I love comments from anyone, but particularly from someone who doesn’t often do so and feels compelled to comment by something posted here. In case you don’t go back and read comments, here are a few recent ones I particularly liked (from infrequent commentors):
I am glad for your positive encounters while shopping.
I too am ‘over’ being discovered ‘enfemme’.
Just DO IT!
I have received numerous compliments while shopping at Value Village (division of Shoppers). Often I am complimented on my clothes style, hair, makeup, and of course my ‘nice shapely (truck driver) legs complete with hose and heels….
One kind lady asked for my advice on how she looked in a ‘jeans jacket’. I offered her my honest opinion that the base of the jacket matched her ‘derriere’ perfectly. So, she made the purchase!
One late Saturday, another lady offered the address of a local ‘yard sale’ which had ‘a great many’ ‘clip-on’ style earrings, as this is what I do wear.
Another encounter with a customer revealed that she was from the local homeless shelter, and her other clothes had been stolen. I offered her the chance to purchase a few new clothes, and I covered the nominal cost. As for chance encounters with acquaintances, I spied a lady at Value Village whom I worked with years ago (we are now both retired). I walked past her TWICE when she was in the checkout line. She never acknowledged me!
So, tempting fate, I walked up behind her, and tapped her on the shoulder! When she turned,
I asked her ”Whatcha’ Think”? My distinct voice revealed who I really was.
She drawled my last name: Smiiiiith? (not my real name).
Dammmmmmm! Look at you! You look gooooood!
Hell, your makeup and hair (blonde wig) is better than mine! AND you got perfect LADY GLASSES that are PERFECT for the look. Dammmmmmm!
Red dress and black heels? Its perfect!
Quite a rush.
While I too don’t put much value in labels since we need as many labels as there are people on this planet, they are, at times, a useful shorthand in conversation. I wouldn’t quite agree with your (and my) situation being gender fluid. I sometimes like to think of it from a quantum physics perspective. We live in a quantum state that has two values, male and female. We travel between the two but never occupy the middle or any other state. Since we travel we are not stationary and therefore must be fluid.
From Leann Lapine
Or, maybe gender is still fluid, and you are just pouring yourself, back and forth, into two different vessels?
There are often great stories and thought in the comments. Keep on commenting! This is a community, if it’s just me, how interesting can that be?
Back in April 2017, I made a train trip from downstate Illinois to Chicago. The following is part two of that trip.
I woke up early (5:45) although I wanted to sleep in. I got up, put on my only boy clothes (workout stuff), and spent an hour running on the treadmill and half an hour on the elliptical in the hotel exercise room. In probably not the best of timing, I scheduled my train trip the week before I would be running my third (and to date, last) marathon on Sunday. Before my trip, I had been swapping messages with another member of a forum I belong to. Based on those messages, I set up a styling session with Kelly, the styling director at the Nordstrom at Old Orchard Mall, located in the Chicago suburbs. I got dressed, wearing my favorite Maggy London dress, and did another first–I took a taxi to the mall dressed.
Upon arriving, I found Kelly had pulled a wide variety of combinations, and then pulled more when I got there. So much fun to have a room full of clothes to try on, and someone to give you opinions. I tried on lots of stuff, but settled on some black skinny jeans and a black top that work well together.
Then she brought in a dress and I was in love. It was a new arrival, a blue Maggy London dress. I tried on a size 16 and then the size 14, and the 14 was a bit tight but doable. Then Kelly went and got a scalloped Kate Spade sweater to wear with it and the combination was lethal. I couldn’t say no to the dress or the sweater.
All in all, I bought a black and white top, black skinny jeans, the blue dress, and the sweater. I spent more than I intended but what’s a girl to do? In all, I spent about three hours with Kelly. She was fabulous and I enjoyed it immensely (she enjoyed it too and encouraged me to return, which I did about three months later).
I needed to use the restroom, and for the first time (at least intentionally; I’ve done it unintentionally other times), I walked into the women’s restroom (previously, I had always been able to find unisex bathrooms). No one at the sinks; good. Finish my business, and there are two women at the sinks. Ok, keep cool, just wash hands and exit, no problem. Except the woman to my right says, “that’s a beautiful dress”, which is certainly NOT what I was expecting to hear. I said thanks and said I got it here (meaning Nordstrom). When I was checking out she walked by and said I had good taste. Then Kelly’s co-worker, who is on the other side of the desk, says she likes my lipstick color and asks for the color. So I dig it out of my purse, and read it off to her, and tell her I got it at Sephora.
I then went to some other stores in the mall, and then had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, where the waitress complimented my nail color. I took another taxi back downtown to complete another fun day.
