Dress Extravaganza!

“You’re gorgeous!”. We’ll get back to that shortly.

We are drawing near The Prom to Remember. The first event is the Dress Extravaganza, where the girls can come and “shop” (everything is free) for their dress, shoes and accessories. Listen, I’ve been through some trials and tribulations in my life, but I have ZERO room to complain. Having cancer, especially during your childhood/teen years sucks. Having to deal with a child going though this hell sucks as well. Perspective!

Here is the “store”, everything donated and it is very impressive.

That room was filled with girls, family, friends, Moms, Aunts, Grandmas, volunteers, salon volunteers and joy. Such joy. I walked through there a few times and left in tears every time. I am getting misty as I write this (and I don’t ordinarily easily cry). I cannot tell you the humility I felt. Moms thanking me (I made sure they knew I had nothing to do with this) for this event. Thanking me for being kind (I took credit for that!). We talked about cancer. We fawned like girls over dresses. We lived! And the hugs……heartfelt, squeezing, nothing superficial.

I also spent time with a few other volunteers, getting to know them, sharing about myself. Again, unbelievably fulfilling.

My principal role was helping get everyone signed in and navigating to the dresses, snacks and fitting rooms. I went casual for the day. As usual, I was pleased with my presentation, but that certainly isn’t the story.

The event was held at a church. Our registration table was at the end of the entry hallway. I was standing at the end of the table as a group of about six people entered. In that group was a young angel, clearly suffering the effects of her illness, she limped as she approached me. This angel was brimming with life, enthusiasm, glee and a spirit I cannot imagine. The minute she sees me she tells me I’m gorgeous. So, before I even spoke to her, I gave her a big hug. We talked on and off throughout the event and she was just a spitfire. She told me about her dress selection (emerald and she went with a short dress), the necklace she got and how she looked very sexy. God bless her and let’s hope He doesn’t see her for quite some time.

THIS is what Kandi exists for. It’s not about me, somehow I have wondered into this ability to present myself well, which in turns fills me with joy, which I somehow am able to spread. I know it’s a gift and I know my purpose is to spread that joy. Kandi is some sort of conduit for happiness and acceptance. I hope his doesn’t come across arrogantly, it’s the simple truth. Took me a while to figure this all out, but I have. I am blessed beyond words to experience what I have, what I am and what I will experience.

Oh yeah, the Prom in a few weeks! I’ll look like Alice Cooper, bawling my eyes out watching these kids escape their difficulties for a few hours. Now the pictures from that night will be something!

If you have any interest and are on Facebook, search A Prom to Remember Ohio and you can see pictures of the event and my friend and her emerald dress.

Advertisements

Outfit 110

In the past, I have joined a few women’s Meetup groups as well as a few other Meetup groups, like those that like dining out, etc. I went to quite a few plays with one such group and I drifted away principally because I was much older than most of the girls. But nonetheless, they always welcomed me, made me feel welcome and very much a part of the group. On this night, we went to see The Book of Mormon.

I am very proud of this outfit, a thrift store steal! The dress, very basic, but beautiful. A pallet that allows for great freedom. Ann Taylor, thank you! I love the multiple necklaces and the belt I added, to create that illusion of hips.

The dress is sleeveless, but I though the leopard print shawl was just the right touch. You cannot appreciate the beauty of these shoes in this picture, but trust me, they are beautiful!

Okay, so this close up is a little frightening, but hey, I was still learning. It was over two years ago, cut me some slack!

Do you really understand how empowering is visiting the largest theater district in the country after Broadway, wearing a dress and no one caring?

Damn, this is fun!!

My Day in Court and More

Well, back to court for my trial. So let’s start with my outfit. I wanted to look professional and comfortable as I had a long day ahead of me. If the litany of complements I received all day, wherever I went is any indication, I did okay, I guess. I probably got my face into at least 10 different places this day.

I nailed it! A girl just knows when she looks good, is brimming with confidence and the joy just pours out of her. That was me on this day! The sweater and matching lipstick. That blazer! The cutest skirt! I should retire on top now (nahhhhhhh……). The necklace was perfect and was a last minute change that just pulled the whole thing together. You have to listen to your gut every once in a while.

This might be the best photograph I have ever taken of myself. Remember how I do this, outdated iPhone, selfie mode, using a remote. The lighting was just perfect, the colors really popped. From a reasonable distance, my flaws fade away and I actually look pretty okay. My smile is luminous, my pose is not bad at all. Happiness is never to be taken for granted, find it, cling to it, never let it go!

