Sep 29, 2010

Getting out the Vote effort

Some of you are old enough to remember all the way back to last August when I entered myself in a Victoria’s Secret $5,000 shopping spree sweepstakes. Some of you too were kind enough to throw a vote or 2 my way. Weirdly enough, with your help I managed to place #432 out of well over 10,000 contestants in the pretty online melee. Notes on just how close I came to smothering under the weight of a truckload of fully lined brassieres can be found here.

But don’t visit there just now. I am at it again, for a smaller prize, and with better odds I think.

My fashionable friend Miss Neira introduced me to Chictopia some time ago. Chictopia is a kind of Facebook meets Lookbook social network. Younger, prettier and more fashionable people than I congregate there, and so I created a profile and drop in from time to time to see what the style muse is whispering to those in the know.

Well, today I find out that Chictopia has a small Nine West giveaway on the go, and so I have elbowed my way into the “Search for a Stylish Sole” sweepstakes. One can never have too many shoes, and rare are the opportunities to get them for free.

I know, I know, the odds are slight, and stacked against me. But with that said, I came within a single misfiring neuron of adopting the name Dawn Quixote before embracing Petra Bellejambes as my Nom de Femme, so tilting against the windmills of reality is something that comes quite naturally to me.

Tilt with me now, won’t you my dear?

It should be an easy thing. Here, for example is a link. You will land up on a page that looks very much like the one pictured here. Just at the top right of the ensemble snapshot is some kind of votey-widgety-thingy that you should be able to click on without registering for anything. Unless you want to register and create a profile, which is a lovely way to defer taking the garbage out or tidying up the dinner mess for 5 minutes. And unless you think my look is ghastly. But in all honesty, I am just being greedy and grabby and am desirous of your vote. Do I need a platform to run on? OK, here it comes…

If elected I will institute sweeping reform to the Dry Cleaning and Valet Parking industries so that we, all of us, from sea to shining sea, will look more crisp while walking shorter distances into smart restaurants.

I hope that this is a change you can believe in. Again, link to the contest just here.

Momma needs a new pair of shoes. Thanks in advance for your sympathy and support.


Update: As it happens, some sort of Chictopia registration is required in order to vote. Damn. One of you cheerful people did, and then voted for me, and for this I am grateful. I think I have a better chance if I just self-fund my shopping spree. Alas.

Again, thanks!

Sep 27, 2010

Cross Dressing Economics. Fashion Week Edition

Recently I was coursing the aisles and pawing the racks at a nearby Bloomingdales with a charming female companion who can afford to do more than just the coursing and pawing at Bloomingdales. In between patting myself on the back for resisting an unnecessary acquisition and acute pangs of regret for not resisting it I spoke a little about how I keep my shopping under control by painstakingly keeping track of purchases.

You see, I maintain a spreadsheet with garments classified by type, vendor, description, full retail price and actual price paid. Furthermore, I count the number of uses I get from each garment to arrive at a Cost per Wear (CPW) number that should, in the long term, help me optimize on future purchases. All very logical of course, and very much in keeping with my practice of over-engineering the protective rationales that keep my life perched barely on the rails. I hope too, at some deluded level, that this document will keep somebody in a well funded Gender Studies program busy for a post grad year or two sometime in the future.

My friend tut-tutted:

“Oh, no, no, never. That simply isn’t done. It’s just not on you know.”

Very English, my friend.

In any event, she opined that this was a distinctly male habit, and at complete odds with my appearance. We then went to Nordstrom’s to look at shoes and get past the slightly awkward moment. The moment passed. But now while she is not looking, I thought I would share some numbers with you.

The chart below (click to enlarge) contains all clothing on I had on display over the course of my week at SCC: shoes, hose, skirts, dresses, tops and outerwear, minus all the belts, bags and bling
. As to the rest of the garments not on display, well some things a lady simply does not share.