As I age, I have come to realize that there are actually two kinds of happiness. For most of my life (except during times of intense stress or difficulty), one would have thought that I was a happy person. And I was, externally happy. My wife has always made me happy. Our children have always (principally) made me happy. Friends and friendships have made me happy. My family, usually, made me happy. Great experiences made me happy. Music made me happy. Sports, until I realized the hopelessness of it where I live and with whom I root for, made me happy. A good meal made me happy. A sunny day made me happy. You get the point. And these things all still make me happy.
The key word here is “made”, made me happy. External stimuli. Things that bring joy INTO our lives. What I didn’t realize, what I hadn’t experienced, what appears obvious but is not, is that one needs to find that place where they ARE happy. Inside. Regardless of the day, situation, weather, happy with themselves. Happy with who they are.
And that finally happened back in October 2014 when I finally admitted who and what I have always been. Then I went about accepting it, figuring out what it all meant, getting my wife’s approval and building myself into someone who could proudly go about her business in the world. Being happy inside made me a better person, a better person to be around, reshaped my world view. The things that generally annoyed me no longer do. Sure, I am far from perfect (very, very far), I don’t float around on a cloud all day. But my days generally are good, not depending on someone or something making them good.
That’s the place we all need to get to. How? Damned if I know. It only took me the bulk of my life to figure that out. But it’s there, out there somewhere, for everyone. Many never find it or circumstances make it difficult or impossible. But it does exist. This blog has helped as it has forced an introspection that I don’t naturally have. I am a bulldozer, plowing through the responsibilities for the day, generally not looking too far out into the distance or considering the big picture. That has made me who I am and in many circumstances, caused me problems as I was blind to road blocks out in front of me.
Happiness. Look for it. God bless you if you can find it. I did, I believe, and will hold on to it as long as I am able. Once you get there, you have to work very hard to stay there. Challenges and struggles will continue, but my ability to fight through them and find the silver lining is now firmly in place.
Looking back at the posts written the past week (plus contributions from some friends), I am very proud of each and every one of them. In my humble opinion or as the kids text nowadays, IMHO, this was a very good week in Kandi’s Land.
One day while texting back and forth with my friend Sherry, a dear person and probably my only real world friend (using the true definition of the word “friend”) dealing with all of this, I realized something. Before I move forward, I have many friends in the virtual world, I have many good acquaintances who are like me and I have great friends as Kandi who are cis-gendered people. However my only real true friend, dealing with many of the same feelings as I do, is Sherry.
While friends, Sherry and I are almost complete mirror images of each other. Consider the following:
My wife couldn’t care less about my dressing; her’s isn’t a fan.
I’ve told no one other than my wife; she’s told co-workers, family members, random strangers, people walking down the street, etc. (okay, I exaggerate a bit).
Along those lines, she’s participated with people that know her otherwise; I have not (unless they came to know Kandi first) nor do I wish to with those that know the real me.
I go principally where ever I want, when ever I want; she has limited windows and limited places due to her profession.
She likes drag; I detest it.
She (wisely) is in therapy; I am my own therapist (what do they say about someone who represents themselves? Same thing here, they have a fool for a client).
I speak in my male voice; she speaks in a feminized voice.
Sherry is a nocturnal creature; I turn into a pumpkin around 9:00 PM.
I’m sure there are other points I could make, but you get the drift. I asked Sherry to pen her view of the matter, as she completely agreed with my premise.
Recently, Kandi emailed me with an idea for a combined post between the two of us, a point/ counter point if you will. She has noticed how the two of us approach our feminine side in very different ways. The irony of this is, I have been noticing the same thing. The funny thing is, our male sides seemed to have paralleled itself in many ways leading up to the blossoming of our feminine personas. For example, we both have been married to our wives for many years (almost 30 for me!) [33 for me], we live in the same community (less than a 10 minute car ride apart) [hell, it’s less than a 10 minute run], we are both runners (I don’t compete anymore but coach now), and we both couldn’t stand ourselves until our female personas walked out the door around the half-century mark! I’m sure there’s more…
Now for our approach to our Kandi/Sherry side. When I finally walked out of the house as Sherry a few Januarys ago I was scared, excited, relieved, all of the emotions that we have all experienced. I soon found, and continue to find, my likes and dislikes to just about everything. When Kandi was nice enough to reach out and meet me in drab initially and again later as Kandi and Sherry, a friendship was established. She has guided me to a comfort level that is still evolving and improving day by day. I thank you for that! [Go on…….] Since those initial outings I/we have noticed a few differences in our approaches to our feminine sides. Now neither of us are right nor wrong, just different.
