Tuesday, 26 March, 2013
It has been one of those months. The type of month where your bank account balance is so low you cannot even afford a cup of coffee. Since Chase sends me an email each morning telling me how little I have in my account, I have known that my balance is a princely $2.91. I did not expect anything to be different this morning when I opened my daily account summary. So you can imagine my surprise when my account showed a negative balance. I am well aware that it is about this time of the month that Netflix takes out my $7.99 subscription fee, but this negative balance was almost $40! I took a closer look and saw that Chase had charged me a $34 overdraft fee. There was only one problem: I opted out of overdraft protection long ago precisely to avoid a massive overdraft fee.
I had a look at Chase's website and found that Chase uses its "discretion" to determine whether to cover a charge even if you are not signed up for overdraft protection.
Your Chase checking account has a feature called Chase Debit Card Coverage that may allow everyday debit card purchases to be approved, at our discretion - even if you don't have enough money available.
An account indicator of "Yes" means you want Chase to approve and pay your everyday debit card transactions, at our discretion, when you don't have enough money available. Fees may apply.
An account indicator of "No" means you do not want Chase to approve and pay your everyday debit card transactions when you don't have enough money available. Since everyday debit card purchases will be declined when there is not enough money available, you won't be charged an Insufficient Funds Fee for everyday debit card transactions.
I looked at my status and it quite clearly said "No", which means that the bank should have declined my Netflix subscription. I was ready for that to happen. I have a lot of books at home. I would be perfectly content to sit around and read them until the first, when I get paid. But no, Chase decided to, against my express wishes, honour the Netflix charge. The reason is obvious: Chase Bank just LOVES taking $35 from as many as people as possible. These fees help to defray the expense of the gold faucet handles on Jamie Dimon's corporate jet.
I really, really hate being charged for services I have not ordered and do not want. So I got on the phone immediately to have a chat with a Chase telephone representative. I explained my problem and she, with her perky sing-song told me what I already knew: that I had overdrawn my account and had been assessed one of those lovely overdraft fees. I pointed out to her that I was not enrolled in any overdraft programme, that I had in fact opted out of the programme. Just as perkily she told me that the way to avoid that in the future was to ensure that I have sufficient funds in my account to cover any recurring transactions. What a great idea! I'm sure she must have a Harvard MBA to come up with such an excellent solution.
I told Miss Perky that I had no intention whatsoever of paying that fee as I had expressly opted out of the programme. I said I would go as high as I needed to in order to have the charge reversed. But within fifteen seconds, she had reversed the overdraft fee and left me with about five dollars in the hole. I guess this is their strategy. Charge customers fees for services they do not want and hope that they either do not notice or do not bother to complain. In other words, screw the customer as much as possible and hope he doesn't holler. An excellent business model indeed. I knew I should have gone into banking.
Saturday, 23 March, 2013
If there were a Troglodyte of the Year award, Richard Littlejohn would certainly be in the running. The Daily Mail columnist recently wrote an idiotic, bigoted column about a primary schoolteacher who was changing gender in the middle of the year. Prior to the Christmas Break, the teacher was known as Nathan Upton. The school informed parents that after the break the teacher would be known as Lucy Meadows (what a beautiful name; she must have spent a lot of time choosing just the right combination). Littlejohn was outraged, writing that the school had no place forcing young children to face such a reality and that it should instead be protecting them. He bellowed "he's not only in the wrong body… he's in the wrong job". Here are some more of his remarks:
"The school shouldn't be allowed to elevate its 'commitment to diversity and equality' above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents.
"It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.
"These are primary school children, for heaven's sake. Most them still believe in Father Christmas. Let them enjoy their childhood. They will lose their innocence soon enough."
Unfortunately, Lucy Meadows was found dead in her home earlier this week. It appears that she committed suicide. There is not any evidence at this time that Littlejohn's column was the reason for her suicide, but opprobrium has still been heaped upon the head of Littlejohn as it should be. The column in question has been taken down from the Daily Mail website and there are calls for Littlejohn to be sacked.
