Feb 27, 2010

The Cost of Cross Dressing

Money isn’t everything, but there is very little that it clashes with. As such, I try to pay attention to the money parts of my life, including the money parts of Cross Dressing.

Cross Dressing costs. Money spent nurturing the other self is money not saved for the future, or money otherwise redirected from the very real and pressing needs of the present. This can be a source of conflict, internal and within the household too.

The internal conflicts can be considerable. For many, acquiring a dress or a pair of shoes can represent the difference between balance and depression. For others, and I put myself in this group, the hope of finding the right thing, the thing that makes you look as close to beautiful as you can hope, is a compelling lure. Shopping is more of temptation to me in this part of my life than in any other, by long measures.

A part of this is, I will confess, a little seditious. When shopping in guy mode, I do enjoy the reaction at the cash desk or from a sales assistant when it becomes plain that I am more expert at this gig than most men, and that I am shopping for myself. The reaction is typically very generous. I feel as though I am extended an invitation to a sorority. When shopping en femme, it is easy to feel as though you have failed if you don’t have a bag slung over your shoulder at some point in the day after all the effort has been made.

The temptation comes too, in part, from a feeling that I am making up for lost time. There were many years that I simply did not nurture this aspect of my whole self. After coming to personal terms with Cross Dressing, the dam has burst a little. Clothing is more often at the front of my thoughts than in years past. And I follow my thoughts into the shops.

Some of it is practical. I have a spotty wardrobe, and a degree of vanity that I possess about my femme self. I like to look different, if possible, each time I am out. A new outfit is a real confidence booster. It is more likely to get a compliment, and compliments about my appearance are music to my ears. I admit it.

Lastly, I think that many of us are motivated by the very real challenge of just getting it right. We are not schooled by a lifetime of practice. There are a thousand mistakes you could make in putting an ensemble together. Wrestling the dizzying range of choice down and emerging with a smart, flattering, useful garment is not easy. When you do, it can be the most meaningful win of your day.

With all of that said though, and with all the merit inherent in any job well done, if the money is being spent heedlessly, it is being spent poorly. In the attempt to not spend heedlessly, I have hung on to my receipts, and tracked my use of things. I recently did a little inventory, and rebuilt from memory, with a good degree of accuracy, the amount of wear that I have been getting from my purchases.

With all of the vital statistics poured into a spreadsheet, I have created a value called Cost per Wear (CPW). Truthfully though all I did was divide the price I acquired an item for by the number of times it has been worn (ed. by worn, I mean worn out, into the big wide world, not privately). I give credit for the CPW concept to Stacey and Clinton of American “
What Not To Wear” fame, who used this approach recently to help a dreadfully conflicted woman overcome her feelings of guilt about shopping for and nurturing herself.

The entire spreadsheet is here. Click to enlarge, if you care, if you dare.

Here are some high level executive summary notes:

Girl likes a sale, yes indeed. The 41 garments I have purchased in the last 18 months have an aggregate discount from full retail price of 67%. I am entirely proud of the thrift displayed in my sprees. A cautionary note here though is that finding flattering and useful clothing at deep, deep discounts takes time. There is a little opportunity cost in repeatedly browsing and leaving shops empty handed. The dividends can be extraordinary though. The silk blouse and nice twill skirt pictured above would have set me back $120.00 at the start of the fall/winter season, but were snapped up for a mere $26.00.

Be prepared to be a reverse snob. JC Penney is a discount retailer. The only purchases I ever made there in the past were crate loads of cheap wine glasses suitable for party scenes Chez Bellejambes. I have picked up 14 really smart, reasonably well made, contemporary garments over the months at good old Penneys, and some stunning under $10.00 wins in the last couple of weeks. A beautifully polished sales assistant in a very upmarket shop told me she loved a skirt I had on one day. I told her it where I picked it up and how little it cost. Her jaw dropped and I felt possessed of magic.

Be prepared to shop up. Absolutely, positively visit shops that you are out of your price range. At the very least you will be better in touch with what is current, and get some terrific accessorizing ideas, but more than that, you can strike gold. Get your elbows up and get to the back of the store, to the clearance racks. There is a lot of meat still on the bone, and of interest to the Cross Dresser, much of it is in larger sizes.

A great price is not a great value. I have been dazzled by mark downs, sad puppies on hangers simply looking for exactly the sort of home I can provide. If you get the puppy home and cannot show it some love though, you are just being irresponsible. I have 16 items that I have not worn yet. If I am to be honest, perhaps six or seven of them will never see light of day. These things are going to find a better home, in a donation box or with a woman’s shelter. There, at least, I will be providing value, if not taking direct benefit myself. Stay true to your style and to the limits of what parts of your body you can show. No more half sleeves for me, and no more purchases justified on the basis of “but it was so cheap”.

And the money shot, so to speak, is this: My average CPW is $11.24. I don’t know if this is a good number, but I feel like it is, given that my wardrobe does not get used daily, or cycled through frequently. I am going to track this key metric, and use the ~ $ 10.00 benchmark as my gold standard. I think the Board of Directors here at Voyages en Rose Inc. (hi honey!) will continue to be supportive of this business units performance.

How about you? Do you track your spend? Is your spend out in the open? Is it all a source of delight or despair? Input welcomed on this matter from anyone with a purse.

Questions on any other topic, and I do mean any topic, are equally welcomed. Please ask a question in my snazzy new
FormspringAsk me anything” widget. Thanks in advance for your insatiable curiosity.

Happy dressing, shopping and etc.

Feb 25, 2010

To be admired

I was moved to write on an unexpected theme this morning by recent events in Vancouver at the Winter Olympics. I hope that you had the privilege to watch, or witness rather, figure skater Joannie Rochette of Canada on the ice on Tuesday of this week. I did. My wife and I watched it again last night, shocked at just how real life can be.

The background is this: Two days before Ms. Rochette was to perform in front of an adoring, hopeful and demanding home country audience, her mother died. Not with a gradual surrender to a known ailment with a known end, but suddenly, of a heart attack, upon arrival in Vancouver to watch her only child compete.

How this accomplished 24 year old was able to do anything more in the immediate aftermath than hug her father and give him something to lean on, someone to hold is simply beyond me. The loss of a parent is a jarring thing. Many of you, like me, know that already. The unexpected loss of a parent must be a far harder road to walk, and a road you could be forgiven for stumbling on. In either event though, most of us are allowed to muddle through our intimate tragedies, quietly, privately, without too much demanded of us, or too many strangers watching.

