Pandemonium Redux

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So my friend Pricilla asks:

“You have got to tell us more about your LBD dress with the chain belt, necklace and uncomfortable shoes!

Was it one of your thrift shop finds? or did you purchase it new?

It shows of your body and legs so well. I bet you got lots of hugs when wearing it.”

So allow me to deconstruct the outfit.  We’ll start with the dress.  No way I purchase a dress like this new.  I dropped about $2.50 on it at Goodwill, thinking if it doesn’t work out for me, the investment was minimal.  I got the invitation to work this party, I immediately thought of the dress.  This event is pretty avant garde,  so I knew I could stretch my normal boundaries in attire.  Yes, the dress does highlight my best features.  I’ve spent the summer working my behind off training and rehabbing.  I know I look better than I ever have and feel ready to run stronger and faster that ever.

Actually the hug count was pretty low that evening, principally because of the logistics of my role that evening.  I basically played traffic cop in a tight space and there really wasn’t the space for long interactions and/or hugs.  The complements were more than enough!

Those shoes….. my feet still hurt.  They are my wife’s.  I have no idea why she even has them and I only wore them because, well, they were perfect for the outfit!  BTW, my wife and I wear the same shoe size, helps me keep expenses down despite the fact that I probably have 30 pair of my own shoes, most thrift store bargains or hand-me-downs.

The chain belt…my wife’s.  The longest necklace….my wife’s.  The rest of the jewelry, mine!  I easily have more than three times the amount of jewelry than my wife has.  This outfit, with the silver studs on the shoulders, screamed for a silver pallet and tons of bling!  It’s hard to see in this photo, but the hair bow might have been my favorite little touch that brings the femininity to the whole package.

Great event! Great night!  Pretty damn good outfit!

 

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Getting Out and About With Pat (Part 3)

She’s back with more…….

In starting to recognize my proclivities I would look for any written material I could find relating to men wearing dresses.  There was no internet back then and not much published.  On occasions I would find something relating to the concerns I had with my inclinations.

Some time in the late 1980s I learned of Tri-Ess and I sent away for their material and joined the parent organization.  My wife was concerned with my growing concerns and the fact that I had started to get mailings at my house as well as some mail ordered items to wear.  The solution was to get a PO Box.

I learned from the Tri-Ess materials that there was a culture of hetero cross dressers and I learned that there was a local chapter (about 1 hour and 20 minutes away) that met once a month.  I did confide in my wife that I wanted to check it out and she reluctantly agreed.  I only attended a few meetings in the early 1990s.  They were not local and I really did not like to spend my rare free time away from my family.  I also found that the meetings were really not my cup of tea.  There were some very nice folks but I just did not find that I was a solid fit. [Pat again striking a familiar note with me.]

I also explored attending another Tri-Ess group in a different state.  Again this was not my thing.  After one of the two meetings I attended with this group a bunch of attendees decided to go to a gay bar about a half hour away.  I went with them but when it came time to get out of the car and go into the bar I chose to simply go home.  I immediately regretted that decision.  As such, during the 1990s I would estimate that my outings were limited to about two or three times a year.

Since my wife knew of my proclivities but lived in constant fear of my being found out I really had to take things slow.  She did know that Halloween was a bit of a ‘free pass’ for cross dressing so a few times on Halloween I would dress after the kids were in bed and then go out for a drive.  I had to drive at least a half hour away to feel comfortable to go into a bar that was having a costume party.  Some years I did not get out at all, other years I simply drove around while dressed.  Like I said in my last note my coming out may have been the slowest in history.

As I mentioned in my prior posts my wife was greatly concerned with my dressing being found out by the kids or by neighbors.  During much of this time we lived in a rather rural setting on an acre of land in a small development with only a few houses.  After the kids left for college I was able to dress more and more frequently around the house.

My wife is a great wife and mother.  She handles all of the worrying in the family and she tends to worry about everything.  She also knew that there were pressures that I dealt with that were eased by my dressing.  After long days and nights with the kids where I was away working and she was doing everything she would sometimes quip that she wished she had a spare wife.

I stored that concept into my little brain and one overcast day after the kids were away at school she said it would be a good day to scrub the walls.  As she was getting ready to attack that task I said that perhaps a ‘spare wife’ would be helpful and she agreed.  I quickly changed into a little black dress with block heels, hose, wig and makeup and happily spent the day scrubbing the walls.

Shortly thereafter she bemoaned the fact that the house needed a good vacuuming and dusting and that while she had set aside the time to do that she just did not feel up for it.  Once again we had the happy ‘spare wife’ fully dressed in high heel pumps running the vacuum and dusting all the surfaces.

From here the ‘spare wife’ started making more and more appearances.  My wife is a good cook and she loves her veggies.  I am more of a meat and potatoes or more specifically a pasta and meatball kind of guy.  While she is a great cook and likes the actual cooking she did not like the preparation of slicing and dicing the veggies or prepping the meat or whatever.  Fortunately the ‘spare wife’ was pretty handy with a knife and cutting board.  Many a weekend afternoon (especially in the winter when there was no going to the beach or golf on the agenda) we would find me fully dressed cutting veggies and meat and preparing dinner.  Over the years I have become quite accomplished.  I make a great sauce and do a good job on meatballs.  I have made meat loafs and plenty of fish dishes.  My specialty has become soup.  On a weekend afternoon I would get the ingredients and spend the time to slice and dice the ingredients and putting them together into the soup.

