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I'm spending money. Possibly a little more than I should but, frankly, fuck it.

Last night's purchase was actually quite moderate but I think I'm very pleased. I bought a stereo amplifier years ago from a Cash Converter, choosing it from amongst those on offer by lifting each in succession and picking the one with the heaviest power supply. That served me well for years and years but died a couple of years ago when I moved into the unit in Caulfield. I bought a cheap replacement but it was rubbish. So I finally cleared my second room in this house and decided I wanted a stereo again. I put out a request on Facebook and an old old friend who also happens to be something of an audio gear nut. It turns out that what he sold me is an old mid-70s Luxman amp, the L80 to be exact.I don't usually get this excited and geeky about audio gear but this is a find. It makes luscious creamy effortless sound and I haven't been able to crank it yet but I don't think I'll be disappointed. For $120 I think this is solid value; a bargain in fact.

The other upcoming purchases are in some ways slightly less tangible but in others about as tangible as it's possible to be. I've been craving a tattoo for some time and specifically I want to get one NOW as a sort of emotional bookmark. I have a large piece chosen and I will still get it but the artist I want to do it can't fit me in until next year. So I conceived of this as an idea. The original is a Greek tetradrachm coin minted in honour of Athena some 2000-2500 years ago. Owls have always been an image that stick in my mind and there is some nice symbology associated with Athena so that will be inked into the skin in the inside of my left forearm in about two weeks. That will likely be a couple of hundred dollars.

The larger piece will be substantially more expensive. The plan is to have this done over my right upper arm as a half-sleeve. Mucha did a lot of four panel pieces (tetratyches?) and this was from his 1898 work "The Arts" There was Painting, Poetry, Music and Dance. Music was the obvious choice for me and besides I like the image. This style could easily be mangled and done awkwardly so I'm being super picky with the artist. Her preliminary drawing fee is $400 and then $220/hour for inking. The plus side is that her style sits well with art nouveau and even better she's excited enough about doing this piece to bump me up her waiting list, which is really rather long. So I'm looking at a couple of thousand for that which seems excessive but it's going to be a fantastic piece and something that I'll have forever.
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Another few weeks and I'm back at work and feeling more comfy. My secondment has been extended for another eight weeks which pushes it back to the end of August and the call centre is feeling very very remote. This is a good thing. Call volumes are out of control and the atmosphere in there is feeling rather toxic to the point where I'm feeling it from 9 floors up and through some rather remote channels.

I bought myself a cello last weekend. This is an amazing instrument and one of the most deliciously tactile things I own. It is huggable in a way that I don't expect from a musical instrument and rewards pretty much any kind of touch. It resonates and responds makes complex noises no matter what I do with it. My left hand kind of knows what's going on but the bow is a challenge. If I play it pizzicato the level of concentration needed is less than half of what I need with the bow and it engages me in an exhausting way. I like this. I like it a lot. I'll like it even more when I learn to make deep, sweet, toffee-coated sounds with it.

I'm finding that I can walk more and I'm starting to want to reclaim this body that I like so so much more than I ever have before. I still can't cycle or skate and that will take some time. I'm undertaking a detox diet with my housemate which was something she wanted to do and that dovetails with the intention I already had not to drink alcohol over the course of July. This might pull some of this excess weight off and give me a head start on doing some kind of real exercise heading into August. In the meantime I still have the opportunity to get to know this body in an awful lot of ways. Derby is receding into the background although I still have a lot of wonderful people in my life as a result of it but the resulting gap left by its absence and the fact that surgery no longer occupies so much space in my thoughts gives me a chance to introduce new things to myself. Cello is definitely one. Defining relationships with people and the communities in which I exist is another. The myriad mental projects which all seem to be converging on the notions surrounding the ways in which we see and treat those who are not like ourselves is yet another.

I have a big blank canvas to play with. There's lots that's already defined but I have lots and lots of wriggle room. I *knew* this was coming and I knew full well that I was only going to be able to start the process of filling in the gaps once those gaps appeared. This is going to be fascinating.
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Things are settling.

