30 June 2012

Aching legs and shoulders

Have you ever done exercises that you haven't done before and the next day experienced aches in muscles that you didn't even know you had? That's what Thursday was like for my legs, after all the walking that in did in heels on Wednesday. My shoulders also ached from the weight of my handbag and the shopping bags that I carried home.

Do I regret wearing heels on Wednesday? Not really. If I was going to do the same again, I'd wear flats while travelling (even if they didn't quite suit the outfit) and put the heels on while I was at the event. Aside from the balls of my feet getting sore, I actually enjoyed being in heels in large daytime crowds. I pushed my comfort zone in more ways than one, and discovered that the physical pain was the only drawback.

I have, however, come to realise that I need to buy a piece of luggage that I've seen quite a few people using in Sydney. I believe that it's called a train case, and is like a cross between an oversized briefcase and a miniaturised hard suitcase, with wheels and an extendible handle. The ones I've seen used by solicitors, accountants etc. are about the right size to fit a notebook computer, files, books etc into.

I don't need anything as big as the makeup train cases that Michelle bought at IMATS last year, though!

With a wheeled case like that, I could put some of the stuff from my handbag into the case, along with whichever shoes I wasn't wearing at the time. I could also have packed the things that I got from Su and my shopping into the case for the return trip.

I'm thinking that having a case like that would be great for IMATS this year.

The irony is that I could also use a case like that for work, and today (30th June) is the last day of the financial year here, so I need to go shopping. I might also get a spare battery for my camera while I'm out. :)

28 June 2012

Thank you, young lady

I made it to Sydney yesterday. I decided to catch the train all the way rather than driving part way then catching a train.

I also decided, by default, to wear the outfit that I had selected for Saturday, including the Tony Bianco Palais heels. I say by default because if I had selected something else, I almost certainly wouldn't have worn heels, but I didn't end up even looking at other options.

The plan was to walk the 800m to the railway station, but by the time I was ready, I was worried enough about missing the train that I got my wife to drive me to the station. After walking that 800m home in heels in light misting rain, I now know 2 things ~ (1) I will never attempt to walk down a hill that steep in heels again, and (2) if I hadn't got a lift to the station, either my outing would have ended before I got to the station because I would have missed the train, or I would have turned around and come home to get different shoes.

Seriously, if I hadn't been wearing my lace tights, I would have walked home barefoot! In hindsight, I should have taken my tights off and could easily have done so, since the train carriage was mostly empty a while before my station, I was wrapped up in my cape (sorry, I didn't get a photo of that) and it would have been very easy to slip them off but I didn't think of it at the time, and I underestimated how bad it would be walking home in the heels!

Getting up and down stairs at Central to change trains was a little bit of a challenge, but I took it slowly and managed okay. Escalators in heels was a new experience but I managed that better than expected ~ I'd always thought that the ribs on escalators would be a problem for such small heels but they weren't.

Aside from not being able to find the underground walkway between the QVB and Westfield Pitt St on the way there (for future reference, take the escalators down from the level that the walkway from Town Hall station is on and ignore the signs that send you up to street level!), the biggest problem was how sore the balls of my feet got from the distance that I had to walk. I have a pair of gel inner soles that I haven't used in years and I'll be using them again soon!

Thanks to a school teachers' strike, there were several teenage girls on the trains in both directions but the worst that happened was that one looked at me and giggled. I have no idea whether she read me, or even whether the giggling had anything to do with me. In the entire day, there were the usual odd looks that could have been people reading me, admiring me, or just noticing that I was overdressed and wearing the highest heels that they saw all day.

The highlight of the travelling part of the trip to Sydney was when two transit officers came through checking tickets. I took out my ticket and held it up, and when the officer got to me I don't know if he even looked at me but he looked at the ticket very briefly while I held it and said "Thank you, young lady." :)

The group consisted of Su and her son, Sarah and her daughter, Jasmine and I. At Su's suggestion, we went to the food court on the 5th floor and found ourselves a table. We sorted out a few things that Su was offloading in preparation for her move overseas, chatted and had some lunch. I was quite impressed with the food court and suspect that it might be the venue for some future Sydney Beauty Heaven meet-ups.

