Monday, October 31, 2011

Snowy Halloween

Ok, there are two things that should never happen before Halloween: Snow and Christmas Decorations. This year, we in the Philly area have both. I’ll have to speak to the management about this!

I was co-hosting a Halloween party on Saturday, October 29. It was at a friend’s place, and I supplied the stereo, bar, and some d├ęcor. She provided the house, food and beer. Now, this conflicted with Angela’s Laptop lounge Halloween party for the same night, but I had a plan.

We expected 20-40 people to attend this party. I figured around 10 or 11 o clock, I could slip away, go to Laptop, hang out for a little, and come back. After all, with all those people, I wouldn’t be missed. As long as I was back for the midnight judging of the costume contest. This year’s prize: a bottle of Crystal Head Vodka (supplied by me.)

Ok, so I decided to wear the Mary Marvel costume I wore to the Henri David Halloween Ball a couple years ago.

Mary Marvel 2009

Set up an appointment with Amanda Richards, and…


Yes, snow. Predicted for anywhere between 1-8 inches. No freaking way!

The snow started early- heavy and wet. At two, I started up to Allentown for my appointment. On the turnpike I passed five trees down on the road. The leaves were still on them, and they caught the snow, and down they went! Many roads in this area are still (Monday) closed due to downed trees.

Mary Marvel 2011

After a while, I was ready, and Mary Marvel drove slowly down the turnpike toward the party. The original plan was to stop at the mall, get some appetizers from Fridays, maybe stop somewhere else for a drink, and arrive at the party at 7 ish. Well due to snow delays, etc, I didn’t get back into the area until 8:30, and arrived at the party at 8:45.

Two women live at the hostess’ house- the owner and a lodger. Neither is really big. Between them they had all but finished off a bottle of Jack Daniels. They were flying!

My "entrance"

Oh, did I point out that no one attending this party knows about Sophie? Nope to them I was (male name) attending in drag! So I arrive and they immediately starting laughing their asses off! And pictures! Poses! There was a third person there, but he doesn’t drink. He was in stitches laughing at me. All of them thought of the costume was great!

And they also thought I had some catching up to do. Three shots of Jack later, I had to fix my lipstick and the bottle was kicked. Fortunately, when I supply a bar, it’s properly stocked.

The Bar (the following morning)

Eventually we had a total of eight people. Ten o’clock came and went, and not only couldn’t I slip away, I drank too much to drive. I was only tipsy, but that’s too much, especially on a snowy, sleety night with trees falling. So I missed Laptop, as I guess many did. I wanted to be there to show support, etc, but it wasn’t to be.

Midnight! Slips of paper were given to each person to vote for best costume. I voted for a guy dressed as Rose from Titanic as she was being sketched (necklace, robe, but thankfully he wore pants). Besides, it’d be unseemly to vote for myself. The votes were counted…

And I won! Landslide! So (male name) in drag was a hit! If they only knew!

The Prize!

I opened the bottle, and we all did a shot of the vodka, and let me say that the bottle is FAR better than the vodka! Harsh!

Around 2 AM, I changed back to male mode, and crashed on the couch. The snow continued falling and the wind picked up. The party was a success for the few who came, and it was good to be me again for a night.

Tonight as I write this is Halloween- Sophie’s “third birthday.” I will not be me tonight. I will be at home, quietly waiting for trick or treaters with my daughter (we went trick or treating at the mall Saturday morning.) My gift to myself for Sophie day? Next week I will be attending “Beauty and the Beach.” Five days of womanhood! I can’t wait!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Saturday night for an Evil Queen

I’ve been writing a lot of heavy stuff of late, and that gets old REALLY quick. So today I’m just going to write about last Saturday. Last Saturday (Oct 15, 2011) was another edition of Angela’s Laptop Lounge. As avid readers know, I attend this monthly as it is usually my only time to be Sophie. So what makes this one so special that I’d actually write about it? First of all, they’re ALL special. Second, this one followed the Renaissance Halloween “party.” It’s a party only in the idea that there is a costume contest and fun food.

So, what am I doing for Halloween this year? I sat down with my friend and costume designer extraordinaire Lorraine Anderson (Of “Occasional Woman”). She makes all my costumes (all two of them so far) and we discussed ideas. It came down to two options:

Another superheroine- this one would be Electrawoman (on the right)

Or an Evil Queen, sorta like this one from the movie "Enchanted."

So I asked around, and even had a poll on my Facebook. In the end, Lorraine said she’d have more fun with the Evil Queen. So off we went to buy fabric. And then there was a fitting. I bought a tiara off Ebay. A wig from Amanda Richards of True Colors (who did my makeup.) New Earrings. So I was as ready as I was going to be, and I waited.

Lorraine was running a little behind, so she would deliver the gown to me after my session with Amanda. This meant I had to wear SOMETHING until then. I chose one of my fave LBDs. This one had the advantage of being a wrap around, so it didn’t have to go over my head. It wouldn’t mess up my up-do.

