22 October 2011

A slip of the tongue - followup

I mentioned recently about one of my work clients who obviously knows about me, but says nothing.

I went there for work a couple of days ago, and was there for over 2 hours. S did not come up in conversation, but B did.

The closest that the conversation got to mentioning my crossdressing was general agreement that B has a big mouth. :)

16 October 2011

Another halter, another interesting conversation

On Tuesday, I wore a halter top that I've had for at least a year. I think that I bought it just after I got bras that I could wear halter. Like the halter dress I wore a few weeks ago, I found it a little unfamiliar and experienced irritation around the neck strap. I'm hoping that this will all settle down as I wear halter tops more often.

Like last week, Linda somehow managed to convinced another patron to join our table. This time, the conversation ranged from her birth during The Blitz in London to how a technical illustrator has to be able to convert an engineer's sketch on a serviette into something meaningful. As an engineer, I could so relate to that. ;)

Norma came along in girl mode this week, too. :)

09 October 2011

Looking for a fascinator

I'm going to be deliberately vague about a few details in this post. I'm planning my outfit for the cafe night on Melbourne Cup day, which is on the first Tuesday in November. Unlike last year, I don't plan on wearing a wig this year, so I'm putting together an outfit that suits my natural colouring. Don't worry though - all will be revealed on the night. :)

Have you ever opened up a store catalogue, looked at a dress and thought "I'm getting that", with absolutely no doubt in your mind? I did that on Thursday, so that night while out shopping with my wife and son, we went to the store, found one in my size and bought it. Knowing the store return policy would make returning it easy if necessary, I didn't feel any need to try it on at the time.

On Saturday, I put on all the undergarments, padding etc necessary to try the dress on properly. Aside from a neckline that moves around a little and needing to push my bra straps out a fraction on my shoulders from their usual spots, it was a great fit, and as I suspected, goes very well with one of my existing pairs of shoes.

Like last year, what remains to be resolved is accessories. In particular, I want to find a fascinator that will go with the dress. With that in mind, I decided yesterday that I wanted to go out today to look for one. My plan yesterday was to go out en femme and look through shops at both Charlestown Square and Westfield Kotara. Then the wheels fell off, as they often do for me. I stayed up far too late and didn't get up until after noon!

With most of the shops shutting at 4pm, I knew that there was no way that I could choose an outfit and get dressed en femme and have any worthwhile time to shop. So instead, I spent a while on line, then went shopping in male mode with the photo of the dress from the catalogue in my pocket.

I spent over an hour at Charlestown Square, going from shop to shop. I tried the various accessory stores, a couple of the department stores and wandered into many of the dress shops to ask if they had fascinators. Very few did, but for those that did, I looked at what they had and explained that I was looking for one that matched the dress in the photo. I found a couple in one of the department stores that were close to the right colour, but were more like a hat than a fascinator, and cost more than I wanted to pay, so I left empty handed.

The interesting thing was that I felt no hesitation walking in and out of accessory and dress shops in male mode, looking for that specific item. It only occurred to me as I was typing this that I have no idea how many of the shop staff realised that I was after it for myself, and I don't honestly care.

Now I've realised that I also need to look for a handbag to suit. I hadn't considered it before, but I don't think that I have one that will suit, and if I can find one that goes with the shoes it will be useful with any other outfits that go with those shoes. Knowing me, it'll have to be something a bit bigger than a clutch, though. :)

08 October 2011

Very open conversation

Tuesday night this week, there were a total of 5 people at our table but only 2 of us in the group photo. That might seem odd, but it isn't really. We had one new guest, Norma, who I remembered from when I was active in Seahorse NSW about 8 to 10 years ago. Being unfamiliar with the Newcastle area, she erred on the side of caution and came along in boy mode, and hence didn't join the photos.

Linda, Norma and I were chatting when Linda realised that Ros, another regular guest of the restaurant who had chatted with us in the past, was eating alone at a table nearby and invited her to join us. She did so, and around the time that we ordered dessert and coffee, her husband (whose name I'm embarrassed to admit I've forgotten as usual) came along looking for her and joined us as well.

