Allison M.

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


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Allison’s true tales of Shopko

Does this photo ring a bell, faithful readers?

Vinyl trousers and Gitano jacket

If you read this post from last year, or if you’ve ever perused through my Flickr album, you probably remember seeing the above outfit, and in particular the black jacket I’m sporting.  The black-colored Gitano cotton jacket is probably the oldest item still in my female clothing closet.  I found it way back in 1992 in the youth/young adults section of the Shopko department store down the road from where I lived.

If you’ve also read my previous post, you’ve learned that Shopko is in a bit of a financial bind.  Shopko is a department store chain founded and based in Green Bay that has been in existence since 1962.  Last month, facing a lot of debt and withering competition, Shopko filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a series of store closures, including the last three Shopko stores here in Dane County.

While I admit I haven’t gone to Shopko very much in recent years, the news of their bankruptcy and departure from Madison and other large and small towns in its footprint left me a bit sad.  I found myself in agreement with a retail industry observer interviewed by the Green Bay Press-Gazette about Shopko’s bankruptcy.  “This one doesn’t surprise me,” he said of Shopko’s bankruptcy, “but it’s a company I hate to see go.”  Indeed, while the Walmarts and Targets of the world have run laps around Shopko and other department store chains, it has been a nice place with generally good customer service, and where you can get what you want (cute outfit, comfy boots) or need (toiletries, shoes, dining room set).

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Having to say hello to a goodbye

By now, you’ve perhaps heard of the hopefully happy news in the world of retail shopping:  Sears is going to stick around a little longer.  A couple of weeks or so ago, a U.S. bankruptcy judge allowed a plan by the chairman and biggest shareholder of Sears’ and Kmart’s parent company to stay in business, beating back challenges by creditors of the company who wanted a liquidation.

So, the judge’s approval means that Sears’ 425 stores will stay open, and its 45,000 employees will remain on the job.  While that’s good news, naturally, it’s not all sunshine and lollypops at the moment:  Sears Holdings has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since October, and since that time has closed several of its stores, including its location at West Towne Mall, just down the road from where I live.  And it still has to find a way to attract those who left it behind for the likes of Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

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Random personal stuff (2019 polar vortex edition)

One of the nice things about living in Wisconsin is that the scenery is pretty awesome.  Whether it’s the urban skyline of Milwaukee or Madison, the majestic natural formations of places like Kettle Moraine, or the peacefulness of Door County, this state produces scenes that can be all at once tranquil, exciting, awe inspiring, and breathtaking, no matter what the season may be, including here in winter.  But the beauty of winter is served on a double-edged sword:  The sight of a snow-covered field or wooded area brings serenity, but it’s best appreciated when you’re indoors looking through a window.

Madison’s State Street on Monday (photo source: Wisconsin State Journal)

The past couple of weeks here in Madison have brought 3 different snowstorms of varying degrees of effect.  The most recent of those storms occurred this past Sunday evening/Monday morning, when a storm dumped around 6 inches of snow.

That Monday snowstorm was actually the good news of the week, and not just because the original Madison forecast called for more snow than that.  It ushered in what meteorologists call a polar vortex.  Basically, it’s Mother Nature leaving her freezer door open and letting a lot of chilly air escape.  This week, that vortex of cold, cold air dropped right smack dab onto the Upper Midwestern United States.

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Thanks, Gov!

It’s almost the middle of January.  And depending on where you live in the United States, the fruits of last November’s elections, which saw for the most part success of progressive-leaning candidates nationwide, are starting to take shape.  And while it’s definitely good to know that the Democratic Party caucus in the new Congress has more diversity (including 10 openly gay or bisexual Senators or Representatives), this quick post will highlight a very nice development on the state level.  Or to be more precise, at Wisconsin’s state level.

Image source: The Capital Times

The man you see in the glasses in this photo is Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s 46th governor, who took the oath of office last Monday, January 7, at the State Capitol here in Madison.  As you’d expect from such a ceremony, there was a lot of pomp and circumstance:  The music.  The administration of the oath to Evers.  The same to four other constitutional officeholders, including the state’s first African-American lieutenant governor (and second person of color to hold statewide office in Wisconsin), Mandela Barnes.  The speeches.  And the promise of a hopeful next four years, even if the legislature is still dominated by a not-so-progressive party.

Needless to say, Governor Evers is progressive, and in his first day in office, he signed his first executive order, one that’s nothing but positive for our community.  The order he signed requires that state government agencies develop policies that will prohibit discrimination against employees and whomever they serve on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  Additionally, the Evers administration will begin development on “a model anti-discrimination policy that will be distributed to all state employees.”

Yes, this is indeed great news.  In the previous 8 years, Wisconsin was governed by a man who sought to “divide and conquer,” starting with controversial legislation that hit public sector employees and unions where it hurt (and led to said employees storming the State Capitol in protest).  His tenure also fostered an atmosphere of his party having an attitude that they could do anything they want, including actual or perceived “cronyism,” left-leaning opposition inside and outside the State Capitol be dammed.