Sarah left to collect her son before we took photos, so unfortunately she isn't in the group photo, but it was great to see her again.

After I said goodbye to Su and Jasmine, I walked up the Pitt St mall to the Valley Girl store there and bought a couple of pairs of light brown lace patterned tights similar in style to the dark brown ones that I was wearing, then made my way back to the railway station. They're not the mustard colour that I thought that they had, but the colour that I got is one that I will use, and they were on sale for under $5 a pair. :)

26 June 2012

Paralysed by indecision

I know that it's an old phrase, but I'm finding that paralysed by indecision is an accurate summary of where I've been at quite often recently. Being a Libran and an engineer, sometimes over-analysing things makes the decision easier. :P

I mentioned that the farewell lunch for Su from Beauty Heaven had been cancelled on Saturday, but we've now organised to try again for lunch tomorrow (Wednesday). It appears that we may have a better turn out than we would have had on Saturday, including some of the group bringing their young children along. I've decided that this time, I will be there. I just have to figure out the details.

The weather looks as if it will be cold, wet and miserable. On the upside, there are underground walkways connecting Town Hall Station and Westfield Pitt St via the Queen Victoria Building, so I don't have to worry too much about the weather in Sydney.

This leaves me quite undecided about two things.

I mentioned that I had reservations about the outfit that I'd chosen for the trip to Sydney on Saturday, which consisted of an olive green hooded cape and a dark olive brown dress teamed with the shoes, tights and jacket shown in the photo at right. Part of the problem is that I'm not sure that I want to try to wear 12cm (~ 5") stilettos travelling by train and walking a bit in the city. The shoes are quite comfortable, but I worry that I'll stand out by being vastly over dressed and tall. I still haven't decided whether to go with the outfit I'd already chosen, or to try again and see if I can put together something more daytime, with flat shoes, that I can fit into at my current weight.

The other thing that I have to decide is how to get there and back. There are several options, but my preferred one of driving to the end of the freeway and catching a train from Wahroonga doesn't work during the day on a week day, as I simply wouldn't get a parking spot near the station as I can at weekends or of an evening.

Catching a train from home would mean walking to the train in heels, which I could do, and the trip would take about 2.5 to 3 hours each way including changing trains at Central. Driving part way but not being able to park at Wahroonga would mean parking at Berowra, where fewer trains stop. It'd be about one hour 20 minutes driving and one hour by train each way. Add in slow traffic due to the weather and waiting for trains and it could also be up around 2.5 to 3 hours each way, but means that I'm in the relative safety of my own car for part of that. I'd also need to fill the car up tonight or on the way...

With the miserable weather making driving slower, I think that the balance is tipping in favour of catching a train all the way. I might even take some time to do some shopping before heading home, even if I have to carry it all home from the station. :)

So I've got to decide what I'm wearing and how I'm getting there before I go to bed tonight. I've already blown any chance of getting to the cafe night tonight but I need to decide and prepare, then get to bed early for a change!

24 June 2012

Not obvious

Part of the reason why I missed my train home on Friday was that the battery on my internet tablet is playing up, and it decided that it was flat, leaving me without a clock or train timetable. I turned it on again later and it indicated that the battery still had about 4 hours of charge left.

Not knowing when I needed to get to the station, or that there would be over an hour between trains, I stopped to look at an op shop that I was walking past anyway. The shop is a small privately run place, and I had read a positive review of it on a crossdressing forum, where another member said that they had been there in boy mode and had tried on and bought a couple of dresses with help from the friendly, accepting staff.

While I was browsing, there was a young woman working in the shop who appeared to be one of the staff mentioned in the review. She asked if I needed help, and whether I was looking for something for my partner, because it's all ladies here. I replied that no, I didn't need help and I was just looking. That response satisfied her, and she turned her attention elsewhere.

So, in spite of the very obvious freshly tinted lashes, the fairly obvious long hair, pierced ears, long painted nails, etc, she either didn't make the connection or chose to pretend not to. So, like the staff at my local Subway, it's hard to know whether she noticed and just didn't say anything or whether she simply didn't notice. Either way, it doesn't actually matter.

