quarridors: Sporting a giant Tangle (not a chrome snake) (September 2012)
I've been on and off work due to stress for the last month or so. For the last couple of weeks, I've been focusing a lot on self care and reducing stress. Yesterday was my first day of phased return to work with reduced hours and responsibilities, and it was a success, I'm going to work another 4 hours today and the plan is to try this 5 days a week until the xmas holidays then start ramping up in the new year.

I identified a while ago that posting here would be a nice way to get thoughts and feelings off my mind at a slower pace than Twitter and with a small audience of understanding people who I've known for a long time. However, there's been so much going on in my life that writing a first post with all the context for the rest just seemed too big and overwhelming. I decided that I'd try to write out the shortest possible 'elevator pitch' description of what's gone on, which has resulted, thanks to my tendency towards verbosity, in a reasonable length entry with a 'To Be Continued' ending...

Getting diagnosed with ADHD and thinking I had all the answers at last )

And then I went to BiCon, Nine Worlds and Autscape...
quarridors: Sporting a giant Tangle (not a chrome snake) (Default)
This morning marked 2 weeks since I had my gall bladder removed. Tomorrow lunch time will be 2 weeks since I was discharged from hospital after my blood pressure recovered.

Recovery has been going very well. I had my discharge call from the surgery department yesterday. It was about 20 minutes long and we talked through various aspects. They were very happy with my progress and I found the call pleasant, useful and reassuring.

Recovery and next steps in more detail... )

Because I work from home at a desk, I was allowed to start doing phased return a week ago. I've managed at least 3 hours work every working day for a week with 4 or 5 hours most days. As of tomorrow I'm going up to virtually full time (I have 3 flexitime hours in hand from before my surgery so I can have a longer lunch and an afternoon nap). I'm glad I've been allowed back to work because I'd have been very bored indeed by now.

My mum came to visit this afternoon and did some of the chores and housework that I'm not allowed to do yet. I now have a cleaner flat, clean bedding, a fully stocked fridge and some more portions of home cooked food in the freezer, which should keep me going for another week or so. I'm very glad to have patient and helpful parents who live nearby to come and help when I'm in recovery.

So generally recovery has been all going at or ahead of the schedule I was told to expect, with no unexpected difficulties. The only hitch at any point has been the low blood pressure on the first day and that had been resolved by midnight.
quarridors: Sporting a giant Tangle (not a chrome snake) (September 2012)
Just to update those in the know but who don't follow me on Twitter:
I had laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery to remove my gall bladder on Tuesday. It had multiple gallstones and scarring and had caused me a few painful attacks in the past and was possibly the cause of some of my longterm digestive problems, so it made sense to have it removed. It wasn't emergency surgery, I'd had several weeks notice. The advice was that it was better to have it removed before it became an emergency and that most people can eat normally afterwards.
I'm meant to be signed off work for 2 weeks but as I work from home sat at a desk, I'm allowed to start doing 'phased return' after a week. I think I'll need this because I'm already quite bored of doing very little all day. But also I'd spending the majority of my afternoons asleep so I won't be full time.
My dressings are supposed to come off at lunch time today. Being open to the air is good for healing. If I have any problems, I have a second set of dressings. I think, other than the hypotension on day one, everything's been going well. I have a surprisingly large number of friends who've had the surgery so I had a good idea of what to expect and what life's like afterwards.
quarridors: Sporting a giant Tangle (not a chrome snake) (September 2012)

It's been a year since I was first referred for assessment, and seven months since I was diagnosed with an autistic spectrum condition. This September I gained the knowledge of exactly why I was different, 20 years after becoming painfully and hopelessly aware at age 12 that I wasn't and couldn't be like other kids, no matter how hard I tried. After years of searching, I finally knew for certain that the word that described me was 'autistic'.

