Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Mermaid Sister

I'll bet you think all mermaids are sweet and innocent. You're wrong!

Some mermaids -- like my sister-in-spirit Megan Mae -- are badasses.  Megan says, "I'm not some mermaid princess. I'm the badass sea-witch."

Megan Mae is the first of my friends to take me up on my offer of the mermaid tail. She looks FABULOUS. Her eye-makeup is extraordinary and her use of fishnetting as an accessory is inspired. Megan's attractive tattoos aren't fake decoration; they're real.

Go visit her blog and tell her what you think.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Gender Bending

As you know, I dress in male clothes when presenting as a man and female clothes when presenting as a woman. Occasionally, I see a woman's shirt that's so pretty I wonder if I can get away with wearing it as a man. Is that against the rules?

The only way you'd know it's a girl's shirt are the buttons and that takes a sharp eye. (Men's shirts button one way; women's shirts button the opposite way.)

Anne, a blogger and artist in LA, had a colorful shirt she didn't want. I raised my hand and offered to take it. Anne generously gifted it to me during our meeting in Vancouver. I adore this shirt and plan to wear it in normal life when otherwise looking like a guy. Do you think that's okay?

Have you ever worn men's clothing?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Here are some pics from my visit. I'm drawn to odd things, like buildings with trees growing on top of them. Photos of the meetup participants will come in a future post.





Monday, July 27, 2015

Blogger Meetup (Canada)

Our blogger-meetup this weekend was a rousing success. Everyone had fun. Despite my apprehension beforehand, I enjoyed myself immensely; my anxiety was unfounded.

There are three reasons it went so well. First, the selection of Vancouver was inspired. Vancouver is rightly considered one of the top five cities in the world for living-quality. The city is a thriving, vibrant place with lots to do. Shopping, dining and other entertainment are everywhere. The city is clean, attractive and pleasant. You get a good vibe when you're there.

The biggest surprise Vancouver had for me is its nature. Unlike most urban locations, Vancouver has wilderness. Stanley Park is bigger than New York's Central Park and in much more of a natural state. The park is surrounded by water and there's a fabulous walkway ringing its edge. Strolling that is a 2-3 hour walk and I did it today with a big smile on my face.

Vancouver also houses the second most popular attraction in Canada -- a shopping mecca named Granville Island. It's huge and has diverse food, clothes and craft offerings. We spent most of Saturday wandering it.

As they say in "Pulp Fiction," it's the little things that stand out. Canadian money is printed on plastic, not paper, which feels funny at first. You get used to it. Also, they don't have pennies -- they did away with them two years ago and it's nice to not have to carry them around. Prices are rounded up or down so the smallest change you'll get is a nickel. There are no dollar bills; instead, they use $1 and $2 coins. The smallest paper-money you'll see is a $5 bill.

The second reason for the meetup's success was the individuals who came. About 20 stylish women travelled from around the world to attend. There were gals from Finland and Florida, East Coast Canada and West Coast, The Netherlands and the U.S.

All the women who came were friendly and nice. We mingled easily and endlessly. By the end of the event, everyone knew everyone and there was lots of interaction.

The final reason it went so well was the thing I worried about ahead of time. The women accepted me. Before the event, I knew only one-third of the attendees, which meant two-thirds of them didn't know me. I worried that, without knowing I'm transgender, some might object to my presence. This is a group of women; I feared some might view me as unwelcome. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.

Every person treated me warmly. Everyone called me Ally and considered me one of the girls. I was deeply touched by that generous attitude.

The dynamic of the group was distinctly female. People were acknowledged and invited to participate in discussions, even shy folk like me. There was no vying for dominance which is what I see when men gather. Everyone cared that everyone else was happy and we reached out to draw everyone into the group. There was not a single person who felt left out.

Suzanne told us there'd be a clothing swap so we should bring an item to give away. At the swap (held in a hotel room), the clothes were dumped on a bed and people started trying them on with mounting loud excitement. I didn't expect that; I just assumed we'd pick an item. Some gals even removed their outer clothing to see if a dress fit and I was relieved at their comfort with my presence. I was viewed as a woman among women -- and that affected me emotionally. I've never been accepted that way in my life, despite craving it for half a century. Combined with the warm friendship in the room, I was deeply moved. This was a momentous experience I'll remember for the rest of my life.