The conversation covered various aspects of what each of us do for a living, where we lived etc, to the point that by getting a copy of the right government published list would identify me unequivocally. During the conversation, it also came out that the husband is a solicitor who works in the suburb that I live in, at the fringe of the shopping centre, just around the corner from the salon where I get my nails done. I have walked past the place and parked across the street from it in boy mode hundreds of times over the years.

Ironically, if I quit the type of work that I currently do, I could work as an expert witness, working for solicitors firms such as his, so it turned out to be a form of business networking.

Once upon a time, I would have kept quiet about what I do for a living for fear of being outed. Now, about the only thing that I avoid is actually mentioning my male name!

The photo above was taken by our guest photographer for the night, Ros. :)

04 October 2011

Op shop experiences

I find that my enthusiasm for op shopping tends to be intermittent. While I enjoy it, I'll often get so busy doing other things that I just don't get the opportunity. While I really enjoy shopping en femme, the reality is that often the opportunities to shop are between jobs on a work day, or are too short for me to have the time to dress, shop and then change back before I have to do something else.

And so it is that most of my op shopping is done in boy mode. When I bought my current breast forms in 2008, the package deal included a pair of moulded foam "sleep/travel" breast forms of approximately the same size as the silicon forms. These now live in a drawstring bag (my primary school library bag) along with a bra. While this combination is not ideal, I generally find that if a top or dress fits properly from the waist up and covers the bra while wearing these, it will fit with the good forms.

As I mentioned back in April, I bought some orangey red shoes. Early last month, I also bought a pair of burnt orange suede Tony Bianco shoes. Since I bought the red shoes, I've become aware that I don't have as much orange and orangey red in my wardrobe as I'd like, so I've concentrated on looking for those colours when op shopping.

On the Saturday afternoon a couple of days after buying the orange shoes, I drove around to three Salvos op shops (Belmont, Belmont North and Charlestown) and picked up a couple of dresses, a skirt and a glass beaded necklace that my wife has since remade as a charm bracelet.

The following Saturday, I picked up an orange top at my local Lifeline shop, and wore it the following to the following Tuesday cafe night with the orange shoes.

Work kept me very busy for a few weeks, but on the way home from a job last Thursday, I dropped in to Salvos at Glendale and picked up a couple of tops for $5 each.

Being enthusiastic after Thursday's success, I managed to get out shopping again on Saturday. This time, I checked out the new Lifeline Hamilton North shop that I hadn't been to before, Salvos stores at Wallsend, Mayfield and Newcastle West and the Lifeline shop at Mayfield. I also had a look at a combined op shop and costume hire shop a couple of doors from the Lifeline Mayfield and another privately operated shop near Salvos Newcastle West. The haul for the day was 4 tops, a necklace and an earring and necklace set, costing a total of $30!

At both of the privately run shops, I chatted with the women running the shops. The conversation at the first one started with me being asked if my nails were real, and went on to discussing crossdressing both in sales and costume hire. In the second private shop, the woman was enthusiastic to tell me about all the other crossdressers who frequent the shop.

I have had many positive experiences this year since I've had my nails long and painted and I'm more comfortable being open about who I am. The number of negative experiences I've ever had is remarkably small, and I'd actually have to read back through my diaries and blog to try to work out when the last one was!

03 October 2011

Helping a friend

To most women, whether married or not, spending some time with a girlfriend who is feeling alone and depressed would be a perfectly normal thing to do. Until the past week or so, I'd never considered this in relation to me being the supportive friend.

When I used to get really depressed (sometimes to an almost-suicidal extent), I suffered alone. While I'm not entirely over depression and probably won't ever be, two things helped me. One was coming out as a crossdresser, which took away a lot of pressure to conform to a masculine stereotype and hide my feminine traits. The second was that I discovered that I am chemically sensitive to the artificial sweetener aspartame, which caused or exacerbated a range of problems for me, including skin rashes, heart palpitations and a fog-like blanket of chemically induced depression.

Having lived through such bad depression, I understand it well enough to empathise with other people who are suffering through it, and to want to help where I can. In fact, that's one of the things that drives me to continue attending the cafe nights regularly. I know that closeted crossdressers are prone to depression and I want to help to provide a path for those who want to come out of the closet because I know that it will also help in dealing with depression.

