Friday, August 18, 2017

Faith DaBrooke and the Blazer of Destiny

Who am I? What we wear is, in a way, how we tell people who we are. You could drop out and enjoy punk music without a Mohawk or safety pins through your ears. You could smoke pot and listen to jam bands without a long flowing skirt and dreads. You could like football without wearing the jersey of your favorite player. But, we all tend to use our clothing and style as a way to broadcast something about the world. It can say I'm serious, I'm fun, or leave me alone. It can be how we find our peers and our community. 

Before transition, my style tended to be all over the place. I'd find a random dress or skirt I liked and add it to my closet. Heck I even owned pink. Sure, I tended to veer into goth territory, but I also, like I said, owned pink too. Really, I was just grabbing anything I wanted to try because I was still trying out the role.

Even after transition, I still feel like I'm trying on roles. Maybe everyone feels like that all the time. When I first came out full time, my style was fairly preppy. It was my first time working in an office while presenting female so all I wanted was a style that was conservative, professional, and bland. Yes, I wanted a bland style because the last thing I wanted was to stand out or get attention.

But as I head toward my first year of full time, I'm been feeling the urge to express more of my own favorite style - goth. I can't help. I love wearing black clothes, black nail polish and bold makeup. But obviously I can't go too goth. Not at the office at least. 

I save that for chruch.

So I've set myself a style goal. All my new work clothes are going to help me achieve (and perfect) the look of Business Goth. Actually, my partner and I didn't even come up with that phrase. It's a thing! So, I created a new Pinterest board. Yes, I do have a Pinterest account that I barely use. You can follow me if you like.

Previously, I mentioned my love of Vivienne Westwood clothing, especially the blazers, but I can't remotely afford them. Call me crazy, but I don't quite want to have to pick between a blazer and rent. But, one nice thing about fashion is that it changes from season to season and the rich people will get rid of their old clothes. Then the fashion peasants like me can get their cast offs!

So my plan was to head up to the Upper East Side of Manhattan where there are a number of slightly fancier thrift shops where once can occasionally find some really great deals on super expensive designer clothes. To prep, I looked them all up online and compiled a list along with an optimal route. Then I could take the train to 96th St. and walk down to 62nd so I could get them all.

Three hours, two miles, eight stores, and probably a good gallon of sweat later I had found nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was so frustrating. Most of the stores didn't have any blazers at all. I guess maybe it wasn't the season for them? Do thrift shops have seasons? I don't think they do. Yet there I was. Defeated, with sore feet, smeary makeup, and a broken heart, I headed home. Perhaps my blazer, and the rest of my business goth style was going to have to wait until autumn or winter.

Well, needless to say I was super frustrated. I wanted my blazer dang it! Well, it wasn't Vivienne Westwood, but I ended up going to Ann Taylor later that day. I thought why the heck not try one more place? Believe it or not, I finally found an amazing blazer. It fit great and it was on sale! Then I did that trick where you got to the store's website on your phone while you're waiting in line. I gave them my email and got a 20% off coupon in my email. It was priced at $160.00 and I got it for $59.00. I was quite pleased.

The next day I wore it to work with one of my black shifts and my new fairly comfy sandal heels. Well, I felt awesome, pretty, bold, and professional. For once I didn't feel intimidated by all the rich, beautiful, stylish women who work in and around my building. Heck, I didn't even have to listen to Bikini Kill in my headphones and secretly think to myself "I'm not one you and I don't want to be."

Interestingly, the only comments I got from my coworkers were questions about why I was bothering to dress up in a suit for work. See my office is kind of weird. All the men wear suits and ties and the women dress a thousand times more casually. I've even seen women in T-shirts and leggings. It's weird. Well, I felt like a blazer so I rocked a blazer. 

When I came home from work, I asked my partner Kath to be my photographer. She was nice enough to capture a few pics for me. The only problem is that a black blazer on top of a black dress looks amazing in person, but it gets a little lost in photographs. Ah well. I still liked the look.

Right now I'm not planning on any major clothes purchases since I'm saving up for my upcoming trip to Germany (exciting!). But, I've already noticed my weight loss has gotten to the point where it's begun to affect how my clothing fits. Talk about a fun problem. So in the coming months (if I can keep the weight down), I'll need to get some new basics anyway. Having a style goal for my wardrobe will make that really fun. I can't wait till I have a unified style down.