The only downside to our group was the speed at which we moved. Trying to get twenty chatting women to move is like watching a glacier travel. From the time we agreed to go somewhere until the time when we actually left was at least an hour. It was an amusing phenomenon to observe.

I'm grateful to all the bloggers who attended and believe I forged new friendships.

We took gobs of photos which will follow in later posts. I don't want to overwhelm you now.



Friday, July 24, 2015


I'm in Canada!  I came North yesterday to attend a blogger convention hosted by my friend Suzanne. I met Suzanne in New York a few months ago; she has an exceptional blog and is a sweet person.

From what I've seen so far, Vancouver is a hip place with lots of fun boutiques and cool restaurants. The city is surrounded by water so everything feels like waterfront property. And there are mountains! You can see mountains from any spot in the city. Toto, we're not in New York any more.

I arrived a day early to spent solo-time with my friend Jodi. Jodi also has a blog and I've always wanted to meet her. Aren't there bloggers whom you wish you knew in real life? Jodi's one of those. She's a marathon athlete who competes in incredible events like running 50 miles, then swimming 100 miles, then bicycling 500 miles. She and her boyfriend are always training or competing and they look as fit as Olympians.

Jodi grew up in rural Canada with two brothers and she enjoys outdoor life. As a little girl, she split logs and hauled heavy loads. In fact, it's been only recently that Jodi started exploring her feminine side. That may be why we hit it off -- we connect with that experience. As strong and confident as Jodi was in normal life, she felt uneasy and insecure when first wearing feminine clothes. That's why she started her blog: to learn and improve. Her ability to dress well got better quickly and she now impresses you in either mode. There's certainly a parallel between Jodi's experience with femininity and mine -- we both explored it in adulthood.

Today, before the convention starts, Jodi promised to take me on a hike through the beautiful parts of Vancouver. I'm looking forward to it -- but apprehensive that a "hike" might mean something different to Jodi (a marathon athlete) than me (a aging New Yorker). At some point when my sneakers start to melt, my legs get wobbly and we pass Mile 42 of our journey, I might cry uncle. I'll try not to whine because I can be unexpectedly macho when it comes to stuff like this, but I'll surely collapse in a puddle before Jodi breaks a sweat. Oh, well... at least we'll have a good chat.  :-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Amy Winehouse

I didn't really grasp who Amy Winehouse was until last week when I saw a new documentary about her, called "Amy." The film describes her life from childhood until death four years ago at age 27.

Using actual footage, the movie reveals bad parenting, bad boyfriends and bad choices. Amy suffered from bulimia most of her life and it weakened her heart.

At the same time, she possessed exceptional musical talent. Her songwriting, coupled with jazz-based vocals, were top-notch artistry.

There is much about Amy I never knew, starting with the fact that she was Jewish. Before Amy adopted the Ronnie Spector style of hair and makeup, she looked like an ordinary chubby girl. Amy was unprepared for the assault that fame waged on her personal life and it pushed her over the cliff. She lacked support from family and friends; her professional entourage exploited her more than it helped.

If you want to learn more about her, see "Amy." It is both entertaining and heartbreaking.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blogger Meetup (Nora)

Last Fall, I visited Minnesota and met Nora and her sister Megan. They jointly create a fabulous fashion blog (Two Birds). As soon as I met them, I fell instantly in love with these two sweet women. They're so nice!

Nora recently moved to California and I doubted I'd get to hang out with her again. So when Nora mentioned she's coming to New York with her husband Jim to attend a friend's wedding and asked if I wanted to see them, I jumped at the chance. We had dinner tonight at a chic spot and walked for blocks and blocks afterward. The conversation was so entertaining I didn't want it to end.

Nora brought her hubby along and that was a treat. Jim's a smart guy with an interesting past. He had a "bad boy" period before figuring out what he wanted in life. Then he got it. Now he seems as happy as a man can be.

