Sunday, 23 March 2014

Somerset hit by nuclear blast

Ok, not quite but its entirely possible that it could happen if my other half hears what happened today after church.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


I missed seeing Disney's Frozen at the cinema but I had caught this song being sung and then found it on YouTube. Yesterday I picked up a CD with the soundtrack and was playing it in the car while going to see a friend. As I listened to this track it struck a chord with me, so much so that I had it playing on repeat for the 40 minute journey home afterwards.

By swapping just two words in the song it means so much more to me, its the new anthem to my life and the journey I've been on.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Validation and Verification

As a software engineer, specializing in testing I spend my time performing validation and verification of other people's software and systems.

Last week I had a couple of incidents where I underwent validation and verification of my identity.

And yes, I've finally discovered all about jump breaks on Blogger.

Sunday, 16 March 2014


"I think you're really brave"
If only I had a pound for every time someone has said that to me I'd have all of about 3 pounds.
I'm sure that a lot of people have experienced the same. Family, friends or colleagues decide that you have to be brave because you have made the decision to be yourself, and maybe even have surgery to give you a physical appearance more in keeping with the gender you have transitioned to.

Last week I had that conversation with someone that knows that I'm hoping for surgery later this year. I did try and correct them by saying I wasn't being brave but it wasn't the place and I don't think they were really listening.

Read on below the fold, hopefully there's nothing there that will upset anyone. It is, however, how I feel after people keep telling me that I'm brave. 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Could I get a second opinion please

This week has been a bit of an exciting one for me.

For the last two years I have been going through my RLE. On Thursdy I finally took the next step in my journey.

In order to be referred for surgery I need a letter from a second psychiatrist to say that they agree with the diagnosis that I am transsexual and that they agree that I should have gender reassignment surgery.

So on Wednesday, along with a friend, I drove to the hospital in Bristol.

I'd decided that I was going to make an effort and dress up a bit. Nothing over the top but just enough to ensure that I looked my best.

Back in Taunton after my appointment

The journey there was uneventful but on arrival we discovered that most of the hospital looked like a building site, which isn't surprising as they are just finishing construction of a new hospital building.

Driving around looking for somewhere to park we eventually found a multistory car park. We drove up to the top level looking for a parking space but failed to find any. By the time we reached the top I was getting flustered as we'd only had about 10 minutes before my appointment when we'd arrived. With no spaces to park in I didn't know what I was going to do but my friend came to the rescue, digging out her phone she rang the doctor's secretary to inform them that we were at the hospital and were trying to find a place to park.

Eventually we found another car park and after watching a transit van trying to park and failing, we parked in the space that was left when it drove off.

After  a five minute walk to the mental health services building where my assessment was going to be I had just enough time to compose myself before the psychiatrist came through.

Doctor D came out and as I'd been told he was good looking but not my type. Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it, but apparently he has some rather nice muscle definition when wearing a tee-shirt.

We went through to a room, leaving my friend behind, and the two of us sat down and Doctor D started to ask me questions. Nothing too hard, and nothing I'd not been asked before. Towards the end of the assessment the doctor looked at me and told me that I'd made his job too easy. He did say that he'd think about asking me a difficult question but never did.

As we chatted I couldn't help but smile. After all it was a big moment for me and seemed to be going really well. As our chat continued I found myself wanting to giggle. It wasn't until afterwards that I realised I'd been acting very girlish. It would seem that Doctor D has that effect on women as my friend got all girlish when she was talking to him.

After about 20 minutes my assessment was over. Doctor D told me that I'd made it really easy for him and that he would be recommending me for gender reassignment surgery and also chest reconstruction.

So I passed. I got my second opinion and shortly will be getting a letter confirming that. Then it will just be a case of sorting out the funding to allow me to have my GRS in Brighton, even though it would be so much easier if done in Exeter. My chest reconstruction will be done in Exeter though as apart from it being closer I've also had a surgeon recommended to me.

So that's the next step on my journey completed. My next step is probably going to be the biggest of all. No not getting my breasts enlarged silly, but getting things corrected down below. That is still going to be a long way off. Between now and then I expect I'll be asking myself if I'm making the right decision so stick with me if I start being very analytical in some of my posts.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Twisted Cabaret

Its not that often that I go out. Well unless you count for the odd meal with my family or to the cinema with my son, or to belly dance class and cell group.

