First Julie Day of 2021

By Julie Slowinski

With the pandemic, I’ve been trying to cut back on Julie outings – to keep safe. But, by the end of January it seemed like cases were dropping and indoor dining was beginning to open up again – our last outing in December was almost completely outside and the extended periods in the Chicago cold definitely took a toll on us by the end of the night. 

My friend Claudia was completely ready for a GNO, so we scheduled for a Thursday in February – that’s right, there was no Julie in January, except for one Saturday night at home when the kids were at grandma’s house. We were trying to keep things simple, so the plan was a visit to the Art Institute in the late afternoon, followed by dinner and drinks in the evening. 

Once the plan was outlined, it was time to figure out an outfit. Luckily, the kids were gone the weekend before and I was able to test run some options with full makeup. Decided on a black velvet top that I’ve been wanting to wear out since I got it last spring. The gray and black color block skirt I’ve had for over 4 years and I think this is the first time it’s made it out of the house – kinda hard to believe. In any case, it seems to go perfectly with the black Nine West ankle boots. The red necklace and bracelet I got at White House Black Market for $10 each.

Back in December, we found a hotel with a very convenient policy on early check-in, so decided to use it again. I arrived around 11am and quickly got to work on my nails. Usually, I would go to the salon before checking in, but today I thought I might save some time by doing them myself – I was planning on a simple black color which should only need one coat and dry quickly. Of course, it was a total disaster, which is why I usually go to the salon – totally worth $20 to save me the aggravation and end up with nearly perfect nails. 

Claudia arrived at noon, just as I was starting on my makeup. She usually arrives as I’m finishing my makeup, which is perfect as I can hand over the sink mirror for her to do her makeup. Her early arrival meant that we had to share a bit, but not a problem. In any case, I think the new contact lenses (that help me see up close without glasses) are making a big difference with my eye makeup. Rather than blindly apply and hope for the best, I feel like I’m improving my technique and can almost control what the outcome will look like. Still doesn’t turn out exactly the way I envision, but it’s definitely getting closer. 

By 2pm the Julie transformation is complete and I announce, “Sorry to dress and run, but I’m gonna make a quick stop at Nordstrom’s to get some alterations on this skirt suit I just bought.” Our plan was to head to the museum by 3pm and she still has a ways to go, so she says, “Okay, have fun.” Now, I’m ready excited about this suit, cuz I’m a sucker for women’s business attire and I’ve always wanted a vibrant red skirt suit. The problem is that they don’t usually fit me very well – the jacket is always too tight in the shoulders. But, this time I decided to order a size up, to match my shoulders. Of course, that meant that I would be swimming in the skirt, even with my giant hip pads. The woman taking measurement was impressed with the quality of the suit, even though I got it for a steal from Venus. She also suggested taking in the waste on the jacket a bit. The one downside is that the alterations cost more than the suit. But, I’m fine with that. I’ve learned that proper fit is probably the most important aspect of what makes clothes look nice. I’ve already gotten it back, but have yet to try it on with hip pads (the pic is before the alterations), Before heading back to the hotel, I make a quick stop at WHBM to see if I can find some more jewelry on sale – they have fabulous jewelry, but it’s usually too expensive for me. Found a couple pair of earrings, again for only $10 each. 

Got back to the hotel at 3:15. Claudia was just finishing her nails and we were in the Uber to the museum by 3.45. Now, Claudia was a bit nervous about this museum trip – she doesn’t day walk all that often and is really most comfortable in Boystown. So, this trip was pushing her boundaries a bit. About a week before she texted me and asked if people would be looking at us funny. I replied, “I’ve been to that museum in Julie mode at least a half dozen times. Never an issue. Art people are super accepting.” She did great. She arranged the tickets, so she did all the talking with getting us in the door and into the Monet special exhibition (https://www.artic.edu/exhibitions/9036/monet-and-chicago).

