least more suits my mood that day. I feel that I DO have pride in my appearance, and although I don’t spend extortionate amounts of money on individual items of clothing I do try and make my best effort in making sure that every single item that I wear goes together, and looks right on me. I also know certain colours that don’t, and never will, suit me… and so I will never become a total fashion slave and purchase any items in bright yellow or horrendously violent or nauseous shades of orange simply because some overpaid lunatic in the fashion industry determines that those are THE must-have colours of the season… even if they do suit some people. At this stage, after eighteen months of serious shopping, there are probably not many items of clothing that I absolutely NEED at this point in time…but that doesn’t mean that I don’t WANT to increase my wardrobe further. As my Project Manager said to me today, if something makes you happy, like shopping, then bring it on, and do it. As I have been living full-time, and thus working, for almost (but not-quite) six months and I have not on any two days worn the very same outfit, and in fact on every single one of those work days I have worn at least one visible item of clothing (i.e. not underwear, and not footwear either) that has not been worn on any previous day at work, then maybe I really shouldn’t acquire many more clothes – after all, at this stage, my next purchase should probably be a piece of furniture in which to store a portion of my bursting wardrobe. But I have still to acquire a smart coat for summer, I am only starting to acquire such light-weight summer clothes that suit a climate rather warmer than my own (for my main holiday this year), I have yet to acquire a swimsuit (and there is no point in doing so until my gender surgery is complete), I do not yet have a pair of heeled sandals that are satisfactory, I have yet to acquire a skirt or dress in a red colour that suits me (and perhaps I never shall), I constantly wear the same watch and often the same jewellery, I do not yet have an evening dress that I could wear to a seriously dressy event… and I could go on… and on. My pride in my appearance also means that I do not have a desire to repeat outfits regularly like some people… even if, out of work, there are certain items that I have worn on a number of occasions. However, clothes shopping is also an activity that I now enjoy doing, and clothes are something I enjoy spending money on. I also have a serious amount of catching up to do clothes-wise, after all, as indicated, I have only shopped in earnest for clothes for around 18 months whereas most women my age have shopped for adult clothes for around thirty years! There are some stores that I have never bought anything from, but would like to do so. And so will I ever reach a stage where I have enough items in my wardrobe that I do not need to acquire any others? What do you think!

There is something else I meant to write about, but I forget what it is… and I have probably rambled on enough already! Thanks for reading.

x

Full-time life as a woman – Week 9… including a very good Good Friday!

Monday 30th March

I don’t remember all that much about Monday, other than it being a long day at work… but with plenty of good female pronoun usage! I also remember having a feeling about just how normal. but how RIGHT, every thing that I do is, and how it all makes to much sense to my life. Even going to the ladies toilet falls into this category – it’s all so easy and efficient, especially wearing a skirt or a dress – simply lift it up skirt, pull one’s hosiery and knickers down, do one’s stuff without having to touch one’s genitals (ugh), dress, wash hands… and check one looks presentable. The other thing that was vividly clear was that I am now into MONTH THREE of my new life… already!

Tuesday 31st March

Fiona and I were both wearing navy and blue, though her cardigan was thicker and she had on a blue shirt/blouse while I had a white/blue marl girlie top, so we joked that we were matching.

At lunch time I returned cardies to Penneys, then went to my bank in Dublin to take out cash and transfer money to the UK; that was the first time I got to use my new driving license photo ID, and all was well. On the way back to the office I got totally drenched in a rain and then hale shower with my poor suede boots totally soaked which I had to put on a radiator for hours; I then changed into reserve footwear, very high navy heels (4+ inches) and managed to live life without falling over for a few hours! I told Natalie about the shower and she said I had held up well looks-wise, as her hair especially would frizz up, I told her about my Primark £5 heels and she said as the rest of my outfit was very smart then it dressed up the heels! Aww! We had a conversation about heel heights, then I stopped bothering her and went back to work.

Wednesday 1st AprilPrimark black and white flower dress

When I took my coat off I had just a little chat with Fiona, and she said “You look really pretty”… which I was especially pleased about as my dress was from Primark only cost £5 in their sale, though teamed with a €8 (£6.10) black cardigan I thought I looked quite smart (see selfie). Fiona said I am very good at getting good bargains, and perhaps I should just buy two of everything, one for her and one for me… which is a real compliment! My PM Pat also said “Is that a new dress?” and when I confirmed he said it was very nice, which I really appreciated. Later I had a good catch-up chat with poor Liesa, who has been off for ages with flu; she also liked the dress, and could not believe how little I paid for it. After work I shopped in Sainsburys once north of the border, and had coffee and supper with my BFF Kirsty… although the experience was spoilt for me by far too much loud chat as Costa.

