Saturday, 26 December 2015

Slade, Roy Wood with Wizard and Kirsty MacColl with the Pogues

Though I am not in the slightest religious I adore this time of year. I love the fake Victorian type of Christmas, the whole family together doing things. My granddad, who past away 2 days before Christmas in 1996, loved it too, and instilled his love for it in my mum who passed it onto me.

12 months ago we were in a house in the middle of The Netherlands with the whole of Mrs Stace's family and I was struggling to spend more then a few minutes not lying down whilst loaded up on paracetamol and enjoying it as much as possible. The little dude had no idea what was going on and got bored with present opening very quickly. And it was still great!

Fast forward a year and we were busy putting together an Ikea kids kitchen at 11pm on Christmas Eve (so that the little guy did not see it before hand) and trying to wrap it. And it ewasn't even our present to him! It was from my parents.

We had put a glass of port out for Santa and a carrot for the reindeer. The little guy must think we are little weird - a few weeks ago we were putting our shoes in the living room and singing to them for Sint Klaas to come and leave something for him and now we were making a big deal out of setting the table for someone who wasn't there :)

Come the morning we set the presents under the tree (we couldn't do it at night as our robot vacuum cleaner would have damaged them :p) and waited for him to wake up. His face when we came downstairs and he saw the presents was an absolute picture! And his the surprise on his face when he saw the carrot was half eaten :)

He's still a bit young for the presents. He gets what they are now (and dived straight into opening a big one when we sat by the tree) but he opened the first one and just wanted to play with it and watch Gruffalo, rather then open the rest. But we did some more before taking a break for breakfast, and he was over the moon with all of them (especially his coffee machine). I got some earrings from Mrs Stace, and the complete Indiana Jones BluRay set (which is on right now :) ) and some glitter nail polish from the little guy (among other things).

We got dressed - me in my new Christmas Dress:
(And it is a beautiful in person as in the picture!)

And then then, with my parents on the phone, we opened the hallway door and, shock and surprise, Santa had left another present there! It must have been too big to fit in the living room :)

He knew exactly what to do with this present and spent 5 minutes unwrapping it whilst my parents watched 1600km away. His face lit up when he realised what it was and didn't stop playing with it for the next hour! I can't wait for him to get up later this morning and start again!

After his nap (which he didn't want, but sorely needed!) we went to Mrs Stace's parents for Christmas dinner with her family. Everyone dressed up and had a great meal and a great time. I taught my niece something on the piano which she practiced until even her grandmother had had enough :)

I was worried that with my childhood Christmas' I was putting too much on myself to recreate for the little guy and it would never live up to my memories and expectations. But, in fact, it was great. I have a grin ear to ear just thinking about the day. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Is it that long already?

Just a quick post seeing as my laptop battery is about flat...

Today I received a wonderful SMS from my parents. 

'Hi darling daughter. Happy first birthday. Dad and I are so proud of you. Love you lots xxx'

At the weekend I had realized that this week is 1 year.
Yesterday I realized that it was one year from leaving my son behind and heading to hospital.
To be told that I had a fever and the surgeon had to be consulted about whether or not I would be sent home.
To be left alone scared and facing the unknown.
Happy and terrified in a way that I can't explain and that quite a few who knew  me did not appreciate.

However, this week the Dutch health insurance goes into overdrive and I have been working 12 to 14 hours days.

This morning I was so focused on getting the systems in the office working, and getting the errors that we had solved that I didn't stop to think that:

At 7:30, whilst I was driving to the office, it was when someone came in to take blood to double check that I was not too ill to be operated on.
At 8:30, whilst racing between rooms trying to organize a hotfix, I was being taken upstairs to the operating theater
At 09:00, whilst I was delaying a meeting to get the required people to test the hotfix, I was having my hand harpooned as the anesthetist could not find my vein!
At 09:30 whilst taking 5 minutes for a cup of tea to recover from the stress, I was being put under.
At 13:00, whilst in a team meeting, I came to for the third or 4th time (I think) and had no idea what was going on :)
At 16:00, whilst in a planning meeting, I was having nonsensical conversations with Mrs Stace that I have no memory of :o

It's been a tough year, and dilation is still not the high point of my day to put it bluntly, but what a ride and so, so worth it.