It was a fantastic exhibit and gave all sorts of interesting information in addition to the fabulous art. Claudia wanted me to take a picture with some haystacks and was like, “No, I’m not a fan of those.” I get it, he was trying to figure out how light works, but the permanent collection already has like 5 haystacks and I got my fill of them long ago. The very last room of the exhibit was what I was waiting for; the waterlilies. I’m just mesmerized by his ability to capture the reflections off the water. Okay, here’s the best part of the afternoon. At some point, Claudia strikes up a conversation with a random cis woman. I think it was in the waterlilies room, so I wasn’t so interested in chatting at the moment, but the two of them talked for several minutes – I was only in the conversation long enough for her to complement us on our outfits. Seems that our Claudia is starting to get comfortable with this day walking thing. 

Before we leave, we swing by the modern art section – maybe get a quick look at a Jackson Pollock or maybe a Warhol. As we were heading out from the North entrance, we noticed a great view of the Chicago skyline and decided to grab a few pics. Our dinner reservations were at a place on Michigan Avenue called The Gage, just a short walk from the museum. For the most part it was uneventful, except for her getting a picture of me shoveling food in my mouth. From there we head to a place called The Darling, in the West Loop. It’s kind of a swanky place where we were seated on fancy red leather couches. They had some drink ordering system on your phone that I had a lot of trouble figuring out and had to keep going to the bar to place our order. I guess it was intended to minimize interaction with the wait staff, but it just made me feel old and technologically inept. When I first suggested another visit to a West Loop place, Claudia suggested that the people there are not so friendly. Don’t get me wrong, they’re super accepting of girls like us, but it’s definitely a younger crowd, mostly cishet and probably with more disposable income than the two of us, which is kinda saying something. 

About 11 we head back to the hotel and chatted a bit more over some sparkling wine Claudia had brought explicitly for such a nightcap. Then, we deconstructed and both headed home. A low key night, but thoroughly enjoyable. Oh wait, I almost forgot about the rats. Back in boy mode, I was heading home and waiting for the train. There was some construction so the wait was unusually long. It was about 2am so the subway rats were all over the platform. Well, not really, there were only 2 and about 100 feet away. But, I’m deathly afraid of all rodents, so they were close enough to make me really nervous. I wouldn’t bring it up, but there was another time, back in Seattle, where a rat ran in front of me, maybe 2 or 3 feet away. I was in Julie mode and the odd thing is that I wasn’t scared at all. Is it possible for the boy version of me to have a rodent phobia and Julie not to? Just another odd example of how unpredictable this CD journey can be.

Who Dunnit?

February 13, 2021 – I have two friends that were half of the folks responsible for a murder mystery dinner in Akron. Mark, whom I know from Mercury Theatre Company, runs the shows. Rosie, who works at my favorite restaurant, was one of the players. So I got dressed and booked myself a table and had a delightful evening, enjoying myself and supporting my friends!

Because of, what else, we were seated with the people we came with. So I had my own little table. The evening started with dinner and then two mysteries. The tables were divided into three teams. Each team asked questions and then voted on the guilty party. I was part of a team of three tables, me, a couple and a large party of eight people. I was invited to sit with the large party, socially distant, and immediately fit right in. I even ended the evening with a hug from the woman who invited me over. The best part was she initiated the hug and I was delighted to get it (yes, we wore masks during it)!

The star of the evening was a young man, probably ten, there with his mother. He was just great, asking questions and stealing the show! I had a wonderful evening. I was there about four hours, made new friends, saw existing ones and was treated so kindly. The woman who invited me over naturally referred to me as “she”, which you know is like handing me a crisp $100 bill. I hear it and it always touches me deeply.

Now here is a photographic review of my jumpsuit outfit. I nailed it this evening and felt like the prettiest girl in the world!! There simply is no better feeling.

I was feeling too cute to tear it down when I got home, so I took a few more pictures!

Cute AF

February 21, 2021 – Since I came out of my funk recently, I have been on a string of great outings. I picked up a few cute t-shirts on sale at Charlotte Russe recently and this was the first one I wore out.

