Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow & Red Toes

New York hasn't had any snow this Winter, so tomorrow Mother Nature is dumping a ton on us. Several feet of snow. It'll be like living in Minnesota.

Snow is pretty and I have no problem with it... but... our power-lines are on utility poles. And the poles are under trees. The greater risk from snow is losing electricity for days. When Hurricane Sandy hit two years ago, I was without electricity for ten days. That means no heat, hot water or normal comforts.

This prospect reminds me of a funny story that happened to me during the time after Sandy. I blogged about it then, so I'll repeat it now. I guarantee you'll laugh or at least smile.

 
*    *    *

Like most Long Islanders, I don't have electricity.  Which means no heat and no hot water.  It was fun and novel for 2-3 days, then the thrill wore off and life got hard.  The temperature in my house is slowly descending; it's now in the mid-50's.  Of course the refrigerator stopped working and everything in it is spoiled.

The worst thing, I find, is not having hot water.  Not having a shower for a week means you wake up feeling grungy and there's no way to improve that.  Your hair sticks out sideways; your skin feels icky; and there's not enough cologne or perfume to mask your natural scent.

I'm used to a routine of taking a hot shower every morning.  Not being able to do that started to affect me emotionally.  I was depressed at sliding out of a cold bed, into cold air, for an inadequate sponge-bath with cold water. 

Fortunately, with the help of a fuzzy friend, that changed an hour ago.  Alerted by my good pal, I learned the local YMCA just opened up and is offering free hot showers to anyone in the community.  I rushed over and... OH MY GOD!!

Seriously, oh my God!  I'm human again!  I took a shower three times the length of normal, with blistering hot water.  I scrubbed half of my skin off and now I'm lobster-red.  My skin is terribly painful from the scrubbing but, damn it, I wasn't going to stop washing.  Luckily, I was girly enough to bring lotion to soothe my burning skin after the shower.

Here's the funny part.  In the midst of my personal little tragedy, there is some comedy.

I was poised to take my long-desired shower, in a communal shower-room surrounded by nine other naked men in very close proximity.  I pulled off my pants and realized I was wearing pink panties.  Okay, I could slide them off with my pants and no one was the wiser.  Then I pulled off my socks and realized, oops!, I have ten toes with bright red nail-polish on them.  No way to conceal those in the shower.  Now, you know -- there was never any doubt about my going into the shower; the only issue was how nine male strangers would react to the sight.  I steeled myself emotionally and decided to endure any abuse.

Happily, nobody said anything.  I'm sure several saw the sparkling toesies but were too flummoxed to vocalize their thoughts.  Just as well, because I wasn't going to accept any crap in my pursuit of the Holy Grail of hot water.

Have you ever walked into a room of strangers knowing all eyes are on you?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Year Of Pink Boxing Gloves

Whew!  2014 was a big year for the magical pink boxing gloves. As they reach their first anniversary of life on the road, they want to look back at their travels.

The gloves began their journey when a bright idea popped into my head after I wore the gloves as whimsical props for an outfit. I thought, why limit their use to me and one time? Why not share the fun with others? As soon as I proposed the idea to you, a bevy of bloggers raised their hands and volunteered to participate.

The idea of the gloves is to celebrate female strength, in a humorous way. At the same time, everyone was invited to do their own individual take on wearing the gloves, which stimulated lots of creativity. I could not have imagined the many uses to which the gloves were put. That's a sign of a good project.

So far, the gloves have travelled around the United States, to Canada, to Europe and even to Australia. The journey isn't over; I just got asked to send them back to Germany.

If you want to play with the gloves, there's still time! This project is open-ended and will continue as long as people have a sense of humor. Just leave a comment or e-mail me (fhu@pipeline.com).

During the past year, the gloves have been worn by these courageous, funny women:

 
 
 
 
 


Have you enjoyed this project as much as I have?


Monday, January 19, 2015

The Story Of My Life (So Far)

I was born dead,
and yet here I breathe...

(James Brown, entertainer)

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In my earliest memory, I am three years old. Told by everyone that I am a boy, I say no. I ask people to see me as a girl. I'm instructed that's wrong. I plead repeatedly to be viewed as female and nobody accepts that. Those experiences are repeated for the next ten years. Eventually I realize I'm condemned to a life sentence of life as a man. With no hope of parole.

Creating a male identity wasn't natural for me; it conflicted with my basic instincts.  I'm gentle, sensitive, empathetic and nurturing. Teachers reported to my parents that I don't act like a boy. My parents disciplined me, repeatedly, with escalating punishments for inappropriate gender-behavior.

Taught I had no choice, I did what I had to do. Through conscious study, I learned how to walk, talk and act like a boy. I consciously suppressed my instincts toward femininity. Pushed into sports by my parents, I learned how to be strong, how to be aggressive and how to win battles over other boys.

