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!

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Conversations with Tilly

On Wednesday night, unexpectedly, we had the long-awaited discussion. The Discussion. We actually sat down and talked about me and my identity and my cross-dressing. For reals. Tilly even listened and asked pertinent questions. It was, it is, a Big Deal. Let me preface what follows by saying that this is a Big Thing and that I am impressed by Tilly's reactions and desire to understand. This is a genuine move for our relationship, perhaps the first since she moved in back in 2007. The whole concept is one that Tilly has avoided and run away from since the beginning and the fact that she has chosen neither fight nor flight is a Huge Thing. Huge.

I am aware that I have been more immersed in this for longer and that I have been waiting for this for a long time. It therefore follows that I find it hard to maintain my objective knowledge of how huge a deal this is for Tilly. This will colour my writing about it here and may even come across as a little (ha, a lot) unfair to Tilly. If it doesn't, then that is down to my writing style. If I come across as a party in need of sympathy, know that I am not. Tilly has made a big change and is facing a lot of things for the first time. I maintain the tone that I do solely out of my commitment to being honest. This is how I feel. It is not right nor truth, but it is honesty. It is ugly and it is insulting as it stems from my throbbing arrogance and privilege, but it is honesty.

This followed a discussion about Tilly's thoughts that I am Aspergic. Now, the last time we talked properly about this was back when I was in therapy. I was under the impression that Tilly thought getting an actual diagnosis was irrelevant. I was, apparently, wrong. She would like me to get one because then there will be things that I could do to minimise the impact of my autism, to be more neurotypical in how I present and interact. It would, she said, explain a lot (and probably justify her own attitudes to me and my needs).

The biggest part of this was actually my telling her that I thought I might be Genderqueer and what that meant to me - being both male and female with varying degrees of either at any point. She shared her feelings that I raised it badly back in 2011 when she needed support and didn't get any (this, if I'm being unkind, would have to be the standard call whenever we turn to anything about me, along with how whatever it is should be something I am fixing - but I weathered it and we moved on). She also discussed her own issues and how best to address those (by doing actions that will likely result in an argument, but she did ask and I must respect that). Back on topic, she said that it explained a lot and challenged my use of semantics a few times as if searching for a way to tell me that my self-diagnosis was incorrect. I can relate, it's a very new term and I imagine it's a frightening one to someone who doesn't want you to be it.

We barely scratched the surface of any of my actual behaviours or feelings after that point, but this is a huge shift in situation. She asked that I did not reveal it to the children as there was "no point complicating things" for them, my gender identity is sufficiently complex that it would confuse them (I disagree but I said I would respect her wishes). She also shared her worry that if I expressed my love of things that are considered feminine in what is considered to be a feminine way (she was shocked to discover that I like lots of things that I tend not to comment on out of deference to her but glad that I was not commenting on them, especially things that weren't clothes) then our Boy would feel that this was typical masculine behaviour. I politely challenged but she would not brook it so, out of respect, I have decided to wait on that score. She quibbled when I became like I am, was it genetic and thus passed on to the Boy? Was it down to my parents after my sister died? Could therapy reverse it? Should I be less accepting of the genderqueer labels? Wasn't genderqueer something to do with being a gender that did not match outward appearances and still being attracted to the same gender (so, transmen attracted to to men or transwomen attracted to women)?

There followed a session of actual embracing and hugging bed, nothing more but this was welcome, and a day of nothing afterwards. During that embrace she told me that she still loved me, but I think it was the lie she told herself about who I was that she was still professing love for. On Friday Tilly started blurting out things that she had learned and we discussed some of the things she had found and some of her thoughts on the matter. There was an article she read about how cross-dressing alters the image of me she has in her head (which I found problematic, but I think this means that she's actually taken on board that I cross-dress). This grew from the Discussion where she said that she was uncomfortable with me dressing as a woman (note the phrasing) as I would not be the man she married. Truth be told, I have never met this man she married, for I am not him.

In this discussion, Tilly asked that I take account of how her image of me has changed and that I take more charge in dealing with the problems that I face (as opposed to...?). She is happy to provide more opportunities and spaces for me to dress but accepted that she did not know how I would go about asking nor how she would go about providing the opportunities and the space. She shared her research that suggested her definition of genderqueer was more common and thus correct and that my own definition (based on the genderbread man) was a tad unusual. I showed her the infographic and she was confused and scared by it but did listen and ask questions about it. I respect the fact that this is a big leap for her, though I accept I sound a little dismissive of her struggles, she is trying very hard to be supportive in a way that she has never been called upon to be in the past and supportive to someone she finds it hard to support - after all, her narrative is that I fail to support her and that I deserve no respect or support as I do not respect nor support myself. Yes, apparently I am still a little bitter about that.

