Two Year Anniversaries… Good & Bad

So, it’s that time of year again, when I write an anniversary post! As per the title, I have now been living full-time as the real, and content-in-myself, me, with Friday just gone being the second anniversary of being at work as me. And how has it been? Well, if I’m honest, probably not as wonderful as the first year… and maybe that’s partly due to the novelty wearing off, and now it’s just natural…? I don’t know. Health has also been a big negative this year which was an ongoing annoyance.

Anyway, here are the main highlights, and lowlights, of my past year:

  • Well, despite me just saying the novelty has worn off, a bit, I’d say that every day of these last 12 months has still had at least one moment when I have felt glad to be free of the shackles of my former gender-incorrect life-pretence and been 100% glad that I took the decision to live life in my true, female gender. Now and again I have a big smile, almost overwhelmed by how good it can feel to live life so unrestricted and true to myself.
  • I have been lucky enough to have four, fabulous holidays – two to the Canary Islands, one to Majorca, and a walking holiday in Austria.
  • Health has not been great, in one way or another, for 11 of the past 12 months. I’ve covered it in detail one way or another in previous blog posts so I won’t repeat it all. In summary, a long case of what (after many appointments) has turned out to be shin splints, an intermittent groin soreness which has more or less gone away (without the cause being pinpointed), a minor kidney function issue, and a few stress attacks that have each temporarily affected my vocal abilities have all hit me at one point or another, each contributing to worry or feelings of depression; I also have an ongoing, seemingly permanent, condition called post nasal drip which means twice-daily nasal sprays to prevent me from drowning in phlegm… though visits to warm places (as per all of my holidays) seem to help it a lot, which is a good excuse as any to get away.
  • It is over two years since I have seen my daughter – this rarely gets me down, as a while ago I resigned myself to the fact that she will meet me when she is ready and I just have to get on with my life and live it as positively as I can… but around Christmas time it really got to me, contributing to loneliness.
  • Things have been reasonable at work – the work itself has been good and dull at times, I have had a new boss since April who by and large I get on with extremely well, while my old, misogynistic pig of a boss left the company in December; in terms of Trans* incidents I only remember one guy who has made a couple of mistakes with my gender, but there were several issues that I discovered with my name not being updated in certain systems, which were all clumped together time-wise to give me a lot of stress.
  • My GIC-related appointments have largely gone without a hitch – only one more laser appointment to go, discharged from speech and language with my therapist very pleased and complimentary, GIC appointments themselves largely just a tickbox exercise to confirm all is well although at one of them I had my second opinion, which was very postive. On the negative side, endocrinology have been an utter disappointment, with huge delays, and towards the end of the year finally flagged up with much delay that my estrogen levels were far too low leading to a doubling of the dose. In October I met with a team over from Brighton in relation to surgery – I suppose it all went well enough, I ticked all the boxes, but it was rather disappointing that they just assumed that everyone wants the same thing… a bit like being on a conveyor belt; as per previous posts, I am still favouring the cosmetic surgery option, though what I am calling a “wall of noise” is rather off-putting in this respect even if it has as yet failed to sway me.
  • I now have obvious breasts! But they are not big enough… though I am hardly the first woman to say that! I still use small fillers though to give me the size I want.
  • On the plus side I have still been to quite a number of Meetup events, the majority being walking related, which gives me a reasonable social life outside of work, but on the minus side I have not made any new friends… well, local friends anyway.
  • I went on my first date! It went extremely well, and once it had finished and we had parted he told me online that he thought I looked very nice and was wonderful company… but my heart sank a bit when he then went on to talk about imagining me on the bed beside him in his hotel, to me indicating that he is after quite a sexual relationship which rather contradicted a statement he made early on in our friendship. On the one hand perhaps I am flattered… but it doesn’t make me feel any different about my cosmetic surgery choice.
  • I have only had two negative incidents relating to my trans* history while being on my own. One was on a train where a guy in a small clique of people who know my history made a negative, hurtful comment that I was meant to overhear, and the other was one morning in Dublin when I walked past a post office and a woman nudged her companion as I passed – I guess some people just can see… and have to make a point of it. Of course, the thousands and thousands of people and all the days that I have enjoyed without any bother are what counts… but human nature is to well on negatives where they exist, and I am no different… even if I can recall several women assuming that I was married to a man (and, in a sense, I feel I was), and best of all I have had two people (one a nurse!) assume that I am on HRT to stop my hot flushes!
  • I have had a full 12 months (well, 13.5 to be exact) living life with my own, girlie hair… and the more I have it the more I love it, experimenting with it, styling it in different ways… even if I do get annoyed with the wind totally messing it up and blowing it in my face, but that’s no different to any other girl.
  • I have enjoyed lots of fun times with my best friend Kirsty, including a couple of enjoyable weekends with her staying over, and more recently I have watched her journey speed up and progress extremely well.
  • In March I visited my parents home for the first time since going full-time, and met my brother… but, as mentioned, it hasn’t made much of a difference to his acceptance level.
  • Back in September I reached an age threshold that I shouldn’t really admit again… so I won’t… but I celebrated in style with assorted people.
  • My online friendship circle, via Words With Friends, is still good – my oldest friend there (of around 18 months) knows my history, and it doesn’t seem to make the slightest difference to him… he even sent me a Christmas card (to my work, with “To My Pwincess” written inside) and an e-Gift card for Dorothy Perkins. I have several other male friends there, some of whom I suppose are there looking for attention or friendship due to problems in a marital relationship (which included the guy I dated), though I have lost two in that category who decided to make New Year resolutions and work harder on their marriage and stop flirting around… I guess.
  • My feelings of remorse are worse than the previous 12 months… remorse that I didn’t sort out my stupid head years ago and become comfortable with the idea of living my life properly – again, totally wasted feelings… and I wouldn’t have my friend Kirsty if that had happened.

I can’t think of anything else of note, though I may have missed something obvious… but at my age my memory is even less than it used to be. I’m hoping for a pretty stable year these next 12 months (with some lovely holidays, obviously… as it’s me), either culminating in surgery or with it imminently coming. I expect I’ll write about it now and again…

Fed Up, regression (?)… and some walking tips

In one of my recent blog posts (not that they are that frequent as of late) I mentioned the underlying issue that has made me so fed up in the last couple of months. It is nothing to do with my transition, all is going pretty much as well as ever in that respect (albeit with the occasional teensy blip), daily life is normal and satisfying, I love seeing my new face complete with lovely girlie hair, am happy with my new voice, and so on.

