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Sylvia, the Local Echo
featuring, "What's My Mother Done Now?"
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Packing for Epic Canyoneering Adventure now. Sarah has the humongous Luggage-O-Tron, on account of having all the abseiling rope to pack in it. Have been assigned a small case of a disgusting pink shade and unknown origin, that I will be embarrassed to pick up from the carousel.

Sarah wants me to pack her helmet. I put in both helmets, my harness + webbing sling, two pairs of shoes and my new wetsuit. It's looking rather full already. I can stuff the helmets with my swimsuit and neoprene wetsuit socks, but... I think I may need other things on my vacation as well. Clothes, maybe, or perhaps camera equipment. What to choose, I wonder? What's optional?

11th-Jun-2009 01:02 am - What we do for a bottle of wine
Today has been an odd day. As my previous post explained, I got an odd phone call from the solicitors on my way to work, and on my way home afterwards I managed to get carded when buying a bottle of wine.

This is not usual. I am thirty three years old, I have not dyed my hair recently (so the grey hairs in my roots are showing), and I was buying one single sensible-probably-aimed-at-thirtysomethings bottle of wine amongst five bags of miscellaneous thirtysomething-sensible fresh vegetables and other groceries from Milton Tesco, so I can't imagine that the transaction as a whole looked dodgy.

If I was a bit younger I'd be flattered that someone thought I might be 18, but I think I've just reached the age where I react with bafflement and annoyance at big corporations and their Think-21 or Think-25 or whatever age they're now up to. It's very strange. Perhaps common sense is in short supply right now.
10th-Jun-2009 08:56 pm - I broke the legal company
Our old wills became invalid after our civil partnership ceremony, so we arranged to get some new ones written. Today I got a phone call:

Woman: Hello, I'm from XYZ Solicitors, can I speak to Mrs B or Dr K please?
Me: Dr K here!
Woman: Hello! I'd like to go through your will setup, as I'm very confused! So, the situation is, you two are partners and want mirror wills, but you want the estate left to a Zoë Imogen or her children? On the first or the second death?
Me: Yes, on the second death, and before that we leave everything to each other.
Woman: OK, second death. That makes sense... (pause) So you are partners, but Zoë Imogen, she's listed here as "Girlfriend". Do you mean.... would that be a female friend?
Me: I don't see the relevance of that question.
Woman: Well, I'm just trying to understand what's going on here - I got a bit confused. So you're saying, everything to each other, and on the second death, to Zoë Imogen or her children?
Me: Yes, exactly.
Woman: I see, thanks so much, there'll be a draft will in the post this week for you to check and return.

I wonder to what extent she was really confused, and how much of it was wanting salacious titbits for the office watercooler. Should I have come straight out with "Hmm, girlfriend vs female friend - madam, are you asking me about my sex life here?"

In contrast, the bloke in Cambridge who filled out the form on our behalf didn't blink an eyelid when it came to the "girlfriend" bit. We even joked with him about having to put her children on as beneficiaries of last resort because we were all three about to go abseiling on the same bit of rope!
18th-May-2009 07:23 pm - Diathermy Armpit Ow
My Transwoman-Solidarity Hair Removal Project continues. I had short wave diathermy (the more brutal form of electrolysis) on my left armpit today, and my sympathy with my wife and other trans women has increased, because it hurt a lot more than laser or blend electrolysis did. If I ever have that done again, I'm taking painkillers beforehand! I was very glad when the student finished with me, although the feeling of having a stinging nettle tucked under my armpit persisted for most of the day.

Compared to blend, the zapping time per hair is shorter - 3 seconds vs 5 is what the students are taught, but auntysarah tells me that experts like Sara Thomas only turn the machine on for a second or so per hair. With someone fast and experienced, I can see there might be a time advantage to diathermy, but I don't think the students practising on me get more than one or two hairs per minute, so an extra two seconds per hair is pretty irrelevant. Sarah also tells me that diathermy has a higher rate of permanent removal. It's sad to think that most of the hairs I've had treated will grow back, but hey, it's interesting to find out about these things, and the student who treated me seemed to relish the chance to fry some hairs. I did wonder if she'd ever considered a career as a dentist.