I've not yet made any inroads on unpacking. The boxes are heavy and awkward and I'm wary. I'll get there but I think I will need to dragoon the unwary.

For the rest of it, the swelling has reduced and the slight ongoing bleeding and disconcertingly firm places (feels like cartilage) was looked at by the surgeon today and declared to be not a thing worth worrying about. This was what I suspected, but worth checking. A side note to that is that I'm leaving out the inner form for a bit and using tampons for the seepage. It's silly but there was a little bit of joy in legitimately purchasing tampons for my own use, even if it could never be tied to actual menstruation.

I've had a couple of nice days of what might be called actually enjoying this annual leave I'm taking. Monday was cafe breakfast (middling, but still tasty) followed by the purchasing of a nice teacup from the T2 shop on Brunswick St, playing about at Gallin's Music and then home to tea in said new teacup and Thai food dinner with nice housemates. Today was the visit to the surgeon followed by a spectacular vegan breakfast at a local cafe. It turns out that smoked tofu is not only a thing, it's an amazingly good thing. So so tasty! That plus other tastinesses such as black beans and beetroot relish made it memorable. From there I went shopping for a half size guitar for Small Boy with Bonnie. Every time I've seen him pick up a guitar without thinking he's picked it up left handed and been apparently much more comfortable strumming with his left hand so I asked the guys at the guitar shop to string it left handed for us. We got home and of course he immediately picked it up right handed - seems it was the size throwing him off. Fine, I reversed the strings making it right-handed again and we'll see how that goes.

While we were waiting for the guitar to be restrung, we roamed Brunswick St and Bonnie showed me a place that sells old stock for a number of brands I like, including Dangerfield. I spotted a red wool felt trilby marked down from $34 to $19. I was pleased enough with that but doubly so when I received it back from the cashier with $15 change from the $20 note. Apparently that happens sometimes there - extra markdowns don't hit the floor stock fast or consistently enough. Still, a not bad at all hat for five dollars makes me happy.

Home to relaxation with the rest of the household for the evening. I like it here.
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So yesterday I splashed out and bought a couple of things. One was a new pair of headphones. My old Sennheisers disappeared recently but were getting rather rattly and worn so probably due for replacement's not as if I didn't get a *lot* of use out of them. So another pair of Sennheiser cans and these are rather nicer than the old ones. Cleaner, less bass heavy, defined and just lovely. $150 is slightly more than I meant to spend but they were so much better than any of the $100-120 range things there that it was entirely worth it.

About half that price, but entirely more rewarding was the replacement bike helmet. My old one resoundingly earned its keep a couple of months ago and is now no longer a helmet. So this morning I put it on, along with cycling appropriate clothing and rode to work for the first time in months.

I had not realised how badly I had missed this and how dreadfully I felt as if I no longer had ownership of my body. Being allowed to use my own body like that again is the most gloriously empowering thing. I'm flabby and unfit and so so SLOW but it was the best thing ever and I get to do it all over again tomorrow.

I felt properly functional for the first time in months. The cough has nearly completely receded, I slept well, I got exercise, I listened to good music through my shiny new headphones while working and my productivity went through the roof. The contrast to the past few months was such a stark relief that I'm startled by just how cramped and unhappy I really have been recently. I should not want to cry with relief when I get home from work, not because the commute was hard but because it was so good.

So I'm now actively taking my body back. No snacks, reduced booze, cooking real food, finally exercising again, pilates on Mondays, and while I'm not looking forward to the consultation with the arthroscopic surgeon (not yet actually booked) it will at least be a step forward.

The months of no exercise and comfort food bingeing has seen my weight creep up to 77kg. 18 months ago I weighed 63kg and I liked that. Now my clothes don't fit. All the above measured should fix this particular bugbear. I *like* being fit and lean. I am so taking that back.

Finally, it's now four months away from reassignment surgery. That time will fly. I can't wait.

Level up!

