Archive | September 2011

Another Pleasant Day Out

I had originally planned on spending my second consecutive day out taking the Ferry from San Francisco to Sausalito and spending the day exploring the village and having lunch there. I have done it before and the ride, especially on a clear day, is amazing with great views of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately after my less than thrilling Symphony visit the day before I just was not up for another drive into SF and then across the City to the Pier 39 area. Instead I decided to have another quiet boring day doing everyday life things that would involve less driving. It turned out to be lots of fun too.

I started the day by going to a coin operated laundary to get some clothes washed. Like most people I have a “dirty laundary” bag that I put clothes into after wearing them and it was getting sort of full. Washing them at home is not an option and so I use a coin operated laundary. In my area they are actually hard to find since most people, even in apartments, have their own washer and dryer. I eventually found one, located in a slightly rundown strip mall. There were maybe 10-15 people there, loading washers and dryers, folding clothes, or just sitting around. They paid me little attention when I walked in with my bag. I found a couple of machines, sorted my clothes into them, put soap and quarters in, and started them. I had to wait about 40 minutes for the wash and then another 20 minutes for the dryer. It was entirely uneventful and I just sat there waiting for things to be done. Eventually the clothes were dry and I spent another 15 minutes folding everything. It was a surprisingly satisfying time since doing the laundary is one of those things that is strongly associated with the feminine. It is not sexy or glamorous but is clearly part of most women’s life.

After that I went grocery shopping. I had a list of things we needed at home and thought it would be good time to get them. I did not buy anything that needed to be kept cold but still filled much of the basket. I checked out without a hitch, chatting a little with the clerk. They even offered to help me with my bags!

From there I went to the post office to see if my new ebay purchases had arrived. They had not but some magazines were waiting.

From there I went to a large shopping mall. I wanted to try out the new sandals and see how they felt after a few hours of walking. I had not been to this particular mall in a while and was looking forward to stopping at lots of stores. My first visit was to a Marshall’s where I found some tops I liked. I thought about going the dressing room to try them on but the attendant looked a little stern and so I just left. I was annoyed at myself and promised I would come back later.  From there I visited lots of other stores and found some real suede ankle boots that I just loved. I really like boots and so I had to have them. They were my big purchase of the day ($24). I also bought a scarf and some earrings.

I visited probably 10 other stores and stopped for lunch as well. I also bought a top at the one of stores for about $9. As I wandered around the stores I found many items that I really liked. So many nice clothes and so little time to wear them (or money to buy them). If I was full time, I could easily become a real fashionista!

After almost 4 hours of walking around I found my new sandals feeling reasonably okay. They only had a 1-2 inch heel and were okay to walk in. The ball of my foot hurt a little but they had good arch support. They are keepers. Finally I headed back to the Marshalls, found my desired tops, and headed to the dressing room. I presented them to the same attendant. I was going to deal with this silly fear once and for all. She said “hi” and smiled. She counted my garments and gave me the tag that indicated I had 5 garments. I headed to the “Ladies” side and found a changing room. I ended up keeping none of the tops as I did not like them on me. All the stress for nothing. I ended up buying a belt.

From there I went to a Ross. I normally don’t go there but I knew they also had a dressing room attendant. I picked out 5 garments and headed over to the dressing room. The attendant smiled, counted my garments, and gave me the tag. I actually liked one of the tops and bought it. I really need to get over this dressing room attendant phobia..

I ended the day having dinner with a friend. Overall, another nice pleasant boring day. I was feeling a little melancholy though by the end of the day knowing that I had to go back to regular life the next day. Everytime I get to spend multiple days out I once again realize that I would really prefer to live that way all the time. I could get used to it very easily.

robin

Symphonic Bondage – A Day Out In San Francisco

I recently had two consecutive days to spend out en femme and I took spent them very different ways. Today I will cover the first day and later this week, the second day.

The first day out was a Sunday which is unusual for me to have free. I thought spending the day in San Francisco would be fun as there are always lots of things to do there. On this Sunday the SF Symphony had an afternoon concert, the Opera had a free performance at the baseball park (ATT Park), and then there was the Folsom Street Fair. For those of you who don’t know what the Folsom Street Fair is, it is large outdoor event dedicated to showing off the world of BSDM, complete with live demonstrations. Hundreds of thousands of people show up to it. It is so very San Francisco.

