Being Julia

{September 27, 2008}   Hot flushes, mixed feelings

So I went out and about for the first time in months and months and it was a really mixed experience.

Strangely, for the first time, there was no excitement. I was just determined to do it, got my head down and went ahead with it.

First off though a problem with my new dog-tooth skirt. I would appear not to be a size 14 after all. I’ve still got a size 14 skirt which does fit as it has an elasticated waist. But this Oxfam skirt was zip up . . . and it just wouldn’t. So, size 16 in future it appears.

But the new Peacocks turtleneck jumper (size 14/16) fitted a treat. A quick peek out of the window showed an overcast day, perfect for the covered up, opaque look I had in mind (no bare arms or legs for me I’m afraid – it would be an instant giveaway).

I spent what seemed an age putting on foundation and doing my eyes, with gorgeous false eyelashes (a bugger to get on but when they do they look amazing). Then it was on with my jet-black sunglasses, a dash to the car and off. As before, I had my jumper and skirt on underneath my running suit and a bag packed with lippy, wig, boots and accessories.

A new location too for the final transformation. After a drive down a country road or two I arrive at a secluded village hall car park. I can see one woman in the distance walking her dog and there’s a car parked nearby but I just go for it. Off with my running top, on with the wig, off with my running trousers and trainers and on with my stiletto boots.

Hopefully I should now pass as a woman in a car in a car park to a casual observer. I apply lipstick and blusher and dab with a bit more eyeliner (I’m still not getting the eyes right though, although I think I’m getting better with the lipstick. I have very thin lips but am getting the hang of making them look richer and plumper).

Then it’s on with my new chiffon scarf and black leather-look gloves and a quick walk about the car park to get a feel for my outfit. It feels pretty good, so I put the camera on timer, park it on top of the car and take a few pix.

Next a 10-minute drive to the nearby town where I intend to donate four or five items, including that size 14 skirt, to a charity shop . . . if I have the nerve. But along the way a small hiccup . . . one of my false eyelashes comes loose and won’t stick back. I have to pull over and remove both of them. Ho hum.

I finally arrive in the small, market town I’ve been heading for and pull in to its central car park. I’m feeling a little nervous, but darn determined and after checking my look for the umpteenth time in the mirror push open the door, grab the bag full of clothes and my handbag and head for the shops.

I know this town pretty well, the car park is situated near a small row of shops just off the main shopping area and it’s these I’m heading for, as they are close and if I either panic, or am rumbled or there are just too many people, I can make a reasonably sharpish escape.

The car park itself is fairly quiet, a few people look over but I get no particular reaction (and anyway a six-foot woman in four-inch spike heels, dressed mostly in black and with long, shiny, black hair is bound to have a few people glancing her way, I know I would).

There are a few more people about as I enter the shopping parade, but I’m keeping my head down and the charity shop is only a few doors down. I dive inside and am dismayed to find it’s pretty busy.

But most people are intent on looking for bargains so I’m able to make my way to the counter and whisper “I’d like to donate these”. I get a polite thank you and make my escape. But I do have to snake and squeeze past people and I’m terrified of any contact, as if that will give the game away.

Outside I turn left. It’s getting busier out there which is quite a risk – I am, after all, only about six miles from home. Perhaps it wasn’t such a great idea to come out quite so close. What if someone I know is there?

I take a deep breath though and carry on. There’s a  branch of Peacock’s nearby (although not the one I shopped at previously) and I can make that in just a few high-heeled strides. I notice though that my legs are shaking a little and that’s making it harder to balance on those stilettos.

Once inside I go into shop-browsing mode and, hey, they’ve got mirrors in there, so I can check my look. OK-ish, although I can plainly see it’s me still, and I do look terribly baggy under the eyes which didn’t really show up at home. Wonder what I can do about that?

I’m pretty impressed with my boobs though (a Primark bra bargain with in-built gel pads and helped a little more by being stuffed with a pair of gloves!). I just wish they might move more. You know, a little bit of booby bounce.

