Saturday, January 31, 2015

Thoughts On Our Next Holiday

 
 
With today being the last day of January, around the corner is Valentine's Day.  Do you welcome it?  Dread it?  Celebrate it?
 
I like V-Day.  I use it as an excuse to send cute cards to my friends.  I never tire of that.
 
How 'bout you?  What do you do?  Do you remember when you were a child you'd run around the class handing out tiny "valentines"?

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)

--------------------------------------

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? 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Blogger Meetup (Suzanne)

One of my favorite bloggers is Suzanne from Canada. I assumed that because of the great distance between us, I'd never get to meet her in person. I was wrong!

Last week Suzanne said she was joining her husband on a brief visit to New York for business. She asked if, on short notice, I wanted to meet her. Leaping out of my seat, I shouted "Yes!"

Suzanne had some free time yesterday, so I took the day off and popped into Manhattan. (It's good to be your own boss.) We dined at the comfortable Sarabeth's and afterward walked in the rain through Central Park. We had a lovely time.

The meetup was an unexpected delight. Suzanne is as charming as she appears on her blog. We chatted effortlessly on multiple subjects. Her personal qualities are rare and admirable (e.g., compassion; wisdom). I cherish those traits when I encounter them. Plus, I love her hair!

One of the topics we discussed is how you get to know someone more deeply by meeting them in person than just communicating online. This truth is one of the reasons Suzanne is organizing a big blogger meetup this Summer. She and two others are planning an event that promises to be exciting. Information about it is here.

I feel like I made a new friend yesterday and felt a warm glow on the train-ride home. 

Do you know Suzanne? If not, go visit her blog. You'll enjoy it.












Monday, January 12, 2015

"After The Wedding" (2006)

I'm going to tell you some surprising truths.

Different art-media have different focuses.  Intellectual exploration works well in literature.  There's the time and space to do that there.  Films don't have that luxury and, instead, work best with emotions.  They have the capability to draw us in and make us empathize with characters.  Which is why, in my opinion, female filmmakers are the best artists in that medium.

My favorite American filmmaker is Nicole Holofcener.  Her films are sensitive examinations of human relationships.

One of the best international filmmakers is Susanne Bier.  Her films depict emotions with a degree of understanding and depth that surpasses most Hollywood movies. Despite working in Denmark, she has won an American Oscar and been nominated for a second.

I just saw one of Susanne's films ("After The Wedding") and was blown away.  At the beginning, you think the film will be about the poor, but it isn't.  Then you believe it's going to be about the extreme width of wealth in the world, but it isn't.  The film ends up being an intense family drama with great surprise and penetrating insight.  You can't predict what's going to happen one moment to the next and are completely engrossed in the plot and characters. I'll admit to crying at times and being utterly shocked during others.

I can't say any more about it without ruining the surprise, but trust me when I say this is one of the best films you'll ever see.  It was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 as Best Foreign Film of the Year.  (Five years later, Susanne won the Oscar in that category for "In A Better World.")

The movie stars internationally-recognized actor Mads Mikkelsen.  Despite his unattractive looks (Hollywood cast him as a villain in a James Bond movie), Mad has sizeable talent. I first saw him in Danish movies, then on American television where he currently stars as the lead character in "Hannibal."

Check out "After The Wedding."  You'll be deeply moved.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Scandalous

Being tall isn't easy for a woman. I'm 6'0" and nothing fits me. A conservative hem looks moderate on me and a normal-length hem is scandalous. There's nothing I can do about that.

I saw this cute prom-dress in a thrift-store for $9. Despite the scandal it will cause, I'm wearing it. Why? Because doing so makes me happy. Insanely happy. I don't care what scolds might say. Let them eat cake.

I'm fond of these strappy sandals. I've been looking for silver ones for a while and just stumbled across this pair in a thrift-store ($12). They fit wonderfully, which is rare since my feet are as big as my height.

The lovely necklace is a recent gift from my sweet friend Sara in Michigan.

How tall are you? Does your height limit your ability to find clothes?


 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Coney Island Mermaid Parade

My favorite event of the year is the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. It's a fabulous time celebrating life, art and beauty. The Parade is organized by a group of artists in New York. It is attended by joyful people basking in the sun near the beach.

I've been going to the Parade every year for the past four years. I attend with my friend Jamie who's a skilled photographer and we shoot hundreds of pictures. I post them on the blog.

After watching from the sidelines, I made a promise to myself last year to march in this year's Parade.  It is on the first Saturday in Summer (June 20th). Everyone makes their own costume, so I need to get started with that. I'm developing costume ideas.

There are three categories of costumes: mermaid, merman, and sea creature. I decided on sea creature since I'm not cute enough for mermaid. Any suggestions?!

BTW, did you know that the mermaid is the favorite icon of transgender girls? It appeals to us, early on, in a visceral way.


 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 

 
 

 
 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

"The Bess Mess"


I'm going to tell you the story of a woman who was blessed with fame during the first half of her life and cursed by shame during the last half. She died last month, after living in seclusion for the past three decades.

I followed this fascinating story as it unfolded. It contains my favorite quotation of all time.

Bess Myerson started her life in the spotlight. Born into a family of Russian Jews in The Bronx, Bess was an exceptionally beautiful girl. So beautiful that she won the Miss America competition in 1945. During the competition, the promoters tried to talk Bess into changing her last name to sound less Jewish. She refused. After she won the competition, most of the sponsors refused to support her. Not given the prizes previous winners received, Bess decided to cut short her tour as Miss America and, instead, made speeches against discrimination.