This was not the case for Ms. Rochette. And somehow, with strength tapped from where, I don’t know, she skated. In front of a billion people. The performance of her life.

Let me here now attempt to tie this event to this blog.

I may never know exactly what pinch of this or dash of that went into my own odd recipe. My unique calibrations of sugar and spice, snakes and snails and puppy dog tails will likely elude me and science both, and I don’t mind. But I do know this: I was drawn to explore, in my way, what women are made of, how women perceive the world around them, and how that world perceives them in part out of admiration. There are generous lumps of other things in there, but flat out admiration is a key ingredient for me.

Men are not optimized for endurance, grace and selflessness. These quieter, subtler characteristics are more rightly the province of the fairer sex. The ability to maintain a dignified carriage when life intrudes in unfair ways seems to me something that women are better fitted for than the other half. Finally, the willingness to be present and available to dangerous, hot currents of emotion, and to simply, honestly, openly cry. This place, men do not visit often.

The television commentators were beautifully silent throughout the performance. All of us watching were left free from Axels and Salchows, arabesques and spins. Free to imagine for a moment the weight of loss, and the immense capacity that some have for shouldering it. Free to quietly grieve for a loss we can imagine, and breathless at the bravery and beauty of a woman suffering through it, in circumstances that we cannot.

I don’t know that I have felt admiration for a person so acutely in my life, and I wanted to share that with you here today.

Ms. Rochette performs this evening (Thursday 25 Feb). To see her earlier performance, don’t even think of attempting to search for it on NBC’s web site. Just follow
this link.

Feb 24, 2010

Seven Deadly Cross Dressing Sins – The Concluding Two

I have had a couple of struggles summoning the energy to finish this series, and for that I am a more than a little tweaked off at myself. Serendipitously though, the only remaining Deadly Sins are Sloth and Wrath. Sometimes things just work out.

Sloth is to me an interesting word. Habitual disinclination to exertion; indolence; laziness. It comes to us from Middle English roots, predating Chaucer by a century or two or three. These years were hard years, an era of filthy hand to toothless mouth subsistence. You might imagine that a display of Sloth on a given day then, would likely result in an empty belly at the end of that day. Sloth was, in short, an early indicator of failure and a Deadly Sin indeed.

Here in our current world, so slickly optimized for people the likes of we (people with lots of electronic gadgetry and such), Sloth might be better understood as a reward, a payoff. Dinner is in the freezer, not out in the woods. Don’t need to gather wood to burn under the microwave. And a machine does the dishes. Doesn’t take much of an effort to pounce on a couch either.

Clearly, the less generally slothful you are, the greater the likelihood that your freezer will be bigger, the microwave will be sleeker, the dishwasher will run quieter and the couch won’t wind up on the rickety front porch. But Sloth is, in most of our days, our spa moment. Doing nothing? Luxury. So Sloth has (hath?) lost (lotht??) some of its sting.

If Sloth was still a truly Deadly Sin though, I reckon the Cross Dresser would be last on the Grim Reaper’s guest list. You simply cannot be a slothful Cross Dresser. The logistics of where and when are too exacting. The mechanics of makeup and wardrobe are too complex. The general exhilaration and full attention to the moment one has when inhabiting the wardrobe or gender identity of choice is simply too vivid. We are many things friends, but slothful I think not.

There are evenings perhaps where the eye makeup doesn’t get fully removed or the clothes are left rumpled, but that is more likely from fatigue or passion than a failure of character. There are weeks or seasons too where perhaps one simply does not feel up for the effort or terribly drawn to the dress. To me these tides are part of my Cross Dressing parcel. The lady comes and goes as she pleases, yes? Not much to do with Sloth.

Wrath is different filly altogether though. I will speak for my own experience, and suspect that you may find echoes in your own.

Wrath is another early English entry, and carries with it today its original meaning from the 9th Western century, and plenty of contemporary applicability: strong, stern, or fierce anger; deeply resentful indignation. Wrath gets your attention and the attention of people around you. At it's best, it may be a motivator of change and progress, but moments of wrathfulness are not moments of forward progress.

I have had over the years countless instances of Wrath, at a few moments before and many moments after brief encounters with my feminine parts. The Wrath is, or more accurately was, summoned from a place of self-recrimination. I was wrathful at my inability to say no to the urge. I was wrathful that something I could not understand and did not enlist for was a seeming part of my bargain with the cosmos, and beyond my powers of restraint. The highs were high, yes, but the immediate afterwards of my femme flights were touched with resentment, furtive and far too inwardly focused.

Cross Dressing, and fantasizing about it was a small, private and hermetically sealed part of my whole life throughout my teens, twenties and thirties, and so the moments of Wrath were few and far between. They did not impair the forward progress of my life. Nor did they did not cause costly wardrobe purges and promises of abstinence that I could not keep, but they did exact a little toll on my happiness along the way.

I think that anything kept in a small enclosure and periodically subjected to strong forces has the potential for combustion, for explosion. The longer my years went, the greater the forces became. With that, the potential for damage, to myself, and to the people most dear to me grew, slowly and surely. I was fortunate to come to terms with the reality that I had a characteristic integral to my whole self that needed to be socialized, to be introduced to the rest of me. Doing so, about a year and a half ago has done me a world of good. Broadening the inner circle to include my wife has further diminished the possibilities of combustion. The moments of Wrath, and useless regret that did surface around Cross Dressing are, at least for now, gone.

Along with that bargain, and unexpectedly, I have found permission from within to demure and tone down some of the "guy" behaviors that I never felt fully at ease with. I don’t bother now with over-compensating for my private proclivities. If I am not thought to be a fully accredited chest-thumping, musk-soaked primate in good standing with the rest of the hairy tribe, so be it.

I think that a certain amount of mellowing comes to us all with enough years. There is also, for me, the mellowing that comes from nurturing the parts of me that “Petra” enlivens. Nice outcomes. I still have a capacity for Wrath, but am happy to report (and grateful as hell) that it does not come from an internal conflict about my own nature. It is more likely to be engaged by the idiot in the left lane who cannot locate his turn indicator.

This post then concludes my compulsion to somehow map an ancient moral touchstone, The Seven Deadly Sins, to the life of the contemporary Cross Dresser. Again, a salute out to the cold outer reaches of the blogosphere to Marta Dahlig, the artist responsible for the beautiful images that in part inspired and accompanied this series. Earlier posts on Vanity, Envy, and the whole “Greed” Group complete the set. They attend patiently, always, upon your click.

