Sunday, 29 June 2008

Sparkle, the full (and long/boring) story


Petrified, feeble attempt at packing and getting organised. Wondering whether to turn up later to the hotel, check-in (they said 3pm check-in time) and then get changed there and off into town OR get changed at home to spend the entire day dressed up which would mean I could arrive earlier and just leave the luggage in the car or at reception. Obviously that would mean checking in as Fiona but all the details are in the other name (using points for hotel stay). So what did you think I did?


Yes, you guessed it, get dressed at home and drive in - if you're going to do something, do it properly!

So, I spent most of the morning panicing further and just worrying about the whole thing as well as my whole choice of lifestyle (did I *really* want to go to such an event, I mean, I'm not really serious about this, it's just a hobby ... isn't it?). Lots of packing at the same time and sorting out things and finally got going around 1pm (so much for trying to be early). Drive down was fairly uneventful and only had a bit of confusion when getting to the hotel - car parking there is rather odd.

Anyway, walked into reception and up to the desk - definite flicker of confusion in the eyes of the girl there when I said I had a room booked in the name of , and she didn't recover well enough to realise which title to use, I let her off calling me "Mr" but did make a mental note that it would be good to have points in a neutral identity or maybe find some other way of booking rooms with them in future, e.g. in another name!

Set off into Manchester, first stop M&S for a drink (thirsty work all this packing) and then onto Debenhams as I'd been told they had a nail salon there that was okay and I wanted to get a proper manicure. Unfortunately they were booked up for the day so had to make an appointment for Saturday. However, I did manage to get another little task done which was to get some Clinique (yes, I'm a snob when it comes to make-up, a poor snob at that) foundation that actually matched my skin tone a bit better. So had a "consultation" for this and got something that appears (now that I'm wearing it today) to be absolutely right.

While there I texted an friend of mine, Lucy, who I know from the online world but who I'd never met but was looking forward to seeing over the weekend. Turns out she was just across the road in another shop! So after some delay Lucy finally came over to meet me and she looked amazing! I should say at this point that the weekend included an awful lot of firsts for me; I have never been out in the Gay village (Canal Street), nor have I met anyone TS/TV/. I have led a sheltered life.

So having met Lucy I was then introduced to the group of friends she was with - some of whom were in bob-mode so I actually got given two names (this is quite bizarre, I have no chance of remember one name when introduced to people let alone having to cope with two) . We had a good wander round Manchester and eventually ended up meeting another of my friends from internet land (another Lucy, it's a popular name), and finally rounded off the day with diner along Canal Street.

Then it was time to get ready for the night out! I think this took me around 2hours in the end - bath, dry hair (annoying as the real hair isn't long enough to go out with but it is WAY too long to not dry properly now), get partially dressed, make-up, sparkly silver dress on and finally the fab silver shoes :D There was no way I was going to walk to Canal Street in those shoes so had to get a taxi - the driver was fab, really nice and chatty and dropped me close to the club I needed to get to and even pointed out the taxi rank (vital to get back to the hotel again).

Actually a few people have been extra nice and helpful over the weekend, like the American tourist in the lift who was very pleasant and chatty, and the girl who did my nails, as well as assorting shop assistants and such!

Anyway, the Friday night involved meeting even more people for the first time, lots of chatting, drinking and staggering around in ridiculously high heels! I've no real idea where we went and while I certainly saw lots of people in a variety of outfits I can't remember much about it now - I wasn't actually drunk though, I think I was just overwhelmed by everything and just trying to take it all in. I actually should have been a little drunk judging by the headache I had in the morning though some of that was simply lack of sleep.


Slow morning, just got up and had a nice long soak in the bath before going down to breakfast (this is en femme .... hmmm, I'm beginning to dislike that term, I'm going to say "as me" in future) in attempt to soak up the remains of the alcohol! Then it was time for the manicure!

Wow, I never realised how much stuff is involved in a full manicure, it took an hour to do including the french polish (white tips to the nails - looks like tipex - and then pinkish coat on top). Also takes a further hour for all of that to dry properly so that it doesn't get marked by the slightest bit of pressure. I headed back to the hotel to chill out and avoid anything that would make a mess of my nails; I was really pleased with them and I'm even considering keeping them like that tomorrow at work (see what comments I get).

