Friday, March 25, 2016

Teamwork

Hi,

Not a holiday, but certainly a long weekend away from the red tape machines. A glorious five days off for the Jones Massive. Okay, four for the kids and an extra day for the Ever Lovely Mrs J and I. Sure, the pay ain't always great in the public sector, but the holidays make up for it.

Clothes

A shorter week meant Thursday was soon upon me. I still find it a challenge to work out what I'm going to wear. It's not that I've nothing to wear, as I've got a fair few items that have built up over the years. Originally, I used to buy things I like in the moment, as it were, but now, I try to shop a little less, and buy things that have a longer life.

It's partly down to money, as in not wanting to fritter it away; wardrobe space, and, perhaps a little oddly, to make the most of what I have. Back when I had the pennies to almost buy something new every week, I found I was jumping from one trend to the next. That, and I never really took the time to enjoy what I had. It's also, if I can get on my Right On soapbox for a mo, not exactly sustainable, even if said items did go to charity.

There's also an element of not buying cheap, for the sake of buying something. I think there's a difference between cheap clothes, and items bought inexpensively. Take for example charity shops, I've had some real keepers - no, not football - from some of them. My green coat, my red skirt and a denim mini (or at least, after I'd trimmed it with the scissors ;-) ).

Now, like other people do, I guess, I try to buy items that will last a little longer. Something that will not only survive a few washes, but that I can mix and match, with other items later on. I've heard the phrase 'investment piece', but that tends to be a three, or four figure price ticket. I can do four figures, but only if there's a decimal point midway through. ;-)

Chams

So, not quite sure what to wear, I did over pack. Yes, even for me. :-) Usually I take one dress and a second outfit, in case of a last minute change of heart, or if Things Don't Work (TM). You know, you pack a nice top and in the time between deciding on that, you have a visit from the Red Death on your chest. Thanks, body ;-)

But, there was no last minute mess up! That meant I'd brought three pairs of shoes, some jeans, two tops, two skirts and a dress (see photo). That was probably a little excessive.... even for Yours Truly, here. Still, lessons learned and I'll have to try and not 'panic pack' next time.

As I'd managed a slightly earlier set off, I decided to risk some false eyelashes, which I just about got the hang of. The Fashion Fates were smiling, as I managed to double twist my long necklace, which shortened it nicely.

Some nights, the changing room is very busy and it's chat-chat-chat, while we get ready. This time, the place was fairly full, but everyone seemed to be concentrating on getting changed. So it goes! Alison did pop up to say hi, and it was great to see her more sprightly.

Once my nail varnish was drying, I was off downstairs to mingle and catch up with friends.

A Question of Leadership

I was talking to one of our number, who shall remain nameless, who said they'd been asked about Chams leadership. I asked a little more and it seemed that - and my apologies for making this sound like gossip, it's not supposed to - another would-be attendee was put off, because we don't seem to have "direct leadership". What that means, I'm still not sure. Neither of us could really expand on that, as there wasn't much more to go on and conversation drifted.

Well, my interest was piqued, but in a nice way. So, do we, at Chameleons, have leaders? For me, and others at the group may feel differently, I'd say no. We do have organisers, such as Sandi and Tracey, who kindly deal with the finances and bookings. There's Val and Pat, who act as a friendly meet and greet tag team (but without the half nelson :-) ). Others come and go, in terms of helping with catering, or making the place look fab, on a party night [waves to Helen & Rebecca]. I do a few announcements, meet vendors, answer email and look after the forum. That's about as far as it goes.

Between us all, we book events - vendors, visits and parties - but, and I'd like to hope this is the case: we are fairly hands off. We're there if someone has an issue, which is very rare and we're their for support, if anyone needs that. Thing with the latter, is the group is great at welcoming new visitors, and I think that speaks very highly of our members.

So, no, we don't have much in the way of management, but we do have a lot in terms of support. I guess, we've just not needed a heavy structure, we're quite flexible around who can book what, or request an evening. I know Pat's been working on getting some people to attend, which is great.

Hopefully, I've not just caused massive offence with the above!

Products

After last week's fail with some tights I bought on a whim from New Look, I thought I'd try a new shop. I happened to be in town and I had some M&S vouchers, so it seemed rude not to give their products a spin. I came away with two sets of tights. Both ladder resistant in cocoa, but one matte, one gloss. Compared to some other store's own brand I'd tried before, these felt great on and fitted well.