I thought briefly about going to the Fair but only briefly. I had never been to the Faire, having never been attracted to the whole BSDM scene. I for one have never been one to confuse pain and pleasure or freedom and bondage. Still I was vaguely curious, especially about “Venus’ Garden” which was a woman oriented space open to all “self identified women and genderqueer people”. Sounds like my kind of place.

Still, I was frankly more curious about the Symphony performance since it was Mahler’s Third Symphony. The music director and conductor of the SF Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas (or MTT as he is known around here) is a well known big fan of Mahler and has conducted many of his works to great reviews. I looked up the Third Symphony and the writer said it was a romantic work in the tradition of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (one of my favorites). It had a soloist and a very large, all woman,  chorus. I knew nothing about Mahler and so this was my chance. I was really looking forward to it.

I was a little worried about the traffic and so arrived in SF a little early. For an afternoon performance I figured black was too formal and so went with a lighter colored skirt suit. The official color is “stone” which is sort of a grey/white/brown blend. I wore a brown silk top and brown Mary Jane pumps that had about a 2 inch heel.  I had worn the pumps before and they were comfortable. The “stone” and brown went well together. The outfit was dressy but not too much. I parked  within a block of Davies Hall and so had only a short walk but still managed a typical, surreal,  SF experience. Parking for the Fair extended to near Davies and so the Fare people and Symphony people crossed paths. It was amusing to see 3 semi-naked leather clad guys standing next to well dressed elderly couple all waiting for the traffic light to change.

I bought my ticket at the box office and discovered the performance was an hour and forty minutes long without an intermission. I made sure I first stopped at the ladies room  but found there was a long line there  since lots of other women had the same idea. I finally got in and made it out just before they closed the doors to the hall (but only barely). I made it to my seat which was in the middle of the row. I settled in the for the performance.

From the first notes I knew I was in trouble. It was clearly a very modern sounding piece, full of all sorts of technical cleverness and skill and devoid of any soul. Every once in while, the composer would discover some melody or harmony that sounded good to me but then would lose it and fall back into the normal dreariness. The first movement was 40 minutes long and I knew it was going to be a long afternoon. I kept hoping it would get better but it never did. About 30 minutes into it, one my pumps became very uncomfortable and my foot ached no matter how I held it. The tight seating and strap on the shoe made removing it nearly impossible and so I had to just endure it.

I found I had skipped the BSDM Fair only to be bound in misery at the Symphony. I was trapped: listening to music that assaulted my ears and heart, with an aching foot, and with a increasingly sore backside. It was as if I had been tied to the rack and whipped (just like what was actually happening on Folsom Street). Oddly enough I had gotten to go to both events, although not as I planned. Eventually, thankfully, the performance ended but I had to reward my tormenters by applauding them multiple times and giving them standing ovations. No slave had better rewarded and thanked his master!  Eventually I escaped from the hall and made it (limping) to my car. Never have I felt so good about getting out of SF.

Still I had several hours left and so I stoped at some stores in a nearby city. I was suddenly completely overdressed and so found mini-mart with a restroom that locked and changed out of my skirt suit into a olive jacket, cotton top,  and tan jeans. I exchanged the pumps for some brown ankle boots that were very comfortable. I stopped for a snack and generally just wandered around. It felt very nice. I discovered, once again, that one can feel as feminine in a casual top and jeans as one can in a nice suit or dress. The actual clothes almost don’t matter. It has more to do with feminine “presentation” than any particular style of clothes. It is something I keep relearning.

Next time, my second day out.

robin

My Best and Worst Days Out

Over the last 15-18 years, I have been out hundreds of time (maybe close to a thousand now that I think about it). I have been in very wide variety of places and situations and the experiences have been almost entirely positive and fun. Indeed I can only think of one time where I had a bad experience, which I will describe below.

I have had two experiences that were so positive that I can still recall them very clearly. The first one was at a performance of the SF Symphony. I had been going out in very public settings like the Symphony only a few times and was still a little uncertain about the whole idea. Nothing bad had ever happened but it was still a bit daunting to wander among hundreds of people waiting for the symphony to start or at an intermission. For this particular evening, I was waiting in line at the box office to purchase my ticket for the evening. I usually bought inexpensive tickets and so ended up sitting up very high in the balcony. For music the upper seats are fine. As I was standing there, a nicely dressed gentleman came up to me and offer me a ticket for free.  I thanked him and he offered to show me the seats. They turned out to be in about the 10th row of the orchestra. These were great seats. What was even more surprising was that the empty seat was next to him and belonged to his wife who was ill and could not attend. What was still more surprising was that we were sitting among a group of people he appeared to know well. People who get such good seats tend to be long term subscribers who hang on their seats year after year and hence this group had clearly been sitting near one another for a long time. Anyway he introduced me around  and we talked with the other attendees before the concert started. Everyone I talked to treated me very nicely and made me feel accepted. It was a wonderful but slightly strange experience being the female part of a couple.  It was a great affirmation for me. We talked some more at the intermission and a little after the concert and then it was time to leave. I felt great for days afterwards and it still sticks in my memory.

