Twenty Past Nine

Twenty past nine I walked the length of the patio in the garden. It wasn’t summer warm yet, it was even enough to raise goose bumps on bare arms, but the sound was just that bit heavier. The sun had left the air somehow denser and the noise of Saturday evening was just that bit different. I took a sip of some mild smooth wine from an oversized glass. I noticed a twitch of curtains from one of the neighbours a few houses down, they paused with a look and then quickly shut the curtains when they realised they were spotted as if they had innocently continued to close them. What was so interesting? A person wandering around their garden with a glass of wine? Curiosity?

A solar lamp plinked on as dusk set in. It had been a day of everything and nothing. I thought about how I felt before the running this morning and after it. Before, it can be whatever confidence I have minus self doubts but after it was like some kind of enlightenment. I know I’ve experienced it before but it still amazes me even now how the rush of oxygen around my blood flow and probably endorphins seemingly make my feminine side seem indestructibly confident.

After the run I sat there sipping from my chain cafe latte cup and taking a bite from a pastry treat that, in my belief, makes me run at least a minute faster. In my running tights and hair tied up in a high ponytail thinking how normal things are, still, without a thought. Only now am I thinking about it in retrospect. Those endorphins in little over twenty minutes seem to do what a year of therapy might do much like learning a language in the country of origin can do in the space of two weeks compared to six months of a head in a teach yourself book and a CD repeating out ‘useful’ phrases.

That southerly star seemly plinked-on low in the sky as dusk turned to a dull of no return. Back again bang on time. I almost felt like raising my glass to the star in a kind of hello nod; “you again.” While I had sat at that cafe I noticed a woman, sat not so far away, take a sneaky glance at my hairless legs below my cropped running trousers. In times past I might have urgently hid my legs around a chair somehow or had got up and moved before they could focus but now it was just something I’d noticed and thought ‘Well I know what she’s looking at.’ and not even flutter my heart rate. The only thing fluttering heart rates was the coffee.

Despite everything and how far the journey has gone and confidence has been absorbed there are still doubts about the gender thing. There will probably always be doubts, no matter how small, because after all we don’t know what the root cause is, if in-fact there is one, of gender dysphoria; another phrase slowly becoming a hint of uncomfortable and unpopular. Gender Affirmation seems to be the new black and why not when the second half of it is positive all by itself. When we don’t know what the cause is then all we have to go on is our own innate core feeling. Driven by the heart rather than science or the head; of course there will be doubts.

I pulled the pattern ribbon hair tie let it slide the length of my ponytail and allowed my hair to fall for the first time since the morning. I realised what that meant. My hair relaxed and loose was like how I felt when I come to terms with the gender thing, just like those moments when rather than hiding away I let those people look. That was it. It wasn’t that I was now complete and that everything was now sorted, far from it, but I was in a place where I let myself, on most occasions, relax about it. That’s not even to say it doesn’t cause stress at time but it’s not like it was. It is what it is and these things will take as long as they take and for each and every person going through this will have their own time to figure things out.

I guess the journey is one without an itinerary. Who knows where it will end and may be that place will be one that differs to what I think it would be. I have these little plans to introduce little parts of me to important people in my life as a way of increasing awareness of this other part of me but at the same time I’m reminded of that scene in the first Bridget Jones movie. Shazza, you know, the journalist who likes to say fuck a lot, when she says “I mean there’s been all these bloody hints, but has he ever stuck his fucking tongue down your fucking throat?” Of course she’s talking about something completely different but the essence is the same. All these hints of three quarter length running tights, but has he actually said what it’s all about?

For some people going through the whole gender thing they want this done over night. They want to tell the world and they want it done now. For others they want to drip feed it little by little because it’s more comfortable. I fall towards the latter in a well thought out and methodical way. Either is fine and, because it’s what suits me, may be I should enjoy that part of the journey and not worry about taking my time.

The darkness fell completely across the patio and the wine glass dregged empty. Twenty past eleven.

Until next time

Hannah x

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Throwing Silver Stars of Confidence

It darted about seemingly random in the ever increasing dusk and just as my eyes could focus, like a shooting star, it was over before I could think about it. The bat flew like it was on the edge of being able to remain airborne fluttering it’s wings in a way that was between moth and bird. I sat their quietly in the garden. A small drop of wine in an oversized wine glass sat on the ice white table cloth. With rising moisture from the fields in the distance and the dusk falling heavily the warm dusty grey-orange along the horizon of hills changed to greys like an incoming fog but of darkness with dotted sheep and lamb clearing their ground returning home.

The tea light candle with a flame that had been barely noticeable was now bright across the linen feeding steadily from the wax and fluttering when the gentlest of breeze would wander across the table. Peace and quiet, stillness and calm. It kind of summed up how I had felt this week and the weekend. I had attended the running event again but with a family member. It didn’t cross my mind whether I should or shouldn’t use my female running clothes that I had grown accustomed to wearing. It was just natural and innate and I’d be wearing them with someone who mattered and who hadn’t seen them before. I checked with myself, ‘should I be worried? Should I be making some self-informed decision?’

Comfort had overwhelmed any question, in fact I didn’t even carry out that self check. The thought went along the lines of ‘put those three quarter lengths on and go and enjoy your run as normal.’ In fact when it came to getting out of the car for that split second moment when there was no going back, and it didn’t even feel like a no-going-back moment, the only thing it came to was a brief glance at my legs – and that was that. No conversation, no foul sour looks, nothing. Just an enjoyable day and while it seems like such a small insignificant moment it was a big telltale non-reversable pin in the life and journey board.