There are plenty of reasons why Littlejohn's opinions are completely wrong. Firstly, children are not as incapable of comprehending things as Littlejohn suggests. There does not have to be any trauma in a teacher changing gender so long as that person remains a loving person, committed to the education of the students. The school gave parents ample warning about the impending change, allowing them plenty of time to talk with their children about the issue and to prepare them for the change. Children already deal with plenty of serious issues and are resilient in the face of them. Shall we tell their grandparents to put off dying until the children are older and understand death better? Should we buy children only plush toys so they don't have to experience the death of a pet? Shall we keep our children indoors at all times so that they never see a same sex couple and ban them from spending time with children who have same sex parents? Shall we ban transgender children from going to school so that they do not confuse the other children? All of these things can be comprehended by children when they are assisted by adults who explain things to them and give honest answers to their questions.
Secondly, why should transgender be forced to hide? Littlejohn suggests that Lucy Meadows could have had her surgery and found another teaching post where people never knew her as Nathan Upton. If a teacher comes out as gay, should he or she be forced to move away to a place where the children never knew him or her as straight? Should single teachers leave when they get married? All of these things are matters of identity and none of them affects the underlying person. Lucy Meadows had the same training, the same experiences, the same enthusiasm for her job as Nathan Upton did. There is no reason whatsoever that she should have had to leave her post in shame and find another post somewhere else.
Lucy Meadows could have been a role model for many of her pupils. She was an excellent example of somebody who was courageous enough to recognise and publicly affirm her identity. Many children, even primary school children struggle with issues they are afraid to speak out about. Some of them struggle to come to terms with their sexual orientation. Others are themselves transgender and struggling for acceptance. Others may not be courageous enough to speak out about abuse or ask for help to deal with difficult issues like divorce. Miss Meadows would have been somebody that they could look up to, somebody who could inspire them to not be afraid. It is so sad that she will never be able to fulfil that role.
We know that children are remarkably observant. We know that children are unafraid to speak their mind and often unmindful of social decorum. We also know that this combination can lead to some humourous situations. I learnt this first hand today. I was waiting in the queue in a store. Behind me were a woman and her young daughter, who was perhaps five years old. I did not realise that somehow my tunic had hiked up considerably and was largely exposing my bottom. The little girl did. She observed something and felt compelled to ask me a question: "Does your underwear match your socks?" The contrast between the little girl's guileless face and her mother's mortified expression was absolutely hilarious.
I was not particularly bothered by the question and told here that they actually did resemble each other quite a bit. They both do have hearts, even if the hearts are not the same colour or spaced the same way. The mother apologised profusely whilst the little girl got that sheepish look children get when they realise that they have said something that was perhaps not socially appropriate. I brushed it off. I really did not mind the question, but of course these sorts of responses lead to even more insistent apologies on the part of the parent. It was my turn to check out, so I thanked the mother, smiled at the little girl and went on my way.
Later, I got to thinking about why it is that we have such a fascination with underwear and why it is such a faux pas for it to occasionally show. Coincidentally, there was just a big flap a couple of days ago about Lululemon, a manufacturer of high-end yoga pants that are all the rage these days. It seems that one particular batch was a bit too sheer, causing a lot of consternation amongst the wearers who were upset about showing so much. The mistake is apparently so serious that the company has issued a profit warning. But just what is it that they are showing? We can assume that most of them are wearing underwear. If they are anything like me, they like to have pretty underwear. What can possibly be the harm in that showing? There is nothing obscene or vulgar about underwear. Many women wear sheer blouses that clearly show their bras, so what is the problem with sheer yoga pants revealing panties? I imagine that in most cases, the underwear on display sufficiently conceals the intimate areas of the wearers, so public decency ought not to be a question.
We are a society fascinated by underwear. Men are often obsessed with catching a peek of a woman's underwear, some of them going so far as to install cameras on their feet to get upskirt shots. Boys are no different, catching a thrill when one of their schoolmates forgets her modesty. Underwear is a huge business. Globally it is estimated at $30 billion annually. Why do we spend so much money on pretty items (OK, I suppose that not everybody wears pretty underwear) that nobody is supposed to see? Why do we make such a fuss when we see an ordinary item that nearly everybody wears? Why is it that only my girlfriend is ever supposed to see my underwear? Why is it that a little girl's innocent question causes her mother to be so embarrassed? What about underwear is considered to be indecent? Is underwear the emblem of a body that we find to be vulgar or dirty?