I dressed Monday to Saturday, largely in items purchased late spring and summer that I had not worn before other than trying on for fit, and so my CPW numbers are not so low as they will get with time and multiple outings. Still, even with the newness of most of the modeled pieces, I think I deserve a Girl Scout Bargain Hunting merit badge.

The summary findings are these. It costs me $100 to present fully. Again this is the one time expense, from top to toe. My fully amortized cost (Lifetime Aggregate CPW) for complete ensembles ranged from a high of $100 for an outfit featuring one of my rare full retail purchases, (a snazzy Rachel Rachel Roy off the shoulder tunic), to a shockingly low $37 for the dramatic cocktail dress look I poured myself into for the final gala dinner. These numbers have nowhere to go but down as long as the universe is expanding and not doing something else unexpected.

The data further confirms a sense I have had that my blouse assortment is not broad enough. I had to repeat a top once in the week. Tut-tuts again.

There is a seemingly outsized cost contribution from shoes and hosiery in my typical ensemble (see Fig. 2). Almost 40% of a typical outfit investment clings to my toes. Allow me to make a case for this seemingly lavish and unfair distribution: The toes are worth it dear friends. They will tell you so in no uncertain terms after a few hours in poorly made and poor fitting shoes. As to my average $18.00 hosiery costs, well, nothing makes a so-so skirt look good, and nothing makes a terrific skirt look va-va-voom faster than quality legwear. The reverse effect is true too. Beyond that, the comfort provided by well made nylons adds immeasurably to your enjoyment of a long day dressed.

At the end of that long day, somebody should want to rip the pantyhose off of you, and that somebody should not be you. So there.

As to the rest of the ensembles, many of them are pictured in prior posts. Scroll away, or site search on SCC for more. Their average discount from retail is 70% (not counting hosiery). Being this mercenary on price has allowed me to shop in places that on the surface look a little pricey for the part-time gal on a budget. With this, the overall quality and effect of my appearances is better than it has been, or might be. Civilians and fellow travelers alike were generous enough in their complements to let me know that I am zeroing in on my style sweet spot nicely. Even without the kind words though, you know it yourself when things are correct. Suddenly, you are walking like you mean it. You just feel good. This feeling is worth the investment of time, care and the few dollars you can spare to get it.

Getting that feeling, and keeping it under control too is something to aim for. If you do not need a spreadsheet to achieve that effect, I bow in your general direction. Just now, I must sign off and go update mine with a couple of blouse purchases I made this past weekend in order to resolve the imbalance issue raised by the numbers.

Ah, the things we do in the service of science and beauty.

And you my dear. What do you do to keep the purse and closet both stuffed?

Sep 20, 2010

Enough about me. What do you think of me?

So, dear friends, in my last post-SCC post, I prattled on about some of what I had learned about myself while enjoying a full week en Femme, embedded in the TG ranks. That essay drew a good number of really loving and thoughtful comments. Thank you all for enduring it and enjoying it to the degree that you did. Only fair and reasonable I suppose to look at the flip side of the coin and think a little about where and how the Cross Dresser fits in and is perceived by our larger universe.

One of the signals that sounded very clearly came at the conclusion of the first every seminar I attended. The session Proctor handed out audit forms that we were encouraged to fill out. Did the presentation meet expectations? Was the presenter skilled and knowledgeable? Would you invite her back next year? Standard questions and vital data, data that I am sure that SCC staff and management will act on and optimize.

The audit forms asked for a little demographic information having to do with identity. I cannot recall the particulars exactly. Transitioned Post-op, and Living 24/7 come to mind. Female-to-Male, Supporter / Significant Other too. And nestled in between these clearly defined communities, “Recreational Cross Dresser”.

This really caught my attention. You might know that I rather like words, and think of them as possessed of remarkable power.

Recreational Cross Dresser.