Your thoughts welcomed as always, in the form of comments here, or perhaps for a little change, in the form of a question posed in the Ask Me Anything box on your right.

Happy dressing and everything else….

Feb 22, 2010

So a Cross Dresser walks into a blog …

There is an age, dear friends, for radical experimentation with ones outward appearance. I will happily confess to having passed my “best before” date for such experiments. I am fairly well settled on what looks work well with me, in drab and en femme, and I do not color too wildly outside the lines. With that said, I have always felt that it is healthy for all of us, CD, TG, GG and the whole happy rainbow of human experience, to tinker with the recipe now and then.

I enjoy stabbing a pitch fork into my personal compost pile, turning it over and airing things out a bit. And do you know, you really cannot lose when you do. Either you prove your instincts correct, or you get a happy new finding. Perhaps it is sound practice to apply the same thinking to ones blog. At the very least, not having made any substantial changes to the layout of or editorial approach to Voyages en Rose in well over a year, it feels like it might be time to start stirring it up a bit.

I will be tinkering with layout, tools, gadgets and interactive media gew-gaws in general in the spare moments presented over the next couple of weeks, and hope to wind up not entirely breaking things. At the same time, I am going to plunder my brain, or any other willing source for themes and content for a blog post or two. I think that is the stuff that you actually come here for.

A new tool that is live on the blog as of today (ta-da!) may serve both happy purposes. Over to your right you will notice a little “Ask Me Anything” widget. This smart little code stub from
Formspring allows blog visitors to, well ... ask me anything. My hopes are that you will. You can anonymously stick your own pitchfork into my compost heap, and turn it over to your hearts content. Alternatively, you can easily create your own Formspring account, and operate in the open. If your question fits under the rubric of anything, I want to hear it.

I hope that your questions will help me dredge up a memory or an observation worthy of a post or two here. If the come in sufficient volume, then I might be able to quilt up a weekly Letters to the Editor format post. At the very least, I am interested in hearing what you want to hear. It will save me all the bother of borrowing ideas from other blogs. So there we are. Ask me anything. Subject matter is wide open, and in your capable, well moisturized hands.

Responses to these questions will also post pronto-like to my tiny Twitter-sphere (@petrab_cd). Twitter. Hmmm. I am not yet convinced of the merits of Twitter. 140 characters is either too few to express a thought well, or too many for a good theatrical drama, unless 130 of them are members of a massive Greek chorus. That said, perhaps this sort of rapid fire Q&A is exactly the sort of thing that Twitter does well. Lets give it the old college try shall we?

One other slightly more than cosmetic change to announce today. Treacle, noted wordsmith, blogger extraordinaire and by my reckoning, the reigning Queen of the Underwearworld, saw fit today to bequeath a Certified Lingerie Addict award on Voyages en Rose today. I have become friendly with Treacle in a nice HTTP way over the last couple of months, and have a lot of respect for the hard work and general savvy she applies to her always lovely blog. Additionally, I take it as a big win for Cross Dressers and other members of the Transgendered collective when any one of us gets a little easy acceptance from a member of more mainstream community. Treacle’s more mainstream community is the 51% privileged at birth to be members of the fairer (and far more interesting) sex.

If you do not know her blog,
Confessions of a Lingerie Addict, and have a fondness for the pretty things beneath the surface, you have lost time to make up for. Now would be a great time to start. Thanks Treacle! A cotton gloved salute and a big air kiss your way.

Feb 20, 2010

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade – High Waisted Wrap Up

The Pantyhose Parade has been a regular feature of these Voyages en Rose from the very beginnings of this blog, upon my realization that my hosiery crush was a lasting thing, not just two hips that dress up in tights. I have done a fair old whack of shopping in my attempts to accurately map these sheer seas and have, for my labors, full drawers groaning under the weight of several lifetimes of pretty leg wear. Now, not only am I running out of storage space, I think that I have practically tapped out my well of metaphor. Therefore here today, I conclude this series with wrap up notes on my recent chaotic and quixotic romp through the world of high-waisted, super-slimming pantyhose.

I have no doubt, dear friends, that I will offer up unsolicited opinions about tights here from time to time. You may have need of more regular and passionate discourses on this topic though, so I direct your attention to the passionate and shockingly knowledgeable Treacle, proprietress of the Stocking and Lingerie Addict Blog for your daily fixes. She really knows her stuff, and looks far, far better than I.

And so, on with the show, such as it is. I will start with the tournament results, present the relative rankings, and then finish up with some off-color commentary.

Our Winner, with 225.6 Petra's Pantyhose Points, is the
L’eggs Profiles Waist Smoother Toner. Remarkable comfort, appearance and durability for a smallish investment of $8.00. I did not place as high a scoring value on price within this ranking exercise, but the pennies do add up my dears, do they not? The pennies in fact seemed to have decided things for us here, and both of the value priced L’eggs entries ascended to the Medal podium, sharing honors with a stellar contestant from Donna Karan. The scoring table is presented below (ed.click images for a better view, I hate to think of you squinting)

With money taken out of the equation, the DK’s would handily tromp the rest of the field. A truly gorgeous garment, luxurious to the touch and to the eye. As dressy as you would ever need for a big night on the town. The Spanx efforts, well made as they are, simply lack a little magic in the leg. I would love to be able to say nicer things about the Ann Taylors', fond as I am of the shop, but I simply cannot. Premium price for a run of the mill product is never a recipe for success. Ann m’dear, if your hosiery mill pulls ups their game a bit, I will pull your hose up my gams once again.

Now after all of this effort, if you are feeling an urge to shop, stow it for a moment. Aunty Petra wants a few words with you here. Shapewear is a godsend. Beautiful, fashionable sheers are too. But one simply cannot ask one garment to effectively do the job of two. For starters, the economics are not there. A terrific waist whittling shaping brief can be had for $20-30, and with care will last 30-50 wearings. There is absolutely no way to get 30 days of wear out of a pair of sheers. If you ladder a pair of everyday sheers, and you are out of pocket for a little. Ladder a pair of high waist pantyhose, and you have in effect thrown away a perfectly good girdle. You will be better off hedging your bets and buying things separately.

There is a pretty big functional problem associated with these tights too. Functions of nature specifically. Unless you have the constitution of a camel, there is a likely requirement for relief at some point in your day. Pulling a dress up, pulling these down, and reverse repeating the process requires Houdini like flexibility, and the athletic grace of a Nureyev. If you have that, jolly good for you, but you will have probably worked up a little facial glow by the conclusions of your struggles that may require a reapplication of setting powder.