Thursday 2nd April

At work Fiona said she liked my jumper, it was really pretty and would “brighten the place up”; she couldn’t believe I paid £10 for it at Tesco; she also liked my butterfly necklace, which is bolder than any I have won before. I do appreciate all her compliments, especially as she is very pretty and has good fashion sense. Liesa also liked my necklace, and I had to compliment her on a really pretty, smart top that she bought at a store called Forever 21 that I had not heard of before; I had a long chat with her about all sorts of things, she is a sympathetic listener. We were all given big Easter eggs at work, which is quite a nice little gesture, and as I left for the day I offered the security guard one of the chocolates that came with the egg – he said “No, I’ve got my own, thanks… but you’re a lovely girl, Andrea”; aw, how nice, huh! I went shopping for an hour in Dublin, to Forever 21 (which had an awful lot of denim, and nothing that really grabbed me) and Mango (which I concluded is ridiculously over-priced for generally average-looking stuff… apart from some lovely suede jackets, which I did not buy).

Friday 3rd April – Good Friday

This was the first day of the Easter weekend, and SO good to have a bit of a lie-in… though I was up at a reasonable time as I had an appointment to get to… which was a first for Andrea, the new-me – a visit to the dentist!! I drove to Newry, parked at Tesco supermarket, and walked the short distance to my dentist where I arrived at 11.45 and checked in with reception… and the whole experience was just so lovely and, well, ‘normal’! I didn’t have to wait too long before a friendly girl called my name and directed me to the ‘chair’. My usual dentist was on maternity leave, and so a new girl was there – I did fear that my make up would be all over the place by the time she had finished, but I wasn’t at all nervous going in, and it was just like any other check up really… except that I was ME, and happy with it. There was a bit of light, friendly chat, she checked my details, and then my head was back and the check-up took place followed by a clean… with water splashing all over the place, and I reckoned my makeup fear would be realised… but no! Once I had paid, I went to the toilet, and the light amount of lip gloss was pretty much gone, but other than that not much wrong… although the hair was a bit messy.

Next stop was to a Cancer Research charity shop to drop off a bag of unwanted clothes and books… and a REALLY good moral-boost it was – the lady thanked me profusely for the stuff, and then wondered if I would fill in a Gift Aid form, asking “Do you or your husband pay tax?” ME AND MY HUSBAND!!!! That’s a new one I’ve never had before, but, WOW, she not only assumed I was a biological woman but also that I was married! I filled the form in (with title ‘Miss’), and then browsed, picked up a lovely wee red leather-look bag and a pretty dress which I tried on and then queued up to pay – the girl in front of me was chatting to the check-out woman who, after a minute or so, said to the girl “Do you mind if I serve this lady?” (Lady = moi, of course). I handed over my things and she said “Thanks very much love”, then I paid, and bid her a very happy farewell.

I had hoped to change my name on some accounts to my new name, but even though Good Friday is not a bank holiday in Northern Ireland all the banks were closed… so I embarked on what became several hours of clothes shopping in the sales of assorted shops, including Dorothy Perkins (where thankfully I could use gift cards to save my credit card), M&S, Blue Inc Woman, Oasis, and Debenhams; I also had a nice lunch about half way through. I bought a lovely mock-leather jacket in Debenhams… but while I was browsing a girl approached me and said “Do you work here?” – I don’t know why she thought that, but I felt flattered all the same. I eventually got back to Tesco, with extremely sore feet, where I did a moderate grocery shop – as I was about to enter the alcohol section two guys each held open one of the swing-gates to it for me, and I thanked them. After being served by a friendly check-out girl, I drove home, feeling very cheery after a successful day out.

One thing I have generally noticed now that I am routinely living as my true female self is that plenty of guys are kind enough to hold doors open for me, and it also seems as though people get out the way when I am walking outside – maybe it is the heel noise that warns them I am coming!

Happy Easter everyone!

x

How much??? Another high-spend weekend.