Be Nice To Trans Women - They Have Suffered!
18th-May-2009 06:53 pm - News About Me
I have handed my notice in at work. I've been there more than seven years (as one of the founders) and we've done some great things together, but over time I've been getting more and more burned out with the engineering side and it's hard to become less driven when it's a company that I've got so much of myself tied up in, if that makes any sense. So, I'm quitting next month and am going to treat myself to a nice long break. After that, who knows? I'll still be a shareholder in the company, but as far as employment, don't know yet if I'll go back to something similarly computery or change careers altogether. Perhaps I'll look for some temporary jobs, to see different sides of life. Of course, the good old credit crunch recessionyjig turning up isn't great timing for something like this, but better that than leaving the company too early, when there were still bits of the codebase that Only I Knew How To Fix. 'Tis a bit nerve-wracking, but I think I'm looking forward to a new chapter of my life. A more care-free existence, perhaps. My father had no alternative but to work continuously throughout his life to pay the bills until his dementia made him unable to earn a wage. I'm lucky - I don't have to do that.
20th-Apr-2009 11:06 pm - New Tricycle
I appear not to have written anything since before our civil partnership... hmm, must have been a bit busy. We had a fab time, thanks to everyone who came, sent cards, etc. It was absolutely amazing.

The new tricycle arrived on Friday. My old tricycle that got nicked was a second-hand purchase from someone living a mile away, but no such luck this time on sourcing a replacement. So it was to be a new Taiwanese one (similar price new to the second-hand Pashley) and we debated whether to get it flat-packed or collect it. Having it flat-packed seemed the lesser of two evils, as getting it in the back of the car would probably have involved disassembly and then reassembly afterwards, but we had second thoughts when the thing turned up with illegibly photocopied instructions for a different model entirely (different brakes AND different gears). I wouldn't have known where to start, but auntysarah did a sterling job with some help from zoeimogen, and after a few days of sproings and widgets all over the hall, it is now sitting there in one piece, and the wheels are going round, and the brakes seem to do the right thing too. I trust them...

It's the first time I've used derailleur gears, so that might take a bit of getting used to. Especially as Sarah reckons that the geary gubbins don't quite fit properly and I should treat it as a five-speed rather than a six-speed, or Bad Things will happen with a big Clunk. And I'll be getting a thicker security chain and talking to our household insurance before parking it in the porch. However, one odd feature is that the saddle can't be secured down, so I'll be carrying that with me whenever it's parked, which should reduce the chance of the rest of it being nicked too.
1st-Apr-2009 10:58 pm - Benefit of the Doubt
After a good night's sleep, I've decided to think a little less badly of my grandparents. They're very old, and it must be near impossible to be in one's late nineties without some mental deficit. It may have seemed like they were being manipulative on purpose, but I suspect that underlying it was a lot of confusion that they couldn't admit to having, along with being rather inward-looking due to being virtually housebound.

I know I was disappointed that I came all that way to see them and they didn't ask how my life was going or how I was coping with my father's death, but I have good memories of them being caring grandparents who wanted to know if I was happy, so I'll make allowances. I suspect that the person they talk to most apart from each other is my mother, and that would rot anyone's brain.

As I promised, I've sent them some photos that Sarah and I took at the weekend. The ones of them on their own are the most flattering, because next to me or Sarah their age is more visible - their osteoporosis causes them to only come up to chest height!
2x photosCollapse )
Cut for length (Mother drama AND grandparents drama)Collapse )

I suppose it's evidence of a toxic family when, in the same week, my father dies and I make a social trip to my grandparents, and only the latter makes me (and my partner) feel in need of anti-anxiety drugs.
Thanks everybody for all the kind replies to my post yesterday. I was touched to see so many comments, so quickly! I am feeling a lot more in control of things today.

how the practicalities are working out... and my motherCollapse )

I had a good cry on Sarah's shoulder earlier, and feel better for it. I have some good memories of him, mixed in with some sadness that he didn't get to live much of his life the way he wanted to.
23rd-Mar-2009 04:29 pm - Sad News
I got a phone call at 2:45 this morning to tell me that my father had passed away in hospital, in his sleep.
It turns out it was a pulmonary embolism (blood clot) which is always a risk for people who are somewhat immobile in a hospital bed for a while. I'm sad, but coping OK because there really wasn't much left of the person I knew anyway. In one of those all-too-common unfortunate coincidences, the very next phone call was from social services who were ready to arrange his nursing home transfer. I told them.

We finally managed to get hold of my mother in India, after emailing her neighbour and leaving her text messages. She's not yet decided whether she's coming back or not.

I've decided it's best to keep myself busy and distracted, so after going to the hospital we went around Cambridge city centre running errands for our wedding and doing some retail therapy by buying some climbing helmets and abseil webbing from Open Air so we can do some more adventurous abseiling in future.

Then we went to the County Court, handed in the forms for decree absolute, and waited until they were processed and Sarah was presented with a full Gender Recognition Certificate and a Final Decree of Nullity of Marriage. I'm happy she's at the end of her legal transition, but death and divorce in one day is some serious emotional upheaval.
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