Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Whatever You Want

Yeah, yeah, I get repetitive but this is a lovely image that
seems to capture a feeling, y'know?
Rainy Bank Holiday.

Supposed to be the first day of my week of prep but not because of a birth in our Family We Keep Up With, so Tilly is playing good Samaritan and giving them some time to sleep by being on baby duty. I get childcare. Can't complain about this, it's been an okay day actually. But I haven't worked as a consequence and, of course, I'm not now.

I may have been a tad rash. We took an electric car out on a test drive after I popped into the showroom back in early July because I had half an hour. I was shocked to learn there was a chance we could actually, realistically, own one ourselves. Shocked. A new one! Okay, leasing, but still. Well, we did the test drive. It worked well. I was expecting a lease offer of £189pcm, which was out of our range just enough that I would say no. I was also expecting a £1,000 deposit being required, too rich for us. They offered, and I shit ye not, £100 down and then £170pcm. I mean... I checked, there is a catch (of course) in that we would barely scratch the value of the car, but enough to hand it back after two years with nothing extra paid.

Vanessa when newly bought. How times have changed.
I'm a bit rubbish at car care to be honest.
Vanessa, our car, is falling apart. It's a matter of when, not if, the gearbox goes and requires about £600 in repairs. Same for rear suspension (around £450), and driver's side front suspension (£275). And then there are the unknowns. Vanessa popped in the last year if you recall, and the exhaust pipe is in need of repair (£300, hence why it's not done), and there's sparkplugs due to be replaced. The aircon smells of diesel (well, actually, any air into the car smells of diesel at the moment) and the engine is developing a throbbing effect. Basically, she's close to death. A New car, even a leased one, is starting to sound like a good idea. Vanessa managed an average of 55mpg over the last two years too. Bless 'er. The electric car? No gallons.

Library image, but the sort of car we will soon own.

Well, lease.
So I agreed, after discussion with Tilly (obviously) and we await a delivery date. We'll have a new car. We'll have an electric car. Nice. Very nice. Rash? Well, I'm nothing if not that. We'll get the pay-off (£170pcm is about £50pcm cheaper than Vanessa over the last year) when we don't do repairs and stuff. So, this time next year -ish. I expect to lose about £250 in excess mileage charge (we have 16k but we covered 18560 these last two years, but 8p a mile is okay and works out better for our finances than £189pcm which it would be for 18k miles). So... there's that.

With Tilly away of course I'm indulging, and that's welcome. Dug out the box and had a proper dig. Currently briefs and bra with my platform heels things and a dressing gown in case of disturbance by children. I've not done this in so long that I'm not sure I could stay in my dress that I had on originally (my first one, in case you were wondering). I'm listening to Parralox, because why not, and not having an ale tonight as I hope to get up early tomorrow and get bathed and do the pots before children surface. We'll see. Also, the car thing keeps popping up to demand stress. It's a big step, I have never owned a new car in my life and nor have I switched car with anything less than £2k on hand to make it happen (with Vanessa I borrowed £1k from my mother to make the £3k asking price, in 2011).

I have still failed to mark stuff, to plan stuff or read any more books after the excellent The Martian back at the end of July. I have failed to brew beer early enough to bottle and share and I have failed to get my mileage right first try. It helps, I find, to list these in case I forget them. Bit like when I talk to some people I know, I can ego-boost with the best of them but it helps to remember that I shan't get it in return - I burned those bridges very effectively a long time ago - Tilly has been trying (she even complimented me on a new shirt purchase recently, five times) and that is nice, but let's not get carried away. My daughter righted that one by pointing out that she loved me maybe slightly more than half as much as Mummy and about three-quarters as much as she loves her brother. I do, however, rank better than most of her friends but below the pet and her stuffed toys. Thanks, Girlie.

Car maths follows.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Strange Highs and Strange Lows

I do not have the same luck as other people. Back in the mists of time I had a chance to mix more exclusively with women whilst clubbing. At the time I was dressed and it seemed to go well., I remember it well because, at the time, I was newly in the world of work and had a decreasing social circle that would eventually culminate in seeing people about once a year. The conversation I had that night was actually an eye-opener and left me wondering about whether I was better hanging out with men or women.