I am starting to wonder whether I should tell you the bank that I have my credit card with, because if you buy shares in the company then you will probably do very well in the near future! Well, you’d do better if I didn’t pay my credit card balance every month…

After the previous weekend I thought that I might have a low-spend weekend this time… but that did not work out at all. First on the agenda for Saturday was the next walk with my group… but when the alarm woke me at 7.55 I got out of bed and felt totally wrecked, and pushing aside the curtain to reveal very grey skies and heavy, showery rain, and my enthusiasm for going walking vanished, and so I went back to bed to awake three hours later, a little more refreshed.

I left the house at 1.00, armed with a voucher to save £6 if I spent more than £30 in my first port of call, Sainsburys – well, I figured that if I bought a pair of trousers that I had admired the previous time, along with a few groceries, I might just scrape past the £30 barrier… and so it was slightly surprising when I paid the rather handsome (too) young check-out guy to find I had spent three times as much!! I met my two friends at Lisburn and we headed into Belfast city, parking as usual at Castle Court with the intention of shopping together. I say ‘intention’ because within 5 minutes we has split up… and met again two hours later! Kirsty and Michelle headed to Debenhams while I popped to Superdrug… with the ‘intention’ of picking up a lip crayon… except that when I passed the threading ladies and saw that they did eyebrows for only £5 I just had to get mine sorted out, they were well overdue; I had to wait quite some time for my turn, and then the threading took a long time, but the results were lovely with thin, curvy brows more than ever before. Then on the way to Debenhams I got ambushed by a Bulgarian lady at a beauty products counter and ended up buying some Dead Sea exfoliating salt… which I suppose I didn’t need… but I did get if for half price, after haggling with her, but I felt I should buy something as I enjoyed the pampering as well as quite a few laughs between us, and my hands felt lovely after her ‘demo’. At this point I got a message from Kirsty saying that the two of them had got to a support group meet, and so I carried on shopping, eventually ending up at a specialist outdoors shop which I had intended going to for quite some time to kit myself out with a good Goretex walking coat with a good, peaked hood to keep heavier rain off my made-up face. After a few minutes of aimless browsing an obliging guy in his fifties came and helped me out, and I tried a couple of jackets on, while rejecting a few others on the basis of awful colours… and when I say ‘awful’, that is partly because they simply weren’t feminine enough… and thus just not moi. Then I was getting texts and calls from Kirsty hurrying me up, so I plumped for the more expensive option, a lovely raspberry pink coat… at £184! Gulp… even if it was £46 off.

Back at Lisburn, my friends changed into evening attire, though I could not be boandrea and kirsty at tony roma'sthered, I felt my day dress would be smart enough for our dining venue… and once there, where I saw one or two girls in similar attire (as well as a fair few looking dreadfully casual) then I knew I was right; kirsty was wearing her very latest purchase, a black dress with pink stripes down the side and a touch of in-fashion orange too. We ate at Tony Roma’s, a steak-house… which I was not sure about, as I eat very little red meat, but it turned out to be great – I had three steak medallions with different sauces, and the meat was cooked vecoffeery well; I also shared a tasty flatbread starter with Kirsty and finished off with a brownie (not as good as ‘what my BFF makes’) and a very ornate looking mocha… which turned out to be one of the best I have ever drunk. The waitress who served us was really nice and obliging, she even turned down the music for us when I complained about how close our table was to a speaker, and we all got ‘ladied’ twice when apologies were made, once for when our main courses arrived before out starter plates had been taken away and also when chairs were being moved about for a new table. Overall, a reasonable day considering how it started.

Sunday was a very quiet day at home, with a break from a number of things – a break from spending, a break from removing the dreaded facial-hair (which I applied foundation over the top of), etc… but I did some nice girlie things including experimenting with eye shadow colours, painting my ever-lengthening nails a new colour, and rearranging clothes to create more space… something which I am fast running out of.

A weekend of dining, shoe-shopping… and dreaming

As I even start writing, I wonder how long this post will be, for the weekend just gone I haven’t really done anything at all new (albeit with a couple of name-changes)… but it all includes the same, general enjoyment of life that never existed until I started going out as Andrea and living my life.