Friday, August 11, 2017

My Literary Ambitions

Over the years, I've had many different answers to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" There was astronaut (I'm too tall, and also grossly unqualified), engineer (I had no idea what an engineer was), garbage man (mostly I just liked big trucks), lawyer (after winning state debate in 11th grade), movie director (after watching my first Quentin Tarantino movie), and comedian (which I gave up after bombing on stage a few times, not realizing that the professionals keep going after they bomb). But, one of the things that I've always wanted was to be a writer.

It was back in high school that I first started writing seriously. After reading about Beowulf and the Epic of Gilgamesh, I set out to write the longest epic poem in the English language. It was a quasi-historical fantasy tale based mostly on ancient myths. In high school I also wrote my first screenplay titled Orange Dignity. Mostly it was full of inside jokes my friends and I shared. In college, I wrote more screenplays, I think around ten or so. There was a sci-fi trilogy, a wacky comedy that I actually started filming, a couple horror movies and some Clerks-esque ones too. In senior year of college, I wrote my first novel. Actually I took on a ghostwriting job for a conspiracy guy who paid me $1200 to write his book Counting to Zero. Call it the very, very poor man's Tom Clancy.

After college I had a couple brushes with success (well, more like brushes with people who'd had brushes with success) and actually managed to get a couple of my screenplays read by some Hollywood producers. I had a few meetings that went well (though I only later learned that all Hollywood meetings seem to go well), and I had a script optioned for a thousand bucks. Nothing ever came of it though. I once knocked out a 120 page screenplay in one night after I threw out an idea in a meeting and had a producer say "I like that. I have a meeting on Friday, can you send me the completed script by then?"

I thought about moving to LA to start a serious screenwriting career, but firstly I had just moved to New York and didn't want to move again to a city where I knew zero people. Secondly, all the Hollywood movie people I'd met seemed non-genuine, shallow, and only interested in people as resources to be used. It wasn't my scene so I kept my crappy apartment in Queens and my job at the art supply store.

Well, over the years, I kept writing. There were a handful more screenplays just for fun, and finally, my first adult novel, The Homebody's Guide to Falling in Like. It's a funny, bitter sweet, introspective piece that's sort of an anti-love story in that tells the story of a relationship from its beginning to its end.

Available now on Amazon.
But, I've just finished a new book and it's a more personal one. American Transgirl is a novel that approaches the transgender subject with humor and with honesty. It is about life and the relationships we form with friends, partners, our homes, and our own ideas of who we are.

The protagonist Matt has spent his whole life wishing he could be a girl.  But he doesn’t know if transition is right for him. As a high school student in suburban Georgia during the Nineties, he is able to take his first steps toward transition. With his friend Michelle by his side, Matt begins exploring local gay bars and discovering more about his own transgender feelings. Life gets even more confusing when he moves to New York and falls for Erin, a struggling artist and lesbian. Matt must decide if an ordinary life as a normal guy could work, or if his whole life has been leading toward transition. 

I thought I'd share the first chapter with you as a preview of the full story. Click on the image below to read it:  

So, I'm working on trying to get both of these published. No success yet, but I'm keeping on trying. I've also been looking for magazines and websites to pitch some ideas to, which is something I've never done before. But, I want to get some credits under my belt. Writing is a tough career to break into, but the thing is, I'm going to be writing anyway. It's something I love doing. I'm already thirteen thousand words into my next book. Since I'm writing anyway, maybe I should try and get paid for it.

Wish me luck.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Business Goth

Recently, at my partner's insistence, I watched the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. When it came out, I had zero interest in seeing it because I felt I was, at the time, essentially living that movie. When it came out, I was working as the executive assistant to an insanely rich woman who shall remain nameless. This woman was easily worth a cool hundred million, had an insanely amazing Manhattan house (where I worked), and was one of the most awful and useless human beings I've ever encountered in my life. So when I saw the premise of The Devil Wears Prada, I didn't want to see it because I only want movies that offer an escape from my life, not a reminder of it. 

But, as I mentioned, my partner insisted, mostly because we were on an Emily Blunt movie kick and this movie was, to quote my partner "Emily Blunt's apotheosis." She was right. If you haven't seen it, go watch it. It's fun. Here's the trailer: 

Emily Blunt really is fantastic in the movie. She was the highlight. She's cute and British, hilariously super snarky, and amazingly stylish. Watching it, I was completely and utterly blown away by her fashion sense. 

I loved it. Her dyed red hair, makeup, nearly all black wardrobe, and big jewelry accents were absolutely incredible. We nicknamed it Business Goth. This, this is my style goal. Business Goth. This is how I want to dress. It's how I've always wanted to dress. It's what I was born to wear. In my heart and in my soul, I have always been Business Goth. 