It was beyond questioning and introspection and, while there was still such a huge journey ahead, if I continue with this ticket, I felt something I’d not really felt quite so vibrant before and that was a confidence with how I decide to present myself for myself. Happiness in the form of comfort. Less about other people and what they would think. A pace of change that seems to be just at the right speed to feel right about it even if, like many, I want it all tomorrow.

It is also not just about no longer being able to imagine going back to a fully male life of shirts and hairy legs it’s also not going back to those early days of odd special nights out to be me only to return early hours of a Saturday night and Sunday morning only to put that part of me away again, not just clothes in the cupboard but pushed to that hidden locked away part in my head.

I cherish some of those early days of being able to get out and about, as I think I would, with friends who were in a similar dual life role of secrets and street light nights. Pounding hearts moving between bars or from the car to the door of and even more public pub. It was an exciting and self discovery time but as much as the actual moment felt right at the time it was far from real. An extension-closet as one of my friends had once said and that I have mentioned before. Those times are now solidified in my history and I genuinely feel I have moved on from that time; as relevant and needed as they were. Real life and real times, real people who really matter. Occupation of my time in the way I want to be.

It crossed my mind today while I was on another run and now my running clothes were normal to me that would this be as good as it gets? Would this be where it settles rather than the journey continuing; after all they do say that happiness is in the journey and not always the goal. Did it really matter if I did settle at this point and there were no further inroads to make? It would certainly have a lot of positives, no distressing getting used to Hannah for more friends and family or painful operation if it went that far.

I think the answer is that the time my conflict ends will be when my inner mental self image aligns with my outer shine. When all the simple things I wish I could do that have some connection to my outward gender have been fore-filled and that I can do regularly and not just do those things but do them without questioning and not even be self aware about it. It’s about self consciousness or self confidence in fact. What more could I really want other than being and being it confidently without fear. That fear has diminished so much in recent times so much that sometimes I feel like someone is watching over me waving a little shiny wand throwing silver stars of confidence at me just when I need them but not so much I become spoilt and lazy with it.

I woke early automatically on the bank holiday expecting the thumping on the stair of the noisy early rising kid next door but it was silent. I pulled the curtains and opened the window to gauge the six am temperature. A gentle honk of a lone goose call echo’d in the morning air as it flew over the houses with it’s neck out far in front guaranteed to arrive long before the rest of it’s body.

Running was a big part of my mental health right now and the crazy idea of running early through the forest just felt right. I pulled on my most comfortable running tights and wriggled into a loose white crisp t-shirt and headed for the trees and medicinal morning pine air. The carpark was empty and I was too soon at the peak overlooking the country side through the cutting where the forestry had been hard at work turning trees into logs. It felt like a moment of change, partly through the outward hints to family but also just that oneness that had been so together recently. I placed the mobile phone on the floor taking time to patiently balance it against my water bottle and set the camera to record that moment of a natural high in nature.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Reverse Masculinity

I stepped out onto the decking and felt the lines in the wood through the bottom of my ankle socks. Sharp pin holes of light cut into the newly blackened clear sky and the air cool but still thick from the first real hot day of the year. The sound of a racing motorbike echoed through the countryside from the dual carriage way and a hint of alcohol drifted from the top of my glass of spirit.

It may be late-ish on a Saturday night out in the sticks-ish, but the air felt full of life. The thump of a taxi door. People shouting “byeeee” and the hum of a car bouncing off the houses as it pulled away. The grey sound of the carriageway so detailed that it felt like I could almost hear the individual tread of tyre on tar. I looked around the surrounding houses. A warm orange glow through the closed curtains and open windows of a darkened bedroom to release the captured heat of the sun that had built through the day. The rest was just street lights, shadows and the night. A particular star to the south near the horizon beamed so bright and hung as if it were nailed to the sky giving solidity and security knowing that while many things might change the chances are that it would be there right on time the next night, every night.

It’s funny but the night air, especially when after a long warm day, can kind of make me contemplate what may happen in the future. What had sparked it off was a photo I saw that a runner had posted to Instagram, just simply a ‘mens’ deodorant. It’s not unusual for women to use mens products and even clothes; christ even some female clothes are styled as Men’s fit, though still essentially shaped for women – the Boyfriend Shirt, with it’s big lapel pockets and over length or jeans in a straighter cut.

What would this mean for me. Would I, if leading a fully fledged female life, want to reverse hints of my gender? Would I want to buy a bottle of spicy ‘Men’s’ shower gel or wear an oversized shirt in a female wearing male clothing ironically kind of way? How comfortable would that actually be spending all those years getting over the anxiety of being able to wear anything like clothing and eau de perfume only to then, on occasion, switch back to certain hints of masculinity to then be anxious that other people might think that I was no longer authentic.

I think the answer is more simple than I would at first feel. The one thing that happens when becoming more confident about expressing femininity is accepting ones self to such a degree that confidence means not caring what other people think; and the chances are that most people either didn’t care to think about it or really don’t mind. Loading up with all that confidence and being at one with yourself just means that anything I would be doing that would seem to reverse a little of my gender I know I would be doing it for myself and meant little more than just liking whatever it is. Besides all that, I don’t really like narrow cut jeans but sometimes an oversized check shirt is just nice to slum it in.

Sorting out the whole gender thing is really more than just changing gender. It’s about being comfortable with all the decisions I make and the things I do and not worrying about what other people want out of me. I may have a way to go still but it’s so clear as that night sky that what is built up in that transition is a comfort about myself that is not reversible. Sure we may have small set backs and dents, but the steps forward are usually in credit to those backwards.