Today we had a lovely family day out and I was the only father present. It was an interesting mental exercise then to compare this with previous experiences of being the only male in the place, so to speak. Like much of the time since having children in this situation the women banded together into a group and used me to make sure the children were fine - my role was essentially guide and teacher with the females being used as ultimate authority figures who sat at the periphery of events. I did not get much conversation, obviously the children preferred one another's company and the women did too. A couple of brief conversations were snatched but I found I did not really know what to say and, with no guidance forthcoming from the other participants (positive or negative) I tended to flounder into silence and then wander off as I do.

What conclusion do we draw from this? I'm pretty crap at small-talk.

That's not my point.

It's an angry TMI post. Look away now.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Rain reigns, reins

That's not to say that the film didn't suffer from the usual
pitfalls of films by casting a male anger and female disgust
and weighty frumpy sadness... but you get the idea, it was
a pretty good film by those standards.

And yes, there were stereotypes played to (and don't get me
started on whoever wrote the supporting book sold at the cinema
who clearly didn't get the memo that the point of the film was
that being incessantly happy was not an achievable nor healthy
goal!) but they were background noise rather than the front
and centre they are in so many films.
Since opening this place up again I've been thinking more. This coming week is going to be a busy one and the week after will bring me back, I hope, to full working capacity and thus better able to get on with work when the time comes. Of course, I have now had two years of working in a place that is a little more supportive and forgiving and have fared very well, so this is much less stressed than it used to be. I have also been out to see Inside Out with both children in a mild post-alcohol-induced haze of a hangover. This is a good film, with arguably one of the best depictions of depression I have ever seen (as well as it being the enemy and the threat, well done) but there was also much in the film that seemed to go nowhere and looked like there was something else going on. I would love to have seen this elongated through a mini-series to explore all the avenues that were laid out but, let's face it, that was never going to happen. Back up. Friday night I went out, as in out out, with a colleague and we ended up doing an impromptu barcrawl around my local area, whereupon I imbibed a good eight half pints of mainly bitters and dark ales, which is a good thing. Fun was had and much was discussed.

Throughout yesterday and the day before I was rereading posts here, which was a bit of an eye-opener as I had sort of forgotten much of the specifics and, especially, the order of events. Looking at just how far back some of the issues I had assumed to be new to the blog had gone was particularly interesting. In the process I unearthed some posts about music and looked up the videos again. At the same time my friend published some new stuff and I read that and then I read some other articles and a few things started turning and, well, you know how I work by now.

Not even close, but isn't it nice?
So, what do I have to say about it all? I shall try to keep this pointed and brief, I'm still behind in my beer blogging. First point is that whole thing about internal and external. I have yet to work out what my internal is, but the bits I do have in place tell me that I feel most myself when wearing clothes that society would define as feminine. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean obvious female garments (or even discreet ones) as it includes the shirt I bought many years ago (that Tilly hates) with the lilac leaves, still one of my faves. That does it. But there's also the notion of risk involved. In order to feel more like myself I have to run a gauntlet of societal pressure and the risk of upsetting Tilly. Recently there are many positives - we are a bit more open and do spend time talking.

Not sure the image I want exists. Dial down the dreamy eyes
and have us both sat behind the bar and you have it.

Of course, since then we've been out and she's been managing
her media presence as book panic takes full hold. It's hard to
be supportive in a proactive way. The stress has activated a
new level of back pain (left over from Christmas) and so
hugging is back off the menu. The panic also means that other
contact is gone too. The media part means that talking whilst
driving is out because she's keeping up with critiques and...
you get the idea.
Case in point, on a recent trip to my mother's end of the country we had a night out. There were no deep and meaningfuls because we talk like that pretty often, certainly more than we did before Easter last year for example. Hell, more than we did before Christmas last year. In short, our conversation that night was simply a continuation of our ongoing conversation throughout the evenings when we do sit in the same room. This was nice. We have embarked on a new way of dealing with our intensely angry daughter and, though difficult, we are at least on the same page and, despite setbacks, are able to keep going most of the time. This is best summed up by the time when our daughter went on a tantrum, stubbed her toe on the wall, and came crying to the top of the stairs to be met by a rushing Mummy, the daughter wailed "Please don't say nice things to me, don't hug me, just sit there!" I think our new approach will work, but it will take a long time to bear the kind of fruit we're aiming for.

