Saturday, 31 July 2010

Guest posts and the darker side of Team Lead life...

Last night before going to bed I got a mail from Calie saying that the guest post she asked me to write had been published.  For those interested you can find it here.  I'd like to thank Calie for inviting me to write it, it was a good look back at things, and was a post that I really made me think about things whilst I was busy with it.

I'd also like to thank her for the wonderful introduction :)

Outside of the post it's been an interesting end to my week.  I've been busy fighting an XML import at work, and after spending twice as long as I had originally planned on doing it, I was starting to lose concentration.  I almost made the mistake of blaming my lack of motivation on my GD which has flared recently, but honestly I think I was just sick of it.  Thankfully it's done now (or should that be 'for now' the results still have to be verfied by the business) and I'm onto something more interesting again.

The week ended on a downer.  Although I am Team Lead / Project Manager I am lucky in that I work with a very professional team and I generally only need to keep thinking ticking along, and making sure that the projets in the pipeline are in the right state at the right time, and that people think about things outside of development (like deploying code which most people forget about) to make sure that timelines are correct.

This week ended differently.  Someone who works for me has recenty got another job, and is currently working his notice.  I actually think this is a good thing, he needs a change - you can see it in him - and it should revitalise him if he goes at it with the right attitude.  The problem that I have is that he has zero motivation at present (something I don't really understand, he quit, he wasn't fired - and when I have left a job on my own accord I've always remained professional till my last day and made sure that everything was in a good state when I left for my leaving party).

He's been ill this week, which isn't his fault, but he has not helped himself either by spending hours just staring at his screens.  On Friday I was forced to do something that felt awful.  After he had been staring for an hour he dissapeared.  I followed and said to him that he had to do one of two things.  Either work through feling ill, or go home where you can at least be more comfortable.  Him sitting in front of his screen motionless was not doing him any good, and in an open office it was affecting the rest of the people too.

I ended up driving him home in his car, someone followed to bring me back to the office.  I made sure that he has someone he could call should he get worse and tried to persuade him to call a doctor.

I know it was the right thing to do, but it felt awful...  I'll SMS him later today to make sure that he's OK.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Parental differences...

I had a lovely long chat with my parents again last night.  Well lovely until nearing the end anyway, but more on that later.  I'd planned on giving them a call to say hi and had figured we'd be on the phone for an hour or so - but turned into nearly two in the end, meaning I'm a little tired this morning...

I started with my mum, we talked about how I've been this week (weepy for some reason).  She put it on the stress of Fridays outing.  I'm not so sure. We talked about the therapy session and what not and I started to notice that we deffinately have a changing relationship.  More open for one thing, I can't imagine talking to her so openly 12 months ago.  We also have a lot more of a girly chat when on the phone. Making each other laugh, we do talk about make-up and clothes.  She calls me nasty names for being able to wear heels, where as she can't anymore.  And she said something that I was not expecting, but was such a wonderful thing to hear.

She commented again that I was much more relaxed during the last vacation (I was not pretending to be anything exceot me - I didn't get dressed, but neither did watch the mannarisms etc over the week to make sure I was acting as expected - which is what I normally do), and that the difference in me as a person was instantly visible.  Over the new year when I told her she said whilst she would support me always, she thought my TG'ness (for want of a better phrase) was more dressing, and that she didn't really see the Stacy in me.  She's now changed that around and said that when relaxed it's obvious, and that when she looks at me now she can see the feminine in me, including facial features.  She also thinks I'll make a prettier woman than a handsome man (not sure about the last one, but it was nice to hear anyway - not that I think I'm handsome either...).

Anyway, we were chatting for 45 mins or so and then my dad came on the line.  We didn't speak about 'it' at all, but spent 40 minutes discussing the fact that my airco has died in the car, the cost of oil services on modern cars, fuel economy, power and torque and the interviews I spent nearly all day doing for developers, and what you would trust an apprentice just out of college with in a garage (neat way to get across my point with a couple of the applicants).  In the background I could my mum telling him to stop talking cars, no chance :)

Then when he was about to go my mum said she wanted another word.  First she said that she wanted to make sure that there was nothing I could not discuss with her, she has experience of the possible future from her time at Leicester General, and that there was nothing that I could say that would shock her.  I pointed out that I think I past that point on New Years Eve, she laughed.

