Thursday, 24 June 2010

Life CV

Well my life CV has just been sent off to my therapist in preparation for my next session.

Was everything there?  Probably not.  But I could go back and rewrite it hundreds of times I think without remembering everything.

It is however one of the most honest and open things I have ever written.  There were tears of hapiness in my eyes from the good times, my wedding day for one, from the bad a sort of detached 'god I hated that time' but nothing more.  I still have to decide if I not getting upset is a good thing, of if the detachment is a bad thing...

My life in 16 pages and 10000 words...

Don't get scared if I don't update for a week or so - I am not going to be able to blog for a week or so!

Monday, 21 June 2010

You may want to run that through your head one more time...

I called my dad for fathers day yesterday.  Normally I send a card, but they were all a bit naff so I left it this year.  We had a good chat about the state of the garage (almost ready for the Spit now with doors, electricity, a work bench and a compressor on the way - my parents spoil me, even if I have paid for half the building work to be done), his car, my car, my bike.  It was fun, not a single reference to my GID - which makes a pleasent change.  Not that he has an issue, or that I object to talking about it with them, I just want to make sure that it doesn't define my relationship with my parents.

I spoke to mum as well.  We were talking about how since hy dad has had his heart attack you can tell when he's tired due to changes in his eyes.  Apparently a friends of theirs have the same thing - he had a stroke, has recovered since thankfully, but one of his eyes now closes when he gets tired.  So she said to me 'you men, you think you can hide things from us women - but we know!'.  I answered with 'you may want to run that through you head one more time'  At which point she burst out laughing and asked if I could tell when Mrs Stace was telling a little fib (I can). Totally going against what I said about talking to my dad, but I think it needed saying :)

Sunday, 20 June 2010


I finally managed to remember what I was planning on writing yesterday! It suddenly came back to me :)

I'm busy at the moment writing my Life CV for my next trip to the therapist. It's amazing how you can sit staring at a blank Word document thinking what on earth can I put into this, then once you get going memories start to come flooding back, you jump from one to another and suddenly you have 8 pages, 5000 words and are only half way through.

There are a lot of things that I had forgotton about, to be honest I am not sure I'm happy that I remembered most of them - or the fact that those that were the worst memories, that really took me to low points in my life, *still* didn't make me cry. I started to well up once or twice, but for the rest it just felt... Clinical and detachted. Maybe I'll bring that up with him when we discuss it...

But... There were happy times as well, lots of them in fact. We were watching Mock The Week and one of the panelists mentioned Rainbow (a British childrens TV program, that I used to watch when very small). Mrs Stace (being Dutch and not having ITV) looked at me as if to say what are they talking about so I searched for it on You Tube. She saw a clap and now thinks all brits are insane I think (A talking pink hippo, a bear and whatever Zippy is (beyond annoying) I have no idea why she'd think that... But... It got worse. In the related videos was "Button Moon" - something I was addicted too pre-school. And from there I went to link, to link, to link :)

Excuse the overkill of YouTube vids here...

Button Moon

The Trap Door

Count Duckula (David Jason was great in kids cartoons)

Danger Mouse (See what I mean :) )

And of course... Mr Ben

Thankyou for joining me on this happy trip through my childhood :)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Damn My Memory

You know I knew exactly what was going to go into this blog yesterday, now poof it's gone...

Oh well, if I remember I'll have something to post tomorrow...

Something that did happen yesterday...  I was at a leadership meeting, all team leads getting together to discuss how implementation of new core values is going (within IT it's not we're fairly autonomous as it is...)

The meeting went well, much better than I was expecting actually, when we had our group exercise the CEO stayed in our room to check his mails.  We got the most important part of the exercise completed and started a different discussion.  At this point the CEO finished his mails and came over and joined in.  This is something that I love about the company - you can say what you want to the management and they will listen to you.  Doesn't always change anything, but they listen to your concerns at least and where possible do something.

