Sunday, December 30, 2012

Life... and Death

A friend of mine died today.  His name was Geoff.  Geoff was in his forties, an age too young to leave.

Geoff was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year.  (I blogged about it then.)  Geoff's cancer went into remission after treatment and he thought he'd beaten it.  Then, a month or so ago, the cancer returned and had infiltrated his entire body.  Ten days ago they stopped treatment and sent him to hospice.  He couldn't speak but was alert and comfortable.  This afternoon, he passed away.

I met Geoff in 1998 through a motorcycle club we were active in.  I was President of the club and Geoff looked up to me as the leader of the group.  That respect transformed easily into a satisfying friendship which continued after we both left the club.

When Geoff went into hospice, I remembered a photo he'd submitted for the club's online Bike Of The Month feature over a decade ago.  It was Geoff reclining on his red motorcycle, parked on a beach.  I pulled the photo off the club's website, printed it, framed it and sent it to Geoff with a letter about the good times we had back then.  Our mutual friend Jason, who stayed with Geoff till the end, told me Geoff put the photo on his bedstand and looked at it all the time.  I had hoped the picture would remind him of a time in his life when he was happy.  Riding his motorcycle with friends certainly qualified for that.  (The photo is above.)

Geoff is survived by his wife, Fleur, and his mother.  His mother still lives on Long Island which was a catalyst for our visiting whenever he came to see her.

Geoff was a good guy.  I'm glad we were friends.  It's terribly sad he died so young. 

Geoff's passing is a harsh reminder that our lives are fragile and can disappear in an instant.  We should be conscious and grateful for the gift of life we are given every day.  I am.  And I will miss Geoff.

My New Year's Resolutions

Most New Year's resolutions fail because people don't really want to do them.  Losing weight, exercising more and similar goals are abandoned if you lack enthusiasm.  To achieve a goal, you need to want to reach for it.

With that in mind, I have three resolutions which I'm eager to accomplish.  Calling them resolutions helps me focus and make sure I pursue them with appropriate vigor.

First, I want to learn about vintage clothing and incorporate retro-styles into my wardrobe.  I've been browsing vintage blogs and am impressed by the knowledge and interesting content there.  Vintage clothes encompass social history, the changing circumstances of women and evolving fashion, all subjects that fascinate me.  Plus, I get to wear new styles that are artistically pleasing and creative.  This week, I took two baby steps in this direction which will be revealed soon and I look forward to traveling further into the vintage clothing world.

Second, I want to meet more of you in person.  Every blogger-meetup I've had was rewarding in its way.  We learn so much about each other when meeting in person that you simply can't get online.  Like how someone talks, how considerate they are, how they behave.  In addition, friendships get deeper when you share meals and serious discussion.  That's a great thing.

Finally, there's a third resolution which I'm unsure if and how I'll achieve.  It's of vital importance to me, however.  I want to find a way to socially be with people as myself: i.e., in authentic female mode.  I want to find a way to be able to attend social situations dressed in feminine clothes.  I was able to do this twice -- first, at a wonderful party thrown by my friends Nicole and Jamie and, second, at a Halloween party, also attended by those two and others.  I yearn, strongly, for more opportunities like those.

I learned from those experiences that presenting as female in social situations is very comfortable for me and deeply fulfilling.  My anticipation disappeared instantly when I realized I can just be myself.  I feel more relaxed doing that than standing in male clothes with masculine body-posture.

I've struggled with ideas on how to create social situations that would allow me to do this; so far, I haven't come up with any.  All I really need is a supportive friend who'd let me dress up for a private tea party, but that's not as easy to find as one might guess.

Anyway, those are my goals.  What are your goals for 2013?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Of The Year - Winner!

There were many excellent blogs nominated for the Bloggy Award.  Our team of judges reviewed each one carefully.  An effort to bribe us was briefly considered but ultimately rejected when we decided that wouldn't be fair.  And, besides, it wasn't enough candy.  :)

We decided to up our game and bought a real, bigass trophy to award to the winner.  We had the trophy engraved and everything.  Stuffed with a $100 bill, this beauty can be displayed with pride on any mantelpiece. 