Once away from home on Saturday I spent almost half the day in a shopping centre, and not a very big one at that! Connswater centre to the east of Belfast city has a reasonable number of shops, though it is hardly the biggest shopping centre in Northern Ireland… so how I spent four hours there is a bit of a mystery! Part of the reason is that at the weekend, not commuting or bustling with work, sometimes I like to take things at a slower pace. My first task at the centre was a name-change one, to get a member of Halifax bank staff to sign a copy of my Deed Poll that was then faxed to another bank… and once that was done, shopping commenced. Firstly a visit to a Clarke’s shoe shop (with a net-negative spending experience, returning two pairs and buying one pair… which once home I decided were not for me), and then quite an amount of clothes browsing, but weariness eventually set in and so I retired to the Relish café-restaurant for a club sandwich and a mocha. After more shopping, where I tried on four different dresses in the same size to get the best fit in Peacocks – it’s just the way I am – and ended up having lots of chat with the checkout girl who struggled with the new experience of processing an e-giftcard, I drove to Lisburn where I knew there was a post office open into the afternoon so that I could post my V5 form… so that, in a short while, my car will be owned by ME and not have ‘his’ name attached to it! On the way back to the car I popped into a boutique where I bought my most expensive dress yet, at £55 – once I tried it on, I just had to have it! In the ladies toilets at Sprucefield (special mention, just for my friend Ruth) I changed into a velvet top and smart trousers and then drove to The Parson’s Nose restaurant where I met my BFF Kirsty. We had a lovely meal, with delicious food (apart from a lacklustre side order of veg) and numerous occasions of being addressed as ‘ladies’, and then headed onto the cinema in Kirsty’s car (as it can be really busy on a Saturday) to see a film called Kingsman, a spoof spy-training-type caper which was on the whole enjoyable… though I did shrink a bit at one scene where there was an awful lot of aggressive violence; I wonder if I would have done that a few years ago, but having found the woman in myself some time ago I do feel that my tastes have changed. Kirsty drove me back to my car and we parted with a little hug.

During my time with Kirsty we talked about dreams – she admitted that if she dreams with herself participating then she usually is in them as ‘Bob’… whereas I am the other way around – I am either an observer or neutral participant where it is not obvious what I look like (generally more action-type dreams), or I am Andrea, my true self; for some time I have not dreamt of myself as the ‘him’ that I was stuck in the world as for too long. So, it was with some coincidence after that discussion, that during my sleep on Saturday night I had a HUGE amount of dreams… and in all of them I was Andrea, and they were either positive, somewhat emotional dreams or alternatively I was a confident woman in them. Of perhaps some disappointment to you readers, I am not able to impart most of the dream content, though two snippets still spring to mind:

  1. I dreamt I was with my parents and we were preparing for a celebration… for goodness knows what, but a pale sky blue colour was a strong theme to whatever it was. I was getting dressed and ready with my mum, and I had a mass of long, frizzy hair and was wondering what to do with it. My mum produced a long ribbon in the blue colour and I could see myself in the mirror as my hair was tied.
  2. I dreamt I was in a meeting with my boss and in the middle of a point I was making he interrupted me. So, in a strop (very unlike me), I stood up, and said in front of everyone that if he didn’t have the manners to let me speak then I would go and do some work back at my desk. So he went all meek and apologetic, and so I sat down and launched back into my conversation, with him not daring to interrupt again.

Sunday I had a lie-in, and then took my time getting ready, blogging and emailing as I went. I pottered around the house for a while, converted my clothes basket into a dual-colour one (so there is a section for whites and one for dark colours now – as I am full-time, my dirty/worn clothes take up so much less room), and then headed out, shopping (again) though IMG_20150308_165033200only for an hour, where I bought a pair of shoes (oh no, another pair), and perused a Next-outlet store where they have a good new range of summery clothes that some time soon i am sure I will buy a few things from. I also day-dreamed yet again, as I paused in-front of the wedding dress shop where I saw a lovely, white lacy dress that made me a bit tearful… and I suppose the fact that I took a picture of the bloody thing, and even feel an emotion stirring as I have just cropped the picture and zoomed into the detail, means I got it bad! Or maybe I’m just a soppy romantic! I drove to Lisburn, where I picked up Michelle, and headed onto my second friendly dinner of the weekend, this time to one of our old favourites, Il Pirata; the food overall was reasonable, but a bit salty I found… and more than ever I frown at the appalling toilet facilities there, a very cramped Ladies… with a metal, utilitarian sink and no shelf for make-up for heaven’s sake! I had a good time out though, and it seemed as though I would have an early night as I had no desire whatsoever to go to support group HQ… but that all changed when Kirsty called to say that she had returned there from her book group and had home-made chocolate brownies with her! Yum!!!

Walking, shopping… and my sexy voice???