Anyway, she confirmed last night, in our post-discussion, that I have feminine traits and body-language along with masculine traits and body-language at different points. She suggested that this was the source of the 'vibes' that meant that she was not interested in sex: I was confusing her. And, as she added, she is a bisexual, so she would have assumed that this was a good thing, but it wasn't. It is confusing. She bounces between thinking it's all horrible and disgusting and awful and evil and everything being fine. She vacillates between hating me and loving me, between hating my actions and thinking they're not so bad. She worries about what will happen if she compromises and it is still not far enough - if I want to dress around her or show her what I wear or something (so, I guess washing my clothes is forever out) - and I'm not sure how to respond to that. I hope I'm remaining open and positive and supportive, despite my bile, invective and sarcasm here. I explained that we didn't know what the future held and that sticking with the here and now would perhaps be best.

We then watched some Game of Thrones and went to bed. This time there was no touching, like there had been nothing on Thursday night, and, like Thursday night, she slept facing away from me and I woke in the morning to find her as far away as it was possible to be whilst still in bed. Like Thursday and Friday morning I kissed her whilst she slept and like Friday evening and, well, every evening, we greeted with a hug but no kiss and it was over quickly.

Lots going on.

At work, my colleague with support has been told they will fail their probation and has thus resigned, they will be gone by Christmas. I have lots of marking that has been piling up. I haven't managed to get through much of it at all. It turns out that Aspergic Depression is different from normal depression and, if I am Aspergic, that explains some of my more infuriating behaviours (according to Tilly) and it may mean I am much more depressed than any of us suspected and have been for longer.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Happy Days

Except with my boots and different tights.

Oh, and no jewelry. I considered wearing some
but didn't. My watch has died too.
Last night Tilly was away and I dressed. I got out the first dress I bought, the purple tights, the pink briefs and bra (stuffed a little). I wore my boots and wig and had a lovely time. I had even planned ahead and bought a fruity fizzy drink to have in a wine glass because, well, no real reason. It was lovely. Of course, being me, I sexualised it and went over to the corner-time app (12 minutes with handcuffs) and hung about on GetDare (though there was little actual activity there). Mostly I just surfed the net playing swarmsim and viewing good blogs that I haven't properly read in ages. It was strange because I actually felt positive enough to try it. And it made me feel good. Really good.

I love the ache in the legs from wearing heels and standing up (that was the corner time thing) and I loved the feeling of sitting down to go online. I loved keeping my knees together. I loved having hair that pulled and got in the way. I loved the feeling in my toes, the feeling on my shoulders, the view when I looked down, the warmth of the tights, the slip of the legs, the tailoring, the hugging of the fabric. It was everything I enjoyed the most in September 2013 and I have rather missed it.

Just... *sigh*
But that's the thing, recently I haven't felt in a happy enough place to even try dressing up. Other opportunities have passed me by without me doing anything. I've had the box of clothes out numerous times and not indulged, and indulging it is. I have not seen fit to enjoy it, even knowing that doing so invariably improves my mood and outlook, cheers me up and communicate some genuine happiness. That latter point being something that I poor at expressing and feeling most of the time. So, what was the reason for this change in heart and sudden ability to indulge in something solely to make me feel happy again? That is a simple question with a predictably complicated answer (oh, Joanna, you? Complex? Needlessly so? All the time? Say it ain't so!).

On Friday I was bombarded with positive communication from Tilly. She is away this weekend at some friends' that she has contacted and made via Twitter. They run their own hashtag or something. Anyway, after a week of snarks and grumpiness and isolation, it was quite a tonic. I got images from the day (the Boy has glasses because he's long-sighted after the Girlie was found to be almost blind in her short-sightedness earlier in the month) via e-mail and plenty of nice texts. We spent the evening watching the first couple of episodes of Game of Thrones (though she maintained her laptop and e-mails with the narcissist writing buddy via her phone) and then retired to bed. We held hands. It was nice.

Ha ha.

No. Not Tilly. But, y'know, the
impression is the right one.

