Nov 19, 2011


Excluding SCC, I have been out and about as Petra only thrice this year. Ouch. Well, four times now as of last weekend. I did then rather enjoy things seen through pink lenses, and wrote effusively about the whole pretty pageant here.

Time has been the principal thief of opportunity. Work stuff is planted to rails of my metaphorical farm. The fallow, clovered pastures that Petra did once flourish and frolic in are presently under plough, upturned and nitrogen fixed for commercial purposes. 

I have come to think that work, the way I spend my days has a pretty big impact on my “Petra-ness” beyond simply being a time soak. The impact is behavioral too. Like any job with grazzilions of dollars at stake, the day is composed of a fair amount of adversarial posturing, the odd volley of tactical aggression, and an always-present sense of wariness about things in general. You know, the generalized chest-beating, loud tree-top howling and Samsonite-hurling that corporate Great Apes conduct in the service of the business.

Women can and do succeed in my role, in my industry, so the exercise of masculine traits is not a pre-requisite of success. A little more project nurturing here, a dose of quiet collegial grooming there, terrific female Great Ape behaviors, these work too.

And ya know, dear friends, I am not proposing that one behavior or another is the exclusive domain of one gender or another. I am merely suggesting that having spent about 99% of my life expressing male, those are the behaviors I reflexively lay hand to under pressure. I call frequently on those traits in part because there is so much newness in the work that I need to rely on a lot of background processes, reflexive stuff to keep my higher mind available for the work.

And so “Petra” has been a little less available to the whole me just now.

Darling friend Janie, of CD Janie blog-fame touched on a related topic recently in a series of short, revealing posts starting with Inner Voice deliberating on the process of going rapidly from femme-space to drab-world and back again. Go read. Janie is a star. Do come back then, will you?

These posts struck a chord in me. It seems that while there is a certain amount of biology that manifests itself in the life of the gender-curious, there is a pretty big beaker of chemistry in the mix too. My brain chemistry, just now, is wired more for my familiar male life than it is for wonderful explorations of the less familiar, the more feminine.

I will tell you this though:

Getting out for a gorgeous evening really has the effect of shaking that beaker up and generally catalyzing and effervescing things. I have spent this past week more distracted by thoughts of a dreamy nature than I have been in a good long time. I popped into a shop in drab mode and snared another gorgeous new outfit at a shocking price (pictured Harvest Gold Ann Taylor skirt for a dumbfounding $7.00, 8% of original retail and a smart top too). Chatted with the (typically) gorgeous sales assistant at length. She was in a sad state having just found out that she was on duty at Midnight, Thanksgiving Day for the increasingly insane rigors of Black Friday.

I wanted to touch her hand and say it will be ok more than I wanted to throttle the throat of the insensitive, short sighted lemming at HQ who thought that an upmarket woman’s boutique should follow in Wal-Mart’s less than stylish footprints. I drove home closer to the speed limit, leaving more room between me and the next vehicle, weaving less and exercising patience more. I found a tiny tributary of pretty thought to paddle around in and express in a product review for my friends at Guilty Pleasures.

Lovely things, lovely feelings. I hope that as more and more of my work becomes a little more reflexive to me, that I will have more room in my higher mind, room for Petra. It feels good when this part of me has room to stretch out and touch things as surely and gracefully as she can. I suspect that, with time, I will be able to employ my fortunate access to wells of feminine strength and wile more easily, more purposefully in my everyday life. Better living through Chemistry indeed.

Nov 13, 2011

A Cross Dresser's Exciting Three Way

Shameful really, what some bloggers will put in a headline to juice traffic a little. For those of you expecting a salacious tale of bedroom acrobatics, well I am not that kind of girl. Take heart though, the internet was practically invented for you.

