The Fame Thing

It was so quiet. Even the distant motorway was now just the odd rustle of tyres here and there rather than a long grey noise that would catch the wind. Saturday nights in the garden were usually cars racing off the lights on the carriageway just outside the village echoing through the night every now and then but now, nearly ten pm with the stars trying to cut through the thin misty atmosphere the only thing I can hear, apart from the dull hum of next door’s new lock-down hot tub, is the ringing in my ears. So loud that it was hard to know if anything quiet and distant was making any sort of noise.

I had put out the tea light candles along the edge of the decking early evening knowing that once I’d finished my dinner at my wooden cafe table that the night would descend slowly and as neighbours disappeared inside along with their Alexa music I would need something to glow and make the darkness something inviting. And when even the tea lights were not enough, once twilight had finally given up, I pushed a desk lamp out as far as it would go to light the lawn and cast shadows off the trees at the back. The warm slight hint of yellow in the lamp made the garden feel just a little inviting, much like the private communal garden scene in Notting Hill. It made the night somewhere to be, not somewhere to retreat from.

Scrubbing off last weeks colour off my toe nails, tidying up with clippers and applying a light silvery blue while food oven-cooked slowly over coals I wondered how things might change in a few weeks or months, depending how this all goes. So many people saying, “Things will never be the same.” and “I think people will appreciate the simple things in life, family, friends and leave behind material needs.” I suppose in some ways thing may happen a little though I think some people underestimate the British public and their need for normality, comfort and lacklustre.

But what about me and what about the gender thing? It’s still a thing and while everything is on hold in some way, not updating my wardrobe and not having much in-person contact with people makes it feel hard in some ways to feel. When I think about it, really think about it, it’s hasn’t changed that much and I am experiencing things, it’s not on hold – as such. It’s what I’mthinkingthat is my gender experience at the moment.

Thinking back to old friends I used to know on the gender scene. Reminiscing about some of the fun times we had and the learning process, feeling that utter terror going out for the first time. Adjusting the recipe of how to dress and what should and shouldn’t be worn. Pushing a little further each time and finding out who I am. Travelling ridiculous distances just to experience this gender thing in a safe environment and allowing other people to take all sorts of advantages of your friendship just so they can do these things too. You’ll know what I mean if you been in this situation. People wanting to change at other peoples houses before a night out and getting lifts. Using friendships and every ounce of ‘tether.’ Sounds mundane in just those short words but there are so many silly and funny stories attached to that, not just things I’ve experienced, but other people’s experiences too. We all ‘use’ in some ways to get what we need to experience.

Those things are in the past and I’ve not thought about them for quite a long time. I parked them some times ago so I could move on and in some ways most of those friends parked me and we lost touch. I think it came about because now I have time to think about these things in my past I’ve been able to compare where I was and where I am now. This introspection happens all the time in some form or another every so often and here I find how different things are.

I thought recently how far we, the gender collective if you will, would go just to experience some time in our chosen gender. Whether it was going over to Bristol for a few hours or travelling to London, the other side of the country, just for a few hours out and driving home and getting back at silly hours in the morning. I’ve said it before that it was exciting and so different to anything you could experience socially with a double-life slammed on top that only you and those in your crowd knew about and they like-wise would know very little, if anything, about your life outside of these times – but it wasn’t real.

Like fame there is a difference between the fame thingand real day to day life. With those nights out they were the fictional side where nearly everything was perfect and happy and when it came to normal life things seems so bland. That fictional time would only go sour if something from the real-life stepped in, like being in a pub and someone asking ‘So, are you a man.’ This is where we as the gender identity confused (when we are at that stage) have to decide whether we actually want realor not.

The only way to decide if real is what you want is to try it. It seems bit mad at first to say that when you might think ‘of course I want real, it’s all I’ve ever wanted’ but you really need to experience that day to day trudge of all the mundane things you normally do in life but in that gender you want. Interacting with people in that clothes shop, the supermarket, taking the car for an MOT which is horrific enough in any gender.