I have many challenges. I don't deal with stress well, I'm not very aware of my body or my emotions, I find it difficult to organise myself without making a lot of conscious effort, I have sensory sensitivities that can easily overwhelm me, I tend to hyperfocus on 'irrelevant' details, I struggle to maintain friendships, I'm difficult to live with, the things I love doing are considered odd by most others, and I can be too rigid or literal when I communicate.

A year ago I was having a very difficult time of things, which is why I sought help from my GP, to finally know for sure why I struggled with so many 'simple' things. Getting a diagnosis was a huge relief but also triggered some painful reflection on friendships I'd lost, opportunities I missed, decisions I'd made then discounted based on how that change hadn't solved my personal problems.

But six months on from that difficult first month, I'm able to look back on the positive results of the initially difficult conversations with friends and family, I can see the improvements from disclosing to my employers. I can reflect on the help I've been given to identify and act on my emotions. I can look at my home life, my social life and my work life and see just how much happier and more effective I am when I'm able to focus on getting things done and being a good person without worrying about doing things in a way that looks 'normal'.

Continue reading... )

This post is part of the Autism Positivity Day 2013 Flashblog, finishing off Autism Acceptance Month 2013.

To learn more about the autistic spectrum, read the Storify I created for World Autism Awareness Day 2013.

My 2012

Dec. 31st, 2012 01:23 pm
quarridors: Sporting a giant Tangle (not a chrome snake) (September 2012)
Looking back at my 2012, I went through some pretty major life changes and made some significant achievements, despite the year mainly feeling like putting my life on hold.

January, February and March: Activism, Fandom, Surgery and Stress... )

April, May and June: Autism Acceptance and putting my life on hiatus... )

July, August and September: Conferences, Gender Clinic Graduation and Diagnosis... )

October, November and December: Introspection, Intersections and Reformatting... )

Having written and proofread the above, 2012 feels like a year where I purposely put everything on hold, 'reinstalled' my identity and hopefully set myself up with a freshly formatted stable home and social life on which to build sustainable new routines, projects and relationships from a position of greater self-knowledge.

The changes I've already made seem to have helped with problems like low level chronic fatigue, which I take as an extremely positive sign that I'm doing the right sorts of things. Next year I'm hoping to work productively with the specialists at Nottingham City Asperger Service on helping me to understand myself and develop better strategies for maximising my strengths and working around my difficulties. I'm also planning to take some of my existing projects out of hiatus and take them in a new, more authentic intersectional direction. I'm feeling optimistic.

Hopefully 2013 will be the year I take my life out of hiatus.
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
This Sunday is going to be the 20th anniversary of the 1990s version of The Tomorrow People.

I've been obsessed with the show since I saw that first serial aged 13, but it's not a fandom I've shared with many other people. In my 20s I obsessively tracked down the VHS, the 1970s original series and the books associated with both, wrote fan fiction (the only series I've ever done this for) and ran a fan site for a year or so that gained pretty much no interest. I've had a few good discussions at sci-fi cons and occasionally on Twitter, but my TP fandom was always very ...personal, and Doctor Who was always a much more mainstream fandom.

I was planning to spend Sunday rewatching the 1990s Origin Story and reflecting on 20 years of loving the show, but this evening I got home from the supermarket to discover that two of the co-creators and producers of Arrow and The Vampire Diaries and the writer of Chuck are getting together to remake 'Tomorrow People' for the American CW cable network(!!!?!?!?!).

It took me a good hour of giggling and flailing before I even managed to process the news. I haven't reacted as pessimistically as others have. I've wished for another remake for years. I'm already a fan of a remake of this show, and the original, I have no problem with it being done differently again. I genuinely regularly dream that I'm watching the pilot for a new series of The Tomorrow People then wake up upset that it wasn't real. I watched two seasons of True Blood despite not really liking it very much, just because one of the characters was a bit like a Tomorrow Person. I really will watch anything with telepathy and/or teleportation.