Now let’s get on with our story. So I get to the court. Immediately I strike up a great conversation with one of my fellow litigants. She and I talked about our cases, no issue whatsoever with my attire. I struck up a few other similar conversations throughout the proceedings. Prior to trial, the prosecutor was cutting deals. Knowing I wasn’t going to win seeing the officer that wrote the ticket showed up (he said, she said, literally), I cut a pretty good deal. The charge of no license plate light (totally false) was dropped. My speeding was changed from a 36 in a 25 to a 29 in a 25, a lesser fine and zero points on my license. I saved about $25 (the court costs were ridiculous) and kept my driving record clean. Mission accomplished. I had to stand before the judge, again my attire a complete nonissue. I paid my fine and went about my day.

From there I did some shopping at Walmart picking up a few household items we needed. Then a bit of a drive to near Akron and a favorite mall. I had my dinner at one of my go-to Happy Hours and then just poked around in the mall for a while. It’s so nice just looking at dresses, tops, etc., just being in the moment.

Finally my day wrapped up at Weathervane Playhouse, ushering for their production of Dreamgirls! We had a packed house and I was feeling so good on so many different levels. I did well in court, had a great meal, looked my very best, and hadn’t been there in a while, so it was great to renew a handful of friendships. I spread the cheer, smiling, chatting people up, being sort of a goodwill ambassador.

Two complements stuck with me. While sitting essentially in the hallway, waiting to get checked in for court, a passer-by told me she loved my dress! She then asked if it was a dress or skirt (skirt) and complemented it further. She was just walking by, did not have to say a word. The other, while smiling and handing out programs at Dreamgirls! a mother and her daughter entered the theater and Mom asked if she could borrow my skirt for her daughter’s graduation. The skirt: $2 (I waited it out until it went 50% off). The complements: priceless!

The day was a long one and I was happy to get back home, but it certainly was a good one!

Circumstances

It’s Saturday, so let’s revisit this one.

Circumstances, we all have them.  As it relates to the subject matter of this blog, you may have a spouse.  She may be 100% supportive or completely disdain this part of you.  You may have complete freedoms as it relates to your dressing or are in either a DADT (don’t ask, don’t tell) or secretive circumstance.  You may dress but be fearful of leaving your home.  Your wife may support you dressing at home but will not allow you to leave the home.  Maybe it’s vice versa.  I could go on and on with various scenarios.

While I am blessed to have the freedoms I have as a crossdresser, there are many things I do not have.  Without divulging some of my personal circumstances, there are many things you all do daily without thought that I cannot.  I have been through hell on Earth with a business failure and the legal collateral damage it all caused.  Well over 15 years later, I still deal with it and think about it every single day.  My circumstances.

While I am by no means complaining, we are solidly middle class and want for nothing, but my reality is that I will work until I die.  There will be no complete retirement for me.  My circumstances.  I drive a 12 year old car, my wife drives an eight year old car.  They get us where we are going, but are certainly not luxurious.  My circumstances.  Because I am self-employed, I am unable to generate health care benefits.  So my wife has to work full time at a job she hates.  That kills me each and every day.  She accepts and understand this, but it will always bother me.  My circumstances.

Unfortunately, this is how life works.  I am told frequently how lucky I am for allowing Kandi to flourish.  I completely agree and never take it for granted.  But I am sure there are parts of your life that would make me envious, that I would trade places to have.  I also know that many of you deal with far more than I could ever imagine, every day difficult.  We all have portions of our lives where we are blessed and portions we wish were better or easier.  Health, both physical and mental, are of tantamount importance.  Without that it is difficult to get through the day and puts a drain on personal resources.  If you have these, you are fortunate.  I do and am thankful for that.  With my issues and benefits, I consider myself very blessed and try to acknowledge that frequently.

Yes, I am fortunate to have the circumstances that have allowed Kandi to bring me such joy.  But for everything we get, there are things we do not get or difficulties that balance that all out.  My purpose here is one of support and to show those that have the circumstances to get out, but chose not to do so for fear of the unknown, that the world is far more accepting that you believe.  Yes, I get out.  Yes, I am accepted in doing so.  Yes, I am blessed.  My circumstances.

Great Afternoon, But Not The Best of Evenings….

My friend Sherry had an opportunity to get out so we planned dinner and a trip to a favorite club. Sometimes life gets in the way! But allow me to spin the tale first.

I just bought these jeans, a very rare non-thrift store purchase. If I wasn’t carrying my purse, I would have completely forgotten that I was dressed. These things are so comfortable and, if I must say, highlight my best asset. A cute and casual outfit that made me happy most of the evening.

I had some errands to run, so I saved them up for this evening. I stopped at a number of stores, got what I needed and then stopped at the mall to just enjoy myself before meeting Sherry. I was feeling good and very happy!

