Dec 31, 2012

Complements of the Season. The other kind.

Having disposed, darlings, of the Compliments yesterday, it is high damn time I turned to the Complements. Return with me to the definition, provided by my go-to, slightly-better-than-sketchy online resource,

com·ple·ment [kom-pluh-muh nt; kom-pluh-ment] noun

1.     something that completes or makes perfect: A good wine is a complement to a good meal.
2.     the quantity or amount that completes anything: We now have a full complement of packers.
3.     either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart.

Today then, I am taking my focus off of the nice things said here and there (i.e. compliments) and turning scattered thoughts to the things that completed 2012 for me, complementary things.

Complete is a relative thing, a vanishing horizon. I stretch for it always, hoping to not snare it fully. Petra much prefers restless to rested, hungry to full, tantalized to satisfied. In review, 2012 did deal up a good measure of complementary stuff, moments, habits, and things that did for moments or do, in the Dr. Evil sense, complete me.


Writing remains a source of delight for me, and a genuine venue for discovery and expression. I sometimes feel as though I am not creating as spontaneously or creatively as I did when this blog was a toddler back in the day. Many, really most of my gender frontiers and boundaries have been pushed out to their natural and full extent. There are fewer shockingly new things or novel ideas available to me. Less to ponder and fewer words to set to print. This resulted in an all time low of 10 posts for the 2012.

It seems that I am following a common pattern here. Those of us who newly embrace our gender plurality (or whatever variance of special we possess), and have a penchant for blathering on about things in general tend to strip the ground clear down to stubble pretty quickly. Year 3 or 4 in the life of the T-Blogger is typically pretty moribund. Those of you who find a way to post regularly have my admiration and a tiny measure of low grade petty jealousy. Meg and Stana, Lynn and Janie, a tip of the pillbox cap to you.

I do believe though that the written word here on Voyages en Rose for the year is good and complete. Longer form essays taken at a walk with a slower pulse, more mature and settled, less adolescent and breathless. I have written for honesty, and for plain expression as much as I am capable of. In doing so, I am writing in a more convincingly female voice than ever before. Gender Analyzer believes with 81% certainty that the 2012 edition of these Voyages is written by a woman while the 2010 version of me was a relative butch at 71%. Yesterday’s post came in at 84%. This pleases me.

Writing, completes me.

I write elsewhere too of course. 2012 was a great year for me at Guilty Pleasures. I am the principal editorialist there, responsible for product reviews and the overall style and tone of our surprisingly busy and influential little Lingerie blog. I penned about 20 essays there, mostly reviews of products sent my way by vendors looking for a little publicity. I have become, really quite unexpectedly, a bit of an authority on knickers. I have guest posted on bigger, more influential blogs, and been cross linked, hash tagged, re-tweeted and otherwise digitally cast to the four winds. I am a girl that gets around.

I am assumed to be female by those vendors who seek out my voice and the attention of Guilty Pleasures readers. I do not challenge anyone on the issue. We communicate (for the most part) via email, and it is a correspondence of courtship and intimacy between women. I have found the PR agents, marketing execs and brand leaders who I work with to be super kind, fun and generous women. It is a source of joy for me to share a proposed creative theme, suggestions for product assortments and early drafts with my clients. I get large parcels with handwritten notes of gratitude, smiley faces and fingers crossed in hope that all the pretty things inside fit and feel good. It is business, yes, but it is also girl talk about some of the most completely feminine stuff on the planet, lingerie.

Girl-talk, my dears, very much completes me.


Getting to know what my tastes run to, what suits me, the criteria that go into evaluating a garment for goodness, greatness or notness has been a real labor of love. It all started by modestly here on Voyages en Rose some years ago with weekly hosiery themed dalliances. Long time readers will recall Petra’s Pantyhose Parade. I fumbled there in the dark to develop a critical eye, an engaging voice and a useful measure of expertise in the hosiery arena. I have since developed what I must immodestly call connoisseurship in a bigger broader field. It has not come easily. It has come in sustained frothy rivers of silk and satin, clasps and cusps. Some of which is pictured above as I take on the annual Re-org of the Drawers Project (yes, we all have our silly year end rituals).

Knowing knickers as I do makes a very real difference in my life. Out en Femme earlier this week, I was able to find a perfect bra / panty set from legendary French brand, Chantelle within minutes of walking into the roughly 4,000 sq ft. of retail space set aside for intimates in Bloomingdale's, needle in a haystack stuff m’dears – go ahead ask your wife if you don’t believe me.

In such settings, I am very much the predator, the accomplished huntress. There were a half dozen brands I knew would be of no interest to me. There were certain boutiques not yet marked down. There were chaotic clearance bins and racks here and there. I ran the calculus, excluded what would not work from view, and isolated something desirable in mere minutes, Terminator like efficiency I thought. I had not worn Chantelle, before, but knew from reputation that their ranges run a little small in the bra band. I did go up size, walked my pretty 70% off retail handful to the service counter and asked the woman there if I had made the right decision in up-sizing.

“Yes, Chantelle does run a little snug, the 36 should be perfect for you. Please try it on to be sure, won’t you?