While many of the blogs we considered were terrific, the one we chose is exceptional.  It possesses the magic and charm the Bloggy Award will become known for.  Years from now, when the media interview us on why we started the award, we'll point to this year's winner and say it was obvious: her blog is so good it required recognition.  This talented blogger is inaugurating the tradition by her shining light.

So, without further ado (what the hell is ado?), let's proceed.  Billy Crystal wants to tell a few jokes but we don't have time.  On with the show.

The winner of the 2012 Bloggy  Award for best Blog Of The Year, for outstanding achievement in the field of blogging while managing a busy worklife, caring for her family and bringing endless smiles to her friends with extraordinary kindness and personal style, is...
Lynne (Practical Paralegalism)

If you don't know Lynne's blog, head there right now!  Don't miss out on the fun.  Lynne posts regularly, displays attractive outfits, has a great sense of humor and is one of the nicest people on the planet.  She's a worthy recipient of the Bloggy Award, as demonstrated by the many nominations she received.  I confirmed Lynne is a real human being and not a computer program cranking out blog posts by meeting Lynne in person two months ago (here).

Lynne touches many lives and, for that, she is hereby recognized and applauded.  Yay, Lynne!

P.S., Megan, the bribe might have worked if it had been TWO boxes of Goo Goo Clusters.  Try again next year. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After

I hope you all had a nice holiday.  I did.  Visited two groups of close friends and shared good food and company.  What did you do? 

I just got some fun pieces of clothing and jewelry from Megan and Ashley which I can't resist wearing.  Normally, I plan an outfit in my head, but this time I reversed the process -- I added disparate items without any idea how they'd end up.  The process was fun and, in the end, the result is interesting.

The unusually-colored tights came from Ashley and the wildly contrasting socks came from Megan.  Putting them together is a choice few would make, but I'm out there on the creative vanguard exploring new frontiers.  :)  The polka-dot top came from Megan and I laid it on top of a plain black dress in the absence of a suitable skirt.  The cute earrings and glam wristlet were lovely gifts from Ashley and add fun accents.

What do you think?  What different choices would you have made with these pieces?





Sunday, December 23, 2012

New York Scene

I snapped this picture last night driving down Jamaica Avenue in Queens, New York.  I was attracted to the bright holiday lights, contrasting with the dark urban environment.  The scene is, I believe, visually arresting.  Do you like it?

I was returning home from an evening with friends at a historic bar, Neir's Tavern.  A small, overlooked establishment, Neir's Tavern is 180 years old.  Really.  It opened in 1829 and has been serving liquor ever since, even through Prohibition.

Mae West performed for the first time at Neir's.  W.C. Fields used to drink there.  The movie "Goodfellas" shot scenes there.

Historic places appeal to me, especially when you sense their age.  Touching the walls at Neir's gave me goosebumps.  It was like when I visited Sun Studio in Memphis and stood on the same worn floor-tiles that Elvis, Johnny Cash and other legends inhabited during their early recording days.

Have you ever been to a place that felt historic?

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I have wonderful friends.  And their holiday gifts have started arriving.  I don't know about you, but when a package comes in with my name on it, I can't wait until Christmas -- I rip it open right away.  Life is too short.  Seize the gift!

I've received lovely gifts from Megan, Gracey, Jen, FuzzyBella and Michi.  Thank you, guys!

I don't know if you've met Michi yet.  A fellow New Yorker, Michi is a talented artist who does the most amazing fashion illustrations.  I bought the one below from her Etsy site. 

For Christmas, Michi created and gave me the picture shown on the right.  A handmade, personalized gift!  Wow.  I'm cherishing it.  Michi is also a stylish dresser and I love seeing the chic outfits on her blog.

Do you wait until Christmas to open your gifts?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blog Of The Year - Story

Real life is stranger than fiction.  I'm constantly amazed by interactions I have.