Now, for me, Cross Dressing is recreational. It is recreational in so for as I really have fun becoming and being Petra. Terrific recreation and highly encouraged. In another and more important sense, Cross Dressing has helped me to literally re-create myself. I am a warmer, more empathetic, happier person now than I was in years gone by. There is enough evidence to tie cause and effect together, and much of that evidence has back-zips and shoulder straps. Hooray!

But in the context of a demographic survey, the term Recreational Cross Dresser does connote something else, and that something else is not quite so serious and impactful as I believe Cross Dressing to be. Or at least, how it has been, and is for me.

Recreation, in this context, also speaks to motivation for the act of Cross Dressing. It is difficult, really, to know peoples motivations, and if motivations are to be addressed, then surely there are other valid ones (sexual pleasure, theatricality/incurable exhibitionism, power exchange, sedition, etc.) Stop me if I sound a little brittle on the matter, but the check boxes clashed with my stripes (ed. …too late to stop you m’dear).

Now friends, I do have thick skin, and even thicker with a plastering of Dermablend beard cover on, but the words are there, black and white, and they do have meaning, yes?

It is not difficult to understand and empathize with the roots of this minor infraction against my sensibilities. The lives of Transwomen have been made more awkward, more of a lightning rod for ridicule, prejudice, ignorance and hatred then they ought to be in part as a result of the broad public perception of Cross Dressers.

If you have ever hit a gay bar on Halloween, you know what I mean. Over the top, over-exposed, under-dressed, boobs-out, booty-calling, flaming Technicolor travesties of femininity abound. Sadly, these visions are much of what the rest of the world calls to mind to deal with and understand Transpeople. How about media depictions? Cross Dressing Bank Robbers are thwarted somwhere thrice daily it seems.

In this way, sad to say, some elements of the Cross Dressing spectrum truly do totter, hand on hip, directly in the path of broader acceptance of the differently gendered. Ouch.

And therefore I understand, fully, how even the most “live and let live” transitioning and transitioned women, would want the recreational Cross Dresser to just live elsewhere. There must be another planet with good vanity mirrors and a Karoake machine out there, in another Galaxay preferably, yes?

Perhaps this contributes to the somewhat guarded welcome that the Cross Dresser is extended in the company of (some) Transwomen. There is always more though, is there not?

I suspect, that the brave woman who has been through or who is a few appointments short of HRT, FFS, electrolysis, silicon implants and injections, nips, tucks and the complete, traumatic up-ending of family lives, social order and commercial prospects that goes along with all of those things must look at the Cross Dresser with care and concern. Perhaps we are seen with a sense of ... “o god, you poor lamb, you are playing with fire and really have no idea of what you will have to endure ...”.

Hmmm. If ‘twer me on the far side of gender re-assignment, I suspect that I too would be quite guarded in my society with Cross Dressers. I would feel terrible if I said or did something that tampered with the jury, said or did something that unknowingly influenced a decision of such gravity. A deeply personal decision that a fragile, precious, delicate human life would need to live with, by and for themselves.

Other contributors? Sisterhood and sympathy aside therefore, this embryonic person, the Cross Dresser might appear to the fully enlisted Transwoman as a green platoon recruit, freshly dropped into savage jungles of combat, not yet battle tempered. Perhaps the circle does not widen and welcome fully until we display calm and cool in the firefight we have willingly walked in to, until our true colors have been shown.

Fair enough. Again, if ‘twer me, with Drivers License and Passport indicating “F”, I would hold a little back from the Cross Dresser, recreational or not. See where they are after a real tour of duty.

These feelings were to me, atmospheric, and subtly evident, very early in my week at Southern Comfort. I did, therefore, what I could to have a seriousness of purpose, a listening posture, and as well as I can muster, a genuinely womanly, ladylike attitude and approach to each moment and encounter. Fortunately, all of that comes readily to me these days, much more so than in younger years.