I know that some people see it as a birthday, but I really don't. It was a step, big, huge and very important, but a step still, in a long process. But, that SMS from my parents means the world to me :)

Stace

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Wall to Wall Stuff

When I started this blog all back in 2009 I was in a very bad place in my head. I had had one panic attack that cost me a week of my life as I recovered from the Valium which was given to me to calm down and several close calls. The blog was cathartic for me and I was adding new entries as I needed - mostly weekly, sometimes a couple of times a week. Thanks to there already being a Susan Cashmore with a Gmail account I landed on Stacy, I still don't know why that was my second choice. With the exception of not wanting to change my initials there were no real thoughts behind my choices.

At the time I had a kind of insomnia, sleep would take some time to come, and I would wake early - sometimes I would wake an hour or more before my 5:30 alarm went off. When this happened at the weekend I would come downstairs, pick a film from the cabinet and write whatever was going through my mind whilst drinking coffee.

Obviously at the end of that year everything went totally pear shaped, or at least that is how I viewed it at the time. On 6th December I was on the verge of another panic attack and everything came out to Mrs Stace and we spent the night talking. She made me go to see the doctor for the referral to the gender clinic, and I assumed that I had lost her.

For the next year we pretty much put our life in hold whilst we waited to see what we were going to do with ourselves. I told my parents (in the middle of another panic attack - happy new year mum and dad!) and Mrs Stace told her family (who didn't disown me...) and we sort of ticked over.

I started seeing my therapist, who I continued to see until earlier this year, and was adamant that my preferred outcome was to find a way to live with this without transitioning. Obviously that worked well.

The second visit was my first outing as Stacy. I will never forget just how terrified I was, not how great it was to be out and about as me.

In the summer of 2011 I came to the conclusion that I it wasn't going to be an option and I started preparing for the seriously scary idea of becoming Stace in day to day life.

On the morning of 11th December I told my team what was going to happen the following day, then the department and finally the whole company was told. Being a somewhat small company that seemed to be the best way to do it. I got almost nothing but understanding and kind words from the many people who came to see me over the day to talk about it.

And then on the 12th I turned up as Stacy. I was shaking like a leaf when I got there and was waiting for lots of strange stares - that thankfully never happened. I was pleased to hear that there were people who had decided to look out for me when they heard the news: if I came in and they thought that I needed help with clothes / makeup that they would step in to help. Which whilst it could come across the wrong way was really not how it was meant. Even better: they never did :)

As time went on I started to just be me. Not worrying about what other people thought, and not constantly assuming the worst. Life started to get easier, sure there were the standard life problems. As lots of people have written before: transitioning does not magically make life perfect. But it does remove one major issue from it allowing you to concentrate on what life should be.

We tried for a child, and were lucky enough to get a beautiful boy who gives us smiles every day (along with grey hairs!) and watching him grow up is just beyond special.

And now? Well I am busy living my life, and whilst I won't say that life is perfect, or that I have no remaining issues from my GID, it's ticking along OK.

And so... I think that this is the close of my GID blog. It makes me said to say it but as Kermit once said: Life is made up of meetings and partings. I will never forget those people who I met online due to the blog. I would like to say a big thank you to you all!

Will the blog continue, who knows. I expect so. I have not posted that much recently as I have not put the time into it. I have other commitments and I no longer wake up at 5am at the weekends. However, I do really miss it. But what will it become? Who knows. Do I want to mix the transition blog with life, or whatever else I choose to blog about? Who knows. Not me that is for sure!

I have never been very good at crusading for a cause, I prefer to live out of the limelight and so generally keep quiet. Something I do feel quite guilty about because it means I keep this blog and my life separate.

So... There will be another blog coming for non gender musings (walltowallstuff.wordpress.com, though it is empty right now) and for those who are interested in software development my professional blog (stacycashmore.wordpress.com) is still going, though not updated as often as I would like to... Though I plan on cross posting some of the entries here, I am not sure how often I will manage to do that.

The posts from the last few years will remain here. As much for my reminiscing of the good times (and bad) as for the fact that reading the blogs of others helped me amazingly during my journey and I would like to hope that this may do that for others.

Look after yourselves, and I will endeavor to do the same,
Stace

Friday, 4 September 2015

Sploooooosh!

With thanks to Jenna for reminding me!

Before my operation I hid myself away from any situation where I would be uncomfortable. Anything that had me in anything other than skirt or tunic was out. I stopped climbing (the harnesses do kind of 'frame' certain areas of the body...) and stopped swimming.