There's a trophy store near me that's been around forever.  At least 30 years.  It's owned by a guy named Dick who's now in his sixties.

For my Bloggy Award which I'm giving next week, I want a bigass trophy.  A real trophy.  Metal, not plastic.  Something the recipient can proudly display on her mantel.

So I went in to Dick's store yesterday and asked for one.  He was more than happy to take my order.  He asked how I want it engraved and I said, "2012 Blog Of The Year."  Dick was puzzled and asked me, "What's a blog?"  Seriously.  In 2012, he'd never heard of a blog.

I start to explain, in generic terms, and he stops me.  "You mean, people write about their lives on the Internet?"  Yes, I say.  "Sounds awfully strange to me," Dick replies.

I hadn't even gotten to the part where the award is for a women's fashion blog and that I'm a women's fashion-blogger.  I was afraid that news would blow the toupee off his head.

On another front, my boss (me) told my employee (me) to go to work today.  "There's too much that needs to be done!"  My employee whined and said he doesn't want to: "It's a holiday...".  "No yet, you slacker, get in there."  I'm torn.  Who will win this debate? 

Are you working today?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Returning To The Blues

Back in March, I did a post on the Blues.  It was one of my best pieces; you can check it out here.

During a long ride yesterday, I had more thoughts on the matter.  Blues folk have a different vocabulary and life experience than rich people.  Here are some examples:

Rich People: "We will be dining al fresco this evening."
Blues Folk: "We gonna pitch a Wang Dang Doodle all night long."

Rich People: "I won the tennis championship at the club last week."
Blues Folk: "I did some time in Tennessee.  I shot a man in Memphis just to watch him die."

Rich People: "Excuse me, Ma'am.  Can you break a $100 bill?"
Blues Folk: "Gimme  more of that cold black coffee, hon.  Bitter."

Rich People: "After Exeter, I attended Yale undergrad and then, of course, got my law degree from Daddy's alma mater."
Blues Folk: "A gypsy woman told my mama before I was born, she said you gonna have a boy child comin’ and he gonna be a son of a gun. He gonna make pretty women jump and shout, then the world’s gonna know what this’s all about. You know I’m here, everybody knows I’m here; I’m your hootchie kootchie man."

(Photos are of the great Muddy Waters and Big Mama Thornton.  Big Mama did the definitive version of "Hound Dog" -- years before Elvis covered the song.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blog Of The Year

Bloggers work hard.  We put a lot of time and effort into our blogs.  We take pictures, we write stories, we research and report on interesting topics.  Bloggers offer free entertainment to the public.

I think we deserve recognition for that.  And applause.  *clap clap*

This time of year, there are numerous awards given for Best Regional Manager, Most Improved Third-Grader and Least Offensive Co-Worker.  To my knowledge, there is no award given for Blog Of The Year.  That's a shame.

When the world falls short, I step up.  I  hereby announce the start of my annual Bloggy Award, given to the best blog of the year.  The Bloggy Award will go to a blog with magic, a blog with charm.  It will honor the blog you enjoy visiting most.  The one which, when it pops up in your reader, you head straight there, knowing you'll have fun.

Please nominate your favorite blog in the comments section.  Yes, you may nominate your own.  No, you may not nominate mine.  (I'm disqualifying myself from competing.)  The Bloggy Award will not be decided by votes; instead, a dedicated team of skilled professionals will review the nominees and award the winner based on merit.

Nominations are open until Christmas.  The winner will be announced before New Year's. 

In addition to new readers and the adulation of our community, the lucky blogger of the year will also get this...

So nominate!  P.S., Don't look too closely at the reflections in the ornaments or you'll see me taking the picture in my underwear.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Challenge

I was pondering how to do a festive post for the holidays when I spotted a bowl of Christmas decorations.  They looked so shiny and colorful.  My creative mind spun around and I realized the decorations could be great props for a photoshoot.  Even better than props, they could be worn as jewelry!

In the pictures below, I use ornaments as earrings and garland as a necklace.

