Hello, World... It's Me, Cass!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hi all!

Hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Mine was... eventful. :c)

My most recent post described how I finally saw me for the first time on Saturday.

(And yes, there are pictures!)

So how do I top that wonderful experience, you ask?

I make my public debut! :c)


That's right: I decided it was high time to introduce myself to the world.

Actually, I decided it quite some time ago.

I have been attending a wonderful music festival, the New Bedford Folk Festival, for the past few years with my friends T, J, and F.

T & J have been attending from the festival's inception in the late Nineties (I think the first was held in 1998, but I could be mistaken).

It is smaller in scale than our other perennial favorite, the Newport Folk Festival, which is coming up in just three short weeks (yea!!!!), but has its own unique charm. I love both precisely because of those differences, in fact.

I told T, J, and F that I was determined that I was going to attend this year's festival as myself several months ago. I thought it was time - past time, really - for me to go out for an entire day as myself.

I've had several short excursions, but only to go out driving, buy some gas, and so on - nothing that involved simply presenting as myself while out and about.

I was determined to change that.

I simply have not had time to blog about all of the events of the past few weeks, but there have been more than enough to assure me that I stood at least a semi-reasonable chance of passing with the majority of folks.

I'll sum them up here; were things not so hectic, I would have devoted entire posts to each of these.

***

I was out with my my friends RW (from work) and RE (my electrologist friend) a few weekends ago, with the intention of shopping for summer clothes. I had, well, none. lol

I wore a loose polo shirt (for obvious reasons), baggy shorts, and my boy sneakers, which have, well, seen better days. (They are nearly 18 months old.)

I should also mention my hair was a mess from going for a two hour-plus walk that afternoon. And on the drive up I realized I had forgotten to shave that morning. This all becomes relevant later. :c)

For personal reasons, RW could not make it at our original scheduled time - but that meant RE and I got to spend time together, which was SO much fun!

By the end of dinner, we had decided that we are going to visit: a) Seattle and Vancouver; b) New Mexico; c) San Francisco; and d) New Zealand - to name a few. We are also going to visit April up in the Great White North as well. We hope that we will be accompanied by some combination of our partners in crime (S, R, April, and anyone else we can rope into joining us) for each of these, of course. :c)

When RW arrived, she asked if we could visit Nordstrom's, so she could try a particular moisturizer. Almost immediately the perfumes made me start to sneeze (stupid allergies!), so I moved to a different section of the makeup area.

I was looking at their giant aquarium - I *love* aquariums - and became a bit mesmerized by it, lulled by its peacefulness.

After a few minutes I heard someone speaking, but I was too hypnotized by the fish to pay much attention.

"Miss? Miss? Miss? Can I help you?"

After a moment I realized she meant *me*! lol

I apologized, and explained how much I love aquariums. We chatted about it for a minute or so - she said she loved working this particular counter for just that reason - then she asked if she could help me.

I thanked her, and, pointing to RE and RW, explained that I was just waiting for them here to avoid a sneezing fit.

"I see," she said. "Do you mind if I ask you something?"

"Sure," I said.

"What kind of moisturizer do you use? I love your complexion!"

I mentioned the brand I use - Nupria - and admitted that I am awful about using it regularly.

"That figures," she said with a smile. "You probably do nothing for your hair either, do you?"

I admitted that the extent of my grooming was to basically stick it under the faucet, shake out the excess moisture, and apply some product to keep the curls from going crazy.

"That is so unfair," she laughed. "Skinny, no blemishes, and, God... that hair!" :#)

It was clear to me, and confirmed later by RE, who had wandered over by this point, that she took me as a girl. (She didn't get up close to see my stubble, I guess.)

RE said, "We all tell her the same thing. Constantly."

She then turned to me and added, "Bitch!"

Yes, I was quite red by this point. :c)

As we left, RE caught RW up with what just transpired.

RW looked at me and said, "How many more times does this have to happen before you finally believe what everyone else sees?!? That was a professional makeup artist - and she knew you were a girl!"

I had mentioned to RW several times that I needed to get a formal bra fitting. I don't have a lot in that department, but enough that the off-the-rack bras I had guesstimated would work no longer fit the bill. She said that we could try Victoria's Secret if I was up for it - which I was.

She offered to speak first to someone and explain my story, which was a typically sweet gesture. I assured her it was unnecessary, though.