If this is the original author and they want it removed, hell, if
they ask me to remove it, I will. It just seemed neatly to sum
things up.
I also read this article. It was stirring stuff. I do not consider myself to be like the author really. For one, the bullying I experienced throughout my school life was far from physical and, though I could make a convincing case for it being down to my failure to perform as a masculine male, mostly it's because I was a bit strange and off-putting already. However, I did identify with the confusion expressed. I think I've already related my argument where I ended up shouting that I wasn't a man. I still don't self-identify that way. But nor am I a woman. This morning, as I trimmed my beard, I reflected that I rather like it and the familiarity of it. I also rather like my plumbing. I understand it, I can use it, and despite its cursed nature, I'm not sure I can imagine life without it. As a consequence I found much that was familiar in the choices made by the author and the stories told.

I can't imagine this being real. If you see what I mean.
On another blog I read with interest about the themes being discussed of Femdom and the like. I have spoken about these before on here and have already come to the conclusion that they are vanishingly rare in real life, relationships with that form of Femdom, and probably not something I would do well with in real life if I had the opportunity. Occasional play, perhaps, but even then we're into interesting territory that is practically untested and unknown.

Apparently not said by Gandhi. Which is a real shame.

Doesn't make it any less of the code I try to live by though.
Where does that leave the line between internal and external? The answer is, as it is for everyone, that I don't know. My views on marriage are what they are. As discussed with Leslie, there is no way to bring my internal and external into closer alignment but hard graft and the willingness to, ultimately, change myself. Back when I was looking at getting CBT I spoke with a therapist, before the lady who tried hard to help, and he posed a question that occasionally comes back to haunt me. I opened by explaining my crossdressing and how I wanted to change it, and most of my sexual predilections as Tilly did not share them. He, and it was a he, asked "why do you have to change?" My answer then, as now, is that I have to change because I know from experiences that other people do not. Both in real life and online, in debates and in day-to-day dealings, people are more likely to become entrenched rather than being open to change. People do not consciously change. On things involving religion, politics and sex people are remarkably resilient. If I wish for an easier path or to seek compromise then I must change first. I must do so without regard to whether others will join me in changing and without expectation. Indeed, my default setting is that they won't.

Judith Butler.

I think it's well worth reading some of the stuff that has been
produced and perusing videos that use her name.
So what? Since then I have come to terms with my crossdressing. I have realised that it is not a thing that I can drop as it is not about the clothing so much, it is about identity. I do not pursue extreme femininity or the perceived extremes of femininity, nor do I pursue female plumbing for myself. In that sense, reading this article was interesting to me. I am perfectly happy for women to deny entry to spaces to trans-women. No, scratch that, I am not happy with it but it's a battle that can take more time. The first thing that needs to be done is to reduce the need for women-only spaces by making toxic masculinity less of a thing. Not to say the battle shouldn't be had or that TERFs aren't missing the point (I feel) but there you go. No, none of this was the point, and my half-baked thoughts on it were never shared when I read it for precisely this reason, no, the point of relating that here now is the fact that I perform my gender and I consciously have to work at being 'masculine'. I am, of course, far from it. But nor am I 'feminine'.

Okay, this is more sexual. But, again, I'm not sure the image
I'm looking for exists, so it will have to suffice.
My thoughts on bondage are mainly sexual, yes, but I've also explained that bondage just feels 'safe' to me, that it can be lovely without any sex involved. Indeed I have spent nights restrained in the past that did not involve any sexual aspects, well, as far as anything can involve no sexual aspects - in that I carried out the restraining because it felt nice rather than sexual. I am denied... no, I cannot indulge this aspect because of the sharing of lives that is in effect in marriage. One day I hope to discuss and find out what about it Tilly finds so threatening but, ultimately, if I want to bring my internal and external into line it is I who must change - I cannot expect anyone else to change as society is relentless in telling us that change is weak. One can lead a horse to water but then one can do no more. So in teaching in life.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Don't Open That Trapdoor!

...cos there's something down there!

I rather like this silhouette actually. In many ways it is
less objectifying than picking an actual woman to identify
with, you know, like I do in my avatar.
One of the things, the tenets, of this place is that it is run as a safe place where I can say anything and everything honestly and truthfully, regardless of how that makes me look in the eyes of the world. It is sometimes gritty, sometimes glaring, rarely edifying and always brutal. To that end I have made a great deal of my anonymity - that is, preventing people from know me in the real world from knowing about this secret and safe place. I mean, they may know I have a secret blog but they don't know the location or the address nor any inkling as to the content so that they can't pull a little light stalking and find the place.