The question of what we need to change in the way we work came up.  I was with someone from the banking business unit, from the car insurance business unit and the life insurance business unit.  What I need for IT is different to what they need.  So I stole the conversation a little and said what need purely from an IT point of view.  I need more freedom from upper management, more trust from upper management and less interference from them.  When I give a finger in the air estimation that is exactly what is - don't press me for a detailed breakdown when I have nothing more than a cigarette packet pre spec.  This was we can work with the business in making our site better, and not just spend weeks getting solid estimates for the details sorted.

He took it well, and this is something that is going to change I think - I was backed up by the people from the business in the same group that they find it very useful when we do this, we can come up with solutions that that don't think off as we have a little more distance.

Anyway that was good, but what happened after was much better.

I don't do well in groups; I shrink into the background and keep quiet.  I was starting to do that a little yesterday when two of the women I was working with started to talk about books, that is a conversation I can get into easily (though didn't have the guts to join in the chick-lit conversation as emphatically, damn my self confidence :p ) and we got chatting.  It was great, and I have to say I let go a little (seeing as the assumption in the office is that I am closet gay I don't see the point in trying hard to hide any more, *if* I am enjoying myself...).  Then suddenly everyone noticed that I was doing the conversation in Dutch and another conversation got going about a) me speaking too much English in the office when my Dutch is good enough, and b) the issues facing the call centre trying to decipher English being spoken by both sides of the conversation when neither side speaks it natively.  I found that strange - the site is completely Dutch, if you can close an insurance policy on it then you must have some idea of the language...

To finish the day off I decided to be a little assertive.  I was tired, and my IBS has been giving me grief for a couple of days so didn't want to stay late.  When I leave I normally wait until someone else has already gone (hate being the first to leave) and try to sneak out without being noticed.  Yesterday I made myself say goodbye to everyone before leaving, when I was ready - meaning I was the first.  It was hard - but it felt good to actually have people see me for a change...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Too much of a petrol head...

I'm a petrol head (though the Top Gear wouldn't agree - never owned an Alpha and not likely to...).  I am not ashamed at this.  But this morning I am finding out that you can go too far, and am still paying the price...

Filling the bike up with feul the rubber hose spring suddenly sprang having the effect of both ripping the nozzle out of the tank, and forcing the lever into my hand spraying fuel all over my bike.

Ten minutes of rinsing the bike down I noticed that my nice, new, expensive, red and white Dianese gloves were also damp.  So much for keeping them looking good as long as posible :(

So now I am sitting at my desk stinking of petrol.  Feel sorry for those I work with - it's an open office :)


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Adventures in Epilating, and other stuff

I've been using my epilator for about a month now - so far so good.  I need to spend serious time doing it every three weeks or so, and a bit of maintenance (5 / 10 mins) once a week.  I'm really happy with my arms - the hair their is growing back much softer than before (it seems to take a while to get thick, black and noticable) so I don't have to do those as often.

The pain has recinded somewhat after that first, painful time - on my shins I hardly feel it anymore and it's no worse than shaving.  Thighs still hurt, though not as eye watering as before.

Things that I have done wrong though:
  • I didn't exfoliate enough and had lots of ingrowing hair.  That was painful to sort out, but seems to be fine now.
  • You can cause injury with an epilator if you get it wrong - the scab on my wrist shows that :)

Still soo much better than shaving though - lasts longer, is smother and my arms are not so much as hair free now as looking more natural (as Mrs Stace said when I shaved my arms - women have hair on their arms - it's nice to have, just not the thick black hair...)

Other stuff?  Two things spring to mind.

I have my yearly review this week and got the info last night.  I'm impressed.  Better than average.  Personally I would break my last year down as July-Dec good, Dec-April terrible, May to now slightly down on good.  But it seems that I did enough to keep the business, and my boss, impressed.  I guess what I am doing is good - I just feel I should be doing more of it.

The other is bike related.  I was by bike to my sister in laws yesterday, and was changing into my leather before leaving.  She commented that the leathers are very manly, and would I be changing them if I transitioned.