I don't even have a problem with this being American; The 90's series was an American co-production with Nickelodeon and an Australian lead, so it's not that much of a jump for me (although I'd love an international cast - let one of those many British actors in US TV use their natural accent!). I also really like The Vampire Diaries, Arrow and Chuck and actually feel like the show might be in good hands. People who grew up watching the 90s version (on Nickelodeon or ITV) could be TV executives in their 30s now, so this show could have been pursued for remake by genuine fans! I don't even mind this being on the CW which tends to go for the teen romance angle - both the 70s and 90s versions of the show had prominent 'teen heart throb' stars after all. So unless they utterly miss the point or manage to make it completely terrible, or it doesn't even make it to pilot, there's a good chance that I'm going to love this show!

This is REALLY not the 20th anniversary of the remake I was expecting - from now on it's going to be 'the first remake'!
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
When I looked at my 'Neurodiversity' folder in my RSS reader yesterday I was greeted with two articles. The first seemed incredibly apt and well-timed because it perfectly summed up a lot of my recent thoughts and feelings:

catastraspie: My own neurodiversity fills me with wonder and excitement – does yours?

The second talked about being queer in both senses of the word and touched on the intersection and correlation of LGBT people on the spectrum:

Wrong Planet: A Rather Queer Year

This got me thinking about which are my favourite articles about the Autistic Spectrum and Asperger's Syndrome that best explain my experiences.

First of all Tony Attwood's Complete Guide To Asperger's Syndrome book was extremely helpful to me in brushing aside the stereotypes and talking about the wide diversity of ways that the traits can manifest depending on someone's personality, life experiences and coping strategies. However that's a bit long, so here's Tony talking about a number of different subjects from the book in a radio interview:

ABC Conversations: Tony Attwood February 2012

Next I remembered an article on the BBC News website I read a few years ago that helped me to see the difference between being on the Autistic Spectrum and having dyspraxia or NVLD. It essentially says that people on the spectrum use the same part of the brain to explain their own feelings as neurotypical people use only for others:

People with autism 'have problem with self-awareness'

I understand myself through intense observation rather than inherently knowing things so this rang very true to me. I also realised through reading other people's experiences that I couldn't explain how many emotions felt without explaining how they affect my body. Here's a personal experience post about that:

Post Cards From the Edge of the Spectrum: Asperger's and Emotions

In fact thinking of myself in terms of being on the spectrum immediately gave me access to things that explained some of the more chaotic aspects of my daily life and what I have to do to compensate for that. For example here's catastaspie again explaining the concept of prospective memory:

catastraspie: Context and the Non-transference of Behavioural Routines

As well as catastraspie's brilliant blog (all the articles are good!) my other favourite is The Third Glance which is written by a PhD student and talks a lot about the sensory aspects of being on the spectrum. This article was useful in helping me to realise how my reaction to senses is often quite mixed up, like I'll want to wrap myself in a duvet and block my eyes when I'm too hot:

The Third Glance: Processing a Sensory Overload

There are lots of other brilliant blogs and lots of other things I'd like to explain that I can't find the perfect article for (maybe I'll have to write my own!) but I think I'll finish with a good overview article intended to be a primer to people asking the obvious question:

Aspienaut: What is Asperger's? A Long Answer To A Short Question

Update: Oh and as someone who was obsessed with Doctor Who as a kid (although mainly the books), I found this article particularly awesome:

Pea Pilly Bean: The Lessons Doctor Who Is Teaching My ASD Kid
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
I spent this morning at Highbury Hospital where two specialists spent four and a half hours giving me intensive diagnostic assessments. This was following a detailed screening interview with a different specialist in June.

I was worried that the results would be ambiguous and there'd be weeks more to wait before I got an answer (as this delay is apparently quite common), but thankfully both the specialists thought my traits were clear enough that they could happily give me a definitive, conclusive and unambiguous diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome (a type of 'high functioning' autism).