This ‘spare wife’ scenario has really turned into a ‘win/win’ situation.  I get to spend the time in makeup, hose, heels and dress and she gets to benefit from my homemaking efforts.  I think that her comfort level with me being a cross dresser was greatly aided by the benefits of having a ‘spare wife’.  She seems to be comfortable with me being the same person I have always been just having me differently attired.

 

Pat touches on something I believe in and practice every day.  My wife certainly allows me my freedom.  I never take that for granted and give back to her far more than I did before.  That will never change.  The ‘spare wife’ concept struck home for me.  Stay tuned ladies, more soon from Pat.

Fear

I have a friend who I go back and forth with (via email) and she always poses interesting questions to me, one of which is, what is my greatest fear?

I guess, as it relates directly to me, I have no real significant fears.  That doesn’t mean I don’t get anxiety or am fearless about things I do or might do.  I have some basic fears, like heights, things like that.

I don’t really care what anyone (outside of my family and a few friends/loved ones) thinks of me.  I know I am a good person, am giving and try to help whenever possible.  If you don’t like me, so be it.  I have never felt like everyone has to like me.  Not that I don’t wish to be liked, I just know no one can please everyone.  Outside of never embarrassing my wife, I have zero CD related fears.  As long as I follow my rules of the road, there really is nothing to worry about.  In the event some one I know sees me dressed or asked some question related to what they may suspect, I have ready answers, plausible explanations.  But bottom line, this is my life, I deserve happiness.

My fears are always related to my family.  Were I alone, I could live in a cardboard box under a bridge and survive.  I deeply care about my family’s comfort and happiness.  Will our daughters be happy?  Will they have what they need?  Will my wife live a comfortable life (which she richly deserves) for the remainder of her life?

Having been though the mill, I now am very realistic about myself, my life, my strengths and (many) weaknesses.  We all have this little voice in the back of our heads when dressed, like why am I doing this?  For some, that voice is very loud.  Others have completely silenced it, but it was there.  For me, it’s almost a whisper, barely audible, but it’s there.  Then I remind myself that when I am dressed, I am deliriously happy and (this is where I struggle), I deserve to be happy.  We all do.

The Week That Was

Life got in the way a bit this past week.  I had plans for some informal Kandi days, running errands, etc. but a number of household projects and appointments did not allow for that.  No problem, I stick to my pecking order as you read about Saturday and am happy to have accomplished so much.

That didn’t stop me from a few adventures!  This past April, I volunteered for The Cleveland International Film Festival.  Friday, we had a volunteer appreciation picnic.  I took the opportunity after a morning spent laboring in the yard, to just be “every day” woman as you can see below and just get out and “be”.

 

Okay, I won’t argue with you, not my most exciting outfit, not my best photos.  But it was a nice day.  I visited a vintage store where I am good friends with the owner and her parents.  Her Mom, 88 years old, just loves me.  She hugs me frequently and tells me I am her favorite person.  High praise, indeed!  I hadn’t been there in a while, so that all made me fell so good.  I picked up some great cocktail glasses and a cool little “K” knick knack.  Then I needed to kill an hour, so I stopped at Nordstrom’s Rack and tried on a few dresses.  Dresses out of my price range, but sooooooooooo pretty!  I grabbed a beautiful pair of black pumps, two Calvin Kleins (an LBD and a tremendous color block number) and a very expensive Ted Baker dress (the prettiest red dress imaginable).  I milked it for everything it was worth, walking out of my dressing room and checking each one out in the three-way mirror.  My goodness, I just love doing that, wish I had more resources and an event to wear one of those dresses! I almost literally cried when I took each one off, it felt so nice.

I wrapped up my day at the picnic.  I really didn’t know too many people, so I had my dinner and headed home.  I was able to sit with a friend from the chorus, so that was nice.

Saturday was another hybrid Kandi hot yoga class and one of my final turns at the Kusama exhibit.  I decided to go with my full Kusama look, a pink dress with, you guessed it, polka dots!  My shift was fun, plenty of nice people and plenty of complements on my dress (I stand near these giant pink balls with black polka dots).  The highlight of the day for me was my various photo sessions.  This dress highlights my strengths, the whole outfit was exceptional.  I’ll stop yapping now and just proudly show you the photographic evidence.

 

 

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Top 10 Favorite Outfits #7

October 7, 2017

This was one of my bigger duds of an event (an outdoor fashion show, humid, bees buzzing around, my heels sinking into the grass, I left early and cut it short), but this dress, WOW!  As always, the LBD is the perfect dress, the cold shoulder, a slightly above knee hemline and the teal belt and shoes, perfection!  I was in peak physical condition, so I looked thin and feminine.  A crummy evening, but it all ended with me feeling special.  The right outfit will do that for you.

