Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Secret Life of a Cross Dresser

They say the first step in fixing a problem is admitting that you have one. Well I guess it's my time to check into sartorial rehab. I think my epiphany began when I began to reflect on the age old question: Who is your style icon? Most normal people rattle off the usual list of suspects from Coco Chanel, to Audrey Hepburn to Marie Antoinette. My list starts off a bit differently, well it starts off with men. It all began very unassumingly. My dad is a very well dressed man and as any normal person I admired his style. But this innocent admiration manifested itself into a strange mania. All of sudden I did not just appreciate a man's clothing in the abstract way you admire your cat's cute little ears. It was like I wanted to wear the cat's cute little ears. I started not only appreciating the way a man dresses but also coveting some of the pieces he was wearing. It all started on one late night.

I began sneaking into my basement late at night and looting through my Father's clothes (they all won't fit in his closet). I would secretly bring them upstairs to my room and try them all on all while blasting the Arctic Monkey's and MGMT. I started wearing his sweaters to school with tights and ankle boots, wearing his cardigans over dresses, belting his knits to make blouses. People started curiously asking me which store I had acquired all these pieces. When I told them the truth they would look surprised. It gave me a rush, wearing clothes so unassuming yet irreverent. And the most glorious part of it all was that I never had to pay for any of these clothes, it was going to the mall and picking out whatever your heart's desire for free! Say what you want about shoplifting but Winona, I know where your coming from. But alas, admitting that you have a problem is not the end, it is only the beginning. In order to complete my twelve step program I had to ask myself: Why?

I approached this problem by delving into the cross dressing archives. I was surprised by how common it is in today's society. I mean Mulan dressed up as a man, granted it was because she wanted to save her ailing father from injury but still I bet she enjoyed those masculine army getups. I can almost feel the shoulder pads. And besides how else would she have scored such a hunk like Li Shang without dipping her foot in the Today Man's Pool? From Portia dressing up as man in the Merchant of Venice to Bug's Bunny throwing on a dress for comedic sake, cross dressing is everywhere. I think the appeal of dressing in men's clothes is the nonrestrictive nature of it all. Men's clothing are meant to be meant to be active, they are meant to be lived in. You see guy's all the time walking around with rolled up sleeves and their shirts untucked. So many women envy the looks that are effortless, they may not realize that these looks may just be in closet down the hall. But I think the main reason why I am attracted to men's clothing is because unlike women men don't dress for other men or for their girlfriends they dress for comfort, for practicality and for themselves. And I think men's clothing and cross dressing general embody that message: Dress for yourself. I'm starting to see the saying "Life's a Drag" in a whole new light.
Photo Credit:

A Grunt is Worth a Thousand Words

I've learned a lot of things from my dad. Inadvertently he taught me some of my most valuable life lessons, things such as how to properly combine colors in an outfit (my dad can pull off pastels like no other), how to iron your pants to perfection and how to make the perfect omelet. But I think the most important lesson he taught me was the power of the grunt (his lessons on how to be good person comes in as a close second on my list). The grunt is an integral part of the human language, used at the dawn of time by caveman and still used in conversations today. Yet the grunt that I am referring to is not the barbaric gurgle of yonder, it is a tool of civilized restraint, a tool that I feel is underutilized in today's invasive society.

My dad has always been the soft spoken type, using words sparingly and only when appropriate. When you ask my father a question there is not guarantee that you will receive an answer, most of the times you receive a murmur or a grunt as a response. I think it is due my dad's laconic nature that he is often viewed as slightly intimidating, since his air of indifference and coolness are in sharp contrast with most people's neediness to talk (albeit mostly about themselves) with other people . Due to the fact I have not inherited my father's deep throaty voice or a mustache (thankfully) I have found other ways to acquired his swagger of mystery. This is where my discovery of the inscrutable grunt began.

Now think about it, how incredible it would be if you could forgo any uneasy question with just a whirl of sound? In today's intrusive society people ask questions that step over the line of privacy. As someone with a sharing problem (includes objects and information) there are certain things that I just would rather to keep to myself. But if I say this as a response to a pushy question half the time I end up looking like some type of tight lipped freak show. Which is why I whip out the age old, never obsolete grunt. These are just some of the scenarios where the grunt can be useful"
Q. How old are you?
A. You know around...mmh.
Q.What did you get on that Calc exam?
A. Ah I think a got a mmmmh.