“Thanks, but not tonight. Too many buttons, too little time you know. I’ll take my chances my dear”

“Just keep the tags on. I’ll staple my card to the receipt, please look me up if things are not perfect."

Things are perfect. 

Perfect Lingerie completes me.


The same could be said for all aspects of wardrobe. I stopped making fashion mistakes this year. I know which things I own that I will never wear, and have them boxed up for delivery to shelters and services that can use them. I can resist temptation when the item is not ideal. There are no more repeats. Honestly, there are no gaping holes in my wardrobe, and no overarching urges to add. I spy the odd thing here and there, but am not a slave to impulses any more.

Having a great wardrobe, a complete wardrobe, completes me.


Having a friend to share this with, the ups and downs, the good and bad complements my life too. My partner and the founder of Guilty Pleasures, Ally is a woman. She lives in Europe, and has escaped from a corporate setting to try her hand at a number of entrepreneurial ventures online and otherwise. She communicates with me in one of her many second languages, English with great precision and craft. I cannot remember quite how we connected, but Ally offered me a guest post spot way back in 2010. This lead to a correspondence and in time, a generous and more lasting partnership in the enterprise, my name on the masthead if you will, administrative access to the back end of the WordPress machinery, contact with prospective vendors and etc.

We share notes back and forth about our work, yes, but have learned slowly over time to be friends with one another, to share more generously of our thoughts, and our advice for each other. We speak to each other as sisters. She is my best Girl friend.

Having a Girl friend, being a Girl friend, dear friends, completes me, really completes me.


I have insights and feelings of connectedness with the 51% of the world that the other 49% cannot hope to have. Perhaps you too, Dear Reader, being who you are, understand that. Having a girl friend, and being a girl friend, well it all comes with fierce responsibilities, loyalties, sensitivities. These things endow the relationship with a wonderful warm patina, a soft finish and feeling absent from our masculine relationships.

I cannot have that relationship with Mrs. Bellejambes. My wife is a marvel of adaptability, she must be, yes? Seventeen years later and us still an item, bless her warm, stout heart. But she signed on for a husband, a friend, a lover, for many things. She did not sign on for a girl friend. I could not ask that of her.

Having a wife who does not understand all of this (any more than I do I suppose) but tries to not stand in the way of the things that make me happy completes me.

Mrs. Bellejambes complements my life like nothing else in the world.


Having readers to here at Voyages en Rose, knowing that someone will show up here, take the time to read, and even now and then leave a word or two, well that completes me too.

Thank you for helping complement a great year.

I hope your 2013 is rich with complementary moments.

Dec 30, 2012

Compliments of the Season. Or was it Complements?

If I had to find metaphorical book ends for 2012, and you know darlings that I do, I think I would have to go with compliments. With complements running a close second. Or the other way ‘round, never perfectly sure.

Damn those homonyms. Wordy, windy girl like myself honestly ought to have had this straightened up in Junior High. Alas. Let us refer to the often reliable for guidance:

com·pli·ment [kom-pluh-muh nt; kom-pluh-ment] noun

1.     an expression of praise, commendation, or admiration: A sincere compliment boosts one's morale.
2.     a formal act or expression of civility, respect, or regard: The mayor paid him the compliment of escorting him.
3.     compliments, a courteous greeting; good wishes; regards: He sends you his compliments.

com·ple·ment [kom-pluh-muh nt; kom-pluh-ment] noun

1.     something that completes or makes perfect: A good wine is a complement to a good meal.
2.     the quantity or amount that completes anything: We now have a full complement of packers.
3.     either of two parts or things needed to complete the whole; counterpart. .

There. Better. Compliments it is then. I have a few from 2012 I want to share with you.

I am a vain thing. Vanity has a close cousin by the name of Insecurity. You may have met them. They are near neighbors beneath my wig cap, a mere synapse apart on some semi cerebral cul-de-sac. They are separated only by a narrow picket fence, perfect for a little chit-chat, a little gossip, and O, how Insecurity just lights up when Vanity shares a juicy fresh neurotransmitter of news with her. Butterflies waft and play on gentle endorphin updrafts. All the world seems lovely. Those moments stay long with me.


First notable compliment of the year came in January, one happy Saturday night as I took a solo jaunt out to LeBuzz. This spacious nightclub is the last openly gay fortress still standing in the outer boroughs of Metro Atlanta. Once you get OTP (Outside The Perimeter) here, culture and sensibilities turn from Blue to Red right smartly. Happily, LeBuzz remains solvent, and the rainbow pennant continues to flutter from the battlements.

I am not much of a night-clubber you might know, in part because it all starts so damn late and I stop pretty early. Beyond that, the noise and close proximity to youngsters and their curious Red Bull infused cocktails, well, not my tribe you know? Moreover, the featured entertainment was a Drag Review. Not a perfect night out for Petra. For the most part the lip syncing lounge lizards of the RuPaul generation are just not my cup of tea. Caricatures of femininity, exaggerations of form, and to me dismissive of woman in general. There is a cattiness in the art that I cannot love.