Then she got all serious, and nearly had us both in tears.  My parents adore my wife, apparently something that terrifies them at the moment is that if we divorce (they think we will) that they will lose contact with someone they love.  I don't suppose there is much I can do or say there, apart from hope that it doesn't come to that of course...

I'm sure we finished on a high note, but for the life of me can't remember what...  The bit about them losing their daughter in law stuck in my mind somewhat.

Oh, and finally...  I have a nice appointment next week with a friend that knows.  We are going to be discussing implementing TFS 2010 at his current employers, and his wife who is a hairdresser is going to be me some advice about cuts that I can style easily in two ways :)

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Second outing

Sorry folks, but I think that this is going to be a long one – congrats and thanks to those than continue :)

I had a lot to think about today with my second therapy session as Stace.  Most of it was even good…

I worked today, and so had to get changed from a friend’s house, rather than going from home.  This meant that my ruck sack was sitting my desk all day full of my stuff.  I know that no one would, but I was worried about someone looking into it.  I would have left it in the car, but it also had the car documents and my work things in it.

I left to get changed, my friend was already there (good job as there are sets of doors in his block of flats and I always get it wrong by one).  I went to the bathroom and started to get ready.  Nervous didn’t come into it.  I had kind of figured that the nerves would be less the second time around.  I was quite wrong.  Especially getting reading in someone else’s house.  I did yell to him that it was strange to be doing my nails there…  Seeing as I am going to be going from there most weeks I guess I had better get used to it :)

Finished getting ready, and was actually reasonably happy with the results for once; though with the heat my hair collapsed almost immediately…  Right…  Time for the third person who knows me to see Stace…  I went for the plaster approach, took a deep breath, walked into his living room and said ‘Tadah!  This is me, what do you think’.  I got a nice compliment back. We sat chatting for a while and then it was time to leave.  I managed to walk to the car, load the boot with all my bags of stuff (I’d done a Lynn and taken two outfits in case I lost the nerve to go with the new one I brought this week).  Thanks Dave, it was much appreciated

The journey there went much smoother than the first time I think.  No nerves, and I could actually use the clutch immediately and the airco was working today.  Half way there I was overtaken by a car full of yoofs who were looking in my direction laughing with big silly grins on their faces.  Crap.  Then they went past and kept the same stupid grins, but were no longer looking at me.  A quick glance and I saw a Ford Mustang Shelby Tried driving on the motorway slip road which is what they were looking at.  When I got there I was amazed at how many people there were around.  This was going to be no walk in a near empty street as last time.  Parked.  Eventually.  The only space was a little longer than the V50, and I have never been good at parallel parking.  I may have worn out the power steering pump going backwards and forwards but I got in.  Problem now was the group of teenage lads that made me decide not to use the closest parking machine last week were standing one car in front of me.  Yes I was nervous.  Swapped my shoes and went to the parking machine.  That was broken.  This meant that I actually had to walk past the group of lads to go to the machine I turned down last time.  Got a ticket suddenly feeling really obvious and a more than little exposed.  Walked back past the group to put the ticket in the car; it was about this point that I realised I hadn’t actually seen anyone take notice – I had made myself walk with more confidence that I really had.  Head high, shoulders back and walk normally.  Locked the car and walked to the therapist’s office.  I’ll admit I was walking there worried about what would be done to the car whilst I was gone.  Nothing, thankfully.  As Mrs Stace pointed out considering it was on the street of my therapist, who deals exclusively with trans people, I am not the first transwoman to have walked there.  And also made me realise that maybe I need to leave behind the place I grew up in and maybe have a little more faith in the world.  Then again when a friend of ours did that she had her bike stolen whilst she was taking putting her son on the ground after taking him off the bike.