OK, I go out quite a bit.

But I don't go out, go out.

Last Friday I went to a charity burlesque show being put on in order of our local hospital's charity appeal. As my other half works on a Friday night she couldn't come but I'd arranged to go with some of the ladies from my belly dance class.

Taxi was booked to take two of us there. I'd decided on a pair of heels and a new dress. Purple necklace and matching earrings completed the outfit. Oh and my obligatory insanely filled handbag with everything I could imagine needing for all eventualities (OK, I did leave some things at home).

Leaving my son at home until his mum returned from work I headed out.

The taxi driver was friendly and before we knew it we were at the venue. The doors hadn't opened so we had a couple of minutes to wait.

8pm came and we found ourselves inside. The place was brilliantly decorated. Each of the tables had a little, lit, tea light sitting on it. Gave the place a really nice atmosphere.

Finding a table with a good view I popped to the bar and got us a couple of drinks. I think I must be getting a lot more ladylike in my drinking habits as I only had two drinks all night. A glass of white wine and a gin and tonic. And no the wine glass wasn't big enough to hold a full bottle. Unlike the one that my sister bought as a present a few years ago.

Before too long the place was packed out and we'd been joined by the rest of our small group. I was even surprised to see one of our friends there with some of our friends. I wasn't sure that she'd recognise me but she did and we had a chat at the bar during one of the intervals.

The show eventually got underway with music from a duo called the Decibelles. Both of the ladies were incredible singers and were also very funny. The point where one of them started to sing and swayed her mic stand from side to side before promptly smacking herself in the face with it had people laughing, not least her partner. Take two for that song and they had to stop because they were laughing themselves. Take three and she managed to finish the song.

The dancers were brilliant. As you would expect there were lots of burlesque acts. There was also a very good belly dance performance that involved the use of a sword which was balanced on the ladies head. Oh, and there was a boyesque performer who also removed everything but his posing pouch.
All of the performers were brilliant and I had a great time watching each of them. In fact I was a bit overawed because I'm hoping to go along to the classes that are run each week. Now I'm beginning to wonder if they are a bit too good for me. I'm seriously thinking that I might stick with the girls I know because even though they are all as good as the ones that I saw on Friday, I know them and feel a lot more comfortable around them.

The show ended with an amazingly glamorous routine that involved fans and the removal of an evening gown.

The Decibelles then took over and performed for nearly an hour as the place wound down and people began to leave.

I even managed to surprise myself by doing something that I've not done for ages. I got up and danced. Part way through the show the Decibelles did a number of songs and encouraged everyone to get up and dance. I found the rest of my little group getting up to dance and so, even in my heels, got up and joined them. After the show had finished I again found myself on the dance floor strutting my stuff. I even enjoyed it.

Eventually though I had to sit down and catch my breath and it was that point that I noticed one of the other women across the room. I'd seen her earlier and thought that she was wearing an amazing outfit. She was wearing what I can only describe as a steampunk gladiator dress. Brown leather dress with buckles and straps and a few pouches at the waist. As I watched her she was dancing very provocatively with a guy who I assumed was her husband.

As I watched I found myself wishing that it was me dancing like that. Me dancing provocatively with a tall, handsome guy. Woo girl! Careful what you wish for, you might just get it. Well if I do then I've seen the outfit I'll be wearing. And even if I don't then I'm still getting the outfit.

Brocade Steampunk Corset

Brown Gathered Steampunk Skirt

I'll certainly stand out in that outfit.

The evening ended on a high note. To get home we needed a taxi and so made our way to where we could see some. We had a choice of two and as we approached one of the drivers lowered their window and asked if we needed a car. We said yes, got in and told him where we wanted to go. Throughout the journey he addressed us as ladies and was very polite. He even apologized for encouraging us into his taxi and said it was because he didn't want to take a chap that was hanging around talking on his mobile phone who was obviously drunk. That rounded off what had been a perfect night out.