That got me thinking. I know of crossdressers who have beards and a profusion of body hair because they are so fearful that just the lack of that hair will cause people to realise that they are crossdressers. They live most of their life in hiding, hiding who and what they are as much as they possibly can and often struggling with depression as well. I find that quite sad, since it actually seems to take a lot of effort to tip people off to the fact that you're a crossdresser, and even when you do, it doesn't usually actually matter.

So, if you want to grow your hair long, get rid of facial and body hair, get your ears pierced, get your lashes tinted, etc, just do it. Most people won't even notice, and those who do will probably think that it's an improvement without ever even considering the possibility that you're a crossdresser.

Painting your nails, growing them long and having acrylic overlays like I do might be too much of a hint for most people but even that's not guaranteed. :)

23 June 2012

The wheels fall off

Sometimes, we make plans and the wheels fall off. Yesterday's appointment and today's planned lunch in Sydney are good examples.

Yesterday, I was a couple of minutes late getting to the station to catch a train for my waxing and lash tint appointment, and ended up having to wait about 45 minutes for the next train, which got me to Newcastle station at 11:59, with about a 5 minute walk to my noon appointment... Yes, being late was my own stupid fault, but why such a long wait between trains? The return trip was worse, as I again missed the train by a few minutes and had to wait over an hour for the next one.

Of course, the result was that I got back to work a full hour later than intended, with a headache from the cold wind prevalent in the post-apocalyptic wasteland style streetscape that is the Newcastle CBD.

I stayed up late last night organising myself for the planned trip to Sydney, got less than 5 hours sleep then woke at 7:15am to find that one eye was swollen and quite sore. I suspect that the cause was a mild allergic reaction to the lash tinting combined with having fished a loose lash out of that eye last night, possibly leaving some goop behind, but whatever the cause it was bad enough that, on top of the lack of sleep, I cancelled my trip.

I also had some reservations about the fact that the outfit that I'd chosen for the day made 5" stilettos the only shoe option. I'm too fat around the waist to wear any of my trousers or skirts at the moment, so, at my wife's suggestion, I chose a dress that would work with my full length cape, added the lace tights and lace jacket then found that the only shoes that would look right and fit were my brown Tony Bianco stilettos. In general, I wear flats during the day and keep heels for going out at night. I also haven't tried wearing stilettos when catching trains or on escalators. I also tend to tower over my Beauty Heaven friends even when I'm wearing flats, and heels would exacerbate that!

Sadly, most of the other people planning on going had also dropped out, so the whole thing was cancelled. With any luck, we might get another time organised within the next week.

The only bright spot in all of this is that it prompted me to polish my brown Tony Biancos, which is a job that had been on my to-do list for months. :)

22 June 2012

Farewell lunch

In the few days since I mentioned that Su is moving to the UK, we've arranged through Facebook to meet up for a farewell lunch in Sydney. There will be at least 6 of us from the Beauty Heaven forums. That means I'll be driving to Wahroonga and catching a train to the CBD. I'm looking forward to catching up to a few friends who I haven't seen since IMATS last September and meeting at least 2 who I haven't met before.

I'm still trying to figure out if I can get to Sydney early to take a side trip to the Estee Lauder staff shop, which has moved since we went there last year.

Today, I'm sneaking out at lunch time to get waxed from the waist down and a lash tint. :)

21 June 2012

A weighty conundrum

While getting my nails done yesterday, I was chatting with the nail technician about my Halloween costume ideas, including the fact that I'm not sure that I can make the pregnant idea work unless I lose some weight.

The response to that surprised me. Both of the women in the salon said that they think that I look better at the weight that I am now, because it makes my face fuller and more rounded. They then went on to tell me that, in January when I last got my nails done en femme, after I left they had been talking about how pretty I looked.

Both were quite strongly of the opinion that I shouldn't lose weight as it makes my face look too thin. On the other hand, I know that I am carrying quite a bit of weight around my waist, which is not not healthy and spoils my feminine waistline. Sure, I could add more padding to my hips and go up a skirt size, but I think that I'd rather get at least some weight off.