The other highly positive experience occurred in a tiny market near the 280 freeway ends near 6th St in San Francisco. I had just been visiting with a friend who lived nearby when I decided I wanted a soda before heading home. I found a little hole in the wall market that was run by an older Chinese lady. I stopped and went into the store and selected by soda. As I was paying for it, the lady complemented me on the skirt suit I was wearing (this was during my “dress up when going out” period).  She wondered if I worked at the nearby school but I said I was in town on other business. She seemed like she wanted someone to talk to and so I decided to linger for awhile. We were soon talking about schools and children and before long we were engaged in a long and personal discussion about our respective families. She told me about her children and I told her about mine. We bemoaned the failings of our respective “husbands”. We just talked and shared and had a great time. We probably spent 30 minutes or more just chatting about life before I realized the time and had to leave. I stopped by there on subsequent occasions but I never saw her again. I still remember her with very fond memories.

In terms of not so positive experiences, I can recall only one occasion. I was attending a trade show on the East Coast for my company and decided it would be fun to attend ” en femme.” The show was not one that anyone from my company or industry would normally attend and so I felt safe going in girl mode.  I dressed in a nice suit and “practical pumps” and looked the perfect businesswoman. I filled out the form to get my badge and presented it to a young woman sitting at a computer. She took it and started typing and got a bad case of the giggles. Her friend next to her wondered what was going on and they talked and the friend got the giggles too. They both occasionally glanced at me and continued with the giggles. I just stood there and waited politely for them to finish. Eventually they gave me my badge and wished me a good day. I never knew for sure that I was the source of their giggles but I strongly suspected it. As I wandered about the show I was treated well by the various booth folks and engaged in several long conversations about various topics. The only problem was at the registration desk. In retrospect, I suppose it is not really that bad of experience as the day overall went well.  I could imagine much worse situations but so far that qualifies as my worst experience out.

Most of my times out are neither quite so positively memorable nor so awkward but rather like the  “pleasantly boring time” I described in a recent post. Boring and uneventful are nice as that is often how normal life is.

Robin

Searching for the Perfect Bra – An Update

One of the benefits of blogging is that by sharing problems publically others can offer their suggestions and insights. About a 10 days ago I published a post concerning my problems in finding the perfect bra.  I mentioned how much I liked underwire bras since they came in many pretty colors and styles but found them very uncomfortable after just a few hours. Shortly after it was published, Claudia wrote:

Robin

It is possible with care and a small scissor to remove the ‘wire’ from underwire bras so that they are comfortable for longer periods.

Somehow the idea of removing the underwire had escaped me entirely. Actually I think I may have tried it once a long time ago but the results were so disappointing that I had blocked the idea out entirely. Given Claudia’s inspiration I decided to try it again and the results were mostly very good. I have 6 underwire bras that  are all lovely but so uncomfortable as to be unwearable. Still, I could not bring myself to part with them. I figured they would be good candidates for me to see what would happen if I removed the underwire.

I took some small scissors and make a small hole near one end of the underwire. I pulled back the underwire a little to make room for the cut. I then slipped the underwire out. It came out very easily for 5 of 6 bras. There was one for which the underwire seemed to have been attached to the bra at several points, but with some pushing, it eventually came out. The whole process to me 10 minutes.

The results were amazing. All of the bras become instantly comfortable! I wore two of them on two different days and had problems with comfort. One of the bras, a front hook, did not work so well holding my forms in without the underwire and so it will  definitely be going to Goodwill but the others all worked great. I am so happy! Thanks so much for the suggestion Claudia.

I still have some molded bras that feel like putting your boobs into round cardboard boxes. While they are very pretty, they are even less comforable than the underwires with the wires. Any suggestions on how to make them more wearable?

robin

My nice boring day out

 I went out last Friday and had what I call “my nice boring day out.” By this I mean that I spent the whole day out and had a pleasant but entirely uneventful time. I have lots of these types of days and always find them very satisfying.