Nora and Jim have very different personalities. He's outgoing and she's shy. They mesh nicely and complement each other. You can see in their interaction a deep foundation of love. Nora and Jim are about to celebrate their tenth anniversary. They're a couple who click.

What a treat it was to hang out with them! Have you ever read her blog?

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sharing the Mermaid Tail

Do you remember the Pink Boxing Gloves project? That was fun. I got lots of pleasure sharing the whimsical gloves with others as they explored creative possibilities. The resulting pictures were diverse and delightful.

I'll bet there are girls out there who also want to be mermaids. Are you one? Would you swim at the chance to put on a mermaid tail? If so, I'm gonna make that dream come true!

Anyone interested in borrowing the mermaid tail I wore in my last post can get in line and we'll mail the tail around. You can play with it and take pictures if you wish. Be creative. Shock your hubby and friends!

The tail stretches and fits any normal- to large-sized gal. It even fit me and I'm 200+ lbs.

Remember, everyone looks good in a mermaid tail!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ally's Tale

A long, long time ago, there was a little girl named Ally.
Ally knew she was a mermaid. From the first time she had a thought,
Ally felt deep inside that she is a mermaid.
The other kids made fun of Ally.
"Don't be silly! You don't look like a mermaid."
Ally protested she is a mermaid despite her appearance
but, over time, she got tired of arguing. Ally let others
believe what they wanted. Ally knew someday her time would come.
She knew who she was and took solace in that knowledge.
Every morning, as Ally awoke, she lifted the sheet
and looked down at her feet.
Every morning, Ally saw legs and no mermaid tail.
One morning, years and years after Ally was born,
she woke up, lifted the sheet, and looked down.
She had a tail! A real mermaid tail!
Ally transformed into a mermaid by strange magic
beyond her comprehension. Ally's outside finally
matched her inside. Ally's belief in herself
finally came true.
This is Ally's tale.






(Thank you, Michi, for your artistic collaboration and photography)

Caitlyn Jenner (ESPY Award)

Caitlyn Jenner was given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at last night's ESPY ceremony. A video was shown during the award ceremony which was moving and surprisingly well-done -- it explained the core difficulty of being transgender. Jenner's experience is universal.

At times I felt the video was describing my life. Being told from birth that you are unacceptably different profoundly affects your development. You struggle to understand what people expect from you and then you labor to give them that. The unnaturalness of the charade is merely a price you pay to fit into society. Conformity, and the fear of social ostracism for non-conformity, rule your life until you courageously opt out and declare your selfhood.

Some, who don't understand the lives of transgender people, criticize giving Jenner an award for courage. Ironically, it is their ignorance and intolerance that made it courageous for Bruce to reveal herself as Caitlyn.

The video is narrated by Jon Hamm.  You can see it here.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why We Blog

We blog for different reasons.  Let me tell you about my reason.

I like to create and enjoy artistic experiences. Exercising creativity on subjects close to my heart nurtures my soul. I explore feminine activities I've been kept from most of my life and find deep personal meaning in them.

Having a blog enables me to do this. It also allows me to share the results of my effort with you. You give feedback on them and I benefit from your thoughts. It's a win-win.

My favorite blog-post of all time is when I sought to experience what a prom is like, wearing a fancy dress and posing elaborately. That "prom project" was great fun and had profound meaning for me.

Two weeks ago, another brilliant idea popped into my head for a whimsical photoshoot. The idea goes beyond my normal outfit-posts; it revives an ancient legend that resonates in me. I realized I can use this idea to generate joy for both of us. You will be entertained by the playfulness of the result; I will receive bliss from the process of creating it.

Implementing the idea has been hard work. For two weeks, I planned, schemed and devised ways to accomplish difficult tasks. Ironically, that work has been fun. Effort at our jobs is usually joyless; effort at our hobbies is immensely enjoyable. I'm not sure why that is but I experience it often. For example, while I bitterly resent getting up early in the morning for work, I will gleefully arise at dawn to go on a motorcycle trip.

I grasped that implementing my idea would be a two-woman job. By necessity. The idea requires performing multiple tasks and there is only one me. So I enlisted my friend Michi to help with an important task I can't perform (photography) while I struggle to do the one I can (modeling).

