Boston or Bust

As I recently mentioned, this morning I will be running the Cleveland Marathon. My goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon next year. Don’t know if I would go, may not get invited (they have a limited number of slots, qualifying does not guarantee an invitation). But I want to qualify.

Last year, the Cleveland Marathon was one of the low points of the year. I was having a tremendous year competing. One week prior, I ruptured my Achilles, which ended up putting me on the shelf for three months. Two days prior I had an abscessed tooth, swelling my face. Four hours prior I was in the ER, seeking relief, and yet I still went to try and run. I looked like The Elephant Man. Fortunately, common sense took over and I went home, very disappointed.

Since then I have reworked my training routine and rededicated myself. I have worked considerably on my body and my legs. I am in the best shape of my life and am damn proud of my body. It took hours and hours, miles and miles, dedication to my training and my health. This work has paid off in keeping me healthy. It has paid off in my ability to continue to compete at a relatively high level. And of course, it has helped me look good in a dress, nice in a skirt and great in a pair of skinny jeans. But understand, I was by no means born this way, I worked my tail off and now it’s time to see what I can really do.

If I don’t make the cut now, I still have many opportunities to try and qualify.

I came into the weekend with two goals. One is to qualify for Boston, as discussed here. The second will remain private as it has been pointed out that when I get specific with run information, I open the door to anyone figuring my name, rank and serial number, so to speak. I will say that both goals were aggressive and so far, I got the first one. But that was the easier (not easy, just easier) of the two. As most of you read this, it will be nearing 80 degrees and I’ll be hours into my run.

Wish me luck!

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The Company of Others (Like Me)

A post worth reconsideration.

I dug deeply into the old mailbag (okay, there was only one “letter” in there) for some Q & A with my friend, Linda (she happens to be a doll!).  She wondered about if I would like to meet someone to share outings with.  I thought I’d spend a little time discussing my desires to spend time with others like myself.  My comments below are not without significant thought and personal experience.  Please read them completely before drawing any conclusion.  They are not meant to be flip or without sympathy.

In general, I prefer not specifically spending time with others like myself.  My desire is to spend time with people (regardless of gender identity, sexual preference, interests, clothing, etc.) that share a similar world view, with whom I have commonalities.  People I like being with, whomever those people or persons may be.  Just because I share an interest in woman’s clothing with someone doesn’t mean we have anything in common.  I also share an interest in running, but do not wish to spend time with all runners.  You get the point.

Allow me to site a number of experiences that have allowed me to reach this conclusion.  I attended a number of GNOs (girls night outs) fairly locally early on in Kandi’s life.  After the first time, I never really enjoyed them much.  First off, folks like us seem to be creatures of the night.  I am not.  The GNOs would start at 9:00, I’d get there and be ready to leave about 9:30.  We are like Baskins Robbins, 31 different flavors.  I have three rules, as you know.  Be smart.  Many at these GNOs were not.  Drunk, careless, selfish, you name it.  No everyone, but many.  Yes, you would find this in any large gathering of people, which I tend to avoid as well.  Be appropriate.  Many there were dressed like teenage hookers, in clothing that had no hope of fitting them.  Heels longer than my legs.  Many were there for sex.  Not my scene.  Be confident.  Many were there solely to moan and whine.  Too much complaining about spouses or ex’s.  I was there to have fun, mostly I did not.  I did meet quite a few great people, but due to circumstances (see prior posts), any friendship became unsustainable.

I once attended a weekend “Gala”.  Please understand, I am not a 24/7 girl and have zero desire to be one.  I love my Kandi time, but like a few cocktails, it has it’s limits.  The entire weekend, I was looking forward to heading home.  Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I simply did not enjoy it.  It happened to be Halloween weekend (my least favorite “holiday”, from early in my life, I have despised costumes, go figure).  If I saw one more French maid outfit, I may have had to pull my eyeballs out.  I have discovered that in any gathering of us, the larger the group (regardless of comportment, attire, behavior, etc.) we become the center of attention.  I prefer my ability to freely move about without unwarranted negative attention.

I tried to host a couple of shopping parties.  I got a local consignment store to open after hours, staff the place and provide wine and cheese so we could shop, relax and have fun.  I got many interested, but a lot of “sounds like fun, I’ll let you know” or “wish I could do that but…”.  Zero commitments, two cancelled parties.  It’s much like herding cats, very difficult.  Circumstances again.

I made what I thought was a good friend.  She and I spent quite a bit of time talking, texting, emailing, sharing, having met at the aforementioned GNO.  We set up outings to dine and/or shop.  Not once, not twice, but five consecutive times she stiffed me.  Each time either at the last minute or without communicating with me.  Circumstances always the excuse.  I understand that, but then don’t make the commitment or at least give me some notice.  Once I drove an hour early to a function to have dinner with her only to get stiffed.  Maybe she is not a good person or just thoughtless, but I had it after that.