Aug. 3rd, 2012 12:09 am
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Well I picked up the car on Tuesday and there has been a certain amount of gratuitous combustion of fossil fuel. I'm really very pleased with it and now I need to make sure I don't overuse it. Fortunately there's absolutely no danger of me using it to get to work and I still love my cycle commute so I'm not going to degenerate into a single mode of transport user. Hell, I even still prefer the train for a lot of things. So this simply opens up a lot of options for me and means that there will be fewer things that I'll bow out of due to transport issues. What car ownership does to my budget remains to be seen.

I used it to get to training tonight. There was a special session in Campbellfield run for the benefit of myself and three others who missed out on the recent star testing. True to form, there was plenty of support as other yellow star skaters turned up essentially to run through another testing session even though they'd already passed theirs. Each section of the testing is scored out of 5 with an average mark of 3 required to pass. I'm pretty pleased with my overall score of 4.7 and really, it's just passing that's the important part. So I'm now a yellow star which means I get to scrimmage (actually playing roller derby between our own skaters rather than just train) with the big girls now. So I'm very very pleased and I rather suspect that derby will take on yet another dimension as a result.

A less pleasing development is my secondment having ended I'm back in the call centre. This means every working day is filled to the brim with talking to people whose company I'd avoid if I had the choice. I realised this today while talking to a caller who I actually rather liked. On the positive side, I've been placed under the only team leader in the place who I actually prefer to my previous team leader who I like a great deal.

So overall there is positive development and I will watch with interest to see what I manage to build out of it all. Life is many things these days but I'm surely not finding it boring.
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A busy day yesterday. I got up bright and early to borrow a car from the lovely [personal profile] sjkasabi so that I could go shopping for my own. It turned out that the model that showed itself to be value for money at the price range was the late 90ish Holden Astra. I was looking at other things as well but in the end, party due to time constraints, test drove only two cars. The first was rather nice at first glance. A pleasing green and with a few extra bells and whistles. Once I started driving it though I immediately had a bad feeling about it - it really didn't quite feel right. I said non-committal things and continued on my way. At another car yard I found another Astra that was very nearly identical, albeit with few extra features. The main difference though was that it drove so very differently that I realised just how decrepit the first one had been and how mechanically good this second one felt. I did the usual round of driving tests and checked carefully for rust and accident damage (also remarkably clean in that regard) and promptly decided that this one was mine.

So I'm now very nearly the happy owner of a 1999 dark blue Holden Astra. I couldn't quite get a bank cheque on the day so my current plan is to get one tomorrow and then take that out to Mum's place (she lives just around the corner from the car yard) and see if she can't pick up the car on Tuesday. I can then drop by on the Tuesday evening and pick it up and still be on time for derby training as that doesn't start until 9pm.

It's been a long time since I've been car shopping, either for myself or anyone else. I don't think there's been anything that's come close to pointing up the differences in how I get treated these days. Secondhand car salesmen are generally not the most sophisticated of beasties and I was thoroughly bemused by just how remarkably different the experience was. It was occasionally hilarious...the first car didn't want to start and he tried to excuse it by saying that he'd accidentally flooded it. I pointed out that this was unlikely given that it's fuel injected and so has no throttle pump and delivers no fuel when the engine isn't running. The mixture of confusion and slight panic on his face was remarkable and I had to try awfully hard not to smirk at him. So there was a strange blend of solicitousness and condescension threaded through the whole experience. I realise that this is par for the course but there's still a great deal of novelty and validation in this for me so fascination still usually wins out over annoyance. I'm sure this will change and there were a couple of points when I didn't look half as closely at the contents of a car yard as I might have because the salesman seriously put me off.

Pleased with myself I headed off to derby. We didn't have training as such as it was fresh meat induction. 23 women turned up to have a go and I saw some real promise there, both amongst those who clearly already had some skating skills and the utter novices. A couple of them picked up suggestions that I made and integrated them really well despite being very uncertain on skates. I had some good chats with a few of them during the afternoon as well so I think Northside is going to gain some fantastic new members out of this group. After a couple of drinks at the Raccoon Club I headed home in a thoroughly good mood.