Friday, 22 March, 2013
History will probably give President Obama the credit, but it is really Vice President Joe Biden we have to thank for high level support for gay marriage. Biden, who has had a gaffe-ridden career is well loved (and reviled) for speaking his mind, albeit not necessarily in the most eloquent way. During Obama's first general election campaign, many worried that an ill-timed gaffe by Biden would sabotage the campaign effort. Of course, this did not take place and he even managed to survive another general election without scuttling the ticket. But he did make one very surprising statement that seemed to be well off script: "I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties" The reaction to this was immediate. Gay marriage advocates trumpeted this as a victory and called on the President to echo the sentiment. As we know now, the President did come out publicly in favour of gay marriage, even if he rather implausibly said that his reason for support was because some parents of his daughters' friends were same-sex couples. Some cynics may say that Biden's "gaffe" was a carefully orchestrated attempt by the campaign to gauge public reaction. Whether it was or not is immaterial. The result is the same: we have an executive who is firmly and publicly in favour of marriage equality.
Since that point, many others have come out publicly in favour of gay marriage. It seems that a lot of folks may have felt like they were in favour for a long time but were waiting until it was "safe", and the imprimatur of a sitting president is quite a safe thing indeed. Just as gay-bashing is strongly denounced and gay bashers are often punished, sacked or otherwise disciplined for their hate speech, and just as it is totally unacceptable to refer to somebody as a nigger (unless you are a black person, in some communities), it seems that the day may be coming when denying that all persons should have the freedom to marry whomever they want may not be far off.
Corporations tend to be followers rather than leaders. They prefer not to say controversial things that will cause customers to stay away, but when something becomes popular and accepted, they are quick to jump on the bandwagon. As far as the gay marriage issue is concerned, this has gone both ways. In June last year, Chick-Fil-A CEO Dan Cathy said: "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage'. I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about." The statement ignited a firestorm of protest and Cathy found himself wallowing in opprobrium. Many more enlightened folks announced a boycott (you will find Chick-Fil-A on my boycott list) and there were many protests. Of course, given a chance to clarify or amend his statements, Cathy essentially iterated his previous position. Many in the United States still oppose gay marriage and Cathy clearly believes that his opposition will win him customers amongst those who are socially conservative.
On the other side, we have the recent statement of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Starbucks has been the subject of a boycott by the National Organisation for Marriage, a narrow-minded group resolutely opposed to marriage equality. Schultz, during a shareholder meeting admitted that the boycott had resulted in a slight dip in earnings. Still, the CEO, who is responsible to the shareholders for preserving value and delivering profit, chose not to soften his support for gay marriage at all. He defied not only dissenting customers, but challenged the shareholders themselves: "If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much."
This sort of statement is truly bold. Assuming that Schultz is not sacked by his board, this puts Starbucks firmly on the correct side of an issue that many of us find immensely important. I do not get excited about large corporation very often, but this does excite me. In fact, if I didn't dislike the odour, hate the coffee, loathe the insipid music and cringe at the uniformity of Starbucks stores, I would be tempted to step into one for a drink in support by this statement. As it is, I will continue getting my coffee at my neighbourhood cafe, Conti's, which has been a local institution for over ninety years. I still will pop into Starbucks from time to time to use their usually clean, non-gendered toilets, though these appear to be an endangered species.
Thursday, 21 March, 2013
What do you think of when you hear the word Kansas? An exciting place? A top tourist destination? A "must see"? Probably not. Many people may remember that Kansas is where Dorothy, of The Wizard of Oz fame, was from. Some people might remember the 70s rock band Kansas (I quite liked them, incidentally). But other than that, I imagine most people would characterise Kansas with adjectives like boring, dull and uninteresting. After all, when is the last time you heard somebody book a holiday to Kansas? Have you ever heard anybody say "Hmm... should I go to Paris, Rome or Kansas?" These things just don't happen. Enter The Rusted Chain, a blog written by a woman named Beki who is from Kansas. She seems to have her fingers in quite a few pies. She designs jewelry (personalised items on stamped metal. I have a couple pieces), takes photos and somehow manages to find time to be a wife, mother and homemaker as well. But what is most fascinating to me is that she makes Kansas seem like a fascinating place, a place I might even want to visit one day.