Then it started pouring, the wind kicked up big time. The restaurant we were meeting at has a lot of construction around it. With the rain, darkness and the construction, I had a hard time finding my way. Long story short, it took me almost a half hour to get into the restaurant from the time I actually arrived at the restaurant. I got lost (thanks GPS) while looking for parking, got on the highway by accident, couldn’t exit for miles, drove through some neighborhoods I probably should have been in and then had trouble finding a place to park. Then the walk from my car was not pleasant with an inverted umbrella and wet shoes. But I got there.

I was there maybe three minutes when Sherry’s phone rang and she discovered her father-in-law was hospitalized, so she quite understandably had to leave. Sadly, he passed that evening. My condolences, my friend.

Now what? We had ordered drinks, I was starving, not yet ready to call it an evening, so I moved to the bar with the drinks, made friends with the bartender and had my dinner. A windy walk back to my car and then back home. That, as they say, is the rest of the story. Not the evening we had planned, but life does indeed have a way to throwing us curve balls.

Plexus Annual Meeting

So it was time for the Plexus Annual Meeting, held at the most recent version of the historic Agora Theater in Cleveland (where Springsteen, Bowie and many, many others broke out in the U.S. in the ’70’s). I’ve talked about Plexus before, a wonderful organization (for more information, check them out via the “Links” page. So, guess what my role was? You guessed it! Volunteer……

My outfit, I thought, was cute and professional. Although I know she thought little about it, as she left for work, my wife told me she thought my outfit was very cute (it was hanging in our mutual closet). Meant something….

The dress is a lovely peplum dress (although you can’t tell that here), that is about a hair too tight, so I went with the jacket. I loved how all the colors tied together, the jacket and its’ accent colors, the dress, the accessories, my shoes and purse, just a real nice look.

My role was to greet the guests as they came in and help them find their name tags and get checked in. Generally a good thing for me to do, playing to my strengths. I met so many wonderful people, saw many I had already met and was bewildered when someone knew me and I had no idea who they were….. Old age, I guess.

I made a point this time of snapping a few pictures with some I met and those that I already knew. The two gentlemen you see below are closely associated with the North Coast Men’s Chorus, world class human beings. The two young ladies are new friends of mine I hope to see again very soon!

Great people, good times, friendships, smiles, tons of complements on those shoes of mine, a good night indeed! Cheers!

Way more hugs than I deserve, but I’m not complaining!

Reasons vs. Excuses

A disapproving spouse, a reason.  Children, a reason.  A public profession, a reason.  There is a lengthy list of reasons we chose not to go out in public.  All are valid.  Even lacking the courage is a completely valid reason.  We want to be comfortable when out.

What I want to address are excuses.  The biggest is a disapproving public.  That is an excuse and an invalid one at that.  I do not say this flippantly.  I have been out hundreds and hundreds of times, been to thousands of different places, been seen by tens of thousands of people.  Have I rolled a few eyes?  Almost certainly.  But have I ever, and I mean ever, been made to feel uncomfortable?  Not one single time, never, ever.

Have I ever passed (as a woman)? Never, ever. Yes, I blend in, but that is 100% due to the effort that I make. It’s about where I go and how I dress. It’s about studying human nature and knowing how people go about their lives. I am by no means petite, by no means attractive, I am tall for a woman and my style probably gets me more noticed than not.

Are there disapproving groups and/or organizations?  Sure.  But people, individual people in circumstances that follow my rules?  None that would ever express them in those circumstances.

I wholeheartedly respect any reasons you may have for not going out.  I have some myself, we all do.  But I will not accept excuses if you truly wish to be out, be free to be yourself.  An unaccepting general public is simply an excuse, a myth. Everyone in town knows me. Go to another town. Either find a way or don’t complain because you are choosing not to get out. Again, as a choice, it is a very valid reason. Just acknowledge that.

Now I know there are exceptions, there will be someone who has not had the same experience as I have.  You must remember who I am and how I go out however.  I am a crossdresser, clearly male to anyone paying any attention.  Were I transgendered, full time, my ability to pick my spots would change and then I am sure my experiences would be different, very different.  I don’t have to earn a living as a woman.  I don’t have to do everything one needs to do in life as a woman.  I am not speaking from that perspective, nor would I ever.  These are unbelievably brave people.  They have had so many more difficulties than I could ever imagine.  Just imagine something hanging over you like that, every single minute of every single day of your entire life.  Brave doesn’t do it justice, they have my undying respect.

I am simply talking to my CD sisters.  There is a way, a way to do this, safely and intelligently.  I am not naive enough to think hate, evil doesn’t exist.  The day before I wrote this post eleven Jewish worshipers were gunned down at services in Pittsburgh.  Sickening!  That is our world.  But we all must continue to live, attempting to mitigate the risks of simply living.  Our attire, truly is a nonissue.  I’ve now been out somewhere near 500 times, so I speak from significant personal experience.

Reasons, valid. Excuses, please put then aside and live your life.