The next show is in April and I might just be tempted to go along to that one too.

The Things I Carry

"We have an event in a few weeks time and I want some volunteers. It will involve a 5 mile march and then shooting rifles at some targets."
The Chief Petty Officer in charge of new recruits announced to us one evening.
When I was in my 20s I enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve. It was an excellent opportunity to get to know more about the people that I was helping during my day job and was a chance to do something completely different to sitting behind a desk every day.
Five weeks into basic training the CPO told us about a shoot and run event that was coming up against some of the local Territorial Army units. Any of us that wanted to have a go would get taught to shoot which I thought would be amazing. Seizing the opportunity I put my hand up.
We were told we'd hear more in due course.
Weeks went by and I heard nothing so I decided I'd not been selected.
The Tuesday evening before the event the CPO called a number of us aside and proceded to tell us the details for the weekend. I was puzzled and told him that I'd assumed I'd not been selected.
"You volunteered didn't you?"
"Yes, Chief"
"Well you should have realised that meant you were selected."
"But Chief, I don't know how to shoot."
"Don't worry, we can sort that out."
The following Saturday I nervously met up with some fellow recruits and some of the officers and we made our way the venue for the race.
On arrival we got into our kit. Combat fatigues and boots. I'd worn mine enough that they were broken in. One of the other recruits hadn't done the same, something we were soon to find out.
The officer in charge started us off and away we went. Five miles of fast walking and running held no fear for me. It was what was to come at the end that scared me.
One mile, went past, then two. Our pace wasn't that great, we kept encouraging each other. By the time we reached the third mile we had a problem. One of the other recruits was starting to limp and before long we had to stop and pull off his boot and sock. Blood coated his foot where his boots had rubbed and caused the skin to blister and then burst.
We patched his foot up as best we could and got started again. Four miles down, we were taking turns encouraging the poor guy. The senior officer has us form up into a marching order, two lines, each of us paired with another person. It looked a lot smarter than the rag tag group that we had been at times.
Our support and encouragement helped him to keep going, despite the pain he must have been in.
Finally we reached the finish and could catch our breath and prepare for the final part of the event. The shoot!
Now it was mine turn to be carried. I still had no idea of how to shoot.
One of the army reserves handed me a L1A1 Self-Loading Rifle. I'd most definitely never handled one of these. I'd handled a SA80 rifle but only while learning to perform marching drills. Now I had a rifle with live ammunition on my hands.
We were told that when ordered we were to run to the shooting line, lie down and fire off five shots. The safety was on the rifle so there was no danger of me accidently shooting someone.
"I don't know how to shoot" I said to the officer in charge of our team. "I've never fired a gun."
"OK, just carry the gun to the line and get down alongside me. Once I've fired my shots I'll have your gun and fire your shots."
Finally, someone had seen sense.
The officer in charge of the shooting section started us off and carrying a rifle full of live bullets I raced across the open ground, dropped to the floor and caught the ground with the end of the barrel. Seeing a small stone in the barrel I pulled it out.
A screaming demon appeared from nowhere and shouting at me.
"Put your safety on. Do not fire that weapon. Put your safety on."
I stared at the officer staring into my face.
"I've not taken the safety off, it's still on. I'm not going to fire."
"Put your safety on. Put it on" he yelled at me.
Finally the snarling creature reached down to flick the safety on and realised that it was already on.
I explained that I was only carrying the rifle so that one of the officers could fire off my shots. I wasn't going to be shooting myself. The magazine was removed from my rifle which was then taken from me and handed to one of the territorial army soldiers.
"Go and clean the barrel of this rifle" he was told.
As he disappeared the officer in charge of our team had just finished shooting. He removed his magazine and was handed mine. He settled down and fired off my shots.
With all our shots fired we were finally finished and were able to enjoy the rest of the weekend. Food and drink followed that evening as we were staying over for the night. We didn't win ourselves but one of our other teams came very close to winning.
I only ever carried a rifle a couple of times after that and that was while preparing for and taking part in a parade. If I never have to carry one again then I'll certainly not miss it.

Written in response to The Things I Carry writing prompt at Laura Davis' The Writer's Journey Roadmap.