Finally managed to get changed and made-up again to go out for the evening, back to Canal Street for more drinking, chatting, and also having my picture taken with the two Policemen there - this is apparently a common thing to do, and I have to say the two guys on duty seemed to be good sports anyway, the conversation I had with one of them went something like this:

Me: So this happens alot then?
PC: Yes
Me: And you don't mind?
PC: No
Me: Are you reading these answers from a script?
PC (smiling slightly): Does it sound like I am?
Me: Well, I just thought you might have standard answers for when people come up and want their pictures taking!

Anyway, more drink ensued as did more chatting with people. And then something quite odd happened. I'd seen a girl (RG) that I thought I recognised but I couldn't place her and was obviously too overwhelmed by everything else that was happening to really be thinking straight. And then she looked at me, and then again ... and then we both recognised each other! It was Jenny, the beautician, that has been doing my laser treatment!

The bizarreness (is that a real word) didn't stop there, she was out with her parents, they had all been to see the Bangkok Ladyboy show that, coincidentally, was on over the weekend as well. Anyway we all had a really good chat, her parents were very cool and had visited Canal Street many times as they have gay friends, although strangely it was the first time Jenny had been there though, but she said she'd like to go again so I think that's another person to add to the "night out on Canal Street" list for future trips YAY!


Quick summary as I've been writing this blog entry for ages and even I'm getting bored of it!

  • Got up, packed (too much stuff)
  • Checked out, had to get someone to help me carry the case down the stairs (lift out of action)
  • Lunch at Harvey Nic's (thought I'd finish the weekend off in style)
  • Shopping to get socks, nail strengthener and hardener and the first series of "The L Word" on DVD.
  • Drove back home and mainly unpacked now and time to get back to 'normality' unfortunately.
It was a great weekend, sadly the euphoria and memories of feeling fantastic, confident and sure of myself are wearing off now and all the doubts and questions creep back into my head. It WAS fun, and it was an amazing experience and I think I'll enjoy it even better next year (I hope) because I won't be totally clueless and overwhelmed by what is going on.

And I think it's now time to go to bed!

At last a real picture of me outside!

I will do a full, compehensive and probably too long and waffley account of the entire weekend later today but for now I thought I'd post this rather smiley picture of me from last night. I think this is pretty much the first decent and clear picture of me in the outside world and finally conclusive proof that I really can go out and about and donLt melt in sunshine! There was a really bizzare occurence shortly after taking this picture, the beautician that is doing my IPL spotted me and came over for a chat, with her parents aswell! I'll explain more when I do the full long-winded post later.

Saturday, 28 June 2008


Just a very brief taster of Sparkle as I didn't take a camera out with me so friends have more pics of me out and about which I'll blog about later. Also I'm using the little laptop to write this so it's rather sow and inaccurate typing so I'll add more once I get back home tomorrow.

Was out rather late last night and woke up early so not had enough sleep, early night tonight I think. Was fun last night and great to finally meet online friends for real! Everyone looked fabulous and Canal Street was buzzing, it was all amazing and well worth going. Even managed to walk around on my 4" heels without serious injury! And I was rather impressed with the shoes themselves:

Anyway, need to get sorted out before going to get my nails done for he very first time in my life! More tomorrow when I get back home.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Doctors today

Another, small step, along the path today - though still not entirely sure where the path leads. Going to see my GP today and ask for referral to psychiatrist for counselling for GID (Gender Identity Disorder) which will hopefully be of help to me in figuring out my life and what/who I am.

Update: I'm back from the doctors now with the prescribed pills ... no, not for *that* these were for hayfever as I needed to sort that out as well as it's making a mess of my eyes, face, etc as the tablets I have been taking don't seem to stop the symptoms anymore.

On the more serious note of the referral my doctor did pretty well to get anything from the stream of conciousness that I dumped on him. I really just answered every question with a torrent of what was in my head, delivered at break-neck speed (I can REALLY talk fast when I want to). He asked a few questions and listened to what I said. I mentioned what I thought was the process for all of this, i.e. referral to local psychiatrist followed by a specialist if required, at one point he said that he thought the latter may be the first port of call.