Today was spent servicing my sleep debt (which sounds so much better than "sleeping in" and does actually have an element of truth in it) and doing laundry. I have cooked very little lately so I went shopping and now have a bubbling pot of noms on the stove that I'm just about to have a bowlful of. I had an odd moment at the supermarket when the woman behind me at the checkout starting physically picking through my shopping on the conveyer belt at the checkout making comments about imported produce. Weird but in the end not worth getting invested in so I paid for my shopping and just left.

This week marks the end of my secondment at work. I have Monday and Tuesday as my final days in that department and then back down to the contact centre on Wednesday. I really don't want to go back to the phones. The couple of short stints i did last week have reinforced this. Still, I get the impression that it's only a matter of time until I go back to business support. There was a departmental meeting on Friday and several people said really nice things about me and my work so if there's another opening up there I suspect that any expression of interest from me will be viewed favourably. Also, if things go to usual form, I'm also likely to get a degree of priority for other alternative duties. I may not like the work in the contact centre overmuch but I like the people and the company so for now I think it's time to suck it up and bide my time. The security and stability that this employer provides means that I'd have to be offered something an great deal better even to consider changing.
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A new laptop today. It was slightly more than I meant to spend but it should last a good amount of time before it starts to feel clunky which should offset the expense. My little Alienware m11x acquitted itself awfully well up until the point where the hinges for the screen fell apart. Up until then I was prepared to overlook the fact that I'd really bought the thing to function as an adjunct to a desktop computer rather than my primary machine. The new computer is a 15" laptop so rather less wieldy in the drag it around the house sense but still perfectly luggable (I'm typing this in bed) and possessed of a keyboard which is *much* nicer to use. It's sadly not backlit, which is something I've learned to love in keyboards but other than that it's delightfully usable. I was also hoping to get something with a 1920x1200 resolution screen but that would have pushed the purchase price far closer to $2000 than I could stomach. So this is new and shiny and should provide plenty of computational grunt for the forseeable future. I did twitch a little shelling out the money but some things are needful and I use my computer enough that I can justify spending a little extra on it, particularly given that I've spent so little on most other things. My only other recent expense even measurable in hundreds of dollars is my roller derby gear and that's *definitely* been worth paying for.

So back to living quietly. There's a significant quotient of my derby team heading to Adelaide this coming weekend for The Great Southern Slam and it was with a certain regret that I decided I couldn't justify tagging along even if I could have wrangled the leave, (which I probably could have) The only other major expense this is is a big one...I have to get myself a car around the end of the year. I don't especially want to but there's not really a way around it.

Still...shiiiiney. *strokes it* I might have to install a game on it just to see how it behaves.
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Yesterday was a good day. Up moderately early and away to thornbury to meet with lovely people for a trip up to St Andrew's market. There was chai and browsing and purchasing of jackets and coats. The just above knee-length black velvet coat with the double row of brass buttons down the front is a new favourite and many points of spendiferousness to Lisa for pointing it out to me. The other was a sort of heavy stretch denim jacket, about hip length. It's a fun cut. I not that it's also made by a company called Gasp. I have at least one other thing by them, possibly a couple and I've certainly noticed the name in the past. I think I like their work.

After that, a brief get together with the people of Genderqueer Aust before training. As usual, I really enjoyed training. I like the new toestops although they need to be screwed in 2-3 turns as they poke out a bit far. Backing off the trucks (half a turn) was win but I think taking another turn out of them is warranted as it really felt like I hadn't taken it far enough. At the end of training though we did another endurance run. They broke us up into three group which was nice because it gave us a relatively clear track. When I did the dummy run for white star testing I managed 29 laps. This time I managed 31 and Im feeling rather pleased with myself. This is over the course of five minutes so I managed to turn slightly better than one lap of a derby track every 10 seconds and maintain that pace for five minutes. My lungs were burning at the end of it (and were sore for a couple of hours afterwards) and it seems to have seriously accelerated the post smoking lung clearing process but I like the fact that I can push that hard for five minutes solid.