The all-in-ones are simply not there from a other functional perspectives either. All of our contenders to one degree or another, pooled at the waistband, thereby mooting the promised smoothing benefits of the garment. Right tool for the job is a good rule to live by, and rare is the case that a multi-function tool is the right tool. This is not one of those rare cases.

If you are looking to slim the silhouette, smooth various bits out, and help make a hot dress look red hot, the options are endless. Have a look around you and you may notice that overweight and out of shape is the norm (at least here in America and to a large extent, the UK). The size of the problem, so to speak, assures a rich variety of solutions on the shelves. So go shopping, with a friend who knows her way around if you can. Failing that, trust the nice lady in the lingerie department at a Macy’s or Sears nearby. Believe me, you will not be their first client with special needs.

With all of that said then, beyond catering to my own borderline obsession with legwear in general, I cannot find a single reason for enduring a day in a pair of high waisted sheers. But I started this damned-fools errand, and so am relieved now that it is finished. Your suggestions on shapewear and sheers, as always, welcomed here. Comment freely friends.

Happy dressing, and everything else…

Feb 17, 2010

Mardi Gal.

The quality of my hallucinations and other distortions of memory is really first rate. Good enough in fact that I don’t bother with premium cable offerings or with upgrading to high-def. Why buy the cow when the milk is free, yes? So when I shared with you last month the particulars of a mid-week drab musical cabaret I had attended here in my adopted home town, Atlanta, I was not absolutely certain of the provenance of the tale. I am happy to report today, that everything I described then did not happen exclusively in the spirit world, and in fact was revisited yesterday.

I received a reminder from locally adored performer
Sue Nami to drop into The Heretic again, and this time on a favorite celebration of excess, Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Mardi Gras. In my families tradition, Mardi Gras was also known as Pancake Tuesday, and as such, a liberal slathering of facial pancake seemed very much in order. With that done, the wig combed out, and me in the belted black knit tunic over the wet-look capri leggings, off I toddled again to for a little mid-day revelry. I did make an effort to accessorize appropriately, with nice triple looped set of beads liberated briefly from the permanent collection of Mrs. Bellejambes.

No big surprise on a holiday of sorts, the crowd was bigger and more full throated than the January party. A really good mix of guys and gals, singles and pairs, young and less so. The entertainment commenced right on the noon button with Miss Edie (poorly pictured at right) strumming a beautiful old Gretsch and wringing sweet Willie Nelson notes from deep within a lovingly crafted Western themed ensemble. Sue Nami towered above the room behind the keyboard in a red organza number with the flared long skirt, and needed to duck to avoid wig-bruises on the door jambs. No pictures, friends, they just don't do the overall impact justice. Miss Edie described the effect of Sue’s look as being like a stop sign on a ski hill.

The pork chops, rice, beans and corn bread flowed freely as did the beer and other such libations. I joined
Ramona and a mutual friend Debbie at table and caught up on things in general. It really does not take too long for an odd scene to normalize. Not entirely normal, but pretty close. Lots of Mardi Gras beads were in evidence, but apart from the principal performers, myself, and Debbie, there were no other people “dressed” for the event.

Amongst the civilians were Linle and Ian. We had chatted briefly about fashion the last time out here, and true to their word, they were back for more. Ian as it happens, is a
musician, and did a guitar and vocal guest spot hammering out a terrific solo version of Pinball Wizard and a not-so-gentle love ballad, the lyrics of which are a bit saucy for this blog. This was not a paying gig for Ian unless you count the generous boob nuzzling that Sue allowed Ian at the conclusion of his performance. Happy Birthday Ian, thanks for the song, and hey Linle, you are a total star… I hope you get the job you were talking about.

3 other performers did terrific turns including Lola at the keyboard, an unnamed blues tune guy, and the owner of The Heretic who channeled Bonnie Raitt and brought the house down. A big churchy finale from Sue signaled the end of the revelry and most folks, myself included, decompressed from this odd deep dive and went back to real life.

My re-entry to normal orbit was briefly postponed as I noticed the yard guy busily working away on the not so expansive Bellejambes grounds. You really have to think quickly at moments. There was simply no way for me to pull up, close the garage door and not say howdy, and so I did the drive-by and detoured to a nearby mall to bide time till the coast was clear. I am proud to report that with an hour of browsing, I was able to fight the urge to buy things that were less than perfect and/or redundant. I am a Cross Dresser on a budget after all.

For any of you based in or near Atlanta, the next Miss Edie / Sue Nami gig is scheduled for 16 March at The Heretic. If you can manage it, en femme or in drab, I guarantee you will have a good time, and suggest a 99% likelihood that you will see me there now that I am 99% certain that I am not hallucinating.

In between now and then, I promise faithful readers concluding posts on the recent
Pantyhose Parade high-waisted fight out, the Seven Deadly Cross Dressing Sins, and a newish entry on the economics of Cross Dressing.

Those I will pen out while enjoying my own Lenten observance of no mid-week drinking. I suppose I will let myself off the chain for lunch at The Heretic next month, and perhaps a little toast for Saint Patrick’s Day. Moderation in all things, including moderation.

Happy Dressing, and everything else.

Feb 15, 2010

Obscurish Cross Dresser Holidays

I maintain a long list of Google Alerts which pepper my inbox with mostly useless and easily ignored press releases, news clippings and blog posts on a variety of topics that line up with the curious contours of my mind. One of them has to do with the keywords “Cross Dressing”. 99% of what comes across the transom takes the form of the latest Cross Dressing Bank Robber fiasco, or a transparent traffic fishing tactic from somebody in the business of aggregating clicks for bucks, but every now and then something cute and relevant shows up.

Today, therefore, I direct your attention to
The Daily Torah Thought Blog where our thoughtful correspondent Mordecai went out of his way to find a justification for Cross Dressing during the always happy and madcap season of Purim. Purim dates to Persian times and commemorates a positive turn of the grinding gears of history for the Tribes of Israel. Food and drink and general license apparently were very much the vogue amongst celebrants of antiquity, and this remains true for contemporaries. It seems as though this license extended from time to time to men costuming themselves as women.

There must have been a fair amount of this class of Purim oriented Cress Dressing carry on. Enough at least to to move respected 15th Century Italian Rabbi and scholar on matters Talmudic, R’Yehudah Mintz to scratch out a word or two on the matter:

"So, too, in our case, one does not intend to wear this for immorality, but rather to enhance the joy of Purim."

I delight in seeing the reference to joy here, front and center, and a considered opinion that our shared interests did not then breach any reasonable standards of morality. I concur wholeheartedly.