Okay, so while I'm unlikely to have pins as per the model, I was very happy with them. They certainly made a change from opaques, which much as I love, I do like a little variety.

Mind you, I saw a shared post on Facebook from Charnos, advertising fishnets. Are they back in again? It only seems a few years ago, that they were the done thing. Then again, maybe I'm getting old.

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Cat Paradox

Hello dear reader,

Today has been a gift. If you will, a bright gem within the regular mud of routine. To start off, I met with Andrea, one of the Chams Massive, who doesn't work too far from me. We met up, had a tea and a chat, then a stroll around the grounds, talking about this, that and the other. Mostly gender / trans stuff, in between trying to help with a lost dog. I think, - no, not the lost dog element - that being able to talk with someone who's on a similar wavelength, is one of the (many) good things about the trans community. You don't need to have your guard up, around what topics of conversation can, and, obviously, can't, be had.

A brief history of Slap

Afterwards, I popped in to a nearby gallery, to see the Boots Inspiring Beauty exhibit. There's been a few adverts for it here and there, and my interest was piqued, Anyhoo, today, I got the chance to pop in and have a look. There were around five, or six, display panels and a central hexagonal cabinet. There were items from yesteryear - like that launch in the 30s, the war years and changes stepping to follow how women changed.

Seeing how make-up fashions changed was one thing, but the shift from women being pegged as only demure and quiet, to This Is Me, was, for me at least, a pleasant eye opener. I think we've got a long way to go in terms of equality, but at least we are moving. There seems to be more freedom to be yourself nowadays. Okay, yes, there are still glass ceilings and beauty / conformity stereotypes, but... you can chose to walk your own path. Hell, if you write a blog about it (hint: not this one), you'll probably find some like-minded souls, or soon gather some.

Back to the exhibition; the 50s posters, while marvellously kitsch, where - according to the documentation - 'very gender prescriptive'. Perhaps that explains the use of 50s imagery as 'the enemy within' or a more glam, Stepford straitjacket (despite Stepford being set much later). Ironic in a way, that now, that 50s look has been remixed, with arm sleeve tattoos and more sass than a 40s pin-up. Not that, I mind, I think that's a great look.

In & Out

Legs san padding
I popped back to the office to show my face and charge my laptop. Lunch soon arrived and I was off to town to collect some new jeans for summer. New Look may have dropped their tall range from in store, but the Click and Collect service still services those of us with longer pins.

While I was there, I picked up some ballet pumps. My size 8 ones are a little on the snug side and hurt my toes, which isn't great - and that's with thin, or no tights on. Time for some new ones. The shop was pretty busy and despite waiting for a quiet moment, that wasn't going to happen. So, I took a deep breath and, once I'd found an illusive sales assistant, took Pat's suggestion, and asked if I could try the shoes on, away from the shop floor.

After a short pause of finding somewhere, I was whisked off to an out of use changing room, although the young lady said she had to wait nearby, 'for security reasons' and she rolled her eyes. Clearly, I looked the dodgy, shoe thieving sort ;-) I joke, because this now seems standard policy. I guess stores have lost out to some Scally's nicking the stock and walking out in it. Four pairs in and the last pair fit. Yay!

Out

In the comments about last week's post, Zosimus was kind enough to mention her coming out story, and also asked about mine. It's trick because it was a very long time ago, and memory; well, if the past is another country, memory has it's own language, laws and geography. I'm not sure you can ever visit the same place twice, when it comes to distant events. :-) But, on we go...

____________________

Put your mind back to the end of the 80s, and picture a teenager, laid flat out on his bed in a black, school uniform. He's almost face down, except his head is over the edge of the bed, while his feet are on the pillow. He's staring at the carpet. Perhaps, he is looks hard enough, the answer to what's bothering him, will surface, vision-like, from the threads. Weaveworld, this isn't....

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. The Gordian Knot of a problem about where he was headed, refused to be unpicked. Alcohol and, later, other substances, did nothing to tease the tightly bound ropes. Thinking, which usually worked, was not.

Some time in the year, perhaps the spring, or early summer, his mum enters the room, and asks what's wrong. "Nothing," replies the teenager. How can he tell his mum? He's worn her heels, tried on her dresses and his sisters. It's a violation of trust and personal space. How can that not be wrong?