She's got a second book deal,
she's got a fiction trilogy in the
works and she runs a Twitter
hashtag thing that may actually be
a business.

Did I mention she was a full time
All of which was very positive. Very positive indeed. She claims that this is down to having used a hot-water bottle on her neck to reduce the pain there and thus, now significantly reduced in pain, she was in a happier place. And I feel churlish because I recognise that, as happy as this makes me, it's the sort of thing I was bemoaning as being too little and a significant reduction in intimacy before 2011. Now... Now it's the wonderful light at the end of a tunnel. Coupled with the decision to have the conversation about what it is about my cross-dressing that Tilly finds threatening and repulsive (a positive move, I consider; though, as she points out, likely to result in anger and frustration for me) you have quite a heady mix.

Mind you, this is just before the weekend she is spending away and I have the children. Tilly does labour the point that I can be irritable with the children (no more than her) and that she worries that I will go too far or be too angry or do half of what she does when frustrated. After all, I'm not home most of the time. Sure enough, the Girlie regularly mentions how she wishes I had gone away so Mummy was still at home, how Mummy is better than me and how much she misses Mummy. Neither of them particularly enjoy my company, the Boy does like our Saturdays but precisely because it's once a week and special. The Girlie does like me reading Harry Potter because I can do the voices and because she gets to spend the rest of the time with Mummy. Already, after a week, there is evidence of fraying around the edges on that - since she was born it has been Tilly that has been her primary carer and I can't challenge that. In the very beginning that was a very deliberate thing and I was very deliberately excluded - Tilly's own admission. So, the timing does make me suspicious.

Even so, I enjoy the attention and have enjoyed the contact.

But it gets me thinking. This morning, the Boy came into bed a bit before we started the day and I had more physical contact from him in those ten minutes than I've had from Tilly since 4 September. I wish I could wrap Tilly in my arms, have her rub my beard or some part of me affectionately, and just be close to her. But she hates too much physical contact and enjoys her own space (we still have separate duvets after we found, early on, that she can't bear to share - it was only after I left the bed when Tilly was pregnant that we found the solution and only when we planned to co-sleep with the Boy that we had the extra space she craved by not having a bed) so that this will forever remain a pipe-dream.

Ah, negative endings to happy posts, clearly I am back. Take a bow, Joanna!

Or a curtsy, whatever floats your boat I guess.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Signs I Can't Ignore

Moping has been the order of the day, of course it has. But tonight was different. Tilly asked if we should have the conversation I asked for in July next week. Not this week, because she didn't want to go off on some time away leaving me angry and irritable with the children. An interesting worry, methinks, and did I ever believe it was going to go any other way? She also suggested that I "give off vibes" that tend to make people unsympathetic to me. As I have never felt "vibes" from people I cannot comment.

I have offended a friend of mine, ardent Feminist, who posted that it was International Men's Day on the Book of Faces. I responded with the question "isn't every day international men's day?" and got a swift put-down response (I should point out that someone else responded with "it's international toilet day too" and was ignored). I suspect that this part of the "vibe" thing, but I may be wrong.

I have been reading a story. And listening to music.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Ingracious Basterd

Women can geek out over ale too. Hell, anyone can geek out
over ale. And we all geeked out a bit over ale.

My own brew as it happens.
But I failed to identify the hops.
I was recently away, over the weekend, visiting my godson and his family. It was a strange position as the rest of the family were not really involved and it was further thrown into disarray because they assumed I was stopping overnight whereas I had failed to plan for that and has assumed a late night drive. Now, I'm not complaining, there was beer to be had and shared and geeked over and I was offered most comfortable lodgings and even the offer of bedclothes (though I remained entirely in my own clothes). All that and I got to play with a growing lad in the way that crazy uncles can without getting weird and stuff. Basically all the stuff that I am not always able to do with the Boy for the simple reason that I would not be called upon to do it again or regularly by dint of not being there most of the time, unlike with my own Boy.

They have done couples therapy.

But I am the one who is unhappy in our relationship,
Tilly is very happy and content, so there will be
no couples therapy. After all, there's no point in
fixing what ain't broke.