No, the issue that has made me so fed up is the leg injury that showed itself while I was away on the interesting island of Gran Canaria at the end of February… which remains an issue, with not a significant amount of recovery after two months. I had two doctor appointments in March, the first ruling out DVT (a small risk now that I am on HRT) and the second ruling out a fracture and concluding it was a severe muscle sprain most likely caused by the jogging that I started in early February. After that, and little recovery in another couple of weeks, I embarked on a series of three physio appointments where it was also stated that the issue was muscular (tendonitis) which the physio himself said he had had a few years ago after a jogging incident, although he seemed to think that my injury was caused due to a lengthy irregular driving position in a strange (or, awful, as it turned out) hire car for a prolonged period; personally I think it’s a combination of jogging high-impact physical stress, car driving position, and possibly due to feminine footwear. At my physio I could feel parts of my leg muscles that he kneaded were rather sensitive, so that I suppose at least also supported the muscle prognosis. After the third physio appointment he said that there wasn’t anything he could really do and all he was actually doing was helping to ease the pain, and so recommended going to a podiatrist… and so the weekend just gone, after a couple of weeks when I ordered arch support inserts and got on poorly with them, I went to an appointment at Newry Foot Clinic – on the plus side the girl who attended to me didn’t indicate anything untoward was wrong, the conclusion was that my feet have quite a roll-in which requires arch support… and so ballet pumps, which I love and have quite a few of, are a total no-no (sobs as she writes), heels are generally not great either, ankle boots are agreeable, but ideally I should spend most of my life in trainers. Sobs again (probably), I have spent the majority of my uncomfortable life in horrible trainers, and more occasionally ugly blokey shoes, and so that idea does not fit well whatsoever with me. Then she said that the best shoes for me are those made by the likes of Ecco and Hotter, and so after the appointment I went to a nearby shoe shop selling an assortment of styles and makes of shoes, including those two… and I nearly cried when I saw them, essentially if you imagine a frumpy grandmother with a typically fashionless dress-sense then you will just about have the shoe in mind. Ugh!! So, as I write, I am rebelliously wearing a pair of ballet pumps, albeit with the arch-support inserts.

All these problems with my legs (mainly the right one) have meant that activities that I have typically done for the last couple of years have taken a back seat – I have not been able to go to any walks with my walking group, I have not generally even been in a state to drive my new car any distance in order to attend any more social meetups in Belfast, or even meet my friends Kirtsy and Michelle very much… and in fact driving at all has been generally unenjoyable, and I have found if difficult finding a comfortable driving position for more than a day or so. And this is why a part of me feels like I have regressed, at least temporarily, not back as far as my incorrect gender because that will never happen, but towards the unsociable me that I used to be… and thus life has generally been extremely frustrating apart from the very occasional meal with my two friends and a hair appointment and lovely lunch. I have also not even dared book another holiday for fear that I will either walk or drive too much and further damage my leg(s).

As regular readers will know, and as mentioned above, I belong to a walking group… though my walking tips I am about to document are nothing to do with that hobby, they are not tips on places to walk…. but actually a topic relating to transition. Before I ventured into the world as the real me, and I am not talking full-time but in fact for the first time, I spent months and months and months researching and then practising various things, and one of these was on how to walk like a woman because once out and about I didn’t want to stick out as someone walking rather oddly and draw attention to myself; in fact, even when having to keep up the façade of a male persona I started walking like a woman, partly to practise and partly because the real me was eagerly trying to burst into the world. My research involved largely reading on various transgender websites for hints and tips on what to do and what not to do, and I put as many of them into practise as possible, and for me I believe they have worked… not that I think I actually ever walked really bloke-like, and in fact when I came out to someone at work shortly before going full-time he told me I ran like a girl! Anyway, my current injury issue has enabled me to examine the various aspects of the female walk, both in terms of what I really still need to do (which pretty much comes naturally now anyway) and also observing women around me, and my conclusions are as follows:

  • As the girl at the foot clinic said to me, everyone walks differently… so just supposing you look at someone and think they have a very feminine walk that you’d like to emulate then look at another girl and they are highly unlikely to walk the same way… although as per the next point, there are certain things that most women exhibit when they walk.
  • The vast majority of women walk with their body straight and, unlike a typical bloke, the torso itself does not move at all… so they don’t trudge! Women also rarely walk with their hands in their pockets, practically always swing their arms as they walk (and usually one arm as the other arm has a handbag hanging from some part of it), walk with their legs together (so not like a rugby player) so that the legs almost brush on the insides, and very importantly they take shorter strides than men do and therefore more of them; ignoring the latter can potentially mean that someone supposed to be walking like a woman will look more like they are moon-walking like Michael Jackson.
  • Women in heels will to a certain extent swing their hips – this is at least partly because wearing heels naturally makes one do this. However, excessive hip-swinging, or ‘mincing’, is just going to look ridiculous and will make one look more like a very camp man; I have observed a girl in my office walking like this, and she looks idiotic! Women wearing flats or trainers generally don’t do much in the way of swaying, if at all.
  • I read on one site that a woman’s body structure means that their torso is more forward in relation to their pelvis, which probably accounts for the fact that certain women have obvious bottoms (I don’t mean fat, just, well, stick-out shapely I suppose). To try and achieve this it is possible for a trans-girl to roll their pelvis forwards, and I have done this over the last two years… and although I think it helped me pass well on the whole, at this stage in my transition, where I think I pass well enough due to my naturally feminine hair, improved looks due to HRT, and confidence in myself, my injury has made me realise that I don’t need to do this any more… and in fact it may have contributed to my injury by putting undue pressure on my knees.
  • A trans woman told me that women walk with their toes pointed inwards. Really? Not in general, from what I have seen.

I could think of more to say I suppose, but I’m weary so I hope the above tips will help some of you further back in the journey than I am; these are my opinions, I think they will help someone to blend in more… but that’s only part of the equation, if one doesn’t make much effort with make up, has poor dress sense or dresses out of keeping with their age, then no amount of walking practise is going to help an awful lot :-/

Today I looked at the websites of Ecco and Hotter… and if one wades through the frumpiness there are just a few sensible and even pretty shoes and well-styled boots… so I may soon go footwear shopping!

 

Reunion… on an Accidental Mother’s Day Weekend

I have been living full-time in my true, female gender for over a year now and for that time there have been two people who have had an issue with that for one reason or another, my brother and my daughter.

I don’t imagine that my daughter will come round any time soon and I doubt my ex- ever has anything positive or encouraging to say about me – that would break the habit of a lifetime – but I will continue to communicate via email with her and live in hope.

As for my brother, one of his big issues in making any acceptance-progress has been that he just doesn’t communicate… and in fact not just on this, but with anything much really, certainly not anything more than superficial. Anyway, about 5 weeks ago I started the ball rolling by sending him a little message saying that I miss my parents, having not seen them for over 5 months, and seemingly not able to come over either… and his response totally ignored my emotions. Shortly afterwards I had an email from my parents asking if I was okay and reminding me that I had not been in touch in a couple of weeks… and so it enabled me to tell them that, actually, although healthy enough I was a bit sad that I had not seen them for so long… and, to cut a long story short, I had booked flights for the first weekend in March to go over to stay with my family, as well as a hire car to get there as my brother did not want to meet the new-look me for the first time by himself, which is fair enough I suppose considering the length of time he has been stuck in time. About a week before my weekend away, I was shopping in Tesco and saw reminders about Mothers Day on 6th March… and then was even happier about my trip arrangements, because I would be over for Mothers Day with my mother, something I did not know when I had booked flights.