Now the grunt takes some practice, at first people might just think you are severely hungry and have just spotted something delicious. But when perfected, the grunt is an invaluable tool of circumspect speech. In age that glorifies magazines that reveal every aspect of a celebrity's life and in age that finds it acceptable to stalk other people's news feeds sometimes you just need to keep some things for yourself. Not to mention when you use less words people take the words you do say more seriously With the grunt you become a bit more alluring, acquiring a mystique that keeps people guessing and wondering about you. I plan to employ the grunt in many of my future conversations because everyone needs a bit a silence once in a while.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Exam Time is Among Us

Which is severely going to cut into my nap time.
The sacrifices I make, I swear
This is Sparta anyone?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Walk Down the PROMendade

Prom is emblematic, an institution in it's own right. If it were not for prom where would the teenage movies of the 90s be? (10 things I Hate About You and She's All That both had their respective climaxes at Prom). But I think the real question is where would we be without prom? With a lot less taffeta and successful limo companies that's for sure. As someone who is forgoing prom I strangely do not feel any grief about missing this "supposed" milestone of my life. To me Prom is more of a goodbye party to high school itself than to the friends who you are actually going to miss. I guess to me Prom just doesn't seem worth it. Doesn't all the excess, whether it be the loud dresses, the booze, or the parading of wealth dilute the essential purpose of prom? In view prom has become a display of decadence, an over consumption and I feel as if I wouldn't even remember my friends in the midst of all that gluttony.
Don't get me wrong I don't think people who go to prom are "conformist" nor do I think people who forgo it are "too cool for school." To steal a line from Sly Sloane it's just "Different Strokes for Different Folks." Plus prom will save me a package of humiliation since I am
a) A really awkward dancer. Correction: I do not dance
b) Really unphotogenic (Commiserating on prom photo's would not be a joyous experience)
c)Not a fan of prom getups. I've never seen one person whose prom ensemble I actually liked, with the exception of Laney Boggs.
So I guess I'm not the prom type but maybe I would got to prom if: Freddie Prince Jr. sas my Prom date, Usher would DJ my Prom and my whole senior class magically learn a synchronized dance to Fat Boy Slim's "The Rockefellar Skank" (see below)

But than again Freddie Prince Jr. did leave his prom (despite the synchronized dancing) to get the girl and it seemed to be pretty much worth to him at the end.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coming Out of the Closet

Everyone has their fair share of solecisms in the aesthetic arena. Whether it was that impulse induced purchase of the poncho back in 1999 or the imprudent acquisition of Crocs, everyone has been guilty of an SWM (shopping while misguided). These sartorial aneurysms hang in our closets as reminders of misjudgments, the fruits of our shopping hangovers. The fact that fashion is not stoic but ever changing makes it difficult to buy stability especially when trends are as ephemeral as celebrity rehab stints. Yet there are a few select items that have endured the fashion cycle of rebirth. These items may have lurked in our closets, deemed too outdated to be worn (in public anyway). But now that a fashion Renaissance is upon us I think it is time to look at our clothes with fresh eyes. Who knows? We may even pull out a Botticelli from our own closets.

The Comeback Kids
1. Shoulder Pads: Not only for football players and business women of the 80's, shoulder pads have made a comeback on the runways and in various people's wardrobes. On a simple blazer they elongate the shape and create a stronger, more defined look. And with the weight of burdens increasing everyday who wouldn't want stronger shoulders to lean on?

2. Leggings: The child of the eighties (and the Godfather of Flashdance) deserves to come back into our good graces. Done right (like Rag and Bone Fall 09), leggings can be a great addition in the winter months by providing a layer of warmth to long tunics and short dresses alike. The fact that they are as comfortable as sweatpants doesn't hurt their cause either.

3. The Leather Jacket: I think from previous posts we all know my feelings on this particular subject

4. The turtleneck/trench coat combo: Though the turtleneck and the trench coat have never been cast as a sartorial exile they often are given a cold shoulder for being mere "basics." Not your average one night stands, these are the pieces you break out the monogrammed linens and engagement ring for. So pony up and make a commitment, you might surprised about how much you missed some gold old fashioned stability.

So I think it’s time to embrace the now, progressive looks of the past. I think, it’s time to finally celebrate coming out of the closet (though the use of Liza Minnelli music is totally optional).

Photo compliments of:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Because being conscience just isn't as fun
Photo: "Le lit" by Toulouse Lautrec

Sunday, April 19, 2009

If I Were A Boy....

If I were a boy
Even just for a day
I'd roll out of my bed in the morning
And throw on some purple and go

If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a man scarf
I swear I'd be a better man

If I were a boy
I'd put myself first
And make my wardrobe rules as I go
Cause I know I could pull it off
Because I'm Chuck Bass

If I were a boy I would dress like Chuck Bass.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Sharpest Tool in the Shed

I have been reckless in my use, perhaps even addicted. It’s quite disturbing actually. I try to find any reason to slip it into my daily life, filling the needles of my conversation with it, injecting it into the ending of every punch line. But alas, I just cannot stop using, using the word tool that is. It strikes that intangible balance of articulacy, straddling between the lake of coherence and the cliff of irreverence. Certain words encompasses more than just a definition, they cover a set of tendencies, a mindset and in the best cases aid in a plethora of insults/ridicule. Though these merits do not justify the overdose of my favorite noun it does shed light on the cause of my addiction. It is the felicitous nature of the word. But mostly it is the word’s equilibrium, the fact that it is funny enough to be mean and mean enough to be funny. Now the pleasure I derive in using this word may make me acerbic and sardonic. But these are symptoms I’m willing to live with. It’s my vice after all.