I propose you do your own holiday post with at least one holiday decoration incorporated into your outfit.  Are you up for the challenge?!


Saturday, December 15, 2012


You rarely see me in men's clothing.  There's no reason for that other than most menswear is boring.  There are, however, exceptions to this general observation.

Here is my favorite shirt of all time.  Made of soft, luxurious silk, this retro-style shirt was designed by Memphis tailor Bernard Lansky who famously was the clothes-designer for Elvis Presley and other rock legends.  Lansky opened a clothing shop in 1946 which still exists today (run by his son).  I bought this shirt while visiting Memphis a few years ago; I had just toured Sun Studio and was feeling nostalgic for the 1950's. 

Bernard Lansky is known in history as "Clothier To The King," obviously referring to Elvis.  Lansky met Elvis when the singer was only 17 years old; Elvis was ambitious but poor and unknown.  Lansky dressed him for free, an act of generosity which began a lifelong friendship.  Sadly, Bernard Lansky died last month at age 85; he warranted and received a big obituary in The New York Times.

This shirt is black and cream, with delicate stitched borders.  In person, it's unbelievably luscious.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Cheer

When I said I want to experiment with my red bra-thingie, I wasn't kidding.  I want to see how many different looks it can create.

My first use of it was conservative.  A peek of bright sequinny red from under a cardigan.  Today, I headed in the other direction -- bold, open display.  In contemplating this look, two things came to mind. 

First, sophisticated bloggers have taught me that when dressing boldly, you can show skin up top or down below but not in both places; doing that is too much and looks trashy.  So I decided to expose my arms and shoulders but conceal my legs behind opaque black tights.

Second, red reminds me of Christmas and, hey!, we're only two weeks away from that, so why not tailor this look to the holiday.  I added red booties to complete the outfit.

What do you think?  Do you ever dress to match the holidays?





Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Are Boys Not Allowed To Wear Pink?

A boy named Sam chose to wear pink shoes to pre-school.  He did it 'cause he liked the shoes.  It was an innocent act by a child and, naturally, it caused huge commotion among adults.

Sam's mother posted a picture on Facebook and family members immediately started condemning Sam for wearing the shoes and criticizing his mother for letting him.  Family members said it is "wrong" for a boy to wear pink shoes and that "things like this will affect him socially."  The mother's aunt chimed in with the canard, "that shit will turn him gay."

The story is here.

What's your view?

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I've collected quite a few fun things to wear at home.  I own five pretty nighties; they give me great pleasure while relaxing around the house. 

Yesterday, I snagged an adorable pink, polka-dot robe at Marshall's.  It's creamy soft and uber-feminine.  Pictures are below.

Do you have nice loungewear?  What do you wear when relaxing at home?



Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm A Grape!

Objects can mean different things to different people.  We project ourselves onto them and they reflect back who we are.

For most of you, female clothes are ordinary objects in your normal life.  They are items you've always worn.  You prefer some over others but, as a category, they probably have little meaning.

For me, it's different.  From my earliest memory, I craved female clothes; however, I was forbidden from wearing them.  I longed for female attire from afar.  In my mind, the objects acquired magical power.  They represented the life I wanted to lead -- but couldn't.  They symbolized the authentic life I ached for, but was barred from.

Please forgive this maudlin prelude but it's necessary to understand to grasp the significance of what I'm about to say.  One of my dearest friends, Ashley, just sent me some clothes.  Ashley lives in frigid Minnesota.  She was one of the first bloggers to befriend me.  She even posted a profile of me two years ago on her blog.

I received a package of clothes yesterday from Ashley.  Opening it, I came close to crying.  Her act touched me so deeply.  Not only are the clothes items I cherish but her gesture in offering them is a kindness I never expected to receive in life.  For longer than you guys have been alive, I wished for a girlfriend who'd accept me for who I am.  I never thought one would arrive.  I never expected to be seen, let alone understood.

So, you can look at the grape clothes below and see an outfit.  Or you can look at it and see a dream come true.

Thank you, Ashley.  And thank you, guys, for letting me share myself with you.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Goo Goo Cluster

Do you have a favorite candy bar?  What is it?