I guess I'm going to have to consider what weight I want to be, to compromise between face shape and body shape. For health reasons, it really has to be under 80kg, but perhaps I should aim for about 77kg rather than aiming to get rid of the spare tyre.

I'll have to think more on this...

20 June 2012

Halloween planning - part 3

When I went back on Thursday to buy the stuffed hippo that I intended to use for the outer cover of the pregnant belly, an op shop that had been closed when I was there late the previous day (the one that sister-in-law's mother volunteers at) was open, so I stopped in there and had a look around.

I saw a navy coloured tutu that looked like it was an adult size, but I was so focussed on what I was doing, and uninterested in something that was not in the range of colours that I'm currently wearing (that go with my natural hair colour) that I didn't even try it on.

Like a lot of crossdressers, I like to experiment with clothing that I've never tried before, so having seen the tutu gnawed at me enough that I went back on Saturday morning to try it. In anticipation of this, I wore a gaff and opaque black tights that look a fair bit like mens socks when worn under mens trousers and shoes.

By the time I got there, it was about 11:45am and the shop was going to close at noon. I walked in to find that the place was packed ~ as in a dozen or so people. Once upon a time, I would have turned tail and fled, abandoning the object of my interest ~ but not any more. :)

One of the two dressing rooms was free, so I made my way straight to the rack where the tutu was, popped it under my arm then made my way to the dressing room. I stripped off my shoes and trousers and slid the tutu up into place, finding it a tiny bit loose but otherwise a fairly good fit, which was good since that meant that it would fit okay with my hip padding.

Within the first few seconds of putting it on, I'd decided that I was definitely buying it!

Having decided that I was buying it, I re-dressed myself, tucked the tutu and the hanger that it had been on under my arm and went out to the counter to pay for it ($5!), and realised that there was a woman standing at the counter fiddling with a pile of knitting needles while glaring intently at me. Where once I would have been intimidated by her behaviour, this time I was amused.

I drove home, tried the tutu on over my hip padding then decided that I'd like to go to another op shop before it closed to see if they had any skirts or dresses that might work over the tutu, and perhaps some male trousers that would fit over the padding to wear on similar future outings. I haven't gone out in boy mode wearing padding before, but since the weather is cold and wet, I wore a shirt, jumper and fairly bulky jacket on top and a pair of track pants on the bottom. I think that the bulkiness of the jacket mostly hid the padding.

I ended up going to 3 op shops (the local Lifeline shop and a couple of Salvos stores) and buying 2 skirts. I experimented a little and found that both looked okay, as did a low-cut LBD that I borrowed from my wife. By putting a contrasting top under it, I thought that the dress looked quite good. To some extent, I think that the way the skirts and dress hang over the tutu is reminiscent of 1950s dresses and skirts over petticoats.

The only drawback is that the dress and both of the skirts, like the tutu, are of colours that don't suit my natural colouring, so I'd have to wear a blonde or brunette wig to really make the colours work.

I've decided that I'd like a tutu in cream or a similar warm colour. Out of curiosity, I googled tutus to see how much they cost, and found a company that makes them in Australia to order. I initially thought that the one I have had been home-made, but looking at that site, I think that it may have been custom made by a place like that. It's clearly hand made, but not poorly made. The price? A new one similar to mine would cost about $135!

I don't know whether I'll use it in an outfit for Halloween or not, but I'm thinking that it's going to be either pregnant bulge or tutu, not both together. :P

19 June 2012

Halloween planning - part 2

Part 2, as promised. In the accompanying photos, you can see the progress so far with the mutilation of the doll and beach ball. I stripped the doll, pulled its plastic hands and feet and its wig off, removed the stuffing and cut a hole in the base of the head so that the salt could get in through the body. I then sewed both arms and one leg shut, filled the whole thing through the open leg then stitched it closed. I weighed it and it came in at 3kg, which is in the ballpark for a newborn.

I then stitched the arms together and the legs together to hold it towards the foetal position. Looking at it, I know that I'm going to have to take some fill out and shrink the bottom, as it's disproportionate and the overall length is be a bit too long, but I left it as is for now.