Showing up, smiling and not falling off ones bar stool goes a long way. The circle did widen and welcome more and more over the course of the conference. For this I am grateful. As different as my path today seems from the paths of many new friends and acquaintances, we did, on the whole, manage to focus on commonly held experiences, perceptions, material and emotional desires, and the random bric-a-brac of everyday things miles away from matters of chemistry and biology, gender and wardrobe.

These new friends and acquaintances, above all, contribute to my happy anticipation of next years SCC. I will have another year of experiences tucked in under my belt, and perhaps be a better contributor to the life of our Pink Platoon. In the meantime, there will be a good handful of undercover sorties en Femme deep into Plain Vanilla territory. Not entirely friendly territory, and there are a growing number of sympathetic hearts out there too, partisans in the long battle for social justice, or something like it. I look forward to turning a few of them, and ducking whatever flack I might run into.

Comments from people who do identify as Transwomen particularly welcomed today. Thanks sincerely.

Sep 16, 2010

I know you are, but what am I? SCC Part 3.

I am a bit of a TransSpotter. Most of this happens when I am in drab mode. Looking back over the last year or so I would hazard that I have noted about a dozen or so Sisters out and about in plain vanilla, daylight environments here in Atlanta. This estimate does not include the handful of socials I have attended at nightclubs and such where one might expect to see a chap in a dress, a Woman at the far end of SRS or people somewhere in between.

When out en Femme, I am typically not expecting to see people of my variety. Odds run against this likelihood. I just pay keen attention to everyone else, and these moments are close to sensory overload … ooo, I like her shoesdamn but her complexion is lovely and I am jealouswell, there is a look that guy just gave me …. awww, that Woman just smiled at me, how nice.

It is therefore quite a different experience to spend a week fully surrounded by hundreds of gender explorers. This experience helps fix ones place in the spectrum, see the big picture, and perhaps sort out a few unresolved questions about ones self. Be assured, I attended SCC primarily to make friends, dress nicely and have fun (check, check and double-check), but gender exploration is a very serious part of my life, and so some serious thinking is bound to happen.

So, what am I?

I spent as much time as I could last week at
SCC in conversations with Women. I will not try to apply more specific or limiting terminology. Women. People who identify and live as female. Memories of prior lives and physical discomfort from truly traumatic surgeries linger certainly, but let us leave the label simple: Women.

These new friends and acquaintances and I generally had a few things in common: Very youthful exposure to dressing. Pronounced rebellious streaks that erupted periodically within otherwise model, happy and conforming lives. A talent for adaptation to the expectations of the world, including a talent for concealment. A sense of trouble about our differences that nurtured a capacity for brooding (not all a bad thing … on balance, we seem to be good problem solvers) and periodic bouts of unhappiness.

These Women at one point or another, early, later or just in the nick of time associated the unhappiness with their gender assignment. And then set about changing it. Absolute wonders of courage, one and all. To be dedicated to having a full life, in the one life we know with absolute certainty that we have is our first obligation. Dammit though, gender reassignment is a big ticket item, emotionally, socially, and financially. Again, what admirable, breath-taking courage these Women exhibit.

Courage is a more typical hallmark of the female of our species in my experience. Women need more of it the fellows do to simply get through days in a world whose rules have largely been set by Men. So there. These Women have ample supply of that feminine characteristic, and now have the correct bodily host for it. Brava.

Courage is something I believe that I have in good measure. It does take a heaping tablespoon of the stuff to say yes to the dress, put a hand on the hip and holler out “hello world, here I am”. I would like to think that I possess courage in good enough measure to live life correctly, fully and with my surfaces (and biology) in full alignment with my senses and realities too.

The thing is though, that when not in Petra-mode, things are fine. I fit in. The parts work. I smile often. People like me (mostly). And in fact, a good many people really love me with fierce loyalty. I am privileged in return to feel the same way about a select awsome handful, and those feelings are I suppose the best feelings we can have.

So, back to the question: What am I? Transgendered? A Cross Dresser? Or am I simply confused, delusional, in denial, or not possessed of the courage and strength required to really know myself?