A few years ago when I was still mostly closeted, one of my nieces attempted suicide and ended up in hospital for several months. She was later diagnosed with a mental illness, and for reasons closely related to that, she isolated herself from her mother while she was in hospital. Knowing that she was depressed and feeling alone, I organised around my work, my wife and my son to visit my niece in hospital most days over those months. I mostly went alone but a few times my son went with me. As a close relative, there was never any suggestion of impropriety in my visiting her frequently. We became quite close over those months, and I came out to her while she was in hospital.

I've now found myself in an interesting situation with a female friend who I met online. She is in her 20s and knows about me including my family and my crossdressing. We have met in person a couple of times when I have been out en femme, but she has never met me as a male. While I don't know all of the details, I know that she is quite depressed at the moment and is feeling rather alone. I have offered to spend some time with her because I believe that she needs a sympathetic friend.

I mentioned the situation to one of my crossdressing friends, who thought that it meant that I would be having an affair with this young woman. While I didn't think that anything like that was ever going to happen, I could see that that could easily be the way other people might see it. I discussed it with my wife, and explained the situation as I saw it, and my crossdressing friend's take on it. I think that my wife actually understands me quite well. She had me confirm that I had only ever met my friend "as Alice", and that if I did spend time with my friend, that I would be doing so "as Alice", then confirmed that she didn't see a problem. She understands that, as Alice, I am sexually disinterested. Even as a male, I'm monogamous and committed to our marriage. To be honest, I couldn't be bothered having an affair!

A little while after talking to my wife about it, I realised that I actually see my young friend as being very much like my nieces. She is a similar age, and in a lot of ways I probably consider her to be a foster niece, if that makes sense. In that context, I don't think that there would be any impropriety regardless of whether I was a foster aunt or a foster uncle.

02 October 2011

Avoiding the subject

I mentioned early last year that we had new neighbours move in across the street in 2009. They are a couple who I'm guessing are in their 50s or 60s. The woman and I occasionally wave to each other, but we rarely speak. I don't know her name but she has mentioned that her husband's name is George. Ironically, the place where we have spoken several times has been in the local Lifeline shop. I was there in boy mode yesterday and we chatted briefly.

I asked about the strange behaviour of their dog, who barks normally during the day but makes loud snuffley, wheezing noises instead of barking at night. I'm sure that he recognises me when I go to take the garbage bins in and out in boy mode, and when I go to pick the local free papers up off the driveway in girl mode after getting home from cafe nights on Tuesdays. He barks to greet me and tell me that he's there and that he knows I'm there. I was assured that they don't do anything to the dog to cause this strange barking. The woman told me that it was just that the dog is weird, and that he takes after her husband. :)

I noticed that she addressed Bev by name. Bev works in the op shop, knows about me including having taken photos and is one of my friends on facebook. In spite of me having seen the tell-tale glow of a lit cigarette in the dark on the front verandah across the road when I've been picking up newspapers in girl mode, there has so far been no acknowledgement that she knows about me, and nor has she said anything to Bev.

All in good time. :)

01 October 2011

A slip of the tongue

One of my friends, who I'll call S, knows me better as Alice than by my male name, also knows some of my work clients, including some who know B, who, as I previously mentioned, has apparently told quite a few people about me.

S was visiting one of his friends who also knows B. They were discussing the changes that might soon see my ceasing to do the work that I presently do.

At some point during their conversation, S accidently referred to me as Alice. His friend didn't miss a beat. Apparently his response was simply depends which web site you got to. I don't know much more than that, but the impression that I got was that that was essentially all there was to it. Acknowledge and move on.

I'm not going to pretend that there aren't people around who have a problem with who (what?) I am, but over the past few years, my perception has changed from believing that virtually everybody would reject me to realising that those with a problem are a remarkably small minority.

There's another (seemingly larger) minority who are happy to acknowledge that they know and are actively supportive. The majority, if they know, will acknowledge that they know if the subject comes up but don't really care. I can live with that.

Next time I see B, I should say thank you. While I originally thought that what he had done was out of line, I've come to realise that it hasn't ultimately been harmful to me. In fact, probably the opposite.