That’s not entirely the case any more here in Wisconsin.  Oh, sure, Governor Evers still has to face a legislature that’s still controlled by the other party.  But his first actions show that it’s still necessary to ensure that people in our state are treated with dignity and respect, and that their work is judged on how they do the job, not based on who they love, nor how they identify, and certainly not by how they’re connected in government.

Not only did this move occur here in Wisconsin this month, our neighbors in Michigan have seen the same thing:  That state’s own new Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, signed her own executive directive that prohibits Michigan’s state agencies, service providers, and whoever else works with the state from discriminating against LGBT+ people, as well as strengthening prohibitions against discrimination in state services based on sexual or gender identity.

So, this is definitely great news here in the Midwest.  If only every governor had the smarts to make such moves (giving an angry look at you, Florida).


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A place that must “B” better

Time to get back on my high horse blogging-wise and share some news about a prominent LGBT-oriented venue here in Madison.  Well, at least it was originally established to be a positive part of our community.

12-30-2018 1205-30pm

The building you see above is at 924 Williamson Street.  Until over a decade ago, it was the longtime home to Star Photo Service; look closely at the upper front façade and you can make out a faded star that once was Star Photo’s marquis sign.

Then in August 2009, during Madison’s pride weekend, the ownership team of Rico Sabatini and Corey Gresen opened the nightclub Plan B on this site.  The club’s opening came after 2½ years of not just finding a location for the club but also remodeling it for suitability. (The name “Plan B” is a nod to the false starts and changes in plans that preceded its opening.)

Virtually from the get-go, Plan B became a very popular spot, one where Madison’s LGBT community could meet, converse, drink, dance, perform, and be themselves.  Speaking of performing, Plan B has been home to regular drag performances over the years, not only from national performers but those from here in Madison and Wisconsin.  Trixie Mattel (yes, that Trixie Mattel) was a part of Plan B’s drag cast before hitting it big not once but twice on RuPaul’s Drag Race.  And Plan B has not limited itself to the inside of the club either, as it’s used its parking lot and the street in front of it to stage its Fruit Fest block party every June. Continue reading


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An enjoyable moment from my 2018

Whenever it’s the last week of a year, I find myself looking at the calendar on the wall, noticing the dwindling dates of December, and asking myself, egads, where has this year gone?

The gravity of knowing that one year is about to give way to another makes one think of all that’s to come with the new calendar on the wall as well as, naturally, all that occurred while the old calendar was posted.  And a lot happened in 2018, including something you probably know by now if you’re a frequent reader of this blog:  My having to depart my previous place of employment and eventually finding the current temp-to-hire assignment I call my new income source.

But rather than bore you with another post of the professional journey Male Mode Me took in 2018, or for that matter any other issues that popped up in my life this year, I want to lift my cup of kindness yet for one of the more enjoyable days of my previous 365 that should not be forgot.  At the end of September, I joined up with a Flickr friend and fellow male-to-female crossdresser.  The two of us first got together a few years ago at my apartment, at my invitation.  Back in the fall, my friend put out the call for someone to join her for an afternoon at her place, which she would have all to herself.  (Her wife doesn’t mind her dressing up but wants no part of it.)

My Flickr friend and I spent the few hours of that late afternoon trying on outfits, conversing (despite my not being a brilliant conversationalist), and just enjoying that “girl time.”  And, yes, we took pictures.  It was just these past few days that I finally got around to going through the photos from that afternoon.  First was this pic of yours truly in a leopard print dress and trusty leather belt you probably saw before on here:

Leopard print dress & black belt

And this dress I found earlier in September at St Vincent de Paul.  Yes, there are diamond shaped studs along the lower halves of the sleeves and above the hemline.  And, yes, it was love at first sight when I saw it, especially considering the fact that it’s in my size (8).

Black dress with studs

And here’s me in another item I found at St Vincent de Paul, a tank top all glittery in front-panel sequins.  I pair it here with a patent leather mini skirt I found at Forever 21.

Sparkly top and patent leather skirt

But the best photo of yours truly from that late afternoon was one of the last pictures my friend and I took.

Pinstripe suit & "Me" shirt

Yes, you’ve seen this “me” shirt I found in the Macy’s markdown racks back in March.  But the suit?  I had just bought this Who What Wear pantsuit earlier that very day before my dress-up rendezvous.  A few days earlier, I had actually noticed this suit on the rack at Target but didn’t think of purchasing it then.  After that, however, I thought about how my femme side deserves to have a professional look.  I mean, an endless stream of wigs and leather skirts isn’t enough sustenance for a crossdresser.

So when you look at me in this suit, you’re not just looking a crossdresser.  You’re looking at a human being who in 2018 went through the sadness of losing one job; regained pride in finding new employment; and for one Saturday afternoon, put aside the worries of the outside world and took the time to be… well, me.