I suspect that the question will always be there, whispered, demurred, and largely dormant unless the answer comes up differently one day.

But today, as in all the prior days, the answer remains the same. I suppose that by some definitions I am all those things, but ultimately it seems, I am (loaded expression alert!!) a Man. A Man who feels that the accidents and inheritances of my birth, terrific though that they are, are simply not big enough, full enough, rich enough.

I am also a Man who realizes that some of my worst potentials are typically masculine characteristics – quickness to anger and aggression, impatience and impulse, sloth and excess, a lack of care and concern for the misfortunes of others. Many of the things that cause the world to be less beautiful than it might, could, should be.

When I present as “Petra”, those characteristics and nasty potentials seem a far ocean away. When the dress comes off, currents pull those potentials back, slowly, weaker each time, less potent than before, but still surely, back. Perhaps some day they will simply stay away for good, and for better.

Ideally, I should be able to be the better whole person without the expense and social complications inherent in living this guarded life, of being this periodic Cross Dresser. I am not that saintly or self-actualized I suppose. I will keep trying though.

And hopefully I will always revel in presenting prettier surfaces here and there. Being Petra is fun, very immersive, alive and special after all.

Plus, there will be always be other TransSpotters out there and they should not go home disappointed.

Your comments and thoughts most welcomed as always

Sep 15, 2010

SCC Purse Contents: Actual and Metaphorical

I received a call yesterday from Mrs. Bellejambes who had just set out on the road:

Darling, there seems to be a hair brush stuck below the windscreen around the wiper blades”

Hmmm. My mind flashed relievedly back to the closing moments of my week en Femme at
Southern Comfort. Fresh from heartfelt hugs and warm so-long-for-now’s I had rooted fruitlessly about in my overstuffed bag for the damned car keys before giving up and just dumping everything out on the hood. The brush, it seems, did not make it back in.

I marvel at women who are able to find what they need, when they need it, somehow in the depths of the purse. All too often, I miss what is required and lose a nail or more in the hunt for it.

So it is with the memories of busy, happy times too. The recovery effort continues however here in Part 2 of ? essays on my first full week amongst the Sisters (and Brothers) of SCC. A little bit of the Who, What, and Where stuff will follow here today, starting with the Where.

Atlanta is a big, Blue city in the middle of a blood Red state. It is served by the busiest airport in the known world which makes it a fairly simple place to get to, and therefore ideal for big gatherings such as SCC. For the 5th year running now, the conference is held at the
Crowne Plaza Ravinia, and I for one would be delighted to see another 5 years at this fine facility. The conference and banquet facilities are amply sized for the large crowds, but happily, the layout does not necessitate massive long walks in not-quite-practical shoes. Don’t sneer now: this is key to ones happiness.

The truly key thing though about this Crowne Plaza is staff. Clearly, everyone from Valet, to Front Desk, to Bar/Wait staff and Housekeeping are either people with absolutely no hang ups, or the beneficiaries of outstanding sensitivity training. Attentive, happy, prompt, courteous and constantly correct use of pronouns all around. I did not see a single incident of anything less than complete professionalism at any moment. Given that the countries of origin for many of hotel staffers are in South Asia, the Middle East, East Africa, and other generally more socially conservative parts of our little world, this attitude really stands out. Super hospitality. It was easy to smile, and to tip well. Every penny was fully earned.

All of us have to clear any number of hurdles to be who we are, and to get to where we want to be. It means much to be warmly welcomed, and respected once we arrive. Bravo to the Crowne.

On to the What stuff.

SCC, for those of you who have not attended is certainly one of the oldest, and arguably the worlds largest (measured in terms of attendance) conferences purpose built for the TG community. I finally made it for SCC # 20. 20 years is a whole generation, and it is staggering to think of what changes birds of our feathers have witnessed in that time. We, and the world around us have really only started to scratch the surface, and I think scratch our collective itches. The ~ 1,000 ++ or so attendees this year represent a fraction of all of those who have visited before, and the tiniest tip of the iceberg of those who might, should, will or cannot attend.