I absolutely LOVE the process of getting ready. I love seeing the male self fade away and the female self emerge. [The key word here is “see” she can, I cannot.] As my male self I build a lot of things and I enjoy how I make something from nothing, this is no different. [Interesting point.] I spend a lot of energy thinking about how my makeup and hair should look based on my outfit. Kandi says that she hates the process but knows it’s a necessary evil. I enjoy spending time looking online about makeup and hair techniques and how to create the best outfit.
Kandi’s wife could care less about her dressing and doesn’t care about seeing her and taking pictures/lending articles of clothing etc. My wife, although she is coming around, has no desire to see me dressed and rather me not do it. In the near future I will be going out for the second time with her knowing it.
Kandi has told no one about her dressing but I have told many. The list of people who know include two sisters-in-law, my sister and her husband, three co workers, a work acquaintance, two of my wives friends, my son (not by choice, he walked in on me), his wife and mother-in-law, and a couple of salon workers who I have shown pictures of my male self to. [Did you miss anyone?]
A huge advantage for Kandi is that she can go out pretty much whenever she wants where my time is limited due to my job and my wife. Kandi always counters with I can retire in four years at the age of 58 and she cannot. [Trade that anytime!]
I like going to drag shows and will be going to another soon with my sister and two co-workers (blog to follow). I think it is just another way that individuals can express who they are. Kandi detests going to drag shows. [Not a fan of the “bitch” this, “bitch” that culture.]
When my wife and I started having meaningful conversation about my dressing I quickly realized that I/we needed a therapist to work through things and found one to help us. We have gone twice together and Sherry has gone four times by herself. These sessions have been helpful and I want to continue as soon as I get my insurance straightened out. Kandi is her own therapist but has been a therapist to many of us! [A few years back I did see a therapist who told me I was just a “normal” crossdresser. Good enough for me!]
Kandi uses her everyday voice when out but I try to use a feminized voice when out (if you recall I went to voice lessons during the summer). I continue to practice my female voice and hope to go back to voice training this spring and/or summer. [My feminized voice sounds like Minnie Mouse, actually more like Mickey.]
Kandi knows she doesn’t “pass” and doesn’t care [just realizing what the realities are, we never pass, way too many tells] and believes that is one of the reasons people interact with her so much (personality has nothing to do with it!). [I won’t argue my personality helps, but I get many a smile or a hug without even opening my yap.] I want to pass and will go to great detail to try to obtain the correct look. I love to just fit in and be another woman in the room. Idle chit chat is my friend.
Since Kandi has the ability to get out on a regular basis she doesn’t stay out late when out. [That actually has nothing to do with it, I cannot stay awake, plus I’m old. Been this way all my life, even in college. I am a morning person.] Me, on the other hand, am a bit of a night owl. Since my opportunities are limited I have to take advantage of my time and tend to stay out longer than I would if I were my male self. Kandi and I have stayed out to about midnight together but she goes home and I stay out a little longer. [I also like retiring home before I have had one too many, as a bar is principally the only place one can go to after hours. Such a mistake would be twice as costly for me because I would also lose my job.]
I’m sure there are other similarities and differences and maybe Kandi will expand upon those as well. Bottom line, no matter what, find your comfort level first, step out of the house, and be the person you deserve to be. [Amen, sister!] I believe a reason why Kandi wanted us to collaborate on this blog was to show how different approaches to dressing can be but yet the ultimate goal of happiness can be achieved in all of us. [Plus it’s content!] I can’t wait to hear Kandi’s point of view! [I blab enough here, so I just left snarky comments.]
Attached are pictures of our first and last outing together, what a difference!
Stay beautiful-Sherry [I need a catchy sign off.]
We’re all different, we’re all the same, interesting juxtapositions. Thanks Sher!!
This was one of my personal favorite posts. Two pretty good looking chicks!
In my recent “Always Noticed” post, I received the following comment:
In this post you have also planted a seed for a different discussion. You state that “you feel no different walking into somewhere in a dress or as myself .” Many in the overall community use the term ‘myself’ when referring to themselves presenting as a woman. Like you, I see myself as the same person regardless of attire but I am certainly myself in my regular day to day presentation as a guy.
I have never felt that Kandi was the “real me”. Far from it. What lead me to her, those almost 50 years of self-loathing and guilt, tell me all that. Looking in the rear view mirror, I was miserable internally (externally, I was happy and blessed with a wonderful family). She is a component of my personality. A component that was locked away, a possibility unrealized until my self-acceptance in 2014. Once I let it out, I felt happy. Never once, even now when I get dressed, do I feel “right”. Never once do I feel like another person. Never once do I feel like a woman. I do feel feminine, I know what it is to be a woman, having lived with them (almost exclusively, no brother, no sons) my entire life. I do refer to Kandi here as a woman, I mean that as a descriptive term, not as the actual definition of myself.