For those of you in need of a hall pass with the stamp of approval from at least one faith tradition, I then urge you to start planning an outing on or around February 28. If your behavior raises any eyebrows, just smile, look ‘em in the eye and wish them a Happy Purim.

And for other friends here who cannot wait the couple of weeks, perhaps, like me, you will enjoy a little Mardi Gras fun tomorrow en femme.

Mazel Tov!

Feb 14, 2010

CDSL: Cross Dressing as a Second Language

There are a small number of people in the world who simply never put a foot wrong or wander off-key in matters of appearance, and you may have met one or two in your life. My 8th grade English teacher was one such person. A polished platinum sophisticate, and a woman of means, to use the old fashioned expression, she drove the vintage Corvette or the snazzy Bricklin when the weather was fine, and a stately Jaguar saloon when it wasn’t. She wore a different dress every day, reputedly shipped home by the container load from upmarket Parisian salons after her twice yearly shopping pilgrimages.

She was a superb and dedicated teacher, but even if she had been inept, I don’t suspect that anyone in the administration could have taken her to task. Mrs. H. appeared always to be perfect, never a wrinkle, an errant thread or a bead of sweat. Hard to argue with that sort of competency. It is a rare gift.

I never had that gift. I did however have enough self-consciousness and insecurity in my teen years to put real thought into what cloths said about me. I funded my college education in part by selling clothes in retail settings. This formal and paid education stood me in good stead in my later professional life, in an era when we wore suits, and wearing them well did actually open doors.

My hard won talent for dapper is a bit of a relic now, a social appendix in our khaki-ocratic era of office casual, but the reflexes are still put to good use. I know what to buy, where to find it, how to put a value on it, and where to wear it. Getting ready for the day, or for a night in guy-mode is a simple exercise, and I never feel like I have it wrong.

It is different for the Cross Dresser is it not? The woman’s wardrobe is not the wardrobe of my birth and formative years. When I dress en femme, all the reflexive ease of the day-to-day routine is gone, and nothing comes “thoughtlessly”. As such, being dressed requires a laborious sort of translation. It feels like the same sort of process I go attempting to form sentences in French. Verb forms, sentence structure, subject/object relationships, etc, all assembled awkwardly under the ticking stopwatch of social acceptability. This is similar I imagine to what people speaking in an acquired language go through every day, with every utterance. What the ESL speaker loses in translation sometimes simply sounds adorable, but here and there, something gets so fully mangled that everyone is left dumbfounded. So it is with the CDSL student.

The translations start in the shops, online and real world. Assortments are bigger by a factor of 10. Sizes mystify, sleeve and skirt lengths confound, colors dazzle and seasons are sensitive. Prices run from the unjustifiably high to the criminally low.

On the odd chance that I find something I like, don’t already own, and can afford, and is on the racks in my size range, I am now looking at a 1 in 5 shot of it fitting well and looking good. Assume for a moment that it does fit and look well, we are still not quite there yet. I probably don’t have the right coat for a skirt of that length, or the coat I do have is too dressy for the rest of the ensemble. Oh, yeah, the rest of the ensemble, not quite so easily assembled is it? The blouse, is this the right neckline for the look? the right fabric for the season? a good shade for my complexion? Repeat the process. Accessories? Shoes, same again, and then, what about the bag?

After all of this, the Cross Dresser still earnestly scrambling up the learning curve discovers that women are held to a much higher standards of setting and age appropriateness than men are. This has a real limiting impact on those few outfits that we do get right. This looks great, but too much leg for daylight. Love that, but you can’t wear it shopping because it will rip your wig off in the fitting room. The sandals look and feel great but dammit its close to freezing and far from April. Make up, am I going to be seen under fluorescent lights or through candlelight? Jewelry? If Ithe piece looks and feels right, the likelihood is that I cannot find and operate the clasp. It is all a little dizzying.

Social commentator
Malcolm Gladwell refers to a concept he calls the 10,000 Hour Rule in his recent book Outliers. Here is a grotesque reduction of the concept: do anything for 10,000 hours and you will be good at it, perhaps great. If the Beatles did not play 8 hours a night in Hamburg in their formative years, they would not have had a chance to get good enough to have given us Rubber Soul or Abbey Road (ed. hey, youngish readers …, it is true that your parents may have been insane, but in matters of music they do know more than you).

10,000 hours of Cross Dressing is not in my future, unless I become one of those Cryogenic cranks and am reanimated a century or two down the road in a liberal-minded and fashion obsessed society where my money still has value. And so I am consigned, like many, to putting the wrong foot forward and hitting off key notes along the way. It is a reality that the woman’s wardrobe will remain a Second Language for me.

This is not all bad, and I do want to underline one of the really good things that goes along with this reality. Cross Dressing, as comforting as it is, takes me out of my comfort zone. Getting out of the comfort zone helps me connect with that younger person within, the younger person who spent more time out of the zone than in. Not quite so young a person as the kid with the epic yearnings for Mrs. H, but a younger person than my age indicates. I enjoy that perspective. How about you?

Happy Valentines Day to you, and to those that love you.

(image credit: www.anntaylor.com)

Feb 11, 2010

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade, Round 3: High Waisted L’eggs

When last we spoke, dear friends, about this brace of bustline brushing tights, two winners had emerged from the preliminaries and one fierce intra-corporate battle was left. To recap, Donna Karan emerged triumphant in the Ivy League Basketball tip off with Ann Taylor in Round 1. Assets by Sara Blakely had aced big sister Spanx in the courtly Round 2 Tennis showdown. Here now, with mere hours remaining before the lighting of the Torch in a beautiful and oddly snow free Vancouver, I will shift sports metaphor to the Olympic arena.

Curling is the game this week, largely on the strength of it being the only Olympic sport outside of figure skating for which some of the ladies still wear a skirt. Not so often these days as in olden tymes, and how sad this is with such a terrific array of leggings on the market. More typical gear is pictured here. At least a fashion effort is being made. Curling additionally has the benefit of a score keeping model which cannot be corrupted, which is something I like to hold myself to. The battle (bonspiel for you ice geeks out there) is a short, alternating shot 4 throw sprint to the finish, complete with the required breathless play-by-play commentary.

Our last hopeful, fresh-faced competitors in this fierce fashion fight-out are products from perennial hosiery powerhouse L’eggs, and represent the NCAA (Nice, Cheap, All-American) Conference. L’eggs today fields entries from two distinct lines, with legacy product
Silken Mist Waist Cinching Shaper and the recently launched Profiles Waist Smoother Toner leg wrestling for final round privileges.

