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After another soul searching post last time round it’s time again for a wee look at what I have been up to in the last week.  My mood does seem to be up and down quite a bit these days, which may possibly be related to how much Kirsty time I have.  The last post (“Autosnobbery”) was written when I had had my first 100% male (or as close as I get) weekend in a while, and I think it got to me.  I’ve still got my regular Wednesday nights with my friends at my support group of course, but if I don’t get some Kirsty time at the weekend too I really do find myself at a low by Monday morning.  Add to this the problem of watching others progress while I appeared to be going nowhere and it was getting to me.  When I talk about the “problem” of watching others progress, it’s a bit like sitting on a motionless train in a station waiting for it to move off.  Then the train next to you starts moving and for a while it feels as if it’s your train moving backwards.  Well I was watching friends moving forwards and it felt like I was moving backwards too.  Of course, eventually your viewpoint switches back to the real one and you see that while you haven’t moved at all, you certainly haven’t gone backwards, but you will still shortly be on your way to your destination.  So for now I’m going to try to relax and enjoy the ride as much as I can.

You may recall that my friends Andrea, Michelle and I jokingly refer to ourselves as the Lisburn Ladies’ Fine Dining Club (LLFDC) when we are going out for meals together.  Unbelievably, the LLFDC hasn’t actually convened since way back in November when the three of us were accompanied by my old friends Vincent and Deirdre to whom I had recently outed myself.  Now in the intervening period Andrea and I have been out for dinner together a couple of times, plus the Christmas dinner with three other girls, and I have also accompanied Michelle on her first two shopping trips as her female self, but we hadn’t actually managed dinner together.  So it was clearly time to put that right.

Unfortunately our hectic social diaries meant that we couldn’t find a Saturday evening on which we were all free until well into February, so we agreed to go out on a Wednesday evening.  After much to-ing and fro-ing on email we finally decided upon an American-style diner close to the support group HQ in Lisburn, called Ed’s Bar and Grill.  With her new-found confidence Michelle called the restaurant and booked a table for us in her female name – I did wonder to myself when I took her on her first shopping trip if I had spawned a monster, she now says that I definitely have done.  But a very affable monster.  Anyway, we had agreed to meet there so after Michelle and I had got ourselves ready at the Butterfly Club premises, we took the very short drive to the restaurant where we were to meet Andrea, who was going straight there.  We stood out on the street waiting for a couple of minutes, with a fair few cars around and didn’t notice any untoward attention.  Before too long, Andrea arrived and we walked in together.  Michelle had to speak to say she had booked, and gave her name, and we were shown to a waiting area for a minute while they got our table ready.

Michelle and I wait for our starters

Michelle and I wait for our starters

Ed’s is something of a mid-range restaurant.  In fact, I think the LLFDC should be renamed the LLCDC for the evening.  I did mean “casual” rather than “fine”, although Michelle suggested that a better c would be “chic”.  In the spirit of casual-ish dining, I wore my red jumper dress and knee boots, hopefully fairly chic without being overdressed.

Unfortunately Andrea was feeling quite down over the situation with her daughter, which she talks about on her own blog.  Michelle and I tried to console her as best we could, and also complimented her on her hair.  She had been to the hairdresser to get her wig styled, and it genuinely did make quite a difference to her appearance.  I think she thought we were just being nice, and it was hard to compliment the new hairdo too much without making it sound like I thought the previous style was horrendous (it wasn’t!) but the hairdresser had made a great job of it.

The food was good for the price, not haute cuisine by any means, but perfectly acceptable and great value.  They were running an offer of any main course, and get one of around five starters free plus one of three desserts for 95p.  Can’t be bad!  So I had crispy hot wings to start, which were very enjoyable and succulent, and pretty spicy too.  They even provided a finger bowl for me – very classy!  For my main I had chilli beef enchiladas, which were served on onions and peppers with chunky chips AND rice with salsa.  The salsa wasn’t very good but everything else was excellent.  In fact, the dish would have been better if they had just left there rice and salsa off the plate.  There was enough of everything else and it tasted good enough that I wouldn’t have felt short-changed at all.  I even had enough to donate a couple of chips to Andrea’s plate.  She had ordered a carb-free chicken burger, which was a chicken fillet with bacon and no bun.  How is that a burger?  Anyway, for dessert I had a Hot Fudge Sunday, which wasn’t remotely hot but was still a perfectly acceptable portion of chocolate fudge cake, ice cream, fresh cream and chocolate sauce.  Mmmm.  And the best part – all that, plus a diet coke, for £15.  I strongly suspect we’ll be back.

Andrea shows off her new "do"

Andrea shows off her new “do”

Yet again, we were treated in a completely “normal” way.  The waiting staff appeared to treat us as they would any other customer, other diners paid us no more attention than they would to anyone else, and all three of us just blended in with everyone else. Good food and good conversation is always welcome, but on top of that to feel just part of the world in my true female persona is priceless.