It’s not just confidence in showing femininity in presentation but in expressing myself in so many other ways. When I had those sessions with the psychologist a few years ago I said how I played piano but how I didn’t feel I could call myself a musician – I really couldn’t even write it down. A profile on some social media, I might if I felt brave enough say, “play a little piano.” By the time those sessions had finished I was able to play in front of other people without feeling self conscious about it, I really could write down “Musician” and not feel I was faking it. This goes across my whole life from work to socialising. May be it’s just part of getting older and maturing and it just so happened to coincide with the gentle process of a transition but for me the barriers were so strong and vivid I knew there was an actual change in myself that I was aware of.

So there is more to changing gender than just gender and it’s not about changing who I am, it’s about bringing out those parts of me that are suppressed. We all have the masculine and feminine and we are all balanced with that in different amounts to each other. It doesn’t matter what part of the masculine that is reintroduced, if at all, what matters is happiness, comfort and oneness.

I took another look into the night sky now devoid of any hint of twilight and only polluted by the distant city glow. That star still hung there and reminded me how far I had come and how solid my changes were. How irreversible those changes are because they’re things I want. That star was just a little higher than it was earlier. Moving firmly and poetically upward. Hopefully, like the star, I will return tomorrow evening feeling exactly the same but may be just a little higher and brighter.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Il Tempo Non Esiste

I rubbed my finger slowly along the top of the TV. The dust collected under the tip of my finger and I brushed it off and let it fall randomly to the table. The dust was there and only I could clear it. Each day that I looked at it and thought, ‘That needs doing’, and just guilted myself on how much greyer it looked as another fine layer was added. I grabbed a duster and wiped the top, the back, side to side across the screen like a professional window cleaner removing that layer of water much like, in turn, a barber with a cut throat razor. It was thoroughly cleaned and I felt better for it but I wasn’t clean inside and whatever it was that was paralysing me from doing anything was still hanging on.

Time to do everything but too scared to do anything. Learn Italian or relearn French? No, I’ll do neither and sit around worrying about my future. Write and record the rest of those songs so I can at least try and do something with them. No, the pianos not in tune enough. Get on with telling some more people about the gender thing. No, I have money and a job to sort out. On the face of it I probably have my priorities correct; spending time looking for work to support myself rather than these things of interest and putting a pin in the whole gender thing for now because it will just add more stress to an already complex stressful time. The thing is I feel I need something that is progress to make me feel worthwhile and as if I have purpose.

I was watching a short film and the Italian actor said, “Il tempo non esiste.” It was just at that moment when that unravelled for me. It was what I am searching for in life. It’s not so much about slowing down or ducking out of the fast lane. It was exactly that, Time does not exist. A life where pace is at the same pace as me. Not struggling to catch a breath or barely breathing while a problem is solved. A life where time doesn’t matter because life is good and nearly each moment is enjoyable as the next. It brings pictures to my mind of freshly ripe tomatoes, peppers and pasta dusted with flour. Ripe lemons and bunches of olives hanging from trees in the morning sun. Bright houses and blue skies to light them. People who always say hello and have a moment for you.

The problem in my western culture is that the majority seem to like to accept the nine to five, which in reality is now eight to six basic and you’ll go when we say you can go. That majority trudge to work each day, process everything we have to process for society to function in it’s machine-like fashion, and go home to do what little we can before the rinse–repeat for the weekend. It’s safe but who is working who, society for us or we for the machine society. It works, that’s the problem, but when will the machine run so fast that it falls apart. Life should be challenging but it shouldn’t be destructive.

–– ––

I flung the curtains open. It was blue skies and puffy white clouds. Breezy and still a chill but it was a sign of some better weather. I quickly got showered and changed. Three quarter length capris and a loose t-shirt. I sat in the car and turned the key, nothing. “Damn.” I pulled the bike from the back of the garage where is sat propped against all the cardboard boxes as if the front wheel was using the rest of the bike as a unicycle. I set off on the mile or two ride to my destination.

Each foot scrapped on the gravel in that kind of crunch way that it does on the drives of those rich enough to gravel them but here the wind brushed over my face making my cheeks red and the my senses heightened to the noise of a trickle of a small brook with a waterfall and the smell of the pine trees either side of the path that rose upwards presenting it’s own challenge to me. I had been here before either walking or riding but the spur of the moment and the elation of imagining what it was going to be like to run through the pine forest early(ish) on a sunny day and then the reality being just like the thought, it was incredible. It was an Il Tempo Non Esiste moment. Time really didn’t mean anything at that moment. I wasn’t thinking about jobs and no money. I wasn’t thinking about my future or worrying about my past. There was just the present. The way we should really live.

Running, for me, is what keeps me going at the moment. It’s not just the endorphins making me feel better or helping me to think through my problems at times, it’s the place I can be myself. A place I can wear things for running and be happy about it and totally comfortable and to some extent feel like who I will be if I ever complete my journey; at least complete to where the new journey begins. It’s around other people as well and now it’s second nature how I feel at that moment and in the moments leading up to it, then I really am in the right place, “Il tempo non esiste.”

When I returned to the carpark and walked to my locked bike an older gentleman walking around his van looked at me perturbed. “Is that your bike?” He asked concerned.
“Yes it is.” I said wondering why he was so interested.
“You want to be careful. They’ll have that.”
“I was a bit worried leaving it here but it’s old and not worth much.”
“Doesn’t matter to them.”
“Thanks. May be I won’t leave it here again.”
“They’ll have it because it’s there. You get some right wankers around here.”

Tempo restituito.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Little Bit of Warmth

Looking through the mottled glass window of the front door into the night falling on the street that appeared black oil as the rain glossed the tarmac and the sharp street lamps added shine. My mood fell in an instant and only for a moment. Black and Dire. There is something about late night when everyone is locked away and the rain is all that is moving. Washing away the surface. It should be rejuvenating like a flowing river gushing over hard rocks but it’s gloomy, solitary and abandoned.