So, on March 4th, I was flying out of Belfast on my way to my family, feeling quite excited… although at the same time not particularly well, having had my third cold of the year for about a week, and also an annoying leg ache, that as luck wouldn’t have it escalated during my travels and made me think I had DVT. At just after midnight I got to my family’s house, relieved and overjoyed to be there, actually in the home that I grew up in, but feeling right about myself… albeit unwell. The next morning I was up and ready in reasonable time, and tentatively went into the kitchen where my brother was making bread, with my mum safely nearby… and it was not long before we were in conversation, and laughing about things! And it wasn’t much different to how it ever was… except of course I was happy within myself. Later my brother went for a walk by himself as he had a headache… at least that was what I was told… although he does do this a lot when I am not there, so I IMG_20160305_132026707decided to go down to the small town centre for some shopping. Before I went I asked my dad whether any of the neighbours knew about me and, when he said no, I asked what I should do if I should encounter any of them, should I just smile sweetly, say hello, and walk on… and he said “it’s up to you”! This really pleased me, essentially he was saying that if I wanted to let them know then that was fine, and he was not afraid of any resulting gossip, for example. I was out for maybe an hour and a half and had a nice time, even though the town where my parents live is hardly very big – it’s a farming and mountain-activities town, with supermarkets and a few standard shops as well as a number of hiking shops, so hardly a place with in-trend fashion stores, but it was nice to wander around what I call my home town as my true self, without anyone treating me any differently from any other woman; see photo of happy-me, taken on the bridge over the main river passing through the town. The rest of the weekend was very nice but nothing much to write about, we played cards, ate quite a bit, chatted quite a lot, but ultimately it was enjoyable and pleasant without any awkwardness; on the Sunday night my brother bid me farewell, as he was working the next day, and he said it was nice to see me… and so I am quite hopeful that all will be well with him and me 🙂

The Monday morning I was tired and after washing and styling my hair and eating breakfast I went to bed for a while. After lunch I was packed and it was all too soon time to go – as my parents accompanied me to my car I got sad, and when my mum hugged me goodbye I burst into tears! My mum told me not to cry, and that they would be over to see me soon. After a hug from my dad, I got in the car and dried my eyes and cheeks, and then set off… and it was only after several miles that the threat of tears subsided.

All in all, a pretty successful, and very enjoyable weekend!

 

More First Anniversary Celebrations

Having actually not celebrated my first-year anniversary of living properly as a woman at all on the actual day itself I hoped that the week following it would make up for it… and, as it turned out, it did so rather sooner than expected!

I went into work on my earlier train on the Monday morning, although it was a bit late arriving… and once at my office it was rather obvious that someone had been rather busy at my desk preparing it for celebrations! This is what it looked like:

desk

(It doesn’t normally look like this… although as I write the balloons are still mostly present). Lots of appropriately coloured balloons, a card, and not one but three presents!! I was full of big smiles and, after taking my coat off, opened the card and started reading very kind words… and then stopped as it started explaining the reason for 20160203_095101each present, the main two appearing in the photo alongside. We had  a good long chat, and I thanked the girl in my team who had created all my surprises a lot because I so appreciated her kind effort and words, it really picked me up after an eventless weekend… and, as it turned out, she was the only one who even gave me a card; thank you!

Another thing that made the day nice was a breakfast special at the work restaurant, waffles with chocolate and caramel sauce and maple syrup. Normally I have a pretty healthy breakfast, but it was a celebratory breakfast and so I pushed the boat out… and so glad that I did – YUMMMMMY!!

On the Saturday following that I went out for dinner with friends Kirsty and Michelle at a restaurant called Coco’s, as I had had the pre-theatre menu there once before and it was excellent. This time the food was still very good, although I didn’t like my dessert that much as it was very gingery; my rabbit pasta starter was lovely though, and my main of halibut bourguignon very good too… once I had asked for the sauce, which was missing from the plates. However, the meal was somewhat spoiled by a very noisy atmosphere – some people seem to think this is great, giving a place a buzz, but I have a soft voice and I don’t want to risk wrecking it by raising my voice continually… and so after a while, with the noise getting ever louder and worsened by ramped up music volume, I could not hear what my friends were saying and gave up any attempts at conversation… and so was fed up. If I want to out for a nice meal and catch-up, I don’t want to do it in a semi-disco atmosphere.

After dinner, and a drive back to Lisburn in Michelle’s nice new car, Kirsty followed me back to my house for an overnight stay; I enjoyed several hours with her until 2.00am, sharing a bottle of Cava, and playing an amusing chocolate-taster game… as well as some music and nice chat. The following day Kirsty rose at around 9.30-9.45 and I about 15 minutes later… and it was nice to be ready several minutes before her and much quicker for a change – now that I have my own hair, and have a much speedier make-up routine, this is now possible. After a bacon sandwich prepared by my own fair-but-limited hand we went to Ulster museum (after a quick visit to the palm house) as there was a Rembrandt self portrait on display, as well as several other pieces by other artists of the period – from the painting notes it became apparent that Rembrandt painted the most self portraits of all famous painters… and I don’t quite know why, as he wasn’t exactly, well, an oil painting… if you see what I mean. We also had a look round some other paintings, including many period pieces (on the one hand quite a few stuffy looking portraits, but also some nice landscapes, including some local scenes such as this one near Warrenpoint) warrenpoint pictureand then the modern art section where, as before, some paintings interested me and some I just didn’t get whatsoever. After a wander around a few other areas of the museum we had a coffee and biscuit/cake, and then went shopping in Belfast city centre; I had a really fun time, and it was nice to have an honest friend who provided affirmations and the occasional negation on clothes on offer, and also nice to help her choose something too. As the shop-closing hour arrived we drove to Malone Lodge where Kirsty has a book group meeting later on, so beforehand we had a bar-meal early dinner, which was pretty tasty if a little fat-saturated. As 7.00 neared, book-group meet-time, Joanne from the group came to the bar and said hello to the two of us (I know her from a different group event), then Kirsty seemed to joke with me about coming along to the group… and I returned the jokey chat (“okay, I’ll see you there in a few minutes… ha ha”) even though I didn’t see the point in me going as I had not read the book under discussion and also I think I am a bit of a literary dullard compared to the average group person. So I drove home and did some wallpapering – like one does at 8.00pm on a Sunday evening – to round off a great, celebratory first-anniversary week of me living full-time as my natural, female self for a whole year.

Roll on the next 12 months, life’s feeling pretty good… even though, as I write, I feel like I am coming down with my second cold/flu of 2016 :-/

x

 

First Anniversaries – Celebration & Brief Reflections

Well just where has the last year gone??? Time flies when enjoying oneself I guess, or living a really happy life as I have now, finally, been doing… because today is the first anniversary of the day when I began living full-time as my true female self, 12 months ago today!! Alas, I am celebrating the day by remaining at home not just today but tomorrow too as I am recovering from my latest laser hair removal treatment yesterday – it went well, though I left with a very numb face, which is now a bit puffy and sensitive.

