I talk to you; you talk to me. We talk on my blog; we talk on your blog.
Sure, we show each other pictures, but they're mere fodder for more conversation. It's the interaction that matters. To me, at least.
I didn't realize this until I got deep into blogging. It explains why blogging makes me so happy. I was looking for friends like you with whom I could share myself. In ways I've never been able to do. You enable that. In fact, you volunteer for the task. Which is a big reason why I like you guys so much.
"The Artist" is a success on several levels. It works beautifully as a love story, as a drama and as a comedy. It is also a reverential homage to filmmaking. The movie employs a variety of cinematic techniques, some of which haven't been seen for decades.
"The Artist" is not merely the best movie of the year, it's the best movie of several years. And, interestingly, it was almost never made. The filmmaker went to numerous producers for financing and was quickly turned down by all of them. Nobody could envision a silent, black-and-white movie working in this day and age. Well, they were wrong -- the film works exceptionally well on all levels.
"The Artist" has been nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it win. In fact, I hope it does because that would result in a re-release of the movie with heightened promotion. More people would see it and more people would enjoy it. It truly is an extraordinary movie.
Plus, it has a dog in it!
Next year, for Halloween, I'm dressing up as Peppy Miller!
I had plans to do an outdoor photoshoot yesterday, in the forest, in the dark, lit only by the headlamp of my motorcycle. I thought it'd be creative and unusual. But it rained, so that couldn't happen. It will, however, occur in the near future. A good idea never dies.
Instead of that odd background, I'm going to show you, in ordinary setting, an amazing blouse I just found. Yesterday, I was walking from the Courthouse in Foley Square (NYC) to the train at Penn Station when I saw a window-display of pretty clothes. I entered, wearing my expensive wool business-suit and carrying a briefcase. I spent an hour scouring the racks of women's clothes. Nobody cared. This is New York.
In that serendipitous store, I found two cute dresses and the terrific blouse on the right. The blouse has an attractive yellow color and a delightfully feminine design with pleated puffy sleeves. It really appeals to me.
Truth the told, the word "blouse" itself appeals to me. I'm never sure of the difference between a "shirt" and a "blouse"; it seems you guys use the words interchangeably. Let me research the question. Be right back...
Okay, thanks for waiting!
According to Wikipedia, a blouse is "a loose-fitting upper garment that...is typically gathered at the waist (by a waistband or belt) so that it hangs loosely ("blouses") over the wearer's body. The word most commonly refers to a woman's shirt but can also refer to a man's shirt if it is a loose-fitting style (e.g. poet shirts and Cossack shirts). Traditionally, the term has been used to refer to a shirt which blouses out or has an unmistakably feminine appearance."
Do you agree with that? Can you add anything further to my understanding of this terminology?
Oh, and you're invited coo at the blouse, too. :-)
Are you the same on the outside that you are on the inside?
When people meet me, they always remark how calm I appear. They praise my tranquility and say that my peacefulness makes them relax. This is especially useful at work where I see people who are under great stress. I soothe their anxiety and, regardless of how troubled they were when they entered my office, they always leave with a smile and new confidence.
The reality is, however, that beneath my placid exterior is a boiling cauldron of extreme emotion. I have volcanic feelings that I can barely contain. The reason my exterior is so calm is because that's how I keep a lid on my inner psyche. Without that lid, my emotions might blow the roof off. Imagine the ferocity of a Janis Joplin song.
Okay, perhaps I'm exaggerating a little, but you get my point. My external appearance masks what's happening under the hood, which isn't a surprise given how I've had to suppress most of who I am most of my life.
How 'bout you? Are you the same on the outside that you are on the inside?
First, my friend Fuzzy (Rachael) announced today she is engaged to her beau, Kenny. You may remember me talking about Fuzzy a couple of times -- she has a terrific motorcycle blog and she dared me to ride my bike while wearing a dress. You all know how that turned out... Fuzzy is also a great photographer and she let me post an incredible sunset she captured two weeks ago. If you're inclined, you can congratulate her on her blog.
Second, I received a 2 oz. tin of caviar for Christmas and, tonight, I consumed it. It was delicious. I savored it with great concentration. When something costs $3,900/lb., you eat it attentively.
I've never had good quality caviar before, just cheap roe. The difference between the two is huge. Cheap roe is overly-salty and has an unpleasant tang. Good caviar is delicately flavored and, to my surprise, has a delightful buttery consistency. I paired the caviar with a nice goat cheese and the two complemented each other like Laurel and Hardy.