So what, you may be asking, is Business Goth? Well, it's black, slim fitting business wear (skirts, pants, tops), with seriously bold makeup, and with some eye-catching interesting, and artistic accessories. And then maybe an strikingly cut black jacket to top it off. It's ultra-feminine but with some conservative elements, accented with the artistic and the bold.

Looking it up, I found out that for the movie, Emily wardrobe consisted of clothing by designer Vivienne Westwood. While some of Ms. Westwood's designs aren't for me, there are some others that I instantly fell in love with. Seriously look at these! The asymmetry, the angles, the shapes. Oh my god! 

Now if only I could afford them! Well, when I have a chance, I plan to hit up some of the fancier thrift shops here in NYC. There are a few where rich people donate designer clothes, and maybe I'll luck out. It feels so fantastic to have style goals to guide me. Black shifts have always been my thing, but now I want to add cool, weird, dangerous looking jackets, big, bold jewelry pieces, and maybe even a scarf or two if I get crazy. Knowing me, I can probably put together some really great looks on the cheap. 

Yes, I think The Devil Wears Prada movie might have been life-changing. You see, years ago, I dated a girl who was, in a word, a fashionista. Fashion was her hobby, and I don't mean clothes, I mean Fashion with a capital F. At the time I dismissed Fashion and its entire industry as frivolous and shallow.  And of course, in Devil Wears Prada, there's the stupid boyfriend who says the exact same things I did. I was wrong.There are a great number of things to love about Fashion. And I'm super excited to start learning a bit more.

Plus, the day after watching, I was inspired to try and pull off a more serious business look. It's not quite Business Goth, but I did manage some bold Urban Decay eye colors (which random women complimented me on), a slim Calvin Klein shift dress (used to be too small for me before I started focusing on weight loss), and my four inch Coach heels. I even commuted in my heels. It was my first time ever wearing them to work. I looked fantastic. And I felt fantastic.

Of course by noon I had changed into my flats. But it's a start and I'm excited to see how I can really make Business Goth happen.

Friday, July 28, 2017

My Soul Bounces Back

When you make a post called "Curb Stomped in My Soul," I think it's natural for people to assume I'm down. In a way I am a little down, but not horribly so. There's been a lot going on and I've let myself get overwhelmed by it. I did feel bad. I really did. Transition is stressful. Body issues are stressful. For me, being social is stressful. Even my creative work schedule can be stressful. I was so stressed out that I've managed to exhaust myself. But, things are getting better; they really are. 

After a week with a deteriorating wig, I finally got my new one in the mail yesterday. It's so insane how much better I feel with great looking hair. This morning I got ready (and probably went a little too severe on my makeup - ah well) and then put it on. It immediately makes me feel better. As soon as I get it straightened and and look in the mirror, I'm able to think to myself "you look great, you're gonna rock today!"

Heck, walking to the subway I even got hit on by two different construction workers! Now, I certainly don't condone street harassment, but when you've been feeling down, a little attention can feel good. Hey, at least someone thinks I'm a girl, and what's more, an attractive girl at that. So yeah, while I normally hate getting hit on, today it perked up my spirits a little bit. Also, how come only really gross, creepy guys hit on me? Seriously, how come Ewan McGregor never hits on me? Just creepy dudes? Ah well, c'est la vie.

After being objectified, I headed over to the subway. As I was walking, this great feeling of "this is who I'm supposed to be" came over me. I had my nice hair, my makeup, a comfy dress, and I was headed to work. This is who was supposed to be. This is who I am.

If I were honest with myself, I still feel very much like an impostor. I don't always feel like I'm really a woman. I feel like I'm faking it and that I'm lucky if other people buy into my fakery. But then, there are other moments when I look in the mirror and I can really see myself as a woman. As I head toward my second HRT anniversary, I've started to notice way, way more changes. They're not kidding when they say that HRT is slow.

I've started to see less of a guy in the mirror and more of a girl, even when I'm in lazy mode, even when I'm not wearing a fancy new wig, even when I'm not wearing makeup. Slowly, but surely it's happening. Transition is becoming less of a new stage in life, and more a normal part of my life. That makes me super happy.

Another thing that's making me happy is that I'm inching more towards my life goal. It's a new life goal, one I only realized was achievable a couple months ago. I was watching a Vlogbrothers video, one by John Green, and I realized what I wanted out of life. I want John Green's job. He's an author, and a YouTuber, and he's successfully turned that into a thriving business. Half my favorite YouTube channels are produced by him and his brother.