A week later I found myself on a cold quiet bleak bus stop alone in the countryside not far from my home. Not even eight a.m. on a Saturday, a little snow floating around, air barely above freezing creeping around my calfs below my running trousers and regret that fingerless gloves were the wrong decision.

It was a contrast between the gloomy and the bleak and, while both should have given me the same feeling inside, the bleak didn’t make me feel abandoned. I was going to the early morning running event in the city and it was me that was going. A kind of day where I wear what I want and I am who I am but without making some kind of effort to ensure that the right gender is perceived. It’s a take me as I am day and let’s see what happens. Nothing is official, at least not yet, and only a handful of people know about me – or at least a handful of people I know know about me plus a few people who I suspect do but I don’t know for sure; you get the idea.

I stood there in my hooded sweatshirt and mixed colour three quarter running tights pleased that I brought an extra hoodie which I soon pulled from my plastic bag of things not worth nicking that I’ll leave at the start. Ankle running socks and a plaited leather anklet tied with a bow that probably made me feel me more than the all my other clothes. It was the full stop at the end of a sentence.

It was hard to believe that ten years ago I would be crossing the road and avoiding a bus coming up the road. Now I was wishing it to hurry up so I could get out of the cold, buy my expensive return ticket and enjoy the hello and thank you. Getting on with my own business and enjoying life. Even the bus trip seems quicker. Before I knew it I was pressing the stop button and walking along a busy road of traffic towards the event.

There is nothing worse than the whistle going, starting the run and within twenty seconds realising that the glass of water after waking was all stored up sloshing about in an impatient bladder. Being the city it was easy to nip in to the supermarket nearby with all the other runners. I don’t know what seems so unnatural about lycra tops and trouser crowds walking through the fruit and veg isle en-route to the toilet. It feels like a black tie outfit in a rough pub.

It was the Men’s. It had to be. It wasn’t an effort day. I wouldn’t be kidding anyone, pink hat or no pink hat. But that all said, while standing at the hand dryer chasing water around my hands, I counted two men who walked in, looked around, walked back out to the door, walked back in again, looked at the urinary in a confirmatory fashion and finally made a decision to stay; one of which decided to wait for a cubical. May be I was kidding people more than I thought – at least a little.

In fact the week before at another event I was speaking to another runner. An older-than-me lady that I’d spoken to a few times. “It’s warmer than I thought it would be today. I’m going to get a coffee after this.” she said.
“I’m cold this morning.” I said holding onto what heat I could. “I’m going to need a coffee too.”
“Are you showing – ” she looked down at my running trousers, “Yes you’re showing some… legs… today.”

The answer to her query then silently seemed to answer a different question. Nothing was said but it’s one of those moments where I wondered did she just like my trousers or kinda questioned them in her own mind. It was the pause that did it.

But as the weeks go on these moments become less noticeable and when I do I just let them run. I no longer constantly worry about what I’m wearing – I just wear and forget. I wear and enjoy. I wear and be. I might look at another female runner at the start and still wish, just for a moment, and then realise the wish has sort of been granted and the worry or disappointment just floats away.

Whenever I had spoken about the change of identity with my psychologist a few years ago he would talk about subtle changes and he was so right. While I have always been who I am inside there is a kind of change because as I become more comfortable with bringing my identity to the outside my identity changes when it comes to confidence, comfort and happiness. It still amazes me, even now, there are still subtle changes I hadn’t noticed say a few weeks or months before. Little bits of warmth inside when I suddenly recognise comfort in myself when I’m doing the things I love.

When it comes to making a decision about my future, isn’t this comfort a really important decision-making evidence. Worthy of supported documentation. In fact, when I think about it, it’s pretty much one of the most important, real, genuine and authentic gender things. I can’t think of much else that gives such an on-the-nose, qualified reasoning, other than what makes someone happy and function well. Running makes me physically healthy, my gender identity makes me mentally healthy – that’s when I get to be that gender.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Cotton In The Breeze – A New Year’s Eve Special

The cafe was a mess. Used takeaway cups on tables. Opened sandwich wrappers left unattended for others to clean up. I scrubbed at the cold steel kitchen work surface until it was clean enough to operate on and getting into all the edges and corners. I was detailed in my detailing. I loaded the dish washer to the brim and set it off while I moved onto cleaning the commercial-grade cappuccino machine ensuring every part of this instrument was pristine and free of bacteria.

It was my first day but I was going to remain in the kitchen until it was clean. There is no way this cafe was going to operate before it was thoroughly cleaned and there was no way I would go out onto the shop floor to serve until that was the case. I sprayed at everything and rubbed hard with the cloth. Endless surfaces. Sink, worktop, more brushed-steel machines, a large heavy door fridge. You name it, I cleaned it. It must have been early because the few staff that should be there were not to be seen. Probably wondering why the new person was stuck in the back of the cafe cleaning there rather than clearing the shop floor or opening up.

Eventually I wandered out onto the shop floor and looked at the mess on the tables. ‘Lets get this lot sorted.’ I thought to myself. I wandered in and stacked cardboard cups with brown milky dregs at the bottom, why people had cardboard cups when they drink-in I really didn’t know. May be the price was cheaper. Wrappers cleared and crumbs on every table satisfactorily wiped clear in a circular motion. It was inspiriting.

