When I moved to NYC sixteen years ago, I was finally able to express myself and start to live as the woman I really am. It's a journey that still has many miles to go, but I'm here to share my thoughts, hopes, dreams and confusion. Also you know, some cute pictures too.
Okay, I think regular readers of this blog are probably well aware of my thoughts on Garbage singer Shirley Manson. And my other thoughts on Shirley Manson. I'm a fan. But recently I came across this video and it turns out that Shirley is particularly fond of her transgender fans. So, as one of her biggest fans, and biggest transgender fans, I thought I'd share.
Thank you, Shirley! And I'm super excited for their new album. Pre-order today!
As I mentioned in my previous post Shopping Day, I recently picked up a lovely gray shift dress. As I write about this, please bear with me, as I may accidentally forget which way I spell grey. Sometimes it's grey and sometimes it's gray. I can never remember which I prefer. Do feel free to call me out on it if I spell it greye or grae though.
While I did go through my punk phase and my goth phase (they somewhat overlapped) and my regular girl phase, right now I seem to be collecting office wear. There's something I just love about office wear like shift dresses and pencil skirts. It's sexy but serious and not at all slutty. Maybe it's sexy because it represents competence and projects power. Either way I'm a happy girl.
The new dress I got is one that I've been searching for for a while now. I really wanted a gray shift with fine woven fabric, nice and form fitting and professional. Kind of like the one Kristen Wiig wore in that one scene in The Martian, you know that one where Donald Glover has to explain gravity assist to the head of NASA for some reason. Because the head of NASA has never heard of the particular maneuver that NASA uses for every single planetary probe they ever sent out. I guess I'll forgive them since for the movie they had to explain it to the audience. The book was better. Also Kristen Wiig is a national treasure. I love her.
Plus look at that dress!
The one I found was perfect and I think it fit me like a glove. It's actually a dark grey, but I photographed it in kind of low light with a flash so it just looks black. My dark forest green dress had the same issue. But, I assure you that this dress is grey, not black. The tag in it was from Bloomingdales and I don't know how much it cost originally, probably at least a couple hundred, but I paid $30 at a high end thrift shop. It's super well made, fully lined, and finely woven. I was so happy when I found it on the rack and even happier when I tried it on!
You'll have to let me know what you think!
Now, all I need to do is get my Finesteride to work on my hairline, grow my hair out, then come out at work and I can wear grey or black shifts every single day. I like this plan. It's a long term plan though and we'll see how it goes. But in the mean time, I'll just keep shopping and sharing my finds.
Ever heard of prom for grown ups? Yep, that's a thing. Because it's 2016 and I live in Brooklyn and despite my best efforts, my circle does overlap a little with the hipster circle in the Venn diagram. I mean, I have a record player and a bike and live in Brooklyn after all. Grown up prom is a thing we do in Brookyn. It's basically prom, except there are no chaperons and you don't actually have to sneak in alcohol. When I first read about grown up prom, I thought it sounded awesome and couldn't wait to go, but always seemed to find out about them after they had happened. Luckily, I have cool friends and one tipped me off to an upcoming prom.
Now, a little background. I was kind of a freak in high school; you know, one of the punk, goth, alternative kids. And I was definitely too cool for something as lame as prom. So in my junior year, I didn't bother to go. Why would I? Some lame school dance? Why would I do that when I could drive around aimlessly with my friends and then hang out in parking lots? Now that's living!
Actually, I did go to my senior prom. For about 15 minutes. Then I got kicked out. Mostly because it was because (as a young guy back then) I had worn shiny silver pants, a torn up black t-shirt, fishnets on my arms, black nail polish, black eyeliner and a fuzzy leopard print trench coat. Yeah, I was pretty cool. But, the principal felt I had violated some sort of unwritten dress code and kicked me out. Of course, I immediately snuck back in, then said "screw this" and left, this time of my own accord.
When my freshman year of college came around, a friend of mine, who was still a senior in high school, suggested that I come as a girl as her date. Now, this was something that really excited me. Imagine, getting to shop for a beautiful prom dress, having your hair and makeup done and getting to spend the whole night out at a dance as a princess! I'd be in heaven.