At the end of our lives, we don't want regrets. We don't want to look back and realize we could have been happier if only we'd made different choices.
It's valuable to see what people do regret when they're on death's doorstep so we can avoid making those mistakes ourselves. You and I still have time to enjoy life, so let's not squander opportunities in front of us.
I just read an instructive article written by a nurse who cared for many dying people. She reports that most regrets are very common -- and easily avoided. Learning not to make these wrong choices can help us have a full, rich life now.
You can read the full article here. A summary of the five most common regrets:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
Do these make sense to you? Are you living a life you will be content with when you're old?
Feminine posture and mannerisms are second-nature to most of you. The way you stand, the way you walk, the way you sit and move are all so ingrained they're beneath conscious thought. They are simply the way your body inhabits space.
I understand this concept. Riding a motorcycle is analogous. After years of riding, I don't consciously operate the controls, I just do it. The skill is hard-wired at this point and I needn't think about how to escape a dangerous situation or lean further into a curve; I just do it.
Neither I nor you were born with this knowledge. It was taught to us, first by our mothers and later by everyone else. The lessons start early, before memory begins, and are embedded in our psyche at a deep level. We don't decide how to pick up our purse and swing it over our shoulder: it's simply a motion we perform.
I envy the ease and grace most women have. The smooth movements of their bodies; the natural way their bodies slide into positions of feminine attractiveness. What is easy and natural for them, however, is hard and unnatural for me.
I was raised as a boy so, rather than be encouraged to act as you do, I was taught how to appear masculine. Walk with a swagger; sit with invulnerability; stand with authority. Where I put my arms is important; how I cross my legs telegraphs a message. Everything about masculinity is creating and conveying the sense of power. The image of dominance.
Behavior accepted for females is condemned as effeminacy in men. It is harshly rebuked. It is instantly and openly criticized by strangers. A man can't physically act like a woman without attracting negative attention.
So where does that leave me?
I am trying to learn a new language, one forbidden to me from birth. I am experimenting with poses and positions. I am striving for feminine poise and grace. That's what the pictures below illustrate.
I know my nascent efforts aren't successful. But moving forward is the only way we can reach our goals.
What do you think about this subject? Are you aware of how you stand, move and pose?
One of my blogger-friends, Kat, writes novels. She sent me one when I bought some clothes from her a few months ago. It was well-written.
Kat has a new novel for which she's designing a cover. She approached me and asked if I'd be willing to help her. Of course, I said, what can I do? Well... she told me the image she wants to use and asked if I'd create it, using my motorcycle, red stiletto heels and my left leg. I was flabbergasted! And flattered. Kat had seen the pictures of me riding my bike in a dress (here) and that made her think I could do this job.
Well! I love a challenge. First thing was finding the right shoes. After shopping for a week, I saw a sexy pair of red heels on Zappos. Made by Vigotti, they were more money than I've ever spent on shoes ($99) but I justified it by saying this is a special project.
Next, a location. I scouted out several possibilities and finally settled on a concrete porch in the backyard of my friend Jamie's house. (Jamie photographed The Prom Project which also took place in her backyard.)
Today, I did the photoshoot, all by myself. It was 26 degrees out. Brrr...!!!
Here are some of the pictures I took. I'll let you know when the book comes out.
Why do you dress the way you do? A simple, yet important question.
For many of you (as fashion-bloggers), I imagine your answer is to create beauty and exercise your creativity. I grasp that. Yesterday, however, I noticed that there are other people who dress for different reasons.
Many people (most men, a few women) dress simply to cover their bodies. They barely care what they put on; they're just fulfilling society's dictate to wear clothes. You can see this attitude in their carefree (and even careless) choices of what they wear.
Some people, who are unwilling to admit this if they're even conscious of it, dress to display their class-status. Most societies, including our own, have distinct class-structure and people announce their affiliation with (or aspiration for) a particular class by the clothes they choose. Brand-selection and price are important signifiers of this.
A small number of people dress to express their gender. There is a term used in the TG community called "presenting" -- it means the gender you are declaring to the world by your clothes and appearance. You can "present" as male or female, regardless of your body-parts. The term is gaining rapid traction because our society (or at least, the most enlightened parts of it) is recognizing that gender should be treated as a preference, not a biological fact. Thus, serious discussion of gender uses this concept.