Post-training evening drinks were fun as usual. I suspect I caught the very last Sandringham traing home...I *could* have cycled home from Flinders St; it's not as if I don't so that ride regularly but I'm glad I didn't have to.

Today was a bit of a mess. There was a derby bout in Rosebud that I really wanted to go to. It turns out that if I want to get to Rosebud by 12:30 on a Sunday, I have to be on the 8:24 out of Ripponlea. I wasn't expecting that and so wasn't out of bed in time. Bother. Still, a quiet morning and then some relaxed op shop browing on Chapel (a couple of lovely finds that were just a bit too small, but nothing actually purchased) followed by meeting up with two of the three people I went ot St Andrews market with made for a lovely evening. Mind you, I think I don't like drag much. I have a couple of reasons for it but I still don't think I fully understand why. Glad of the company for the evening though, some people are always fun to be around.
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An odd day today. I went to a couple of gatherings, both of which involved nice socialisation. The weather was cold and wet which both literally and figuratively dampened the mood somewhat. There was odd emotional discomfort which is really nobody's problem but my own so I'm not sure exactly how to address that. It also seems I'm still having odd ambivalent feelings about being attracted to people.

Yay for Kerry Greenwood booklaunches, even if today didn't bring the wonderful sunnyt weather which usually accompanies such things. There was singing which was always good. I had a minor twitchy moment and moved on to the next gathering I was due to go to, and in truth only got there about half an hour early. There's a Melbourne genderqueer group which has some lovely people there. I feel like something of an old fart there but not too badly. Thence to Hares and Hyenas to grab a copy of this. I was amused by the fact that the central character is a transgendered cyclist called Salisbury Forth who lives in Melbourne. A solid array of coincidences that and the book itself looks fun.

Food is in the oven. I chopped onions and let them fry in the bottom of my lovely cast iron pot with garlic and turmeric and pepper and cumin and fresh coriander before dumping a tin of diced tomatoes, two tins of chickpeas, a goodly amount of chopped sweet potato, flaked almonds and caroway seeds which I'd just toasted, a little chilli oil, tarragon and a box of frozen spinach on top of it and transferring the lot to the oven where it makes nice smells and is stirred occasionally.

I have a small amount of a Pratchett novel to consume and then I think it'll be straight on to my latest acquisition. I'm not really sure how I feel at this point. Not bad, not good but a poorly stirred mix of the two.
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That's much better. After the past couple of weeks of divers and sundrie argh, I finally have some better headspace. On Saturday I finally found a hutch for the kitchen. This means I can put the pots away without trying to nest them inside each other, the drinking glasses are where I can reach them without awkward stretching and the cat food no longer lives on top of the fridge. I am most pleased and predictably indebted to the ever helpful [personal profile] tenbears for helping me get the thing from the St Vinnies on Glenferrie Rd to the kitchen in my flat. There was a brewing gathering at The Embassy but for some reason I felt flat and got a lift home. I was just about to prepare dinner when I had an unexpected but certainly not unwelcome invitation to head out for drinks with the lovely Ms E. We wound up sitting at a table in a tiny alley just off Little Bourke St, drinking wine and chattering idly for ages. I was also introduced to the espresso martini which I found very much to my taste. I got home somewhat squiffy but in an awfully good mood.

Today I made my way into the North Melbourne Market which is held in the Lithuanian Club on Errol St. I and [personal profile] splodgenoodles went in together and met up with [profile] ant_queen, [profile] ms_kilian and Ms. N. There was much browsing, a little purchasing (I found a tiny fobwatch with a spherical case on a necklace and decided it was a Needful Thing) followed by a late and lazy lunch. I got home and finally managed to cook the spinach/chickpea thing I'd been meaning to have for the past few days. I sauteed the spinach with garlic and chilli oil and a little butter, stirred through almond flakes I'd toasted first, drained and rinsed chickpeas, sundried tomatoes, feta and sweet potato chopped into fairly small pieces and roasted. It came up slightly oily but rather tasty. I am now full.

