Saturday, March 30, 2019

Our Childhood Homes

I'm sentimental, always have been. Last night I dreamed about the house I grew up in. My mind was flooded with memories and warm feelings. l lived in that house with my parents and brother during the most important years of my life. I recall every detail of the building and our experiences there.

Do you remember your childhood home? What was it like? Big or small? Fancy or plain? What are your feelings about the place? Have you ever returned to it since you left?

My home is in the same town where I live so I can pass by it if I feel nostalgic. As a child, I thought the house was large and majestic but when I returned after college, it looked like a dump. A small building in a crappy neighborhood. Our perspective changes as we grow up.

I lived there with my parents and younger brother Richard. While the house is still there, half of my family is now gone and I'll soon be the sole survivor of the four of us. I find that difficult to believe which is probably why I'm dreaming of earlier days. It's the only way I can see my mother and brother again.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Athletic Wear

I just had a brilliant idea. They don't come often so I'm grateful. As with most bright ideas, this one popped into my head without warning.

Like everyone else, I know I should exercise but I don't as often as I should. It's hard to muster enthusiasm when you're tired or blue. My bright idea is a way to spark that enthusiasm and be physically active more often.

The idea is to pair exercising with my favorite, most intensely-felt desire: to wear women's clothing. If I had and could wear cute exercise-clothes, I'd work out in a flash!

This notion came to me today watching a local news segment on a local gym where the owner (my age) wore pretty active-wear. Seeing her move around in it lit kindling in my brain: why can't I do that? Putting on adorable pieces would, itself, make me want to move and move and move.

So... here's the second-brightest idea I had today -- to ask you for suggestions. What active-wear/athleisure/exercise-clothes do you recommend? What do you wear? Which are good brands? Do thrift-shops carry these?

Please toss in your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019

"The Original Soundtrack" by 10cc

Do you like the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen? Well, I have a treat for you.

That song was inspired by an earlier tune by 10cc, a British band. In the Seventies, 10cc was the most inventive group of musicians working. Talented at writing and playing multiple instruments, they created amazing songs bordering on bizarre.

Their best album, "The Original Soundtrack," brought them critical and commercial success -- including a song that was hugely popular in the U.S. and is still played today -- "I'm Not In Love." Even if you don't recognize the title, you've probably heard the song on the radio. (Okay, maybe on your phone or computer, you streaming youngsters.)

The album opens with a three-part mini-operatic song called "One Night in Paris." As engaging as it is weird.

My favorite song is "Life Is A Minestrone," a truly weird tune. Infectious and weird. You have to hear it to grasp what I'm saying. Surprisingly, despite its oddity, the song was a hit in both England and the U.S.

Have you heard of this group?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

My First Novel

Inspired by my new vintage typewriter, I've started writing a novel.

Here's what I have so far. (There's a close-up in the second picture.)

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Mother's Love

I can't think about my mom without laughing and then crying.

She came to mind today when I realized I don't have underwear. My clothes-drawer is almost empty and what remains is falling apart, having been purchased when Reagan was President.

Before my mother's premature death in 1990 from breast-cancer (she was only 54), I was never short on underwear. It would just "appear" in my drawer like magic. Three decades later and I'm still waiting for that trick to meet my needs. Sadly, it isn't happening. Time for me to grow up.

My mom monitored me more closely than the Stasi in East Germany. As a teenager, I resented her constant surveillance -- but I knew it was motivated by love. She just wanted to make sure I was okay. This is when I start crying...

How closely did your mom pay attention to you?

Thursday, March 14, 2019

My First!

I bought my first vintage typewriter today!

This 80-year old Royal was built in 1939, just as World War II was starting. I found it at Gramercy Typewriter Company, the last-surviving typewriter store in New York. Their staff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable which was helpful 'cause I'd forgotten some of the quirks of these machines, like how to load ribbon.

The typewriter is in impeccable condition despite its age. It works beautifully and has a ribbon with both black and red ink. (I wanted that.)

These mechanical devices are sturdy and made from heavy metal. Fortunately it came with an original carrying case so lugging it home on the train wasn't as bad as I expected. Still it weighs about 35 lbs. so I got my exercise for the day.

Look out for letters from me!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Back To Normal

After writing the title to this post, I chuckled. "Normal" -- few people would describe me as that. What 60-year old man wears makeup, women's clothing and has a fashion-blog? Well... me. And the fact that you accept me is all that matters.

Anyway, the notion of returning to normalcy is a subject I haven't mentioned on social media because it concerns a private matter. But it's just you and me here, right?

Three weeks ago I had serious surgery. In a hospital with general anesthesia. I won't go into details but, as Hedwig sings, to walk away I had to leave a part of myself behind.