I suppose I could write reams and reams about how the last 12 months has gone… but if you’re interested in all that detail then it is covered in my previous blog posts. Most of all it is just so comforting how normal and happily the last 12 months have gone – I could put that down to a number of things I suppose, such as how nice many people have been, perhaps the significant preparatory effort in previous years that I put into presenting and sounding reasonably well, aided by speech therapy sessions and more recently by HRT which is very slowly affecting my shape, but also it is simply because life has felt so totally right and natural… which only leads to feelings of remorse that I did not do this years ago, although circumstances of one sort or another perhaps just didn’t mean I was ready to do so until recently. I have done lots of fun, and some new (as Andrea), things in the period, such as going on a number of holidays abroad with my female passport (including one with my walking group) and an assortment of cultural Meetup events. Any anxieties I might have had (and I don’t recall many, because it was just the right and only thing to do) of life full-time in my true-gender have been unfounded, life at work has been fine and so many people have commented on how much happier a person I am, commuting has been no bother, and my social life has been enjoyable and fun; I can also count the number of times when by myself that I have been aware that I have not passed on the digits of one of my hands, and I think that is pretty good going over a 12 month 24/7 period as myself… considering that most of it I was still wearing a wig while growing my own hair.

I have actually in a way celebrated my anniversary already, because tw20160128_204254o days ago I went out with a nice woman from work to an upmarket Italian restaurant in Dublin – it was a very enjoyable and fun evening, even if the dining room was noisy, and I had the most alcoholic but delicious tiramisu of my entire life. We got to the restaurant at about 6.00 and left just over 2 hours later. We then took the local DART cross-city train to the station where I get my intercity train home, and hugged before I got off the train, it was a really nice end to a lovely evening and I was happy all the way home on the train (see picture).

Alas another 12-month anniversary that has recently past is the last time that I saw my daughter, but all I can do is hope that time will help her understand and realise that this change in her parent is due to the unhappiness that she noticed in me, and that my personality is little different – I may well miss her, just like I wish I could visit my parents without the hurdle of a brother who doesn’t try and understand what I have been through but is stuck in the grieving stage, but life will carry on and I will continue getting as much out of it as I can.

Who knows what 2016 and the next 12 months may bring…

 

Christmas Sales

I have often wondered how the concept of Christmas Sales originally arose… because I am quite sure that there is nothing in the tradition of Christmas (whatever that means any more) that says that, literally, the day after Christmas one should go shopping in droves for bargains galore. For as long as I can remember, on Christmas Day itself there have been TV adverts proclaiming sales starting on Boxing Day (at, for example, Currys electricals, House of Fraser, etc) and the day after Christmas news reports of zombies queuing up outside Selfridges in the dark at stupid o’clock in the morning to be the first xmas saleones into the store in what I presume becomes some mad, hysterical dash to grab must-have sale items that one perhaps could not afford before Christmas. Perhaps the concept is that the sales are a retailer’s question of “out with the old in with the new” as the New Year dawns, in which case they should be called “New Years sales” and not “Christmas Sales” at all. Perhaps it is actually a retailers tradition of being considerate in providing an activity for family members who, thrown together for a whole 24 hours over Christmas over mountains of turkey, mince pies, and an inevitable amount of drink, can no longer stand the sight of each other and must escape to spend money that half of them probably don’t have on things that they probably don’t really need, having already spent it on an increasingly greed-filled spree of present shopping just before Christmas. Personally I think it is appalling that much money is spent on presents for Christmas that, within a day of it passing, many such gifts are then reduced by 30-50%. Of course, all of us UK readers know that one significant exception to this rule is the humble sofa, which is on offer pretty much throughout the year for half-price from DFS who just call their sales by a different name according to the time of year. Perhaps for those looking for a new television they are invaluable. Perhaps I am missing something in this sales malarkey…

This year I had expected that I would be champing at the bit along with millions of fellow shoppers on Boxing Day to grab a bargain, not least because I knew I was spending the vast majority of the Christmas all by myself and had a desire to keep myself and my melancholy mind occupied… but as it turned out, most of the Christmas sale shopping I have done has been more of a social get together with one friend or another. Boxing Day I was exceptionally lazy and was in bed for most of the day until 4.00pm… but I also knew when I first woke up that day that I felt emotionally fragile on my own, and half anticipated that had I embarked on sale shopping amongst intolerable throngs of people that I would have at some point run from one shop or another in tears of exasperation… or worse.

The first day I went sale shopping was on December 28th… though half of the outing was salesactually eating and (non-alcoholic) drinking with my BFF. After a coffee and cake, we sale-shopped in Belfast for a couple of hours, and it largely turned into a frustrating and tiresome retail expedition, certainly compared to sale shopping earlier in the year (of which I did quite a lot, with many good bargains had) because in one shop the hundreds of sale items were simply thrown with careless abandon and apathy onto the sale rails by the staff in a largely random manner such that if one unexpectedly saw an item that one liked, but in the wrong size, then one was highly unlikely to find that same article in another size on the same rail. We did go into Zara, where I managed to find a nice pair of trousers that I spied on a rail from a distance and zoomed into it… and funnily enough Kirsty also spotted it from a distance and thought to herself that if there was one item that I might like in the shop then that would be it! The sale-shoes in M&S were equally disappointing, with only a lovely pair of navy suede heeled boots that took my fancy (and Kirsty’s, at a later date), but the heels were too high; again, staff-laziness seemed to be the order of the day, with a veritable mountain of shoes on the floor awaiting attention. Another thing that became increasingly apparent was that there was a good reason why a major quantity of items are in the sales, at least this year… and that is because they are bloody awful!!! Either the pattern of the clothing is frequently dreadful, or the quality of the material or manufacture is poor; I also saw items in the sales that I have seen in several previous sales, which are obviously struggling for buyers attention. So on that expedition we both left the city with not very much at all.

My most successful sale-shopping over the period was in Dublin… which in fact was the first specific sale-shop for (ladies) clothes in Dublin for me. On 30th December I went into M&S in the city centre, during my monthly trip to the bank, and found a pair of leather knee-high boots at half price. Even better was the shopping expedition the next day… for a couple of reasons… the main one actually being that it was with a girl from my department who has known me for years (mostly, of course, in the apathetic presentation of a ‘Bob’ persona, which she has admitted to me recently I did not seem happy in at the time), we had agreed before Christmas to go sale shopping and so as we weren’t busy on 31st that is what we did. Our destination was Grafton Street in the centre, one of the two mainstream areas of big-name shops – firstly we went into M&S, where I saw a coat that I had liked the look of for months but always thought of as being too expensive… except that it was now half price (and in fact €20 cheaper than I had noticed it in passing the day before), and my companion said it really suited me. Then we headed up the street, chatting and casually browsing, going into a couple of shops before spending an amount of time in Monsoon – she tried a pair of jeans on, while I tried on a jacket and a few pairs of trousers – and we both left with successful and good purchases; as we exited she said it was really fun shopping with me, and she was having an enjoyable time.. and that made me so happy to hear, another form of acceptance from someone I have known for a number of years.

Since then I have done a little more sale shopping, mostly on my own, and have found very little to interest me. My parents were kind enough to buy me e-vouchers for Dorothy Perkins and New Look for Christmas, two retailers wear I buy the majority of my clothes, and so far they have not been used!

Perhaps this lack of sale-finds is a good thing. Perhaps it’s a reminder that I spent too much money on sale-shopping last year and should concentrate on buying clothes that I really need… especially as my figure is changing shape and size a bit, slightly larger wasit partly due to a bit of comfort eating during the highs and lows of Christmas (see previous post) but perhaps also due to hormones. Perhaps it’s a sign that I should save my money to spend it on something more significant or worthwhile, something that I really need – we shall see…

Happy shopping!