After cutting the stem off the beach ball, I stuffed the doll into it and folded it shut so that I could do a trial fit.The lack of fill around the doll made it quite lumpy, so I added one of the lightweight padding pieces in front of it to smooth it out. The plastic slid around while the other padding stayed put, making the results a bit hard to judge and convincing me that the fabric cover will not only be necessary, but will need to be tightly fitted or perhaps taped or glued to the plastic. 

I am aware that part of a the baby is inside the mother's normal body profile, and hence the doll may have to be trimmed, such as cutting the face off so that the remainder of the head will sit further in against the body, but from reading about pregnancy simulators, they deliberately incorporate a piece that is designed to push into the wearer, squashing the bladder in a manner comparable to a baby during pregnancy. I'm just not sure whether I'll be able to find a suitable body shaper that will apply enough pressure there without squashing the whole thing into me too hard.

The trial fit has convinced me that the concept can work, but the spare tyre of fat that I'm carrying around my waist is proving to be the biggest obstacle. At this stage, I'm putting the pregnancy idea aside for a while and concentrating on trying to get at least a little weight off. I'm still going to look for a suitable costume, and if I succeed in getting the weight off, I'll finish the pregnant belly and use if for Halloween. If not, I'll do something else this year and plan on re-visiting this next year.

While typing this, I realised that I made a silly mistake. When I did the trial fit, I first put on the hip and bum padding and a body shaper to keep that in place, then the pregnant bulge and another couple of shapers over that. The first shaper was probably reducing the amount that the doll pushed into my belly, offsetting the effect of the other shapers. I'll have to try it again without that shaper under the pregnant bulge!

18 June 2012

Halloween planning - part 1

I've been looking at costume ideas for Halloween. On the Saturday morning closest to Halloween, my local suburban shopping centre (including the salon where I get my nails done, the Lifeline op shop, Building Society branch and Subway restaurant that I've mentioned before) has a Halloween themed day. I went there in boy mode last year, and saw adults and children dressed up and decided that this year, I really want to go en femme.

But I also want to be in keeping with the Halloween theme. I want to present myself as a woman dressed up for Halloween. I've been working on the idea of going as Tinkerbell (currently my favourite option), a Disney princess or perhaps an angel, but with the twist of doing a pregnant version of whichever I did. I guess that I might be either presenting myself as a pregnant woman dressed up for Halloween, or a woman dressed up as a pregnant character for Halloween. I'm not sure which. :P

I've done a little bit of playing with making a realistic pregnant bulge using padding, foam and body shapers, but even when I made the bulge about full-term size, all of the padding (not counting the body shapers) weighed in at about 250 grams, and I wasn't convinced that it would work with so little weight. I'm not convinced that I'll move right without a reasonable amount of weight there, so I decided to look at how to make a more realistic simulation of a pregnant belly.

How do you make a relatively realistic simulation of a baby belly? I figured that the first thing to do is to get a doll about the size of a newborn that will curl up to the foetal position, and fill it with something dense enough to give it a bit of weight, put it in some sort of bag, then fill the bag around it to add a bit more weight and round out the overall shape.

My first thought was to use wheat, as is used in microwaveable heat packs. The first thing I did was to ask my wife where our heat pack (which hadn't been used in several years) was. When she got it out, I immediately realised that it was mouldy. A quick google, some discussion on Facebook and the wheat pack went in the bin. I discovered that rock salt was the preferred filler for heat packs now. A bit more googling and I discovered that the best way to get rock salt was as swimming pool salt, costing about $8 for a 25kg bag from a hardware store!

The only real problem with using salt is that it not only attracts water, but enough moisture will dissolve some of the salt, giving off a salty smell, so I need the salt to end up inside a waterproof bag, and to damp the sound of salt grains moving against each other and to stop a plastic bag sliding around, I need to put the waterproof bag inside a fabric bag.

My first thought was to find out how much a replacement bladder to go inside a football would cost, but that idea went out the window very quickly once I tried a couple of sports stores and discovered that not only is it impossible to buy a bladder, but all of the modern balls are one-piece plastic things with no replaceable bladder.

And so it was that I went to a hardware store to buy a bag of salt, and to a few op shops looking for a doll about the size of a newborn, some sort of waterproof bag, and some sort of fabric bag.