The conference is organized to provide value, and value comes at a price. Single admission, full conference privileges ran me $325 US, which is not couch cushion change, but worth every cent. For the investment, you get fed, and quite nicely too (by global conference standards) and you have access to as many of the 70-80 presentations, panel discussions, seminars, how-to’s and etc. delivered by legions of really expert people.

The variety of content is wide, and I found time for about a half dozen sessions over the 3 main conference days (Thurs – Sat) which focused largely on matters of Style, Deportment, and Make-up. I learned that I am not really making any style mistakes, that my deportment is fine, and that I am truly a ham-fisted and poorly educated make up artist. Must, must must work on that aspect of my life.

Thanks to Ann Grogan, Monica Prata, Beth Boye, Chloe Prince, and especially my dear old friend
Ramona whose presentations I enjoyed fully.

Like any other conference, the vendors are lurking with crooked fingers pulling you to their stalls in the hopes of winning a newish customer or two. Surgical consults, wigs, shoes, figure enhancing fashions and prosthetics, make-up, literature, you name it, the whole shooting works really

Too many other receptions, excursions and activities to name. A very full week, capped off by a really nice gala dinner, replete with tuxedos, ball gowns, smart cocktail dresses, and the odd expression of slightly out there fetishy fashion sense on display on Saturday night.

And finally, the Who.

The full spectrum of gender identity and expression. Educated guesses follow:

- Female-to-Male (transitioned and transitioning) perhaps 15% of the attendees
- Post-Transition Women, the plurality of attendees at ~ 35%
- Transitioning M2F, either living 24/7 or on a certain path towards that objective weighing in at 25%
- Periodic, currently non-transitioning Cross Dressers and other gender-curious types perhaps claiming another 20%
- Partners, supporters, and a smattering of happy Admirers constitute the remaining 5% or so.

In short, however you view yourself, if you visit, you may be sure that you will find the company of people with whom you have more than a handful of uncommon things in common.

The nicest moments for me though came about in conversations with people that had absolutely nothing to do with matters of gender. Music (howdy Aislin!), physics (Lida), wine (Jennifer), shooting pool (Leslie), hockey (Gabrielle), career (Brittney), Bangladeshi Cuisine (Audrey) and too many other moments of normal intimacy to either recall or recount. The beautiful moments when the visibility of our “differences” from the rest of world disappear, the opportunity for some uncluttered attention to somebody else presents itself, and is seized. Can’t buy those moments.

But for a few hundred dollars you can put yourself in the room, smile, be yourself, grow a little, and perhaps help someone else do the same thing. Priceless.

If you haven’t attended, and want to know yourself better, set aside $1.00 a day for the next year and plan on visiting in 2011. Simple, right?

If you and I met, we likely did not exchange contact info in part because I could not find a pen in my purse. Please say hello by way of a comment, or via email (contact info in my Blogger profile).

I’d be very happy to know you better before we meet again next

Sep 13, 2010

Feets of Strength. SCC in review.

I will start, dear friends with the trivia.

My feet are better as of a late Monday morning.

Yesterday, with the benefit of a nice late sleep in, a low impact day of laundry, periodic cat-naps, poached eggs for lunch, a delightful Indian dinner and the weekly fix of Mad Men gorgeousness I feel refreshed and ready for … well … all the unusual usual things.

So yes, my feet, and much of what totters about on top of them did feel a little roughly used after a solid week en Femme. The body has remarkable powers of restoration though and so I am able for the requirements of the day.

The feet though, my word. Unaccustomed to the rigors of consecutive long days in closed-toe three and four inch stilettos’, they did rather shriek by late Saturday night. Perhaps it was the dancing. Yes, Mrs. B, myself and a handful of friends did indeed cut a rug after the gala dinner on the culminating soiree of our first Southern Comfort Conference. I typically guard against dance, knowing that my capacity for ecstasy causes my arms to pulse in oddly palsied and arrhythmic orbits. One must dance though. Dance is one of those manners of expression that comes from deep within. Dance is a dividend of happiness.