"I've come a long way since I started out, Rox. And especially since telling my parents. I have no problem telling people who I am anymore. But thank you."

So we went in and found one of the employees. I explained that it was my first time in VS, and that I hoped to get a formal fitting.

She apologized profusely - they had just closed. We didn't realize what time it was!

I apologized to *her* and asked when a good time would be for me to come back, since I didn't want to make other shoppers uncomfortable in case they read me.

I am not sure if she knew I was trans by then, or appreciated that I offered to simply back later, but she immediately said, "You know what? We don't have time for a formal fitting, but we can at least get you started! So let's go!"

And we did. :c)

She looked at RW and RE and said, "What I'm thinking will work for her is -"

And all three simultaneously said "Push-up bra." lol

It turns out I have an unusual size (confirmed later, as you will see below - although I have since found out that VS uses different criteria than other stores).

Further, they only had one style on hand that matched:

A pushup bra.

Called "The Bombshell."

In hot pink.

That added two cup sizes.

No, I am not making any of that up. :c)

After a moment of pondering, I said, "You know what? To heck with it! I'm getting it!"

And so I did!

(Full disclosure: I wound up returning it later - I am many things, but a C cup is most definitely NOT one of them!)

They were also having a sale on panties, so RW and RE raced over to pick out a variety of styles for me to try out while I got in line. (Again, I have only had what I picked up - mostly pretty middle-of-the-road styles.)

I was the last person in line, and wound up being rung up by the store manager. She kept getting called away to help her staff. And just like the sales clerk, she was very apologetic for the delay.

I told her the same story I had told the sales clerk - that I came in after they were closed, and was so impressed with how nice everyone was.

We chatted a bit about the store, and I mentioned that I sometimes work nearby. (My company's main office is across the street from the mall.)

She asked if I came there frequently, as she didn't recognize me. As I handed her my debit card, I replied no, it was my first time visiting VS.

"Actually," I added, "It's my first time getting a formal fitting."

She looked puzzled as she glanced down at my debit card.

Suddenly her eyes went wide and she put her hand over her mouth.

"Oh my goodness! I had no idea!"

Again, I was astounded.

"Really?"

"Honest, hon, I did not know! That's why I was so confused when you said it was your first time getting a fitting!"

I was embarrassed, needless to say, but thanked her for being so kind.

"Now that I look I can see you have a light beard. Are you doing electrolysis?"

I said I was, but had simply forgotten to shave that morning.

"Well, I only noticed because I saw your name on the card, hon. Honestly!"

As she rang up my purchases, she asked a few questions about my transition, and said they would be happy to help me in any way, including placing special orders for me.

I thanked her again, sincerely. They were wonderful. In fact, that has been my experience almost without exception: people are happy for me, and want to help in any way they can. It is very humbling and inspiring.

As she finished wrapping my items, she gestured to RE and RW.

"I saw them hand you the panties while you were in line. So they picked them out for you?"

"Yes, they did," I said.

"I only just met you, hon," she said. "But I can tell from what they picked out that they know you well. They reflect who you are."

"Oh? How so?" I asked her.

She smiled as she handed me

"Because they're cute and sweet."

:#)

That was three weeks ago;  I am blushing right now when I type that!

***

I want to add that during that entire evening, during which I was dressed androgynously (at least in my mind), that I was addressed as a woman the *entire* night. By waiters, waitresses, sales clerks... even makeup artists.

None of them blinked an eye. At all.

Toward the end of the evening, both Rs were laughing about it each time it happened, and good-naturedly teasing me about not getting dressed up. (I really did look quite disheveled! lol)

I was beginning to realize just how far I had come.

***

As wonderful as they were, it turned out I am not comfortable at all as a C cup. lol

I tried it out several nights around the house after work, and each time it felt awkward.

I went shopping with RW two Saturdays ago and picked up a number of summer items - tops, camis, shorts, capris, and a number of dresses.

I *love* them all (particularly the dresses; I guess I really am a girly-girl, as S and RW keep telling me!).

But I felt self-conscious each time I wore the bra.

I met RW and S again on Saturday night, ostensibly to have them come over to help me with my makeup and show me some ways I can wear my hair in its current androgynous stage.

It has been blisteringly hot and humid here all week, and the air conditioner in my living room blew out a fuse on Saturday while I was out at the gym. My landlord was out for the day, and I did not have access to the fuse box to reset it. Consequently, it was like a furnace when I returned home.