Christmas Highs, Christmas Lows, Christmas Dinner… Christmas Alone

Most years I hear ‘adverts’ on the radio (if advert is the right word), particularly/primarily from charities, reminding viewers/listeners that there are people out there, especially the elderly, who are alone at Christmas, and who can be quite vulnerable, in one way or another. Upon hearing such past reminders, I expect I pondered for a moment, thought that a bit sad, but could not think of anyone that I knew that was in such a situation… except that this year it has been me in this situation, and I now fully appreciate the difficulties that such charities highlight. In the ten previous years I have spent Christmas Day on my own owing to marital separation, but it has always been in the knowledge that within a day or two I would be with someone that was close to me, my daughter and maybe also my parents and brother; however, owing to the circumstances of my transition to simply live as my true feminine self, the reward I have been given for living my life in this honest fashion is that I have spent the whole of the Christmas period without this company… and it has generally been a very lonely time.

Perhaps because of this anticipation, soon after the first Christmas dinner with my two friends Kirsty and Michelle at the end of November I decided Plough xmas 2015-2that it would be nice to have a Christmas dinner close to the 25th December, especially after our first attempt was not a Christmas menu, and so I arranged an outing for us on 23rd December at The Plough, one of our favourite restaurants… and I am so glad that we did this because I left feeling a bit Christmassy – it gave me an opportunity to have a traditional Christmas dinner (as well as a yummy dessert and reasonable starter) with two good friends, I was also able to show Michelle my new hair style… the first style with MY hair. Afterwards we exchanged presents and cards, and left for home.

On Christmas Eve, the first for many years without my daughter who I have traditionally taken to work with me, I went to work alone, and gave out the rest of my Christmas cards. Actually, the first one of the day I gave at Newry station to the guys there who I see every week, and the one on duty said “Och, thanks so much!” and gave me good wishes. The second card was to this elderly guy who works in Dublin Station who I see most days, he is always very friendly and sometimes saves a newspaper for me to read on the train home, anyway I went to give him the card… and he took my hand and then gave me a kiss on the cheek and wished me a Happy Christmas – uhhh, that’s never happened before (for obvious reasons) and I left the station for my office with a humoured smile. At work I gave out my cards, and in a few I gave thanks for all the support that certain people have given me throughout the year since I started living full-time as a woman, that has contributed to 2015 being the best year of my life by miles and miles; one guy in particular was quite touched, and warmly laid his hand on my arm. I then gave a card to a lady called Audrey who I have chatted to a lot during the year, and because she has given me some good advice as well as been a very good listener I gave her a small present too – she said I was very thoughtful… and then proceeded to give me a whole BAG of little presents!! I couldn’t believe her kindness, she said they were only small things, but she knew I would be alone over Christmas and wanted to give me something – as regular readers will know, I display quite an amount of emotion in my life (I’m allowed to, I’m a woman) and I could not help but spill a tear or two down my cheeks. I left the office reasonably early, and went straight home and put all those presents under my tree alongside those from my two friends.

I woke up on Christmas Day… and did not feel very Christmassy or jolly; opening the curtains made me feel even less so, as I was due to go a walk but the skies were very grey and threatened the rain that was forecast. I decided to still get ready though, but as I set off the rain started, and within a few minutes drive the rain although light was steady; I actually stopped, looked at the rain through the car window, and turned back wondering what I was thinking of… but in a minute or two I turned around again, and carried on driving to my walk, as I did not want to spend the whole day on my own… and I am glad I did that. The walk was up to Cave Hill above Belfast Castle where I met about 15 other people in my group, including several friendly faces. We had reasonable chat as we went, and at the top we did have a white Christmas for a few minutes as the light rain at altitude fell in little flakes. Once back at our cars a few people drifted off while the remainder of us went to the house of a group member who lived nearby – she had plates of biscuits and chocolate log ready, as well as tea and coffee, and we stayed around 45 minutes and warmed up nicely… but eventually it was time to depart, and we thanked the lady for her hospitality and had a hug…

…and then, within an hour, I was home, and on my own for several days of20151225_presents unseasonality over the Christmas break. On the journey home I had a call from a girl at work to wish me Happy Christmas, though I could not take it… and once home I was not in a happy mood to speak to her and so texted her back with my own wishes. I warmed up with soup and toast, and then got an email from my daughter thanking me a lot (with many OMGs) for giving her an iPhone for Christmas – I sent her a reply… and as I proof-read it a sense of longing overtook me and at that moment I cried a little as I missed her so much. Within a half hour I was crying again, but a good (if ‘good’ is the word for a sad emotion) long sob this time while opening the presents from the lady at work, as I opened more and more it was even clearer how kind and thoughtful she had been – the presents may have been small, but many quite girlie and useful – and as I carried on I felt so alone. After all that crying I sorted myself out with a  few chocolates, a few messages back and forth with two supportive friends (one local one and one I ‘met’ on Words With Friends a few months ago), and sat in front of a couple of light-hearted movies… although my eyes itched from my earlier tears.

I had a very lazy day on Boxing Day, spending much of it in bed either on my tablet or dozing while the radio was on… but later in the afternoon I fitted a new curtain pole in my bedroom, very pleased with the result, and had a lovely hot bath and styled my hair… and was VERY pleased with that result, and so I was in a very good mood by the evening time.

Sometimes the key to keeping one’s spirits up is to keep busy… and that is what I did on the Sunday, gardening for four hours into the afternoon, achieving a lot, and later stripping wallpaper from the walls of a spare room; well, it worked, I was happy with all that I did.

Monday I met my BFF Kirsty for coffee, some sale-shopping, and a good meal at a new restaurant for us called Home, where I ate a salmon dish with lovely white wine sauce followed by a chocolate fondant which was rather better than the one I attempted the weekend before; we finished the evening with hot drinks at a new-favourite coffee shop called Arizona… but eventually it was time to go, and it wasn’t long before my Christmassy loneliness returned… and so the next day I kept myself busy again.

For many, many years I haven’t worked between Christmas and New Year, but with no loved ones who felt capable of spending time with me at Christmas I went to work for a couple of days at the end of December. On the New Years Eve I got a kiss from the Dublin station guy again, both arriving at Dublin and departing… although the latter he had just had a smoke, and so that wasn’t very pleasant. Once home, all tedious New Years Eve viewing was abandoned to some weepy movies… and I was in bed with the light off well before midnight, with nobody but my teddy bears to bring in the New Year with.

And so that was my Christmas… and perhaps you are wondering what is the point in this post? A number of reasons I suppose, for me and for others – firstly, remember those that you know who are alone at Christmas time as it CAN be a difficult time emotionally to cope with (I KNOW), secondly if you are alone then do whatever you can to be positive even if it means keeping busy to get through difficult days, it’s also a reminder for me that I’ve got through this Christmas largely on my own and without the company of loved ones and with very little support from them. In past years I would have phoned my parents on Christmas Day, but as I knew I would not have a great day then I warned them I would not ring (I hardly wanted them wishing me a “Happy Christmas”, how could I be happy all on my own), and instead the next day I sent them an email with an update on things, and telling them about my Christmas Day; disappointingly I received no reply from them… which I don’t find very supportive… whereas at least my brother was a bit sympathetic via some online-chat… although he fails to get half the point in that it is him that has prevented me from being invited to spend Christmas with my family.