For the rest of you, dear friends all, the 3 Way refers to the mirror, or rather I should say The Mirror. A topic worthy of a long post, long even by my lax standards. Perhaps a pee break would be indicated now before you settle in for a read. You see, yesterday, Petra curled her index finger and cast the rest of me a come-hither look that I had not the strength to ignore. So I (we???) went out last night and got in front of a few of them. Mirrors, that is.

I have blathered on here about how much of a high it is for me to be accepted in exclusively female environments – wig salons, shoe sale racks, the aestheticians counter at Macy’s, Nordstrom’s or what have you. Wonderful places where, freed from the presence of guys, women find their natural, unguarded selves, their truest voice. This is the voice I love best.

That voice can be found in the hushed, hopeful hall at the back of the shop, that well-lit warren of far-from-the-Office cubes, the runway of runaway shopping impulses, the Fitting Room area. First stop, Dillard’s at Atlantic Station for a quick run through their BCBG Max Azaria boutique. I have been lusting for some months now after a beguiling skirt of the clingy, flashy variety pictured here. The gorgeous sales assistant pulled the last one from an off the beaten track rack when I described what I hadn’t found.

“Oh yes! The foil skirt … we have one, hang on… yup, your size too!”

And then disappointment as she toddled the trophy back to me …

“O no! there is a tear in the waistband …”

I suggested that I should at least try it on for size, and think then about picking it up online.

“Oh yes, you will love it, cute, cute cute…”

There is an invisible membrane between public shopping spaces and private changing places, a membrane that repels the fellows. I love passing through it.

The door closes, the bag is hung, the jacket draped, something is peeled off and something new is pulled on. And if that something is not a total disaster, the 3 way calls. The Big Mirror down the hall. You see yourself walking towards it, running all the calculus, does it fit, what would I wear with it, is this really my silhouette, don’t I already own this ….?

You will have quietly resolved the thousand questions by the time you step up on the small riser, strike a pose, look left and right, up and down, front and back with the one question left … is this my skirt (dress, blouse, jacket, etc…)?

Oh my God but you rock that skirt … you like?”

“Like? I love it (hands smoothing skirt, a little shimmy, knees together…), shame about the tear…”

“You know that must have come from some girl who had no chance of getting it past her knees. Honestly you would not believe what gets ruined before it even leaves the store”

“Really? ,,, ouch ( reset the waistband, turn 90°, regard ass over right shoulder) … too too bad”

The second shop assistant walked in ..

“Uh huh, you like? … I thought it was too stiff for me….”

“Yes, o yes … ( hands on hips, standard female comic superhero stance)… Love it.”

More conversation of a similar ilk followed, I continued to flirt with the wounded skirt I knew I would leave behind, stripped down and dressed up again, waving so long. It wouldn’t be fishing if you struck every time you dropped a line I suppose…


I went to drop a line down the road at Ann Taylor. The Friends and Family 40% off every loving stitch in the place sale was on last night. AT is always a top shopping experience for me. Quality, current, and classic, I believe that AT has the pulse of the maturing contemporary woman better than any other major retailer, at least in this part of the world. You would be mad to not be signed up for the email specials.

Love the shops too, wide open eye-lines, loads of space between the fixtures, none of that awkward butt-brushing, shoulder-to-shoulder rack rifling typical of most shops. Ann Taylor is just a stately place. And the fitting rooms? Bigger than many New York studio apartments. Yummm.

After the usual “Welcome to Ann Taylor” salute from the staff and a slow wander / ponder about, the nice assistant asked if she could set a fitting room for me, relieving me of the rapidly building pile folded over my arm.

“Thanks, of course. Let me see grab a couple of other things … see you there in a tick.”

“Take your time … I’ll just leave the twill slacks on your rooms door, ok?...”

OK, indeed. I grabbed one more pair of slacks, asked for the stacked platform giraffe print bootie and retired to my private space. While changing the tap-tap-tap on the door heralded the arrival of my shoes, but you know it is ok to pull the door open in a half-dressed state here.