She asks him and again, and she shuts the door. Is it someone at school? Is he being bullied? Is it a girl? Is it a boy? She looks worried. Worried because she sees her son's face screw up, as he begins to cry. The hold each other.

"No", says the teenager, "It's worse than that." She cries too and asks him what it is. He tells her, through tearful whispers that he doesn't know what sex he's supposed to be. He likes to dress like a girl and he's sorry, for trying on her things. She doesn't shout, or tut; for that was what he feared. Instead, she cries too and holds him. She says she doesn't understand, but she'll find help. Help, to help him understand and decide. No judgement, but there are tears. He wonders if he's let her down.

"Please, don't tell, Dad," he adds. Not because his father is an ogre. That couldn't be further from the truth: Dad is kind, gentle, funny and patient. The teenager doesn't want his father to know, because he feels ashamed. Other kids don't do this right? It's not normal. The mantra echoes around his head. It's not normal.

The door closes as mum leaves. The boy is both sad and happy that he told her. Schrödinger's outing.

Weeks later, the teenager sees the family doctor and tells him, perhaps in not the best of words, "I'm a screaming transvestite."

The doctor doesn't react, but nods, sage-like and says, "I think I know someone who can help you, with your feelings. Help you find out, who you are."

____________________

Or at least, that's what plays in my head. Let's face it, it's pretty crowded in there and I do like to spin a story. The truth, may be far less like that, but it's a start. If you feel like sharing yours, the comment box awaits. :-)

Take care,
Lynn


Friday, March 11, 2016

The past is another country

Hi,

Three minutes to midnight as I start writing this. One more, and there's an option of a knowing nod to an old Iron Maiden record. Larks, that dates me. Not the Iron Maiden reference, but I've just used the word 'record'. That, or I'm some too-cool-for-school ageing metal hipster, with a love of record decks.... :-)

I should point out I'm not. Even back in the 80s, I preferred tape or CDs. Records, well, despite the large album sleeves, which would, on occasion, have brilliant artwork on them, were not for me. Not portable enough and seemingly, too fragile to make the swap between friends. Tapes on the other hand, you could make your own mix and swap tracks with friends. I know, piracy. Shocking eh? ;-) But, on the positive for records, the sleeves sometimes had scenes you could study, or lose yourself in, while you had your headphones on.

Don't tell the kids

By way of a strange intro, the above brings me around to something that was stuck in my head earlier in the week. At work, a colleague mentioned that they'd be brought in by the school, to watch the sex education video, that the teachers would be showing the class later on. My first thought was, "Well, it's a bit late, if they're now parents." :-) Talk moved on we both mentioned what we'd been told at school.

See, I was a kid in the 70s and a teenager in the 80s. It was the era of strikes, Tories, AIDS and social change. Maybe it was me, being a young lad in a backwater town, but the government of the time, didn't seem to get what was happening. Or maybe, that's always the way of the world when you're a teen. How can you have anything in common with people 30 years older than you? I'll let the truth and irony of that statement hang, for your own amusement. ;-)

So, for whatever reason, there was very little sex education at school. Perhaps this was a sign of the times - the past is a different country, and all that; or the Right Wing View that if we teach kids about doing it, they'll do it more. Wow. They might even learn to enjoy it and respect each other. Where would that lead?! :-) There was also the Clause 28 nonsense, in which prevented Local Authorities - that's local government / city hall, to our overseas readers - from "promoting homosexual lifestyles." Yeah, 'cos not telling kids about being gay will keep them straight, right?.I only got into being trans, because I saw Danny La Rue having such a fabulous time. :-P

But getting off my soapbox, not being given any real talk about it, didn't mean I wasn't curious. In that vacuum, and fuelled by growing realisation about knowing I liked to cross dress, I was drawn to the gay magazine programme, Out on Tuesday. Channel Four showed this for about an hour, and while it was mostly about gay people, there was the occasional mention of trans people, to keep my attention. Plus, it was a different world to me and I found that fascinating.

