Allison M.

Thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and (oh yeah) dressing up from a full-time male who's a part-time female


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Random stuff (6/3/2017 edition)

whitakers

Ash Whitaker and his mom (image source: Associated Press)

If you saw some of my retweets on Twitter a couple of days ago, you learned that there was a significant bill introduced in Wisconsin’s state legislature that, if it becomes law, would prohibit discrimination based on one’s gender identity or expression.  I’m trying to formulate a post devoted solely to that piece of legislation (which you can learn about here).  But in the meantime, I want to highlight a couple of interesting LGBT-related items.

The first was another piece of big Wisconsin news this week involving Ash Whitaker, a student at Kenosha’s Tremper High School who received disrespect from the administration of both the school and the school district just because he is transgender.  Originally, Ash made news for wanting to run for prom king, but was rebuffed by Tremper High officials who dictated that he run for prom queen or be dropped from consideration for prom court altogether.  The school relented, allowing anyone who qualified for prom court to run for prom king or prom queen, whichever one matched the gender they identified as.

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Allison’s Jukebox: “Understanding”

Time for a mellow addition to “Allison’s Jukebox.”  I heard this song again on the radio, by coincidence, just days before my niece’s high school graduation, and I realized that, in part due to the motion picture it was heard in, it’s a perfect song for graduation season.

teachers_28movie_poster29First, about the movie the song is heard in:  Teachers was a comedic/dramatic motion picture that was released in the fall of 1984.  It was the type of film where you’d throw a boatload of notable actors (Nick Nolte! JoBeth Williams! Judd Hirsch!) into one setting, give their characters somewhat disparate yet related situations, and let them do their work.

Of course, since the film’s title is Teachers, it’s about the a typical day (week?) at an inner city high school, focusing on its faculty and teachers who, let’s face it, do not have good moral or ethical standing yet are trying their best to rise above the system (well, some of them anyway).

As noted above, Teachers has one main plot line (er, two really) but quite a few disparate subplots.  Here’s a partial rundown of the latter:

  • Fights between students.
  • Fights between faculty members (like I said, the faculty’s not perfect).
  • The death of a student at the hands of police (a harbinger of present day news?).
  • A mental outpatient who poses as a substitute teacher and makes U.S. history engaging for the class (Richard Mulligan was always a pleasure to watch).
  • And a female student who gets knocked up by a gym teacher, only to have another teacher take her to an abortion clinic (a scene that definitely raised a ruckus with conservative groups at the time).

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Thoughts on romance

It’s May 30 as I write this, meaning we’re two days away from June.  And to this blogger, June means a series of writing challenges put forth by one of my WordPress peeps, The Finicky Cynic.  She calls it “The June Jour Challenge,” which consists of various topics to write about and/or methods in which to write them.

In the previous two Junes, I poured my all into the challenges F.C. put forth.  And I’m looking forward to whatever F.C. is set to serve up this June, depending on how busy her June will be.  But today I realized… oh, gosh!  I missed a couple of prompts she served up last June!

But I will try to rectify that here by picking up where I left off last June, by responding to this prompt F.C. put forth about romantic relationships.  “Is it a social institution that you subscribe to, challenge, or both,” she asks.

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Post-graduation thoughts

A few thoughts that occurred to me on this, the day after my oldest niece graduated from high school:

You can take the adult out of his youth, but you can’t take the youth out of the adult.  Case in point:  My brother-in-law, who, on our drive up to Em’s graduation, annoyed his young daughters by playing the all-80s headbanging hair rockers’ channel on the satellite radio.  Whenever they asked — nay, pleaded — with their dad to change the channel to something — nay, anything — much more contemporary, he’d switch back and forth between classic rock music channels.  I should’ve complained right along with them, instead of biting my tongue for the sake of positive familiar discord.  Or at least told him, “Hey, bro, care to show us how your musical tastes have evolved since your teens?”