Best wishes for a Happy New Year, thank you for reading during 2015.

x

 

A Hairy (?) Weekend

I couldn’t think of a snazzy title for this blog post, but you’ll get the thread of it soon enough as to what the title is about. ‘Hairy’ can mean adorned with lots of hair, or alternatively a difficult situation, well, there was a fair amount of hair involved… and the weekend I am writing about, the one before Christmas, could have had some difficult moments emotionally, but thankfully nothing too awkward.

I have been living full-time as my true female self for almost eleven months, and up until the weekend before Christmas all of that time, at least away from my house, had been spent wearing a wig… for obvious reasons, because my own hair was not nearly long enough to be styled into anything feminine. I last touched my hair with a trimmer in early November 2014… and so thirteen and a half months after that I had an appointment with the lovely Paul Meekin at his stylish salon to finally get my hair cut, coloured, and styled. Earlier in the week I had had a colour test with him to make sure my skin would not have a reaction to the hair colour, and with that going fine it was all systems go for the weekend. My appointment was at 11.00, and not too long after I arrived Paul took me into his VIP room and my wig was removed for, hopefully, the final time, and he applied the hair colour – it looked an alarming orange colour in the mixing dish, but on the hair it looked promising, and I waited with a pile of magazines after he had finished while the colour took/set. Then a girl gave my hair a good wash and condition in the main salon rooDSCN1225e - first cutm, I sat on one of the reclined seats, and the girl pressed a button and then it reclined further, the sides pulled themselves up to caress my body, and the seat gave me a massage while my hair was attended to! I felt like I was really being pampered. Once that was done, and my hair towel dried, it was back into the VIP room where Paul blow-dried, styled, and ironed my hair… and when he was finished, surprise surprise, emotions took hold again as I could not hold back my tears because I was so overjoyed by the resulting look – Paul did such a wonderful job and it made me realise that women don’t go to a salon just to “get their hair cut”, they go so that they leave feeling good about themselves, looking good, and having been pampered by people who care about what they do… at least that was how it felt at Paul’s salon; see photo that he took of me following my first ever girly cut!

Once I had paid, both for my haircut but also my very own pair of hair irons, I gathered my stuff together, touched up my make-up after one or two more tears, and then left with Paul for lunch; as we drove, I couldn’t help myself but look at my hair in the car mirror! I was slightly worried that the fringe was a bit light, but now I realise that is only because my wig was SO heavy and unnatural by comparison. We picked up his partner at his apartment building, and then drove to a café owned by one of his friends who has just started up her own business, a place called Linen and Latte near Glengormley… and we had a FAB lunch, Louise and one of her friends were waiting at a table for us, and the three of us all ordered club sandwiches which were really tasty on lovely bread… and Paul and I went for dessert too, I had a lovely chocolate cake, he some apple pie; the service was really attentive, and the food good value, so I left a tip as we departed. Paul dropped me back at my car near the salon, and I offered Christmas wishes, feeling SOOO happy.

I had arranged to meet Kirsty at the Banbridge Outlet, but before that I popped to Boucher Road to return some clothes at New Look, where I tried on some boots; I suppose that was the first test of my new hair… and, of course, all was good… because now my hair looked totally natural, because it was MY OWN!! I met Kirsty in Costa, and it was just slightly deflating, and that was because I was hoping for an immediate OMG-type look from her when she saw me… and yet I sat opposite her only three or four feet away once I had got my mocha and, well, NOTHING! We chatted for a bit, and she asked me what I had been up to, I said I had been in Belfast, and so she asked if I had been shopping… uh, nooo, and so I actually pointed at my hair, and FINALLY the penny dropped, at which point I got the reaction I wanted, she was very complimentary and said it was so good… and, oh, it very much was!

Once coffee was done, we drove20151220_152411 to my house, because Kirsty was coming over to help me erect and decorate my Christmas tree… partly because she had not been over for some time, but also because if she had not come over then I would not have bothered decorating it just by myself. I treated myself to a new tree a few days beforehand, one of those with fake snow on the branches, and I was really pleased with it because the branches were nice and bushy and to me the snow looks quite realistic; when Kirsty folded down the branches some of the ‘snow’ fell onto the carpet… but I reckon it looks nice. Anyway, to cut a long story thankfully shorter for you readers I’m sure, the tree ended up looking fab (see photo), Kirsty cooked me a lovely starter and main course while I failed (alongside a list of numerous previous Masterchef contestants) to cook a chocolate fondant. I had an enjoyable evening, as well as the morning after… but alas Kirsty had to leave at around 12.30pm, and at that point the weekend did get a bit difficult for me, because I suddenly felt alone with Christmas looming like an ugly grey cloud… and so much chocolate was consequently eaten.

But, overall, it was a great weekend… with another major milestone crossed on my amazing journey – my own hair finally on display to the world. Over the next few days at work I had many compliments about my hair, from “Wow, I can’t believe it, it’s brilliant” to a couple of “is there something different about your hair?”, the overriding opinion was that it was rather better than before and more natural. During the week I caught my reflection in the train window a couple of times when it stopped at a station… and I was so pleased… a new look for the New Year 🙂

Away with the Canaries… AGAIN

I am writing this post on Christmas Day but, being alone at this time, I want to write about anything other than Christmas to avoid bursting into tears for the third time today… preferably recalling more enjoyable, recent times.

In my last blog post I mentioned Seasonal Affective Disorder, I have not been clinically diagnosed as having this but I am totally certain that I suffer it to some extent – every year in autumn and winter my mood is lower, I find it difficult to get up in the morning when the hours are short and especially when there has been a prolonged period of dreadful weather (today being typically awful, with grey skies and increasing rain since before 10.00am this morning), and so on….

…so this year I thought that I would do something about it, at least for a short period, and so I decided to go away for an end-of-year holiday, in mid-December. I had thought of doing something new, as I have become more prone to adventure and willing to try pretty much anything (except for bungee jumping, parachuting, and vindaloo curries) at least once, and the idea of visiting one of Germany’s Christmas markets came to mind… but the price of the flights last-minute (for I only started planning at the start of this month) was ridiculously expensive, and I am not made of money. Then I figured that that was a dumb idea, because if I am already suffering from S.A.D. then surely I need to go somewhere with at least a marginally better climate to home, and so I looked for the cheapest flights possible to somewhere reasonably warm… and ended up booking a return flight to Lanzarote for only £84! Less than two weeks after I booked that, as well as three nights half-board at a reasonable hotel and ridiculously cheap car hire, I was setting off on my break. Canaries here I come… AGAIN… only six weeks after I had left Tenerife! So… this is another holiday post, and as I’m lagging behind a bit in what I want to write to you about, I’ll cover the whole break in one post… probably with the usual bucketful of photos.