This being the 80s, there was a big AIDS awareness drive going on and yet, primetime - and straight TV (I bet those two words will affect Google searches ;-) ) - glossed over most of this, merely reporting the statistics and occasionally showing how to roll a condom to your fingers. There's a life skill, eh? :-) Out on Tuesday, however, being Channel 4 and post-watershed, did not hold back. Perhaps being nonplussed by the idea of two people of the same sex enjoying themselves, wasn't perhaps a great survival tactic - sh** the 80s was homophobic - but the presenters covered how to keep yourself and your partner protected. Going back to the 'phobic comment, I doubt the word 'transphobic' existed then (although I'm happy to sit corrected).

I remember leaving home and after a year, I met the Ever Lovely Mrs J. My mum, bless her, said, "Oh, we meant to have a chat with you about that," which given that my sister was a teen mum, you'd think they'd have been a little more forthcoming ;-) But, we never had our chat. I just said I was taking precautions and given that Mum was already worried about my cross-dressing, I thought it best not to tell her I'd learned about the Birds & the Bees from a late night show for gay people. :-)

T stuff

I had a bit of a dip earlier this week, on the old good-mood-o-meter. Nothing too serious, just a mild case of the Green Eyed Monster and it's bessie mate, Pink Fog. It's my own fault. I'd been looking at spring fashions - I see lace up heels are back in - and I rather foolishly listened to the negative voice, around body image.

It didn't seem that short,
when I packed that skirt :-)
Spring fashions, like the - for me at least - seemingly unattainable summer outfits, are there to show your arms, legs and back. Areas that I would need to keep covered up, less I be mistaken for Chewbacca on his way to Summer Pride :-) But.... I'm just going to have to ignore that sea of negativity, and look at good things, because realistically, I'm just getting at myself and I also know, I need to make the best of what I've got, rather than wishing for the unobtainable. Perhaps then, I'm not too far away from regular women, who may also look at a magazine image, sigh and try not to think that that they don't fit into the narrowband fashion seems to aim for.

On a brighter note, it was Chams this week and I was in a bit of a spin, over what to wear. Yeah, that awkward winter into spring period eh? Larks, it was cold that night and I was glad the Centre's organiser had left us a portable heater, in the changing room. I gave up on the tights from New Look, I'd bought on a whim last Xmas. They had hearts running down the seam at the back, which looked great on the packet, but were just impractical to get straight on me. Plus, they were too short. Perhaps, I should have stuck with M&S. Lessons learned!

The evening itself was very busy and after chatting with Val, I caught up with a few regulars. Sarah had popped in, along with Alison (get well soon, Mrs!) and Sarah mentioned she'd been on a course with a guy in my department. Small world eh? We chatted about jobs and in a most non-British way, mentioned money and salaries. Well, it's rare people change jobs for less, although it does happen.

Despite my best efforts at taking an age to get ready, the evening seemed to go by very quickly. But again, it was great to be 'all of me', so to speak. I also tried my new blue nail varnish from Boots, which I'm very happy with. Great colour. I had to turf some late hangers on out, at the end, while Val & I locked up. Then, it was off into the fog, and back in male disguise. Still, there's worse things eh? :-)

Take care,
Lynn

Friday, March 04, 2016

Downtime

Hi,

It's a late post tonight, due to some technical issues. Funny how your world adjusts to depend on technology eh? Whatever the underlying problem is, I'm hoping it's cleared before the kids get up tomorrow. :-)

Trans wise, this is a quiet week for me, as it's a gap between the last Chams meeting, and the one next time. The Ever Lovely Mrs J ordered some very nice 50s style dresses last week. They're for her to wear at the evening meal, during the conference next month. I really like that style, and it really suits Mrs J too. And yes, I did say. For me, it seems best with a bare leg, if you get my drift, which may be a little tricky. Still, focusing on the positive, it means you have to work around the issue, so it's not the end of the world.

It's odd, some days, the photo I see on this blog, or social media, it's so very different from my everyday look. I guess it's that old clich√©: it's all cool, except when it isn't :-)  I think the hardest part, is avoiding joining in, when female friends, or work colleagues discuss fashion, or, shall we say, less typically male, topics of conversation. Still, I hope that makes me a good listener, rather than a mansplainer..... which I may well be doing now ;-)

I've been trying my hand at writing again. Not blogging, but a story. I'm taking a break, as I've rather foolishly written myself into a corner, so to speak. I think a good, strong cup of tea and some time to plan, may rescue things. I'm also trying not to put myself under pressure to rush it. I think I may need to sum to complete the key scenes and then fill in, with connecting events. Fingers crossed eh?

Take care,
Lynn