Glad to see this couple in the image though.
Whilst there I spoke to the parents, which is a coy way of referring to these friends, and Brienne (a teacher whose work I respect a great deal) shared her work for some of the things that I shall have to do. Like me, she rides her hobby horse all over her lessons and I was pleased to see that someone who is successful in creating the numbers and outcomes that I would like to emulate taught in a style that, while very different,m was sufficiently close to my own methods that I felt justified and such. This was good, I was able to gain many resources and ideas and readings that I would not have been able to find for myself in a month of Sundays. Time with my other teacher friend whom I respect a great deal (I think I have referred to him previously as Indy) was similarly well spent - I hope that I was able to open my ears more than my mouth and I was amazed at the abilities that they possessed. I mean, I knew that they could do the things that I was party to, but I hadn't actually considered what they meant nor how they worked in the context of some of the issues that both of them face and are working through.

Penny Rolle imagined herself, as an
idealised form, exactly how she looked.


My male privilege means I did not feel
the impact of that.
And here's the thing, I was struck by their openness both with me as an outsider and with each other as we all held forth on various aspects of society and politics and theory. Their background is rather more sociological and linguistically based than mine is historical and political and so there is always much to discuss and exchange as well as mull over and compare notes upon. It was a positive trip, but none of that is the point of the post with it's oddly Tarantino-inspired title.

I was loaned, I borrowed, the graphic novel Bitch Planet. It is good. It is very feminist. But I found it odd that one of the key points in that tome was the origin of one of the characters that hinged on the fact that she was comfortable with who she was and what she looked like - it was portrayed as a heroic thing to be and, I guess, it is. It brought home to me that I could never be a woman and that whatever I am I am not a transwoman. There are issues in there and in the intersectionality of oppression that I simply am unable to identify with. My privilege is that I have never experienced any of it (and the setting was problematic for me, I want to know more about how this world developed, but I suspect that, being allegorical, I am to be disappointed in that regard). It would make a great textbook for feminism and I shall be seeking my own copy to use in lessons. This, too, is nothing to do with my title.

No, see, that mix-up at the beginning required some frantic texting back home to see if we could change the family plans in the field, so to speak, and effectively leave Tilly in limbo for a day longer. There was a dance practice on the following day that would take up all the afternoon and evening leaving me with the Boy. I arrived home to find that lunch had been made, that the pots were washed (mostly) and that the family had coped in trying circumstances (what, with me not being there and Tilly trying to get the Girtlie ready for a day out rehearsing for a show) without me. It was good to have me back, certainly, and all I could do was be tired and irritable.

I tried petals, but Tilly was uninterested.

I shall never have flowers or a candle lit bath drawn for me
because I am a man. I have enough privilege that I probably
don't need the gesture being made.

Is it not enough that men run the world?
This was compounded after I put the Boy to bed and decided that, as far as I knew Tilly was out until 8.30pm, I would have a bath. By God I was going to have a bath and feel less smelly and I was going to have it with candles in the dark because I bloody well could. Male or female, masculine or feminine, I like my candles and I have never really indulged in the concept of a candle-lit bath. It is something that I have done for Tilly on a number of occasions in a failed attempt to be romantic and loving - there was once she sort of liked it when she first moved in but looking back that may just have been for my benefit. I don't know. It is also completely irrelevant.

I set the bath, I set the candles, and I prepared for a twenty minute relax in candle light. Except, at that moment, 7.30pm, Tilly arrived home. I blew out the candles and hid them, Tilly would not take kindly to my using candles for a bath. She would raise some objections and I would feel guilty. Or she would look at me with the same expression she used when I said that I wouldn't mind being bought flowers - the one that conveys confusion, disbelief and a little element of distaste at my tastes - and I wouldn't be able to deal with that. So I abandoned the attempt and just washed. It was not a lovely experience.

Sometimes, though, it is genuinely
In the morning I was irritable with both of my children as I was late (the new normal) setting off to work. Tilly is now extending her lie ins until 8.30am, the old 7.30 waking time is too early for her now. So, even though the children are now sleeping in until 7.20am now as standard it's not good enough. I am back to providing breakfast and setting them up with activities to keep them occupied whilst Tilly slumbers on. This morning she tried to get "ten minutes more" after keeping the Boy snuggled with her for half an hour after he had woken up. I am uncertain what she thought she would achieve with those extra ten minutes with a young Boy desperate to get out of bed and thus struggling to get her awake, but she would not be budged or goaded into waking properly and rising from the bed.

And so the title: it's me.