Let me tell you something interesting. Psychologists who study young children have learned that kids think gender is something external -- that if you wear the clothes of one gender, the clothing makes you that gender. They don't associate gender with body-parts or internal psyche. It isn't until later in life when adults "teach" them otherwise that they view gender differently.
This explains why, when I was four and wrapped a bath-towel around my waist, I actually thought that made me a girl. My confusion was when adults didn't accept my pronouncement that I was a girl. They corrected and mocked me. Then they forbid me from expressing myself in feminine ways.
When I dress in women's clothes now, I often do it with childlike innocence. In my mind, the clothes allow me to believe I am female. My imagination opens and unfurls into infinite scenarios in which I am female. The clothes, mere scraps of cloth, are my ticket to ride.
Sometimes, ironically, activities that are physically taxing are psychologically relaxing. Like when exercising at the gym lifts your mood.
For me, putting on pretty clothes is like that. Certainly, it is a physical effort at the end of a long day to come home, change into lingerie, slip on tights, slide into clingy clothes, arrange everything properly, put on makeup, set up lighting and take pictures -- but it's worth it. The exercise relaxes me. It soothes my mind.
That's what I did tonight after arriving home, exhausted from a battle in court. Seeking succor, I went straight to Ally Crack -- the color pink. Soft hues of pink and white which make me feel happy and calm.
I've been spending nights deep in thought up in my laboratory...
Have you ever designed or made a dress? I'm giving it a try.
I love projects. Coming up with a cool idea, learning new skills as I try to make something, and relishing a final result is always fun. The process usually has unexpected twists and surprises that keep me jumping.
I have a beautiful long gown that I thrifted last year for a song. It fits me perfectly -- but how often do you have occasion to wear a formal gown? Almost never.
A light bulb went off in my brain. I could convert this gown into a shorter, sassier party-dress! That prospect fueled other ideas and, before good sense had time to visit me, I decided to create a Frankenstein dress. Why Frankenstein? Because I'm creating my monster out of pieces from three different dresses, along with some scraps found on my laboratory floor. (Its brain is from a bloke named "Abby Normal.")
The monster I hope to end up with will be a flirty 1950's housewife dress, shortened to just below the knee, flaring out with a petticoat sewn into the skirt, and embellished with a new fabric belt that ties in a big fluffy bow in back. I might add a flower button, too.
This project is obviously going to take some serious sewing. Rather than bemoan that prospect, I'm welcoming it. It will entice me to learn new sewing skills.
I've long admired bloggers who can make and re-fashion clothes. (I'm talking about you, Megan and poet!) Given my odd body-shape and frequent fit-issues, knowing how to alter clothes is a talent I need to acquire. This project is a catalyst for me to learn it.
Can you sew? Do you ever make your own clothes? Can you tailor any that need a little adjustment?
I have a good friend named Fuzzy. She has the best motorcycle blog in town. She is also an ace photographer.
Fuzzy took a picture recently that blew me away. It's so beautiful. It shows a sunset here in New York. The photo is un-re-touched and depicts exactly what the scene looked like. With her permission, here it is...
With the reach of the Internet, the world has become a much smaller place. And I like that.
For quite a while, I've been following the blog of a young woman named Lidia. She lives in Hungary. At first, I thought our cultural differences were too large to enable us to communicate, but her blog kept luring me back with its lush, extravagantly-photographed posts of chic, up-to-the-minute fashion. Lidia puts a great deal of effort into her blog and it shows. Her frequent outfit-posts are among the best I've seen on the 'net.
Language, too, turned out not to be a problem because Lidia writes in both English and Hungarian. (I can barely manage one language so people with this ability amaze me.)
I assumed that because Lidia's blog has a very large following, she wouldn't have the time or interest in reading my small personal blog, half a world away. But I was wrong. She does read it and occasionally comments. Which is nice. I'm very surprised and deeply touched by that.
We never know what ripples in the pond we're going to create when we toss in a stone, so I throw many pebbles into the water. During my brief time on Earth, I want to affect people and effect change. My blog is a big part of that. Consider it one big rock!
My brief recent post on blogging had that effect on Lidia. It reminded her of her own personal history, which is full of hardship, sadness, friendship and triumph. Her story isn't easy to read but it's real and it's personal. She just posted it on her blog (here). If you're curious, head on over.