Another post thick and fast after yesterday’s? Well, I have had a FAB day out Saturday 3rd Jan, away from home for eleven hours.

My mind has come down from Cloud 9 after yesterday’s better-than-expected coming-out to daughter and ex- (see previous post if interested and not read) and so I can now go for an hour or two without tears of joy threatening to spill down my face! But I SO feel like I am finally being released from a 35 year prison sentence for something that I never did, and I am collecting my true belongings after which I will soon walk out the door to freedom. It is an ecstatic feeling like no other I have ever experienced.

This morning was the first walk of my group of 2015, and an easy one to break us into the new year, a few miles along the Lagan Valley toe path near Belfast city. For some reason the leader is starting the weekend walks an hour earlier than she used to and, owing to the time it takes to put my face on, I hardly get a lie-in! As usual, it took me over 90 minutes from getting up, through showering and removing facial hair, to putting on my face, clothes, and sorting my hair out… which I think I dried too quickly this time, as it is a bit of a frizzy mop. Anyway, got to the car park at the river (near an eatery called Cutters Wharf) with a minute to spare before 10.00am, and joined the waiting group. I had a couple of New Year hugs, including from my best walking buddy Margaret, who I started chatting to as we headed off. It was quite chilly so I got my multi-coloured woolly mittens out of my bag, and dropped one unseen as I went to close it… and a girl called out to me, and it was Karen who I met on the Xmas walk, and so my conversation switched to her for a good while, along with a girl she was talking to called Elizabeth who I don’t remember meeting before. Maybe half an hour later we paused for the group to catch up, as there were 71 people this time (!), and I was able to say hello to Kerry (who called me Michelle, yet again – I joked that her new years resolution should be to get my name right) and Paula who, as we set off again, I had a good long chat to, mainly lagan valleyabout the trials and tribulations of having a teenage offspring! Later we stopped at the Lock keepers cottage for a bit to eat and drink, and I talked to the girl from Russia who I also met on Xmas day, who it turns out is unfortunately returning to London… at least for a while. After a lovely snack of home-made blueberry pancakes and tea we began our walk back to the cars, with more good chat. At the car park we said goodbyes and then three girls decided to go for another drink at Cutters Wharf and they invited me, well, I jumped at the chance… but first gave my walking leader an update on yesterday’s events and we shared a few hugs and I got a bit teary eyed too.

So onto Cutters Wharf which deserves a little paragraph of its own! I grabbed a change of clothes from the car and then trotted over to the restaurant, and found the girls at a corner table… which turned out to be five girls once the toilets had emptied them out. I ordered a mocha, changed into a dress and ankle boots for forthcoming shopping, and then sat with them and had a really long chat… mostly about dating men! Of course, I don’t have a huge amount of experience yet to voice on the subject… and yet I did make my fair share of contributions to the conversation, with quite an amount of laughter from various girls, which was great; in fact, I felt right at home with them. Then Karen said to me that I have a sexy voice compared to her’s, which she claimed is a bit squeaky, and that I should do those voice-over advertisements where the objective is to gently persuade consumers to buy things… and then she said I could even do those chat lines where men ring up and have some talk to them in a sultry voice. Moi? Gulp! Now, I do try my best with my voice but, well, uh, WOW! Eventually we left, close to 2.00, and I felt very pleased with my latest walking group outing.

And so onto shopping… something I have had a lot of practise at in the last 12 months… and something I have really come to enjoy rather a lot! Most of the afternoon was spent at Boucher Road, in the suburbs of Belfast, where there is a reasonable selection of shops. First of all I went into Homebase, a DIY store for non-UK viewers, to try and use some of the vouchers that my parents gave me for Xmas – while browsing the plant section a staff member came over and said “Do you need any help, love?” (yeah, that’s me) and when I said I was just browsing, he mentioned the cut price offers, and told me where to look, so I thanked him, picked up a plant that I liked the look of, then a pair of purple girly gardening gloves and paid at the checkout, served by a friendly girl. After browsing a couple of other stores, I drove to the main retail park and went in quite a variety of stores, though only ended up buying two items of clothing (after trying them on in the changing rooms) at Matalan. Then onto another retail park, Forestside, where I went into an M&S and spent ages browsing clothes in their big sale… and bought quite a lot of things! Oh my poor credit card… but it was worth it, got some good things for work, and had a good long chat with the checkout girl whose youngest daughter was getting married in 8 weeks time, and all the stress around that. Finally, feeling weary, onto Tesco for a grocery shop – shortly after entering with my trolley, a couple of youngish guys were in a rush and went in front of me, but one said “sorry love” so I didn’t really mind; I bought yet another pair of boots (although these are totally different from all my others… although not in colour), paid at the checkout (which was uneventful as by that stage I was very tired and the young girl wasn’t talkative), and then I drove home…. relieved to take my boots off once my shopping was inside.

