Sunday, 31 October 2010

Inytroducing Stacy to my parents

Well the clocks have gone back and I am now up even earlier than normal...  On the bright side it gives me a chance to write this…

First an apology, between having my parents here and trying to get my DTR laptop working I’ve read nothing in the past half week.  I think it’s going to be a while before I get up to date again.  So sorry if it seems I am being quiet.  Trust me when trying to get the computer working I’m not :)

It’s been great having my folks here.  We’ve just spent time relaxing and chatting, a few trips shopping (Ikea etc.) and watching some films.  I went for a walk yesterday with my dad around the lake behind the house.  It was a nice afternoon, warmish and sunny, and we chatted about all things petrol (my Spitfire, my bikes, the bikes that he used to ride – and the differences between riding a bike from his youth against the sort of machines I ride).  Then we had a chat about how they are coping with what I am going through.  Dad just has no idea – either of what the future holds or what he can do to help.  Mum is still blaming herself, thinking that she must have done something in order to cause it.  Dad and I are trying to tell her that she shouldn’t be blaming herself, but I guess that is just going to take time.

Dad said that he just a saw a big black hole, and that was why he hasn’t spoken to anyone (something mum and I are trying to get him to do) – because he would not know what to say.  I know that he was concerned that I was going to be some TV drag queen, and I said that maybe when I was showing mum one of my outfits the last time we went to see them that we should have got dad in there as well.  By this time we had stopped walking and were sitting on a terrace looking out over the lake, but the chill was coming and being a mechanic for coming up got half a decade has made him quite susceptible to the cold so we started for home.

Yesterday evening I had planned on introducing my parents to Stacy.  I went upstairs to get changed and stabbed myself in both eyes with mascara I was shaking so much.  It took me an hour or so to get changed and then I very nervously came down stairs.

The reaction that I got was not the one I was expecting.  They had both said expect us to be shocked and confused when we first see you – but don’t worry about us leaving you; just give us time.

What I got was my mum rushing over to me saying that I looked great – which caused me to start crying, which caused her to start crying and blaming herself again.  And a long three way hug with her and my dad (which set him off as well).  My dad said that I looked his sister when she was younger, and my mum thinks I look like a thinner version of her from when she was younger.  They both said that I looked better as Stacy than I do in day to day; and then made great pains to point out that they were not saying anything about how I looked normally.  Mum said that she really see’s now that I should have been born a girl.

I spent the evening as Stacy, we ate (with my mum constantly telling me to be careful about spilling fat on my skirt) watched a film (Up – we cried again).  I had a few chats with my mum though out the night, one thing that she said a few time is that she was surprised how natural it felt speaking to me as Stacy.

When we went to bed, Mrs Stace and mum had gone up leaving dad and me taking in the kitchen whilst making drinks, he said again about me looking like his sister from when she was younger and told me that he was proud of me for getting changed – and said that it must have taken some guts to do.

Well that’s me up to date now, everyone else is still in bed, and I’m have to finish off reinstalling the other laptop (that’s been running whilst I wrote this).


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Deep Cleaning

Well that was a busy week...  We are getting ready for my parents visit (they arrive this week) so that means a deep clean of the house from the attic down to the living room.  The garden is currently full of old furniture and belongings, waiting to be taken to the tip once we can get a trailer organised (there is too much to throw into the back of the car – even a Volvo estate :p).

I decided to use this as an excuse to really empty the attic.  Anything that has not been used since we moved into the house 5 ½ years ago, or anything that has been superseded by newer gadgets has gone.  I found the carpet again (I’d not seen that for a while) and the space looks huge now (at half emptied) whereas before it looked tiny and you had to climb over everything to get to anything.  It got quite painful at times.  I am still suffering from the after effects thought.  The amount of dust in an attic is amazing and even after a night’s sleep I’m still sneezing and blowing my nose every few seconds.

The cat hates me as well.  The attic is his place – he hides there when he wants to get away from it all, and sleeps there.  Cats hate change, and it’s totally different now.  I got some nasty looks from him yesterday!