Mine is the Goo Goo Cluster.  If you've never heard of it, you're not alone.  Despite being historically important, Goo Goo's were unknown to me until recently.  My dear friend Megan, who lives in Tennessee, introduced me to this delicacy. 

Goo Goo's are made in Nashville and are popular in the South.  They were -- and I'm not exaggerating -- the very first candy bar made in America.  Goo Goo's began in 1912 and are celebrating their 100th Anniversary this year.

Besides being historical, they're delicious!  I'm fussy about sweet things and these bars are phenomenal.  A simple combination of classic ingredients but in such perfect balance that they play like a symphony.  Marshmallow, caramel and roasted peanuts, covered in chocolate.

To introduce you guys to them, I just ordered a box and will be mailing samples out to my friends.  If you find candy in your mailbox, it means I like you.  :)

Have you ever heard of these?  What's your favorite candy bar?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December Giveaway

When friends call, I answer. 

A few months ago, I discovered a blogger who lives near me.  Her name is Michele and her blog is Short Girl, Long Island.  Michele just turned 30 and is looking for a job as a teacher.  She started her blog earlier this year and is trying to make it grow.  I decided to pitch in.

To attract new readers, Michele is doing a bunch of giveaways this month.  I'm supplying a gift for one of them which starts today.  The gift is one of those amazing china mugs made by Henri Bendel.

Go enter!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ally & Gina

You knew this photo was coming.  Inevitable, actually.  As Popeye sang, "I yam what I yam."


She beckoned... as if pulchritude ever needs to.  Her shapely curves and exotic charm had already stolen my heart.  She beckoned again, with growing urgency...

"It's time, my dear...", she whispered.  I drew nearer.  With no further warning, she revealed herself to me.  My baby, my darling.  My beautiful new Abarth told me her name.

"Ginalollobrigida.  And you can call me Gina."

It was smart to heed the caution others had given me, not to unilaterally foist some appellation on her.  To wait, as excruciating as that was, until she was ready.  Until she wanted to tell me her name.

Ginalollobrigida.  I like it.  The name suits her.

There is, as always, a history behind this.

For those of you too young for Gina's name to ring a bell, there is a gong being struck.

Gina Lollobrigida, who is still alive at age 85, was the greatest beauty to emerge from Europe.  Born Luigina Lollobrigida in 1927, Gina grew up as a girl in the mountains of Italy before her natural assets attracted attention.  She modelled and then acted, first in European films and later in Hollywood movies.  Her first American film was with Humphrey Bogart ("Beat The Devil" [1953]).

Gina's acting range was impressive.  She appeared in both epics and comedies.  She made romantic comedies with Rock Hudson (then considered by many to be the most handsome man on the planet), one of which won her a Golden Globe award ("Come September" [1961]).

During the 1950's and 1960's, Gina was the sex symbol of the world.  Her beauty and charm captivated legions of fans.  Her life, as you'd expect, was outsized -- during the Sixties, she enjoyed a romance with heart-transplant pioneer, Christiaan Barnard.

Today, Gina lives in quiet seclusion at her mansion in the hills of Italy.  Her name is acquiring second life through my passion for the new Abarth.

Do you approve of the name?  Have you heard of Gina, the actress?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fashion Challenge

You guys gave me so many great ideas for my new red bra-thingie that I'm going to create several outfits with it.  I want to play around and see which work best.  I've never had so many cool ideas to start with -- thanks to you!

I'm beginning with a creation of my own, the neatest part of which is... I match my new car!  Yes, my black outfit with red accents is the perfect companion for my new Abarth.  Coincidence?  I think not. :-)

Speaking of which, the Abarth is molding around me and becoming part of me.  Its seat and cockpit fit me like a tony Italian glove.  The shape of the leather steering wheel sits in my hands like an extension of my body.  The car's responsiveness to shifting and acceleration feel as natural as any I've ever experienced.  What a wonderful choice!  I think you should get one.  Okay?