I don't remember what it was that I was searching for on the Internet when I stumbled upon The Rusted Chain. Whatever it was most certainly did not have anything to do with Kansas or rural life. I have never had any reason to search for things like that. Whatever it was, this blog came up on the results and I ended up clicking on it to find out more about The Rusted Chain. I was transported into a world of quirky anecdotes, handicrafts, dogs, children, rural culture and the haunting beauty of wide open spaces. I was so impressed by what I read that I have kept coming back for more. Most of what I read on the Internet(s) is political in nature or about other topics of great interest to me. The Rusted Chain stands out amongst the others. My friends would be surprised to know that I tune in regularly to a blog about rural Kansas.
I remember driving through Kansas occasionally as a child on one or another of our cross-country jaunts. But we drove through Kansas. We didn't spend much time in Kansas save the time it actually took us to drive through. Kansas was most definitely not a destination. It was just another state that happened to lie in the way of wherever it was we wanted to go. Likewise, I imagine that Beki is pretty much the opposite of me. Here I am a gender-variant person who has almost always lived in a very large city with political views that lie pretty far left of left-of-center. On the other hand is this engaging blogger who I am guessing has never lived in a large city, has a rather conventional life and I would guess would consider herself somewhere on the conservative side of the political spectrum.
So what draws me to this place? A few things, I suppose. Firstly, Beki makes me see things I would consider to be mundane in a completely different light. It is not just her photographs that are enticing, it is the passion with which she speaks of them. There is an old barn with peeling paint near her home that she speaks of with such interest that I almost want to go and have a look at it. She occasionally has a "barn sale" where local folks bring handmade items for sale. I almost wish I could pop around and have a look! She takes landscape pictures that seem to continue on forever. I had forgotten about how flat it is in that part of the world. She talks about how beautiful these landscapes are, how she would not live anywhere else, and I can see the beauty too. I am reminded that beauty can truly be found anywhere.
Secondly, it is a good thing to look at things from a totally different perspective. Certainly there is a plethora of viewpoints here in New York City, but we are still all New Yorkers. We are familiar with the chaos and excitement of living in the city. Very few of us have any clue whatsoever what it is like to live in a remote rural location. We are unfamiliar with the smell of the earth, the silence, the huge number of stars that must be in the sky. I have no idea what it is like to be on a farm. I think I have visited a farm maybe twice in my whole life! It is a refreshing perspective on life, a reminder that people can have interesting and exciting lives wherever they are.
Now do not worry that I am going to pack my bags and trade my tiny New York flat for a large home in Kansas. That really is not going to happen. I love my museums, wide variety of restaurants, diversity, chaos and noise just like most other New Yorkers. But if I ever drive through Kansas again, I will have a new appreciation for its innate beauty. Perhaps I might even stay a little while and have a look around.
Saturday, 9 March, 2013
Do you ever get that feeling when you buy something and get it home that it is well on its way to being your very favourite item of clothing. The sort of thing you have to contrain yourself from reaching for every day? It happens to me once or twice a year. The last time it happened was when I got my mulberry sweater tunic last autumn. In the end, I wish I had worn that more often. But I still have a few more months to wear it and there is always the autumn. Now, these pink striped tights have supplanted it as my favourite thing.
When I saw these, I thought OK, these might be fun to wear from time to time. I figured I would toss them in my (overflowing) tights drawer and forget about them until I remembered about them one day when trying to find something to wear. Then I got home. I tried them on. I looked in the mirror. It was at that point that I realised that I really love these tights! I know, some of you may laugh about me falling in love with a pair of tights but wearing them really makes me happy.
Of course, the real trouble with having a favourite pair of tights is the bothersome reality that tights often have a short life expectancy. And it always seems that the tights that you like the most or cost the most are the ones that fall prey to random sharp or abrasive surfaces that you fail to notice. The tights from the bargain bin never get mangled like that!
So, if you know where to look for me, keep an eye out for these tights. They are certainly hard to miss!