Why, how and what's next... )

I already announced this news on Twitter and got some positive reactions from other people on the autistic spectrum and some very tentative reactions from others, so I just want to be clear that this is a hugely positive thing for me. I've been obsessed with understanding what was different about me for twenty years, since my first year of secondary school, so it's wonderful to finally know for certain that this is the answer!
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
I'm just back from seeing the National Theatre Live version of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time projected at my local arts cinema. I very greatly enjoyed the play. It's an exceptionally well done adaptation, as innovative as the reviews said and seeing it filmed and projected in my local arts cinema didn't detract (although I'd love to see it performed in person).

What follows is a semi-spoilery review, I'm mostly talking about the adaptation and the staging rather than the story which is close to the original novel... )
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
This is a bit of a long shot but my lift home from BiCon has likely fallen through due to illness and I have too much luggage to easily take the train. Is anyone driving home via Nottingham on Monday able to spare space in their car for me and my luggage or possibly just some of my luggage? I can contribute towards travel costs.

Update: Panic over! I now have a lift arranged for both me and my luggage at Monday lunchtime. Thanks to everyone who offered help! :)
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
I saw the gender clinic for my surgery follow up today. That's going to be the last time I should ever need to see them!

After getting blocked by Canterbury PCT in 2002 and having started out in 1999, it feels good to have finally successfully got everything I needed out of the system. I was extremely nervous and felt very vulnerable when I submitted myself to Nottingham Gender Clinic as nonbinary in 2009, but my psych was friendly and cooperative, understanding and helpful right up to the last moment. I'm regretting not asking for a parting hug rather than a handshake! :)

It felt so good to have seen a gender psych for the last time that I celebrated with ice cream :D
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
If you're following me on Twitter, I think it's becoming increasingly clear that I have some problems with 'executive function'-like things, such as managing to do the housework! I've been coming up with new schemes and plans to make sure the washing up gets done for as long as I've had a sink of my own, and yet I'm still failing to manage to keep to them for more than a couple of days!

As such I'm now giving up on the idea of washing up every day! In fact I'm giving up on ever managing to do the washing up any more frequently than what I've been consistently managing regardless of what I actually intend - about once a week. What I'm now trying to do is develop good habits that stop the kitchen from becoming a depressing health hazard in the times between washing up sessions!

My last attempt at this was attempting to develop a habit (ie, do it every day for a month), but the habit failed because it was far too ambitious for me to do on days like this when I've worked almost 10 hours with only two hours of not very restful noisy sociable lunch break and 30 minutes of non-work, non-social time! On days like this it's an achievement when I manage to eat a meal (at 10pm, whoops!), washing up as well is never going to happen!

The new super simple habits I'm aiming to develop are to once a day:

  1. Rinse all the dishes from that day and pile them neatly
  2. Throw away any piles of rubbish (like tea bags) that have developed because I don't like to touch the bin (I REALLY need a different type of bin)
  3. Pour away any water used for soaking things that wouldn't rinse

I think (hope!) that even I can manage those!

Doing that should make doing the dishes far less daunting and disgusting when I actually do have the time and energy to do them properly (all in one go, usually on Sunday).

Rinsing is a big portion of the work in doing the washing up for real, so this should give me a head start and may naturally lead to me doing small amounts of washing up mid-week. I'll also have a considerably more empty sink and should never have to deal with the job of tipping away a bowl full of pond water and rinsing the stinky residue off of all of the dishes (yes, yes, I have a problem).

...although by blogging about it, I have now probably doomed it to failure! :)
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
Two weeks since surgery and visible bruising has gone completely, swelling is much reduced and the dissolvable stitches are starting to work their way out. It's more accurate to talk about 'scar tissue' rather than 'stitches' now. Right now I'm only on ibuprofen with paracetamol reserved from break out pain (usually when I've done something unwise).

Walking any distance becomes painful, I still can't sleep on my side or front, and I still can't sit upright in a chair for long periods (it gets uncomfortable after about an hour), especially if I have to lean forward. But things are getting noticeably better every day or two. I'll be going back to work on Monday.