And Dance is something new to Petra. Delighted to have another threshold of accomplishment to think on. Dance did not make my
14 Stations of the Cross Dresser list, but now that I have a check mark beside the canonical CD achievements I wrote out quite early in my embrace of Petra, I suppose it is high time to build the list out here and there where indicated.

So there friends. I suggest you try dancing. It feels lovely.

There is much I have on mind today, perhaps a half dozen or so themes for posts that should follow here in the next couple of weeks. There really is a great deal to sort out, dust off and polish up. Many moments scattered here and there between my ears, and notes buried somewhere in the depths of my purse. I lived a very full week, a revelatory week, a week of witness.

I suspect that subsequent posts will fall into categories along these lines:

- commentary on the conferences organization and execution. Hats off to Lexie, to her staff and volunteers, and to the amazing personnel at the
Crowne Plaza Ravinia.
- learnings from some of the terrific presentations and lectures I enjoyed
- thoughts on where does the Cross Dresser fit into the large and vivid spectrum of Gender expression
- marvels about just how quickly and honestly complete strangers find common ground in our uncommon lives
- fashion, style, and well, you knew it was coming, a few words on the merits of the endless river of nylon and Lycra that clung to my legs all week. It was a fine week for hosiery indeed.

Much beauty. Many stories of strength. Conversations that turned easily to very intimate, very core truths, triumphs and, yes, troubles too, shared haltingly sometimes, but fast and freely too. It was a very real week. Not all of it wine and roses, but tilted conclusively to the life affirming.

Many new friends made this week. Countless short, casual introductions, and moments of chit chat too with dear people whose names may not stay with me, but whose impacts aggregate up into a bigger, better me.

Constant reminders too of just how fortunate I am, in many ways, but in one above all. Did I mention what a star my wife is?

Mrs. Bellejambes joined me and our new friends on a couple of evenings throughout the week. She is the better part of our shared home. She showed that in such measure this week in her support of my happiness that I am as close to wordless as a rather wordy person can be.

I am gifted. ‘nuff said.

I will share a big conclusion here today though, one I am certain of even before all the puzzle pieces are put together. Ready?

Going into the conference, knowing how deeply, and for how long I would be immersed in … Petra, I knew there was a reckoning I was setting myself up for. Any time that the Gendernaut expands his or her orbit, there is a fear at some level that our tethers will loose, and that we might not make it back to the home planet more or less as the same person.

As deeply and fully as we explore ourselves, there always remains a question as to whether we have kicked in all of our internal doors, and searched entirely and ruthlessly the premises of our souls. By going outside of our orbits of certainty we run the risk of falling into the gravitational pull of another unknown and daunting world. For me, a full week of presence within “Petra” and the company of so many other birds of the feather was a new orbit, a deeper voyage (ed. metaphor clean up on Aisle 7 please, and pronto).

Orbital re-entry went off without a hitch. I believed before the start of the week, that I would feel good about folding away the surface elements that allow me to present en Femme. I felt as though I would feel comfortable expressing, as I am doing now, with the surfaces that describe the person that most of the world knows me by (khaki trousers and a polo shirt for the curious). I felt that there was a high probability of me knowing myself a bit better, and re-affirming that who I believed myself to be was more or less right on the money.

I was correct in this.

Beneath the surfaces however, the week will have a lasting impact. The impacts will display, if I am careful, in all I do, regardless of the surfaces.

I genuinely look forward to carefully sharing all of that and more with you here in upcoming posts, stitched together in between all the other normal and exceptional moments available to us all every day.

Thanks for being along for the Voyage.