Now to bed with a book and I might just head off to work tomorrow in a good frame of mind.
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I've had an account in DW for a while and it allows for crossposting to LiveJournal so I'll give it a shot now that I appear to have reached a critical mass of people I know posting here.

Today more or less marks six months of living alone. For all that I don't like some of the reasons for living along I've come very much to like having my own space. I've filled it with a clutter of stuff that in a lot of ways is me and shows how I've changed.

I added to that clutter tonight. The lovely Ms Killian told me of a sale in Target and arranged to meet me there. From that point, we collected armsful of clothes on sale and traipsed into the change rooms for a frenzy of Trying Stuff On. Yes, no, that cut suits you but not in that colour, you should get that one, that top doesn't go with that skirt but would be cute with jeans and and and...FUN! Also most educational. I simply haven't had the opportunity to really work out What Forth Wears. Some of the stuff I buy will be a failure and some of you will occasionally see me in stuff and shake your heads in disbelief. It's experimental. I'm going to try to avoid going overboard but I'm also going to explore and that will happen mostly in the context of safe environments ie. around people who know me and care about me. That'd be you. *points* So when I turn up to parties and other gatherings, that's my time to play with my appearance and it's when I will push boundaries.

So I'm going to ask that you be honest about stuff. It's nice to be told that I look nice but when that's all I ever hear I wonder how much is genuine and how much is just people being supportive. If I look like a shrieking tranny, SAY something. I may agree, I may not but much better than "Oh yes, the green sequined jumpsuit and yellow nail polish really suits your complexion."

A challenging thing but also fun.
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I woke up yesterday with a profound case of Do Not Want To Move. No real physical malaise other than a deep and strangely dirty feeling tiredness. I lay there for a while berating myself to get up and get ready for work before eventually realising that this sinply wasn't going to happen. I called work and promptly slept for another five hours so I guess I really was tired.

I made my way up to Oakleigh as the certificate for my name change arrived on Tuesday and given I had the afternoon free I thought I might as well put it to some use. A new license with the correct name and a fresh new photo should be in the post soon. I made my way back to Oakleigh and thence to Chadstone shopping centre and let my bank and Medicare know given that they both have offices there. I also raiding the twitching husk of the Borders shop and scored a half price William Gibson novel for about $15 and a book full or Rogier Ven der Weyden prints for $10 which is giving me ideas for girly 15th century SCA garb. I may yet learn to sew!

One thing I have noticed with this is that while I can deal wih seeing my old name in an overtly masculine context, seeing "Mr" before "Forth" makes me twitch badly. It seems that name is extremely clearly gendered in my mind (which is entirely as it should be) and that there are parts of my psyche which object strongly to seeing it mis-gendered. Unfortunately there's a tendency to require an honourific in front of one's name on records of identity and they're all bloody gendered. I may start getting obstinate about this. Fortunately it doesn't actually show on the driver's license or I would have just gritted my teeth and asked specifically for "Ms". Maybe I should have anyway.

I'm just about to start work for the day and heading off to Transitory tonight. There's a gathering of friends that I think I'd rather go to but I'd already said I'd meet someone else at Transitory and I'm feeling weird about intruding on some people's space at the moment. This really needs to be dealt with though or there are some friends I'll never see.
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I got a tax refund yesterday and so decided that the time was right to get one of the things I've decided that I want for the trip to Italy later this year, namely this. I wanted something that would let me suck pics off the camera, cull, process and upload them to Flickr as well as post to LJ and generally have net access wherever there's a wireless hotspot. I didn't want a full laptop purely on the portability side of things. This is about the size and weight of a hardback book and a surprisingly usable piece of kit. It's probably got nearly as much processing grunt as my last desktop! I almost made this entry with it but a proper full sized keyboard is a nicer thing to is and as it was sitting right next to this keyboard it seemed silly to type this out on the smaller keyboard which I'm still getting used to. It's a fun thing though.


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