Had a great session with the therapist today, he complimented handling the things above.  Though did laugh at my parking.  He hadn’t realised it was me, and assumed it was the mother of his neighbour going backwards and forwards.  He called me Stacy when answering the door.  He’s the only person who calls me that, even when dressed.  It’s nice to hear :)

There were a few points to think about leaving today.  One is my weight.  He complimented me on my photo in my passport.  I hate it, I look fat.  He disagrees.  He also pointed out that trying to get back to the weight I was when I was 18 is not healthy (I know that, doesn’t stop me wanting it), and that a BMI of 20 (OK actually I want 19) is at the edge of healthy, not optimal and that 22.5 is what I should be aiming for if I want a target.  I know that too.  That would be another 5 or 6 KG’s less than I am at the moment.  Something, that I had not really considered, is what happens in the future.  *If* I decide to transition I need an amount of body fat for the hormones to do their thing.  Getting down to 55KG would mean that there would not be enough body fat for things to develop as they should (that’s whole body, not just the obvious).  I guess I need to remember that and try and aim for 22.5 and stay there.  In case you can’t tell from the text I am not completely sure of that, but I have to try…

 The other thing that stuck in my head is something that had not crossed my mind.  Ever.  I was wearing a new outfit, trousers, top and jacket.  He noted that I had trousers on, and that there was no bulge.  He asked what I did to stop the bulge, as he was concerned I had read up on ways to hide it which include doing things which sound far too painful for me to even consider.  He went on to explain that, again, if I transition then they need good quality material for the op.  Using some of the methods on the net, or making everything too tight, damages blood vessels, nerves and other things which makes surgeons lives that little bit more interesting (read difficult) and so I was warned against it (I’m not going into details, but I don’t do those things), and that these complications sit on top of normal health implications of doing this.  Who’d have thought there were reasons for sticking with skirts for now?

The trip home was fairly uneventful, the car was still in one piece, the roads clear and no neighbours again thankfully.  (I say thankfully as my therapist thinks I am doing enough to progress without having to deal with neighbours just yet, if it happens it happens, but not something to wish for at the moment).  As it was still nice weather we decided to eat in the garden, which meant changing back into male clothes and taking my face off.  Before I started doing that I looked at myself in the mirror and had one of those rare moments when I was actually really happy with what was looking back.  Really happy, I ended up staring I have to admit.  I took the make-up off and surprised myself again. I was still happy (not with any gender association) with what I saw, for once I looked good. And with nowhere to go :)

Didn’t last long of course, by the time I went to bed it had gone.  But at least I had it for a while…

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Another year older

Well today I have been walking this earth for 34 years (well I suppose 33 - I have no idea when I started walking ;p)

I drummed up the courage to ask my sister in law for cash as a present to put towards a new outfit, and apparently it was not unexpected (and I really that transparent?).  With the money I got from my in laws I may even have enought to buy the outfit from Mexx that I wanted...  (with some nice black shoes to replace my old cheap ones)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A glorious weekend

Well I’m sitting here on a lovely summers evening, the soothing tones (well to me at least) of Muse are gently coming through the back door into the garden, and I am sitting here in the garden typing up a blog at the end of a wonderful weekend.

Hmm, too many superlatives there I think...  Still I’m in a quite a happy place, long may it continue.

Friday evening was superb.  We had a small kerfuffle before we left regarding me and my other wardrobe.  I was afraid that was going to be the tone of the evening, but we left that at home thankfully.  We went a favourite restaurant of ours and enjoyed an evening talking, laughing and generally reminding each other why we have been together nearly 10 years now (and married for 6 of those).  The food, as always at that place, was fantastic.  Smoked Eel and toast starter for me, Carpaccio of beef for Mrs Stace, three very tender loins of lamb for me, a steak for Mrs Stace - very strange steak though, it came with gravy and two rounds of bread, nothing else...  They gave her some free chips and I gave her some of my vegetables – but the meat was lovely she assured me.  And finally, for desert, chocolate walnut brownie with white chocolate ice cream; I won’t try to describe it as it wouldn’t be fair to you.  But needless to say it was a wonderful way to end the meal.  Even if the ice cream was a little too rich and neither of us could finish both scoops.