Recovery from the surgery was painful and hard. I had to summon up all the sisu I possess and the experience altered my perception. Now, more than ever, I cherish what I have. The precious gift of life will end all too soon, as I realized with sage clarity when facing mortality.

During this period I vowed that when I recovered, I would savor two of my greatest joys -- riding my motorcycle and wearing a pretty dress. Being able to do those things signals a return to normal life for me. During recovery, those joys seemed beyond my reach and I wasn't sure I'd get them back. But I have.

Yesterday, I unveiled my sport-bike from the Batcave and took her out. I'd forgotten how viscerally exciting riding is when you have a powerful machine and honed skills. I twisted the throttle hard, smiled when the engine roared and blasted off on my rocket-ship. The bike carved curves like a sharp knife moving through butter. My entire body vibrated with vivacity.

Today, I'm returning to my second joy. I found this fancy dress in a thrift-store for $3. Three dollars! How could I not buy it? It reminds me of the Eighties. What do you think?

Welcome to my world. Thank you for visiting.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Exotic Food

Do you want to have a taste of an exotic culture without hopping on a plane? You can by going to a new Asian food-market where I live (Long Island, NY). iFresh is a huge supermarket of Asian foods -- 85% I'd never heard of. Lots of strange vegetables in their large produce department, hundreds of varieties of noodles, and thousands of jars of odd delicacies. Just walking through this store feels like a trip to China.

For example, have you ever seen black chicken-meat? Black! I speculated that the plucked birds were dyed/marinated but later learned there's a special brand of chicken called "Silkie Chicken" whose meat is naturally black. How weird!

One great feature of this store is that everything is cheap. Even American products cost less than normal stores. I found white pepper (which is strikingly different from black pepper and is one of the secret ingredients in KFC's "11 herbs and spices") for only $1.99. Large bottles of flavored soy sauce are $2.69. You can experiment with new foods without worrying about price. Wild salmon is half the price of other supermarkets and looks very fresh. Plus there's a bakery section (where I bought Black Sesame Cake Roll [$2.50]) and a houseware section (where I bought beautiful ceramic bowls [$5]).

iFresh is planning to open a hot food section soon with Asian dishes none of us know how to make. I'll be going back. If you visit stores selling food of other cultures, you'll be surprised at their interesting offerings.

Sunday, March 3, 2019


Before the Internet there were computers. Before computers there were word-processors.  Before word-processors there were electric typewriters. Before electric typewriters there were manual (non-electric) typewriters.

Manual typewriters were invented around 1870 and continued to exist for the next hundred years. They were still in use when I grew up. With valuable prescience, my mother insisted I take a typing class in junior high school and I was taught on a manual. Electric machines were available then but they were more expensive and reserved for adults. Manuals were cheap, could take a lot of abuse and were given to teenagers. There were even manual typewriters designed for children with smaller keypads and bright colors (Tom Thumb was a popular brand).

I like old technology. It captures the spirit of an era. Last mid-century was filled with typing -- which provided employment to many women in the workplace. From 1930-1970 companies hired scores of young unmarried women to type; huge rooms were filled with them. Manual typewriters are noisy and the clacking in those rooms was deafening. Professional typists had to meet a minimum number of words without error. Correcting errors was an ordeal so accuracy was prized.

There were many odd conventions which, today, amuse me. For example, early typewriters saved keys by not having a key for a character that could be created by another one. E.g., many lacked a key for the number one which was created by typing a lower-case L; many lacked a key for the number zero which was created by typing an upper-case O; many lacked exclamation points which were created by typing a period, backspacing and typing an apostrophe over it; many lacked the symbol for cents which was created by typing a lower-case C, backspacing and typing a slash through it.

When I was in high school, you were allowed to submit handwritten work but you got better grades if you went to the trouble of typing your reports. In college, everyone was required to submit typed work. Many students couldn't type so they had to pay or beg other students to do it for them. It was possible to make good money off of this skill back then.

Whether you realize it or not, the design of current computer keyboards follows early typewriters. An example: the first typewriters didn't have both upper and lower case letters but only one of them; later machines had two separate sets of letters for both upper and lower cases; finally the "shift" key was invented to require only one set of letters which could shift between upper and lower case by holding down a shift key with your pinkie. The "Caps Lock" on your computer today is a direct descendant of the shift key, as is the whole QWERTY arrangement of letters on your keyboard.

I'd like to buy a few vintage machines both to use and display. They're getting harder to find and ironically more expensive. Until ten years ago, sellers couldn't give them away; old manuals were considered worthless but now people like myself are interested in collecting them. Prices are rising.

Have you used a typewriter? Electric or manual?