The only downer was right at the start of my holiday in that I had to get up at 2.15am as my flight was departing from Dublin at 6.15am!!! But it was worth it, as I was leaving Lanzarote airport at around 11.00am in my little hire car for a full day of exploring… in BEAUTIFUL sunny Stonework beach, N Lanzaroteweather, 23C and a cloudless blue sky. After a couple of stops along the east coast,
passing some nice beaches and coastline, I got to Stonework Beach near Orzola at the northern tip of the island… my first favourite spot of Lanzarote (see picture, above right); there was a bit of a breeze, but the temperature was still wonderful, and I was warm enough in just a girly T-shirt. There was quite a swell in the sea, and some great waves for surfers. From there I headed up a pretty scenic road to a small village called Ye, and then toLa Graciosa Island Lanzarote a viewpoint that offered a lovely vista of a long, thin island, called La Graciosa, pitted with collapsed volcanic
cones (photo 2, left). After some more driving around, and a few little stops, I ended up walking very happily in my T-shirt on a scenic beach… in December!!!! With time getting on, I started heading south to my hotel, through the amazing Timanfaya Volcanic park that I would see much more of the next day (see logo statue right, and late-afternoon photo below)Timanfaya statue. Shortly after 6.00 I checked into my hotel in Playa Blanca and was given a glass of Cava by the friendly porter who showed me to my room; the hotel had taken onboard my request for a quiet room, and it was perfect, away from any noise, and very spacious inside too. I dressed smartly for dinner in summery, floaty trousers, a thin top and matching cardigan, and ate outside… in December! Such fun… and a very enjoyable dinner too, with a HUGE buffet spread, including fish cooked freshly by a friendly chef in front of me; the waiting staff were very friendly… and madamed me several times.

Timanfaya Sunset 1

I awoke on Saturday to another beautiful day and, after a plentiful breakfast from another bountiful buffet (where I got ‘ladied’ by a waiter), I set off for a full day of exploring. My first stop was one of the number one tourist attractions on the island, the Timanfaya Volcanic Park… and rightly so, because the scenery is stunning and other-worldly, different from anything I have seen before, a landscape drowned in immense lava flows from the last major eruption lasting six years from 1730 and littered with numerous volcanic cones in assorted burnt colours; see photo below of one example from the park itself. At the car park one of the tour guides said “my dear” as he gestured me to the next tour bus, which soon left, along an extensive road through some of the major volcanic sites; he stopped several times while the tour tape explained the history of the area, and he was kind enough to roll the door window down so that I could take some photos without reflections in the windows. There was also a geyser near the car park that sprayed passers by every so often. The only aspect of the park I didn’t like was that the experience was all a bit synthetic compared to Tenerife, in the park itself it is practically impossible to stop anywhere to take a photo – I understand that they don’t want people wandering all over the volcanic rocks, but it would be nice to have a few stopping places for marvelling at leisure at the amazing scenery.

Timanfaya conescape 1c

After the park, I headed north, for more exploring and much photo taking, I got a bit hungry… and decided for the sheer novelty value of it tMe and my ice creamo have an ice cream, just because it was mid-December and the weather suited it. Then I went to my favourite place on the island, a place with what I consider to be magnificent, unspoilt scenery and, best of all, little-discovered and in fact devoid of any tourists. One reason is because it was not easy to get to – I had to drive off the main road, beyond the suburbs of a small town, down a gravel road, and then at a make-shift parking spot walk a half mile to the coast and then another half mile to the spot where the coastal photo below is taken. To me the waves were lovely to listen to, nature and nothing else, and the red rock in the distance quite unusual and
spectacular; I may return and explore further. I visited quite a few other
sites, and took loads of photos, but I won’t detail them laboriously or drown you in photos… though I will soon put more photos on my Flickr page if you are interested. I always think that there is a certain romance in watching the sun go down at the coast, seeing the sun dip below the horizon… although I didn’t have anyone to share it with… but it was rather nice, the photo below is of the sun setting beyond the still ‘harvested’ salt works on the island; the best thing of all, the sCoastal red rocks 1un set at 5.55pm (nearly two hours later than at home), and yet the temperature at that time was still 21C! In the evening I went shopping in Playa Blanca for bargains, haggling with a guy in a perfumery to get a bottle of my favourite My Burberry for a very reasonable price, and then spending rather too long in an electronics shop as an Indian guy tried to flog me a camera that must have been a fake for the price he was trying to sell it for… and so I was not tempted to buy even though he madamed me to death. The staff at dinner was really nice, I asked one of the chefs what the meat was that he was slicing off a leg bone and he joked “donkey”, and when I looked agog he laughed and said it was lamb. As I ate outside, quite late, there was some quite enjoyable entertainment at the Arabian bar nearby, belly dancing… though it was more the music I enjoyed, having little interest in the actual dancers… but as I sat back after my dinner and finished off my drink, I wore a huge smile on my face, having had SUCH a good day and feeling SO on top of the world.

Salinas sunset

Sunday was another sunny day – how lucky was I, huh!! EXACTLY the weather I went away to find. Another day of exploring (I don’t do relaxing / pool), more so inland than the other days, marvelling at the other-worldly lava flows almost devoid of vegetation, and also the envineyard fielddeavours of the locals to farm the land as best they can – see right for a vineyard, where cones of ashy lapilli are raked out of the land to plant vines in the fertile ground below. I eventually ended up at another really interesting tourist spot, a volcanic cone called La Caldera Los Ceurvas which was the very first one that made up the eruptive activity of the 1730s – it was a bit of a walk to get to the cone itself, which was fine, and then I started walking around the base of the cone… and then inside it!! It was sooo eerie, but lovely and peaceful, with bold, colours of ochre… and the amazing thing was that the landscape actually smelt burnt! But despite that, as I walked further around the cone, there was some flora Volcano Geraniumand fauna, including these beautiful geraniums. After visiting a number of other places, including Teguise which is one of the bigger and more attractive old towns on the island, I eventually ended up at the very volcanic coast not too far from my hotel near the salt works where there is an impressive natural feature called Los Hervidores, basalt columns of rock jutting into the sea, with a cave all the way under one of the rocky spines (see photo below) through which sizeable waves crashed like thunder. Alas the sun was going down, and I returned to my hotel and started packing for my departure the following morning. I had a lovely final meal, greeted by a friendly wasiter who as usual said “Good evening madam”, treating myself to a very good half bottle of Spanish wine… and proving that I can still walk in sizeable heels when tipsy! While I was eating my dinner I was surfing on my tablet and playing Words With Friends, I was chatting to one guy on it and telling him about the lovely bath I had and he said “Bet your boobs didn’t freeze when you got out!” – uh, no! 🙂

Los Hervideros 1

Sadly Monday morning I left my hotel about 8.45am for the airport, though there was just time for one or two short stops for photos before getting there; in the arrivals area was a Christmas tree… anLanzarote Xmas Treed I guess as it is Christmas Day then I should include a picture of it. Several hours later I was back in Dublin… to totally grey skies, pouring rain, and single-digit temperatures… but I didn’t mind, as I had had three, perfect days of holiday away in a place I had not even considered venturing to prior to a few months ago… and although this afternoon, on my own at Christmas, I have been very upset a couple of times, writing this blog and reviewing my photos has cheered me up – that’s what these happy memories are for, a temporary lift to S.A.D. and some at least temporary buoyancy for my mood during Christmas.