Sep 7, 2010

High Heeled High School

In my youth, before the continental masses settled where they presently are, and before the popularization of silicon chips and silicon breast forms, Labor Day, the most bittersweet day of the year, signaled an end and a beginning. Summer vacation, the time of lazy, formless liberty was at an end, which was pretty much the sum of the bitter parts. The rest was sweet, and filled with anticipation. What does my class schedule look like? Do I have cool teachers? Who is going to make my heart hammer and maybe, just maybe this time, not break?

Labor Day today still represents a beginning and an end. The beginning, or better said, beginnings of many things: Autumn for instance, and the return of pleasant outdoor conditions. Crisp mornings, bearable days, and cool evenings. Not so much of the ceaseless thrum of air conditioners.

And with those nice things an end, the end of Drabbatical, my annual, Climate and Phase of the Moon influenced time away from en Femme presentation.

No bitter. All sweet.

Southern Comfort Conference kicks off officially tomorrow here in Atlanta and attendees are flocking in from all around the globe early. There was an informal meet and greet last night in the bar at the Perimeter Crown Plaza and I threw myself into the mix. It had been 5 full months since my last genuine Petra immersion/excursion, and so yes, I have been kind of counting days down dear friends.

5 months of Drab, I am sure to some of you, must appear to be a form of self abuse at worst, or neglect at best. Why, why dear Petra do you subject yourself to it? How awful for you. Allow me a moment to address the issue of the long months away.

Heat. Atlanta is a warm town, and here in 2010 is enduring its 3rd hottest year on record. Wigs, pads and makeup fail.

Social Requirements. Most of the world knows the guy me. This happy person wears shorts often in the summer. Neatly shaved legs would be difficult to introduce into broader social circles. Perhaps some day I will take up cycling by way of cover for the shaving (and for the unquestionable cardio benefits), but for now, hairy legs on view April through August just makes it easier for the world to deal with me. I like easy.

And at the end of the day though, it is not really all that awful. Life is busy, blogging keeps me happy, and anticipation of the privilege of getting out and about en Femme is a nice thing to cultivate.

With that said, I am happy, very happy indeed to see Labor Day.

Labors included a little shave, well, a big one rather, involving much facial hair, and drain clogging braids pruned from my legs. Good to feel smooth again, yes. Shocking tan lines, but those will fade with time and I have a little spray-on camouflage in the meantime.

On with the ensemble, featuring an Ann Taylor skirt (clearance, $13.81 down from $118.00) topped with a simple silk cami and featherweight cardi, embellished with some choice bling from Mrs. Bellejambes' priceless and stylish collection. On the legs, some super lightweight, 8 denier Italian sheers from
Trasparenze, oddly dressy and invisible at the same time from I will write up a nice piece on my new favorite hosiery vendor later in the autumn. I encourage all of you to visit and give yourself, your legs, and anyone who looks at them a little treat in the meantime.

There was an element of High School in the evening, with me being the New Kid in the neighborhood, and many of seasoned prior attendees happily reuniting, recognizing old friends, and already knowing more or less what the rest of the week looks and feels like.

The night itself was a delight, and a real change for me. Typically, I find myself out in the world blending into my surroundings and being in the minority. I do not have so much practice in settings where the poly-gendered are the highly visible and dominant majority. Well, this week, birds of our uncommon feathers are both of these things. We have the run of hotel, and no doubt will be storming nearby shopping, dining and cultural venues in intimidating, liberating and eye-popping numbers.

It was interesting to note the reactions of the civilian habitu├ęs of the Crown Plaza to the gathering swarms of slightly different people. The tables are turned, and I am sure that enquiries have been made of hotel management as to exactly who are these people, and how long will this odd Mardi Gras be going on?

Well, these people are my friends. And SCC will be going on right through till Sunday. No doubt, minds will be broadened in the meantime, my own included.

I look forward to sharing thoughts about it all with you in periodic posts this week. Now to figure out an outfit for today.

Happy Autumn everyone.
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