Monday, 4 March, 2013
Over the last week, I have had three different people comment on my waist. They have generally been astonished that it appears to be so tiny. You cannot imagine how happy this makes me feel! But I have been honest and told them that I have a bit of help... Of course, without a corset, my waist would be no smaller than the rest of my torso. That is fine if you are wearing boy clothes I suppose, but a narrow waist makes a dress (and just about everything else) look so much nicer!
The gap in the back of my corset is getting smaller and smaller. Right now there is just under two inches left. This means that it will not be too long until I have to get a smaller corset. I really do not want to go too much smaller. I do not particularly care for the way that extremely small waists look, but I think a couple more inches would be flattering.
There has been one other consequence of my waist training regime. I ought to have known it would happen, but it just did not occur to me until it happened. A couple of my skirts are now too small for me! Also, a couple of my belts are too small. The skirts cannot even be held up with a belt (at least not without gathering and looking absurd) and the belts sag. I guess I am going to have to get some smaller belts!
Wednesday, 27 February, 2013
Once again, we are are on the eve of a crisis manufactured by you. Once again, your inaction has brought us to the brink of disaster. We are not fooled when some of you claim that the cuts mandated by the so-called sequester are not going to be damaging to our country and may in fact be beneficial. You intentionally engineered the sequester so that it would be unpalatable to either party.
Extreme partisanship, obstructionism and brinksmanship have brought Congress to a standstill. Gridlock has ensured that the business of the nation is not tended to. The actions of all of you have made Congress the laughingstock of the civilized world, undermined the credibility of our nation and reduced the effectiveness of the federal government.
It is time for this idiocy to stop.
Americans did not elect you to bicker incessantly.
Americans did not elect you to score political points.
Americans did not elect you to place ideology over industry.
Americans did not elect you to be talking heads on Sunday morning talk shows.
Americans elected you to represent the American people.
Americans elected you to work together in the common interest.
Americans elected you to place pragmatism over partisanship.
Americans elected you to pass laws.
Please start doing so.
The problems in Congress are not the fault of one party or the other. The problems in Congress are the fault of all of you. There was a time when Congress was more collegial, more collaborative and more constructive. Now Congress seems hell-bent on destruction, disaster and disarray. Not every congressperson lies on the extremes of their party's ideology. There are plenty of people in the center who can and should work together to get our nation working again. It is not time to retreat to one side of the chamber or the other. It is time to reach across the aisles and remember that this is one nation, indivisible, not two nations divided by the agendas of two political parties. It is time to stop holding the American people hostage to your pettiness and intransigence. We know that this is possible; some of our most significant legislation has been authored by representatives of both parties and has enjoyed broad bipartisan support.
As long as you are going to allow gridlock and ideology to prevent you from doing your job, you should apply the sequester to yourselves. If you want to reduce costs, then stop paying yourselves your generous salaries, get rid of your numerous perks, scrap your comprehensive health care benefits, release your staffers and take the bus. Any ordinary American would be fired for failing to do his or her job. Why should you be any different?
Tuesday, 26 February, 2013
Once again, GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, is being considered by the New York state legislature. This bill, which would grant transgender and gender non-conforming people the same rights as other citizens, has been passed five times by the Assembly, but has repeatedly failed to pass in the Senate. New York, usually in the vanguard of social reform and civil rights, lags well behind the rest of the country. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have passed such legislation. Now is the time to make the New York the seventeenth state to protect a vulnerable population.
This legislation should not be controversial. The summary of the bill, referred to as S00195 in the Assembly is as follows:
Prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression; defines"gender identity or expression" as having or being perceived as having a gender identity, self image, appearance, behavior or expression whether or not that gender identity, self image, appearance, behavior or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the sex assigned to that person at birth; further includes offenses regarding gender identity or expression within the list of offenses subject to treatment as hate crimes.
- FIRED. 47 percent have been fired, demoted, or denied a promotion; nearly 80 percent have been discriminated against or harassed at work.
- DENIED HOUSING. 29 percent have been denied access to a homeless shelter, 19 percent have been denied an apartment or house, and 11 percent were evicted. Transgender New Yorkers are three times more likely than the general population to be homeless at some point.