During one of those speeches, Bess caught the eye of an entertainment executive who gave her a chance to appear on television. This led to Bess becoming a famous television personality, spending the 1950s and 1960s as a regular on several shows.

These appearances made Bess known to many television viewers. Capitalizing on her fame, in 1969 Bess became the first head of the N.Y.C. Department of Consumer Affairs. She was lauded for introducing several new consumer protections.

Then, the story shifts...

While beautiful, Bess was also cagey. She was comfortable with deceit. This trait made her popular among politicians for whom lying is second-nature.

During the 1970s, Ed Koch wanted to become Mayor of New York -- only he had a problem. Koch was a "confirmed bachelor," which was then code for being gay. Koch denied being homosexual but the denial was not enough. He needed to prove to the world that he was straight. So Koch convinced Bess Myerson to pretend to be his girlfriend during his campaign for Mayor. His campaign-people publicly hinted that Koch and Bess were going to get married as soon as he got elected. Bess engaged in the charade despite having no personal affection for Koch.


Koch got elected and rewarded Bess with a prestigious government position. Of course their "romance" went nowhere because it wasn't real to begin with.

In the 1980s, the story gets seamy. Bess was then having an affair with a married man (sewer contractor Carl Capasso). When Capasso's wife found out and started divorce proceedings, Bess started socializing with the Judge in the divorce case (a female jurist memorably named Hortense Gabel). Bess used her friendship with Judge Gabel to convince her to reduce the child support payments Capasso (Bess's boyfriend) had to pay his wife. One way Bess convinced the Judge to do this was by hiring the Judge's half-wit daughter, Sukreet Gabel. Bess gave Sukreet a cushy government job she didn't deserve.

The situation was eventually revealed and termed "The Bess Mess." With huge publicity, Rudy Giuliani (then prosecutor and later Mayor) brought criminal charges against Bess, her boyfriend (Capasso) and Judge Gabel for bribery. The government's chief witness was Judge Gabel's daughter, Sukreet, who was forced to testify against her mother (Judge Gabel). The case was in the headlines of New York tabloids every day.

During the prosecution, Bess approached Sukreet and advised her to claim ignorance when testifying on the stand. Simple-minded Sukreet wondered how she could do that. Bess suggested the two of them take a walk around the block. During the walk, Bess explained to Sukreet how to act and bragged, "Honey, I've forgotten more than you'll ever know."  (I love that quote!)

After four months of trial, Bess and the others were acquitted; however, the experience crushed her. Bess never returned to public life. She went into seclusion and remained there, in shame, until her death last month. She was 90 years old. Even her death was kept a secret for a month. Nobody close to Bess wanted any media attention so they concealed her death until public records came out last week.

Have you heard of Bess Myerson? What do you think of her story?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Things I Saw Today

I was walking down the street in Riverhead and spotted this beautiful old building.  Isn't it grand?  Can you imagine living there with its resident ghosts?


 
 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Waiting For My Invitation

I want to attend a fancy ball.  In a beautiful gown.  That's been my dream for years.

I need two things.  First, a satin dress in a pretty shade of purple, pink or blue.  Strapless and elegant.  With a built-in petticoat.  Fortunately, I found one today.  At a thrift-store for $14.

Next, I need a party.  An occasion to twirl and pose, preen and primp.  A chance to display my feminine wiles.

Where, oh where is my invitation??   Have you seen it?


 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

Monday, January 5, 2015

My First Garden

I like to learn new things. Exploring is fun.

I've never gardened before.  I love to cook and love hot peppers so a thought popped into my head -- instead of buying peppers, I could make them! From scratch. It'll be an adventure.

I'm choosing to grow two types of hot peppers -- jalapenos and habaneros. Jalapenos have moderate heat and delicious flavor. Habaneros are extremely hot. I use both in my dishes and, last year, even made my own hot sauce which was delicious. I plan to do that again.

The first step is to get seeds. You take existing peppers, cut them open, scrape out some seeds and dry them for a few weeks on a paper plate. You can't use them before they dry out or they'll rot.

Once they're dry, you need to start them indoors. I'll plant them in small pots until they germinate. Once they're two inches tall, I'll transfer them out to my backyard. I've already picked out a space for them to grow. My first garden!

Well, that's the plan anyway. Lots can go wrong, but failure is the price of learning. Maybe I'll have peppers to eat this year or maybe I'll just get an education to use in 2016.

Have you ever grown food? Any advice or suggestions?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Passion

The temperature popped over 50-degrees yesterday which was enough excuse for me to go riding on my motorcycle. It was my first ride of 2015. Despite heavy fog and wet roads, the experience was glorious.

I'm fortunate to have stumbled onto an activity that offers thrills and endless joy. Riding is my passion. What's your passion?


Things I Saw Today

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 


Saturday, January 3, 2015

I'm In Love...

... with a skirt!

Over the holidays I was browsing in Target when I thought, while I'm here I should check out the sale-rack in the Women's Department.  Damage to our wallets always follows the thought, "while I'm here...".

My eye caught a faux-leather black skirt with cute diagonal zipper-pockets.  Yes, it's a Small which normally would be impossible for me to fit into but (1) it stretches and (2) I have boy-hips.  For the price ($12), I figured I'd take the chance.  I always wanted a pencil-skirt with a little sass.  This one has that.  If you want to tell me the skirt is too tight, I know that -- I'm just happy I can squeeze into it.

So here is my first outfit of the year.  I like it.  Elegant and mature, but sassy too.  Simple and graphic, but bold as well.  A combination of elements that meld into my personal style.

What do you think??