I wiped another table, I paused for a moment, looked down and noticed. I stood up again and looked to double check. I was a waitress. It was the black skirt that gave it away. Short enough that I knew it was something that would be noticed by others, workers, customers, may be even a friend that might just come in for a latte. I wasn’t going to be able to hide this away. It was pretty obvious who I was presenting myself as and that’s how I would be working. My heart beat increased a little, just for a moment, and then for some reason it was alright again. There was no need to worry. I questioned it for a second, as always, ‘what would people think’ but this time it was answered by something like ‘this is who I am, let’s carry on. Just another day’ and that is what I did.

It was some kind of branded coffee shop I think, Costa may be, but just as messy as a Starbucks, unusually set somewhere in a small town or village in the countryside. The Cotswolds may be. It could have been Surrey. Quiet – no city noise. I had woken but it had stuck like few dreams do. It was vivid and saturated in bright clear colours. It had felt so real and honest.

I had felt so at ease working at a job that had satisfaction and it felt stress free and then like adding a dash of salt to finish the seasoning of a cooking meal the dream threw in a little gender thing. It’s so rare I have a dream that addresses the feminine side so vividly but when it does happen it doesn’t ever seem to argue against or challenge my gender choice internally, it’s just sort of honest and clear of problems. Besides, was it really a choice or just a self-acceptance? No judgment, sometimes nervousness followed by it’s all okay, carry on.

“Go get it then, Madam.” my Mum said before a cognitive pause, “Sir.” she said correcting herself as I got up to get something or other from the living room. I don’t even remember what it was I was doing, it was the madam bit I’d remembered from a day over the Christmas week – and then on New Year’s Eve, standing in the kitchen while my Mum was talking to my Dad, something along the lines of “oh she was just… he was just saying…” Mum said stumbling over the he bit. A brain freeze, genuine mistake, a slip of the tongue because she knows a little already about the gender thing, but not a testing-the-water thing.

They’re silly little things and I don’t grab onto them anymore like little trinkets of validation but when they happen it is a little insight into what things could be like. I imagine the reality would be a mix of pronouns bouncing between the masculine and feminine much like how parents mix the names their children in conversation. Any use of he, him, man wouldn’t be nonvalidation, it would just be years of habitual use, but every her would be worth ten of him.

The morning started dark as I woke at something-past-seven. The sky slowly turning grey as the hidden sun rose and every now and then a crackle of rain hitting the window hard in gusts of the breeze. Only blessed with a hint of sun early afternoon when a break of blue sped above my parents home on New Year’s Eve. It was like the world was saying, you’re going to have to be patient for a clear and spiritual new year and, while a lovely blue crisp day would make me feel better from the start about the coming year, all I needed were words to know what should happen next. Those new year resolutions.

I don’t like to put big hard resolutions with unrealistic expectations where a black ballpoint pens the words so hard they can be read by indentations on several pages of that brand new diary. A soft blue pen with curves on the rounded letters is just so much more appropriate and a produce of my feminine side. May be I should write something down in my new diary I had for Christmas. I have ideas. Some obvious like finding a new job that doesn’t just pay to keep expensive me but something I enjoy and really care about; whether that’s a new career or fore-filling my literal dream of working in a cafe in a Rachel Green countenance, without thinking about it, is another matter.

Progressing myself as a pianist, a word I use loosely, is an obvious one that goes without saying just as getting my injury sorted and getting back to running for fitness and the community spirit that goes with it. All good for mental health. Eggs Benedict. For some reason I want to make that again, important enough to put it down on a new year resolution.

I want change. I want changes that benefit my mental health and my spiritual health. I want to clear parts of my house with things in storage that will lift weight off my shoulders and hoard less deferring memories to photos rather than silly little receipts or flyers. Rid of those things kept because I might need them one day. Clean kitchen, a clean mind.

I should go to the beach more in the winter when it’s devoid of tourists, rich in ozone, sea salt air and optimism rather than just a few times here and there. Miles of dark golden sands and a long tide that reveals wide open spaces and closes to dramatic crashing waves on the rocks. I sometimes forget how lucky I am.

Continue a progression towards bringing everything gender to a centre ground and feel that freeness and freshness when I’m who I want to be, inside and out. Plus, in typical NYE fashion, loose a little weight I’ve gained since not being able to run and stuffing ones face with mince pies; my clothes do not like this.

I want to be more read. I still have a little passion for learning and expanding my knowledge in so many ways. I want to be awake and I want every minute count without feeling anxious about the minutes that aren’t counting. I wish for a clouds to disperse, in their own time, and continue my journey.

Until next year.

Happy New Year.

Hannah x

A Thank You

I started this blog in March 2014 and with a comparatively small but loyal following, I would like to thank you the reader for taking your time to read what I have to write and to all those who took the trouble to write a few lines to me either personally or through the comments and more so on other websites; without this I would not be coming up to four years of writing. Thank you!

Also a thank you to the following websites, Angels Forum, Nutty Cats and last but certainly not least T-Central for both listing my blog but also on more than a few occasions making my blog entries the feature article with such kind words. It means a lot.

t-central.blogspot.co.uk
nuttycats.com

J’adore Le Feu De Bois – A Christmas Special

There was no sparkling settled snow on pine trees. No dark quiet forest that would enchant the week before Christmas. That was for those north of the snow line. It was raining and a quieter than normal Wednesday while most were still in work and I was able to finish all my Christmas shopping, put a line under it, and not be landed with a building anxiety of unbought presents.

I walked through the department store into a cloud of different scents of perfume and eau de toilette. Bustling with people being talked into purchasing sizes of bottles that would. by two thirds of the bottle spent, become tired and boring or stale. A bottle of perfume caught my eye and I was instantly curious because I’d remembered the shapely clear bottle that was necked with a set of gold wire-like rings and the woman on the advert that had been on the television for months walking across a lake wearing a thin dress with hints of gold flowing in the breeze that tried to convince that ‘you too could be as free as we’re trying to make out’; and it certainly worked. The bottle widening to the bottom with it’s contents like being held in the palm of the hands and presenting it’s whiskey-like copper liquid in an almost elixir of life beyond water. The top like a stopper formed like a decanter top. Inviting, understated and rare – despite it being sold in the millions.

