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Well hello there.  I’m Kirsty.  I don’t know if you remember but I used to write a blog.  Then around four weeks ago I stopped.  And now I’m starting again.  It’s the longest break I have had between posts since I started this blog, and while around half of it was beyond my control, I also haven’t had much to say.  So let’s have a wee catch-up.  Grab yourself a cup of tea and a slice of cake and I’ll begin.

A week after my last post, I went on my first foreign holiday in a couple of years.  Along with Mrs K and the little Kirsties, we went to Gran Canaria for a week.  We had a very enjoyable family holiday, thanks, which I’m not going to elaborate on here (this blog isn’t called “Bob’s World” you know).  A side effect of me being away with the family was that my female side had to be suppressed for nearly two weeks, the longest I have gone without any Kirsty time since I accepted myself for who I really am early last year.  That wasn’t easy.  Jealously admiring the pretty summer dresses on display in the beachside restaurants in the evening, frustratingly accompanying Mrs K through the wonderful range of shops and local boutiques in Las Palmas, having to feign disinterest for the kids’ benefit, and just feeling intermittently shapeless and ugly, a caterpillar among the butterflies.

IMG_3189We arrived home around 1am on the morning of Sunday 2nd August.  At least I didn’t have long to wait to find my womanly feet again, as I had the latest meeting of my Book Group to look forward to.  This month’s book was an absolute treat – The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  Mrs K read this a few years ago and rates it as one of the best three novels she has ever read.  And after reading it myself (600 pages in 5 days on holiday!) I have to agree.  It is excellent.  Harrowing, heartbreaking, educational, shocking, exasperating, a family drama, a history lesson, a travelogue all at once.  It tells the story of a fundamentalist Christian missionary, his wife and their four daughters as they relocate from the United States to the Congo in the early 1960’s, just in time for independence from Belgium and revolution.  Told from the first-person perspective of the daughters and their mother, it was a remarkable book and I would recommend it to anyone.  And it appears that the rest of the group agreed with me, because we all give the book a mark out of ten at the end of the discussion, and The Poisonwood Bible now holds the all-time high score.

We had a new member come along this month, a guy called Allan.  He seemed a little younger than the average age in the group, but very friendly and quite insightful in his comments.  There were I think twelve people present, only two of whom were male.  However, I couldn’t help but notice that the two men took up well over half of the discussion time between them.  To be clear, I don’t think they were deliberately hogging the conversation, they weren’t talking over people or cutting others off, but for some reason they spoke way more than us women.  Go figure.

I have written before about my book group friend Shirley, who knows Bob from way back and in fact was at my wedding nearly 17 years ago.  Well Shirley is still one of Bob’s Facebook friends so would have seen all my updates that I posted while on holiday.  This meant that as I sat in the book group, I didn’t feel able to tell my friends that I had just returned from a week in Gran Canaria, because I was worried that Shirley would think “Hmm, Bob’s been in Gran Canaria all week too.  Now I come to think of it, Kirsty and Bob look awfully alike.  About the same height too.  And they have the same surname.  Hang on a minute!!!” and so on.  Was I being overly cautious?  Maybe, maybe not, but I felt that my conversation was rather stilted as I was watching my Ps and Qs so I didn’t inadvertently say about something I had done which would lead Shirley to think “Bob did that too…”.  In all likelihood, even if Shirley does recognise Bob and Kirsty as the same person, she doesn’t care.  And even if she hasn’t realised yet, I don’t think she’d have a problem with it.  I’d be more concerned that she might be annoyed that I didn’t tell her upfront.  She hasn’t actually seen Bob face to face since before she met Kirsty for the first time back in November 2014.  I wonder if meeting Bob again would trigger anything with her?