The whole shopping afternoon was extremely busy, especially Boucher Road with cars parked on kerbs where they shouldn’t have been. I think a couple in TK Maxx read me… but they were the only ones the whole day, and if I was read it was only a short expressionless look, and I am hardly bothered considering all the other things I did… and continue to do from one week to the next with no attention; I am realistic enough to know that I will not pass 100% of the time all the time, even if that would be lovely, but I think now and again to have someone notice is just useful enough to remember how to deal with it when it is necessary… which, in my experience, is really just to ignore such impolite people and get on with life.

I had an email from my parents, addressing me “Dear Andrea” again, saying how happy they are for me. And me? Well, I remain incredibly elated, especially after another very enjoyable day out.

Boxing Day, Belfast Shopping with Dear Daughter… and an unexpected Coffee Afternoon

I’m sure there used to be Christmas’s where at least half the shops were closed on Boxing Day as well as Christmas Day… but not any more it would seem and as Boxing Day could possibly have been the last time in 2014 that I would be able to get out and present as Andrea then that is what I did; of course, the prospect of clothing sales was a big magnetic draw too! I spent several hours of the afternoon at the Banbridge Outlet near home, browsing in numerous shops – I bought a lovely dress for £6 instead of £24 at Next (as well as a nice top) using the e-gift voucher that my brother kindly gave me for Christmas, in Fat Face I eventually got a jumper after much trying-on (where I was assisted by a lovely lady in her 50s who helped me out with sizes, showed me the changing rooms, and got one colour in a different size for me), in Peacocks I bought a beautiful very-me dress (for work or for evenings out) and used the e-gift voucher that my lovely parents gave me (and had to tell the till staff how to process it), then paused for refreshment at Starbucks (instead of Costa, who were once again were out of hot chocolate); as usual, they deliberately got my name largely wrong, today I was Angeline to them… but at least the girl at the till said “What would you like, Madam?” and so I perked up and had a nice bit of chat. Then onto several other shops, including Clarks (where I bought some dead-comfortable wedges) and M&S. Time was soldiering on and I was due to pick up my daughter, so I headed onto Tesco for a grocery shop, where I found a meter-long tube of Smarties for her, and also a lovely smart pair of boots that were the last pair in the whole shop and were sized perfectly for me – they were just meant to be! The guy at the till was nice, we chatted away, and I wished him a Happy New Year as I left, hurrying home to wipe away the face I am so happy with in order to collect my daughter from my ex-… possibly for the last time ever.

Once home with daughter she opened her presents and, to my amazement, said she loved every single one; this was a pleasing contrast to the lack of enthusiasm I got when asking her what she received from my ex-… and apart from a pair of nice pyjamas, I still don’t know what she got! On television we watched the BBC dramatisation of David Walliams story “The boy in the dress” – daughter read the book some time ago, and thankfully it was not hard to persuade her to watch with me. If anyone doesn’t know, it is about a boy who likes to wear dresses, and goes so to school in one, disguised with a wig so that nobody can tell it is him… until a scuffle reveals all, to much laughter from surrounding pupils; it has a happy ending though – I did not surprise myself by shedding tears at a number of points, generally where he received acceptance. A few days later I asked my daughter what she thought to it and, in typical near-teenage fashion, an apathetic response resulted; a couple of times I have also asked her whether she thought she would be more likely to be one of the pupils that would have laughed at him, or more like one of the central characters who helped him – the first time I got an “I don’t know” response, and the second time she thought she might have laughed… which does not give me any confidence over coming out to her on Friday.

One thing I forget to mention in my previous post is that on Christmas Day I had a short email from my parents with Christmas wishes… and it was my first ever email from them addressed “Dear Andrea”! I have had another email since then, a continuation of the question/answer ping-pong, also addressed to me/Andrea. That made me very happy.

Saturday 27th I took daughter to Belfast to do some girlie shopping, we spent much time in Hollister, which is her favourite brand; as we browsed around I pointed out a few things to suss out her opinions on my style; some things she didn’t like at all and some she did. Later I dropped her at an aunt for a Christmas get together… and the rest of the day I spent being miserable, with my alleged friend terminating the ‘friendship’ we had via brief emails.