In the end he said he would research into this in more detail and phone me on my mobile directly once he had found someone/where for me to go as the next step, thinking about this now I guess he maybe saw how confused I was (who wouldn't with such a verbal barrage) and it'd be quicker for him to phone me than send out letters and such.

I kind of went through all sorts of thoughts while sitting in the waiting room and afterwards and have probably changed my mind and feelings about this whole thing many times over in the space of less than an hour. For example I felt some relief followed by disappointment that I couldn't hold onto the feeling of confusion which meant I might be getting somewhere as well as it being linked to clear thoughts of where I want to go! I think I've constructed quite complex chains of reasoning around all of this, none of which make any real sense!

Certainly this is more proof that I'm really nowhere near together as I have been able to make out in the past, when it comes to it I gibber like the best of them when under pressure!

I'm meant to see my son tonight but he has apparently said he doesn't want to come over which I think is a bit of a relief to me (and to him, he was tired over the weekend) as I've still got lots buzzing around in my head. I will see him on Thursday though when I will have calmed down a little I think.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Song association

Just had a thought about the music I was listening to, "Wishing That" by Jann Arden, and it reminded me that I'm still trying to find a way to reconcile 'normal' romantic or emotional lyrics and maybe even the feelings I associate with them to what is essentially something I might not view even now as my non-normal life.

In a nutshell, not many people I know write songs with TG people in mind, you don't have romantic ballads about a woman falling in love with her transgendered husband while (s)he's wearing some glittery dress, "Dancing Queen" isn't (to the best of my knowledge) actually about a dancing Queen (though I'm pretty sure it is hijacked to fabulous affect in manyt clubs) ... it's just hard for me to think in terms of normal romance and love when faced with everything about me ... or even just part of me for that matter.

It reminded me that I use to feel that new music that I bought was somewhat tainted by the fact that I might be dressing at the time. I use to buy a new CD (the irony in the acronym) having purged everything and feel that this was pure and uplifting and would help me forget about all of the "other" stuff and that I could feel normal in some way. It was almost a case of counting the dressing free days and feeling guilty when I finally cracked as well as then not viewing the music I was listening to as special anymore.

Thankfully I've forgotten what was "tainted" now and it's probably unimportant anyway as what I listen to generally always changes and moves forwards so I hardly listen to most of my old CDs anyway. And maybe I can start to associate songs more positively and with less prejudice.

Not a home

I'm sure my friends have been telling me this for ages that, despite my feeling that things have been split fairly, I have given up quite alot and should not feel as guilty as I might do and also should not expect or accept losing more.

One aspect of this hit me on Sunday when I realised that where I live now is simply a flat, which contains little, if anything to make it a home. My son was over for the weekend and we went out on Saturday (to cold and rainy Liverpool) which was okay but pretty tiring for both of us. When we got back my son was a little upset (his legs were hurting, he was tired) and I ended up having to call B because he kept asking to go home and sleep in his own bed. We convinced him to stay, B was going out on Sunday morning, but she had to bring round some DVDs and things for him.

Then on Sunday we had a lazy day, played on the Wii, watched some DVDs and generally slobbed around. Only when it got to the afternoon when we'd kind of run out of things to do did it hit me that there was nothing much in the flat for my son to play with and none of the things you kind of acquire in a house to make it a home.

It also struck me that this must be a problem for any partner who moves out from the family home, it's really hard to, for want of a better word, compete, with the parent that remains. Equally it must be difficult for anyone who is not the primary carer to not be able to provide the kind of environment that their children would want to live in, it seems there will always be some sort of inequality.

In my case I think I have put myself in the position where I elected to leave and restrict my accommodation and living expenses so that B and my son could maintain the same level of comfort that they have had before. I felt quite low about all of this yesterday when I realised that my son may not want to be staying with me and that I'd be the 'poor' parent in a sense. I still feel low but maybe a little angry as well that B still blames me for everything and keeps insisting that I got "what I wanted" ... I'm not really sure I wanted all of this or deserved it.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Ugly, fat, old, and stupid ...

... is how I feel at the moment.