I picked up the bottle and looked around it but placed it back on the shelf. An assistant seemed to appear from nowhere much like the assistant in Mr Ben but much more pounced in a pushy sales tactic. “Did you get to try it?” she asked without as much as a ‘hello, can I help.’

“Er, yes.”, I hadn’t. I don’t even know why I said yes other than some panic reaction that would be the quickest way to move her on. I hadn’t any intention of buying any being short on money and just wanting to see the price out of curiosity for the future.

“So we have this size which is seventy pounds – ” already I knew this was going to be more than just expensive, it was the up-sell about to come, “and we have a special offer on the one hundred millilitre at…”

She didn’t need to finish. My mind had already switched off from what she had been saying because my eyes had locked already locked onto the top shelf where the largest box stood behind the glass door with a mediocre lock. One hundred pounds.

It’s not just the price. I have refined tastes, usually, which also means expensive tastes but even so the size of the bottle if it was that big would feel indulgent and may be even a little crass. That said, if someone gave it to me, I’m hardly going to complain. I would probably just have to use it twice as often. This is unlikely to happen.

“OK, thanks, that’s great.” I said kindly but nudging her away with words and slowly shifting down the banks of other perfumes pretended to look at others and hoping to escape. Her pushy tactic had turned me off any interest and I wasn’t planning on buying. It was a future pin in the board and all I wanted to do was seal or release my interest. I didn’t even get to smell it and now I didn’t even want to. I would leave it until another time. A retail therapy markup in my new year’s resolution diary for when I did have the money. Besides, this was yet another distraction from allowing me to actually get my Christmas shopping done, today. I moved on.

I walked up the wide staircase, the banister thick dark glossy wood, heavy and robust, and squarely turning back on itself to the upper floor. The heat held in by shelves full like a condensed forest in the form of books. Insulated and sound deadening and why people tend to talk a little hushed I don’t know. A hangover from how we used to behave in a library – which these days is a noisy place full of chatter and foreign exchange students leaching internet access to call home. I pulled a book from the shelf. A potential present.

I opened to a random page and the smell of ink on the page hit me. Unmistakable new book smell. I opened to the inside column of the front cover of the hard back to read the introduction. I suddenly felt an excitement inside. That new feeling you get when you start something new. May be starting an exciting new job, joining a new group of people of something that interests you or taking a holiday in a new place, it was the same. It was partly a feeling of wanting to read books again that I had taken a break from since the last time I went on holiday. It was also the possibility of what it might be like to be a writer. Successful, may be not, but just to have my words in print suddenly felt like something I would like to do. A feeling I’d had before but reignited by a match in the form of a description of an author. ‘An author.’

Not about riches, though that would be nice, not even about a face on the back cover or the inner sleeve but my own words for others to read and if not enjoyed but something to think about or to allow a strangers mind to imagine. It was a complicated feel of what could happen but it was also a simple feeling of doing something that mattered. Food for thought.

I closed the book and bought it. I came away with a present for someone and a reignition of motivation. I didn’t know where it would lead, if anything, but it solidified what was important and that was the words. On the way out I spotted a book that had been on sale last year for twenty pounds and now available on the bargain table for three pounds. The reality.

The reality didn’t really matter anymore because that wasn’t the dream and that last day of Christmas shopping did as much for me, my future and state of happiness as it did for the short term feeling of not having to worry about finding any last minute presents. The bottle of perfume and realising it wasn’t a contrived notion of femininity, it was just something I wanted and the book and it’s ability to light a fire inside about expressing myself in words and having it on paper was just as instinctual and innate.

And so I returned home where the only twinkle of snow on pine trees was the ice white lights on the Christmas tree shining out from the shadows of the living room barely lit by the dull winter light struggling to get through rain clouds. But with the tree and it’s razor-sharp lights reflecting in the gloss black paint of the piano and a warm mince pie on a plate, there was a little of that Narina type Christmas approaching.

This Christmas Eve would have been nice by an old log fire in an equally old typically British cottage pub with someone special but at home with a-glass-of-something and a supply of romantic films would do just fine for now.

I feel in a good place about myself and my well-being. I might not have made as much progress as I want, and when is that never the case, but I feel at one with who I am right now – and that’s probably the best Christmas Present I could ever have.

Until next time.

Merry Christmas x

Regression

The opening of eyes in the morning of a Saturday. Slipping on those clothes that trigger the happy response that psychologists and self-help gurus like to talk about. Capris, a T, fingerless gloves if it’s frosty and slipping on crisp running trainers, pulling the laces taught and pulling back my hair to a high ponytail. The sun glimmering just behind the trees and the smell of rich petrol after starting the car.

The running was two-fold positive. It was endorphin generating and a public place and gathering to be a little more me. Me time early on a Saturday. The murmur of a smallish gathering of like-minded people of all ages chatting happily, some stretching and warming up alone, sometimes an actor spotted keeping themselves to themselves because like me it was a place to be themselves without breaking a fourth wall between fiction and reality. Unbothered by others.

The feeling of cool air around my legs between the tops of my ankle socks and the bottom of my running trousers. The inspiring talk of a run group leader before the go and then the pulling of the ground as my trainers grip on tarmac and loose stones. Deciding how I will pace my breathing and how fast I should be running to survive the miles as I pass others and others pass me.