I had a list of things to do, so I got dressed and went about taking care of things. First stop, I needed to have blood drawn for an upcoming physical. I sat in a socially distanced crowded waiting room and took care of things. No issues here.

Then I needed new batteries for a key fob. I stopped at a Batteries and Blubs and got that taken care of. No issues here. Casual and regular conversation with everyone I met this day (and every day when I go out).

Then I had a hair cut appointment. As you may know, I go to the salon dressed, Dana removes my wig, cuts my hair and places it back with a little of her magic to get me on my way.

Now it was time for the centerpiece of my day! It was Lisa’s birthday at Piece Unique! I stopped and bought her a plant and some Hershey Kisses. Then I walked in and she was so happy to see me. She was touched at the birthday wishes I had posted here on her birthday. Unbeknownst to me, they were having a bit of a celebration at lunch. I was invited to join!

The ladies wanted me to model some things, so I told them to pick out whatever they wanted me to wear. Now that was a treat! A few dresses simply didn’t fit properly, but there were two that did! So here is your girl having a great time!!!! I was wearing my Happy Birthday crown.

This is the birthday girl and I. By the way, I now own both of these dresses……

I talked with many of the ladies there, chatted with customers and was simply one of the ladies. That means the world!! Thanks Lisa and thanks to your wonderful staff. I feel love in that place.

My day was wrapped up with a trip to Avalon Exchange, where I got rid of a few things and picked up a darling little denim jacket and a lovely Calvin Klein sweater. I am not sure I deserve this joy, but I am not complaining and wish I could somehow bring this kind of happiness to others. I actually often feel guilty about it, especially as the Angel Known as My Wife has to put up with the headaches of her job.

🤫 Shhhhh….. Supper Club, Stealth Style!

The Supper Club has gone underground, invitation only. No more casting a wide net. No more posts on Erie Sisters, CD.com, here and wherever else I could. Now I pick a date. Pick a site. Send a few emails out. Whoever can make it comes along for the fun and if not, I fly solo. And you all know, I don’t mind that!

February 10, 2021 – I was feeling the spirit of the time of year. Dinner Mardi Gras style! Outfit, Valentine’s Day! We met at the Bourbon Street Barrel Room, a little piece of New Orleans here in Cleveland. I dressed for a Valentine’s Day cover photo!

On a snowy evening, I enjoyed the company of Annie, Sherry and Jessi. There were two others that were supposed to come, but never showed. They were invitees of Sherry and things like this is why I stopped having a formal Supper Club. But they are friends and she didn’t seem surprised.

By the way Sher, we actually got together and did not take any pictures! Oh my……

The evening was delightful. Good food, great company and I left smiling all the way home. As I walked to my car, about a block away on a residential street, as snow gently fell, I was face to face with a skunk! We both went out separate ways, but I wasn’t expecting that!!

Not much more of a story here so we’ll turn to the outfit. I picked up this cute top at the NY&Co. liquidation sales and the skirt for a buck somewhere along the way. I knew this was the perfect Valentine’s Day outfit, so I took an extended photo shoot at home before heading out.

Here we go!

Another Story From Jocelyn

By Jocelyn Johnson

As a woman I tend to think a lot about my appearance, as I’m sure all of you do. But I am not overly fashion conscious as you can tell from my previous pictures posted here in Kandi’s Land during the past two months. I really want to make sure the world that sees me immediately thinks that I am a woman, knowing that any second look will reveal the real story.

Last summer, on two different occasions, I had comments from strangers that illustrate my point. The first occurrence was when I was taking a short walk on a hot summer day. I was trying out a new dress and heels and I just wanted to be out and seen (see picture of me standing on bridge). The comment I received was “I love the early 1960s vibe of this outfit/look”.

The second occurrence was a few weeks later when I was in shorts, a tee shirt and flats. It was a nice day for a walk and to show off my new hairdo (see head and shoulders picture). The comment was “you resemble the wonderful actress Patricia Neal! Just amazing”.