I have a friend, to this day, that I would do anything for.  She introduced me to my church, for which I will be eternally grateful.  We talk frequently and chat always when at church.  We share experiences and stories.  But….  She is a local businessman.  We set up a shopping day at a large holiday flea market.  We meet, walk in and within five minutes she turned tail and left because she saw someone who knew her from work.  Her voice is a dead giveaway (much like James Earl Jones), so she had to run.  I completely understood, but again was left alone at a time I had planned on spending with a friend.  I actually made a bunch of new friends that afternoon, which was the beginning of my realization that I was better off flying solo.

Linda posed this question: “Do you know anyone else like Kandi but close enough to go out together?” My friend, referenced in the above paragraph, is it.  I also have good friends, Dee and Sherry.  Dee, however lives a good six hours away and Sherry is limited in her ability to get out, discussed here as well.  She is in a DADT relationship and has a public profession that requires constant vigilance while out, limiting where we can go and her ability to simply relax.  It’s not that I haven’t found like-minded ladies to spend time with, it’s just that they are either generally geographically dispersed or have limiting circumstances.

Lastly, I’ll use my Flickr experiences to make a point, referenced above.  As you know, I have a Flickr account where I post pictures (running along the right column here), all identified as a crossdresser.  I get followers.  Not a lot, but a few.  I easily have to block 3 out of 5 possible followers because they post pictures of their or someone else’s genitalia, pictures of sex acts, photos of their crotches or behinds in panties, you again get the point.  Just because we share an interest in women’s clothes does not mean we have anything in common.

So I go it alone mostly.  I attempt to be “mainstream” in my adventures.  This was all a revelation to me, but I tried.  I am who I am, I want what I want, a positive and uplifting experience.  Acceptance.  Joy.  Finding what I can do and not complaining about what I cannot.  Being selfless, not selfish.  I despise derogatory phrases like “gurl” and “bitches”, especially when coming from one of my own, so to speak.  I simply want a few hours being a mature woman who spends time with like-minded people, centered around something that interest me.  I also feel that the more of us who participate in “mainstream” activities or outings, the easier it will get for those to follow.  If nothing else, I feel that with this visibility and this blog, I am doing a service to our community.  At least, I hope so.

All that said, I’d love to find a girlfriend to hang with, share a meal or a drink, do some shopping.  But that friend has proven to be elusive and may not exist out there for me.  We’ve talked here about circumstances and by seeking to go out with another of us, you accept not only your circumstances, but theirs as well for the evening.  The short answer to the question is yes, I’d love a friend like myself, problem is, that person may not exist for me.

Sorry for the rather long explanation and thank you Linda for sparking me on a subject!

25th Annual Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoons Awards Party

This year marks the 25th Annual Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Awards Party, a strolling food and wine tasting event and one of Cleveland’s finest social and culinary evenings. Guests sampled delicious signature dishes from 35-40 of Northeastern Ohio’s best restaurants and wines from several international wineries. All participating restaurants were 2018 Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Award finalists and winners. The event also includes an exclusive VIP Lounge and fabulous auctions and raffles. Event proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation, which is why yours truly was there.

Event Logo Image

My role was to assist in the registration process. It was quite hectic for about 45 minutes, then we were able to enjoy the event. I wore a recent new dress purchase and felt like I presented myself well on this evening.

During registration, I had a nice conversation with many, one of which is a local morning sports talk host. My attire, not an issue. We actually spoke again briefly later. Most of the evening was spent renewing some existing friendships, doling out hugs and enjoying the food and cocktails. While strolling around, probably the first time in hundreds and hundreds of outings, I saw someone I knew “otherwise”. An old neighbor. So that brought my evening to a quick end. She never saw me, certainly didn’t react to me, but I felt it best to hit the road. Never break the cardinal rule “do not embarrass thy wife”! That might have, not worth the risk. Personally I couldn’t care less, but it’s just easier to avoid these situations if at all possible.

Which set me up for another story. I wasn’t ready to go home yet so I stopped at a local bar. I was seated at the bar no more than 30 seconds, when I got the “I know you” that happens frequently to me. She did indeed know me from some previous events, so I had company as I enjoyed my “one for the road”. You just never know!

This One’s For Marie!

My friend Marie sent me a blonde wig a while back. I simply haven’t had the time to try it out properly. This was the day. It was a picture perfect Saturday, beautiful but very cool. I took my time getting ready and headed off to spend the day at the Rock Hall. I was delighted with my entire outfit, cute, casual, feminine and so very comfortable.

Marie, I LOVE the style of this wig! The color, not sure. What do you all think? I have received tremendous initial feedback based on the photos on my Flickr page. Maybe I’m wrong on this. Your input would be appreciated.