Once I recovered enough from the operation to actually go swimming I was so excited. I have wanted to take the little guy into the pool since he was old enough to be taken. I went looking for a swimsuit that I thought would look OK on me (as much as swimsuits can look good on anyone outside of the Baywatch cast...) and once I had it waited for a suitable time.

But then... Doubt crept in and totally crippled me from actually going. As I wrote before, the fear of the changing room that I have never been in, followed by the fear of being pointed at in my swim suit, Two years on hormones have been kind to me, but I am still a little flat chested and a padded swimsuit is not the same as a padded bra for helping in that department! That and my not overly defined waist scared me more than I would like to admit after nearly 4 years of living as Stacy.

And I have to say that no matter how exposed I always felt in water shorts, it is nothing compared to how exposed I feel in a swim suit!

This week we had the chance to take the plunge though (yes, pun intended) as Monday was the last day when we both had vacation and we took the little guy to the toddler lesson.

Mission 1: The changing rooms! Actually, thanks to the way that the Dutch handle this more often it was fine. You see you have cubicles to get changed in. That's it. The rest of the space is shared. Well, not strictly true. There was the option of a communal changing room that we used to get the little guy ready, but seeing as the door opened onto the corridor there was no way that either of us was going to get changed in there!

Mission 2: Actually, there was no mission 2. Once I had got into my swim suit and had a little guy to look after any thoughts about being pointed at or how I look just vanished. Making sure he was OK took priority and we got into the pool and had a whale of a time (yup, intended again!).

We took it in turns with him during the lesson, both took him down the giant flume (that I assume was turned down as it was the baby lesson - when I went on my own to check it I had to paddle down as there was not enough water to keep me moving!) and played in the pool until we were told that the time was up. Cubicles again and home with wet hair and no make-up - also a first for me.

Great morning, and I think that once I don't have to dilate every day and have some more time I am going to take lessons to get my swimming certificates. I am self taught in water and think that with the little guy making sure that I really know what I am doing is a good idea. I was worried about looking a fool taking lessons for basics that most children in Holland do when they are three or four years old until I realised that when I am taking the lessons I am going to be in a pool full of people in the same situation as me - ergo there is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Happy holidays, and lots of tears

This is the last week of a three week break from work. I say holiday, but I'm not sure it is the truth as we did not go away...

Three weeks cut off from the office have been somewhat relaxing though. My password expired the day after my last day in the office and, oops, I forgot to reset it! No mail, no remote desktop, no nothing!

The first week were spent with my parents. Them spending a lot of time with their grandson, us all going out for the day to the zoo to Ikea (the closest Ikea to my parents it about 200 miles away from them so they only go when they come here). We all had Swedish meatballs for lunch (the little guy *loves* them) and my parents got the little guy his Christmas present, an Ikea kitchen, after he spent 20 minutes playing with one in their children's department. I can't wait to see him play on it! And yes, we are going to put it together the day before and wrap it built. We're not nasty enough to just give him two Ikea boxes and some tools. Maybe when he's 5... :p

He loved the zoo, especially the aquarium with the sharks swimming overhead. It was a little too long a day for him - he only slept for 50 minutes in his pushchair.

With the garden almost done (we just need a new fence and a real roof on the shed) we spent a lot of time in there. Playing on the grass, with his slide and just watching him have a whale of a time. It's been amazing!

When they had to leave there were tears. I have never liked it when they have to go home - the worst thing about moving to another country - but now it's such a difficult thing to have to do. And the walk back to the car seems so much longer when you are trying to keep yourself composed (and with Schiphol airport being the size that it is that is a long way to try to look like you are not crying!).

But they are home and safe and we are talking on Skype again.

The second week was spent with the three of us going out. Once to a children's theme park, where they have a couple of small rides for kids, lots of fairy tale attractions (gnome forests etc) and a huge playground that he loved. I spent 30 minutes crawling through tunnels with him (why are his knees not as bruised as mine were!) and climbing over obstacles, and pushing the manual carousels round for him. We managed to get him so tired out that our little guy, who spent 9 hours in a car for 6 days in May going to and from Scotland without sleeping more than 50 minutes a day, fell asleep inside 5 minutes of leaving.

Which was a bad thing. Because it meant that he then didn't sleep over the afternoon! :)

This week has just me and the little guy. Yesterday he went to day care again and I spent the day studying AngularJS (guess what I am doing tomorrow again?), but today I kept him home from day care and we went to an indoor playground for the morning. Crawling around the climbing frames with him and playing in the ball pits. He just didn't know where to start and was running here, there and everywhere. I took my shoes off and climbed in with him to help. Just for him of course, I didn't enjoy the climbing through the small gaps and up the frames at all. Nor did I enjoy falling in the ball pits :) Bazinga!