I feel a joy, a rush of happiness, rose colored glasses through which I can view the world. Inside my head, nothing changes. My thought process, my priorities, all the same. I know I’ll probably get some push back here, or someone else’s view of the world and how they perceive all of “this”, however you wish to define it. I am by no means denying who and what I am, I believe I am more open than most or this blog would be a bunch of blank pages. I also open myself to others analysis of me from a distance. Most of that I quite enjoy and it makes me think. Thinking is good…..I think.
I’ll refer to my ice cream analogy. My life is a big bowl of ice cream. Who doesn’t love ice cream? Kandi is a sundae, syrup, whipped cream, nuts, the works! But you just can’t eat a sundae every day (if you want to be healthy). But that sundae every so often, just the best!
“Me” is the husband, the provider, the father, the athlete, the friend and then yes, Kandi. I’ve talked before about where my joy comes from, the mirror that is the world and how it reflects back to me when I am out and about. Becoming Kandi unlocked many other components of my life that would not have happened otherwise. Simple example: never in any universe could I have run a marathon except that Kandi changed me, my body, my mind set, my life.
I often have choices as to how to present myself or what I activity I would like to do on any given day and I still often defer to doing so as myself, not Kandi. You don’t read about those choices here, the day I wrote this being one such day. Spent all afternoon doing a male activity and went to an evening meeting as myself and not Kandi, which I very well could have.
For me, the key is that when I am not dressed, I still feel “right”. I feel no switch flip from “wrong” to “right” when I get dressed. I go from happy to, I guess, really happy in the moment. A thrill! Being a full realized person, now, a little of this and a little of that, makes it so.
Just a heads up, I am in the process of setting up a new web site with a web address that I can actually remember (I do not even know the actual web address for this one, I just cut and paste it as needed). Given that I am an internet luddite (thanks, Pat for the term) I could just as easily screw it up as make this place even better. So maybe, coming soon, a new and improved Kandi’s Land!
Tomorrow is what I believe to be the best written piece yet! I’m pretty proud of it.
January 9, 2020 – Yesterday I had a Prom meeting where I apparently became the volunteer coordinator for the Dress Extravaganza. This day, my first meeting as volunteer coordinator for the North Coast Men’s Chorus. [Saturday, my first organizational meeting as volunteer coordinator for the Courtney Jones Care and Cure Foundation, a non-Kandi day, so that’s all you’ll here about it here. Quite the full week.]
I had a great morning at the gym and then it was time to get dressed. Love the top, love the jeans, felt really nice all day. Just an excellent, stylish, casual outfit (wish I could wear something like this to work…..).
Off I went to cash in a gift certificate I won for a race challenge series, picking up a new set of running shorts (hey, good ones are expensive!) for a few bucks.
Then I met a friend for lunch. He is the marketing director for a local symphony and so damn young! He is also a world class human being and understands how to navigate the world we live in today. I am old and therefore, do not. He gave me much to think about and may be able to help me make some necessary connections. Two hours that felt like two minutes. Thank you Nathan!
Then I met up with the tremendous folks I work with at the chorus. Carrie, Jon and Amber went over the things I need to know to move forward in my new role. I am so unbelievably blessed to know the people I have met along the way. I look forward to a bigger role with this organization and have been invited to attend a board meeting next week.
I do believe (and I am a natural skeptic) that I am indeed making some traction and will keep pushing forward toward…….not sure yet. Stay tuned!!
January 8, 2020 – I had a planning meeting scheduled for The Prom to Remember, so I made a bit of an “everyday” of it. The new record for a purchased item, less than 24 hours from acquisition to outing! It was just really cute and exactly what the day called for. I picked this sweater up the day before for a song, it caught my attention walking through a Goodwill just trying to kill time and not buy anything (oops!).
My first stop for the day was to buy some concert tickets for a friend.
Then I stopped at the nearby Goodwill and did some shopping, picking up a cute turtleneck with a matching scarf.
Then over to Ulta to finish my makeup kit update, a bit of a project I have been on for the past few weeks. I had to replenish my Dermablend powder and creme cover (a must!) and got some new lip liners, primer, eye crayons and a cool new eye shadow pallet.
Then I headed over to Burlington where I picked up a perfect grey cardigan (the one I recently wore is way too big, destined for consignment), a cute turtleneck and a beautiful CK blazer. Then I headed across town to my meeting, but since I had another hour to kill, I stopped at Gabe’s and got a black cardigan (as usual, my current black cardigan is too large for me as well).
Finally, our January Prom to Remember planning meeting. I reported on my role as Transportation Coordinator and it looks like I will also be the Volunteer Coordinator for the prelude, the Dress Extravaganza. My plate is starting to get pretty full.
I then quickly high-tailed it home for the second day of the Jeopardy! Greatest of All-Time Tournament. TV at its finest!