Now both comments are flattering and I am sure that is what was intended. But on second thought, they both infer that I have the fashion sense and look from fifty years ago. If you don’t know who Patricia Neal is you will have to Google her. Hopefully the comment to me was looking like Ms. Neal while she was in her 40s/50s, lol.

Back to my hairdo. In this first instance you can see my hair had quite the upturn curl on the sides and back, which I did not prefer. The “Neal” look is smoother with some wave, which I do prefer.

So, no matter how I/you look, the public will immediately have an opinion about you, even if they don’t share it. I just went with it all and enjoyed the moment. I am who I am, just me.

Thanks, Jocelyn

Suffragette City*

By My Friend (and I am proud to say that), Dee!

Late in October my friend Karla had a few days off and wanted to meet for a girls day out. I, of course, was willing. Karla suggested either the Art Museum or the Natural History Museum (both in St. Louis). The latter was having a special exhibit, so we ended up meeting at the History Museum. 

I originally met Karla in October 2016 when I first started going out locally. She was working in the dresses department at Nordstrom (back in the olden days when they had dress departments). We hit it off and we’ve been friends since, getting together occasionally (more often swapping texts). She’s still at Nordstrom, but in another sign-of-the-times, she works in web fulfillment now.

What to wear was a simple choice; my favorite dress, the first one I bought back in October 2016 when I started going out (and met Karla). I knew I was overdressed for the History Museum, especially with the red ankle strap heels–but Karla was with me when I bought the heels, so I had to wear them too.

The special exhibit was for woman’s suffrage (voting). For the non-Yanks who follow this blog (quite a few of you), women in the US were not allowed to vote until 1920, after ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. The exhibit featured short biographies of St. Louis women who campaigned for passage, and events which led to passage of the 19th Amendment. 

Karla and I talked and caught up and viewed the exhibit. Having her along meant I could ask her to take my picture with some of the backdrops (as opposed to selfie or pictures in mirrors). We spent about 90 minutes visiting the museum, including another regular exhibit of the museum. Hanging from the ceiling of the museum is a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Charles Lindbergh flew from the US to Paris in 1927, the first solo non-stop crossing of the Atlantic (promise, no more history lessons).

After the Museum Karla and I drove to the Cheesecake Factory at the Galleria to enjoy lunch and discuss finances. I am always happy to trade financial advice for fashion advice with my girlfriends! 

A fun time, as always, and can’t wait until we can do it again. Thanks, Karla!

*For those of a certain age, you will likely know this song–and if you do, one line in the song will immediately come to mind.

Both of Me

Sherry sent me a text recently about how wonderful it was for some new recent friends to accept me as I am, both myself and Kandi. It got me thinking, which is always dangerous.

Doing this, being completely open about both sides of me, introducing people to both sides of me, is nothing new. I have done it numerous times.

Just before the pandemic fell upon us, I worked a Destination Cleveland event. Destination Cleveland uses volunteers as local ambassadors. This was a luncheon at the convention center. We served as wayfinders, pointing people through the matrix of the center to the event. During some down time, I chatted up a fellow volunteer. We discovered we lived about a mile from each other. Peg was great! We talked about running and other sporting activities and she suggested I join their pickleball group. I had never heard of the game and now it’s been my salvation during the pandemic. It is my little slice of normalcy. She met Kandi initially. She see me frequently as myself. Not an issue.

I was a volunteer for The Arthritis Foundation. I worked many high end, public events for them as Kandi. They have an annual December 5K that I also work. Because I know many runners who attend and run it myself (Kandi is not a runner), I show up and work the event as myself. I simply let them know whenever I work, which one of me will be there. A complete nonissue. I am treated well in either circumstance.

I have worked two Proms to Remember, our Prom for teens battling cancer. While Kandi works the event and attends the frequent organizational meetings and fundraisers, there have been occasions that I could not get dressed, so I attended as myself. No one cares, they are simply happy to have me and my efforts to help.

I have been actively involved with the North Coast Men’s Chorus, again almost always as Kandi. There have been occasions for one reason or the other I could not get dressed, so again, I show up. No one cares, they are simply happy to have me there to help.