Gone, sadly, long gone is the terrific packaging of yesteryear that was the L’eggs brand signature, but their position as mass merchant of well made, value priced hosiery remains practically unchallenged. As with the Sara Blakely products, there is a great deal of shared DNA in these sheers. The toe (sandal foot) and waistband construction (silicon gripper) are identical, as is the price of $8.00 at your neighborhood drug store. Predictably though, as with any offspring of the same parents, a few stylistic and behavioral differences emerge in a desperate sibling grab for differentiation.

Lets see how they fare ...

Round 1 – Compression: The Silken Mist have a uniform stretch panty that distributes errant body mass evenly, but not drastically. The Profiles field a much more robust elastic-rich panty portion with an amazing 37% Spandex content, replete with additional belly and booty panels. Additionally, the reinforced thigh slimming component covers a full 4” more leg than the Silken Mist, again distributing upper leg flesh more evenly and comfortably. Profiles are left alone in the scoring house with a 1 point advantage.

Round 2 – The Battle with Gravity: The Profiles curl first with their slender lead, but all of their stretchy armament leaves them too, too prone to gradual southbound migration under their own matte mass, missing the house entirely. Silken Mist, not so much burdened by structure, stays higher, longer on the torso, and knocks the earlier Profiles stone out of the house. Silken Mist has the house alone, with a stone in the half-point outer ring, taking the barest of leads.

Round 3 - Finish and Appearance. Both of these rise to the moment and put their best feet forward. Truly, for the price, they both look terrific. Very even matte finishes, with the silky hand feel of much costlier and haughtier products. Not a showy legging, perfectly suitable for daytime and professional settings. Even with a practically unnatural 20% Spandex leg content (with Silken Mist @ 15%), the Profiles possess a softness and breathability that surprises. They show just a little less of the tell-tale run resistant threading of the Silken Mist entry too though, and as such gain back the half point, knocking Silken Mist out of the house, and clinging to the ring. The match is drawn.

Round 4 – Petra Points. These points are not quite so arbitrary as those rendered from nowhere by French Figure Skating judges, but they are grounded in inherently mushy subjective considerations, on matters that are difficult to quantify. Here, with things deadlocked, I claim editorial privilege to pick the winner. These tights both promise to shape the torso, slim the thigh and shine the leg, and both do it well. In this game of inches and ounces, I believe that the Profiles threw a final round bonspiel winning stone. At the end of the match, they emerge, by a gossamer margin over the Silken Mist.

A tip of the pillbox cap with gloved hand to the nice people at L’eggs for making a terrific line of products here in the good old US of A that can help a big girl on a budget look like a slender one who isn’t. For the concluding entry of this (admittedly odd) series, I will invite all the high-steppin’ competitors back, line up the scores from tip-top to buff-bottom, and generally wax (opinion-wise, not Brazilian-wise) on the merits and demerits of high-waisted hosiery.

Happy dressing in the meantime.

Feb 9, 2010

Seven Deadly Cross Dressing Sins – Buy One, Get 2 Free

Our litany of transgressions against the Seven Deadly Sins started here and here with your Cross Dressing Correspondent sloppily gorging on the low hanging forbidden fruits of Vanity and Envy. Easy stuff really. Very distinct, very universal, and very human failings. Not too too difficult for a writer to ponder, process, and pass such behavioral pits. The garden gets thornier the further one wades in though.

In fact, one begins to wonder about the whole original Seven Sins Project. You would think if something was truly deadly, that you could identify very clean lines and red flags, but I find it difficult to tease the knots out of Avarice, Gluttony and Lust. The original authors of this curious manifesto could just as easily gone for a Forsaken Four or, perhaps, a Fatal Five Sins. Somewhere in The Vatican Archives I am quite certain there is a memo from the Cardinal in charge of Marketing to his cross-functional project team along these lines:

Team: With agreement reached on the Key Performance Indicators for the Deadly Sins Program in our weekly Team Status Update and Planning Session, we are golden. Time now to drive the project over the finish line. To proceed, we need a final count of Deadly Sins. I am pulling rank and setting the bar for you here. We are going to launch with 7 “Deadly Sins”.

7 makes sense from a messaging and merchandising perspective. With 7 Sins, we can rotate new creative in daily, and really habituate the faithful to the idea of feeling poorly about themselves every day, and not just Sundays. This should support top line revenue objectives and help us maintain our admirable market share position (take that Buddha! LOL!).

I realize this will take some real creativity from all of you to drive from five to seven, but you are the best in the business, and I have no doubt that you can pull it off. I am so confident in fact that I promised 7 Sins, and brought the launch date forward by 2 weeks in a meeting with the other Big Hats here at HQ this morning. The pushy Spanish Cardinal with the bonfires and thumbscrews is taking too much damned air out of the room. This’ll shut him up for a while.

Get cranking on it team! The masses just can’t get too much of our brand of despair.

Warm regards, etc…

This memo of course caused shrieks of disbelief and snapped feather quills around the conference room table. A very quick solution was proposed by a junior Deacon, name lost to history, who scrambled up to the white board and sketched out a solution looking something like this: (click to expand). By splitting Greed into 3 subgroups, magico-presto, 7 Deadlies, done, out of here, and ready for Casual Friday!

Seriously, think about it a moment:

Avarice: Greed for material things. An inordinate, miserly desire to gain and hoard wealth.
Gluttony: Greed of the Appetite. Excessive eating and drinking.
Lust: Greed of the Flesh. A passionate or overmastering desire or craving for bodily fulfillment,

Do you see a common thread? Impulse control, really.

Now you know I like a quick fix as much as the next gal (yeah, yeah, yeah, I am getting around to Sloth, o I don’t know, next week … I suppose), and so today I am reconsolidating these sins back into their original and correct Greed uber-group.

Avarice I will claim. Guilty as charged. I do like a nice little trip to the shops. With me out of the closet, I have found more room in said closet for material things, cottons, wools and silks yes, and a pretty rich variety of lycra reinforced elastic materials too. And shoes. Did I mention shoes?

I am not crazed about the accumulation of things in general. My attitude about lucre is healthy: my creditors seem to be more greedy about my money than I am. Typically, I am disciplined about weighing the merits of purchases. Want vs. Need is a part of my daily marketplace calculus.