The half way mark when I realise I have to do it all over again and the last third where I wonder what the hell I was thinking doing this distance again and trying to make sure I push myself but not so much that I will throw up like the few I have seen. The last 200 metres. Do I do it now. I can see the small group of volunteers at the end but I can’t hear them yet. If I go now will I peter-out? That’s enough past the 200 meter sign, just go. I push hard taking in unfeminine deep breaths. Everything in sync, legs, muscles, heart, chest, arms – hair!

Then to a stop. Trying to catch every life-giving breath leaning over until I feel I can stand straight without going all fuzzy and collapsing. Trying to fumble with a zipper to pull out my time card and hand it to a time keeper while trying to put together ‘thank you.’

The elation. The realisation. ‘Ah, that’s why I keep doing it.’ It’s a natural human endorphin drug and that’s the happiness and good mental health. That and being with other like-minded people. The morning. The air. The taste of fresh water that suddenly never tasted so good and to top it off to wear a few things that make me – me.

I miss it. A minor injury with enough pain to stop me doing it for weeks that have turned to months. I miss the feel good factor. I miss getting up especially for it each Saturday and I miss looking forward to it in the week and trying to run between and just get a few seconds off my time. The rush of happiness and elation after it. Doing something good for me and being me.

Such a small thing with huge effects. It’s like a taster of real-life as it might be should I do something about that gender thing. More importantly what it does for my well being. Not just fitness but everything in my head. I feel so much more grounded. Reset each week. Something to live for. Empowering and worthwhile. No cost.

In the meantime it’s been about finding little things to get through while I haven’t got it. I always wondered if it would happen to me, some kind of sports injury where I would be out of it for a while and there it came. I got desperate last week. The tablets had been working and coming to the end of them I thought I would be at the end of the injury. It felt so good to get dressed up ready to run. Out of the house and through the houses. ‘I’ll even try a new route for a change’ I thought. But not much more than two minutes in and the pain returned, even with the pain killers. I pushed through and completed a whole circuit but knew it was wrong to continue. Like some kind of addict I had regressed.

I was disappointed rather than elated and just a bit frustrated. I know I’ll be back to it in the future but its at times like these I remember how much I got out of it and much like gender identity, looking back at what I was and where I am now, whether or not I progress anymore there is little inside me to return to masculinity, if there ever was any?

I can’t imagine what I would go back to anyway. What was it, when I didn’t come to terms with some of the gender traits and expressions, that made me different to now. Are they just frivolous things that I would have a hard time figuring out what they were with little more than photographs. But it’s beyond just external appearances and expressions. It’s also about what it feels like inside and feeling that little bit more at one. Who needs the past? Lets leave it for the photographs.

Until next time

Hannah x

How Could I Ever

It was a party. The music loud. Worse a shirt that fitted, but didn’t fit. You know – that awkwardness of knowing you just don’t feel you should be wearing it. At least I got to wear my jeans. I thought for a moment, looking around at all my family and their friends, some talking deep in conversation and laughing, others dancing in front of the DJ, I thought for that moment how could I ever go through with re-adjusting who I was on the outside and feel comfortable amongst all these family, friends and friends of friends that I didn’t know. How could I feel able to sit there without my stomach taught with concrete anxiety paralysing me in every way. This wasn’t just about what I might be wearing if I were to change my outward gender, it was feeling comfortable that people weren’t looking and may be saying to each other “oh yes, thats the one.”

But then I thought again about how I felt now, sat here in a shirt that even thought it’s nice and worn with as much femininity as can possibly be managed, I’m still in that mens shirt, I’m still the uncle, the brother – the son. It doesn’t matter who has suspicions right now or who might think I’m feminine for a male, that’s still how I’m being perceived and at this moment I am feeling that exact concrete feeling in my guts, the paralysis throughout that makes me just feel uncomfortable. Like the metaphorical shirt just doesn’t fit. Pulling my body to be shaped a different way. Anxiety. If I’m going to be anxious anyway then why not pick one of the two genders that I’ll be most comfortable during most of the days of my life and live.

That night at that celebration party I’d felt I’d lost. I’d lost the ability to be confident in the direction my gender might take, a direction that I can just get on with things and something in the back of my mind that would slowly grow and come to the fore, was going to be defeated.

I woke the early the next morning despite the late return home from the party the night before. The sun hadn’t quite risen with just a dull glow seeping through the fabric of the curtains. I pulled them open a few inches. The trees lining the top of the near by hill with silhouetted against pale blue and dark ocean grey clumps of cloud and a hint of yellow and the quiet of a Sunday 7am. The new day and a fresh stillness of the morning, and the possibility that I was one of few to be up at that time, had made me feel a warmth. A cosiness of pulling on some jogging carpi’s and a pull-over. A comfort of femininity was still there. It was the opposite of the night before. I felt it didn’t matter who would know and a sense of genuineness and authenticity.

It really did feel genuine. It felt right. Calm. Just there. It may just be clothes but it seems to be a sum of it’s parts. The recipe of ingredients. I lent back on the sofa, looked at the ceiling and ran my fingers through my clean dark hazel hair that is as long as it has been for such a long time and I felt a need to plait it out of the way. Just another small thing of running fingers through my hair felt refreshing and felt like just another one of the ingredients.

– ❤ –

The week passed quickly and once again I woke to the comfort of the duvet and a dull light. After socialising twice and having to take most of Friday to recover from Thursday, friends and drink, an early night and morning seemed refreshing both physically and spiritually. I got out of bed and split the curtains to be drained of stress and further enlightened by the horizon of trees with golden sunlight just below tinting several interleaving clouds and a hint of a pale wash of blue above. The tops of the wooden fencing dusted with snow and white crystallised within the grass. Early enough that the powder coat of snow on the roofs of houses and garages had not melted from central heating. Stick a Robin on the fence and you’d have had a Christmas card.