Just this past week (as of the day I wrote this), I met a couple while enjoying Happy Hour at a favorite establishment. As often happens, I meet a runner and we get to talking. She also happened to be a tennis player and had been a member at the tennis club I belong to (in order to play pickleball) and expressed an interest in the game. I sent a text, got her invited to play in my regular Sunday game and told her to meet me (me, not Kandi) then. We had a great time. She fit in very well and seemed to enjoy herself. No big deal.

I could go on with this list, but my memory fails me at times. I guess my point here is that if you want to go out in public, then do so. Simple as that. Is it risky? No more than it would be to do anything else in life. I have gotten traffic tickets dressed, been to court dressed, all the while identifying as myself. Nonissues.

No one cares what I am wearing (unless I look really good!) and usually I get more positive feedback that I would otherwise. I explained to some new friends I recently met, Kandi is really a beloved figure; me, not so much. No one pays me any special attention as myself, as Kandi, they are often drawn to me like flies. And THAT pleases me!

____________________

I want to take this opportunity to introduce everyone to the spokes model for the new Kandi’s Land!

As I recently noted, we are building a new place, with a real web address and are investing time and a little money to make this a much better place. So over the coming weeks, whenever you see this young lady, she will be bring you details on our move.

Stay tuned. Please be nice to her, she’s been working her tail off! We see her below doing some of the preliminary work, checking with the contractors, crunching the numbers and taking some necessary measurements. It’s a daunting task, but I know she can get it done!

Going Out and Passing

By Julie (Here every Friday) Slowinski

This month, I’d like to talk about the subject of passing. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, passing refers to convincing the people around you that you were born as the gender you are presenting. The opposite of passing is to be clocked, meaning that someone has figured out your ‘secret.’ For many crossdressers the concern of ‘not being passable’ is the primary reason they do not express their feminine side in public. Important Note: In this post I will be speaking specifically to crossdressers. While the  subject of passing is relevant to trans women as well as trans men, I have not lived that experience. As such, I cannot presume to understand the subject from the perspective of living full-time or while dealing with dysphoria. 

Okay, let us now get back to the subject of a narcissist named Julie. If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll likely know that I get out pretty regularly — once or twice a month — and I go to a lot of mainstream places; shopping, restaurants, museums, live music, plays, burlesque shows, giant art and music festivals, frequently take public transportation (CTA) and I’ve even flown pretty, although just once. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Look at her! She’s totally passable — if I was that passable, I would be doing all that mainstream stuff too.” 

First of all, thank you for the passable compliment — every compliment is nice, but that one in particular makes my heart soar. However, let me assure you that I am nowhere near passable. How do I know? I know because I’ve asked people — “When did you first figure it out?” Invariably the answer is: Immediately! Some of you might be disheartened by this fact — “If she’s not passable, then what hope do I have?” However, I see it completely differently. Think about what this says about every person I’ve interacted with — a couple hundred in conversation and probably thousands in passing on the street. All of these people have known, or suspected, that I was Assigned Male At Birth (AMAB). In spite of that, all have been completely accepting, regardless of my obvious and maybe incongruent presentation as female; no pointing and laughing, no calling out ‘hey dude, where’d ya get that dress.’ Everyone I’ve interacted with has been at the very least polite. But, more often than not, people are rather interested and frequently excited to meet Julie — actually she is quite a bit more popular than the older, balding and rather boring looking guy that usually walks the streets of Chicago. 

Before we get too far into this celebration of trans acceptance, let me backup a bit and tell you that this mindset of assuming I do not pass is actually what got me out the door my first time out and is the foundation of my confidence every time since. If I worried about being passable and perpetually wondering if this person or that person was clocking me, I would be a total wreck and would not enjoy even a single minute of my Julie time. Since I assume they already know — which is not far from the truth — I am free to go about my business of just being me out in the world enjoying life. Here’s the funny part — by assuming I don’t pass, I actually become more passable. The reason is that it allows me to be more comfortable in my own skin and just be a friendly engaging person. People like that and generally react poorly to a person that seems overly nervous (what sort of no good are they up to?) Now, I’m not saying I’m never nervous — my first time out I was a total wreck. But, knowing that people were seeing a crossdresser (or more likely a trans woman) and still not reacting with scorn, has made everything so much easier. 