I’ve also found a lot of tools that I thought I’d lost.  I have to inventorize what I have left now, and figure out what I’ve lost over the last couple of years and what I need to buy again...

I had another appointment with the therapists this week.  I actually managed to almost remember everything this week – just forgot my ear rings, no big deal there.  He had a slot free at 6 this week so I didn’t have to miss any time from work.  However, the amount of stress that it delivers just isn’t worth it – instead of a couple of spots where you slow down I stopped completely on the motorway and took twice as long as normal to get there.  I’d given myself 30 minutes extra and was still 5 minutes late...  I’ve gone back to 5 o’clock appointments now – sure I have to make up another hour at work but at least I am stress free for the start of the appointment.

It was a good trip though, and I have really started to build my confidence.  Just as I was about to leave my friends flat, where I get changed, he had a knock on the door.  KPN (telephone company) bringing the tech required to get his fibre connection working.  My first thought was to panic, but after a couple of seconds I calmed down, picked up my bags and walked to the car.  It was fine, and I am certainly getting more confident being around people.

And it was a great appointment this week.  I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but it was a very uplifting and reassuring session.  In short according to my therapist I have to stop being quite so nice (apparently I’m too English – go figure), I have to start using more extreme language (not swearing, but stop with using ‘Interesting’, ‘fun’ and ‘a bit difficult’ when I mean terrible, awful, wonderful, fantastic etc).  The other thing that he has said is that I must start to take credit for things.  I call myself lucky, not for having GD, but for having the life I have.   He has told me that I should stop saying lucky (it plays a part, but is not the be all and end all) and start looking at what I have done to get here throughout my life.

OK another days cleaning, and then count the hours till my parent s touch down at Schiphol!  I can’t wait to see them again, talking on the phone just isn’t the same...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A very powerful video

I just came from visiting Jerica's blog, reading her new entry and watching the video link.  I don't think anything I have seen online has affected me as much as this video did.  The tears are still flowing, normally I only occasionally get wet eyed.

The link is here.

All I can think of is how lucky I am to have had parents that supported me when I did get bullied at school, and how they are supporting me now.  And how easily life could have been so different.


Sunday, 17 October 2010

First support meeting

Well, back from the first meeting.  It was a lot to take in, and to be honest I’m still processing it through my head.  But on the whole it was positive – and I’ll be going back next month.

I was late leaving, forgot to get cash for drinks during the afternoon, and struggled with my hair.  Mrs Stace came with me to the local shops to get me some money and then she walked home (it was close to home, and good weather I hasten to add!) – I’m not quite ready to walk into a shopping centre and get cash just yet.

Then I had to go 10KM out of my way due to the Amsterdam Marathon that was taking place today, and drive down lots of horrible small streets crawling with tourists and cyclists...  I was in need of a drink when I got there, and I couldn’t have anything as I had to drive back afterwards!

But there were a few questions (which I was asked by more than one person at various points of the afternoon) that I am taking as very positive.  I think.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  I don’t know – as I say I’m still processing.

The questions:
  • When did you have your operation?
  • How long have you been on hormones?

The fact that I still haven’t decided *if* I’m going to transition I’m taking this as very positive.  Especially as I don’t wear a wig or forms...

Quite happy.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Quick post again... But happy.

Quick post… Been busy and have a busy weekend coming up…

Last night I had another chat with my parents. They are coming to visit soon and they want to meet Stacy. That makes me so nervous. They have said that I should expect some shock, and have to give them some time to get used to it, but it would help them both to meet the real me. I think that my dad is struggling somewhat. He’s still ultra-supportive, and has said that even if they are shocked I am not to worry as they will be there for me no matter what as long as they are alive (I’m trying to figure out when my parents got the age where they started to put that in as a proviso, it makes me uncomfortable I have to say… But seeing as they want to meet Stace who am I to complain about making someone uncomfortable?), but I think it’s harder for him to get his head around the idea than my mum, who said last night she is looking on this as a positive thing. Almost in her words: she had the blessing a son for 34 years and now has a daughter as well. She has even packed me some high quality mascara as a present. I would have smiled but was stressing about what they are going to think when I come down stairs in a skirt, makeup and with my hair up.