We were going to try a new restaurant, on the edge of a man-made lake in the neighbourhood.  We thought it would be nice to look out over the water as we ate.  But...  We looked at the menu and decided not to.  I’m not the most activist person in the world, far from it in fact, but the there are a few things that I do know are bad.  Eating Blue Fin tuna is one.  We were watching a program on the BBC about it last year; the presenter interviewed the team of the Blue Fin Tuna Company about the fact that there are so few of the fish left that estimations are that there are 2 years left before it becomes extinct.  That would be closer to 18 months now I guess.  The people on the stand didn’t object to the study, or try to refute anything.  No, they just said ‘we know, but don’t worry the company has contingency plans for when that happens.’  That sentence made me sick, they are knowingly hunting an animal to extinction, and they think I am worried about their company when they kill off their product.  I couldn’t care less; I do care about needlessly killing off a species of fish though.  So any restaurant that has that on the menu is one that I won’t be visiting if I can help it.  So the nice new restaurant won’t be seeing us.  No doubt they’ll get enough other people going to stay in business.  I was thinking of sending a mail to them explaining why I think it’s wrong, but I doubt they’d care anyway...  OK rant over.

Saturday I woke early (damn) and made tried to catch up on reading the blogs I follow, and drank too much coffee (7 strong espresso cappuccinos).  Seeing as a friend who I had not seen for about three years was coming over with his Irish girlfriend we decided that we had better get the house in order (Rachel as I said on your post we struggle as well...) and sort the garden seeing as I was supposed to be BBQ’ing for them.  The garden was awful, for obvious reasons Mrs Stace and I just haven’t had the get up and go this year to get it in a usable state.  Nothing like a visit to fix that...  Mrs Stace did inside whilst I did the outside.  Three hours later and the green bin was full of weeds etc, the garden looked respectable and I wanted someone to sort the pain in my back, and fix the blister I got on my thumb from brushing.  I would love a bigger garden than we have (66m2) but seeing as the effort this one takes maybe it’s good that we don’t.

After that the furniture needed a rub down seeing as it had not been used all winter.  Well actually sanding and oiling, but I wasn’t going to do that.  I thought...  Whilst wiping it down I saw that with a little soap, water and effort with a green scrubbing pad from the kitchen it came up almost as new.  Why not I thought, it’s easy enough and I have time.  3 hours later you realise the difference between a small patch of chair and doing all 4.  And a six person table...  But at least it all looked great for when the guests arrived.

The evening was a little interesting.  When it’s been so long since you’ve someone you wonder what’s changed, and are they still the same person as before the left.  When I first met the guy I was 26 and he was 32.  I’m almost 34 now, and he turned 40 this year. A lot has changed, in both of our lives, certainly mine in the last 8 months.  But after a stuttering start to the evening it went great.  Catching up on old times, talking about things now (no I didn’t tell him about the last 8 months, not telling him was about the worst of the evening, especially when he asked why we had not done the work to the house that we were planning on doing this year).  We all spent an amount of the evening in stitches, all got a bit shocked when talking about his baby, and small daughter (who are now 8 and 13 respectively) growing up so fast.  Or else it’s us growing older so fast...

Today was just a lazy day to get over it all.  Relaxed in the garden (well after doing a second coat of oil on the wood) watched Rossi get an amazing fourth, after losing out on the last corner of the MotoGP (wishing my best to Randy de Puniet who managed to red flag the race when he started a chain accident that broke his tibia and fibia) and sat outside for food for the first time this year.

Well, it’s starting to get colder now, and the laptop screen is blocking the heat from the candles so I am going to call it and day and slumber until top gear!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Happy Anniversary Mrs Stace

6 years ago today at about this time I was sitting on the sofa trying to remain calm. Mrs. Stace was already having her hair and make-up done.