I am lucky. In a patriarchal world I have the freedom of my job to escape the child-care, I can travel to visit friends and be the 'fun one' and have no real worries. I mean, sure, I offered to help but they did the cooking and the washing and provided whilst I just sort of, well, turned up. At home I do the pots and never get round to vacuuming quickly enough. I fold the clothes after they are washed and, increasingly, hang them up to dry and that's it. Throughout the day I get to avoid anything approaching family duties and I stay back late to do not very much rather than come home. I read books to the Girlie or the Boy and that's my parenting done in the week. In return I get meals made for me by Tilly and a house that is mostly kept in order. What more do I want? How much more do I wish to abuse the privilege of being male and middle-class?

All the way through my childhood I was warned against being boastful or ungrateful. It was a big thing in my household to not be grateful enough when receiving gifts even if, especially if, they weren't something you actually wanted. One had to be excited and genuinely thankful for everything or it would be taken away: food, toys or comfort - if I were not grateful I did not get it. Okay, that sounds worse than it was, but the basics are there. Being boastful was a confusing thing that I still don't understand. If I were to be proud of something I had done or enjoy recognition then that was boastful, it wasn't when others called attention to something I had done, so I spent (and still spend) much time waiting for others to recognise things about which I am proud so I get to talk about them. Mostly people don't, why would they?

As my parents feared, as I always believed and also dreaded, I am ungrateful and I am boastful. I am no martyr. Nor am I really depressed, no, this is just a statement of fact that was brought home to me on my recent visit. There was trial and there was a family who worked with one another - I do not offer the same support to Tilly nor to my children. Yet I am offered support in return. But I eschew it because I am not good at taking or understanding support and I never will be. Stunted growth emotionally.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What's in a Name?


Well, there was a chance once and I fucked it up.
Gilbert O'Sullivan released a song called What's in a Kiss at some point, I don't know when, but I know that my father bought it for my mother before we moved from the semi-detached house into the house that he would later leave us from. It was maybe an anniversary present, I don't know, but I do know that my father thought he had been rather romantic. My father was good at romance. His instinct for big gestures and clever sounding phrases combined with my mother's rather odd ideas of romance to mean that he was probably right. It is therefore no surprise to me that I have the song on repeat given the name that I chose for this post that was cooked up whilst on the road in the EV.

Aye, pretty normal stuff.
Ah, yes, the journey. I had a round trip of 200 miles in the EV and it went rather well, all told. I was a tad too optimistic in assuming I would have 73 miles of charge (but I could have managed it in the event, I just got spooked) and so ran with about 67+ miles between charges. This was not as intrusive as I thought it may be. Indeed, I cheated on the way back and stopped to charge for two goes of around 15 mins a pop and ended up going further than I would have managed for one stop of 30 mins (basically, on the way back, I charged for 35 minutes total and got the whole distance with no worries, on the way I charged once for 38 mins and once for 20 mins). So, success.

Anyway, yes, the title of the post and the song by Gilbert O'Sullivan. In the song, our Mr O'Sullivan asks what's in a kiss, as you would expect given the title, postulating that it may perhaps be more than one moment of bliss. In a lesson today we were discussing divorce and marriage and we got on to love - all the students agreed that love was the main reason for marriage and agreed that it was better for a child to be in a lone parent family than have two parents who didn't love one another. This led to a discussion on how one could know that one was in love - what does love like? Of course they asked me how I knew that I loved my wife. I'm not too hot on outright lying - though I am pretty good at it - so after some prevarication I murbled about various lofty sounding things but couched them in a way that made them sound a little less high and a little more soulless and logical - as that is the persona that I have adopted for the class.

What's in a kiss?

Enough germs to catch pneumonia as I recall.
But it got me thinking - what is love? Haddaway was always unable to offer a decent solution in the 90s but that didn't stop me remembering my father's gift all those years ago. Kisses with Tilly are generally affectionate and pecks. There is some hugging and much use of the forehead for kissing if there are any kisses offered at all. Mainly I am permitted to kiss her forehead and cheek but these are rare allowances amid a general lack of touching or closeness. Hugs are more frequent than they were this time last year but they are more the sort of hug one offers a relative. Is love, between husband and wife, therefore more expecting of sexual frisson? If dreams are all the things we might have been, thank you again Mr O'Sullivan, then my dreams have recently been blank - I do not remember them. I have stopped reading, I have stopped creating and, well, I'm closer now than ever before to that goal of being able to fade away from my life completely with the minimum of fuss. A dream of blackness and blankness is all that I could have been. What's in a kiss? A lot, if one cares to look for it.

It's the militarism that does it I think.