I'm very happy to have apparently avoided all the possible complications I was told to expect! :)
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
One week ago, I was just being discharged from the hospital after my surgery, and now I'm managing to sit comfortably in a chair! Admittedly the chair becomes increasingly uncomfortable over 15 to 20 minutes, but this is a massive improvement on a couple of days ago.

Everything went perfectly to plan during the operation and so far during recovery. I've had none of the possible complications. The pain was absolutely ...abdominal for the first few days, but that was to be expected!

It's still mostly a case of lying down with my feet raised but I'm now able to sit for short periods and walk around the flat without wincing and walking like a skitsy crab. It really only hurts when I'm getting in and out of chairs and the bath now (or when I'm poking my stitches and abdominals).

I'm off the strongest addictive painkillers and down to only Ibuprofen and Paracetamol as of yesterday. This has helped my digestive system and made me considerably more comfortable as a result.

My mum's gone home now and I'm happily fending for myself after proving myself able to get in and out of the bath without assistance as of Tuesday. It's really good not to feel reliant on someone else for everything, I think I found that the most difficult part last week, worse than the pain.

Healing seems to be on schedule; my wounds aren't oozing any blood at all now and the dressings are only providing padding at this point - no more daily salty baths! Back to using all the soaps! My stitches look very neat and regular, although there's still quite a lot of bruising and swelling around them, both are visibly improving every day. The stitches have been feeling itchy and kind of spiky recently, so I'm wondering how quickly I can expect them to start to dissolve and how long they usually take to have dissolved completely.

I have another week and a half off work to recover. I get the impression that by this time next week I'll be feeling like I'm having an extended holiday, with a mandatory ban on exercising. I'm not supposed to do any heavy lifting for a few weeks after surgery, so I guess I'll be having my groceries delivered for a while...

Thanks again for everyone's messages of support last week, they really meant a lot! Now I'm heading back to my busy schedule of lying down watching endless episodes of Stargate Atlantis, Fringe and Doctor Who! ;)
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
I just wrote a variation of the following for a closed Facebook group, then decided it's a shame it wasn't public...

I'm Nat and I live in Nottingham, UK. I run http://PracticalAndrogyny.com/ and http://Nonbinary.org/ - I've been openly nonbinary and genderqueer since 2001 and involved in online genderqueer communities for a year or two before that, but I've recently ramped up my visibility by putting my face and legal name against my nonbinary visibility and education activism.

As for my gender, "it's complicated", but if pushed I tell people I'm gender neutral, which is my pronoun preference too, and tell people that I'm a person, not a gender. I don't attempt to 'pass' as anything but in practice I seem to be either highly androgynous or assumed to be a teenage boy, despite being 32. I'm interested in creating resources about the practical side of being 'ambiguous' to the gender binary.

I have a transsexual medical history, passing through the private system in the late 1990s. Despite having legally detransitioned in 2004 in protest over the Gender Recognition Act not recognising my gender (and for other practical reasons), I've just had the experience of successfully getting a change of meds and a transgender surgery funded by the local NHS Gender Clinic (my surgery's actually coming up on Thursday) while being completely open about my nonbinary gender. I'm interested in advocating for others who're trying to access transgender healthcare (of any kind) and I have my hands on those 'incriminating' G3 Gender Clinic group minutes you may have read about.

I'm heavily involved in my local mixed trans* group here in Nottingham, one of three nonbinary people on the committee and several nonbinary, genderqueer and gender nonconforming members. We run weekly meetings in the city centre, we have a 'Trans Zone' at this year's Pride and we're currently trying to overturn the decision of Nottingham PCT to 'red list' all gender dysphoria medications.

I believe in keeping transgender spaces welcoming to ALL people who transgress or transcend society's concepts of gender. A lot of my activism is focused on making sure other trans activists remember nonbinary people exist and that we don't all follow the same neat narratives of 'passing', 'transition' or even gender dysphoria. I recently advised META Magazine on nonbinary and genderqueer inclusivity and I'm happy with the results.