This has allowed me to transform the place that I started to ruminate on the happiness that I felt, however fleeting, from cross-dressing into a journal of my family and my sex-life (or lack thereof). And, even more lately, I have stopped posting regularly or, even, at all. For a whole host of reasons. Rhi, that tower of strength that she often fails to recognise in herself, pointed out that some of my recent posts had an air of resignation to them - an acceptance of how things were despite them being less than I would like and there is some truth in that. I do hope that Leslie still gets a chance to pop by as well, though I haven't heard or seen anything from that quarter in an age. So, here I am posting again, and it's been almost a full month since last time.

Apparently more and more women are drinking ale.

To be honest I think it's just that people are noticing for the
first time. I suspect women have drunk ale as much as
anyone else for a long time.

Ales have been something of a boon for my mental state in
the last year. Not through self-medication so much as giving
me a hobby to review them.
Many reasons, mostly positive. I have restarted the beer blogging for one, and found a vein of interest on the Googles that allows me to get almost the same amount of readership that this place got at the height of my posting bonanza, with fewer posts to boot and then mostly beer reviews (that started here by the way, all the early reviews were written firstly here). I have, to that end, also joined Twitter at Tilly's urging - she uses it very effectively to ramp up interest in her upcoming book and her blog in general - but have yet to see that bear any fruit. There's a new beer being brewed in the kitchen as I write this, a lovely waft of malt and yeast about it that I am looking forward to hopping. I am, as ever, avoiding work - my work-avoidance-fu remains strong and nearly insurmountable. We have also been on two mini-holidays to see family this last month, and I'm not complaining, these were good times for a change without the usual attendant feeling that I am being used to give Tilly a relaxing time. Childcare has become a very two-sided affair with the Boy being primarily my responsibility and the Girlie being hers. Also I have very deliberately been given time and space to drink and review ales in both places, being joined by Tilly on occasion.

It scares and fascinates me that people in the Lego marketing
department think that girls won't enjoy Lego unless they have
some different female avatars in pinks and such.

As a whatever-the-heck-I-am it is a little surprising that I have
no love for a female version of Lego. But, you know, I grew up
with the Lego of gender-neutrality and, given my thoughts on
my own femininity (whatever that may mean) it means that
the Lego of my youth was as much feminine as masculine.
We also stole the childhood Lego from my mother's and so I have been feverishly sorting out into sets using the instructions I can find on the internet so that my children can build them. The original instructions were thrown out by my mother during a big argument sometime after my father left - an argument ostensibly about our lack of imagination and my almost pathological zeal to follow them rather than build new things but more likely about the fact that we had stayed out with my father longer than my mother wanted us to have done and actually enjoyed it - there's a post for another time. Part of the reason for the 'stealing' is that I asked openly, my mother told me to check with my brother, and he said he had no plans to claim it but refused to give permission for me to take any on the grounds that some of it was his. So we stole it after six months of no movement. I've washed it, sorted it (well, partly) and been making the sets. It's being played with. My conscience is clear enough but the guilt remains. And the fear. My brother will not like what I have done here.

I would, of course, like to try this.
Today, Tilly took the children to a mini-superhero-picnic at a friend's house, inspired by the bigger event locally, and it was time for me to be alone in the house. I really did consider dressing but there was shopping to do, which I bollocksed up and kept having to go back for things I forgot as well as using the time to plant some raspberry bushes I bought. I was supposed to find time to mark, but I didn't. Nor did I dress. Nor did I cruise the charity shops for dresses. I have, however, been back to GetDare and BoundLife the last couple of nights.

We're approaching TMI territory, so that means a line-break is coming. I'll stop here and take it up after the line-break in a moment.

Before I do, all that guff at the beginning about anonymity and safety. This blog has been shared with someone I know in real life. They are trustworthy, my teacher-friend who I believe I have mentioned before. Turns out he and his wife were aware of my proclivities due to Catherine's picture mentioned many times and, until recently, the only photographic evidence of me having cross-dressed. This is my statement of intent - I will remain honest and open and brutal on here. My friend can be trusted to read it, comment on it and respond without divulging to anyone else. It will not affect his regard of me, of that I can be sure. And now I have recorded it here.