And one day, I was watching one of his videos and I thought "Hey, I do videos, and I blog, and I have a podcast and write books. I love nothing more than being creative. And lots of people seem to like what I make. maybe I can do this as a job one day!" So, I've been working on coming up with ways to do what I love as my job.

First off was the Gender Rebels Patreon page and that's been going really well (thank you so much to all our patrons!). And I'm seriously itching to launch back onto YouTube with the channel Gender Rebels TV, and my own channel Transjedi, where I'll discuss Star Wars from a transgender point of view. I want these videos to look decently professional, so there's a lot to be done before I can start filming in earnest.

There's lighting, which is crucial because my apartment does not have good light. Kath and I will have to figure out a good space too, since we don't want clutter in the background. On top of all that, I'd like to get some lens upgrades for my iPhone. Thankfully the patrons have basically made getting that stuff affordable. Then, I'll also need to learn Adobe Premier. But, I tend to learn by doing, so I'm excited about that. Now that I have a weekend with no plans coming up, I'm thinking that I might buy the Premier subscription and start tinkering.

On the second creative front, I've finally finished my new novel, American Transgirl. Here's the skinny:

Matt has spent his whole life wishing he could be a girl.  But he doesn’t know if transition is right for him. As a high school student in suburban Georgia during the Nineties, he is able to take his first steps toward transition. With his friend Michelle by his side, Matt begins exploring local gay bars and discovering more about his own transgender feelings. Life gets even more confusing when he moves to New York and falls for Erin, a struggling artist and lesbian. Matt must decide if an ordinary life as a normal guy could work, or if his whole life has been leading toward transition. 

American Transgirl is a funny, heartfelt contemporary novel. Its protagonist is a transgender woman who deals with hormones, a name change, coming out, and other aspects of gender transition. The story also explores universal subjects like the longing for fulfilment, love, relationships, and friendship. Transition is presented as only one part of a larger life. 

I've submitted my American Transgirl to five publishers thus far (fingers crossed). If you know a good publisher who's looking for LGBT content, please let me know!

Also, I'd like to go back through my writings to see if I have any good pieces that I could submit to websites and magazines. I think building up my writing credit portfolio will make getting a publisher easier.

Until I become a rich and successful writing, I still have my day job. It's been eight months since I came out, and I just had my performance review. It looks like a raise and promotion are in my near future timeline! That's gonna help me get my finances back where they should be. Not spending $300 or $400 a month of booze is also helping me with that.

And speaking of not drinking, I've lost 12lbs (5.44kg) or so since April. Control over my drinking, coupled with a regular workout schedule are doing wonders for me. Right now, I'm at the lowest weight I've been since I quit smoking seven years ago. Not only am I getting skinny, I'm actually going to have to start getting new clothes! Yay, shopping! And I can actually justify buying dresses now - they're for work!

Another good thing happened on Wednesday night. After I'd worked out at the gym, Kath and I decided to go out to dinner to celebrate my performance review. As I had just finished up at the gym, all I did was switch out my workout pants for a skirt, and my sneakers for sandals. I went to the restaurant in my own natural hair, in super casual mode. And despite that, I got gendered correctly multiple times at the restaurant! I really should go back there.

Another plus, which isn't a great one, but it still counts, is that everyone cares about transgender rights all the sudden. The other day, our insanely unqualified President decided to randomly tweet some anti-transgender bullshit. Which is bullshit. But, what else can you expect from a completely useless moron like our dear leader?

But, as soon as he did that, the floodgates opened and social media, traditional media, and everyone else was full of pro-transgender statements, memes, videos, everything. It was, I admit, kind of nice to read Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, and others on a day when it seemed like every other item was a pro-transgender meme or graphic. It was nice. It's nice to know that Republican bigots are going to accomplish only thing here; making ordinary people from across the political spectrum, stand up for transgender rights.

And all it took was a horrible bigot attacking us. Yay?

Well, it seems like there's been a lot of good stuff going on in my life right now. And, most importantly, I have the rest of the summer with no social plans. I'm sure I'll throw some in there, 'cause I love all of my friends, but I need time to relax right now and get myself re-combobulated. Plus there's a lot of creative stuff that I'd love to really jump into; new bonuses for patrons, new podcast episodes, new videos. Heck, I'm even 13,000 words into my next novel.

Bring on the weekend!