I said not.  I have two reasons for this.  One is that a good set of leathers is well into 4 figures and I am not going to throw them out until they are no longer keeing me safe.  The other, possibly more important, reason is that you can't get good quality leathers for women.  I have top of the line 2 piece Dainese leathers, with titanium sliders on the shoulder and elbows.  For women they have some nice looking leathers, but nothing with the level of protection that mine have.  I couldn't think about changing for something that offers less protection than I have now so I have little choice in the matter.

See what is available should the time come I suppose.

Right, time to do more of that work that I mentioned :)

Monday, 14 June 2010

World Cup Fever

Well the world cup is here, and insanity rules.

England managed to scew up royally in the first match, and I have watched more football over the last few days than I managed in the last few years.

And that is only down to the fact that Mrs Stace likes to watch the world cup.

It was estimated that 25% of the Dutch workforce will throw a sicky today in order to watch Hollands first match this afternoon.  There have been articles in the papers complaining that companies refuse to let them watch the world cup on company time.  It's insane.  Are you there to work or not?

At the company I work for they are very flexible - a lot of rooms have televisions in them in case people want to watch (people brought spare TV's from home).  The only things they ask are that you make the time up should you watch the match and that you don't interefere with the work of those who don't want to watch.

The canteen has also been turned into the WK Kamer for whenever there is a Dutch match on - and is suitably orange at the moment.  Many rooms are also blaze with orane bunting and flags (the ones with the tele's mainly).  Most people are walking around with Orange clothes on (including senior management).  It's a great sight to see, even for a non supporter like myself - and I think it's one of the things that make it such a nice company to work for...

Woe betide anyone who mentions football the day after the Ducth squad go out of the competition though - the Dutch have no time for a team that does not win and all the bunting in the street will be gone within 30 mins of the final whistle of the final game (and from the offices within 10 mins of people arriving the day after!)

Friday, 11 June 2010

One Hundred

Almost one year ago I started a blog with the idea of it being a bit of an outlet with no idea if it would keep updating it past the 2 or three 3 week mark.  Over the year the blog has morphed into something of a diary, and my life has morphed into something beyond recognition!  Some of it good, some of it bad - and with no clear direction at this time.

Who knows what the future will bring, or where I'll be in another 100 posts time? Let's just hope there are good times along the way...

For now though I think this picture that I managed to grab at the 2009 Assen TT says it well :)

And of course - gell well soon Doctor; we miss you!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

That was good...

I had my first therapy session today, and I have to say it went fantastically.

There was an iffy start with the traffic (travelling into Amsterdam, by car, in rush hour is just not fun).  At one point I had managed 3 mins of the journey, a distance of 2 miles in 15 minutes of traffic.  At that point I started to worry that I would not make it on time.

Then there was parking once I was in Amsterdam.  I found a space on a side street, and then searched for the machine to buy a parking ticket.  Once found (why do they hide these!) I had to buy a ticket - no mean feat on mondern machines.  If you had a voluntary user interface nobody would ever use it.

Anyway I digress.  I got to the building, was let in had a coffee and we sat down and we started. He went though what I can expect from the VU when I eventually start there, and why I can expect it (all the psychology tests etc).

From there we started to speak about me.  I think the most important thing is that we clicked.  In almost no time the hour was up and we were making the next appointment.  And even stranger, and to show how relaxed I was, the whole session was in Dutch - with the exception of one sentence that I didn't know

The next appointment is going to be a little more difficult as it's going to get more personal.  But I am not too nervous.

Yet :)

I've been flying high all afternoon though and am just trying to stay there at the moment.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


In 12 short hours I'll be driving to Amsterdam, trying to avoid (hah) the rush hour traffic and searching valiently for somewhere to park (bigger hah).

Then in just under 13 hours I'll have my first session with the psychologist (not counting the screening at the VU).  As yet I am stil not scared, starting to get a little nervous maybe, but not scared.