We settled our bill and went back to the Butterfly Club for coffee and more chat for another hour.  By the time we arrived back shortly after 10pm everyone else had left, but as Michelle and I are both key holders it wasn’t a problem.  We sat talking for another hour, including a fashion show from Andrea, who was greatly enthused by a new top she had just bought.  At least it was a bit more mainstream than the previous week, when she couldn’t wait to show us her new wellies – and very nice wellies they were too.

I had indicated that I wasn’t going to be available at the weekend due to a session with my personal trainer on Saturday afternoon (from which I am still suffering with aching abs) and dinner at my sister’s on Sunday.  While I was in theory available on Saturday evening, I didn’t want to go for yet another restaurant meal so was expecting a weekend of Bob.  Andrea came up with a different suggestion, and another “first” for me.  A trip to the cinema!  Yes, I thought, what a great idea.  After a few email suggestions back and forth between Andrea and me we agreed that we would go to see “Boyhood”, which has been festooned with several Oscar nominations and has already won the Golden Globe for best drama.  Also, the irony of Andrea and I going to see a film called “Boyhood” was not lost on either of us.

Speaking of irony, or possibly just stupidity, in order to get ready in time to meet Andrea for a coffee before the cinema, I had to have a early and quick evening meal at home.  This meant that I went straight from the gym to Burger King.  Burn the calories off, put them straight back on again.  The things we do!  Anyway, we met up at 7pm and went straight to the Lisburn Omniplex cinema to collect the tickets that Andrea had pre-booked before coffee and cake. As always, I had a lovely chat with my best chum, which mostly consisted of slagging off our respective bosses.  That’s what bosses are for, aren’t they?

We took the very short walk to the cinema from Costa (it’s practically next door, in fact it might literally be next door) where we by-passed the queue and handed our tickets to the attendant, who pointed us toward the correct screen.  The cinema complex was quite busy, and we moved through with not a glance from anyone.  I must admit I was a little nervous both outside the cinema and in the main concourse as there were quite a few teenagers loitering around.  For some reason they make me slightly more nervous than adults, maybe I feel that they are less likely to be bound by politeness and might shout out “bloke in a dress!” or the like, but nothing of the sort happened.  I am probably doing them a disservice, after all I was one myself once and I was a model citizen.  Honest.

We walked into screen 10 to discover two other people there.  Obviously the Oscar nominations aren’t exactly doing wonders for the box office receipts.  But a few more people arrived after us and by the time the film began there were maybe twelve of us in the room.  Far from busy, but not embarrassingly empty considering it was quite a small room.  I really enjoyed the film and can honestly say I have never seen the like before.  If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it follows a boy growing up from age 7 to 18.  It was filmed for a couple of weeks each summer from 2002 to 2013, with the same core cast all the way through, including the boy and his older sister.  It is quite a remarkable piece of cinema.  Not only is it a subtle, well-acted character piece, it is also quite sobering to watch children grow up and young adults become middle aged in front of your eyes.  Time is short.

Also, from my nerdy point of view, it was fun to see the evolving video gaming technology on display, not to mention most of the recent history of Apple.  In the early part of the movie, the boy (Mason) is seen with a Game Boy Advance, which then progresses to a Wii, and an Xbox, an old Apple iBook, a black plastic MacBook, a aluminium MacBook Pro (like the one I’m typing on now), loads of iMacs and various iterations of iPod and iPhone.  I wonder how much Apple paid for the product placement.  Actually, in 2002, Apple were nothing like the huge megacorporation they are today, so they probably got a great deal.  Geeky digression over.

For a film of well over two and a half hours, the time passed quickly and enjoyably.  Most of the time I was in the cinema that’s all I was doing, but I can’t deny that on the odd occasion when I looked down it was very pleasing to see my skirt rather than the usual shapeless male trousers.  Even sitting in the dark, when passing or being seen to be female wasn’t an issue, just knowing that I was being authentic to myself was enough.  When it was in my mind at all.  Most of the time, it wasn’t in my mind.  That’s the odd thing.  When I’m presenting a male facade to the world, my mind is constantly rebelling against it, screaming out “No!  This is wrong!”.  When I actually manage some time presenting as female, although there are similar bouts of “Yes!  This is right!”, the most common feeling is calm.  I’m not actively celebrating being female, I’m just at ease with it.  And surely that’s more important.

It was gone 11.30pm by the time Andrea and I hugged each other goodbye and I went off to change into male clothing and wipe off my make up.  Another very enjoyable evening and definitely not the last time I’ll be making the trip to the cinema as Kirsty.  Although just one slight fear I have about further cinema viewing – I am shocking for crying at films, TV programmes, even the occasional video game has left me blubbing (looking at you, Dragon Age Origins).  But while presenting as male I haven’t had to worry about my eye make up running.  I had better check that my eyeliner and mascara are waterproof before our next cinema trip!

That’s all folks!

Kirsty x