I'm really very confused about all of this; gender, sexuality, life in general. I'm not sure what I should feel, what I should be, or whether I could ever achieve a change with suitable results if that is really the way I want to go.

My son was taking pictures of me tonight and I really just looked a complete mess with my hair all over the place (its nowhere near long enough to style or do anything with) and my face looked old and not in the least bit femme at all - I just looked a complete and utter state.

I don't want to go backwards, I don't want to have shorter nails or hair - I want it to get longer but I'm maybe kidding myself that it, and the rest of me is ever going to look anything like what I want. I'm not even sure that that is what I should be. But then I think that I have come some way and there are things I don't want to go back to; I don't want to have hairy legs or arms or bushy eye-brows for instance.

I've booked an appointment with my GP for next week (Tuesday) so I am going to ask to be referred for counselling for Gender Identity Disorder (GID) so that I can get help with this and work things out, it's getting me down now and I can't cope with it anymore, need to sort myself out.

My son is here this weekend and we're going to do some day-trip kinda stuff tomorrow (interactive museum kinda-thing) so that should hopefully take mind of things.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Can't think of the words

I've felt a little low today and the odd thing was getting me down but nothing too bad until B phoned to say that I wouldn't be able to see my son for the entire weekend because she no longer trusted me to stick to the rules.

The "rule" that I broke was that I (stupidly I now realise) had worn a pair of my (women's) jeans and opaque pop-socks when my son arrived on Tuesday evening. I honestly didn't think either of these were noticeable and I'd simply picked them off the bed as they were the clothes closest to hand when I rushed out of the shower having only 5mins to dry my hair before they arrived.

The pop-socks probably were a bit stupid as you could see through them a little but only if you looked real close. But I didn't think the jeans looked out of the ordinary at all, I've worn them to work before now and no-one seems to have noticed.

Anyway, I explained all of this and B seems to have relented and agreed to bring my son over on Friday night though she is still not happy and we had a fair amount of "discussion" (aka disagreement) on the phone covering a wide variety of things.

I now just feel even worse and confused, unhappy, as if everything is against me, just ... well I really don't know how to explain how I feel, I'm just going to go to bed and hope that things are clearer in the morning. I don't like how I feel at the moment, I just wish the feeling would go away.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Today's pain and sucess

Well, it's been quite a good day today (helped even more by the fab pic of my friend's boots - see previous post) and I got a few important things done.

First of all I got some new shoes from Evans yesterday and, having waited in almost all day for them to arrive I discovered to my horror that they didn't fit! However they were too big rather than too small, the latter would have been a disaster, as it is taking the shoes back to get a smaller size is just an opportunity for a challenge so overall probably a good thing.

So, I got to the Trafford Centre early to avoid having to deal with too many staring at me, asked the nice lady if I could change the shoes for a smaller size ... and then asked if I could try them on to just make sure! I was quite pleased at my bravery and there wasn't even a flicker of surprise on the lady's face, nor on the girl that went to get the shoes and even got me a 7 just to make sure that I didn't need to go down another size. I was quite pleased with myself and now own a pair of these shoes:
Not practical in the slightest, probably won't go with any outfits at all but but I just thought they looked so fab and colourful I just had to have them (now I need to sell lots of junk on eBay to pay for them).

The other achievement today was with what I was wearing; white shirt (bob-mode, couldn't find a blouse that looked right), boot-cut jeans, brown ankle boots, and dark purple nail varnish! All of this was without make-up or any other attempt to look femme as I was going for the laser hair removal so nothing allowed near my skin. I got a few odd looks but nothing that really concerned me too much and managed to wander round the Trafford Centre, Costco, and Asda without any trouble.

Afternoon was the pain bit of the day, but thankfully it wasn't really that painful. This is my first treatment with the laser and I'm told not to expect any real results yet (though I can't help but hope when alot of the hairs apparently got zapped and burnt out already).

The sensation is like, as someone else described, being pinged with an elastic band, it is quite uncomfortable and the top lip is very sensitive, but it's still not real excruciating, eye-watering pain like plucking your eyebrows for example. Also it's over pretty quickly, I can only have been there 5mins maximum, probably quicker and that was for a full face treatment. I've got 6 more treatments to go, the next being in 4 weeks.

