Allison M.

A crossdresser's thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and (oh yeah) dressing up


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The definitions of “family”

This is the holiday season, a time usually observed with holiday-specific traditions, religious commemorations, parties, and gift giving.  This time is also usually associated with being with or at least thinking about the family members you know, love, and hold dear to your heart.  Or at least those who share with you some sort of trait.  When one thinks “family,” they usually associate the word with being bound by blood or marriage.  That includes the parents who raised you from youth to adolescence and wished you good luck and good guidance as you ventured into adulthood; the siblings who grew with you and look up and to you for mutual support; and the cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents who provide their own versions of love, support, and encouragement.

Unfortunately, for some in the broad LGBT+ community, the term “family” doesn’t mean the natural definition of parents, siblings, etc. noted above.  Many has been the case where someone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or even simply questioning has been blackballed by their relatives.  Not only is it heartbreaking to think that those who identify as LGBT+ can face such shunning, it should also make one reconsider the traditional definition of “family.”

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Random fashion stuff (12/14/2017 edition)

Some relatively quick fashion tidbits to share with you, starting with this tweet I shared with the world last weekend:

In what may be the strangest (to me, at least) holiday dress I’ve ever seen, this display at Windsor in the West Towne Mall featured a strapless gown decked out entirely in pine tree needles.  Clearly, this is meant to be a seasonal window display, one meant to encourage shoppers to check out their store.  But if one were to actually wear this to a holiday party… well, for sure, it would be quite the statement-making eye-catcher, one that would be sure to strike up a few conversations about the wear being “fashion forward.”  However, there would be issues with sitting down (“OuchOuchOuch!”), not to mention shedding needles (“Would someone please bring over the broom and dustpan?  Or better yet, the vacuum cleaner.”).

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A happy anniversary

Okay, I should clarify right away the title of this post.  I’m not married or dating anyone (I’m still single).  It’s not my work anniversary (that was in September).  And it’s not this blog’s anniversary (that was last month).  But the day I write this post (December 9) marks one year since I first attended a transgender/crossdresser support meeting here in Madison.  As I recounted here, I had attended a Milwaukee support group a couple of times many years ago, and I longed to have the gumption to attend a similar group here in Madison.  One year ago tonight, I finally got the gumption to get dolled up, straighten that wig on my noggin, drive through the Friday night going-home traffic, and join others in the TG/CD community to share thoughts, opinions, and camaraderie.

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My stepfather’s health scare

I want to devote this post to an emergency my family had to go through the past few days.  Last Saturday, just as I was coincidentally adding my last post to this blog, I received a voice mail message from the eldest of my two sisters.  Our stepfather was rushed to a hospital in Ohio with what was determined to be a stroke.

A small bit of background first:  My stepfather, who is in his mid-70s, has been an over-the-road truck driver in one form or another for most of his life.  It could be logs, food, corrugated cardboard:  You name it, Dad more than likely hauled it from coast to coast or border to border.  In recent years, Dad has done less of the 18-wheeler thing and more of small transport tasks, including what he had finished last Friday, transporting a large boat for winter storage.

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Random stuff (12/2/2017 edition)

12-1-2017 944-02pmA quick post to reflect on a couple of things from the world of performing arts, one featuring yours truly and one not.  The former of the two goes first:  I dolled myself up last night (Friday) and returned to Mother Fool’s for the open-mic poetry event it hosts every month.  I hadn’t been to Mother Fool’s in a while, and the good feeling I had performing there, combined with the equally good feelings lingering from my performance at Trans Monologues last month, drove me to perform at Mother Fool’s again.

As is usually the procedure with the Mother Fool’s poetry and freeform events, those who wanted to perform added their name to a basket, from which the host (more on him in a moment) pulled out names to determine the order of performances.  I was the penultimate name pulled, taking the mic at around a quarter to 10PM.  By chance, I had a literal front row seat to the entire show; the table you see in the foreground of this photo is where I sat, with a lady sitting at the next table obliging to take photos while I was at the mic.  By chance or error, she hit the “video record” button on my phone’s camera a couple of times; they were brief and incomplete, but I’m tempted to edit and post them to show… well, audio proof that I perform my poetry.  (If I do, a bit of a spoiler alert:  I still not the most confident performer.)