At 13:45 it will be 6 years since I said ‘Ja’ to a question I barely understood, and she said ‘Yes’ to a question I understood perfectly (we thought it would be cute if we did the question in each other’s language)

Ik hou van jou, nu en altijd.

Liefs ikke x x x x x x x x

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Vacation, what vacation

Well I've been back in the office now for 2.5 days and I am shattered...  Not as stressed as before my holiday, but very tired.  It's hot and humid here, with thunderstorms only providing brief respite from the oppresive air - at night it takes an age to get to sleep, then the alarm goes at 5:40 again the next morning.  I think I may sleep well at the weekend!  Hope so anyway...

My boss has just given me some scary news, that I have to prep for this afternoon.  He on going on vacation for the next month or so (out one week, back one week then out for three) and so I have to take care of the job applicants in his absence.  My name is currently on a number of job openings that we have on Monsterboard and our web site.  Gulp.  I normally sit in interviews very quietly listening to what the applicants are saying (or not) and asking a few technical questions.  I then give my input as to whether I think they are suitable for the job / our environment.  I looks as though I am going to be the one leading the interview whilst he is away...  Nice to know he has the faith in me, it's a scary prospect of actually doing it though...

I'm also struggling for idea's for presents at the moment.  In a weeks time my counter increments by another year and my in laws are asking what to buy me.  Problem is the things that I would like are expensive (Mrs Stace would say most of what I want is expensive ;p ) or things that I am not sure how much I am comfortable asking for just yet (like a contribution towards the second wardrobe that I am now building seeing as I would like a choice of things to wear when I go out)...

I'm struggling to make my point understood with Mrs Stace about that as well.  I have a couple of outfits, which I like, and she doesn't see the reason why I don't just wear those.  But...  Yes I like them, but they are old, or maybe not quite the best fit.  Or other small niggles that pull at my self confidence.  Going out, whilst I'll admit went better than I was expecting, is still a big thing for me - and I suspect will be for a while.  The thought of going out in something where I am not 100% comfortable kills my confidence somewhat and is something I would rather avoid for a while.  It's bad enough in man mode to leave the house in clothes I am not totally happy with - as Stace, at present, it's worse...

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Stacy Steps Out

Well the travelogue is going to have to wait...  I thought that I would go with the visit to my therapist this week...

I decided to go as Stace.  This is the first time I have left the house as Stace.  My therapist offered a room to get ready there instead of driving there fully dressed but I just couldn’t do that.  Everybody who knows has told me that having GID is nothing to be ashamed of.  That has taken some working into my head.  To then run around in man mode before changing is not something that fits with that, and would just enforce the whole thing that it is something to be embarrassed and feel guilty about.  I run the risk of running into my neighbours of course, but that is something that Mrs Stace is more concerned about that I am.  I do feel guilty about it for her...

I started to get ready thinking I was going to be late, and ended up being far too early worrying that my make up was going to run before I even left the house. I managed to do my nails before the shakes started (thankfully) but did poke myself in the eye with the mascara brush again once they did.

The first 10 minutes after leaving the house were the worst.  I had to fight the urge to check the street from upstairs and *run* to the car so I could hide behind the steering wheel.  Managed it, got in changed into shoes more suitable for driving and got going.  I was shaking that much that I had to pull up around the corner and breath for a few seconds before continuing, and struggled with the clutch for a while (a T5 clutch, in unfamiliar shoes, and shaking uncontrollably is not the easiest...)  Getting stuck in traffic in town was not fun, and I began to wonder if I had done the right thing – I wanted blacked out windows whilst standing t red lights...

Got to the motorway and started to relax.  By the time I was halfway there it was just wonderful to finally be out in the world as me.  Until the airco decided to shut down again (it’s been playing up since Leicester) and I was worried about getting out of the car soaked...