The Proper Way to Use/Identify a Tool is When You See (Male version)….
1. Anyone with beach blond tips
2. Typically anyone who hosts a dancing/singing competition show
3. Anyone who whitens their teeth in combination with a spray tan
4. Anyone who walks down an escalator. I mean if you really were in rush just use the stairs, no need to make the actual lazy people move out of their way for you,
5. Anyone who uses raises their eyebrows and/or thumbs up too much, particularly as an alternative to words
6. Anyone who strategically places the Da Vinci Code on their coffee table. We all know you never read it.
7. Anyone who shaves and deliberately leaves a chin beard. There is no need to sculpt your facial hair, it is not a Bonsai plant.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Let's Get Personal?

I never wanted to write a blog. I did it primarily to improve my writing because writing like anything else, improves through practice. I was hesitant in creating a blog because I thought it would turn into some narcissistic, self indulgent rant. So I always veered on the side of caution, trying never to write about anything going on in my actual life, strictly trying to keep the topics about human interest pieces (whether they're actually interesting is a different story). Because who really would want to read about what was going on in my life? But I started realizing that the blogs that hold my interest the most are the ones that are a bit personal, the ones that provide insight into someone else's life.

I guess blogs, unlike any other medium, feed our voyeuristic desires. They're like reality shows but without the tackiness, the Corona induced fights, and the over dramatic characters. But blogs, unlike reality shows allow you to see the thought processes of people. Reading a person's blog is like hearing that person's voice in your ear. Perhaps that is why they've always frighten me a bit. I personally think it's admirable for people to talk so openly about their life on a forum that can be accessed by an infinite amount of people. Maybe that's because I have privacy issues (I like to delete all my news feeds on Facebook). I know its silly to hide the fact that you joined the "I love Harry Potter" group on Facebook (like it's a secret) but I guess it's a form of protection. Because if you become inscrutable you cannot be attacked by the vulnerabilities that come with transparency. But I've decided to get a bit more personal with my posts. Who knows? Maybe I'll actually start keeping my Facebook feeds.
Photo by Jeques B. Jamora:

Please Mister Postman

My first occupational ambition came at the age of four when all I wanted to be was a mailwomen. Though I have decided to take a slightly different vocational route I am proud to say that my obsession with all things postal has not seized since. Yet I do not limit my indulgences to documents that are branded with a postage stamp. As a mail connoisseur I do not discriminate against new age communication. I take whatever type correspondence I can get. E- cards? Letters? Facebook messages? You name it, I hoard it. Which is the reason why I can't understand why no one writes letters to themselves. In a way letters are more insightful than journal entries, because you aren't just recklessly writing your thoughts down, you are directing them to someone else. You are objectifying your feelings for the sole purpose of it being read by an outsider. In a way they are consciously constructed artifacts of who you were at that moment in your life.
So wouldn't you love to have that insight? To read a letter from the past proclaiming about the future which is in actuality the present? (Stay with me here). Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear the voice of a former, more historic self, a version of you that was more naive, that was filled with the ignorance of the unknown? So the next time you are on the cusp of some big endeavor or in the midst of some personal tragedy write your self a letter or an E card (which can conveniently be set up to sent out 30 days in the future). Write about what you hope will happen, your worries, and your dreams. Offer yourself advice about the next coming days, months or years. Because who really knows what your going through better than yourself? And when you open up that letter after that big endeavor hopefully you will be comforted to hear the voice of someone so familiar, someone you used to know, someone who has come out of the other side. Just don't write to yourself too publicly. The last thing you want is for your letter writing to land you in the same category as the lady who sends herself flowers on Valentines day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Don't Kill the Messenger

To me, messenger bags have always been synonymous with mailmen and Dan Humphrey. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate both of these fine specimen (in different ways, of course) but I never aspired to emulate their style. Lately though I've seen myself pining for one of these cross body contraptions. They just seem much less troublesome than the standard oversized/leather/satchel bag. As someone who lugs around handbags that weigh almost as much as a Kindergarten class, handbags always seem to be a hindrance rather than a tool of efficency . I always seem to be knocking someone in the elbow with the back of my bag. And let me tell you, it's not easy squeezing into small spaces with a bag the width of a tree trunk.