Nonetheless, one has to get out of the house time to time, and who knows where you can pick up a makeup tip, right? I took a perch on a tall stool with a good view of the room which left the room with a good view of me. Very bodycon skirt from BCBG, very clingy glittery knit top, pale lilac sheers and tall purple pumps.

Mostly a youngish Lesbian crowd, Asian, African and European faces, a smattering of gay chaps and a handful of clearly settled, hetero, middle-aged couples taking tables up front for the performances, really about as diverse a crowd as you could hope to see.

Not much in the way of the gender curious though. Beyond the performers, I was the only special girl in the room. Waiting for the review to begin I had a little chit chat with next stool neighbors on my right, she and he, they friends, both only recently either fully aware and out, and both a little giddy in their discoveries. While we spoke of nothing of real consequence, my eye was repeatedly drawn back over my other shoulder to the maddeningly beautiful tall boots on the woman perched to my left.

A couple of drinks and so-so drag performers later, I introduced myself to Boot Girl, simply had to tell her I loved her taste. Early 40’s I thought, there with her younger girlfriend, gorgeous dark complexion and steady eyes, she barely flickered while I said hello and told her of my love for her boots.

“I wondered if I was going to just sit here all night with that ass so close to me and you not saying a damn word …”

I was at a little of a loss for words just then. I was working on something along the lines of “come again dear, not quite sure I heard you correctly just there …”

“I have been sitting here wanting you for about an hour now. Damn do you look good.”

Oh. Well, that’s better, a little unsettling still. I stammeringly expressed my blushing gratitude, surprise at the flattery and the news that I was in a committed married relationship with very exclusive privileges as far as asses and other bits go. I must have sounded a bit like Hugh Grant. She slowed down a little and shared a few slightly more genteel words of admiration, at which point I slowly realized that her girlfriend was staring daggers at me.

Oh, my dear word, I had elicited a reaction of jealousy.

I tried to steer the conversation quickly back to boots. It worked for a while, long enough an interval that I could exit the conversation on a civil note and not get stuck in the middle of a domestic quarrel and have my much sought after ass roundly beaten.

It was near time for me to go in any event. I finished my drink, slid my jacket on, hoisted bag on shoulder and wished her goodnight while the girlfriend stared off into space. Here, verbatim, is what my new admirer said:

“You are no sissy, no punk, no bitch. You are all woman.”

That, darlings, made me feel like a million dollars. 


Flash forward to this weekend, the other end of the years bookend. A little post-Christmas shopping snoop was called for Friday. I dressed, worked hard on the makeup, and felt very beautiful. I went to a very upmarket and busy mall. 

Nice girls in Nordstrom helped out, but I did not see anything pretty and perfect enough. Long walk to the Wolford boutique (Sale Time!!!) where the most gorgeous, petite woman and I chatted. I was tempted by a few of the tops and skirts, but I think having indulged in one Wolford dress this year (beautiful but honestly, too too pricey for the amount of wear I give them), and I ended up picking up a pair of the dot tights.

I walked back out into the mall, stepped on the up escalator before storming Barneys. I heard a voice.

                   “Miss …

It was a man’s voice behind me, and I did not connect it with me. I must have appeared aloof or rude for a moment.

                   "Miss, excuse me Miss..."

O, Miss… hallo, that would be me tonight. I have been Ma’am’d before, not Missed so that threw me off too. The voice was soft, a little high of register, long vowels, the International Gay Fashionista Retail Worker voice.

                   "Miss ... I just wanted to say that your look is just so perfect, sooooo put together."

The look was good. My latest fashion transfusion from Ann Taylor, the Zebra skirt suit is a real impact outfit, pictured at right later that evening, oddly enough in an Ann Taylor fitting room.

Getting a complement from a very stylish young (much younger) man is a great feeling. Getting a complement from a very stylish young Gay man is even bigger stuff. No ulterior motives and better developed aesthetic senses, right?

I was genuinely touched. I did look good, the outfit was super smart. I said thanks and told him that women always harbor a doubt, until some kind person helps pull us up just that little bit. It was a sweet moment. He helped my last little doubts about my suitability for the world vanish.

We chatted for a moment at the top of the escalator. He had figured out by now that this Miss was somewhat amiss. He couldn’t have, wouldn't have known before, seeing me mostly from behind, and a little in profile. He smiled, happy it seems to me to have been beguiled. We stood a moment longer, the straight man in a skirt, the gay man in flannel trousers, smiled and parted.

Again, I felt like a million dollars.


I hope the woman I met that same morning on the way to the office at Starbucks felt the same way. We approached the door at the same time, I held the door open, the usual gestures, the after you and etc. for the gorgeous tall woman. A complete stunner. 5’10 or 11” and 4 inches of heel. Perfectly sleek jeans, suede tasseled jacket, tight cornrows framing a regal face.

She said go ahead to me as she pondered her choices. I put my simple order in and the barista then asked her how she was today. She said she was good, and placed her order.

I had my coffee in hand by then, turned to her and said,

“You are better than good. You are great. You really look wonderful.”

She was a little off balance, and I was on my way to the door, about to vanish. I hope when she got her Frappuccino and her balance back, that she felt like a million dollars.

It is a good feeling. One I wish you an abundance of in the New Year.
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