We met for dinner instead - at a Chinese restaurant that was nearly as hot as my apartment. (Sigh.) It in unpleasant to not only pay to eat your meal, but to perspire while doing so! At least the chicken-fried rice was tasty. :c)

S suggested that Nordstrom's would be a good place for me to try a formal fitting, particularly as I was going to the folk festival the following day. I was all for it.

Again, the sales clerk was wonderful from the start. I gave her a quick recap of my story, and mentioned that the bra I picked up at VS was simply too much.

She understood instantly.

"The most important thing in a bra is that you feel comfortable wearing it," she said. "And VS makes wonderful bras, but they're notorious for how they measure. It's just done differently than everyone else. And in your case, you definitely want one that you don't have to think about."

She took us into a fitting room - including S, whom I was happy to have for her guidance. She explained how the fitting process worked, and said she was certain we could find something that worked for me. I put on a cami that she provided (lesson learned for future visits: bring your own camisole, Cass!) and we went to work.

We wound up trying a number of different styles - at least five, if memory serves - and even tried inserts, before we found the right one.

As soon as I put it on I said, "This feels really good."

They both agreed: this was it.

It was just the right look. Not large enough to make me uncomfortable or self-conscious, but just right to look and feel natural. Even I knew it instinctively.

They only had one in my size, which I purchased, along with the cami. I am definitely turning into a clothes horse, God help me! ("Hi everyone. My name is Cass, and I'm a shopaholic.")

Once again I was impressed with how nonplussed people are when I tell them about me.

Stace and Kelli have both told me that is because I am finally comfortable with myself. And that it is the result of working so hard to learn who I truly am and what I truly want. My therapist repeats something both have told me: "Transitioning is 75% mental and 25% physical."

Stace said that the reason people are so accepting is that they are simply picking up on my comfort level with myself. "You know who you are now, and are comfortable with it; that's why they are too." Stace is right. As usual. :c) (In Stace we trust!)

***

As far as yesterday, I am still a bit shocked at how... normal it all felt. This seems to be happening more and more.

I toyed with wearing a dress yesterday to the festival before opting for a similar outfit to what I wore on Saturday for my aborted session with my therapist M: shorts, cami, a top, and my new sneakers - New Balance, just like my boy sneakers - except pink. :D

In retrospect, I wish I had opted for a dress. I feel totally comfortable wearing them, and it would have been cooler. Relatively speaking - it was SO hot yesterday!

For that reason, I also chose not to wear any makeup; I suspect I would have been more, not less, self-concious wearing it, given how tropical the conditions were. My friend J offered a good suggestion for future reference: wear a big sunhat. It will draw attention away from the fact that I am not wearing makeup. I may do so for Newport - or opt for a cowboy hat. I always wanted to wear a cowboy hat. lol

Again, I was surprised by how routine it all felt. Even when I stopped to buy gas and there was a problem with the pump that required the attendant (a man) to come out to reset it.

No drama, no nervousness; it just felt... right. So, so right.

It was wonderful. :-P

And honestly, boring as that sounds, that is how the entire day went.

I was read on several occasions - once by the waitress when we went for dinner and once by someone who was staring at me at one of the shows I attended - but I realized, well, who cares, really?

It was my first time out as myself, I was wearing no makeup, and I am a work in progress. It is going to happen, and when it does the world will still keep revolving. And hopefully as my transition continues my appearance will continue to evolve, and it will happen less and less.

I also accidentally outed myself once when I ordered lunch and gave my boy name without thinking (hey, I was really tired! lol). I laughed and said "Actually, it's Cass." The girl who took my order just smiled and said no problem - and added that she liked the name. ("Me too!" I told her.)

I was so comfortable that it was quite disappointing to come home and realize I have to go back to pretending to be a boy at work this week. Sigh. It's temporary (more on that soon!), but it is still hard.

I am taking a long-overdue vacation at the end of July, partly of my own accord and partly because my manager, L suggested it. OK, threatened me; never cross a Texan, even a pint-sized one, I always say...

I will be attending the Newport Folk Festival that final weekend, and will be attending as myself the entire weekend. In fact, I plan to spend the entire week as myself if all goes according to plan.

I cannot wait!

***

A few random observations:

* Bras can hold a surprisingly large amount of perspiration - as I found out when I took mine off last night. Hoo-boy!