Unfortunately, at the time I was still terrified of being out, especially if it meant coming out at my former high school, in the Southern town where people knew my parents and family and at a time in our nation's history when gender-nonconformity was not quite as well received as it is today. So, despite my dreams of wearing a pretty dress and being a princess for a night, I ultimately decided to decline. Would that be my last chance to be a princess and go to prom? I thought so.
In the end, the hipsters would save the day. Hipsters are kind of like Aquaman in that regard. Always saving the day. This time, now, in 2016, I was going to actually get to go to prom! I could wear a dress and do my makeup and dance! I'd finally be a princess, out in public, out with friends and have a super fun, awesome night. There was just one problem. By the time I learned about it, prom was only a week away! I didn't have time to order a dress online and didn't quite have the funds to buy anything elaborate. Plus, my girlfriend, who would be my prom date, didn't have anything that would work. So, thrift shops it was!
We set out on a Saturday and plotted out a bunch of nicer thrift shops to visit. There were Housing Works stores on 10th, 17th and 23rd, Angel Street on 17th, and City Opera on 23rd. This would be a good day of thrifting and hopefully we could find some cool, cheap prom dresses for our big night out. First stop: Housing Works on 17th.
Thinking about picking up five or six or a dozen striped scarves.
Housing Works on 17th is one of my favorite thrift shops in the city. It might be my actual favorite, but their fitting rooms are terrible. First off, the fitting rooms are tiny, secondly there are no hooks or chairs to place any of your stuff. So you just have to pile your stuff on the floor as you try stuff on. But, luckily they do have some big mirrors right outside so you can get some good views of how you look. While we didn't find any good prom dresses, I did happen upon a super nice, rather expensive and seriously well made grey shift dress that fit me like a glove. It was probably about $250 new and I picked it up for $30. Not too shabby, right?
Me trying not to look shabby while standing next to some rather shabby lamps.
Our next stop was Angel Street, which does in fact have an amazing fitting room. It's huge, has triple angled mirrors, a chair and a full on hat rack/coat rack for all your stuff. Even better, Angel Street had an entire rack of prom dresses, maybe twenty five or thirty in all. We had hit the mother load! They had silver, green, red, white, purple, everything! Some of them slinky, some with big crinoline skirts, all with satin fabric and delicate little touches. It was perfect.
Immediately, I grabbed a few I wanted to try on, then my girlfriend took a look through the rack and selected about five or six for herself. The downside of these was that they were either floor models or custom fitted or something because they didn't have any sizing info on them at all. Rather frustrating for me as none of them fit me! Luckily though, my girlfriend found three for four that fit her perfectly and looked amazing. She settled on a slinky green dress that had an Empire waist and a classical feel. She looked fantastic! Plus she found a few nice Ralph Lauren dresses for work, so we were all set.
Our thrifting trip ended up being only two of the places we had planned, so we figured it was time for some drinks! We headed down to Fiddlesticks in the West Village. It's one of our favorite bars for a casual pint during the day, though it's also become our post-parade Halloween destination for food and drinks too. We also laughed our asses off when the bar was mentioned on this Inside Amy Schumer sketch:
Okay, I am totally the prettiest girl in Fiddlesticks! Though we didn't actually smoke at the bar, because we're not that kind of people. Also we don't smoke. And even if we did smoke, we'd go outside. Ever been in bar where people smoke? It makes my throat hurt. Luckily there was no smoke so we just enjoyed our pints.
The light from outside was perfect for selfies. I couldn't resist. Heck, I'm like a shark. I can smell good light from a mile way and when I find it, it's a selfie-frenzy.
Also, the lighting in the bathroom wasn't too bad and I looked plenty cute. Plus there was no one else in there so I thought I took the opportunity to snap a couple more so you guys could check out my whole outfit.
Oh no! No one tell North Carolina that I was in the women's restroom!
Two prettiest girls in Fiddlesticks.
By then we wanted food, so we decided to head to one of our other favorite places, Cowgirl, also in the West Village. It turns out though, that between Fiddlesticks and Cowgirl lie a few more thrift and vintage stores and we were powerless to resist going in. The first was ridiculously small and carried actual vintage clothes, so everything was tiny, with strange stiff fabrics and falling apart. We didn't stay long or try anything on.
The owner kept trying to sell me something called a mogwai.