I ended up finding a child's beach ball at an op shop for the waterproof bag ~ I can cut it open, fill it then tape it shut. After looking at cushion covers for the fabric bag, I ended up finding a stuffed toy hippo (merchandising from the movie Madagascar), the body of which is about the right size and shape for the fabric bag, but it would need the padding, head, arms, legs and tail removed and sewing back up. I didn't buy it at the time, but went back the next day and got it.

At another shop, I found a doll. I was originally intending to get a hollow plastic doll, but had realised that the hollow ones have rigid arms and legs and a body that would not curve into the foetal position. When I found a soft-bodied doll about the right size, at first I wasn't going to get it. I walked out of the store, then changed my mind and went back in and bought it.

In the next instalment, you'll get to see my mutilation of the doll. :P

17 June 2012

Au re·voir Su

I had a total of 4 trips to Sydney to meet up with other Beauty Heaven members last year. The first was for Fashion Weekend Sydney, because Su (who is shown in the photo at right watching Stacey assemble her new palette at IMATS) had been given tickets. The second was my first daytime outing wigless, when a few of us met up to go to the Estee Lauder staff shop. The third trip was a casual day with friends, when one of the other members from Queensland had a few hours to kill between booking out of her motel and catching her plane home. The fourth outing was IMATS.

I wasn't the only one who has at all four of those outings. Su was also at all four. She was one of a handful of people who were instrumental in getting me out during the day with beauty obsessed friends who simply treated me as one of the girls. I know that my confidence improved dramatically as a result of those outings, and they were the key to my move from hiding under wigs to going out wigless.

If it hadn't been for those outings in Sydney, I doubt that I would have attended the first Newcastle Beauty Heaven meet-up and I would not have been anywhere nearly as comfortable going out wigless locally as I am now. Before, I was always convinced that most women took pity on me and just pretended to be supportive, and that anybody who looked at me would read me as a crossdresser.

I was sad to learn that Su will be moving to the United Kingdom soon, leaving Australia (possibly forever) at the end of June and visiting relatives in India before moving permanently to the UK. I don't know whether I'll get to Sydney and see her before she leaves or not. I hope I do.

Thanks to Facebook, we will stay in touch, but I'll miss her when I go to meet-ups. Perhaps one day she will return, or I'll travel to the UK and we'll meet again.

Su, thank you for being a good friend. Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for being you. I wish you the best for your future in the UK.

16 June 2012

More Subway stuff

I went to Subway tonight and was surprised to be served by the woman who had commented about my nails several weeks ago. I was surprised not only because I hadn't seen her there in about 5 weeks, but also because she usually used to be there on week nights.

It was a quiet night there, and in the whole time I was in the shop, I was the only customer. When I arrived, the woman serving me commented that she hadn't seen me for a while, and I responded that I've been there a couple of times a week but she hadn't been there. Apparently she hasn't been working there as often as she had been before.

We chatted as she prepared my order, and she was clearly in a good mood, laughing and smiling as she worked. Just before I left, I commented that I'd been there on a Sunday night a few weeks ago in a dress and the woman who served me didn't seem to realise that it was the same person.

She smiled and said goodbye as I picked up my order and left, as if what I had said was completely and utterly normal. I guess with my long painted nails, the long hair, pierced ears, etc, it wasn't a surprise to her. :)

10 June 2012

Nothing said

Three weeks ago I mentioned going to my local Subway en femme. I've been there several times since then, but it appears that they've rearranged their staff considerably in the past few weeks and I was starting to think that the two women who had been there that night were no longer working there.

I was surprised to find the woman who prepared my food that night was working there again tonight. While she didn't serve me tonight, I remarked about their recent staff changes and she smiled in acknowledgement of recognising me, which I would have expected based on my previous visits there as a male. I couldn't tell whether she realised that I was the same person as had been there en femme 3 weeks ago or not.

Sadly, the recent staff changes seem to mean that the other woman who commented about my nails a few weeks ago doesn't appear to be working there any more. Then again, I hadn't seen the woman who was there tonight in 3 weeks, so there's always a chance that the other one will show up again. :)