This handbag history is probably what lead me to think that there is something quite liberating about being hands free, about not having a huge burden on your shoulder (literally). The messenger bag in it's utilitarian aesthetic really captures the meaning of the quote "Wear the clothes, don't let them wear you." Well, I'll certainly be wearing one sometime soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Forget Timeless, It's All About Timefull Dressing

Usually when I think of leather jackets images of Hell's Angels come racing through my mind's archive of sartorial references. And I usually have to resist the temptation to make a joke about Fonzie. Considering the fact that I've never been coordinated enough to ride a bike much less a motorcycle, leather jackets have never really found a place in my wardrobe ideology. And truth be told, I've always preferred Potsie over "The Fonz" anyway. But for the past couple of months I've been seeing leather jackets and more over what they stand for in a whole new retail therapy induced light.
I used to be wooed by the impression that all girls were princesses and the fairy tale way of dressing, the bows, the frills and the ruffles ect. Blame it on watching Cinderella one too many times. I have not abandoned my pre-adolescent beliefs but more over have transmuted them into something more tangible, something more relevant to the landscape of our times. I guess the princess getup doesn't appeal to me quite as much anymore because I think its time for us to dress stronger, to dress in a way that does not drip of overt femininity. So lately when I look in my closet I have a strong urge to ease up on the lace and pile on the leather. I am fully aware that its quite ridiculous to wax on and off about a leather jacket but I guess that's what clothes are supposed to do right?
They are supposed to provide insight. I know people would argue that clothes are supposed to provide a fantasy and dressing like your running though a field of flowers provides that escape. It is true that clothes are supposed to provide a fantasy, but one that is relevant to our times. They are supposed to intensify us, makes us a more concentrated version of ourselves so we do not slip away from reality but become a more fortified fixture in it. So despite my dislike of Fonzie, I guess the reason why leather jackets appeal to me is because they makes us feel more powerful and able to face the trying times, not just the Happy Days.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's Peanut Butter and Jelly Time!

I never quite understand the mystical healing powers of a dancing banana until I came across this video. I still don't really get what a dancing banana has to do with peanut butter jelly but I guess a dancing jar of Peanut Butter just wouldn't be as funny or as therapeutic.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Eulogy to the Past

O Prestigious University why didn't you accept me?
I wasted $75 dollars on your application fee

Can't you see your the one?

Why can't you let me in you sun of a gun?

Oh crap, I really need to get a life

To distract me from this everlasting strife

I created this elegiac masterpiece during AP French as my intestines were inundated with feelings of pity and self deprecation. Getting my rejection letter was painful, depressing and heinously pathetic. But as I flooded my ears with Conor Oberst and Neutral Milk Hotel (like I wasn't depressed enough) I realized something. No matter how strong, practical and rational we are we all become seduced by our dreams. We cheat on actuality to give in to our wants, our carnal cravings, our clandestine thirsts. We are no longer prisoners of reality but fugitives of reverie. And no matter how much you try to prepare yourself, no matter how many times you say to yourself that you have no chance, that getting rejected is expected, that it shouldn't come as any surprise it always does. Because you always believe that you're the exception to the rule or you wouldn't have even attempted to break it. And know matter how many times people fill you with the stories of qualified students getting rejected it doesn't soften the blow. Because you never want to be that kid. You want to be the one that succeeds, the person who everyone looks at and says "I always knew she would make it."

About two weeks before acceptance's were being mailed one of my cousin turned to me and said "I really hope you get rejected." I looked at her as if she were telling me that she wanted to become a Death Eater (Oh, come on we all know they're a historical parallel to the Nazis). After I gave her the look of death she preceded to tell me this: Rejection letters are a life experience. They make you see that life isn't easy. At the time I thought she was just waxing about some abstract moral lesson that would hopefully never apply to me. But it looks like it did apply to me, because I certainly learned that things in my life do not come easy. I guess getting the letter made me feel as if I wasn't enough, just mediocrity at its most finest and most delusional. Everyone from my mom to my best friends told me "Everything happens for a reason." My response? "That's the saying of failures trying to justify their lack of success." But as I let the reality of it marinate inside my head I had to acknowledge the fact that I wanted to get into Columbia more than anything I've ever wanted but I didn't get it. I have to realize that relating my self worth to a college acceptance is not only tenuous but foolish. I have to accept the fact that maybe everythign does happen for reason, that even though I really believe that I could have done great at Columbia that I can do great or maybe greater elsewhere. But mostly I have to accept the fact that if there is something special inside of me, even an ounce of potential, than I have to remove it from an abstract notion into something tangible. Hopefully I can still be that person who everyone always knew "would make it." My rejection taught me that my life isn't easy. But I guess I never wanted it to be a slut anyway.