Saturday! I finished work and headed over to our usual room (several of us share a room at the Motel 6.) I was alone for this part of the day as the others would arrive later. I did the usual shaving duties and then headed up the turnpike to Amanda’s studio. There she took extra time to transform me into an Evil Queen!

Ok. So there I was looking pretty drag-queenish, in my black dress and bling. I had to recline my car seat to get my hair in and out. Then it was the hour drive back to the motel, and waiting for Lorraine. I pulled into a spot, and the guy next to me in a minivan was pulling out. He stopped and stared. I smiled at him, and headed for the door. Walking to my room, there were a bunch of teens, some kind of sports team, on my floor. They looked at me, wide eyed, and I just said “Happy Halloween.” They said nothing.

Lorraine was just a few minutes late due to traffic, but that was ok. She showed me the gown and helped me into it. She explained the features and how things snapped together and stuff, as next time I wore it she wouldn’t be there to assist me putting it on.
Soon enough, the gown was on, and I was Evil Queen Sophie!

We left the room together, and the hallway full of boisterous teens fell silent. Drove over to Ren, and discovered that the sparkles from my gown now covered my front seat. Oops!

It took some work to get out of the car, get sorted, then… Make an Entrance! Jaws dropped! I was the most sparkly and fabulous person there! Then again, there were only five people in costume, so that wasn’t hard. There was a tennis player, a cheerleader, a really good Columbia (RHPS) and a couple others. Their costumes were good, but thanks to Lorraine and Amanda’s hard work, I really think mine was better. Others agreed, and I was awarded this year’s Best Costume. The prize? Nothing. Bragging rights.

So from there, it was slowly clamber back into my car, drive over to the mall, and make my entrance at Blue Pacific and the Laptop Lounge! As it was still open, there were many non- TG there. One mom in particular gave me very disapproving looks. I found out that she was giving us all those looks. Maybe she didn’t like our outfits? Our shoes?
I made my way to the bar and eyes bugged. Let’s face it, the non trans were all in jeans, the TG girls were in dresses and nice outfits, then there is me in this sparkly tiara-ed Evil Queen outfit. Yeah, I kinda stood out a bit. I must admit I enjoyed the attention. Of course, having my cleavage showing really had a lot to do with it.

My big sister was there. Many friends were there. The Fridays bartenders were there. Yes, they are getting kind of regular there. The bartenders are these fantastic ladies, very open minded and lots of fun. I visit them in drab a lot, and they don’t recognize me. This is a good thing.

I hadn’t eaten all day, really. A granola bar and that’s it. And of course I started drinking. Smart, I know. I didn’t have many- maybe three. Ok, four. I think. Anyway, I had drinks, then lots of water.

Somewhere during the night, the mall security guards stopped by and told the bouncer and the bartenders that NO ONE is allowed out in the mall to take pictures. He stood there, in his bike helmet and two wheeled thingee, and banned us from taking pictures.

Which we proceeded to do anyway!

The mall isn’t exactly the best photo studio, but if you don’t want a lot of people in the picture and want to pose, it’s all we have.

1 AM came and I was really tired and kinda loopy. I somehow got back in the car and back to the room (I was fine to drive.) The hallway was empty- I guess the teens were asleep. It still smelled like a locker room in there though! I undressed, removed the wig, and took a quick power nap. When I awoke, I showered (discovering there was no soap in the room, so I used shampoo) packed up and went home- back to my drab life- at 4 AM.

The next day, I paid the price for my stupidity: an Evil Hangover and vacuuming my car before work.

When will I wear this outfit again? Oh, that’s easy- at “Beauty at the Beach” in Rehoboth in a couple weeks. It will have some changes though… ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I just started reading "I'm Looking through You" by Jennifer Finney Boylan. I was struck by a bit she wrote early in the book. "Others become stuck, become Exes, haunting their own lives like ghosts."

While this is very true (and Art Garfunkel is the great example she used) I think many of us are stuck by a FUTURE. We are locked into a life we feel we cannot change. Jobs we can't afford to leave. Children we don't want to lose. We trudge through our life playing our part like the 47 Ronin or a Greek tragedy- trapped by events that have not happened yet.

I wrote before about just picking up and leaving. Follow Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity across country and be who I need to be. However in today’s tough times, that is nearly an impossibility, as there’s that whole needing to feed myself thing. Yeah, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but total starvation wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t make a good looking corpse (my fast living, young dying days? I missed the “young” part of that.) Then there’s that whole daughter part of the equation.

I’m as trapped by her future as I am my own.

So where does that leave me? Stuck in the middle between past and future, me and where I need to be.

“Stop whining!” you say, and just get a move on. And usually you’d be absolutely right. However changing my life completely requires a plan, not just a hope that luck, love, or God will provide a way. To execute this plan requires resources- resources I will probably lose in executing this plan. So. I plan. And I hope and pray and wonder if I will throw off the chains of my future AND my past. “The Waiting,” as the man said, “is the hardest part.”

Someday I may meet myself in the middle. Until then, I have what little time I can find to be me.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October is here (lots of pics!)