Having kept Petra pretty deep in the shadows for so long though, I have indulged material urges pretty well of late, making up for lost time. Great bargains along the way, but it is well past time to start posing the Want vs. Need question in Petra mode a little more habitually. I have a nice wardrobe, and I maintain clothes well. I should simply change up the accessories to keep things fresh.

I have only on one occasion repeated an outfit in a social setting. I have garments that I have not yet worn. I have a couple of things that I may never wear. This, to my thinking is not quite right. I am going take those things that I will not wear, and find them a new home for them with someone who will.

Gluttony. Not too much of an issue here. I eat 3 times daily, and my metabolism eats 4. Feelings of satiety come naturally to me, en femme and in drab. The feeling of being truly full pleaseth me not. Now and then I get a funny look for leaving food on the plate, and for years my response has been that Waste is not a deadly sin. Gluttony is. I would rather leave value out than try to cram it in. And beyond the health considerations, quite seriously, being relatively slender is a plus for the Cross Dresser.

On the other hand though, not having pockets available to me en femme, I sometimes lack certainty about what exactly to do with my hands. If there is a glass of wine nearby, it seems too easy, too natural to pick it up, take a sip, notice the curious stamp of lipstick, put the glass down, and repeat as required. I am a bundle of nerves and sensations when dressed, becalmed in part, but also really attenuated. A good amount of current runs through me in these happy hours. I should (will) work at being a little more "still", in the moment, and a little less herky-jerky about the beverage at my elbow.

Lust. I have confessed in prior posts to having a more fetishy approach to Cross Dressing in my youth. This season seems to have passed for me. The lions share of this change I believe goes to the welcome that I have provided to my desires to explore our phenomenom fully. With permission granted to myself to better understand this somewhat vexing aspect of my life, I am at peace. My old Furies leave me alone. And so do I.

A part of this change goes to time too. The chronological odometer takes a bite out of our potential for Lust, or at least for the impulse to act upon it. In this matter though, with the natural waning of Lust that is attendant upon time, a little extra care and cultivation of her better natured partner, Passion is required. Lust sinks her teeth in and drags one about. Passion is summoned from within. If we are not victims of Lust, we must be authors of Passion. I will work on being a better author.

Five down, two to go. Again, as in prior posts, I commend to you the wonderful artwork of Marta Dahlig. I am not sure that I would have pushed this theme quite so far without her imagery to better merchandise the odd firings of my brain. Clearly if you have read this far, you have her to thank in part, and are not guilty of Sloth. And now that you have come this far, I do hope to not have stirred up any Wrath..

I am saving all of that for future posts.

Happy sin-free dressing, and everything else….

Feb 7, 2010

Southern Comfort

Mrs. Bellejambes and myself have had an awful lot going on lately, and as all consuming as the smoldering tire-dump fire of Cross Dressing can be, its flames have not licked too too closely to home. “Petra” has been the girl in the room that we both know is there, yes, but we have been polite and/or patient enough to not aggressively engage her. Additionally, neither of us really have a nicely indexed Operators Manual for this whole thing, so we have not fully grasped this nettle, so to speak. Circumstances recently allowed for a circumspect how-do-you-do last night though. Allow me to share.

I received a note a little while back from Giselle at
Pink Essence advertising a planning session / social gathering wrapped around the 2010 Southern Comfort Conference and throwing out an invite to all so inclined. Another Angel of Mercy, JoAnn, who I met this past December at a local Yahoo! T-Girls chapter booze-up reached out too. JoAnn, and her superbly supportive wife, Cyndi, expressed a real hope that I might introduce my superbly supportive wife to the sorority. Mrs. B welcomed the opportunity for us to both present, and learn what we could.

There were some logistical issues in so far as we also had an invitation to a birthday gathering for a friend. Mrs. B suggested we do both events en femme, and do you know, I very seriously considered really going out there. Our friend, and her social circle would have not have been freaked out or put off by the presence of a Cross Dresser. Very liberal set, creative, artsy, and even supportive of heterosexual people too. Broad minded indeed, and the birthday girl herself usually does have broads on the mind. The setting for the party was a completely beautiful lounge room at a grand hotel here in Atlanta, the sort of room I am sure to have run a tab in in a past life.

“Seriously honey, we can just say that we are going to a costume party”, said my wife …

Perhaps with a Carmen Miranda pile of fruit on my head we could pull off the costume party thing. Technically, whatever we wear is a costume, but presenting en femme is a very real thing for me. No-one who meets “Petra” could believe for a moment that my appearance is a one-off, just-for-fun thing. So no, not just now. I am not yet ready to link the known me with the less well known. The thought is out there though now, yes? Very complex and compelling calculus associated with that move that we together will want to put some real thought to in the not too distant future.

The Southern Comfort Conference is a feather boa of an entirely different shade though. This annual, three day TG/CD confab has been gathering steam without any help from me for 20 years now. I toyed with the idea of attending last year, but not being out at home, and with the
sad flooding of said home that week, hopes were derailed. SCC is a big event, bigger each year, requiring a good amount of plotting and planning. Committee chairs, content providers and other helpful types spent the long Saturday working out the details and planned to reward themselves and provide comfort to others after the labors with a little party.

Mrs. B dropped me off at the Crown Plaza just before 8 with the promise to return when the happy duties were done at the vaguely more straight mid-town event she pulled duty for. The smart doorman saluted and held doors for the girl in the lace skirt, short coat, dark sheers and killer pumps, and having a few minutes to spare I thought to sit for a quick bracer in the lobby bar just to get my bearings.

Miss Kitty, Christie, Leslie and Paige welcomed a 5th wheel to the table, confirming for me that I was clearly visiting the correct Crown Plaza. Leslie had handed me a drubbing at a pool table some time ago, so it was sweet to see a familiar face. Paige was introduced as visiting from my hometown, which is more than a couple of counties away from Dixie. Naturally I took soundings about where exactly she lives and breaths, and about this I am not joking: Paige lives today 50 yards down the road from my very first address, way back in the mists of time. Tiny old world.

The party was busy and getting busier by the moment as we and the gathering crowd flocked in. JoAnn introduced me to a few of the ranking officers. I gave assurances to Cyndi that, yes, Mrs. B would be attending presently, hopefully, necessarily in part because I had the wrong shoes for the long walk home.

I happily lost every bit of self consciousness engaging in small talk with a tall beauty hailing from Cocoa Beach. When one meets someone from Cocoa, one presumes, correctly often, that one is in the presence of a rocket scientist. Lift-off, genuine stuff, and years later still electrified by the work of exploding people into outer space and returning them safely to our tiny blue orb. I am an Apollo child and a freak for this stuff. Lost her name in all my excitement, I am a cad too.