Thank you so much Marie! I do love the style very much.

I got down to the Rock Hall and was surprised at how cold and windy it was. I headed in and walked about looking for things I had not yet seen. As I always do, I went to watch the “Power of Rock Experience”, a video presentation in a special theater with many snipets of great induction performances. There is a guitar solo that closes the show by Prince that still gives me goosebumps and I’ve probably seen it almost ten times. So while waiting to go in, I struck up a conversation with a woman with purple hair. She was a Prince fan and I told her she was in for a treat. We kept talking and sat together during the show. I ended up spending the next couple of hours with her, walking around, seeing things, talking and having a great time. Almost immediately it felt like we had planned to spend the day together.

Her name is Kim and she is part of a club of women named Kim. She was there with two friends….Kim and Kim. I met the other Kims, hugged Kim and hit the road, having had a great afternoon. I stopped at a local sweet shop and picked up some carmel corn. Just another day out where I went alone and made friends along the way! Below is a little photo montage from my day, along with my new friend Kim.

Tomorrow is the beginning is a favorite weekend for me. Kandi gets to start it off, but then she steps to the side. It’s Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon weekend. It is a tremendous event, so well done. I am proud to be a Clevelander and more proud to be a participant, especially in the main event. 15,000 people will be there on Sunday. My tradition of picking up my race packet as Kandi on Friday, the 5K on Saturday and game time on Sunday! 26.2 miles. Wish me luck!

A Query From Pricilla – Part One

Hi Kandi,
Great blog postings about your fun and activities. I was wondering if you could provide some of your make up tips in a future article. I know you have spent a lot of time and continue to do so in refining your look. With great success! Items like products you favor, brands, beard cover, foundation, blush, lipstick etc. as well as any little secrets, tips that you have discovered in your journey. I know it will help me as I continue to experiment with make up products.
Keep on keeping on!

Hugs, Pricilla

Well Pricilla, I’m not sure I’m the girl to listen to, but I’ll talk about how I approach my make up. The honest truth is that if I am indeed any good at doing my make up it is because I do it so often. Practice, practice, practice!

Let’s start with the basics. My face is very flawed, Without makeup, my beard and/or beard shadow is prominent. My nose (while too big) has a few very large pores. My complexion is uneven. I have bags under my eyes and thin eye lashes. Since I started down this road I did two things, which have shown slight improvement over time. I take collagen daily, which has helped with my hair, skin and nails. My eye lashes have grown a bit as a result. I also moisturize twice daily with eye cream as well.

I do my best to get a close shave, apply moisturizer and use my fragrance essentially as an after shave. Then I apply primer, nothing special, purchased at Walmart. If I do not specifically note a brand name here, it is because it is simply something I picked up at Walmart, maybe Cover Girl or something like that. Then I use Dermablend cover cream. I apply it using a “blendy ball”, essentially from my eyes down and on my neck. The focus here is only on where hair grows. Then I apply a light dusting of loose powder to help the foundation to adhere better. Now its time for the foundation, mixed with a little of the cover cream, patted on with a brush then gone over with the ball to even things out. Finally a dusting of Dermablend cover powder. That represents my base face.

Once I let everything dry briefly, then I apply my highlighter, blush and contouring powder. The highlighter is placed on my forehead between my eyes, down the bridge of my nose, on my upper lip and chin, next to my eyes and finally under my eyes. You well know where the blush goes, this is so important. Don’t overdo it, but it needs to be prominent. Contouring is on my jowls, forehead and the sides of my nose, to help make it appear thin. My face is now done.

I use a brow cream to extend and darken my existing brows, which I keep pretty well trimmed. The extension I paint on gives the brows a more feminine appearance. I use it for shaping. I then apply a light eye shadow just under the brows to open my eyes up a bit, followed by my primary shadow over the lid. I am an advocate of the smoky eye effect, since it can be done without being too precise. My eye sight is very much lacking, so being precise with eye liner is nearly impossible. I’ll apply a base liner, generally either dark brown or black under the eys and on the upper lid. Then I apply a feature color on the upper lid as well. I use Sephora eye crayons for eye liner, they are wonderful. I then take the smudge brush and smudge the under eyes and blend the primary liner color with the feature color.

Then I do my mascara, two coats. I am what I am, so I don’t use false lashes or anything other than mascara and a brush. Then I select a lip liner and “draw” my lips, creating a Cupid’s Bow on the top and extending my lips below the actual lips to give the illusion of more feminine lips. I am careful not to extend the top of my lips too much. I feel that looks poor, but am not afraid to do so on the bottom lip. Then I color in the liner with lipstick and make any necessary touch ups. I use drug store lipsticks. I spray the whole face with setting spray and I’m done!