The first task of the day was getting dressed. Changing at home is not an option for me and so I tend to change “on the road”. Over the years I have become quite proficient in changing in my small compact car. This is one of the reasons I have learned to get ready quickly as I tend to do it in semi-public settings. These days I like to park my car in some large parking garage, ideally between two cars in a dim area. Since I am never sure when someone will show up to claim their car, the faster I change the better.

These days my daytime outfit is usually Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and a 3/4 to long sleeve knit top. I really like the GV jeans since they are tapered and really sliming. They come in lots of lovely colors. I usually get them at Kohls when they are on sale for about $22 but have bought several pair at Costco for $17. They are nice in that they come in several lengths and so fit my short legs quite nicely. Who wants to pay $8-10 for someone to hem a pair of $17 pants? I must have 5-6 pairs of them. I used to wear more solid colored tops but recently have been wearing more patterned ones.

So this day I wore my olive GV jeans and a multi-color fall toned stretch top. I added some brown ankle boots, my new dangling earrings, a little foundation and makeup, and was ready to face the day. My first stop was MacDonalds for a quick breakfast. I ordered my food, received a “thank you ma’am” from the clerk, and sat down to eat. The place was moderately busy but I did not notice any unusual attention directed by way. A good way to start the day. I am often a little uncertain with the first encounters of the day but this one, as they usually are, went fine.

After that I headed out to do some shopping. There is a nice complex near me that has two malls and a couple of smaller shopping strips nearby. There are a couple of Marshalls, a Kohls,  Ross, Macy’s, Sears, etc. I really like Marshalls since they often have nice things at good discounts. I used to shop a lot at Ross until I realized that what they sold was often tacky stuff. Marshalls has much better discount stuff. I got there before they opened and stood outside with a group of other women. We chatted casually until the store opened. Once inside I went looking for more knit tops and maybe some shoes. I found a couple of tops that I liked and went to the changing room. Marshalls is one of those stores that has a person counting items at the entrance to the changing room. Such situations always give me pause as its clearly a “woman-only” space but I never have had any problems. Actually I once had another woman stop and ask me the time while we passed in the changing area. That was a nice affirmation, but I still often worry about the gatekeeper frowning and pointing the men’s area. It has never happened though. I don’t think they really care one way or the other. All the rooms are private anyway. The tops did not fit right and so I did not buy them. From there I went to another Marshalls a few miles away and repeated the process. This time I did find a nice knit top with 3/4 sleeves and bought it. It was a nice solid green that I thought would be nice a nice fall addition. I used a gift card to pay and got a “thank you ma’am” at the checkout.

From there I went to a Sears which was part of a larger mall. The mall itself was not too busy. I stopped at the food court and got a pretzel. I looked around the Sears for clothes but did not find anything I liked. I did find some nice sandals on clearance. There was some nice brown ones that I liked and were only $12. I tried them on and walked around the store and they felt good and so I bought them too.

It was lunch time and so I went over to  “Fresh Choice” and had a suitably feminine salad lunch. It was filled mostly with women and so I fit right in. I got a “ma’am” at the checkout register and found a table and enjoyed my lunch. Again, I did not notice any unsual reactions to my presence.

From there it was time to visit the Kohls, which has become my favorite shopping place for casual clothes. I did not find any new GV jeans but found lots of tops I liked. Kohls has “vanity” sizing which means the clothes are cut larger than one might expect from the size. Most of the time “medium” fits me just fine. Large is too big and XL is like wearing a tent. I can flatter myself by knowing I just need the “medium.” I ended up buying two tops which were only $8/each. The checkout clerk was friendly and chatty and I left without incident.

Macy’s had nothing I liked. I used to shop there a lot but in the last few years they stopped carrying clothes I liked. I went by the Ross just for fun but found nothing there either. I stopped by a CVS drug store and looked at lipsticks. My favorite color is no longer made by Revlon and so I need to find a new favorite. I ended up buying some baby wipes which are good for removing makeup. It all went smoothly.

Af that point it was getting late and I was heading home. I stopped at a 7-11 for a soda and as I was paying for it the clerk said that she liked by top and wondered where I got it. I thanked her and told her it was from Kohls.

From there it was time to change back and go home. I also change back in the car, partially while driving and the rest in some quiet spot. I learned to be careful though. Once I was driving down the freeway and removed my wig. The guy in the next car glanced at me and nearly swerved into me. I guess he was a little shocked…

Overall it was a good day out.  I found some things I liked, had some nice quiet time, received a complement, and many “ma’ams.” Totally uneventful and highly satisfying, just the way I like it.