Visibility With Style (September 2018)

To my regular readers, some of this may be repetitive.  This essay is running on Sister House, I am very proud to be a contributor there.  You may want to click over to Sister House to read this as that version is a little different than this one.

[ https://www.sisterhouse.net/dressingroom/2018/09/15/acceptance-by-volunteering-part-1/ ]

It’s September 2018, where has all the time gone?  I remain very committed to my agenda.  I want to continue to support my like-minded sisters.  I wish to remain visible, as we will not affect any changes unless we get out there, changes minds, make ourselves part of the mainstream.  It is absolutely doable to take ourselves off the margins if we all follow the rules of the road: be smart, be appropriate and be confident.   My daily posts on my blog are about being positive, uplifting, moving the ball forward, so to speak.

I am also dedicated to one of the best ways to get out there, volunteering.  Volunteering is the single best means for getting out and being accepted, thereby building confidence to take the next step, whatever that may be.  Or to help you to at least find a comfortable place just to be yourself.

Volunteering, my key to happiness as a crossdresser.   When I first started dressing completely, I was determined to make Kandi a real person.  Early on, I went to CD/TG events.  While I learned quite a bit, I often felt out of place.  Not that I didn’t belong or that many of these people were not worth knowing, but the events were about “being dressed”.  That was the main topic of conversation.  What I was looking for was a simple state of “being”.  Instead of an evening out to be dressed, I wanted to dress for an evening out.  Make any sense?

So being armed with the anonymity of the internet, I sent e-mails to various charitable organizations, explaining that I was a crossdresser and wanted to volunteer my time, dressed.  One organization, one wonderful woman, welcomed me with open arms.  I was effectively her assistant for a few hours each week.  I cherished those hours.  What would I wear to the office?  What would we be doing that day?  Being greeted as Kandi, being referred to in female pronouns, using the ladies room, it all seemed so natural.  Due to some personnel changes, including my “boss”, I have since moved on to other organizations.

I now volunteer for The North Coast Men’s Chorus, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Modern Art, The Great Lakes Science Center, Mercury Theatre, Cleveland Public Theatre, Weathervane Theater and Greater Cleveland Volunteers.  I attend big events, small performances, large performances, work on Playhouse Square and in wonderful community theaters.  I am becoming known as Kandi and treated like any other of the female volunteers.  I am valued.  I am appreciated.  I am considered absolutely “normal” (I don’t like that term, but I use it to make the point).  I talk with women about the dress I am wearing, talk to men about the latest game, give and receive complements and am generally considered a welcome part of their experience that evening.

Why volunteer?  Separate from the intrinsic good one feels from giving, it is the perfect place for a gal to spread her wings.  Any activity that allows me to interact with as many people as possible, as many total strangers as I can, is a welcome one to me.  I am addicted to complements.  I often challenge myself to obtain three hugs on any one evening from total strangers (and I often do).  So I am in a welcoming environment surrounded by open minded people.  I get to meet new people and make new friends.  I get to see wonderful performances and learn so much about things I previously knew little about.

The best part?  What I wear!!  For the art museum’s monthly party, I wear formal attire.  At the theaters, I can get casual (jeans) or get a little adventurous.  I cannot explain the chills I got when a few of the ladies at the theater greet me with a “cute outfit girl!”.  Do you know how freeing it is to walk around in a skirt?  Or to sit on a bar stool before the show, enjoying a cocktail with my legs crossed, digging in my purse for my phone.

So my first lesson to those that wish to get out there.  Simply find an organization that can use a hand and give some time.  You will get so much more back in return than you can imagine.

I guess my favorite charitable event was  A Prom to Remember!  This is a prom for kids battling cancer and I was very involved in helping set up the event.  It was time to bring my absolute “A” game.  Below are a few pictures from the event.  I picked up this beautiful Ralph Lauren floral dress at a thrift store, knee length, half sleeve, perfect for me and the occasion.  I paired it up with this pretty necklace to pull the green tones from the dress and added modest gold accessories.  My makeup included a light purple eye shadow and purple lipstick.  I felt wonderful and looked alright, if I must say so myself.

The thing that struck me most was that I was completely accepted, 100% as one of the ladies.  They treated me no differently than any other woman, chatting about our heels, talking about our lives, it was really special.  And then the kids……both heartbreaking and life affirming.  These brave young people were all very happy to be there and very appreciative of our efforts. It was a long day, a good seven hours in heels that I may have reconsidered had I realized how painful they would be at night’s end.

There were many memories.  The beautiful young lady that made a point of telling me how she loved my dress (yes, I cried).  The twenty minute conversation I had with a fellow volunteer, a father and husband and a world class human being.  Having dinner at a table of all ladies and being an active participant in their conversation, never feeling that I was nothing but one of them.  In every single conversation I had that evening my attire was irrelevant.  As I drove home I thought about the fact that I was probably the first such encounter most had that night with someone like myself, I represented in front of over 150 people and hopefully left a positive impression on them.

Ladies, things are better.  We do have work to do, but being visible, being out there, makes all the difference.  Be smart, be appropriate, be confident, get out there and be visible!