You can achieve a very good look with the right beard cover and drug store makeup. It’s all about practice and subtlety. I don’t want to look like a drag queen, I want to look natural, pretty and coordinated with my outfit as best I can. Everything is considered when I present myself. I’ll go more dramatic for an evening affair. I’ll tone it down significantly to go the grocery store. You get the point. I hope this was helpful and not too boring for my readers out there.

If I can offer any specific suggestions, take care of your face all the time, spend on beard cover and powder, smoky eye makes it all so easy and eye crayons are fabulous. Have good brushes (again, I get them at Walmart) and the blendy ball is a key.

I have taken numerous (free) Sephora makeup classes, early on had a few makeovers to learn and even had a one-on-one session in the home of a makeup artist to have her critique my skills and offer suggestions. Now having done this well over 400 times, it’s become second nature.

Thanks Pricilla! You’re the best!! More next Wednesday.

The Littlest Heroes

During the recent Dress Extravaganza, I was having a conversation with a fellow volunteer and she mentioned this charity (http://thelittlestheroes.org/). The Littlest Heroes exists to positively impact the lives of children with cancer and their families, regardless of income level or zip code. They understand that any family touched by childhood cancer can benefit from their services, working in conjunction with donors, volunteers and clinicians at partner institutions to meet the social, emotional and financial needs of all families. Since its inception in 2001, they have helped more than 4,000 families in Northeast Ohio. The goal is to continue to expand its reach and care for as many families as possible. After contacting the organization, I discovered two folks involved with North Coast Men’s Chorus are also very involved here.

Well, you know I love an event, this is what I was working:

I decided to wear an old favorite for one final time before she goes off to consignment. Usually, I’ll wear a dress maybe three times before it’s time to get rid of it. This is one of the first dresses I ever bought in a proper fashion (in the store, trying on various dresses, selecting the right dress, being a female shopper). It was perfect then and remains so now. I cannot explain the feeling walking around the room and having women walk up and tell me they love my dress!

The evening was unbelievable! The place was packed. Everyone was so nice. I met one great person after another. Many sought me out. I still get chills when I think about how seamlessly I am able to move about society (always following my rules). The evening was filled with seeing old friends and making many new ones. People often comment on my frequent volunteering but allow me to let you in on a secret…. I get way more out of it than they do! I get to be me, get to dress well, get to meet new people, get to attend events, eat and drink, I get love and complements, one hug after another, that high that you only get from selfless giving and the best part, I get to smile, without thinking about it, constantly. So who gets the better end of the deal? Me, of course!

Two stories. I was admiring this pictures, painted by a ten year old girl with cancer. There was many such pictures being auctioned off, but I really thought this one stood out.

I was to work the silent auction tables, keeping an eye on things. I had a fellow volunteer doing the same thing with me. When I met her (well after my comments on the picture), she was looking at it. Ends up her daughter Courtney had painted it. Courtney had leukemia and passed away last year, at the age of eleven. Alisha shared some photos with me of Courtney and we immediately became friends. It ends up Alisha actually lives a couple of miles from me. She is planning a fundraiser to start a foundation in Courtney’s memory and I told her I would help in any way possible. Here we are just a few minutes after meeting, she requested we take the picture.

I am so lucky and blessed on so many levels. Mostly because those that I love are in good health. No one should have to bury their child!

My other story is a bit lighter. I now have taken photos with two consecutive reigning Miss Ohios. Matti was simply the sweetest person, treated me so well, easily referring to me as “she” and simply making me feel special. We talked quite a bit and got to know each other. Odds are I’ll never see her again, but she helped add to the specialness of the evening. Here we are and below that is a photo she autographed for me. Pretty cool! She could have simply signed her name, but what she wrote, probably forgotten by her now, touched me to my core.

These things happen to me because I take chances, put myself out there and am rewarded for doing so. If you think things through, are honest with yourself, you too can experience many of the things I have experienced. The day after this post runs, I will be working one of the premier social events in Cleveland, smiling all the while!

Life is full of good and bad. I comment on the bad here so you don’t think I live a charmed life, but my life is much more good than bad, many more rewards than challenges, much more love than the media-driven divisiveness out there. It’s a roller coaster with mostly ups!

Outfit 113

This…….not sure I ever have or ever will, do any better! There is little to critique. I nailed everything! This photo was well before the blog started.

A friend, who was playing her violin in the orchestra, invited me to see the King and I on Playhouse Square. I went to dinner beforehand, spent time with my friend as she entertained theater goers before the show and got upgraded from the nose bleed section to right up front by the house manager, all this evening. Did my dress help? Who knows, but all I know is I felt so unbelievably right. Everything tied together, my beautiful necklace, the earrings, dark hose, pumps and my smile. The smile of achievement, the smile of knowing you are beautiful. The smile that makes it all so worthwhile!!

Tomorrow is a remarkable post on so many levels.