Of course, there’s a very important detail that must not be overlooked. I might be able to convince you that others will be, for the most part, accepting. However, this knowledge will not help you, if you yourself are not self-accepting. I think that at our core, this lack of self-acceptance is the fundamental reason we put so much emphasis on passing — if I don’t pass, then I’ll have to experience the shame of people seeing me as a crossdresser. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this is likely why it took me so long to go out for the first time, not until I was 47. To be able to get out there and truly enjoy our feminine side, we must turn that narrative around. Say it with me: “I am proud to be a crossdresser, so it doesn’t matter if I pass.” Do you see the difference? This is the power of self-acceptance. Also, in the rare occasion that we might run into an immature asshat, this mantra will be your armor — the inner confidence that will allow you to stay silent as you look such a person in the eye until they realize that your pride is so much stronger than their cowardice. 

If you’re now thinking about going out for the first time, here’s a little bit of Julie advice:

  1. First and foremost, don’t lurk in the shadows. I know that walking around the neighborhood, late at night, when nobody’s around, seems like a good and convenient plan. But, it’s actually just unsafe for you and if anyone does see you, it gives the impression that crossdressers are just creepy dudes hiding in the bushes. A late night drive is certainly a thrill, but it doesn’t really get us any closer to the goal of learning to interact with other people. And no, stopping for gas at 2 a.m. doesn’t count as interacting with people. 
  2. For your first time, I suggest you go to a trans friendly venue. Maybe a trans support group meeting, a CD meetup at a bar or maybe just a gay club, preferably one that has drag shows. You’ll be in an open public place (much safer and less creepy) and you’ll be more confident that the people around you will be accepting. This will be very important for your first time out — to have a positive experience that will build the confidence you will need for future outings. If you don’t know where to go, ask around on this or other trans/CD focused sites.
  3. Keep those skirts long and necklines high. Yes, try to be sexy (or not), but keep it respectable. Unless you’re at a rather specific late night club, you probably want to error away from the side of the hooker look. You’re already exotic, so there’s no need to go over the top.
  4. Start with an evening event. I know I said don’t be lurking in the shadows, but it cannot be denied that a little darkness will make you feel less exposed. Also, you’ll likely be over dressed for the daytime, where jeans, sweatshirts and flip flops dominate over skirts and heels.
  5. If you’re determined to go shopping at the mall for your first time out, the best time is the early hours of a weekday. Lots of families on the weekends and you probably want to avoid the 3-6 p.m. hours on a weekday when groups of teenagers are hanging around. Sales associates are among the most accepting folks around, but they are the most accepting during the doldrum weekday hours.  
  6. Find a more experienced CD to go with you. Definitely a confidence booster to have that support. But, just remember that not everyone is G-rated. Some girls like to mix it up, if you know what I mean. If you’re not into that and they are, that doesn’t mean you cannot hang out. Before you meet in person you should make your intentions clear with a simple private message. Something like:  ‘Hey, we’re all G-rated, right?’ It’s not rude and is actually rather common. In fact, the other person with likely be relieved that you said it first. In the end, this simple message will save everyone any unnecessary embarrassment. If possible, I also advise having an in drab meeting (in public of course) before meeting in girly mode. This is not essential, but it will make you more comfortable when you get to the big night. The in drab dynamic between CDs is actually distinct from hanging out en femme — it’s not better or worse, it’s just different. 
  7. Feel free to get a hotel room for changing. This kinda freaked me out at first, but hotel workers like cab/Uber drivers have seen it all and won’t even bat an eye. Personally, I like this more relaxed atmosphere for getting my Julie on. I know that some girls change and do their makeup in the car and that’s fine. Certainly there is a financial trade-off, but if the hold up is being harassed by the hotel staff, that concern is completely unfounded. In fact, such behavior is just asking for a lawsuit, which hotels definitely want to avoid. 
  8. Don’t drink and drive. Aside from the obvious danger of killing someone, the last thing you want is to be in lockup in a dress. Ubers are cheap and as I said, they’ve seen it all. Just be prepared for the driver to drive right past you cuz their looking for a guy named ******. Okay, maybe the one occasion where I’m passable, at least from a distance. Of course, that ends as soon as I get in the car and start talking in my guy voice. “Yes, this is ******, but tonight it’s Julie.”
  9. Oh yeah, that reminds me. Forget about that girl voice thing. If you can do it easily, fine. But, for me, I figure why waste energy on trying to get my voice right — I have much better things to put my mind to, like “why does this drag club have so few mirrors?”
  10. Bathrooms? If you’re in an LGBT friendly venue, then there’s no wrong answer. If you’re in a mainstream place try to find a gender neutral bathroom, first and if that fails go with your heart. What you should not do is piss yourself. You have dignity and have the right to relieve yourself. With all the media discussion on this subject, I’ve never had any pushback about using the ladies room. In fact, the publicity has likely made more people who would normally sit on the sidelines become advocates and welcome you in any bathroom you choose. If you feel uncomfortable, as I did initially, just make a beeline to the privacy a stall. Eventually, you’ll get comfortable enough to do some makeup retouches. It takes time to build that confidence, so don’t beat yourself up for getting out of their without washing your hands. 
  11. Finally, don’t forget to smile and have fun — people love to talk to and hang out with people who are having fun. You’re out in the world expressing your femininity because it makes you happy and if you’re like me has been a lifelong dream. And, never forget that being exactly who you are hurts no one and deserves respect from everyone. It couldn’t be any simpler than that.