Dangling Earrings

I like pretty earrings, especially loops and dangling ones. Unfortunately I don’t have my ears pierced for a variety of reasons (including that the very idea makes me sort of queasy). There are some clip earrings available but there are not many styles and they are mostly uncomfortable. The are often held with magnets or strong springs that make my ears hurt after a few hours, sometimes even a few minutes. Those that do exist tend to look sort of matronly, like the type of earrings your elderly aunts might wear: pearls, gaudy floral styles, strange combinations of gold, silver, or other materials, you get the idea. Kicky, sexy, stylish, fun are not words that one would use to describe them. The loop earrings that do exist are spring loaded contraptions that would either fall off with a quick turn of the head or leave bruises.

Like my search for the perfect bra, I have also been looking over the years for cute and comforable clip earrings. I ended up with one set that I found at Macy’s that were both comfortable and somewhat stylish. I purchased several pair when I could find them and so I always had spares. They were part of my look for years and years. Meanwhile I looked with envy on all the cute earrings for pierced ears that could be found  in stores or street faires.

Just recently I found the solution to my problem on ebay (surprise!). Several vendors were selling packages of 20 screw-on earring clips to which one could attach earrings designed for pierced ears. These clips have a little loop in front to which on can attach the earring. They are held on your ear by a combination of a spring and a screw and so one can adjust the device for just the right amount of holding power and comfort. The package of 20 costs about a dollar, plus a couple of dollars from shipping. They come in either a gold or silver tone.

With these holders it is a pretty simple task to remove the “fishhook” from a pair of dangling or hoop earrings and attach the earring to the holder. I just use some needle nosed pliers and a little bit of the fishhook from the original earring. Here are two of my current favorites. The clip does not quite match the colors from the first earring but it is close enough.

Letting the inner woman out

To me one of the big measures of “tg-ness” is how much the inner or desired gender can be seen in the current gender. For example if one claims to be “truly female” despite one’s current male body, then one would expect others to experience some sense of “female-ness” when dealing with you. Such expressions may take a variety of forms (other than clothing) and could include how one moves, domestic skills and/or interests, showing empathy and support for others, expressions of emotion, dealings with children, etc.. There are of course others and by listing these I am not suggesting these are characteristics of all genetic women. At the same time, they are characteristics and interests of many genetic women and are assumed by most people to be expressions of the “feminine.”

Now of course I know that many of us may surpress such feminine expressions out of fear or cultural expectations, but it would seem that they should be there to some degree, perhaps just below the surface. Maybe enough to suggest to others that there is something “odd” about us.

In the movie, “A Mighty Wind”, there is a male character who is a member of a folk singing trio. He is a typical guy in most respects except he has a regular skin care regimen and he mentions the importance of it on a regular basis. By the end of the movie it comes out that he a transsexual and is living full time as a woman (a blond folk singer – its a comedy). 

Whether one transitions or not, it has always seemed to me that we should encourage ourselves to express the “inner woman (or man)” as part of our current gender, even if one gets some odd reactions along the way. For those of us who choose not to transition, it becomes a way of experiencing our desired gender within the framework of our current gender. For many (including me), it may be the best possible outcome given our life situation.

Now this expression can take lots of forms.

One area for me was domestic things. In our family home I am often the one who takes the lead in getting things cleaned up. There is great satisfaction making clean a kitchen that was a complete mess. Likewise putting everything in its place is also nice. Caring about such things is a typical feminine trait..

Developing listening and emotional support skills was also a focus for me. Learning to just listen and offer support without rushing in with a solution took some work, but it has let me develop better relationships with women in ways I could not imagine. It is a key part to being admitted to the “sisterhood”.

I tried knitting and needlepoint but had no success. While there are lots of male surgeons, that kind of fine motor control is not in my genetics. It was also something that I did not have the patience to do anyway.

Another area is child care. I started working in the nursery of our church taking care of small children. It was very rewarding to be able to take a scared, screaming child and doon have him/her laughing and feeling safe. Sometimes it took a while but I found I had a gift there. It is also a great way to practice your feminine voice in a situation where no one thinks it is weird. People just naturally talk to children using softer, higher pitched voices. It is more calming to them than some gruff guy voice.

Overall I  have found that letting the “inner woman” out to be a struggle at times as biology and social expectations work to keep her hidden. But when she comes out she enriches the lives of those around me as well as myself.

robin