And now I should go pack my bag ready for that surgery...
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
My plan to trick myself into being a functional adult without going through the doomed hyperactive 'CLEAN ALL THE THINGS' stage seems to be working.

The trick is currently not to let myself get distracted from cleaning up after things. No excuses, I clean up immediately. This means pausing the TV and getting up and doing the washing up in *gasp* the middle of an episode (I KNOW RIGHT?).

So starting this wasn't too daunting, I let myself off doing the epic pile of dirty recycling in one go and I'm soaking some of it with the left over washing up water every time. I'm down to only a small pile now.

The reward after cleaning the things is to go back to the TV show/website/Twitter conversation etc I stopped halfway in the middle of. Having a reward is important.

So far this is working, I'm even cleaning more things than just the dishes. I finish the washing up and go 'hmm this thing is also dirty, might as well clean that'. I am giving myself the habit of tidying up after myself, like a grown up or vaguely well trained child does!

This strategy took me until I was 32 year old to work out :)

...although it's not been a week yet, so I guess we'll he how long I take to burn out with it ramped down to 'clean SOME of the things'...


Feb. 26th, 2012 01:06 am
quarridors: (Toclafane)
This is the journal formerly known as '36', now renamed to quarridors to match my usernames on every other site I use :)

I've also set up a new deviantART profile and moved over the wildlife art and Doctor Who fan art digital paintings I'm happiest with.

It's good to have all my different accounts under the same handle now!
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
This weekend I'm at the 24th annual UK Filk Convention, Duple Time in Grantham. I've written before about why I love filk music and the filk community so much, so let's take it as said that I've been looking forward to this. (I'm writing this on my phone so expect more links to be added later).

I was sensible enough to book a half day off today, so just for once I was all registered and in my hotel room an hour before the opening ceremony! I had a 30 minute set in the second slot at 8pm and managed to do a full sing through in my room before heading down to the con floor and saying hello to everyone.

The opening ceremony was a little bittersweet as our con coordinator Keris sadly died in a car crash in November, but we agreed that the con is a tribute to him and very much what he'd have wanted. Brenda has created an Absent Friends chair cover that means Keris will always have a seat at the convention, which seemed very apt, especially as it's sat behind the tech desk this con... UK guest of honour Lissa then cheered us all up by providing everyone at the con with a kazoo ...this made the sound check for the first set somewhat 'interesting'...

Valerie's Pick 'n Mix was the first set with some great songs including a rousing sing along to Following In Valentina's Footsteps, but I confess I mainly had my mind on my own rapidly approaching set.

When my turn came, I got off on the wrong foot by managing to start Second-Hand Songs in the wrong key and got thrown off by being able to hear my voice over the speakers. So not the strongest start ever, but that just made my second song sound amazing in comparison ;)

Next I sang Stacy's amazing Concrete Wilderness, which is Talis Kimberley's apocalyptic Worlds End but told from the perspective of a city dweller. This is a song I genuinely tried to write myself before reading Stacy's far superior version of the same idea. I hope I did it justice with my sincere Tracy Chapman-esque 'urban soul' performance.

Next I performed a revamped version of The Changes, which was in fact revamped late night on Thursday - mainly removing some repetitive lyrics, adding a bridge and putting in a gratuitous key change :D ...this did mean I felt a little unsure with my performance....

Then Breaking Out Is Hard To Do, an extremely fun to sing rendition of Boom Shadow (to the tune of Cat Stevens Moonshadow), a (slightly strained) cover of Paper Worlds by Talis and finally an enthusiastic performance of Singularly, my fun Billy Bragg Sexuality filk. All in all it was a good set with only a couple of minor lyrics slip ups. I wish I could've weaned myself of the lyric sheets given I know the words perfectly to all but two of the songs. I also need to learn what to do with ny hands...