- DENIED SERVICES. 44 percent have been denied equal treatment in a place of public accommodation, 32 percent have been denied equal treatment in a retail store, 24 percent have been denied equal treatment in a doctor’s office or hospital, and 19 percent have been denied equal treatment in a hotel or restaurant.
In addition to these forms of discrimination, transgender and gender non-conforming people often suffer harassment, threats or injury by intolerant people. This legislation would make such attacks hate crimes and would punish the perpetrators accordingly. As a non-binary femme, I know full well the forms that this harassment takes. Thankfully, I have never been physically assaulted by intolerant folks who do not like the fact that a physiological male dresses in a manner generally considered to be female, but I have been taunted, threatened and otherwise been made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I believe that I deserve equal protection under the law as other minority groups.
I urge all New Yorkers to contact your state representatives and demand that this law be passed on the sixth attempt. It is unacceptable for the state to deny us the civil rights enjoyed by others.
Wednesday, 20 February, 2013
I really like winter. The nice cold air on my face when I ride my bike. Beef stew, hot drinks, curling up in the easy chair in my robe with a good book on a snowy or rainy day. Snow, when it happens, but that is becoming a rare occurence. But my favourite thing about the winter is fashion. One can do so many more things in the winter with multiple layers and textures. Sometimes I am surprised I even make it out the front door because I spend so much time trying different combinations. Summer, on the other hand, is not much fun. During the hot months, the object really is to wear as little as possible unless you are spending the entire day indoors. Wearing as little as possible does not present as many interesting combinations.
The intermediate seasons can be fun too, but only when I am not on my bike. Some spring fashion is a bit too warm if I am going to be riding 20 miles. Still, when I got this new skirt delivered today, I began to really look forward to spring. I suppose that is a good thing, considering that it is now only a month away. I could actually ride in this, but the top would get wet and my bike is notorious for destroying tights. I'd really have to ride in a different shirt and change when I got to my destination as well as carry a spare pair of tights. Too much trouble. I'll have to save this for when I am on the train.
Tuesday, 19 February, 2013
There is something that I really hate about Twitter. Every so often, I get a "Promoted Tweet" which is nothing more than an advertisement in my timeline. It is an ugly little turd delivered to my by the Twitterbird. There is no way to opt out of these advertisements. I hate advertising with a passion. I do as much as I can to avoid exposure to advertising. I do not listen to the radio. I watch very little television and when I do, I always mute the television and otherwise occupy myself when commercials come on. I have a host of Firefox extensions that block ads, prevent dynamic content from starting automatically, block cookies from unwanted sources and otherwise prevent tracking, data mining and profiling. I cut almost all ties with Google when I discovered how much information it was collecting about me from various sources for advertising and marketing purposes. But I cannot get rid of these promoted tweets. ICK!!!
I looked today in Twitter's support pages for some information about these dreadful advertisements and discovered that there is, in fact, no way to opt out. "Users who dislike a Promoted Tweet can simply dismiss it from their timeline with a single click, but they will not be able to opt out of seeing ads in the timeline." Furthermore, the coneheads at Twitter think that there is a "right" time to deliver an ad to me and that at some point I am the "right" person to see it and that it is going to be "interesting". "A Promoted Tweet will appear in a user’s timeline only if the Tweet is likely to be interesting and relevant to that user. " "We are strongly committed to delivering the most relevant ads to the right user at the right time." Let me tell you something Twitter, there is never a right time to give me an ad. NEVER! The ads you are sending me are NOT relevant and NOT interesting. I am NOT THE RIGHT AUDIENCE!!!
I realise that I am tilting at windmills, but I am still going to make my little protest. From now on, every time I receive one of these promoted tweets, I am going to respond to the advertiser and tell them that as a result of their ad, I am going to boycott their company. Two companies landed on my boycott list today. It seems that there are going to be many, many more.
Saturday, 16 February, 2013
I managed to salvage this skirt by doing some alterations
Sometimes you order something online and it just does not look right on you even though it looked lovely on the model. This happened to me a couple of months ago. I ordered a long pink full skirt. It looked elegant on the model online and I thought it would make an excellent addition to my wardrobe. When it arrived, however, I discovered that it looked terrible on me. I looked like a frumpy old woman. The elegant profile simply was not. I put the skirt in my closet. I decided to wear it one day and got dressed, but ended up taking it off because I was not going to be seen dead in it. I put it back in the closet.