I'm no militaristic person, well, not much;
but there is an inescapable kind of logic
and progression to rank and the military.
But that wasn't the original impetus for my writing this post. What's in a name? I don't tend to use names, I dislike them and will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid them. In my work I tend to use seating plans in order to remember names or else assign silly nicknames for humour, and also because I have no clue how else to remember names anyway. It usually works in my favour as I can create my classroom persona at will and have settled somewhere where I can get away with this a little more than I used to. So it is that I have never really liked nor identified with my name or any of the numerous shortenings or nicknames that others have used. None of them are 'me' in a way that allows me to answer to them immediately - it's like I have to remind myself that the name is referring to me.

Now, there are cases where I have identified as made up names. One of these was the name used for a character (and several characters in my own stories) in a role playing game with some friends back when they were still in University and I had recently started my teaching gig. That name was a surname and had rank attached. At a friend's wedding some of the people from the role playing game were trying to help some other people get my attention and they succeeded by, in desperation, calling the name of my character - I responded nigh instantly because that name registered. So, apparently, I have a surname that works and that I can use to identify myself. It bears no resemblance to my actual name and was stolen from a flyer, when I was growing up, for a window-cleaner. the flyer was on photocopied white paper and lay in a gutter outside the church my brother and I attended. I remember the day clearly and I have no idea why. Hardaker was the name, pronounced hard-acre, and, for some reason, this has stayed with me to the point where them shouting this name had a greater effect than using my actual real name or any of the nicknames that friends have called me for years. At school I respond far more quickly to 'Sir' than I do to my name or my title. At home I have managed to create a system where Tilly doesn't use my name or even a substitute (lately she has started using 'darling' as I use 'honey' for her - and always have - but I'm not sure that counts).

I searched for the name suggested, this
came up.
In online conversation I note that I tend to use 'J' as a sign-off. Sometimes I use the full Joanna but, outside this enclave, I tend to avoid using my name at all. I was noting that the guidance voice on the EV for the sat-nav used a voice I have heard used for corner time in a site linked from GetDare and was cycling through the other options that I would prefer when I realised that I was thinking of myself as, well, as Joanna. In my monologue, when I'm not using slurs and put-downs, I actually refer to myself as Joanna. Does that have to be anything strange? Could it not just be a thing? What means that I can't be called Joanna? Would calling myself Joanna make me identify any more or less as the name? Should the name be Joanna Hardaker rather than Joanna Atkins? Joanna can, after all, be shortened to Jo (which is homophonic with Joe after all) and thus is about as gender neutral as one can imagine. However, would that really make a difference - I don't actually identify as Jo or Joe either and I've never really liked the shortening of my actual name (though it is preferable to the whole name with its whole extra syllable). Besides, this means nothing, I used to have the name Bex with my mad-ex so...

But what is, exactly, in a name?

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Those who mourn

As the people of France mourn, as the people of Lebanon mourn, as the people of Kenya mourn, as the people of Syria weep, as the people of Indonesia struggle, as the people are bowed, let us never forget that we are united. Let us never forget that none of us is ever truly alone. We are humanity. We are imperfect, impatient, questing and questioning. We are the dead, we are the living, we are the grieving and, but for the Grace of God, we could just as easily be the aggressors.

Charlie Chaplin put it well:

Right now, I have nothing else of import to say. My lateness with what I have is solely down to travel and lack of web access to say it.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Or: why I shouldn't be allowed caffeine.

At our local IKEA they have actual clay cups
but the point is the same. Coffee. Black.
Busy couple of days. I ended up back at IKEA to charge the car last night and planning storage for the home - something we've been looking at for a while actually so not a mere pipe-dream (though still just dreams really) - and thus I partook of their free coffee. This came after a day in which a difficult meeting was had. My colleague with support needed to be told, officially, that there was a chance that this will all end badly. So, they were told. It was not a fun meeting. I also suspected that the message hadn't really got home with the colleague. Anyway, after that 'fun' experience I had a coffee. And it worked.

Later in the day I had a phone-call from a parent - there is bullying afoot. The nasty sly kind. I spent a couple of hours chasing down evidence to confirm or deny the claims and was somewhat appalled by what I found. I taught, I investigated, I spoke to various people, I supported colleague who had an observation today to plan and be ready. It was... it was a busy day. At the end of it I was quite tired. Once home, I was spurned by the Boy and so I went to charge the car. I had a coffee. It was 8pm.