I think coupled to actually making some decisions at the weekend this can be called something approaching to progress.

Or I could just be kidding myself and spend most of the night awake...  You never know.

Well back to watching the outcome of the Dutch elections (which I can legitimately complain about as I don't get to vote as a buitenlander).


Sunday, 6 June 2010

Pulling at the threads...

Going on from my post yesterday:

The comments played on my mind throughout the night – did I word my thoughts badly (serious possibility, I am not the best writer in the word and struggle to get thoughts from my head onto paper), or am I being naive and foolish; or somewhere in the middle.

About the diagnosis from the VU, let’s see if I can get this coherently out of my head.  I know what I am, and I *think* I know what I need to do to move forward with my.  But this is a life changing decision – and if it’s not the right one I am going to be in so much more trouble than I already am at present.  Ergo I will listen to what is said during the diagnostic phase at the VU, but I am not just going to transition because the doctors tell me too.  I think I have worded my decision the wrong way around though - maybe because I am afraid of the impact of the other wording or maybe because I am still thinking everything through.

From what I understood at the open information evening the diagnosis is only a part of the decision from the VU on whether it’s a good idea to go forward.  There is also the consideration of your personality type, psychological strength and ability to deal with the fall out of transition.  If they believe that you are not going to be able to cope with life after transition they tell you.

With that in mind I think that this is more accurate: If the VU tell me they feel I do not have what it takes to cope then I will listen to them, they don’t just close the door and leave you to struggle, they open doors to other therapy to help you.  If they tell me that they think I will be able to cope and that it would be a good idea to transition then I may go down that route.

Hopefully over the course of the next 12 months, with the therapy that starts this week and with the VU, whenever that starts, I can join the dots in my head and know what the right path is.  I am not going to rush into anything blindly.

As for telling my company (my boss and HR), I guess that there are a few reasons. 

First and foremost my performance has been awful for the last 6 months.  60% of what I can do at best.  I love my job, it’s the only job I have had where after 2 years I didn’t feel the need to get out and where I have lasted longer than 2 ½ years (just had my 4 year anniversary in fact).  When waking up at 5:40 every morning the only thing that makes me groan is the fact that it is 5:40, not that I have to go to work.  I would rather that they know why I am performing badly at the moment, than guess at reasons that would not look good for me on my yearly review.

I’d never thought of it as testing the waters to gauge the reaction, but I guess there is an element of truth there as well I guess.   And yes it is a great company to work for – on all counts.

Melissa noted that my colleagues have suspicions and still seem like me.  I had not thought of it that way since I heard the information on Friday night.  Thanks – that has helped me a lot :)

To be honest there is another reason I have told more people now:  I’ve grown tired of hiding.  When someone is asking you seriously what’s wrong and you can’t tell them it just adds to the weight of the problem in my mind, I spiral a little bit further down, and the person asking see’s that I am being cagey and they get either more concerned – which doesn’t help me at all.

Plus I am an ex-pat.  I have two groups of people that I know: in laws and (ex) colleagues.  The colleagues that I have told (with the exception of HR) are the ones that I also see outside of work, which I invite to my yearly summer BBQ.  If I start to transition outside of work those that know about it will be my colleagues.  Those who I trust and who I speak to when I am having issues are my colleagues.  It’s difficult to separate the two unfortunately.  When I was in the UK it was quite a different situation.  I saw my colleagues 9 till 5, Monday to Friday.  I saw my friends in the evening.  I think that’s a very different dynamic to what I have now.  How much of an excuse or how valid that is I am not sure.

I am not sure that is as coherent as I was aiming for, but it felt good to write it down and work it though it in my head.  Thanks to everyone who commented yesterday, thanks for both the support and the questions that have continued to make me think about what I am doing and feeling.

And thanks for caring enough to spend the time writing them.


Saturday, 5 June 2010


Wow, a lot has happened this week...  And I am not sure what to make of it all.