Over the ensuing weeks, I tried it on a few more times, but it never grew on me. Each time it just looked awful. I was seriously considering freecycling it when I had a closer look at it. I noticed that the way that it was cut, there was no way that it could ever look good on me or anybody else for that matter unless, perhaps, they were rather overweight. The upper part of the skirt was the problem. Below, however, it was a nice full skirt. I decided to do an experiment. I pulled the skirt up to my chest as if it was a tube dress. Then I put a belt around my waist. Suddenly, I really liked the skirt. It looked just the way that I had hoped it would, albeit several inches shorter. I realised that there was hope for it after all.
The next part was the hard part. I am not exactly an experienced seamstress and I do not have a sewing machine (not that I would know what to do with one if I did have one!). Still, I wanted to salvage this skirt so I dove in. First, I removed the elastic from around the waist. I determined that the top seven inches of the skirt were the ones that I did not want to have. Carefully, I marked the material then cut away the seven inches. I discovered that the circumference of the remaining skirt was much bigger than the previous circumference, so I carefully arranged pleats around the skirt so it would fit into the elastic. Finally, I sewed the remaining material back onto the elastic. To be honest, it does not look that great up close, but with a belt over it, nobody will notice. Voila!
Tuesday, 12 February, 2013
It has been two weeks now since I got my corset. I have managed to wear it for several hours each day and so far I am very pleased with the result. My waist is visibly much smaller than it is naturally. My waist-to-hip ratio is now .74. Normally it is about .81. Unfortunately I am not able to go out in the corset as often as I like. If I have to cycle any distance, I am not able to wear it as becoming winded is really unpleasant. I can ride short distances of a couple of miles. So long as I take it slow, it is fine.
I have been surprised at how comfortable the corset is. It is actually a really pleasant feeling as I tighten it up and once I have tied it I feel the pressure but it is not excessive. I have, however, discovered that it is nearly impossible to put on tights with a corset on. I manage to do it, but it is a very unpleasant feeling. Of course, I did read that this was the case and only found out for myself when I forgot to put on my tights before I put on the corset. As comfortable as the corset may be, it is a lovely feeling when I finally take it off.
I learnt the hard way about the problem of drinking carbonated beverages whilst wearing a corset. I was at an event and I had a couple of drinks. At first all was fine, but then I realised that there was air trapped inside and that it was nearly impossible to get it out. It was a highly unpleasant feeling indeed. I think in the future one drink should be the limit. Eating is not as difficult so long as I don't overdo it.
Monday, 11 February, 2013
I had an event to go to so I decided to show off my new black dress. Every good girl should have an LBD, right? I love this dress, especially the pretty rosettes on top. I paired it with a great pair of houndstooth tights I found recently and some black ballet flats. I screwed up taking the picture, so you cannot see those. But they were nice and spiffy.
The only trouble that I had is that it was rather cold outside and I could not very well put on extra tights or thermals, so my legs and feet were quite frozen by the time I arrived and got re-frozen when I came home. I wore a long wool overcoat, but it was no protection whatsoever. But this was really only a minor inconvenience. There was plenty of warmth and laughter at the event I attended and people liked my outfit and that made me happy.
When I got home of course, the flat was toasty warm and I put on the kettle straightaway so I could have some tea. Then I put on some warm fuzzy socks and curled up in the easy chair with a good book.
Saturday, 9 February, 2013
It looks like we survived the storm! Only about twelve inches fell here, unlike Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. This is the view from my living room window. It is pretty outside. So pretty in fact that I went out right after I took this photo. The street in front of the building, which is classified as a secondary road by the city, was completely free of snow and ice. Oddly, nearby Morris Park Avenue, classified as a primary road, still had quite a bit of snow on it. My super and most of my neighbours were busy clearing the sidewalk, but snow boots were still important for those areas that were not yet cleared and the intersections.