Actually, thinking about it, my reluctance to have Shirley find out that I am also Bob isn’t so much about Shirley herself, it’s about managing the grapevine.  I would think that Shirley would keep it to herself, but if she didn’t then I suspect one of the first people to find out would be another mutual friend (or acquaintance, I don’t actually like her very much.  Or at all.  In fact she’s a pain in the posterior).  This person, let’s call her Elle, is a renowned blabbermouth, and also happens to work in the same place as Mrs K, although not in the same office.  So if Elle found out about me from Shirley, which isn’t a possibility I can rule out, then within a day or two all of Mrs K’s work colleagues would know, which Mrs K would truly hate.  Not that she thinks her colleagues would think she was evil or make fun of her, in fact she thinks they would be supportive of her, if not of me.  No, what she doesn’t want is for people to feel sorry for her.  She would hate that.  So on the whole, safest not to mention Gran Canaria in the book group, just in case.

I had originally planned to have a day out with my best friend Andrea the very next day, but unfortunately she was confined to home with her skin having reacted quite badly to her first full laser session, so faced with the choice of going out for a full day by myself on Monday or having an afternoon solo and evening with Michelle on the Wednesday, I plumped for the latter.  On Wednesday afternoon I tried a bit of shopping in a new venue, Forestside Shopping Centre in South Belfast.  There were plenty of shops there but they were all smaller, less well-stocked versions of their counterparts in the city centre or other more regular shopping haunts.  In the end I ended up making a couple of purchases back at Sprucefield in Lisburn.  I bought a peach mini-dress and scarf combo from Next (positively indecent with tights, definitely requires skinny jeans or leggings) and a pair of “white mix” block heeled sandals from M&S.  In between all this, I also met up with Michelle for our usual toastie and coffee, and indeed it was Michelle who helped me choose between the white and black version of those sandals.  Between Sunday at the book group, and Wednesday out by myself and later with Michelle, I felt I was slowly returning to the normality, whatever that is.

I didn’t manage to get out until late the following Wednesday due to Mrs Kirsty’s work commitments, but I had a perfectly enjoyable evening with Michelle and, later on, Linda. Not a lot more to add, it was what it was.  Sometimes meeting up with friends is enough, not every trip out has to break new ground.

So there we go, a quick catch-up.  A bit shorter than my usual verbose ramblings, but I’m putting that down to the cold I’m currently dosed up with.  There’s a point in fact – can trans women get manflu?

One more thing.  Yesterday morning I missed out on a golden opportunity to have a discussion of trans matters with my elder daughter, who has just turned 13.  We were sitting eating breakfast with the BBC News on TV, when there was a trail for an upcoming item about a trans* beauty pageant, with a voiceover saying something about increased visibility of the trans community with people like Caitlyn Jenner and Kellie Maloney.  At this point Kirsty Jr looks up and says “Caitlyn Jenner’s really pretty isn’t she?” and much to my annoyance at myself I just replied something like “Yes, she looks amazing, especially considering her age”.  Of course, I very quickly realised that the correct response for me to have given would have been “Yes she does.  It can’t have been easy for her family to adjust, how do you think you would have reacted if that was me?”  The perfect opportunity for me to give her a hypothetical question about me possibly being trans* without raising any obvious suspicion in her mind that I actually am trans*.  But of course I thought of this response around 30 seconds too late for me to say it and still have it as part of the natural flow of the conversation.  Next time!

On a positive note, my daughter was really positive about Jenner’s transition, called her “she” and said she was pretty, which is much better than having her tut and say “He’s a freak”.  I wonder what she would say about a more “real-world” trans women who is perhaps less conventionally beautiful, and who doesn’t have the financial resources to get all the surgeries and treatments.  I wonder if I’ll ever find out?  I have this daydream where the two of us (I mean my daughter and me me, not daughter and Bob) go out into town together for a shopping trip.  I don’t know if it will ever come to pass, but I can dream.

And on that note, I’m going to say goodbye for now.  I have to go and put a few items of clothing in a bag for later on, as I’m off for dinner and cinema with Andrea later.  Hopefully once I put on a dress the manflu symptoms will magically dissipate.

Until next time

Kirsty x

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