Those of us who want to survive do what we must. Society never allowed me to be my true self. From earliest childhood, my parents closely monitored and strictly enforced cultural rules on gender.


For the next fifty years, I lived my life. As a man. In the company of men. Engaging in sports, professional work and other masculine activities. I found that life unfulfilling; it does not feed my natural desires for emotional connection and creative expression. Nor is it authentic -- my masculine identity is a Potemkin village.

Recently, I've started exploring femininity. Using this blog as my forum, I display experiments with female clothing and presentation. The effort has been transformative, rewarding and fun.

Historically, I always engaged in private dress-up. When I was five years old, locked alone in a bathroom, I turned a bath towel into an imaginary skirt. When I was ten, I kept a secret pair of pantyhose hidden in an empty coffee can buried in our backyard. During my adulthood, I always kept a stash of raggy female clothes to touch and fuel my imagination.

Today, things have changed to a degree I never imagined possible. As wonderful as the opportunity to wear pretty clothes is, even better is receiving feedback on my efforts. Your kind, compassionate comments encourage me, teach me and offer me hope. For the first time, I feel a soupcon of respect for a female identity. When you refer to me by a female name and with female pronouns (e.g., she; her), the sight of those words pounds my heart with profound power. It incites a belief that the impossible may, to some extent, become possible. After a half-century of despair and loneliness, I can't adequately describe the potency of that.

I tell you this story to convey some wisdom I've acquired. Distilled to its essence, the wisdom is this: (1) Be true to yourself; and (2) Never give up hope. If you live long enough, you may achieve your dreams. Or at least get close enough to smell their sweet aroma. Time vanquishes most enemies.

I was born dead, and yet here I breathe...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Continuing Their Journey

The magical pink boxing gloves are continuing their journey around the world. Today, they are in Australia!

Brenda, a motorcycle-rider and blogger whom I've known for years, decided to take a crack at them. It turns out that their arrival coincides with a pivotal moment in Brenda's life. She recently suffered a horrible personal tragedy and was on a break from both blogging and motorcycling. The prospect of doing something fun appealed to her. Brenda needed an infusion of joy in her life and silly pink boxing gloves were a suitable injection.

So here is her creation. Please go visit her blog.


I wasn't sure when I conceived this project a year ago what it would do or become. I wanted to take a noble stab for joyful whimsy in a world often short on fun. The gloves have achieved that goal. Many diverse bloggers around the world have played with the gloves and each gave them a personal touch, both stylistically and literally. I'm proud of this project.

We should do whatever we can to make the world a better place. Even in small ways, even with humorous whimsy. Don't you agree?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Attending The Ball

Megan recently asked what section of thrift-stores you enjoy shopping in the most. It's a good question because your answer reveals the clothes you like which further reveals your shopping aspirations.

My answer is the rack of prom dresses and formal gowns. The reason is my strong attraction to the heightened femininity expressed by such clothes. Designed for special occasions, they crank up the muliebrity dial.

I discovered this store-area is ignored because adult women don't look for prom dresses and, if they're going to wear a fancy ball gown, they buy new; they don't want a used one. With few shopping-competitors, I'm able to find terrific dresses at steeply discounted prices. Whatever premium is charged for these fancy clothes, thrift-stores have trouble selling them for more than $10 which is what I usually steal them for. The garments probably cost hundreds of dollars new.

Pictured below is a recent find ($9).  I love its off-the-shoulder sleeves, elegant shape and glittery edging. I strove to accessorize it right and spent a very long time on makeup.  (Today is a relaxed Saturday which I'm devoting to girly pleasures.)

What section of thrift-stores do you enjoy the most?


 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

View From The Other Side

OMG!  OMG!  OMG!

Go over to Suzanne's blog and see what she wrote about our meetup this week.  Click here.

Hurry!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Dark Side Of Blogging

Is there one?

My experience of blogging has been kittens and sunshine.  Friendly support from strangers, nice gestures from friends, and wonderful freedom to express my individuality.  Yes, I've received 2-3 snarky remarks trying to ridicule me but, in the context of hundreds of positive comments, those pathetic attempts were isolated and insignificant.

The question of whether there's anything negative about fashion-blogging popped up this week in two ways.  First, one of my commenters mistyped "blogger friends" as "blogger fiends" which made me laugh.  Second and more serious, Suzanne told me Monday about a post she was going to put up the next day, the subject of which was mistakes/rudeness some bloggers commit which turn off readers.  Most of us would agree with her points (found here).

Has anything bad happened to you from blogging?  Nasty comments?  Unfriendly interaction?

Some people have told me that many women are judgmental, and even critical, about what other women wear.  I don't see that in blogs.  If it exists, those people must not be revealing their thoughts.  The comments I see online are supportive and constructive.  Why would anyone go to the trouble of saying something nasty?

What's been your experience with other women?  Are they supportive or destructive?