Vintage Thrift West was our next stop. This shop was kind of small, but I did manage to find a beautiful, long, 100% silk dress in my size. Taking it into the fitting room and putting it on, I realized that it fit me perfectly. And the real silk was super luxurious. It felt so amazing against my skin. It was like being caressed by God, or possibly Poe Dameron.
Plus, the fitting room had the absolute perfect lighting. It was the best lighting I'd ever found in my life. Needless to say, I was one happy girl and spent way too much time in there just taking pictures. They came out so perfectly and I think may be the best photos of me ever taken.
Perfect lighting is the food that fuels beauty.
After a few hundred mirror shots, I decided not to get the dress. It was just too plain a design to wear for prom and it was too casual for work, too long and elegant for everyday wear. Plus it was around $50 and I didn't want to spend that on a dress that, while it felt nice and looked nice, probably would just hang in my closet and never get worn. Ah well. Life is about making difficult choices.
Like, should I get pulled pork or buffalo chicken? Fries or tater tots? Hefewizzen or IPA?
Okay, one more perfect light shot. Honestly, I will probably post more of them one of these days, you know, on a slow day when I've had few adventures to blog about. All in all, I had a great day out shopping, having drinks and getting good food in NYC. Life is good!
It was a couple years ago that I developed a rather dangerous habit, that I've luckily now gotten mostly under control. That dangerous habit was shopping. Oh my gosh, you're probably saying, how cliche is that? Women and shopping? Okay. It totally is and I totally enjoy it. And lots of guys enjoy sports and I don't hear anyone complaining about them. So I can like shopping.
For most of the time I've lived in NYC, I've been in Queens. And while there was a mall near enough to me (four or five subway stops to Roosevelt Ave.), I rarely went out there, except when I needed home goods from Target. Yes, I learned the hard way not to buy pots and pans at the dollar store.
It wasn't until I moved to Brooklyn that I first tried Macy's. It wasn't even the big Macy's on the 34th Street, just the littler Macy's in Brooklyn. I say little, but it's still like six stories and is larger than any of the anchor stores I remember back in my mall shopping suburban days.
The first time I went, I was going to be coming out to all my friends and wanted a really stunning dress. Macy's seemed like a good spot. When I showed up, I was amazed by the vast variety of beautiful dresses to wear. I could hardly believe it because they were all there for my trying on pleasure! I grabbed a few and headed into the changing room (thankfully having no issues with any employees about the female fitting rooms) and tried on a few things.
Eventually I settled on a black stretchy Calvin Klein that really worked for me. That trip was the dangerous one because two months later I returned to Macy's to enjoy the whole experience again. This time, I went and grabbed a bunch of different dresses; dashing red, sexy black, some lacy green and for some reason satin purple. While I've never been into purple, I thought, what the hell. Why not at least try on something crazy, something out of the ordinary for me. Purple is probably my least favorite color (although it competes with yellow in this regard).
I tried some things on, I took some photos and then finally was just left with the purple. Purple. The color of grape candy, my least favorite flavor of candy. Purple. That color that ruins perfectly good blue and red by squishing them together. Purple. Ugh.
Well, from the moment I put on the purple, satin Ralph Lauren dress, I was in love! Seriously, it fit me perfectly and it looked amazing. Even the color seemed to work with my hair color and skin tone. Just seeing myself in that dress made me super happy. It made me feel beautiful.
In fact, I felt so beautiful that I actually left the changing room in it and walked over to the larger mirrors outside the fitting room area. There were a couple of Macy's employees standing there, but they didn't seem to notice me as I admired myself in the mirrors. Oh my gosh, I didn't want to take this dress off! I wanted to wear it forever. It looked so beautiful and I felt so beautiful. All I wanted to do in life was wear this dress.
Sadly it was $168.00. Sadly for my bank account, I bought it. Now I know why they let you try on all the dresses. They know they'll get you when you find a perfectly fitting, beautiful dress. They got me. Macy's and Ralph Lauren got me.
Although it was in November, it was still a pretty nice day. It was one of those fall days where as long as you have sun and no wind it's still pretty nice out. As long as you can avoid clouds and breeze it's pleasant. This day was pleasant enough, although I didn't manage to entirely avoid the wind. In my neighborhood I can never avoid the wind.
While my neighborhood is certainly windy, it's also picturesque. It's incredibly picturesque and regular viewers of my photos, videos and blog will notice that I love to take photos on the Brooklyn Promenade. So, with my brand new purple dress, I decided to head to the Promenade to capture some photos.