I've had some lovely comments about my voice having an 'almost gospel' quality for one song and being 'chameleonic' with male and female qualities changing between songs.

I still have to do the androgynous vocal techniques workshop I'm running in the morning and then I can enjoy the rest of the con without worrying about straining my voice!

In fact it's late and I'm tired, so I'll finish this tomorrow in the hope I actually manage some sleep before my workshop tomorrow...
quarridors: Not high on sugar (September 2010)
Last week I went to a formal ball. It was an LGBT Pride formal ball, so allowed some degree of alternative gender expression, but the dress code was still 'cocktail dress or suit and tie'. As you may be able to imagine, shopping for this made me somewhat gender dysphoric as my gender expression is usually firmly casual and in the overlap between clothing genders (think t-shirts, jeans and hoodies). Nonetheless I was determined to go and actually enjoy dressing formal and knowing that there would be queer women there dressed in suits helped me to be comfortable with the idea that I was still dressing in the overlap (especially once I'd applied eye makeup and nail varnish to bridge the void between suits and dresses a little further).

In order to defeat gendered space related anxiety, I went shopping with [personal profile] forthwritten, a nonbinary friend going to the same ball. We managed to turn anxiety inducing gendered shopping into a transgressive genderqueer jape as we raided every department in the shop. I can heartily recommend clothes shopping with a trans* buddy, it makes shop assistants arbitrarily (mis)gendering you a two-against-one situation :)

Trying to buy me a suit in the M&S mens section was an interesting experience. When measured, my neck size was 14", while their smallest suits were for 16" collar and cut assuming bulky shoulders and arms (despite being 'slim fit'). There was no way I was going to pay £99 for something that looked boxy and ill fitting on me. Meanwhile their 14.5" 'slim fit' shirts fit my top half reasonably well but were pretty tight around my waist and hips.

But while we were browsing the boys section finding [personal profile] forthwritten a rather dapper suit cut for '11 years', I couldn't help noticing that an awful lot of the clothes we were looking at (and sniggering at - M&S seem to be helping you dress your children as mini hipsters or baby lesbians) appeared to be in my size. Now I'm 32 years old, 5 foot 10 (178cm), weigh 10 stone 2 (about 64kg, 142lbs) and have a 31.5" waist (80cm), so I have never even vaguely considered going to look in the children's section for clothes, but this stuff looked like it was just my style and just my size. So I was tempted to try it on... And lo and behold some '13-14 years boys' jumpers from Marks and Spenser's fit me impressively well. If anything they were fitting me better than any clothes usually do.

In the end I supplemented mens shirt and trousers with a '13 year old boys' suit jacket that was slightly too tight on the chest to do up and slightly too short in the sleeves, but fit my shoulders perfectly, sat on me very well when open (albeit making me look like a hipster) and looked great combined with the 14.5" collar slim fit mens shirt I'd bought with the cuffs sticking out below the jacket sleeves (the 13-14 year old boys shirt fit me perfectly in collar, shoulders and chest but was also too short in sleeves). Having looked online, the same jacket is available one size larger on the M&S website (14 years), but I was shopping 2 days before the event so didn't have the option of that. I also ended up buying two of those impressively well fitting '13-14 years' jumpers in different colours.

So this was quite the revelation for me, that I could not only shop in the mens and women's sections of the shop but also in the children's section too, despite being quite a lot taller than a child and having a 20.5 'ideal' BMI. It's got me to thinking about why that is... Mainly it's because I have an unusual androgynous/transgender body shape. I have pretty much no muscle mass (in fact I have hypotonic muscles due to dyspraxia), a pretty much flat chest and body fat that goes on my waist and hips long long before it gets anywhere near my chest, arms and shoulders. Having gone home and measured based on size charts, my chest is 34.5" measured under the arms, my bust is 35" (yes, not much difference), my neck is 14", my waist is 31.5", my hips (aka 'seat') are 35.5" and my inside leg is 32" (I'm using imperial measures here because the clothes sizes do too). I *think* my sleeves should be about 32 to 33" from back of the neck to wrist (as suit/shirt size guides seem to go) although this is difficult to measure on yourself, about 20" armpit to wrist.