Parked up with no issues and went looking for a parking machine to buy a ticket.  That was the only real test of the day.  There was a crowd of burly teenagers around one machine and I thought better of using that one and walked a little further in order to avoid them.  I have to say that walking 1/2km in heels is different than walking around the house – but I coped :)

On the way back to the car I got a look from a woman going into a house just a couple of doors down from my therapists.  Was it a *LOOK* or merely a glance that I misinterpreted as I was feeling a little venerable.  (My therapist thinks it’s more likely to be the latter).

The session went well; we spent the time discussing my family and their reactions over the vacation time in the UK.  He complimented me on the outfit and said if I walk with confidence I don’t stand out. I must admit that walking past a shop window I thought I looked good until my neck, then it all goes awry – he (and my mum later on the phone) disagreed.  Maybe I just need a little confidence to see it, I don’t know...

He was surprised by my parents, and joked that they are in danger of destroying his image of the uptight Brits not being able to cope with these things...

Going home went well (apart from no air still!) and I managed to get back into the house without my neighbours also being out and about in their front gardens as I parked (I don’t mind too much if they see me, but it’s not something I am relishing).  I spoke about that with my therapist – he asked what I was going to say, and told me to just keep it simple.  Be normal, don’t try to hide, and don’t go into big explanations straight away – just say hi if that’s what you normally do, it’s enough of a big thing in their head without adding to it with heavy explainations.  He pointed out that it’s not something ‘wrong’ or ‘illegal’ and that I wasn’t wearing some ‘out there’ outfit with a red feather boa, but a smart casual skirt and top that wouldn’t be out of place in an office.  Good advice – wonder if I can keep to it?

So first major step as Stace taken...  But I am so glad that I did not have to interact with anyone outside of my therapist – I guess I have to do that at some point, but I am not looking forward to that!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Another vacation over!

Well after 4000km’s I’m back home!  Strange isn’t it no matter how much you enjoy being away there is something great about getting home again afterwards!

So now I have a week and a half’s back reading to do, wish me luck!  And I guess I’ll try a bit of a travelogue over the weekend...

For now though I think the important stuff should come first...

It was great to see my parents again, I hadn’t seen them since 4th (or 3rd, can’t remember) of Jan, a few days after telling them.  They are still fine, more than fine in fact.  I asked if they could see if it’s possible to get a small St Christopher (about my only superstition, strange seeing as I am not religious) to wear as Stace as my everyday one is too big.  I meant to go shopping.  I got there and was given a present by my mum – a beautiful, delicate silver one, on a silver chain.  She said that they were going to put a card with it ‘To Stace, love mum and dad’ but didn’t want to upset Mrs Stace so left that out in the end.  But the fact that they thought about doing that felt great.

Then later in the week she was talking about Birthday cards (I’m another number closer to mid thirties in 13 days) and asked if I wanted a card with ‘Son’ on it, or something else.  I said that son would be fine, but it was great that thay asked...  Then I felt really guilty again for putting it all onto them...

We had a good week in Scotland – I’m pleased to say it was not ‘the’ topic of the week and it’s nice to see that we still have the same relationship as before (I spent hours in the garage looking at the rust and rot that used to be my Spitfire, finally in a garage ready for the restoration; and did some Italian cooking with my mum)

I had ‘the’ conversation with my brother.  We watched England lose to Germany (and I thought great, I wanted him to be in a good mood before we started), told him and his reply was ‘And?  Don’t change nowt.  You show me someone with nothing in their closet and I’ll show you planet X’.  When I said I was at the VU he just said ‘Good Lad’.  That was it, as Mrs Stace later said; it was a bit of an anticlimax!

And finally for today...  During my trip I met up for food, drink and a chat with Jenny.  It’s great to put a person to someone who you know so well, but have never actually met...  It was a great lunch, and thanks again for the cider.  Now I am back home I am planning on enjoying them over the weekend (just one question – should they be cold?)

Apologies to those who I would have liked to try and arrange something with; time and Mrs Stace’s comfort zone were not on my side this trip.  Hopefully next time....