I am far from experienced in experiences but I know I’ve moved on from those days of the fame thing. Those safe-place nights out are a separate part of life, they just happen to involve the gender thingbut it’s not completely about gender dysphoria, it’s just an introduction. It’s like a class and being asked to take part in a role play exercise. Some people prefer the exercise and that’s where they are, others – not.

The one thing I will say that is different about day-to-day compared to just Saturday nights. That favourite skirt that hits the washing machine on Sunday and is then stored away until next time – it no longer lasts for years. Wash after wash and the threads start to come out, the colour fades and the debit card comes out once again.

Until next time. Stay safe.

Hannah x

A Rose Gold Diary – New Years Eve Special

Runners appeared through the morning mist in the sharp pale winter sunlight that pierced through. Dark evergreen leaves lined the pathway glossy with droplets that had clung from the slowly clearing early fog. Every breath lingering in the air as a cloud of steam behind as the kilometres mounted.

The social atmosphere was as vibrant as the climate atmosphere. Running at Christmas time with others is even more special than the other weeks. Everyone is in a positive mood with the approach of the new year and helped along by a little sunshine and blue sky somewhere above the mist.

And this applies to Christmas day where we express our relationship with people through our gifts to each other. To some extent showing how we view that person and buying a present we think they’ll like because it’s them and sometimes giving a present that we like, as the giver, because we want to give a part of ourselves.

Each year that has passed by my presents have moulded somehow. Certain things have become more feminine, some not so much. It is as clear as a summers day that how my feminine side has come to the forefront, as I’ve become more confident enough to express myself outwardly, that people, in this case my parents, have expressed their gifts as a reflection of who I’ve become to them.

A beautiful hamper of bathroom things with a bath body puff, shampoos and gentle on the skin soaps as well as a couple of those mens toiletries I still need. It’s almost like a bathroom expression of exactly where I am. Amongst my presents was a rose gold diary.

I could have had a utilitarian black diary with “2020” written on the front that would be at home on a study desk. Instead I had a diary with an embossed floral fractal design that spread from the front to the back hard cover with yellow gold highlights and a strap that secured the book shut to a gold clip. It would be more at home on my bedside table which is where it will probably reside for much of next year.

Last year I had a beautiful diary with pale monochrome scenic views of mountains and inside messages on the title page of each month that expressed positivity and a black and white photograph that appealed to active people that painted walking, adventure and yoga. It was me. It expressed exactly who I was for that year and who I still am.

The new diary took that expression one step further with it’s pink patterned inlay pages and inspired wording on the introductory and monthly pages. It showed femininity and inspiration. It was very much me. Heck, I flicked through the pages and it stopped and landed on International Women’s Day; the irony.

I’m not saying that every present should be feminine based, perfumes and dresses, bath bombs and makeup, but having that hint of it says everything to me. I don’t know a man that has had a rose gold coloured diary for Christmas and that to me says a lot of where I am and how my parents see me. That means so much to me and helps me feel more comfortable and confident about where I am.

With a new diary comes a new year. Twenty twenty. A new decade. In the universe of things it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just another day and things are changing but for us and society we make it something special and that’s a good thing. It gives us a chance to reflect and make lots of promises to break.

But may be that’s the promise to make, not to make promises you can’t keep or at least stick to them and yet also be flexible and fluid about our promises. If they’re not for us may be swap that promise, when it doesn’t workout, for something even better. Don’t like that gym membership by February? Find another gym or another exercise. Changing, alone, can be the inspiration that we need.

I promised myself a few years ago not to make resolutions that were unrealistic for things I didn’t want to do and do the things I really wanted, even if that meant being a little out of my comfort zone and that doesn’t mean I’ve completed everything I’ve promised but I do feel so much better for it.

I’ve made some gender identity progress since last new year and I’m happy with that. It would be amazing if I’d made some huge leap and everything was as rose gold in life as it is on the cover of the new year diary but life isn’t like that and some of that fluidity is about accepting my place as it is for the time being and if I want more change then I have the freshness of a new year that starts in less than a day from now.