I love those moments when I am up early enough to see the beginning of a new day with the quiet of the morning and love myself for doing so rather than pulling that duvet up higher and drifting off a little more. I decided to enjoy an hour or two of that wake up with a cup of Earl Grey and some breakfast and find time to go and see my Mum.

We sat over a table of cups and a cafe desert treat in the busy and noisy town coffee machine and talked about anything and everything. Allow my Mum to vent and me to listen. I always thought if I was ever going to tell her about the gender thing it would probably be there. I don’t know if it would be the right place or the right moment. It was just a place I’d chosen – in my head. It was a place we both feel comfortable and talk about our lives and share stuff. I even thought about it at that moment. Thoughts passing through my head, ‘would this the moment.’ Would she be talking about something her friend had said and then in a break of the conversation I would broach the subject, or even just say it, or would I have to wait until we were roughly already talking about thing related to gender even if it was just about something vaguely feminine. Did feminine really need to be the subject, it’s certainly not the whole story. How do I casually mention a few decades of gender identity.

I suppose if I decide that time should come then its as good a place as any.

Until next time.

Hannah x

Aspire

She walked into the office and sat on our group of desks. Late twenties, glossy brown hair in curls and start-up glasses that finished her face with a strength of knowing what she was doing. Smart casual which was acceptable around management and clients. Her title was Producer and even though it was actually just a fancy way of saying ‘project manager’ in the thick of the new media bubble in 2001 it felt like something more. She wasn’t always at her desk or handing out work to us and when she wasn’t around I imagined she was out with clients giving them assurances and listening to their needs – oozing confidence, self assurance and a contentment. It was probably the first woman in the work place that I’d seen as a role model. It just all fitted together, a freedom to move between teams and act as some kind of creator of ideas and putting them into action. Ever since I worked at that place that feeling of role model never left me, even sixteen years on and now much older than she was then, I still aspire to be her in that moment. Something in the back of my head that whenever something reminds me of that desire for career and success a small flame would light and the idea would surface that I could be that person but in my own form. My own way and my own ingredients.

It was a crazy place. Full of buzz, music of the new millennium flying across the office getting people working at the limit voluntarily. Come and go as you please. Management keeping themselves to themselves for much of the time until a company wide motivational speech of how well the company is doing and then off to disappear, busy by their absence. Work would just come in, land on your desk and every confidence you would just get on with it, understand and deliver it back. Push scooters to float between one team to another at the other end of the fourth floor that we occupied. A large plasma screen hanging above the cafe table and chairs area when flat screen was pretty new and where we watched, in silence, the towers fall on BBC News that September.

It wasn’t the height of my career in a progressional sense but for work, life, finance balance the scales were bang in the middle. I was in the middle of my twenties too and I still just about had all that confidence that came with it and optimism in life. Life was good and times were fast.

In that time very few people knew about my gender thing and the odd weekend out in the very same city had only just started. I had only just started exploring myself outside the confines of my own thoughts. There was no way that I was going to be getting a promotion to becoming a ‘Producer’ and try out that life, I was freelanced in for a start and without being that type of female employee the whole recipe just wouldn’t have been the same and in that frame of mind I was in back then, hidden, secret, afraid – guilty and ashamed it was never going to happen.

I was dazzled by that role model but not enough to do something about it. The whole idea of dealing with gender identity back then just seemed a fantasy. When people get older they often say about the things they wished they had done in life – a lost moment. I have few regrets with some of the decisions I made in life. I chose the right movement in my career, at the time, when I had left university and moved on to the next big company when it felt right. I told Maddie about my gender identity issues and it eventually ended our relationship. I regret that something so special had to end, but I had no control over that other than the revelation itself – things were just as they were, fact. I regret few experiences in my life, even if some seemed crazy at the time, but that ‘Producer’, that person I saw some kind of role model in for less than a thin slice of cake of a reason still from time to time haunts me just a little.

I have moved on with my interests. My writing and attempts to change career, my progression as a musician and my needs to have an interest in whatever job I do that is more than just a frivolous shell of a facade of ‘seen to be dashing between clients and teams looking important and happy’. Yet, this week, when I came across a job for a ‘Producer’ within the very same industry that I have been so desperate to exit, came up on the screen all those feelings came flooding back. The idea of the confidence. The idea of doing something slightly different. Perfect hair and the right clothes. Some kind of contentment. For that moment I felt those same feelings from back then but also with some kind of wisdom from age that for a moment I felt, ‘regret’, ‘if-only’, ‘why didn’t I’ – ‘too late’.

The job, at least from the description, was in itself just a shell of the job that the Producer did back in the early noughties, but I applied to the agent anyway – but it had been filled. I questioned myself with everything about what I wanted to do. I mean what were these feelings, was it a viable way to move on for work and a career or was it just some rose-tinted view of a time that passed so quick and would no longer feel the same if acted upon now? Was it just like a bar I was going to for a drink to only find the place was empty and the owners had long since gone? I mean within about six months or so of me leaving that company back then I had found out they were another victim of the crash and all employees given their P45s and only the name remained within the parent company. It was sad. It was gone.

May be it’s a long lost idea I had, a dream of how I would move on with my life and how I would start in another outward gender and now I’ve let so much time pass on that I should just let the past be the past and come up with another way to inspire myself. I have other role models – more substantial ones and as far as gender is concerned, well, all that I’ve achieved in recent years have been through my own ideas and my own confidence. May be my role model is me.

Until next time,

Hannah x