Blessed Beyond Words

February 4, 2021 – What a wonderful day!

Let’s dispense with the outfit description. A simple girl-about-town outfit. The top was acquired in a clothing swap with a friend. Recent bargain earrings, a necklace that was one of the first I ever purchased (to keep) and jeans off the Piece Unique discount rack. I was very comfortable all day long.

I began my day with a meeting at a coffee shop with the young man helping me create a better blog. I met him years ago at Mercury Theatre and have attended a few shows he put on at Playhouse Square. Simply a wonderful person and a good (albeit young) friend! In what was a frequent occurrence all day long, the cashier referred to me as “sweetie” when I purchased my breakfast. And I am pretty certain I was her senior.

After the meeting, I hit the FedEx Office store to take care of something I needed for work. I got a “ma’am” there.

Next, I continued my Dillard’s hunt. I may have mentioned that twice a year, Dillard’s runs a month+ long clearance sale. That sale, in about the sixth week or so, ends with certain jewelry and lingerie being on significant discounts. I have been restocking the panty drawer for about $2 a pair, picked up a very comfortable bra, regularly $60 for about $7 and bought a ton of jewelry, averaging about $1.50 per item. Rings, necklaces, broaches, bracelets, all beautiful. On this day, the lady working the jewelry section was a delightful older lady, just a darling person. She saw me, immediately began talking to me just as she would to any other woman and pointed me in the direction of the $1.99 items. Most of these items originally retailed for $50 or more, I bought eight pieces. What a sweet and wonderful human being.

I probably spent about $100 there over the past few weeks for items that originally retailed for at least $1,000.

Next stop was at Avalon Exchange with a basket full of items that I quickly turned into $37 in cash. I could have used a $50 store credit, but I resisted the urge. As always, a wonderful place and the gentleman there thanked me and I can tell, really appreciates my helping stock the racks there.