Overall, a good day, now time to get some sleep!

Fab boots!

Sadly these are not my boots they, and the very sexy feet and legs filling them belong to my friend Mandy who is out on a hen do tonight attempting to stagger round on 5 (or maybe even 6) inch heels! Frankly I'm just totally jealous because I would love some boots like these! Anyway, I hope Mandy is having a fantastic time (guarenteed in boots like these) and I look forward to being drunk dialed at 3am tomorrow morning!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Topic of conversation ...

I was just talking to me friend, S, here at work and she told me that I had apparently been the subject of much discussion in the office on Friday afternoon (I left early because my son was coming over in the evening for the weekend).

It seems that there had been some talk amongst the guys in the office about my hair, nails, and even they had noticed the thinned eyebrows. S said they called her over and asked if she was going to ask me outright, she said about what, and they replied "him turning into a woman", and then queried whether "or do you already know something that we don't".

When I was talking to S I said that it was actually interesting to know what people said about me behind my back as I obviously hear what is said about everyone else I'd always been curious how I was viewed. I'd assumed that there was little that would be said about me in general, maybe comments of being a bit of a geek and such but generally that I was not interesting enough to be the topic of conversation.

Sitting back down to write this though I'm quite shaken, though not entirely sure why. I'm going through possible responses to someone asking me outright about this in front of everyone, as this is what S expects would happen. Not a nice prospect that, being asked in private and in confidence is one thing but with an audience of "guys" it's quite another as they are likely to be very, well, "blokey" about the questioning and any answer.

I'm not brilliant at being put on the spot and responding with witty replies, I'd like to be able to say something scathing like: "So this is how you question somebody who you suspect of having GID and who is probably depressed and confused?" OR the much more threatening: "So you thought you'd act all tough and ask someone a personal question in a way that qualifies as harassment?"

What will probably happen is I'll blush and mumble something incoherent along the lines of the above and will then be made fun of for a considerable time.

Time to talk to the HR director I think before anything nasty is said.

BTW, if there is anyone from work who has been bright enough to figure out that this is my blog then I hope that reading it will make you realise that intense public questioning is probably the last thing I need and you'd be doing the decent thing and dropping the subject as well as advising everyone else to do the same.

Spend, spend, spend ... why?

I just spent about £120 on three pairs of shoes that I hope are going to go with outfits I intend to wear at Sparkle. I've also just been looking at some fabulous earrings and considering buying those AND getting my ears pierced in order to wear them. So why do I spend so much money?

Well, I also just did a little reality check and looked a bit harder at some pictures I took that didn't really show me at my best, the angle and lighting were all a bit too harsh and didn't capture the look that a wanted to show. To be blunt there was a bit too much "guy with make-up on" look rather than "fab woman about town" which was the look I was aiming for.

So, having a think about all this it occurred to me that I buy all this stuff in a vain attempt to feel/look more female using almost a circular kind of argument; if I own these things then I must be female as they are items that only a woman would want.

Of course, the reality is that no amount of clothes, shoes, jewellery or other things is going to change anything, so it's really just going to burn up money, effort, and time. I guess the only real solution is to do something about me rather try and hope against hope that the next outfit will magically make my outer appearance match the inner ideal that I want to be.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Socialization sucks

Another bizarre stream of conciousness that I thought I'd subject the internet to:

I saw an update from someone on Facebook about dropping their daughter off at Grandmothers for the weekend. Not too surprising, but what made me think is that this person apparently writes about open relationships and I presume practices what she preaches.

It got me wondering what that was like for a child growing up in such an environment, it might be a bit like going through multiple seperations or divorces I decided. Much better to have a nice stable married couple to bring up a child, that's the ideal after all.

And then it hit me: I remember reading that marriage is only a relatively recent concept, or certainly the idea that it was the 'ideal' scenario is only something that has been pushed (I think it was within the last few hundred years).

So my reaction to what I read was entirely based on what I had been told to expect and see as ideal! Just a cultural bias rather than an objective opinion. It is amazing how much prejudice is actually built into your head without you knowing it.

Educating Marmalade

Sometimes my mind works in bizarre ways to arrive at certain thoughts and there odd occasions when I can actually remember the various steps I took so here is an example of this.