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Graduation thoughts

5-16-2017 542-46pmWhile I was waiting for new lenses to be installed on my eyeglasses, I walked around West Towne Mall (yes, I can still make things out without glasses) and browsed through a couple of stores such as Windsor, where I spotted and photographed the display you see to your right.  As you can see, the mannequins are decked out in some awesome looking dresses, and in a respectable neutral color for late spring/early summer (off white).  Look, too, at their feet; those are some pretty gnarly heels they have going there.

As you can also tell, there is also some serious gown action going on.  You know, the kind of gown that goes well with a mortar board on the head.  Yep, it’s the second half of May, which means graduation time.  By now, your nearest high school or college will have had or are about to have their annual graduation ceremonies.  Here in Madison, the University of Wisconsin already had their ceremony a couple of weeks ago.  And this weekend, my oldest niece will walk down the gymnasium aisle, take her diploma, turn her tassel, and enter the post-high school world.

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Why Allison doesn’t like to binge-watch

I need to preface this post by stating that I’ve never been a sci-fi geek.  What I mean is that I’ve never seen or appreciated a television show, film, book, etc. solely based on the fact that it’s in the realm of science fiction or fantasy.  That’s not to say I disdain anything sci-fi.  Far from it, in fact.  If a show or film that’s well produced happens to be sci-fi is okay with me.

I only bring up that clarification on science fiction as what I want to write about in this post has to do indirectly with a sci-fi show that Male Mode Me has taken an interest to in the past year or so.  The name of the show is not germane either, although I’ll link to its web page here.  What is germane, though, is the fact that the cable network airing the show is running its current season event-style, 10 episodes over 3 nights instead of the traditional one episode per week.  In the modern day vernacular, this is what’s known as “binge-watching,” that is sitting down on your posterior and watching several hours of television (especially episodes from the same series) in succession.

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Incorrect narratives

I’ll start this post with a little bit of levity:  If you’re from Canada, you’re probably familiar with a CBC Television show called This Hour Has 22 Minutes.  For the uninitiated, 22 Minutes is best described analogous to Saturday Night Live and its Weekend Update segment, in that it spoofs Canadian current events and TV news through its delivery of jokes, sketches, satirical commentaries, and man-on-the-street segments, regularly doing so in devastatingly funny and pointed fashion.

When I spent a week vacationing in Canada many years ago, I came across a 22 Minutes episode that included a recurring segment called “Canada in the Morning.”  As you can guess by its title, it was a parody of the breezy TV news/chat shows one turns on (for the sake of white noise?) while getting ready to go to work.  “Canada in the Morning” featured the fictitious duo of “Finnigan O’Toole” and “Lisa Thomas,” played respectively by Gavin Crawford and Cathy Jones, who in interview segments had a tendency to stray very far from the chief topic at hand.

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Stepping out in PVC

It’s already the middle of May (already?!), and the other day, I finally — finally! — did something I hadn’t done all year:  I dressed up and snapped some pictures to share with all of y’all.

Piano shirt, jacket, and PVC leggings

After a busy Friday of work in the morning and volunteering in the afternoon, I headed home late afternoon with one more personal commitment, a meet-up with fellow CD/TG people that evening.  Rather than just slap on a wig and jeans, I decided to take a bit of a stylish route, starting with a nice cream colored jacket I bought several years ago at Forever 21.  It does have a nice combination of spring feeling and stylish attitude.

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Random stuff: SNL’s “Handmaid’s” parody

Perhaps you’ve heard by now about a little series on Hulu called The Handmaid’s Tale.  The show, whose first season is being released episode-by-episode as of this writing and which has been renewed for a second season, is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel set in a dystopian future where religious autocrats have taken over what used to be the United States; have stripped away human rights in general and women’s rights in particular; and have subjugated fertile women into a life in which they’re nothing more than, uh, baby-making machines for the privileged (and barren) upper class.