The busy weekend is trying to install TFS 2010 for a friend (an ex colleague) at his new company. For some reason they think that I am an expert (even after I’ve told them I am not) and have asked for my help. My boss is happy to let me do it, and as I will be installing it here early next year it gives me some practice... Fingers crossed that it goes well…

And finally… On Sunday I am finally going to a support group meeting in Amsterdam. It’s something that I have been procrastinating about for months now, but this week I finally worked up the courage to send the mail to the coordinator and so will be on my way. I haven’t decided whether I’ll be going as Stace yet… Another ‘Gulp’ moment…

Sunday, 10 October 2010

San Frutosso - another Italy hholiday blog

Well my muse is still missing, and my thoughts are still swirling a little, so I thought that I would go get part 3 of the travelogue finished instead...

For the second day trip we took a boat ride to San Frutosso – a small monastery (well ex monastery) that is only accessible by boat, or by walking for hours though small cliff paths.  We got to the dock and, unlike two days earlier when we went to check the times and prices, it was absolutely packed.

We brought the ticket and got on the boat.  We were both clicking pictures as we pulled out of port, the hotel as seen from the water, the churches on the top of the cliff, medieval defences along the coast, and WW2 defences that now look more like abandoned houses from most angles.  Then as you come around a little peninsula sticking in to the Mediterranean you see a few small buildings and a large defence tower.  When you come into the harbour you begin to wonder where on earth the boat is going to dock – there is a small beach and nothing else, and there are people on the beach.  Well the boat docks within a few meters of where people are swimming.  Must make for lovely swimming water...

As the monastery s built at the bottom of some rugged rocks you have to walk a very roundabout way in order to get to where you are going.  Up some steps, under a building, out in the sun again, own some steps look across a small bit of water and realise that you are maybe 10 meters from where you started after a few minutes walking :)

When you first arrive it seems that there is nothing there except for a few buildings.  Then when you take another look there are small cafes and restaurants dotted all around.  The small beach is absolutely packed – and 50% of it is set aside as a beach club.  And there are almost no signs for the entrance to the monastery at all.  We pick our way through the people on the beach, and start to climb the cliff that seems to be the only way to the entrance.  And walk through another cafe that is also cut into the side of the cliff on the way.

Now, I consider myself fairly fit – I run 4 miles, 2 or 3 times a week without getting overly out of breath, but after just a couple of flights of steps we are above the buildings and both Mrs Stace and I were in need of oxygen...

We finally managed to find the entrance hidden away down various small paths; again though, only 30 meters of so away from where you get off of the boat – but about 500m of walking along cliff paths.  Pay to get in and get asked about my camera.  If you want to take photos then you need a photographer’s license.  OK, which means?  Another 5 euro’s per person that wants to take pictures.  OK then pay up the extra and get a lovely orange sticker for my t-shirt in return.

The first room is dedicated to the history of the monastery; there are several stories about how it was founded.  The basics are that a Spanish group of bishops were fleeing persecution and found this small natural harbour that was well protected.

The questions seem to be when they fled.  Some stories say they fled at the time, some claim that the remains of Frutosso were taken there three centuries after his death.

I have to say there was not that much to actually use the camera for inside, so I played with it a little, and managed to get the basis for some HDR shots that I want to try and work though when I get the right software.

We spent a couple of hours walking round the building, very interesting to see, but I think less so to describe here :)

Afterwards we went for a coffee at the cafe we walked through earlier and walked up to the  large defence tower that one of the noble families built in the 14th or 15th century, and then decided to see if we could eat before the next boat home.  We picked what looked like a nice beach front cafe and waited for a table to come free.  Whilst waiting we looked what was under the arches at the front of the monastery.  And found that the 500m walk and climb was most definitely the long way as one of the arches had a gap that went to the rear courtyard.  Oh well, good exercise anyway...