I’ve cleaned other parts of my life, that are not gender related, my exercise routines, my cycling adventures starting, clearing the garage, clearing the clutter. Cleaning other parts of my life is what takes away some of the weight that allows the gender thing to blossom without all the added stresses from other parts of my life. Everything in your life that’s not gender related is as important to the gender thing as the gender identity itself.

I feel good about the year that has past. Bumps were ironed out. The bumps that remained were challenging and interesting for that reason. I want the new year to continue this way. I want to feel that elation of cycling to the top of a mountain and being inspired by the view in the other parts of my life. I want to feel my expression of femininity without having the withdrawal when I see my face in the mirror in a different light and see a return of something masculine; I want to remain at that sweet-spot instead.

When I came to the end of that run, during Christmas week, I crossed the line with most of the mist raised. I didn’t feel that I was running a fast pace but my time was quicker than for many weeks. I had been duped by my own thoughts being faster than I realised. We can get duped by our thoughts a lot. Like many at the run though I felt the elation just from running but I thought for that moment, “That’s how I want twenty-twenty to be.”

Until next year.
Have a happy new year and make those gender things happen for you.

Hannah x

Fatigued

A white ceiling slowly rolled-by alternating with large roman tiled beams. Large round pillars titled in an old roman style with a modern twist drifted alongside. It was my place from everywhere. You wouldn’t think it was there buried deep in the centre of one of the biggest cities in the world while the world rushed around outside. I pushed the water slowly again with my arms and kicked my feet once to push myself again floating on my back in the swimming pool.

Further below tube trains raced packed, even with the financial district switched off and the weekend fast approaching, through the centre of the arteries of the city that, somehow, manage to keep flowing without a heart attack.

It wasn’t particularly a plan to get away but more that I needed to fill my time off or I’d waste it and come to the end and think ‘what on earth did I do?’ I’d cobbled together a trip away with a bag of clothes and toiletries and within a few hours I was slowly floating away my problems in the hotel swimming pool just staring at that ceiling. Pains and aches had gone and a zest to do things had surfaced.

Weeks on from that day I feel drained again. Fatigued. I still go to work each day. I still get up early and I still run when I can but the fatigue itself is draining. It’s hard to get through the day let alone think about and deal with the gender thing. But this is physical fatigue. Plop on top the politics of gender identity and things get a bit heavy.

Sometimes I find it’s best to just turn off from the mediaopinion on gender. Only the last couple of weeks we’ve heard of a school pulling a book from the children’s learning that teaches about trans people; fear for some reason. It’s always easy to knee-jerk when children are involved but then what is wrong with teaching children about the real world. No amount of teaching will ever makea child something they’re not, people are who they are, there is only discovery. In my day it was about race. We learnt about cultures and skin colour and this is the kind of thing that make us better as a society by starting at the beginning.

The problem with reading and watching the news about these things I find I can easily become blinkered to what the world is for transgendered people daily. It’s one view and usually concentrate and highly defined which can feel negative and daunting. I’ve learnt to let go of the news in this respect. It’s freeing to just realise that while there can be dangers from those who aren’t tolerant, those who are of an opinion really just amount to just that, an opinion. And some of those people are in it just for a career in controversy and hate without consequence for themselves. Let’s not name names.

Yet, when I’m running at an event amongst other people, I’m a world away from all that nonsense what some people think about gender identity. I just run. I just chat to people. I am me without worrying about whether people have an aversion to transgendered people or not. If I had to deal with that during times like that then I would be more than fatigued and drained.

Even talking about it now feels negative and draining. Yet if I just ignore it I rarely see or hear it from day to day. That time in work a several weeks ago was the first I’d heard negative transphobia in a very long time and a little this week elsewhere that I guess would generally be put down to banter.My thought at the time was, ‘how little you know.’ and put it down to that with a secret wry smile.

So I think I’ve found a way of dealing with light weight transphobia by just brushing it off and doing without it and may be that’s good preparation for if the time comes that it becomes directed at me rather than just idle gossip in the air. And all the hard-line terrifying transphobia seems to be held in the news, the media and social media, which has an off switch. It’s a bit like turning off the TV and going outside for a walk in the sunshine. You kinda just leave it where it is and it goes away.