I can haz caek?

I had a slice of cake with my free coffee in an effort to not
have coffee but remain on the fizzy raspberry drink.

It was not effective.
On return, Tilly disappeared to research for her next book. Yes, she has a next book. The month off she had planned for 'us-time' has disappeared beneath the understandable excitement and happiness of having a next book to research. I played some computer games until late. I was caffeinated and I think I may have waxed lyrical before about how that's not a good thing. I avoided fictionmania and its ilk.

At 11pm I went to bed, Tilly was still reading, and we brought the Boy in with us - he wouldn't let go of me after I took him to the loo (it prevents bed-wetting) - and so I attempted to sleep. Tilly joined us about half an hour later, and attempted to have a conversation about her research. By this point I had realised the impact of my error with the coffee and was vainly attempting to actually go to sleep. After being kicked in the crotch about five times I gave up, but I still couldn't follow Tilly's half-asleep commentary on her research. It was an odd moment of half-life: Boy kicking me, Tilly half-mumbling and half-zoning out mid-sentence or mid-word with me tryin (and failing) to follow her line of thought and respond appropriately. I dozed ineffectively until about 3.30am when I needed the toilet myself.

Eh, close enough.

Like I have any of the physical or mental maladies
associated with genuine insomnia or akin to the worries that
women are socialised to have and to believe are perfectly
normal. Hell, I don't even have the kind of stress and worry
that I had three years ago. No, I'm just a pillock who drank
coffee too late in the day.
I dozed again until my alarm went off at 5am, then actually fell asleep until 6.30am. Cue a rushed morning routine with a messed up washing of hair (I need to do that again tonight lest I go mad) and much self-recrimination. Colleague was observed and found wanting. Not without cause. I was then hauled in to check that I had put in place the support that we all agreed needed to be there because this lesson showed no evidence that it was in place. I showed that it was. Not sure I've done enough to convince in this regard, but I know that I have actually done what I need to do, my colleague has just dodged everything in favour of... whatever the Hell it was that they were observed doing. It does not look good. Just before all of that kicked off another colleague had to rush home to help pregnant wife and so I picked up their work too. Finish the day: tired. Still got my work to do. Tilly has started reading, first upstairs and now downstairs. We can't talk whilst she reads (Hell, I'm not sure me typing is a good idea) but it does effectively prevent me from doing much else I guess. God, I'm bitter here and without any real good reason.

In any case: why I shouldn't be allowed coffee.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Quelle surprise

It's as well I felt ill and icky, it would appear. On the positives: I have not got warts, I do have athlete's foot (but I have been controlling it effectively) and now have the ability to kill it. I am up to date (ish) with marking. Last night we went to see a bonfire and it was good. We got back late, we had take-out.

If I had any wine, and if I had those eyes and hair and chin and
was an actual woman (trans or otherwise) and if I were still in
this situation, and if there were anything sympathetic or
even vaguely unusual in my being in this situation then I guess,
if you squinted, you could say this was me.
After the children went to bed, we ate, but without discussion. Tilly has started researching her next book and needs to read stuff. Because I was still eating (and she hates the noise of other people eating) she retired to the bedroom. She was asleep within ten minutes of going up. We did not have a discussion. We did not share any episode of anything. We still haven't spent time together.

Today I ran errands before taking the Boy to find something for my Godson. I failed in that endeavour by having the heebie-jeebies and thus will resort to something less personal but hopefully more useful. It is no surprise that I am awful with dates and celebrations. Tilly has cleaned the kitchen, much that was lost is now returned. She is very happy, happy with her writing, with the friends she has made, with our life in general. Tilly is happy. The children are happy. I am not depressed.

My friends are having a time of it though.

Friday, 6 November 2015


Disturbing: I couldn't find a picture of a woman enjoying steak.
Women apparently aren't allowed to enjoy food unless it is
salad with wine. And then they must orgasm whilst eating.
Or look sad or ashamed with chocolate. Or salivate over raw
meat. What the Hell, internets?
I have had an ale that I reviewed on my phone, still no posts on the beer blog, and I have had a week at work in which I actually got things done. Marking is up to date, support-needing colleague is now in danger of not passing the year, not my fault, and that is being handled by me - hopefully well. Students are improving, especially in the areas where it matters most, and I had a lovely trip out to IKEA to charge the car and have tea. It really is a place to be happy. And the food is reasonably priced and tasty. Mind you, in having the beef I may as well have driven there in a tank for all the damage I did to the environment. Still, car charged. I have a long trip in it that will require charging en route for the first time next weekend. That's pretty exciting actually.

