Allison M.

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


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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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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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Allison’s second… er, uh, third live performance

It’s Wednesday as I finish this post, and while I try to process my long weekend out of town and my return from work afterwards (a topic for a forthcoming post, I promise), let’s devote this post to the big weekend I had exactly one weekend previous — Saturday the 23rd of September, to be exact.  As you can tell from this post’s title, I did indeed perform poetry as Allison once again.  But was it my second performance or my third?  Well, I guess some clarification is in order:  The first time I performed in front of a mic was during a poetry event at Mother Fool’s back in early July.  A few weeks after that, on the last Saturday night of July to be exact, I was actually back at Mother Fool’s, though not to read poetry.  Instead, since it wasn’t exclusively a night of poetry, I did a little bit of freeform spoken word storytelling about how I first found that sack of women’s clothing.

Saturday the 23rd, however, was all about the poetry.  And instead of Mother Fool’s, we did our thing at another coffee house in town.  (I’ll get to the significance of the “we” later.)  The business in question is Cargo Coffee, a locally- and family-owned coffee shop that has two locations here in Madison, one on the south side and the one we performed at on East Washington Avenue, a few blocks northeast of the State Capitol.  Cargo Coffee’s East Wash location is part of a major redevelopment that’s been occurring on the avenue the past several years (well, it’s happening throughout Madison but it definitely applies to East Wash):  Older, smaller, and generally decrepit buildings, ones that housed businesses ranging from repair shops to an automobile dealership, have been replaced by more modern buildings and shops (including restaurants, a swank hotel, and a supermarket) and condominiums and luxury apartments that cost a pretty penny.  And the redevelopment isn’t done yet:  A new music venue is under construction just kitty corner from Cargo Coffee; further up the avenue, a separate redevelopment is turning a long-empty and neglected plot of land into a mix of apartments, shops, and a UW Health clinic.

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A poem: “Store-bought”

A little bit of self-admission, folks:  Not only have I been very busy this week at work (two words: mandatory overtime), I have a very busy weekend out of town ahead of me.  As a result, I haven’t had too much time to write a new blog post about my latest excursion behind the microphone at a poetry reading.  It’s not as if I haven’t tried writing, but let’s just say the combination of writing, photo editing, and, uh, “cat video watching” (more of the former than the latter) have led to an incomplete self-grade.  I do promise, however, that a formal recount of my performance will be forthcoming.

But, still, I want to show evidence that the cobwebs haven’t settled in to my little corner of WordPress.  And so, I will now post a new poem I have had percolating in the draft section that I had wanted to first get some personal one-on-one feedback.  But I’ll say to heck with that and just give it to you straight:

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Rewording how I define myself

While there have been two good things that occurred in my personal life this August (my high school class reunion, my marching in the pride parade), there was one situation that really bummed me out.  Now that I’m slowly putting it behind me, I will start my explanation of said situation by highlighting a change you may have noticed this month:  My Gravatar profile description.  You know, the one listed under my smiling face you see on the right of your compute screen.  (Uh, you are reading this on a computer screen, right?)  Here is how that profile previously read:

blog bio before

Take note of the first three sentences in that description:  “Full-time middle-aged male.  Long-time overworked office drone.  Part-time female fashion plate.”  A witty and rather innocuous way to describe myself… or so I thought.  The thoughts of those three sentences, or at least how a very important gatekeeper interpreted them, prevented me from taking part in the perfect venue to showcase my poetry skills (such as they are).

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Trying to get things perfect

When reading this blog, you may have noticed I’m a budding poetry writer (well, I consider myself budding), and that just a couple of weeks ago, I took the leap of presenting some of my poetry as Allison in front of an intimate live audience.  That night was a real confidence builder not only for presenting my female side but also my writing abilities.

I do, however, consider my current poetry writing abilities as being at a less-than-perfect point.  So far, with one or two exceptions, most of my poetry subjects have been about LGBT themes and trying to meet eye-to-eye with someone who’s not necessarily part of our community, meaning subject outside those realms can be hard for me to interpret into prose.  As well, I’m one who wants to write, rewrite, and re-rewrite poetry (and some other blog posts) over time, doing so until it feels to me to be as perfect as possible.