Lexie, Verna, Lida and too many to recall helped me enjoy the evening very nicely. At peak I would guess the room to have housed 30 or so people, transitioned, transitioning, transmasculine, transmaried and just generally making the trans run on time. Leda, in from Boston told the tale of getting called out at Logan for the odd contents of her carry on bags. The breast forms it seemed drew some x-ray attention and caused a degree of mortification on the way through to the boarding gate. That would be a moment not soon forgotten no doubt.

I am a bit of a recluse, and usually a little suspicious of people with whom I have a lot in common. I really have not felt much of a need to seek out the company of fellow Cross Dressers. I have always had strong convictions that I am not alone in my habits, and so do not need a heap of validation on that front. But it is nice, and therapeutic to share time with nice normal people in an easy social setting.

Mrs. B is a bit more naturally sociable and engaging then I am though, and threw herself nicely into the pool upon arrival a couple of hours and a few glasses of wine later. She really is magnetic, and as flawed a husband as I am, I am never not proud of her. There is no artifice in her, completely open and available to the person whose attention she has. Attention comes easily too, she stands out in any room and it doesn’t take people long to figure that the beauty is much more than skin deep. Tory engaged her in a long chat about Greg Mortenson, a real hero to my wife. Tory volunteers her time and energy to supplying Mr. Mortenson’s
foundation with pencils and other tools of literacy which really captured Mrs. B’s enthusiasm.

I peeled off while Cyndi and my wife had a more private commiseration about the complexities of marriage in general, and the specific complexities of being married to the likes of, well, the likes of me. I believe it was a good evening for all. We still have our complexities, but seem to have the wherewithal to tame and tend to them.

I believe a special, awesome bravery required to be “out”. I am not out. I camouflage with clothing, conceal with cosmetics and call myself by a different name. There is no public linkage between my halves. My wife went commando. She is out. I hope to join her some happy day.

Have a Super Sunday. Go Saints.

Feb 5, 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins of Cross Dressing – Envy

Well friends, the first post in this series generated some interesting comments, and a couple of private notes from friends. Feedback from readers is really helpful, truly. Nobody writes well in a vacuum. Here is another thing about vacuums: they do not tidy up messy wrting. So allow me to tidy up the last post here quickly before wading into the briny green sea of Envy, our Deadly Sin de Jour.

I do not feel guilty of any "sins" relative to Cross Dressing. I am far too accomplished a lapsed Catholic to feel the burdens of sin. I will cop to a fashion crime here and there, yes, but no sins as such.

Good and bad things exist on continuums, and there are lots of grey shades between the extremes. I believe it is important to think, every now and then, about where on the important continuums (ed. continua?) you stand. Here, I am employing the traditional “7 Deadlies” as a triage kit for the exercise – not as a platform of self-recrimination. Plus I found those pretty Marta Dahlig pictures and feel compelled to merchandise them.

Be assured that I will not, ever, stop attempting to look my best, in guy mode and otherwise. To the extent that I can, I want to be attractive in appearance. Who doesn’t after all? Moreover, I will happily lap up the encouraging words that come my way, and try to remember to thank their bearers. I will not hesitate to take the odd photo and share it with you here. Poor a camera technician as I am, I can typically get a good picture quicker than a thousand good words.

I am just going to try to contain my focus on those things, and make sure that the Majorette at the front of my parade is not Vanity herself. I was drawn early to Cross Dressing, and enjoy it greatly today largely because it just feels right. If I keep Vanity in check, it will feel more right. If I do not, it might feel less right. That would be a bad outcome.

The defense rests. So there. Moving on now to Envy:

A feeling of covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.

Hmmm. Envy has been a central motivator for me in my explorations, from the very beginning. I envied girls, and then women all of the private rituals of becoming womanly, the hooks and eyes, the fabrics and fragrances, the buckles and bows. the whole beguiling shooting works. I envied too, the impact that a confident, attractive women has, simply walking into a room, that special kind of notice that a guy cannot hope to have. Frailties and powers much different than the ones I could claim.

Envy for me, like Vanity, employed a looking glass, but rather than vainly gazing back at my own image, the looking glass revealed, Alice-like, a forbidden wonderland just out of reach.

Investigating the nature of Envy a little, I came across a Spanish proverb that I rather liked. The Spanish have my attention for starters, all those nice lacey scarves, flamenco skirts, and strappy heels, yumm, so this one hit home:

Envy is thin because it bites, but never eats.

Well I suffered bites for years, decades really. Now though, having come to peace with myself, and having shared my habit with Mrs. Bellejambes, I am able to eat, if you will. Envy has been disarmed, not entirely, but largely disarmed.

I still have periodic green flashes about the limits of my presentation en femme. I require long sleeves, skinny as my arms are, they are far too well defined and hair-thatched to enlist with the Little Black Dress Brigade. No plunging necklines either, my sorcery, my gal-chemy is not potent enough to summon up cleavage. Absent the cleavage, there is very little to take the focus off my jaw-line which demands too comprehensive a plastering of Dermablend Concealer to obscure imperfections of complexion, tell-tale shadows and what not. The end effect of the makeup is good, but the effect is visible, which moots part of the art of makeup. So the bites are there still, but they do not draw blood.

Envy extends, now and then, to brief flights of imagination, a periodic wish to pass fully through the looking glass, and live for brief interludes as an unquestionably and therefore unenvying member of the fair sorority. And then, to return on demand to my largely happy life in Drabistan. Envy is a relative trifle now, tamed, and more sweet than bitter.

It is pretty, and pretty tempting on the other side of the looking glass, but there is plenty of wonder in my more commonly occupied land, if I but manage to look at things fully. With that thought, here is a nice word from 19th century American philosopher/wag Josh Billings on the topic:

Love looks through a telescope: envy, through a microscope.

Here is to the bigger picture, friends.

2 “Sins” down, 5 to go, if I stay at it. I must tell you though, as much as I want to feature more of the beautiful work of
Marta Dahlig I am not sure I will. Truth be told, my imagining of a nice series of essays has, shall we say, not tucked quite so smoothly as I had hoped. I am sensing unsightly bulges in the editorial fabric not quite becoming of a modest and earnest scribe. If I can smooth them out, I will continue, but I promise not to hurt either of us in the process.

There will be other things to ruminate on after all. Mrs. B and myself are taking an evening on the town together tomorrow night for example. I hope to learn a thing or two that can be discreetly shared with you here. Stay tuned.
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