Chrissie left a comment last week saying 'the cover is wearing thin'.  I think that is quite a correct interpretation of where I am at present.  I am tired of lying to people and trying to cover my tracks.  I’m finding it more and more difficult to cover up my mannerisms and having to try and be careful all of the time.  And that fact has led to a few situations this week...

Mrs Stace and I had a few chats last weekend.  I can't remember what I was talking about but I said something that when played back in my head came out quite differently that I meant it.

"That's not my way of telling you I am going to transition"
"The writings on the wall, it's been there for a while"
"Maybe you are right...  But that's still not my way of telling you I'm going to transition"

That was on my mind for the rest of the day, and I was getting a little worked up.  Later in the day (well actually at night after we had gone to bed) I told her that if the VU say that they feel transitioning would be the best thing for my mental health I probably will.  Obviously with what she was saying earlier in the day it was not a shock for her.  But it is something else that she has to deal with.

I told the people in the office that know (a couple of colleagues and my boss) and they all came out with variations on the same sentence.  ‘Kind of assumed you would.’  And I decided to get the HR woman involved – she knows that something is going on, but not what.  We went for a long walk and I told her everything.  She was great, really supportive and told me it would not affect my job in any way – and was shocked that I thought people were going to react badly, pointing out that The Netherlands is quite an open country, and that the company (as in employees) is very open and that whilst we have our share of manly men Alpha Males, that she feels even they would accept it should I decide to transition next year, and commented that it’s nice to think that the IT dept has more women in it.

She also commented that people (read women in the office) thought I was quite a feminine man and so wouldn’t necessarily be surprised. That surprised me as I rather naively thought I still put on a reasonable act.  Guess not...  Asking what she could do to help I gave my normal answer “react the way you reacted and don’t feel sorry for me”.

The differences between the way men and women see things is odd though.  I told my boss that I had spoken to HR and let them know what was going on.  I told him about the feminine man comment and he didn’t see it at all.  When I told Mrs Stace she said ‘well yes, what do you expect?’  Interesting

Last night things got a little intense.  We have a foosball table in the IT department, but with a change in the way out building is used we lost the space where we could use it to during the day.  Seeing as it’s something we all used to enjoy I arranged a foosball evening for those interested.  As is the way of these things it started with lots of enthusiasm, people chasing me up for dates etc and ended up with 6 of us (from a group of nearly 30).  The idea was beer, pizza and foosball.

When it came to ordering the pizza someone though it was a good idea to go to a restaurant instead of ordering in, we rang and got a table and went on our way. We were all having a good time, those who lived close to the office arranged to meet their other halves there and we were all having a light hearted go at each other’s nationality (Dutch, French, English and Indian) when suddenly there was this weird noise coming from next to me.  One of my colleagues started to choke most of the group froze, and I checked that he was actually chocking and then started whacking him on his back, and was trying to remember how to do the Heimlich manoeuvre.   Thankfully the whacks were enough and he sat back in his seat.  I just couldn’t get over it though and at the point when one of the wives asked if I was OK just had to get out of the restaurant.

Now the reason why it hit me so hard is that 20 years ago (more or less) I was chocked on a piece of bacon and my lips were turning blue and I was passing out before my dad managed to remove it.  That is something that I just can’t get over – eating bacon still frightens me and everytime I hear what sounds like someone choking I go into panic mode.

The guy that was choking came out to see if I was OK, by which time I was in tears collapsed against the wall outside the restaurant.  He came out to ask how I was doing, we went for a walk to try and calm me down.  And I ended up telling him both reasons why I was so emotional at that point.  He took it well, and was not totally surprised.  He confirmed that people had noticed something about me, and that someone commented that they would not be surprised if I was gay.

This got me thinking...  If people already think that I think I would rather they knew the truth - I don’t think it’s something I am going to do, but I guess it’s something to speak to my therapist about when I start (first session Thursday morning BTW - woohoo).

Oh well time for a skate whilst the weather is good I think.