Yesterday, after I melted my brain with AngularJS (6 hours was enough!) I spent a couple of hours watching E.T. again on Bluray. And deafening the neighbours (hey, you have to reproduce the feeling of the cinema!). And crying. A lot. My t-shirt was wet. I always knew that it was a sad film, but seriously these days it's a different level of sadness! Still a great film though, and considering how old it is the special effects still live up well too!

And, of course for a huge fan, I got The Shepherds Crown last week. One day after release (I couldn't get to the book shop on the day it was released). And cried when going though it in the street. The last Discworld book. I'm about 3/4 through it now and it is a great read. Once I pick it up I lose at least 45 minutes at a time.

Well, someone seems to have woken up judging from the noises coming from the monitor so I am going to sign off for now. Three more days of relaxing and then it all starts again!

PS I owe some of you a mail, I promise to get it too you soon!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Another orbit

Well, seeing as I like to be fair in my criticisms and issues I had to share this today.

I got one step closer to  leaving my thirties behind me today and the guys and gals in the office were amazing!

When I got there there was nothing to say anything special was happening, and I am not going to lie but with the issues I have been having recently I went into a self pity dive.

But, whilst serving the cheese and chocolate cake that I had baked to my colleagues someone walked in with a large present and a card. And, yes guys, in answer to your card: OMFG I am that old! :p

The present was a Nicko RC Porche GT 3 Cup. And it doughnuts beautifully on office linoleum floors :) We know, we tried a lot! There was a lot of laughs, and it was great fun!

Then I went back to my desk and found that someone had decorated it whilst I was serving cake and there was no way I was going to log back on for a while.

Awesome, truly awesome and just what I needed!

And then, seeing as there have been requests for the dress, and as I think the juxtaposition of full on 50's swing and modern RC car are fun, her is me with the car at lunch in our school playground :)


A great start at home with presents from the little guy and a wonderful card that he coloured in himself followed by this has made the day amazing. One of my best birthdays in a while.

Right, time for a rest, I'm too old for all of this excitement!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sexism

I'm having a bit of a tough time right now.

Since I transitioned nearly 4 years ago (time flies!) I have been the target of some pretty outright sexism. I think that I have documented the cases here pretty well but it boils down to troglodyte car salesmen, computer bits salesmen and IT Services salesmen (Hey! There is a pattern there!)

All of them annoying, but also all of them are quite easy to put out of my mind once I have ranted a little about it.

Recently though I've been struggling a lot with smaller, less intense slights. Whilst in the face of it these are less intense than the ones documented above they are really, really wearing me down to the point where I'm on the verge of tears and physically exhausted from the stress of it all.

A couple of examples of this are:

  • When dealing with a stressful situation if I show any emotion at all then I get told to grow thicker skin
  • My opinion now counts for much less than it used to. There have been repeated instances recently where I have said something to be told it's nothing and then someone else repeats what I say and suddenly it's an amazing idea that needs doing. And I do mean repeats. Word for word almost (I am not blaming the person saying it a second time, sometimes they are not there the first time).
  • Being told that I am over dramatising everything

I was speaking to a female colleague about this, and they asked why I was getting worked up over something that had happened (involving themselves). I explained why I was angry and she simply said 'Oh, I just filter that out these days - you learn to after a while.'

My therapist made a very good point when I was discussing this with him (we did go into it in a lot more detail than I can go into here, but was a lot more helpful than I am about to make it out):

Well, look at the silver lining. They obviously accept you as a woman. 


Looking around at the moment I can really see that is true. I do work in an incredibly sexist industry (though I have no idea if it is more or less sexist than others as I have no frame of reference). As Terry Pratchett wrote in one of his Sam Vines books:

You can be any gender you like as long as you are one of the guys.


Sometimes I can really see that. What I can't see is any way of changing it, nor at the moment of dealing with it. After all, this isn't some forum full of trolls on-line that, though you shouldn't have to, you can remove yourself from. This is real life and happening daily.

PS There is no point to this post. This is more about me letting off a little steam than looking for pity. I knew that this could and probably would happen (though was not expecting it from the people I have it from). I do find myself wondering if people in our position notice it more though. Both due to the lack of social conditioning / defences which are built throughout life and because we can really see how people deal with us differently...