Two spots after my 5-minute slot, which included 3 of my poems (including the holiday-themed first poem I ever posted here), the host took to the mic to finish off the event with a morose and rather morbid listing of the mass shootings in the United States over the past 5 years, including date and incident (his last entry was, “Next date: To be announced”).  The host was Ron Czerwein, who owns the Avol’s Books consignment business that operates out of A Room of One’s Own downtown.  For reasons left undisclosed, Friday was Ron’s last night hosting poetry open mic at Mother Fool’s.  The plan is for him to cede host duties to a rotation of four hosts, with one of the quartet caring for the hosting duties each month (including, presumably, making arrangements for the guest performers who open each event).  Two of those four hosting slots were still open, according to Ron, and being the type of person who wants to help out any way I can, I was tempted to inquire about the host slots.  I didn’t, however, because for one, I don’t have any real skills at arranging event logistics.  Also, I’m still relatively new at poetry writing and presenting.  Perhaps if I had more of those logistical and performing skills, I would have stepped up and asked, “Hey, do you need a fourth host?”  Maybe that will change in the future.

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Twas one week after Thanksgiving

Just thought I’d dedicate this post to some random holiday-related thoughts on this, 7 days after the American Thanksgiving Day.  First, a very-late question for my fellow Americans:  How was your Thanksgiving Day?  Mine was spent with my immediate family (mother, stepfather, sisters, their families) at Mom’s place.  Or to describe it more precisely, the combination lounge/kitchen on the first floor of Mom’s senior apartment building.  Since our extended family is too big for Mom’s modestly-sized apartment, Mom reserved the lounge for our Thanksgiving shindig.  On the good side, the lounge is pretty spacious and was perfect for our big family.  However, the newness of the first all-family Thanksgiving at Mom’s apartment building didn’t give the day that “at home” feeling I always felt whenever Mom at her old house or Sis at hers hosted whatever holiday shindig we would have.

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Allison’s Jukebox: “Give Me Love”

I’ve been meaning to add this song to “Allison’s Jukebox” for a while, and it took hearing it played on the radio while driving home tonight to finally put it to pixels:  George Harrison’sGive Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth).”

Just as with Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls,” which I sung the praises about here, “Give Me Love” is one of those drop-everything, sit-at-attention-and-listen songs that are my all-time favorites.  Truth be told, George Harrison had at least a couple other works in his repertoire that could fit the bill, including “What Is Life” and “All Things Must Pass,” two songs that predate “Give Me Love” by a couple of years.

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Why I’m thankful (or not thankful) on Thanksgiving 2017

As I write this, it’s Thanksgiving morning in the United States.  As my fellow Americans surely know by now, this is a day to meet up with family, eat copious amounts of food, watch grown men hit each other on only 3 days’ rest… and try to think of what they’re thankful for.  I’ve thought a bit about the intent of this holiday’s title, and in this post I’ve compiled some of things I’m thankful for — and a few I’m not thankful for — here in 2017.