So far, The Handmaid’s Tale has been critically well received, and has certainly gained notice from those like… uh, [sheepishly raises hand] me who do not have a Hulu subscription (note to self: buy it on DVD if and when it comes out) for what have been described as powerful and engrossing acting, writing, and visuals.  Of course, one other reason for that notice is how it seems to be an ominous warning.  Even though Season 1 went into production well before You Know Who was elected You Know What, the show seems to serve as an advisory for what may lie ahead for society while You Know Who’s cronies desire to take away rights and make America in their own misguided image.  It’s part of the reason one critic has labeled the show the most important of this spring.

With The Handmaid’s Tale having such a dark tone and provocative subject matter, one would think it would not be ripe for parody by a satirical outlet such as, say, Saturday Night Live.  Well… one would be wrong.

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Good, bad, and uneasy about my eyes

I underwent my annual eye examination on Saturday, and the outcome gave me some good, bad, and uneasy feelings.  Let’s summarize:

Good:  The eye doctor said that my eyes were in good health, which is good (Yay!) considering the family history I will mention below.

Bad:  A scan of my eyes revealed a possible question mark regarding the health of my right eye.  It’s something “outside of normal,” according to the doctor, though not too much outside of normal.

Good:  The eye doctor thinks said question mark could be a minor abnormality and that I shouldn’t worry about it just yet.  I guess we’ll check it out again in a year.

Uneasy:  Reading (and re-reading) said scan results has made me anxious about this precious of the 5 senses.  Sure, it may indeed be nothing to worry about, but it’s the pits to know that my eyes are not perfect, and that just as the rest of one’s body ages over time, so do one’s eyes. My grandmother had glaucoma and cataracts in her later years; my mom will need to undergo cataract surgery within the next year, and she’s no spring chicken either.   And on top of that, the eye doctor intimated to me that everyone will have cataracts in their lifetime.  It’s a bummer to think about.

Good:  I’ll be getting new eyeglass lenses in the coming days, the better to help alleviate eye strain caused by being on the computer all the time.

Bad:  I still need glasses, and likely always will.  Well, that’s a given since I’ve worn glasses since I was 8 years old and my eyes see everything as a blur when I don’t have them on.  You probably couldn’t tell that from my various photos that I need glasses, do you?  Well, 9 times out of 10, I temporarily put my glasses to the side when I’m taking a picture as Allison, and shedding them helps assure, in my mind at least, that my male and female sides have a distinct look (“Clark Kent vs. Supergirl” is how I like to term the comparison).

Good:  I get to keep my eyeglass frames, which I’ve had for over a decade, are still in very good shape (one replaceable ear rest notwithstanding), and look flattering on me whether I’m presenting as male or female.  Seriously, I love how they don’t take up very much of my face (i.e. they’re not dark frames that hide my facial features).

Uneasy:  The total cost of the new lenses and the exam that preceded them set me back about $850.  You’re asking why so much and why must I pay out of pocket?  Well, to answer the first question, I have separate eyeglass pairs for working on the computer and for regular “distance” vision, and I switch back and forth between them whenever I step to or away from my computer.  The latter reason is that my eye doctor and the place where I get my glasses (okay, it’s LensCrafters) are not currently on my vision plan.  However, there’s still a chance I can recoup some of that cost when I submit my claim to the insurance provider.  That’s not a guarantee I’ll get 100% of that cost back, but I gotta hope.

Good:  Putting the special anti-glare and anti-strain coating on the lenses won’t take forever.  Well, okay, it’ll take about a week, but that’s not forever.  And it’s not like I’ll be blind as a bat waiting for them (I’ve still got my old lenses on my glasses, and putting the new lenses in when they arrive will take just an hour).

Uneasy:  All this talk about glasses makes me wish I would have considered contact lenses earlier in my lifetime.  I never had since I have the fear of discomfort if I were to wear them, not to mention losing them inside my eyelids or out of my eyes if they were to pop out.  My sister wears contacts, and many years ago when we shared a duplex and I got a coupon for a trial offer of contacts in the mail, I immediately gave the coupon to Sis, lest said “great deal” go to waste.

Good:  I have peace of mind for another year knowing that my eyes are healthy.  Now, if there were a way to waive a magic wand on my eyes and give them 20/20 vision, that would be even better.