It’s October. The leaves are changing and falling and Halloween is coming! This Halloween marks three years since my “re-awakening” as Sophie: my birthday if you will.

It’s been a hard month so far. A good friend of mine died a week or so ago, and really caused me to re-evaluate my life. He was younger than me, and his own body killed him. I discuss this in detail at my TG Forum column here:

So here I’m going to write about three years as Sophie. What they’ve meant to me, and where I may go from here. Why? Helps me clear my head and sort things out.

My first year back I was so scared. I was discovering what it meant to be TG and a woman. I started losing weight. I went to professionals to see what I’d look like as a woman.  I decided what my body would "look" like, and started assembling the needed pads, corset, etc.  As these bits are EXPENSIVE, it took time.

Femme Fever photoshoot, December 2008

Most importantly, I started meeting people who were friendly and accepting.  I made some dear friends who would help me over the rough spots, and with whom I would start attending conferences, notably the Keystone Conference.  There I met many people, including the amazing Lady Ellen.

First True Colors Photoshoot, 2009

In that year, I started cementing friendships and started learning a bit more about fashion.  I also starting to learn more about doing my own makeup.  I started going out more and gaining confidence.  The most important decision of that year was I changed therapists- from one who DIDN'T understand TG issues, to one of the top specialists in the country.  She helped me sort out the big mess in my head about all this.  Well, it's still ongoing, but you get the idea.

I also started shaving my chest, legs and underarms at least once a month.  Then, at Halloween, I had my eyebrows thinned completely.  And I got my ears pierced.

Yes, people noticed.  But it was for Halloween after all, and they grew back, but I made sure not as thick or wide as before.  And that has helped my look tremendously.  As had one more addition (or is that two?)...
Also, that Halloween, I went to a work party totally dressed.  I dubbed myself "Monique" and won the costume contest in a landslide.

Happy birthday Sophie!  I celebrated at the Henri David Ball in Philly in a costume made by the amazing Lorraine Anderson, who has become a close friend.  I dressed as a Superheroine, Mary Marvel.  Being in public like that was so scary, but so cathartic.

Mary Marvel, makeup by Amanda Richards of True Colors

The next year I spent figuring out who I am and what my feminine side meant to my life.  I also started writing some TG fiction

I arrived at some conclusions.  Sophie was here to stay, come hell or high water.  That conclusion scared the hell out of me.  I also decided that once a month wasn't enough- that I wanted more.  Perhaps even MUCH more.

That summer I went to the Empire Conference, and went shopping for the first time as a woman.  Once again, I was scared out of my mind.  At the conference, I met many new people and made new friends.  I was even recorded as I sang karoke.  Ick!

As my second year as a woman concluded, I started flirting with the previously unthinkable- transition.  Is that what had been troubling me all these years?  Depression?  Etc?  Could it have been my feminine side trying to escape?

That year, i attended Henri David again, in anothe Lorraine Anderson piece, a St. Pauli girl.

This time, the party ended on a sour note.  Anger was introduced to my feminine world.  I had to deal with negative emotions as Sophie for the first time.  I wrote about it too, and it's in this blog somewhere.  It was a bad experience, but in the end, it helped me become a more rounded woman.  As the year ended i was becoming much more confident in my makeup skills.

This past year I stopped thinking of myself as a "newbie."  I started thinking of myself as an experienced TG.  My wardrobe grew, as did my tools for looking better.  I connected with new people, and came under the wing of my "Big Sister" Mel.  She has taught me a lot, mostly that transitioning is very, very hard.  I've met some of the people who I saw saw as Heroines and found that they are really fun people.
I also decided to see if i could contribute to the community in some small way.  At the Keystone Conference, I presented a class on "Writing TG Fiction."  And at the Transhealth Conference, I assisted at the Renaissance table.
Both scared the hell out of me, but I overcame.  At Transhealth, I even went into the very busy Reading Terminal market and ordered lunch! 
I also started doing laser treatments on my face.  My first permanent move toward womanhood.
But easly the scariest time all year was walking in the King of Prussia mall, on a Saturday night, as Sophie.  I wore jeggings and showed off my assets.  I was terrified.  I went to the MAC store and bought lipgloss, and walked out.  One person laughed.  Others gawked.  But I did it!  I could've run into people from work, or family, but I didn't.  Not that they would've recognized me anyway with my boobs hanging out.  ;)
Photo courtesy Angela's Laptop Lounge.  Makeup by Amanda Richards
So as I approach the end of my third year, I am much more confident as a woman, yet much more scared.  I think that I will have some hard times ahead, and hard decisions.  I know where I want to go, and I simply can't do it right now as it costs a LOT- too much for a girl working retail and another job.
The next year?  Who knows?  I can't even dare think.  Perhaps i will be discovered by my wife (God knows she has enough clues) and thrown out.  Or worse.  Maybe I'll find better employment and begin my journey.
Sophie through the years.
In any case, I will do so with the help of dear friends. And you'll be able to read about it here.