Okay, Brooklyn Heights geography lesson. These photos are not from the Promenade, this is actually the Fruit Street Sitting Area. Okay, yes, I'm splitting hairs. Both are good spots for photos though, I must say.
Needless to say, I'm now sold on purple. And my love of fashion, shopping and trying on dresses continues unabated. Though, I've figured out some ways to not spend a ton of money. Firstly, you have to be patient and wait for things to go on sale. Secondly, you can sign up for stores' mailing lists and wait for them to send you a big coupon (if you're patient they'll throw you a 40% off coupon or a free $25 off your next purchase). You can also wait for clothes to go on eBay. Most nice dresses you see in stores will be on eBay for way cheaper in a few months. Lastly, I'm lucky that NYC has a lot of high end thrift stores where you can get a used $300 dress for $30. It takes some searching, but you can strike gold from time to time and find that perfect dress.
Once upon I attended my first black tie event and had an amazing time. I wore a full length slinky, sparking blue ball gown and think I looked pretty darn good. Unfortunately, I'm just not quite of the social caste for getting invited to too many black tie events. So when I saw that Brooklyn Bridge Park was having a cocktail fundraiser, I jumped on the chance to get tickets. It would be a good excuse to get dressed up and go out and the fundraiser was at a bar not too far from me. Plus I love Brooklyn Bridge Park. It's a beautiful spot with a lot of great free events and activities.
Plus I've taken so many photos there, I could practically put together an entire album of them. As a blonde, brunette and redhead.
The party was after work, so I rushed home to get ready, figuring that a cocktail party would be a perfect spot to wear my new favorite little black dress with my leopard print heels. And because it was still cold (stupid spring needs to get here already), I wore some tights as well, though I went for a little more transparent then I normally wear. Pantyhose just seem so 80s to me, so I when I wear tights I generally go for more opaque options. But, I figured why not try some transparent black. I think they looked pretty good.
Unfortunately, it was incredibly windy on my way to Superfine in DUMBO. Like seriously windy. Even more windy than normal and I live in a super windy area. Of course I didn't realize that the few blocks to the party would involve 40-50pmh winds so I hadn't bothered to wear a scarf or a hat. Stupid me! I had even thought about a hat briefly, but decided against it. So, I did my best to keep my hair blowing around, but it was still looking a little like a rat's next when I showed up at the party. Luckily, the person at the door sensed my hair panic and pointed me right to the ladies room. Take that, North Carolina and Mississippi.
They really should clean their mirrors though.
Okay, full disclosure now. I have actually volunteered at the park and had actually turned down a job at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Even though it was my dream workplace for years, I wasn't ready to switch jobs yet so ended up not taking their offer. But, I still know a few people who are associated with the park and who work there. They don't, however, know me as a girl, nor have they been updated about this whole transgender journey I've decided to take. And of course, there were people there that I knew.
That then brought up the whole question of whether I should go up to them and have a "surprise!" moment. In the end, I decided that since I didn't really know the couple of people that well, my outing myself would really only come across as attention getting behavior. So, I refrained. My girlfriend and I spent the evening hanging out mostly together, though we did do a little bit of socializing and the tiniest bit of networking (personally I hate networking - it seems so fake).
At least Superfine was a really good bar with some great beers on tap and a really great and friendly bar staff. Plus there's some interesting lighting. There were definitely plenty of opportunities for selfies and my girlfriend helped me get a few other shots.
Then on the way back we (rather drunkenly) stopped at the store and got a dozen pink roses, rather, I mean Poe Dameron stopped by in his X-Wing to bring me some roses. That's so nice of him. Poe really is the nicest pilot in the Resistance.
In the end, it was just an okay party, but a great excuse to get dressed up
and go out. Superfine will definitely be on my future list of places to go for
a cocktail or a pint when I go out in the neighborhood. And soon, soon, soon I
will have my own hair so wind doesn’t bother me so much. And soon, soon, soon I’ll
be out to everyone I know instead of just some people so I can be more free to
be who I want to be. And soon, soon, soon it’ll be warm enough to go out with
my girlfriends all the time. And soon, soon, soon there will be full rights
from transgender people everywhere. Soon, soon, soon…