I hope you all have a good Christmas yourselves, however you are celebrating it.

xx

 

 

 

 

 

Month NINE As a Full-time Woman – WWF, My Neighbour… and An Eight Month Challenge Over

As per my previous blog post, it is over a month since I posted. Part of that is due to ongoing apathy over posting – as written in my replies on other blogs, I have considered stopping these posts, wondering what the point in me continuing them really is, for my life is pretty damn normal and perhaps not that exciting to many. But then again, maybe that is a reason to post, at least for those who are following a similar path to me but are further behind and perhaps apprehensive, to illustrate just how normal this new life can potentially be, and if you work hard to put the building blocks in place then it really can be very rewarding. As usual, there’ll be a bit of diary stuff here, but I’ll get a couple of things out of the way first in respect of the title.

I wonder what you are thinking my “Eight Month Challenge” is? Is it anything to do with my transition perhaps? Have I given the transition idea up for any reason? Hell no, I can’t imagine me living life any other way… and it’s so difficult to imagine how I ever did, especially for so long. No, the eight month challenge (which started out as six months) was to not wear the exact same outfit to work on any day – well, I did it! When I first went full-time I wondered whether I had a sufficiently-sized wardrobe of clothing – well, it would seem as though I have… although, as I write, I am still in the process of enlarging my miniscule autumn collection!

WWF? No, this is not, as my BFF joked, the ‘World Wrestling Federation’, but the online game ‘Words With Friends’. For any of you who don’t know it, it’s very much like Scrabble… except with a few tiny variations so that Scrabble makers can’t sue them! Anyway, I’ve been playing this for months and months, with an assortment of people, some friends and the remainder random players from around the world, primarily in UK, Ireland, and USA. For all those months I have not as yet mentioned it in my blog… and so what has changed? Well, there is a chat facility on the game, for those that wish to communicate with other players… and I have had some guys chatting to me! And it’s been rather fun!! Mainly, it’s been a bit of an education as to the different types of guys that are out there (not just in WWF-land, but the world in general) for a potential single lady like me to be matched against… and some of them are rather unpleasant to me, such as the lager-swilling guy whose fourth question to me was “yer married then?” and subsequently went on to describe his interests as “football, going out with mates, and sex” – uh, goodbye, low-life!! But I have also met on there quite a nice softie of a guy too!! Now I don’t think he is relationship material for me, but we get on really well with our chatting and we have lots of laughs, every night he wishes me sweet dreams followed by the emoji blowing a kiss, and probably the best thing is that when I am down he is really good at cheering me up and putting a smile on my face. He doesn’t know about my gender history, as yet, and that is because he doesn’t need to – he recently described me as “an intelligent posh lass way out of his league”, well, he perhaps does himself a disservice, but I quite liked that. Last month in one of his messages he termed me “super minx” (I’m not sure whether that’s good or not) and that he “takes my excessive chatting for granted as I’m a woman”… which I suppose is a compliment to the fact that, not only do I try my best to look the part, but also I come across as the woman that I am just from my written chat. I have more recently started chatting to another guy, so far things are going nicely enough, though I wonder if WWF is more a weekday pastime while he is working away from home; anyway, have had some interesting chat.

Throughout the month my voice has been a problem to some disagree, due to what I consider is an ongoing medical issue for which I am soon going to ENT to be checked.

Onto a few diary highlights… or lowlights in some cases:

October 2nd

A lowlight, a farewell lunch for my PM – he took his team, of which I am the technical delivery manager, out to a great Japanese restaurant… and he got a wee bit tipsy! This wasn’t his last day, but the farewell aspect was a bit sad, he’s been a really great PM and a very supportive person to me on my journey… and, as I write, I miss him.

October 3rd

A Saturday, meeting my hairdresser and one of his friends. Firstly I went to his salon and he took a look at my hair, not my wig but my real hair growing underneath it… and, wow, he is impressed and says in 2-3 months he should be able to do something with it! Yippee!! He trimmed the ends at the back, and also the fringe, and had a go with his hot irons… and it looked very promising. We then met up with his friend at a café near the Ulster Museum and had a lovely lunch with lots of fun chat; a couple of hours later I went into the museum with his friend to view an exhibition of paintings of victims of the troubles in Northern Ireland – the accompanying stories were, to say the least, harrowing.

October ??th

At some point during this week I wrote a reference for my PM who is leaving… and nearly cried as I thought about him going!

October 10th

Had a fun meetup walk with my group, after which we went to the Hillside Garden Centre for lunch (with ridiculously slow service but good food) followed by shopping for some of us – I said goodbye to some of the group who left after lunch, and entered the plant area, presently a couple of ladies from the group came up to me and asked if I would like to walk around with them? Of course I would!! The browsing probably took twice as long, but it was enjoyable, and one of the ladies kept referring to the other one and me as “ladies”… which is how I like to think I am. Later I met Kirsty at Costa… though it took an amount of convincing her to have another coffee, this time with her supposed best friend!! Grr…

October 11th

The event on this day is another reason I finally got around to writing this post…. because it fills in a hint in a reply to a comment on the previous one… as my neighbour had a long chat with me again, and THIS time I did get around to telling him that I used to live life as the guy that he used to know, even though that wasn’t really me at all – to cut a long story short, he said “as long as you’re happy”, and he wouldn’t spread gossip; we probably had the longest, and most rewarding chat, in our acquaintance. He thought he was a sister… which is an implicit compliment.

October 12th

Today I bumped into two women who met the new-look, improved, happier me for the first time. One was a girl who used to work for me several years ago who has returned to the company, the other is a lady who went on maternity before the news of me came out; she said “you look super!” J

October 16th

My latest laser hair removal session. Ouch!

October 24th

I had probably the most challenging walk ever with my group, to a mountain called Slieve Gullion near Newry. The trek up to the top was fine, I even joined a splinter group that took a more difficult route up which was fine… but at the top it was blowing a gale and I was absolutely freezing, then we descended the far side and passed through much water-logged bog land and ended up with water sloshing around in my hiking boots! Ugh!! The group split up again owing to a disagreement over us being lost, my splinter group made it back to the starting point first (yay), but it was hard work, wading through acres of heather and uneven ground. Later the remaining walkers arrived, one lady who I chat to quite regularly looked exhausted and came up to me and said “Thank goodness, a friendly face – I need a hug”! Ahh! Later I went out for dinner with Kirsty and Michelle… and for the life of me, I can’t even remember where we went, such is my commuting-weary head. Oh yeah, Deanes in Belfast – nice enough, but overpriced.

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October 26th

My latest gender clinic appointment… which I suppose was okay on the whole, except for insensitive comments about the approach to voice after I told my therapist about my throat issues, she said something along the lines of “why don’t you go back to using your normal voice, most transsexuals do once they are accepted”! To me she is just totally missing the point, perhaps several – to ME, the voice that I have now sounds normal to me and for who I am, I absolutely loathed the sound that used to come out of my mouth that I heard in my head and in any case it would be totally wrong for me and would inhibit passing.

October 31st

A day of shopping, and packing for my latest holiday… which I will write about in my next post. I am just mentioning the shopping, for walking accessories, because I enjoyed the “Do you need any help madam? Would you serve this lady? Would you like some socks on special offer madam?”

So that’s the latest month of my full-time life and RLE, all pretty normal despite being plagued with voice and throat problems. For someone who is considering curtailing her blog posting, I have written quite a lot! Thanks to anyone still reading!