* I am just as clumsy as myself as I was as him. If there is nothing to trip over or walk into, I will invent something out of of thin air. In fact, all I need is air, if yesterday is any indication!

* Bare shoulders + bare arms + air conditioning = Chilly Cass. :c)

OMG, I was so cold in the restaurant at dinner; I had goosebumps and was visibly shivering!

"You skinny gals need to always have a sweater, hon," J advised me. "Especially in summer." ("Air conditioning was invented by and for men in suits," as my manager L explained via text last night.)

Lesson learned!

***

I'm afraid I don't have any pictures of myself at the festival itself; I was quite bedraggled by the end of the day. (For "bedraggled," read "sweat-soaked, right down to my sneakers." lol)

I do have this shot of me taken at home before I ventured out into the inferno, however:



Oh, and in case you are wondering: yes, I adjusted my bra before I left the house so it was no longer showing. :D 

***

Since I spent yesterday at the New Bedford Folk Festival, I thought I would post a few tracks from a few of my favorite artists who play there. First up, Pete and Maura Kennedy:


Maura is just so, so adorable!

Next, one of my favorite songs from John Gorka:


And finally, a remarkable, utterly mesmerizing song from the great Richard Shindell. He wrote this about a summer afternoon at the beach with his sons - interrupted by what he terms "a visitation":


I am both awed and moved anew each and every time I listen to this song about a seemingly small moment that becomes much, much more in the hands of this master storyteller.

7 comments:

Jenna on July 9, 2013 at 2:10 AM said...

It sounds like you've had a great time recently.

Stace is right, transitioning is mostly a mental thing. The physical side of things can be dealt with with practice and help from people (getting shown how to apply make-up, advice on clothes and hairstyles).
Sorting out the mental side of things is a bigger challenge as you have yourself to overcome.

It would seem all the best people are having bra fittings these days :-) Interesting about VS measuring differently to other places. One
to remember.

Enjoy the music festival.

Stace on July 9, 2013 at 7:37 AM said...

Is it wrong that I feel scared when people say I'm right? ;p

---
And honestly, boring as that sounds, that is how the entire day went.
---

And isn't that just the best! :)

Stace

PS My first real outing as Stace (to a party with a friend) I did exactly the same thing :)

Cassidy on July 9, 2013 at 10:07 PM said...

@ Jenna: Re: bra fittings - I could not agree more. :D

I too was surprised to hear that about the different sizing methods. If I recall correctly, VS measures from the top, while most others measure from the bottom. (I may be mangling that; I have only shopped for bras twice so far.)

When I first began blogging, Kelli was emphatic abut the importance of doing the hard part of learning who I really am and what I want. It is an ongoing process, but I am so, so happy I have been so diligent about it.

My work friends S & RW have been wonderful in helping me with the physical side of things. I am the proud owner of a number of cute dresses and more thanks to their (collective) discerning eye. We have tentative plans to work on my makeup and hair this weekend; pictures will (hopefully) follow!

@ Stace: No need to feel frightened, hon! In fact, my personal motto know is "WWSD" (What Would Stace Do?"). :c) (Alternate motto: "In Stace We Trust!")

This is likely the first time in my life that boring was, in fact, good! May there be many, many more boring days to come. :c)

Regarding your P.S. - forgive me, I am not sure what "the same thing" refers to. I guess I need to re-read that post. I remember it; as so often happens with your posts, I found it quite endearing *and* in awe of your courage and grace.

Becca on July 12, 2013 at 9:54 AM said...

Another lovely photo !

Cassidy on July 12, 2013 at 11:46 PM said...

@ Becca: Thank you again, sweetie!!! :#)

Calie on July 15, 2013 at 10:18 PM said...

What a wonderful post, Cass!!! And, umm...., yes, you are cute and sweet (or was it sweet and cute?). Seeing you face-to-face, I'll second the comment that your complexion is lovely (and I love the freckles, girl!).

So glad you had such fab girl time.

Calie xxx

Cassidy on July 16, 2013 at 12:04 AM said...

Hi Calie!

Thank you so much - but you are making me turn red now! :#)

BTW, I seem to have more and more freckles the further my transition progresses. I have noticed a change even in the past few weeks. My guess is that the hormones are the reason. That's OK by me - I love my freckles!

Hugs and love,
Cass xoxoxo

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