Monday 29th December Kirsty and Michelle were due to go shopping together and then have a meal as well, and I have to admit to being a little jealous of them. So when my daughter announced that she wanted to meet up with friends in Newry that day my heart leaped for joy that I might be able to join my friends for a little bit of their day after all! As usual, I shaved before dropping daughter off and painted my nails with 60-seconds polish before returning home to get ready as quick as I could… which alas is never very quick; my daughter’s friends also messed about with arrangements a bit, so my schedule was over an hour late and I feared that I would miss my friends. But my BF had very considerately engineered the afternoon so that the two of them would be at the Banbridge Outlet. Firstly though I went to Banbridge town, where I walked up and down the street, trying five cash machines before I found one working, then into the post office to mail six letters with name-change letters in them. At the Outlet after a loo stop I met up with Michelle and Kirsty at Costa… where YET AGAIN they were out of hot chocolate, so as it was cold outside I opted for a tea and my favourite cherry and almond muffin and settled down for a good 50+ minutes of chat with my friends; oh, how lovely it was to see them and catch up. The last time I was at the Outlet I had spied some lovely shoes, and so we headed over to that shop for me to try them on with fine tights… but still the shoes were alas too tight. The three of us umm-ed and ah-ed as to where to eat as time was getting on, and we settled for the café at M&S – once there, Kirsty popped to the loo while I rushed to Boots to stock up on foundation, then we went for sandwiches, cakes, drinks… and more fun chat. My daughter had rung to ask if she could stay out with a couple of friends until 8.00pm… and I agreed, within certain parameters, but alas after the café visit I had to bid my two lovely friends a hurried farewell and rush past some lovely sale clothes home, carefully navigating very icy roads, wiping Andrea away again (big sigh) before picking up daughter.

I hope you all enjoy the last days of the holidays; best wishes for 2015 to you all, and thanks for reading.

Saturday Bliss – Shopping, Dinner… and Friendship

My previous post ended where I was just about to leave for what I hoped would be a lovely day out… and I was certainly not disappointed! My BF Kirsty has her own blog, where she has beaten me to it to describe the activities we did together, so I will perhaps abbreviate some of that (especially as my dinner is nearly ready)… especially the bits about cyclist history!

So off I went, driving to Lisburn to visit the Bow Street Mall until it would be time to meet Kirsty. Firstly I went to get my eyebrows threaded by a very pleasant Indian lady; I had been there a couple of times, and even have a loyalty card. As usual, she light-heartedly told me off for leaving it too long since the last time, and as usual it also took a few sets of instructions for me to hold my eye shut properly with the skin properly tight. Other than that it was fine, I sat there reclined with my eyes closed, feeling pampered… and the end result was FAB. Much better… although her efforts rather dislodged some of my make-up and I retreated to the ladies toilet in M&S to repair it… as well as go to the toilet. Then onto BHS where my friend Michelle had recommended ladies skirt suits… except that they had pretty much EVERY size except for mine. I found a couple of tops in the sale though, one of which I had seen in another shop and LOVED. So, I went into the changing rooms, where a very pleasant lady showed me to a cubicle… and alas the top that I really liked was massive; the other one was a good fit though, and I found a lovely pair of shoes too. At the till the girl was really nice, there was a problem with the shoes though as there was no bar-code, so I went and got another pair and eventually it was sorted. Kirsty texted me to say she was running late, so I went onto New Look where I have bought a few things in the past, though there was nothing that excited me this time. Eventually it was time to go, so back to the car, and onto the support group building…