We got a table, ordered and waited for the food.  And then noticed how it was delivered.  The cafe itself was just some covered decking on the beach front.  The actual kitchen was on the top floor of the building behind and the food came down on a rope pulley system.

The food was, as every meal was this time, fantastic.  Except for the wasps and strange yellow and black things (looked like an oversize spindly wasp, looking online it may be a yellow jacket – assuming you get those in Europe).

I was amazed at the amount of wasps and hornets that were around for the whole vacation actually. For someone who does not do well with those things (not allergic, and to be honest wasp stings are not as painful as the used to be – but I am still terrified of the things...) it did mean that it took the edge off of a few moments when trying to relax in the heat...

On the way out we tried to see if we could find the status of Jesus in the water.  I don’t know the complete story behind it, but there is a statue beneath the waves that you can see if the water is clear.  Not knowing where to look though made it (too) difficult to find.

Anyway, to end here are some shots of the day :)

The monastary when arriving on boat

The monastaries capella

Another shot when arriving

How to moor a boat on a beach :)

Towards the end of the day the clouds came down and the mountains dissapeared
First attempt at a HDR image using some free software - played with it for a couple of minutes - there are two photo's here, one with the outside world being the meter point for the light, and one with the inside being the meter point.

Christ of the Abyss
The submerged statue (no I didn't get this shot - linked from StellaStyles on Flickr)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Recovery... :)

Hmm, my muse seems to be on strike again.  All through the week I’ve known exactly what I wanted to put into the next post, and yet each time I actually had 5 minutes to get something down in Word I find that my head has emptied totally...

The last week has been an interesting one.  On one hand I’ve been coming down gently from my trip out last week.  On the other hand I’ve hit the ground with a bump.  A contradiction I know – but there is just no other way that I can put it.

I was a great night, followed by a terrible weekend – I’ve never been a person that can survive on little sleep, and staying up for 22 hours, followed by 4 hours sleep just does not make me a healthy person.  Lots of sleep, and zero alcohol managed to aid a decent level of recovery.

Work has been too busy – the stress of not knowing what to do next, as opposed the stress of just knowing that something has to be done.  I didn’t help that I was constantly being given conflicting information / instructions from management.  Too many people working on the same solution; Thursday was particularly bad with a one hour meeting that ended with senior management seeing that path forward and telling us what we should have been doing.  Turns out this path forward is what I and other techies have been saying for a few years...  So annoying.

But, I digress.  The bumps were something that I was semi-expecting, but had not seen coming in the first 48 hours or so.  Mrs Stace went with her mother to see Tosca on Tuesday evening (I’m so jealous about that – I’d love to see that live) and it ended very late.  So she stayed with her parents as they are closer to the opera house, and to where Mrs Stace works.  I went to my normal Tuesday appointment at my in laws and then came home to an empty house.  No panicking ala Ikea a couple of weeks ago, just an empty house.  I hate being away from Mrs Stace – I’m possibly a little to clingy in that respect.  Anyway, I sat down and watched some TV before going to bed – and that’s where it got a little bad.  There is a phrase that I’ve seen around in various blogs that just about hit the point perfectly.  Girl envy.  In one of the programs was an actress that had the hair I would love, and was wearing the fashion of my choice.  And that will never be me - I will never be able to pull that look off.  Even *if* I transitioned, a couple decades of the effects of testosterone, whilst not doing as much damage as they could, have certainly done enough...  There were tears and I didn’t go to bed particularly happily.

That has then been the pattern for the week really, still really happy about the night out.  But with patches of real envy throughout the week.

Here’s hoping the next week just keeps the more positive side of things :)  (Please don't get me wrong - it's been a good week, just with periods of being brought down with a bump, before bouncing back up)

Oh yes, one last thing. In reply to my last post there were a few interesting comments, and I think I’m going to answer them in more detail – but I’m going to make sure that I think about that reply and not quickly type something up. Eigenlijk that was the subject that I had in my head before the muse decided to depart me at the point where I could write something...