Yesterday, Michi and I spent the better part of the day devoted to these tasks. We collaborated and exchanged ideas while realizing my vision. Michi made innumerable good suggestions and she enhanced my thoughts. We worked for hours in her spacious Brooklyn photography-studio. The project was physically strenuous: I pulled a muscle in my shoulder when contorting my body into a twisty pose and today I'm still picking fake-eyelash glue off my lashes. Looking down at residue of nail-polish in my cuticles gives me satisfaction as a symbol of the extensive effort I put into this venture.

I have no notion of what we achieved since I haven't viewed the images captured by Michi. She assures me they are worthy and I'm eager to see them. Right now, I'm basking in the glow of the experience. I'm proud of conceiving a fun idea, performing 14 tasks to implement it, and devoting real effort to bring the idea to life.

Why do you blog?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner

I wrote twice about Ms. Jenner before her public transition from (male) Bruce to (female) Caitlyn. (Here and here.) I haven't discussed her publicly since then. I applaud her courage and wish her well. The widespread media-coverage of her story benefits the transgender community because it normalizes us to people who lack basic information about our lives.

Here are some pictures of outfits Caitlyn has been wearing in public lately. What's your impression of her fashion choices?

One thing that jumps out at me is how much younger she looks than her age (65).





Monday, July 6, 2015


I'm excited about the blogger convention in two weeks. I don't know if I'll get a chance to wear girl-clothes but I'm bringing some just in case. I don't normally wear female clothing in public but I jump at any chance to wear them in private, like a party or a friend's house.

Thinking about what to wear made me reflect on my style. Most of you probably recognize it. I bought a new dress that suits me and this occasion. Tell me what you think of it. Is it Ally-esque?




Sunday, July 5, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I realized today that I've never shown you where I live. Here is our humble castle on the Gold Coast of Long Island...

Just teasing! I rode my motorcycle today to the Sands Point Preserve in Port Washington.
The castle was built a century ago by a man for his wife. It was modeled after Kilhenny Castle in Ireland. Turned out the wife didn't like it so she made him build another, more modern residence elsewhere on the 200 acres they owned.
This was the actual site used by F. Scott Fitzgerald for "The Great Gatsby." Now, it's owned by Nassau County and operated as a park. It's a beautiful place to visit on a sunny Summer afternoon.




Friday, July 3, 2015

Blogging Bliss

I'm bubbling with excitement! I have two fantastic experiences planned for this month.

An idea for an odd photoshoot popped into my head. This week I've been laying its foundation. There are several moving parts which I've set in motion. I'm sure the results will impress you and be worth my effort. Expect to see the unexpected in about two weeks.

Second, I'm going to a big blogger meetup in Vancouver, Canada in three weeks. The event is organized by my friend Suzanne who's done a great job on it. There are almost two dozen bloggers going, some of whom I've followed for years. (I'm talking about you, Sheila and Jodi!) It will be fun to meet them in person.

Do you have any exciting plans for July?!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dangerous Activities

Do you do anything dangerous?

I'm a mature, sensible adult who was raised to be prudent. Most of my days are spent sitting at a desk, working as a lawyer. And yet...

I engage in two dangerous activities. Both have risks but those risks can be managed safely. When you pay attention to what you're doing, you minimize the risks of danger. In fact, one of the central appeals of these activities to me is how they force me to be present, compel me to pay attention, make me realize I'm alive. Too often we sleepwalk through life. Danger wakes us up.

My two activities are riding a fast motorcycle and wielding a sharp knife in the kitchen. Both are similar -- they can be safely handled with due care, but they can also kill you in an instant if you're not paying attention. I've learned this lesson. Last year, I had a minor accident on the bike when, during a routine emergency-braking situation, I failed to account for poor road condition. (It was February and the road was covered with slippery sand.) Last week, I learned the same lesson in the kitchen. While cooking, my attention lapsed and before I knew it, my $250 Japanese chef's knife had slipped into my finger, cutting deeper than you ever want to go. Oops...

Despite these bad experiences, I still engage in these activities. Danger is a wake-up call to pay attention. We need that in all of our activities.

Do you do anything dangerous?