I hear some giggling from the two girls I can see working in there. Not sure if it’s directed at me. It does strike me that you hear chatter and laughter all over the place but paranoia is high when dressed in T-girl mode and it’s easy to just assume you’re the butt of someone’s laughter.

After a few minutes I leave and turn to head towards the town centre area. I window shop a little and pop into another charity shop. A bloke, slightly older than me, catches my eye as we both head to the door . . . is the reason that he barges though without politely giving way because he’s clocked me, or does he think I am a woman . . .  but he’s not a gentleman? I’ll never know.

A few minutes in there and then back out again. It’s getting busier but I’m feeling braver by the minute until . . .  I’m heading in the direction of five or six teenagers sat outside a cafe. I hear one say: “What do you reckon?” and another reply: “Definitely.” It could, of course, have been a conversation which has nothing to do with me, but with a distinct “pop” my confidence bubble is burst.

I deliberately don’t catch their eyes but stare in a shop window for a second before turning and heading back to the car. My legs are wobbling more than ever and I’m suddenly finding it difficult to walk on those heels.

And I’m hot . . . way too hot. It’s a combination of adrenaline, nerves, that wig and the fact that I’m wearing two pairs of opaque tights to completely cover me up. By the time I get back to the car I’m rather damp and my left ankle is threatening to give way as I teeter on those heels towards the car. 

Safely back inside once more, I take a deep breath. Charity mission acomplished. But I think that will do for today. So it’s a trip into the countryside where I can wipe off some of the make-up, put on the black shades and get back into my running gear. A quick drive home and I manage to dash into the house without spotting any of the neighbours. Phew!

I decide not to get straight back into bloke mode and reapply my make-up before having a fun basque ‘n’ boots session.

I  notice in the mirror at home that the area under my eyes looks much better than in the rather unforgiving light outside. A quick check of those pix I took confirms it. I just see  me, me, me with baggy, saggy eyes – a bit of a car crash really – so I immediately delete the pix and dive back into bloke mode, clearing away all my paraphenalia and bags of Julia clothes for another day.

But as the last couple of days have come and gone I’m not so sure I want another day . . . and yet I do.

I think about how I felt when I caught myself in shop mirrors and windows, a bit silly really. Although nobody laughed out loud (I think) I wonder if some of the glances I received were more of pity.

I come close to resolving “never again” (again) and taking ALL of my Julia gear to the charity shops for good

And yet . . . there’s another town about 25 minutes away where nobody knows me. And although it’s a much bigger town with many more people about, I just wonder . . .


{September 23, 2008}   Been a long time . . .

Julia is back! Wow . . . it’s been a long time hasn’t it? Sorry about that, an explanation would appear to be in order.

First off, there has been no chance to get out and about as Julia. I know this has been a lousy summer but I think I would have stood out a little too much in black opaques and a winter coat. So it’s been indoor sessions only.

On top of that I’ve gone through a pretty lengthy denial phase this past couple of months. It came after I spent £50 on a long, black wig and, although I loved it, I started to get feel extremely guilty about spending so much when cash is tight in the household.

The I began to question my whole T-Girl nature (Why, why, why?), feeling that it was a stupid, silly, expensive exercise and I just wasn’t getting any pleasure from it.  So everything got packed away and I just about managed to avoid the “purge and destroy” rage which has acompanied these feelings in the past.

So, what’s changed? Not a lot really but like a light being switched on Julia has simply returned and I have the utter compulsion to take her for a drive and a walk. The buzz is back!

I’ve been on a minor shopping spree  . . . but on a strict budget. I’m making it a rule that when I need something I check out the charity shops first and in the spirit of giving I pledge to donate all Julia’s unwanted clothes to charity shops too.

Anyway, Oxfam now has £2 of my money and I have a nice dog-tooth size 14 skirt in return. But the rest of my latest outfit came from Peacocks (well, at least it’s cheap) where I’ve just bought a black turtle neck long-sleeve top, leather-look gloves and a chiffon-style scarf.

And tomorrow, if I’m brave enough, Julia might, just might, pop into town to take a few unwanted items back to the charity shops (gulp!).

Well, we’ll see . . .

et cetera