Oct 16, 2011

Lasting beauty and beauty for the renting

Terribly butch couple of weeks here on the domestic front. Mrs. Bellejambes, self and our checkbook are making up for recent years of laxity in matters of home maintenance. We are pretty much recovered from recent rigors of the installation of new flooring, the annual autumn prune-a-thon (including another grizzly battle in our no-end-in-sight War on Wisteria®), and a fair old whack of exterior and deck painting too. Much of the work that requires actual skill was staffed out, dear friends, but all of it required a certain amount of heaving, grunting and sweating on my part. Not a pretty sight.

And then, late Friday night, close on bed time we heard a sound dreaded by homeowners, the near ballistic explosion and the subsequent demented rattling, sizzling cacophony signally a massive failure of garage door springs. It is an odd thing, I had not actually heard the sound before, but the very instant I did, in my PJ’s and at the other end of our home the following thought coursed through my mind:

“... well, that’ll be the garage and I wager that my Saturday is well and truly fucked.”

And so it was. All is back in working order now, but my hands look a bit of crime scene, knuckles scraped and nicked, and not all of the gunk out from under the nails. Perhaps then, using those same hands to type out a note or two in Petra guise will help put a more feminine finish on things in general.

Back we go, therefore, a few weeks to my last outings.

Much of what one actually pays for at Southern Comfort are the seminars. Measured this way, I did not get great value from my conference fees because of my schedule and my propensity to hang around bars for the chit-chat. I did however ensure that I had a good seat for Monica Prata’s session “Looking Sexy in Age Appropriate Fashions & Successful Shopping on Any Budget!

I met with Monica briefly last year at SCC, and developed an instant crush. Some women just have the whole woman thing knocked out so perfectly that one wavers between wordless adoration and wistful sorrow at how far away from that elite zip code one lives.  

Monica has it. And in a much more substantial way than all the glossy, shapely surfaces and finely tuned sense of style indicate. She is a Vesuvius of enthusiasm, really gorgeously alive, wired, colorful and compelling. And, O yeah, she works with special people, the likes of we. A tip of the pill box cap to the universe for this lovely gift.

In any event, Monica’s seminar was live audience participation “do this, and good god girl, do NOT ever under any circumstances do that" kind of material. A few brave and generous girls had dressed in some of the “don’t” looks to provide the packed room with living, breathing (gasping?) examples of fashion fails and fixes too. We spent time on shoes, and were cautioned against pointy toe pumps. You see, this sort of shoe, beloved of all, does make ones feet look a little larger than they actually are. Not the sort of feature the big boned Cross Dresser really wants emphasize, I think we will agree.

“Any girls in the room wearing pointy shoes?”

Guess whose hand shot proudly up? Come on down Petra! I scrambled up to the podium as Monica introduced me, asking me my shoe size.

“8 ½ darling”

“Well friends, Petra is a lousy example. Once you get above 9 you are into trouble territory and should really consider rounded peep toes or open sandals. Petra can actually wear these … and I love the way she rocks the Ombre skirt….’

My vanity was satisfied by the moment, but I did feel poorly about not providing full reinforcement of Ms. Prata’s curricula. Big hearted woman that she is, we remain friendly. For those of you who want to spend time with someone who will help you make what you have more wonderful than you have ever imagined, you could not do better. Look her up. She is based in San Fran, and has frequent travels to Chicago and New York in the service of making the world more beautiful, one curious person at a time. I can’t wait to see her again.

This is true in part because I do not think I will ever get my eyes looking so right as they did for Saturday nights gala dinner. I had high high hopes (and shoes to match) for the evening stemming in part from my shopping decisions. My own makeup skills were not going to rise to the occasion, and so I organized a little spa time with saintly Monica. Time well spent. Thanks darling, sincerely. I feel as though my peepers popped like never before. Beyond that, it is an entirely gorgeous experience just hanging around with you.

For the big evening, I had picked out a couple of party frocks from Rent the Runway (pictured on self at right, and on more poised models in prior posts here). RTR is a peak shopping experience. Loyal visitors here know that I do like a bit of shopping here and there, and this romp was a true topper.

The sapphire blue Christian Siriano color and feel was gorgeous, but felt to me just too simple a cut and finish for a gala night. I am glad to have slipped into it, and giddy that I peeled it off and tossed it dismissively on the bed, opting instead for the Christian Cota. A stretch silk blend in a shimmering copper tone, gathered and ruched in a thousand places, turning a tent worth of lifeless fiber into a clingy lighting rod of gorgeous sensation. Sweet merciful creation but I did feel a pang of loss when I put her back in the mailbox on Monday. Enjoy your life sweet, sweet dress, and know always that I love you more than all those other women that rent you.