My morning stroll not unsurprisingly ended up at Conti's, my favourite cafe around here. Friendly smiles and hot coffee like always. Sufficiently invigourated by coffee, I headed back. I stopped by at the library to collect a book being held for me but alas, I arrived fifteen minutes before it opened. Ach jo I'll have to go back there later.
Friday, 8 February, 2013
I am hunkered down for the monster blizzard expected to dump a foot of snow onto our lovely city. We also have a coastal flood watch in effect as well as a high wind warning. The wind is supposedly going to be hurricane force. Yikes! I have plenty of provisions on hand. I am going to make a nice beef stew today in the Crock Pot. I have enough food here to last for weeks, though I really do not expect that things will be so bad.
I took this photo at 0800 on Friday morning. There is already a bit of snow on the ground. The weather is expected to be above freezing, the snow is expected to change to snow or sleet during that time before changing back to snow along with a drop in temperature. A recipe for really nasty road conditions. I certainly will not be cycling today or tomorrow. I will take another photo at 0800 tomorrow morning.
Perhaps I will get a chance to wear my pretty pink snow boots. I only have worn them a couple of times this winter as this winter really has not been much of a winter. I complained about the mild winter a couple of weeks ago. Mother Nature has responded with this. I suppose I should be careful what I wish for!
Thursday, 31 January, 2013
I had to go out dressed like a typical boy today. I hate days like that, but they are a fact of life. There are just some times when I cannot be myself. So I put my best boy foot forward. Blue chinos, a grey turtleneck and a nice wool jumper (sweater for some of you). I looked positively normal. Respectable, even. I took the train as the wind gusts have been very bad and the last thing I want is to be blown off my bike. I felt a bit odd on the train. I almost worried that people would see through me, see that I was pretending to be somebody I was not. But I still am that person who wears those clothes. He is still somewhere inside of me. It is good to remember that he is just as much a part of me as the part of me that I would prefer to be seen. Perhaps I am a bit hard on him. He is not a bad person, but I feel ever more distant from him.
Anyhow, he was a smashing success. He was at his establishment best, laughing and carousing with the best of them. Nobody there ever suspected what lay behind his very proper demeanour. He came, he participated, he said his goodbyes, he went home.
And the first thing that we did was put on something more comfortable! Usually by this hour I have put on something far more comfortable than this, if you know what I mean, but for the moment, I am just happy to be like this. So much joy to put away those boring clothes and wear something far more interesting, n'est-ce pas?
Wednesday, 30 January, 2013
Ordinarily, I never leave the house without my iPod unless I am going riding. I enjoy having a world filled with music. But in public places, it performs another vital function: it drowns out incidental background noises that irritate me. I just arrived back from the post office. I thought that since the post office is just two blocks away, I would not bother getting my iPod. I would only be gone a short while. Unfortunately, as I stood in the queue at the post office, a woman standing behind me was making all manner of annoying noises with her gum: smacking, popping, open-mouthed chewing, etc. I tried stoically to endure this onslaught of unpleasant noise to no avail. The more I heard her smacking and popping the more irritated I became. Finally, I had to do something. I felt that if I waited much longer I was going to blow a fuse. So I turned around and asked her why she thought it was alright to make disgusting noises in a public place. She grinned sheepishly and thankfully stopped the noise-making.
I have suffered from this aversion to these sorts of noises as long as I can remember. The very worst was sitting at the dinner table when I was a child. My father drank in such a way that it made a huge amount of noise. To this day, I do not know how he did it. I have myself tried to emulate him but have never come close. Anyhow, I would eat family dinners dreading the next time he picked up his glass. Eventually, I discovered a trick to help drown out the noise: I wadded up a paper napkin and when he started drinking, I would rustle the napkin next to my ear. Nowadays, I refuse to eat in a quiet room. Even when I am alone, music is a prerequisite to eating.
For many years, I thought that this aversion to certain noises was just an idiosyncrasy of mine. I certainly never discussed it with anybody. I simply took steps to drown out or mitigate annoying noises or to avoid places where they might be present. Imagine my surprise then a couple years ago when an article in the New York Times discussed precisely this condition. The condition even had a name: misophonia. After that I found a web forum full of folks with similar tales to my own. Of course, knowing what a condition is called or discovering that there are others who have it does not cure it. Still, it is nice to not be alone.