Woke up this morning and realised I hadn't filled in my timesheet for last week (this is a big deal where I work as they have a report run to see who has been 'naughty' and forgotten) so my first words were something along the lines of "f***" or I think the slightly more acceptable "bollocks!".

On arriving at work I reflected on the mornings expletives as I considered recounting this story to my manager as a humourous way of avoiding some of the stigma of letting the side down in terms of a full set of complete timesheets. I was going to say "Yes, I forgot, first thing I said this morning was a swear word ... bit like the beginning for Four Weddings and a Funeral ... though sadly without Charlotte Coleman in the next room".

This reminded me that I always liked Charlotte Coleman even though I didn't actually see alot of the controversial (well at the time) TV/films that she did, a full list of which are on her IMDB entry, "Oranges Are not the Only Fruit" being the one that sticks in my mind as causing a bit of a stir at the time.

[ Just as a brief aside I've only just discovered, having looked at the various pages above that Charlotte Coleman died in 2001 aged only 33, from an asthma attack. I was actually quite shocked and sad when I read that. ]

Anyway, this led me to remember that Charlotte Coleman was also in Educating Marmalade and played the main character Marmalade Atkins ... which led me to also wonder if this was another childhood character who I wanted to be ... along with the slightly more embarrassing She-Ra!

Monday, 2 June 2008

This isn't easy for anyone

I was thinking of trying to write a blog entry to try and balance the obvious bias here and try to point out how things look from my wife's point of view. I may try and sit down and do that later this week but for now I just wanted to try and get across that this really isn't fun for anyone at the moment, least of all my wife.

I just spoke to my wife today since I'd noticed she was online and was concerned that she or my son were ill (half term was last week they should have both been back at school/work). It turns out my wife (I think I'll refer to her as 'B' from now on since I guess that's more appropriate) doesn't go back until Wednesday.

So anyway we then talked about various things like holidays, birthdays, Christmas and the timetable for when I can see my son. All the time B's voice was on the point of cracking and she sounded upset and cried a few times, particularly when she said about going up to see my parents this weekend - they had a key to the house that she, understandably, wanted back. I didn't think she would take the, rather brave, step of travelling up to see them.

B also took two paintings up to my parents house both of which she had bought for me, one when we were first going out (it hung in the bathroom of our first house), and the other when we got married (it was my wedding present from B). I had said I would leave these pictures in the house, the second one was in the dining room and was covering a rather uneven bit of plaster on the wall, but they must have been too painful for B to keep there so she took the opportunity to remove them.

I guess I've been a bit ambivalent about reminders of our life together, I've not actively kept lots of pictures and keep-sakes nor dotted them round the flat. On the other hand I have a photo-book that B made after our anniversary 2 years ago and I don't feel that I want to throw anything like that away even though it does make me feel sad to look at such things.

When talking to B today I did feel that I wanted to help her and try to make her feel better and not so sad and upset, and it reminded me that I do still have feelings for her and care alot about her; I know that I said I didn't love her anymore before we split up but I always thought that was more of a decision I made with my head rather than my heart (sorry, that sounds terribly corny but it was either that or some really impersonal way of putting it).

I just didn't feel I could say I loved B because the next question would have been "If you love me then why do what you do?" and I don't think it was right to say one thing which implied I would stop exploring being Fiona - well it's not even that, it's exploring being me!

Just as an aside I wonder now whether naming the 'other' person you may want to become isn't part of the problem with partners accepting things. It seems that by making that part of your personality into a separate identity you're creating more problems than you solve. I'm me, every part of my personality is just me, there aren't two separate people it's just that I look strikingly different when dressed as 'Fiona'. I don't really act much different and I'm trying to avoid doing that as well.

I still care deeply about B, and of course my son as well, and I don't want to see either of them hurt or upset, but I guess that is unfortunately what is going to happen for all of us, there aren't any magic ways to avoid the pain of separation. Maybe I don't show it as much or even admit it as much to myself or others but I still can't escape feeling that I have lost a great deal.

I just hope that, with time, the pain will become less for all of us and that we can all go on to find some happiness in life - again I'm sorry this sounds so corny but it's very hard to put all of this into words.