It’s this day of meeting up with someone and dressing up for the camera that is one of the better moments I will want to remember 2018 for.  Yeah, the steep slopes and rough seas of this year will linger in the back of my mind, but my glass will be raised in honor of the good moments and good people I spent them with.

Here’s hoping when you raise your own glass at midnight tonight (or earlier if you like to turn in early on New Year’s Eve as I do), you’ll have your own happy moments and good friends you’ll remember from 2018.  Thanks for reading, and may you all have a happy and safe 2019.


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Happy Holigays!

Happy Holigays (2017)

Back in September 2017, I posed for a professional photographer for the first time, doing so before the camera of Katie Berry at Smoketree Photography.  Three months later (December 2017), Katie, her partner, and their friends in the Everyday Gay Holiday art studio/collective on Atwood Avenue threw a holiday get-together for their friends in the LGBT+ community — a “HOLIgay” party.  While I’m not a party person, I jumped at the chance to doll myself up, snack on some food, and mingle with other LGBT+ people from the Madison community.

Happy Holigays (2017)

Being the photographer that she is, Katie set up a corner in the studio to let the partygoers use her fancy camera and snap a few free selfies in front of a festive “toyland/horse/holiday/winter wonderland” setting.  Not wanting to pass up a photo opportunity while looking fabulous, I took the remote and snapped a few photos.  There I was in red hair, soft sweater, and patent vinyl Forever 21 skirt, and Katie’s remote clicker in hand, smiling and being all beautiful for the camera. (Oh, the Santa hat was among the available props in the studio.)

Happy Holigays (2017)

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Some things to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2018

Happy Thanksgiving 2018, my fellow Americans!  Yes, yes, we know this is a day where we’re supposed to join our families in eating turkey by the plateful, watch starlets lip sync down a New York boulevard, veg out in slumber post-dinner while watching grown men in helmets hit each other into oblivion on only 3 days’ rest… and try to think of what they’re thankful for.  Oh, and start thinking about what gifts to give their loved ones come Christmastime.

While I will likely hate-watch the Macy’s Day Parade (whoops, I did it again), definitely watch some football, and put thoughts on holiday shopping on the back burner, I won’t be with my family on this Thanksgiving.  Not that I don’t want to; it’s just that our family has already had our Thanksgiving to-do the first Saturday of this month.  Just as she did last year on the actual holiday, our mom wanted to host Thanksgiving again at her senior living apartment building.  However, the only spot in said apartment building big enough for all of us — the meeting room — was already booked this day, as well as the Saturdays before and after it.  The earliest she could host us was back on November 4.  And so, that’s when we all got together:  My mom; my stepfather; my sisters and their families; and I, who was assigned (again) to bring pumpkin & apple pies and Cool Whip (the low-fat version, my decision).

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Some very happy returns

It’s been a few days since the 2018 general elections here in the United States.  As with every election season, the 2018 conclusion had some good, bad, and very best news:

  • The good news about that is that we no longer have to put up with awful campaign attack ads dirtying up the airwaves (at least until 2020 or *sigh* late 2019).
  • The bad news is that not every candidate with a forward-thinking viewpoint won their election (as the saying goes, you can’t win ’em all *sigh*).
  • But the very best news?  Well, let me get off this bullet point and tell you…

Okay, the very best news is the advancements of bright, shining, forward-minded political stars on Tuesday night, the biggest highlight being the biggest takeaway of the night, at least among many political pundits:  The Democratic Party gained the majority of seats the House of Representatives!  That means that America now has a little bit of a check and balance against You Know Who and his myopic, misogynistic, anti-everything administration.

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Random personal stuff (10/17/2018 edition)

Thought I’d share with you a few things that are going on in and around my life.  First off, I’m still on that temp-to-hire assignment.  Am I happy about it?  Well, I’m happy that I’m getting paid, if that’s what you’re wondering.  I won’t bore you in this post with the details, but I will say it’s probably the most demanding work I’ve ever done in my career.  There are lots of things to learn, and the boss is a very hard person to please.  But at least they can’t say I’m not trustworthy:  I do show up when my shift begins; I stay late if need be; and I do my best to at least try to learn and retain what I’m learning, and ask questions when necessary.

Despite that, I’m quite nervous about my long-term prospects at this company.  The person who’s been training me is planning to depart by the end of this month, and most of the responsibilities of this position will fall to me.  So, yeah, a lot will be demanded of me, and I’m not sure if I’m quite ready for all of it.  [*sound of my throat swallowing a big lump of nervousness*]  But if it doesn’t work out… well, who know’s what will happen for me if it doesn’t?  But I know I will at least take with me a better sense of what I can do, what I will need to improve on, and a bit of personal pride (as dinged as it might be) that I did my best in a difficult role. Continue reading