“Here are the 8 ½’s, hope you like them!”

Out to the long hall, prowling, dead center the length of the walk up to the riser, pretty much convinced that the pants were not for me and my fellow shopper hailed me with a nice smile …

“Give me a zip up please, would you?”

A dark complexioned woman, nearly dressed, early 30’s with stunning grey/blue eyes, a rare sighting of one of the universes most extravagant displays of beauty, gestured towards her back. The royal blue knit dress with the dropped waist was a little full on her to my eye as I fastened her in, but she was more concerned about the short hem.

“O no, the length is great. Opaque tights and you are fine. And the blue, o my god it makes your eyes just pop! I think it looks great, but you … you not convinced are you?

“I just don’t know. It is my color, but…. I don’t know….”

“I like the cut … it’s not for me though, I like a higher waist line..”

I helped her then with the unzipping, and we each retired to our private reserves. The style chit chat continued over the tall walls, and we both made a few forays back out to the racks trading views all the while. There were a couple of men there, attending their wives, fidgeting uncomfortably, privately wishing the Mayans would move the end of the world up a couple of months and just end it all, now. Not us girls.

I saw the skirt at the cash desk, opined that I liked it, hadn’t seen it in my size and asked did they have one for me? Yes they did, and I settled into the work of imagining a top for it. My new friend pointed at the ruffled cami and said that would work. That was not available in Petra dimension, but I did spot the glitter, metallic thread long sleeve crew neck that I thought might just work.

I was completely on the scent now, arms and legs moving like a veggie dicer, off with old, on with the new, cinch the belt back on, and now triumphantly back to The Mirror. Perfect.

She did not have to say a word, just smiled and nodded. She was in fact trying the same skirt on, truthfully to lesser effect. I felt it was simply too big on her.

“What size is it?” I asked.


“Petite right?” (She is about 5’ 2” tops, and the skirt hit at knee where mine was right where I like, about three above the knee.)

“It has a lot of stretch to it dear (hands circling rump) Try the zero, it will work and you will feel soooo good about wearing a zero, admit it…”

“O god, you know me too too well… and that top, I would not have picked that … great outfit”

I was finished by now, and glowing even before I realized the bargains I had won. The $130.00 skirt and the $80 top for a mere $58 after all the markdowns.

I waved goodbye to my stylish sister, and waded back out into the evening air, into the wider unsuspecting and mostly uncaring world. I was armed against worry in part by the bag hanging from my shoulder, striding happily along the busy sidewalks, happy couples and lurking lads, everyone looking everyone else up and down, top to toe. Atlantic Station on a Saturday night is very much a place for people watching, and some did watch me.

I was particularly charmed by the young woman who dropped her boyfriend’s hand for a moment to touch my hot pink flared-waist jacket and tell me she loved it. I told her she was sweet and that I loved her hair. She gave me a quick hug and a wink and carried on down the road with her flummoxed fellow.

A short drive home, a glass of wine, the slow disrobing, the long shower, the many layers of exterior washed off, folded away, leaving the more familiar exterior surfaces of the guy visible. The interior things have a longer, deeper impact though, feeling it very much this morning. I revel in my privileges, and feel tuned up, in touch, at peace.

Simply had to share that with you today. Thanks for staying with me.


For those of you who are curious to read a little more about what is going in my fashion life, I have been busy as a beaver over at Guilty Pleasures. The audience there is a tad more … mainstream than you dear friends, but we all share an interest in the looks beneath that flatter the rest of the ensemble, and help us all feel as beautiful as we can.

I encourage you to visit often, and especially encourage you to check out the many fine vendors I have been delighted to work with. For the complete body of Petra Guilty Pleasures essays, simply click here. Recent posts include some terrific hosiery finds (including the wonderful Cecilia de Raphael’s, pictured at right), and a wild, happy variety of all the pretty things a woman needs.

Happy shopping friends.
Subscribe in a reader