All this was a million miles away as I lay floating on the surface of the water in the quiet swimming pool and the sound of trickling water. If switching off the TV was the escape then this place was where things like this were forgotten. I know that my time was short there but that hour felt like it was lasting forever and even though I knew I would have to pack up and leave that weekend that once again I would likely return and you never know how much I’ll have changed by then.

Until next time

Hannah x

Her Name Was Hannah – A Christmas Special

She wandered, undisclosed, along the Christmas market stalls. The smell of the German sausage hut over powered any other food being cooked for several hundred yards. There was no Christmas snow hunched against the pine wood walls of the huts and no slush underfoot, it was just winter damp. It wasn’t raining but it was just damp. There was no heat on the street and not enough wind to dry the ground; it just clung like a permanent condensation.

She briefly moped up a slurry of spicy tomato sauce from her ice white t-shirt that had dripped in one big splodge from the sausage in the long bun as she had bitten into it. It was typical luck but she shrugged it off because it was just like her to take such little care with this kind of food that she reserved for the Christmas holidays or a day trip somewhere. It just happens and there were worse things that could have happened. She folded up the tissue, put it in her pocket and made her way into one of the little stalls.

It was full of wooden carvings on shelves and around the outside of the hut, lining the edge of the roof on either side to its peak, were lanterns made from hammered steel with stained glass and a door to put in a tea light candle, both modern and vintage-looking at the same time. She looked along the shelves of the wooden animals that all had their own place on the shelf, not too far apart that they looked lost and the stall empty, but also not close enough that it would have been too crowded to discern between them. They could easily be considered much like reading a book with double line spacing and clean crisp text – everything could be easily examined without too much effort.

There were plenty to look at but one small cute wooden animal stood out and would make a perfect present for someone special amongst all the modern day commercialised presents she had already bought. It was smaller than most of the carvings but it was just perfect. It’s warm waxed wood colour felt inviting and its darkened patches in the ruts of the carving just made it all the more special. Hannah moved to the back of the hut and pulled a note from her wallet, desperately trying to grip the note with her gloves on. The woman at the back of the hut raised her head with a smile from the book she had been reading and thanked Hannah for her purchase, “Enjoy the rest of the day.” she said in a bizarre knowing-way. Hannah smiled, it was just another polite person she had encountered that day that just made her a little happy inside.

She left with the little wooden animal wrapped in red tissue and placed in a small box with a lid that fitted just right and all placed in a small tort paper bag with handles made from twisted paper. Old fashioned in design but a hint at the modern world with small print at the bottom that said “Lovingly made from recycled paper.”

It made such a change from trawling the clothing shops where she would hold up a garment, may be a pair of trousers or a skirt, and consider it as a present as it hung from the plastic shop hanger and realise within seconds that she was no longer considering it as a present and wondering whether it was herand imagining herself wearing it; like drifting off into a day dream in work and realising she’d not listened to a word during a meeting for the last five minutes.

Hannah decided to make one last call. It was one of those small basement bars that was rented out from the shop above. The stair case down was stone and was like something from the eighteen hundreds but, with care taken walking down the steps, came a room bustling with people socialising after work or during a lunch hour, unwinding and chatting which would fill the room just right. It felt noisy but not loud. It was kind of like walking into a place, shaking off your umbrella and hanging your rain coat on the stand and cosying-up to the log fireplace in one of the comforting arms chairs with a cold condensation clad glass of Prosecco, a cold ale or a coffee – whichever makes you feel wanted – and you’d instantly feel at home. Everything about what would have been a cold dull damp basement was removed and the room left with a heart. This is why Hannah felt she could sit there on her own as it was just that sort of place.

She opened the door from upstairs and made her way down the hard steps but it seems a little different. She couldn’t hear the noise from downstairs coming up the staircase as it normally would – all muffled and reassuringly exciting and familiar. The light was a little dull and yellow creating shadows on the steps and what felt like a cool breeze gently rising up. She pushed the door open gently enough to peer into the bar but instead of being hit by the usual wall of noise the room was quiet and darkened. ‘It must be shut for some reason.’ she thought to herself.