  • I am thankful for still being employed.  Well, duh.  And while some of the work may be tedious, and while this is one of the busiest times of year for our team, at least I am doing a job I mostly enjoy using skills I’m proud to possess.
  • Despite my own employment and the fact that Madison has a pretty good climate for job prospects and growth, I am not thankful that this Thanksgiving finds some around here who, for reasons beyond their control, must go without gainful employment  Case in point:  Someone I’ve built a good friendship with this past year (more on how that came about in a little bit) was let go from her steady job last summer.  As with other unemployed people around here, I sincerely hope my friend will gain a job with a company that will appreciate her skills, her work ethic, and especially her passion for those who have less and for life in general.  (Side note to my friend:  I apologize in advance that my bringing up your plight on here may make you sad on this day, but know that I am here to respect and support you and wish you nothing but the best.)
  • I am thankful that I still live in such a wonderful, progressive, and wonderfully progressive community that is Madison.
  • I am even more thankful that I’ve had the opportunity — and the gumption — to step out as Allison into a city so welcoming.  I’ll likely bring this up again in an end-of-year post, but 2017 has been a big year for my stepping out of my wardrobe and into the world, from performing poetry to marching in a parade to attending a banquet.  These are experiences that I will never forget.
  • I am thankful for the health and happiness of my family.  I’m also thankful that we’ve grown bigger through the uniting in marriage of my youngest sister with her husband and his extended family (including his daughters).
  • I am also thankful that my four nieces are growing into wonderful young women.  One of them graduated from high school this year, and I hope she has ventured into what will be a positive future for her.  I hope, too, that my other nieces will have positive futures of their own.
  • I am not thankful that some in my family have our differences.  Those differences have been shown bare through Facebook:  My mom is among a (thankfully) few of my Facebook friends who are not above sharing a conservative-leaning meme with their friends.  At least I’m not one who uses Facebook much (at least as Male Mode Me), so I don’t have to see those irritating memes very much.  When I do, however, I’m not above using the “angry” reaction button to show my displeasure (I hope Mom and my Facebook friends get the message).
  • Needless to say, I am not thankful that our society has become more and more divided over the past year since You Know Who was elected You Know What.  Most of the previous 8 years, we didn’t have that feeling of our country being ripped apart centimeter by centimeter.  Now, in the past year, it’s as if those rips are not metaphoric and are miles in width — with the chasm being filled not by bridges but by walls.
  • Despite that, I am thankful that a great many people in this country are willing to stand up for what’s right and just, rising above the hatred and vitriol to stand for a country that should not have fear and hatred as its bedrock.
  • Above all else, I am very, very thankful to have joined and in and being a relatively active part of a transgender/crossdresser support group over the past year.  I regularly meet up with this group’s members, and they have proven to be a wonderful group.  They are ready to lend an an ear, their advice, and their support to those like me, regardless how how we identify.  (Respect for others’ differences is our group’s own bedrock.)
  • I have come to know my above mentioned friend through this TG/CD group; she is a cis-gender ally who respects and admires us for the people we are and the identity we know we are.  Friendships like this can be a rare thing for some, and I’m very glad — and very, very thankful — to have found such a friendship.

And just as I am very, very thankful for the friends I’ve built over the past year, I am very, very thankful for your readership and kind words.  Whoever you are, wherever you may be, whatever your identity, and whatever your background, here’s hoping Thanksgiving 2017 proves to be a happy time for you, and that you have your own reasons to be thankful.  Have a safe and enjoyable day.


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Allison’s night at Trans Monologues

Okay, okay, okay!  I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath for me to tell all about my night at the Trans Monologues event.  You haven’t?  Well, even if you haven’t, here’s where I finally talk about it.

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As I mentioned previously on here, Trans Monologues is an annual event put on by the University of Wisconsin—Madison’s LGBT Campus Center.  The event, which coincides with Transgender Awareness Week, aims to be a “night of honest expression about the joys and trials of being anywhere on or off the gender-variant spectrum” (direct quote from the event’s Facebook page, where the above image appears).

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A poem: “Who…”

Before I (finally) recount my performance last Friday at Trans Monologues, I want to first present to you, for the first time on this blog, the poem I performed at the event.  The reason for this is to have a preface to my post about my performance at the event, which will include how I presented the poem.  (Spoiler alert: It involved emphasizing some lines with hand gestures.  No, not those kinds of hand gestures.)

As for the poem itself?  This was one of two poems I wanted to refrain from publishing on here until after presenting them live.  Back in August, I submitted this and a few others for consideration at another trans-related performance event.  And as I mentioned here, I was turned down.  That did to not only a bit of soul searching but also editing and re-editing the two new poems.  (For the record, I’ve already published the other poem, and it’s found here.)  The re-editing process included some re-re-editing after I read it aloud for folks in a trans support group I regularly attend.  They were more supportive, were not one to readily scrutinize so harshly, and are part of a community that is this poem’s inspiration.  They did offer some praise, but also some constructive advice I heeded, and the final result is what you are about to read.

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