I decided to call it a day and head home but something made me drive past my exit to Piece Unique. I walk in and am greeted by Lisa and Terri and asked where I had been this year. I did inform them I had been there a few weeks prior and then they floored me. They had purchased a Christmas gift for me! On a shelf behind the counter was a box wrapped with a card “To: Kandi, From” Terri and Lisa”. I immediately was choked up, I could barely speak. As I have mentioned, Lisa reads the blog and enjoyed my “June Clever” post from this past summer. Terri loves antiquing and thought I would enjoy two vintage aprons. She purchased them, ironed them and lovingly wrapped them for me. For me! I get choked up writing this. I am not sure I have ever felt such love from someone that was not related to me. There will be another June Clever photoshoot very soon. Wait, it gets better.

I do some shopping and select a cute black corduroy skirt and a lovely dress. I get chided for not modeling them, so of course, I oblige! Loved them both and just felt amazing! I get dressed back into my outfit for the day and go to check out. Lisa processed everything, bags it up and refuses to allow me to pay. I insist but she would have none of it. At that point I jokingly tell her that if I knew that would happen, I would have chosen a few more items! But of course, it gets better still!

As you may have recently read, Lisa is celebrating a landmark birthday and I was invited to join her and some of the other ladies there for a birthday drink! I simply cannot wait for that!! I specifically scheduled this post for today, as this is the day we will be going out to celebrate my friend (that fills me with pride), Lisa.

Lisa, I cried such tears of joy on my way home. It is very hard to get me to cry and especially for something happy (I wish I could cry more often as I have often tried). In one day, my friend helps me with the blog, “sweetie”, “ma’am”, the amazing SA at Dillard’s, a big score at Avalon and the gift, the freebies and the invitation. As I told Lisa and I mean it, Piece Unique is my piece of Heaven on Earth where the people there are simply what this world needs to be.

Now please excuse me while I repair my mascara……… I’m starting to look like Alice Cooper.

My Oh My!

This was the second consecutive amazing day out flying solo. The first, you will read about tomorrow.

February 5, 2021 – Everything about this day (well, almost everything) was special! I am my own harshest critic. But on this day, I was beautiful! These are some of the finest photos I have ever taken of myself. My outfit consisted of a vintage Jessica Howard dress, a beautiful necklace, bracelet and watch, all bought recently on super discounts and a favorite pair of red heels. The large hoop earrings were spot on. I wore one of my red overcoats out the door, with the Chanel purse, on a bitter cold day.

My plan was to visit the Akron Art Museum, then my last Dillard’s visit on the final days of the huge clearance they have been having and finally dinner at Vacarro’s Trattoria. I was unaware the Art Museum was closed (what else?) so I went to an antique store and browsed a bit instead.

I proceeded to Summit Mall and walked around and then shopped at Dillard’s. I picked up two bracelets, a pair of earrings and a necklace for $8. Then I picked up a few more pair of panties. While making that purchase, I had a lovely exchange with the SA. I complemented her on her locket necklace and she told me it held her mother’s ashes. I told her it was beautiful and that was beautiful. She told me I looked cute! Anyway, our conversation was very sweet.

I got to the restaurant when it opened and was warmly welcomed by three different employees there. I talked a bit with Karen and Kim, getting caught up. Then my friend Rosie came over and we talked for a while. She is also a local actress and will be preforming at a dinner theater murder mystery the next week. It is run by a gentleman I know from one of my community theaters. I have purchased my ticket to attend!

Then I set up camp at the corner of the bar when a couple came in and sat at the opposite corner. We immediately connected and talked quite a bit. Wendy and Mike were wonderful! Wendy invited me to sit with them (with a stool in between, socially distant) and it was like we were sisters! She is quite lovely and British, her accent intoxicating. I found out Wendy was a tennis player and a member of the same tennis club as me (to play pickleball). She expressed an interest in learning to play and so we made a commitment to do so the following Sunday (as myself, not Kandi). I walked in alone and spent three hours there interacting with people as if I came with them.

All in all a simply delightful afternoon and evening, all because I was out, alone and being me. For some reason, this happens to me all the time and I am so thankful for it. I know how to present myself, I know where to go and I know how to interact quite naturally with others where my attire is a nonissue, although openly discussed in my attempt to educate people, one at a time. I wish I could bottle this!