…where Kirsty looked rather different with a new hairstyle which, as usual, my face transparently showed my displeasure at – it just wasn’t right, the colour was just too dark, with stand-out blonde streaks in it. She reverted to the usual hair, much better, and we headed off to Belfast for our second shopping expedition. We started off shopping in the mall where we parked, firstly in Superdrug where we spent ages make-up shopping, I bought a general mixture of items (including my favourite nail polish colour) while my BF Kirsty bought some secret make up items for a forthcoming event we are going to. Then we popped into New Look, where I tried on a pair of trousers which I liked, with a nice girl looking after me in the changing rooms… except the legs were so skinny I think I ripped the seam at the ankles! Oops – hasty exit! Then downstairs to Blue Inc for some lovely flowery trousers that I had seen in Newry… except that it was a guys Blue Inc. What!?! What a disappointment. Then we wandered outside into Belfast’s busy streets, thronged with Saturday afternoon shoppers, into BHS (where I bought a lovely top), then onto Victoria Square Mall with a serious amount of designer shops. We went into one, and I saw a top very similar to one I saw in BHS – in BHS it was about £18, in this IMG_1879_ed1shop it was REDUCED to £69!!! Gulp. After a bit of giggling, it was time for us to make a swift exit! And into Ted Baker, where we had a browse, soon approached by a nice petite girl who said “Can I help you ladies?” (Always love that acknowledgement). We carried on looking, and I saw this GORGEOUS pink winter coat… for ONLY £299! Uh, gulp again, I really don’t earn enough to afford that… but that didn’t stop me trying it on, at which point the sizing really stumped me, and so I did ask for assistance from the sales girl. I tried it on and I REALLY liked it… but I really can’t justify spending that amount of money… especially as I am not even full-time Andrea yet. So I reluctantly put it back and we exited the shop… and then I saw the coat in the window! So Kirsty, with her super-spec new phone took a picture of me (see right) and I took one of her.

Time was marching on, alas… oh I so wish it was possible for Kirsty to spend more time doing this kind of thing with me, I so enjoy shopping with her, but such is life. We went into House Of Fraser and up to the ladies floor for a look around; I was especially interested in Mango, and there was some quite nice stuff there, but nothing that shouted “BUY ME”. I wandered into other sections, and a girl said “If you need any help just ask”… which I didn’t, as we were seriously running out of time, and at close to 6.00 we returned to the car park, the streets still very busy with shoppers, some queueing for buses to go home.

Back at our support group we met up with Michelle, and Kirsty and I took turns to get ready. It’s great to have friends to give honest opinions, and I wasn’t sure whether my chosen dress (which I had bought ages ago and LOVE the flowery design) was age-correct… but positive affirmations from the two of them were enough to confirm all was okay. This time the Lisburn Fining Dining Club had chosen Il Pirata for their meal out, sister restaurant to Coppi that Kirsty and I had dined out at previously. For some reason Michelle was not at all happy with the area, and as I am not from NI originally I had no idea what the issue was – admittedly I could see why the start of the road from the city centre might be slightly unnerving to some, with elaborate murals depicting pictures relating to the troubles of the 1970-80s, although I have driven along this road before to get to my hairdresser. Once away from the centre the area looked fine to me, a bit like a London suburb full of restaurants and takeaways as our venue appears on the right. We parked, walked in, and sat at our table, discretely positioned in the corner.

The meal was just WONDERFUL. True bliss. I really gave it no thought that I was there as a girl… because the girl really is me and I have done this a number of times before, it’s just SO right for me… though as I write I then have to tell myself that I have been out doing real-time activities as a girl less than a year and this time last year if someone had suggested I might be doing anything that I have written on my blog then I would have wondered if they were out of their head. Our waitress was really nice and friendly, and as usual I was a chatty-mIMG_1883_ed1e (so NOT previous-me) and questioned her on what courses consisted of for both starters and, later, dessert. My meal was absolutely delicious – starter was a seafood arancini, main course a stunning pork dish in a beautiful sauce with lovely potatoes and vegetables, followed by a refreshing strawberry sorbet served with whipped cream. While waiting for desert I went off to the ladies, in rather high heels, careful not to slip on the wooden floors. In addition to the food, the company was wonderful too, good to see Michelle a bit more relaxed, SO enjoyable… so much so that I laughed and laughed (hopefully girly-enough), so much at times that tears were in my eyes. There were a number of drug-related comments floating around too, as I was dosed yet again with a cold and a Vics inhaler (which makes a guest appearance in the bottom of the photo to the right, taken by Kirsty in the restaurant) was the only thing to save me as I was getting rather blocked up. After tea and coffee, to prolong the outing as much as we could, we returned once again to support group… where another hour passed by with lovely chat before it was alas time to go.

The whole day was just bliss! SO natural and right to just spend all that time as it now seems as though it always should have been, as the girl I feel I should have been all along… and not one bit of negativity from anyone the whole time on such a busy afternoon and evening. FAB!

I am writing this the day after, as is often the case… and after another wonderful day (which I will detail soon) I am still in such a wonderful mood; I wonder how my next post will sound… because alas it will not be written during an Andrea-presentation day.