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The night Allison read poetry… out loud!

If you are a regular reader of this post, you’ve noticed that I’ve made periodic attempts at writing in a creative way.  One of those attempts has been the writing of my own poetry.  Now, I’m not the world’s most perfect poet (and I know it), but putting pen to prose… er, uh, actually more like putting fingers to keyboard to prose has stimulated my creative writing juices quite a bit.  Even if some of my rhymes fall flat, I still take pride in knowing that I took a creative risk.

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A coffee shop that isn’t Starbucks

Last Friday night (July 7), I took, for me, a really awesome risk:  Reading my original poetry in front of a live audience… and doing so in my feminine persona!  Here’s the deal:  I established an account with a certain social media service (which is a subject for a future post, I promise), and through it learned about an open mic poetry reading at Mother Fool’s, a little coffeehouse on Williamson Street on Madison’s near east side that’s been around since 1994 and serves breakfast, lunch, soups, bakery goods, coffee, conversation, wi-fi… and, yes, live entertainment.  (The above photo is from a post a couple of years ago about Willy Street as a whole.  Since that photo, Mother Fool’s suffered damage to its front entrance, thanks to a drunk driver turning the place into a drive-thru last August.  Mother Fool’s had to close for a while, but in due time the entrance was repaired and looking good as new.)

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A poem: “Freedoms”

Today is Independence Day here in the United States, the day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by thirteen of Great Britain’s North American colonies, who would unite and form what is now the fifty United States of America.

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A poem: “I See You”

Today (March 31) is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which is a day meant to celebrate those who identify as transgender and to help raise awareness of discrimination faced by trans people everywhere.  (It should not be conflated with the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which occurs in November and is more solemn.)

I won’t get too much into the ins and outs of TDoV in this post, though I do recommend you learn more about the day (here is a good starting point).  What I do want to do is dedicate a few lines of prose (and passing references of David Bowie and J. Geils Band) to this day and to trans people of all stripes, especially those who, by circumstance or choice, may not live out and proud.  While this prose may not be perfect, know that the words are meant to communicate my appreciation for you, whichever part of the spectrum you identify under.

“I See You”

I see you over there
Sitting all alone and scared
You’re not sure if you’re a boy or a girl
And it’s got your mother in a whirl

The world wants to put you down
And make you frown
They’re misguided for insisting that you’re one thing
When you know you’re not what they’re saying

They want you to wear one set of clothes
But it’s a set in which you’ll never grow
Because of that, they think you’re an abomination
But, really, you’re an amazing creation

I know, they want to put you down
To keep you from wiping off your frown
You know you’re one thing
When everyone says you’re another
But to me, you’re more than a sister or a brother

No, really, you’re beautiful
Just the way you are
So don’t be afraid
Shine your own kind of light
Fight their darkness with your personality bright

Oh, I’m sorry
You don’t want to come out?
You do want to be the person you are
But you don’t want to scream or shout?

It’s okay, I understand
I have my own four-walled Neverland
Where I can feel free
And be who I know I be
Which is whatever gender I can be

But you want to be quiet about it
And, really, that’s okay
For it’s good, even better
To be more than whatever gender

But I do wish you can be free
You deserve to be who you know you be
Free from prying eyes
Free from disdaining eyes

Wait…  Please, wait…
Yes, I see you
And I do accept you
For you being you

No, it doesn’t matter to me
What gender you may be
Male or female
Maybe both, maybe neither

Know, though, that I admire you
And I will stand by you and with you
And help protect you
And help keep the wolves at bay
No matter what the world may say
I’ll have your back until my last day

So go and be the real you
Do what you feel you can do
Whether you’re trans or non-binary
Or third gender or even spirit two

Fully displayed or in the closet
Know that you’re living honest

But if you’re not out now, don’t worry
For if the time comes when
You show the world who you are
There will be those who will call you friend

There will be those just like you
Or supportive and accepting of you
Who will have your back if you fall
And help you stand up and stand tall

I will be there with you
For today, I see you
And I love and respect you
Because no matter who you are
And no matter what others believe what you are
You are living your life… amazingly
Just by being… you