Oh, the ale, it was Mud City Stout by T. A. Sadler's and it was lovely. Obviously a stout, meaning deep and black and dark. Vanilla pods were used and that gave it nice edge. Combined with the dark malts and use of raw cocoa there was a cabinet sauvingnon style to it that I quite liked, almost Tia Maria. Worth what I paid for it (and it was the most expensive ale I've had in a while, been stock-piling it since mid-summer). Had it when I returned from IKEA, because why not?

The image isn't mine, because why would you chill a decent stout? Seems a tad wasteful of resources does that. Mind you, can't deny that I put it on the top shelf of my pantry to keep it out of the heat of the summer so I suppose I shouldn't be too snobby and rubbish about it.

On the whole, then, life is pretty good. No dressing and little faffing too. I blame swarmsim, but I would.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Nae Candles

Nae Candles.
In the film version of Kidnapped, a film about the eighteenth or seventeenth century adventure story of something or other, that I first saw in the late 80s with my father there is a house. It is owned by a crotchety old Scotsman who wants our hero, a child, dead. So, when the boy is sent to live with the man he arranges for an unfortunate accident that can't be traced back to his actions. The house is old, full of dark alcoves and bits are falling down, the man simply tells the child to go to bed. The child asks for directions, these are tersely given, and then asks for blankets.
"Nae blankets." So he asks for a guide.
"Nae servants." So he asks for a candle.
"Nae candles."
"Nae candles?"
"Nae candles."
"Nae candles."
And thus the line passed into my consciousness and is forever completely decontextualised and applied seemingly at random. Michael Caine was in it.

It's a Sinnlig. Strawberry.

I got a lavender one as well, because, you
know, fuck it.
In this case, however, there is a context. I was thinking about the advice to make IKEA my happy place and was charging the car earlier in the week. I bought some candles as I perused the place and tried to take it all in. I bought some scented candles. For me. I know that Tilly will never buy me flowers or scented candles, she will never try to 'woo' me romantically and she will never carry out the 'man' role in the relationship. I know this. I bought her a candle too, I thought she liked scented candles. She does not. It's not that she hates them, she told me, she just doesn't go out of her way to have them or use them, she thought I got more out of them than her.

Fuck it, thought I, and I've had a candle lit when I've been marking lately. Rose downstairs and now the strawberry one (I'm not as much of a fan of the rose ones, but Tilly has a rose obsession) upstairs. So, quite the opposite of 'nae candles' it would appear.

Normal sex.

Normal, heterosexual, white, cis-gendered, middle-class,
sex. So, normal. Right?

Kinsey reckons 30-39 year olds have sex 89 times a year.

Holy shit! 89 times! I don't think Tilly and I have had sex
that many times since we met.
I also asked, two days ago, about maybe hopping on the good foot and doing the bad thing. I was told that she was "not not up for it" but that not now. Figures. The following day she suggested that we maybe pencil it in for a week hence. Do people do this? Do people actually have to plan a week in advance to find the time to do it with one another? Is this normal? I want to say that it is not normal, I want to claim that most people would do it more often and with more spontaneity than this, but I don't know. When discussing things 'most people' tends to be the code for "I" with Tilly, it simultaneously makes her sound less anecdotal and renders any attempt to argue my case more difficult as I must first challenge the 'most people' assertion before getting to a point where I can make my case. So, no, I don't know about 'most people'.

Yeah, I could dig it.

It's not as nice as some of the rooms in my local IKEA,
but then those aren't as nice as the ones that were in
my previously local IKEA.
Plenty of work done over the last two days, though, which is nice. Two sets of Year 11 essays, one of Year 10, one of Year 13 (plus their coursework) and a set and a bit of Year 12. Not bad. Not half bad. And a quick charge session today simply so that I'm not worrying about charging until Wednesday. Looking forward to it, actually, free coffee at IKEA until 9pm and about 3.1 miles distance to get there with about 40 mins charge time. Enough time to 'be' at IKEA. I'm thinking more and more that the advice to make it my happy place may well fare better than the woods where I used to live, and they were pretty groovy all told. Heh, all that and a meet up with another family for a Hallowe'en do (no dressing up, because reasons) last night. Can't complain. Would have liked to dress up though.