Hannah opened the door fully and stepped in. The bar itself was lit as were some of the logos on the taps. The chairs were out, nothing was put away or stacked. She checked her silver watch, it was well past opening time. She needed the loo, ‘I’ll pop in there for a second and if the staff show up when I come out then I’ll stay.’ she thought to herself. It felt a bit strange but may be it was just one of those days and she just felt like her hour treat of sitting next to the warm fire, if they light it, was too good and rewarding to miss. She just hoped that people would turn up because people-watching was all part of the experience; unless she was meeting a friend.

She headed over to the toilet door. There was a piece of paper taped to the door over the gender sign; it was an invoice for a delivery. Across it written in blue pen it said, “Hannah, your choice awaits…” Her brow inverted quickly at the paper, both with a little worry but also intrigue. She pushed the door open and walked through the door and down the corridor. It got colder quickly. She wrapped her scarf around her neck again; it was always falling back down. At the end of the stone corridor was an opening that seemed like it was the backyard of property but ivy hung from the opening and outside were pine trees and it seemed to have started snowing.

It was beautiful and despite the strangeness she felt at home. She walked between the trees with roots sticking up from the snow that had settled and the damp muddy earth path soon turned to undisturbed snow. As the path entered a clearing in the trees she was presented with a horizon of dark snow topped mountains in the distance with a slither of orange sunset silhouetting the mountains and trees.

Something was very wrong. ‘This must be a dream’, she thought, ‘which is just typical because this means I’ve been dreaming the whole damn day and I’ve not finished my Christmas shopping, andit means the Christmas stress isn’t over and…’ she shook herself as hard as she could which is what she did whenever she was in a dream she didn’t like that she had become lucid to – usually nightmares. It didn’t work. Something else was also different. She looked down and realised she was wearing her favourite skirt and top, with a jacket thankfully, because it was snow-cold despite the stillness that had fallen in the air. The only thing that was the same was her scarf, and that wasn’t particularly male or female, but all her male clothes were no more.

She looked around at the amazing scenery. The glow from the horizon just seemed so warm and although the wax was close to the bottom of the candle that was the sky she felt the sunset would last forever. She looked at her clothes again and just thought for a moment that it felt so right and that she should have been shopping in these clothesfor herselfrather than her appearance for other people she didn’t think would accept her, but the reality was it was just her own insecurity she was worried about.

May be it would be easier if she just stayed in this place forever. It was so serene and she just felt she could be herself. But in that moment the serenity of silence became just a little lonely as well. As much as she liked this place, lovedthis place, there were no people or animals and nothing interacts like a pine tree.

Why couldn’t everyday life feel this way. Clothes weren’t really thatimportant but it was validating for every time she felt that way. It was no good. She knew she would have to go back. If she did, she thought, at least it would give her some thinking time as to what to do. It’s not like she had to make a decision there and then and despite it’s bizarreness she knew that place would probably still be there. With the height of the mountains it had probably been there for years and would remain for a very long time, if not forever.

Hannah turned to the entrance back to the bar. A small round wooden table that didn’t even reach her knees, just like one she’d seen at the market stall, stood in front of her and on it a single mince pie sat on top of a small piece of paper. She picked up the mince pie which was hot to the touch. On the paper it said, “Please pay at the bar.” This was just insane.

She dashed through the corridor and opened the door to the bar and was hit by a thick fog of noise, people drinking and chatting, smiles and laughing. She headed to the bar, standing up on the brass pipework that ran along the foot of the bar for extra height and held the mince pie up to the barman that met her with a smile and a nod. She briefly looked down and noticed she was in her old t-shirt complete with dull stain of spicy sauce and trousers, but she still had on a pair of boots that had appeared in the forest. “Eat up.” said the barman, “You have all the time in the world.”

Merry Christmas.

Until next time,

Hannah x