I highly recommend the Rent the Runway experience if you are dressing for a special night out and if your finances are not precarious. The size range tends to stop at 12, so those of you possessed of a fuller figure may find yourselves thwarted at the checkout. With that said though, go ahead and sign up there for the email updates. It is worth it to spend a little time looking at what is current and beautiful. Lovely styles all around, interesting reviews (unflinchingly negative ones too in some cases… RTR really lets the reader participate in the business). Natural born journalist and consumer advocate that I am, of course I left a review. Spot the spelling error friends! I really must take better care. I do get a little gushy and rushed when writing about things I love.

Yes the dress fit like a glove, barely room for an impure thought beneath lustrous surfaces and my own ample padding. She is captured, in her natural environment, at a party in close proximity to a glass of wine and a smiling, happy womanly form. The scarf is a smart finishing touch borrowed from a dinner companion, Beatrice, who upon hearing of my fondness for savage animal prints insisted on an accessory fix and a quick snapshot.

When time allows, I will be back here to leave a note or two on the topic of some of the lovely people one can meet when dressed appropriately. Beyond the seminars, this is where the real value of Southern Comfort is.

Happy dressing and everything else in the meantime!

Oct 2, 2011

About Time

It is no small matter of pride, dear friends that I am able to present as female pretty much as well coming out of the long summer months of hibernation as I did before going in. The fashion flare remains intact, the make-up skills do not rust much and my walk works and struts with the same seismic intensity it had when I parked it way back in springtime of this year. My leg conditioning, however, was miles behind the rest of me. After three high altitude, pinched toe days at SCC my thighs, calves and hooves were in a state of outright mutiny. 

Napoleon Bonaparte was reputed to have said that an Army marches with its stomach. Petra is here to tell you that a Tranny marches with her feet. I have a long, happy and cool autumn winter season ahead of me now, and put myself back in stiletto trim. In the meantime, I will find and share this clich├ęd solace: no pain, no gain.

Enough of the pain then. Let us move on now to gains which net out to this: I got to be Petra … Panavision, Technicolor, Dolby, THX, IMAX, Blu-Ray Petra, my happy 34B self in a fully immersive 3D world for days at a time. I don’t know about you friends, but I really have missed me. It is good to be back. So many good things absent and unnoticed in the general busy-ness of the drab day-to-day.

I won’t dive into specifics here today with you. That will wait for another tide of time. For now, I have a bit of a reverie on time itself for you.

I have missed taking my time, sweet patient time, the time required to unearth Petra from beneath my more broadly known and gruff exterior. So much of what passes for progress in my day to day life is done by brute force, volume over value, donkey-work and doggedness in pursuit of keeping pace with or perhaps even a step ahead of the needs of the now. Petra however cannot be rushed. Petra requires forethought and finesse. Petra gets coaxed into the light. No amount of pushing or shoving helps.

God, but it takes time to become Petra, and the expense of time underlines just how precious time is.

Time is required to conduct the breathtaking archeology of transition, the adding of layers, sediments and shrouds, to reveal the person within.

Time is required to compose the elements of shape, color and scent, to orchestrate a harmonious whole.

Time is required, time to pause, breath and measure, time to not madly dash forward, time to be sure of the next step and the step beyond that one.

Time for the trivia too, are my keys in the purse, is the hair fixed just so, stop now before the lip line and gloss, did I brush my teeth since dawn?... good god I will be speaking with people after all, and look at you not a ring on your fingers, better set that right and slowly too. Be calm, move slowly, stay dry dear. The whole world is out there now, you can lock the door behind you and go out into it now, alert, attenuated and receptive.

No matter that I have been aching to be out, present and presenting as Petra forever now, stillness is required to do this fully and correctly. A stillness that I have not reflexively sought in the rest of my rushed everyday time.

I propose that the qualities of stillness, patience and mindfulness required to be Petra are very much the same qualities required to recall and write about those precious moments, minutes and hours. Or about anything else I suppose.

Since going back into a corporate setting in January of this year, I have missed that stillness. Not much room for considered, conscious receptivity to the moment with all the milestones to meet and millstones to carry. I have known at some level that this change in the nature of my days would be a price of the work I took on. It has, however, taken the time required last week to be immersed in the life of Petra to actually have benchmark against which to measure how far away from stillness I typically live.

It has felt good, great in fact, to be Petra again. It’s about time too in more ways than one. Time to not be rushed, time to coax rather than cudgel, to persuade, to not push and shove.

Wardrobe and words, make-up and metaphor each require time, time I do need to catch up on a little. Looking forward to it. Thanks for spending your time here.

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