Sizing table mainly for my own information... )
So it's really no surprise that I keep finding mens tops I buy bag up around my armpits or neck, or fit lopsidedly on my shoulders. Or that when I buy size XS or S (depending on the shop) t-shirts from 'young fashion' outlets like H&M or Topman, that are cut to fit my shoulders well, they tend to be tight around the hips and waist and so somehow manage to make me look like I have a potbelly even though I'm happily in the middle of BMI ideal (and frankly even when I was underweight they weren't very flattering for my fat distribution). Meanwhile women's tops assume that I have rather more of a bust than I do or have annoyingly short sleeves despite fitting my shoulders well.

Which leaves me in the odd situation of discovering that boys clothes from some shops that are designed for 34" chest 13 to 14 year olds fit my shoulders and arms really well, are cut to assume a relatively flat chest but seem to leave a lot more bagginess around the waist than mens clothes with that chest size do. Essentially boys clothes cut for my shoulders expect you to be a little bit chubby around the waist but have no muscle mass on your shoulders and arms, while mens clothes cut for my shoulders or neck expect you to be rake thin or have muscles you want to be showing off (which I *really* don't). As a friend said, "I've been enjoying shopping in the boys department since they started making 11 year olds in my size".

So ultimately this proves that everyone's body shapes are different, transgender people doubly so! It also means I'm more aware of my actual measurements, so I can approach shopping knowing my actual sizes (especially as each chain store has a sizing guide on their website), and I now have yet another department I can look in for clothes that suit my style and body shape, so more choice! ...and I could be saving a fortune in VAT ;)

Update: Having heard this story, my mum has amusedly related to me how my parents could never get me to wear M&S children's clothes when I was a kid because they were sized too big for me and I didn't want to wear 7-8 years clothes when I was 10 or 11. Clearly the tables are turned now and that oversizing is finally working to my advantage! ;)
quarridors: (Toclafane)
It's making me sad to post this because I'm sure Keris would've responded, my thoughts are with everyone at his funeral today...

Inspired by hearing Charlie Brooker on BBC 6Music this morning talking about Black Mirror and how it was inspired by things like Year Of The Sex Olympics, I've decided to ask for recommendations for other classic TV science fiction to track down online or on DVD.

Here are the sorts of things I like:

The Tomorrow People
Doctor Who
The Changes
Chocky (+Children +Challenge)
The Tripods
Day of the Triffids
Dark Season (and to a lesser extent Century Falls)
The Girl From Tomorrow
Sapphire and Steel
The Last Train
Blake's 7
Star Trek TOS onwards
Year of the Sex Olympics (1968)
The 1954 BBC Peter Cushing adaptation of Orwell's 1984
Anthology science fiction series (Masters of Science Fiction, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone etc)

Obviously I also like modern and 1990s stuff, I'm a big Babylon 5, Farscape, Quantum Leap, Sliders, Star Trek, Stargate and Misfits fan!

I particularly like psionics, kids TV science fiction and parallel universes, if that helps you narrow things down. Oh and post apocalypse (yes, I've seen The Tribe). Particular episodes of anthology series that fit these themes would be very welcome.

I'm not very into campy B Movie stuff, so haven't listed much classic American TV sci-fi although I have watched a lot of it and Lost In Space, The Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants etc.

If it's children's TV science fiction I'm interested even if it's pretty dodgy, I recently watched the 1971 Look And Read serial The Boy From Space for example!

Good recommendations already received from Twitter:

1965 to 1971 BBC anthology series Out of the Unknown
The early 1980s Dominick Hyde time travel Play For Todays
Nigel Kneale's 1971 teleplay The Stone Tape
Nigel Kneale's 1976 Beasts anthology series

Any more recommendations in this vein? :)

December 2016

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