Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Good Girls Get To.....

I have always loved travel.  Much of my business career has involved travel.  I authored several software packages that received widespread distribution and had the immense pleasure of working with my customers that became friends.  Many times those of us that write software packages feel we are the experts and customers must adapt to our product.  That is not true.  I became successful listening to my customers and developing/enhancing around their needs.  Whenever the opportunity arrived, I would install, train, listen and enhance my product based on customer interactions.  A lesson well learned.

I still work as a freelance software engineer and trainer.  Still doing what I enjoyed most back then – customer interaction.  This effort means I get to travel and will write of my adventures as they occur.  Last October I was in Portland Oregon and had a wonderful weekend seeing and meeting new friends.  Likewise, I was in Las Angles last summer and had an equally good time shopping, attending plays, and dinners with a new friend.  Dallas a few weeks ago was my last trip. 
Stay tuned to my Sunday blog posts.  I will post my travel plans there if any.  If I have a trip coming up and someone would like to have coffee, a glass of wine or dinner let me know. Being freelance, my travel scheduling is flexible. I just need to plan ahead.

I so look forward to meeting new friends.  We are an interesting lot.  We share many interesting common stories.  Maybe we were all separated at birth; therefore “sis”, lets share.  
In the meantime, enjoy my travel adventures.  I travel uneventfully as Rhonda, almost all the time.  You too can escape and have adventures.   Share them and I will post on "Friend’s Friday".  Please commentI hope to hear from you and meet soon.

If you have not already read my story from the 80's about traveling as Rhonda, I re-posted it yesterday - "Trying The Door" . I have also added links that easily allow you to get to the other parts, 1-4.

Good girls get to go the heaven.
Bad girls get to go everywhere.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

Trying The Door (Repost)

Navy Silk Dress - Adrianna Papell
Jacket - Kasper ASL

Navy Pumps - NINA

I really enjoy reading blogs about traveling transgender.  Kimberly Huddle has a wonderful site “Traveling Transgender”  where she details her adventures.  I love her stories.  Nadine Spirit likewise just chronicled her traveling adventures in “Unordinary Style”.  Likewise during the last few years I have "Traveled Pretty" as Kimberly likes to describe it many times.    

At first it takes an extra sense of adventure to leave the comfort of home, restaurant and shopping and give all control over to others - Literally confined in a small space among strangers, not knowing how they will react or what will happen.  Any of my sisters who have flown to a convention, vacation or for business have earned their wings. 

Back in 1989 flying was different.  How different?  First, we did dress differently.  Sure, there was those who went for the comfort factor that only jeans and sweats offer but most saw flying then as an upscale experience "out of the ordinary".  We dressed a step above every day attire.  There was less security and scrutiny, although ID’s and baggage was screened and checked.  These duties fell to the airlines and not a government agency.  Plus, as a passenger and customer the airlines treated you with respect.  Good meals were provided and flight attendants and gate personal provide a level of customer service not at all seen today.  

My common sense did take a back seat to an adventure back in 1989 when I decide to fly as Rhonda – Florida to California.   Not everything went according to plan but the bumpy flight had nothing to do with my altered state/appearance.  It is a good story that challenges us all to live life and have stories.  Be forewarned it is long, so I will break it up over several days - like a mini-series.  Stick with me to the end. There is a theme. 

Some of you may have already read the original story for it was published in my friend Joann Roberts magazine “Lady Like” sometime in the early 2000’s.  What a “classy outspoken person” and ambassador she was.  I still miss her.  The photo above is the travel outfit I wore that day – Don’t laugh – people did dress up to fly. 

So enjoy - Live your adventures and please do comment.  Tomorrow I will start with part one.  

Soap Opea All My Children - Transgender

Jeffrey Carlson as character Zoe - 2006

All My Children (often shortened to AMC) is an American television soap opera that aired on ABC for 41 years, from January 5, 1970, to September 23, 2011, and on The Online Network (TOLN) from April 29, 2013, to September 2, 2013.  Set in the fictional East Coast suburb Pine Valley, All My Children is the decades-old, risk-taking soap that centers around Erica Kane and her long line of husbands. The actress Susan Lucci played the lead character for 956 episodes, 1970-2011. TV Guide ranked Lucci number 37 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list.

From November 29, 2006 to April 26, 2007 Jeffrey Carlson played Zarf/Zoe.  A fictional character and is credited as the first transgender character to appear on a soap opera.  Beginning as male Zarf and transitioning to the female character Zoe.  The character was originally a cameo role named Zarf.  I remember watching this whenever convenient and being impressed with how beautiful Zoe appeared and and how well he played the character.   

Useful information about the character Zarf/Zoe:

  • Zarf is a rock star.
  • Zarf is a transgendered person
  • Zarf meets and falls instantly in love with Bianca a lesbian character
  • Zarf romantic feelings for Bianca give Zarf the courage to come out as a transgender lesbian named Zoe
  • Zoe begins the process of transitioning from male to female in the show
  • Zoe returns to her home in London to continue her transition and begin work on a new album as a female musician.

 A beautiful music video.

Watch also 

Super rock star, Zarf, has been living under false pretenses since arriving in Pine Valley. As the New Year approaches, she reveals her true self. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sunday Funnies - Political 5/29

We The Straight People......

If you think all rights are not under attack look closely at what the "Religious Freedom" bills entail. Any complacency or complicity on our collective part could be dangerous.  Remember, this is all from the Republican Party that wants less government in citizens’ lives.  As David Gergen stated this week "For those of us who have stayed on the sidelines, it is time to stand up and be counted."

Those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large...

Thomas Jefferson

From Writings, Autobiography/Notes on the State of Virginia
/Public & Private Papers/Addresses/Letters

Growing up the funnies were my favorite section of the Sunday paper.  I will include a political cartoon occasionally when relevant.  

I am traveling this week to Ontario California so may miss a post or two.  Please understand.  If there is anyone in that area that would like to have coffee, dinner, or glass of wine some evening, let me know. 
 Use the contact page.  



Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Feminine Differential - Matching

 Michael Kors                       Cole Haan 

I purchased the shoes above this past week at a Cole Haan Store in the Highland Park Village, Dallas Texas.  The biggest issue was getting them into my travel bag to get them back home. The store was closing and I was undecided between buying male shoes, badly needed for work, or buying these heels.  It is obvious what won that battle.   One of my reasons for liking this so much was that I had seen the above beautiful Michael Kors purse a few weeks back.  I love bucket bags and the shoes do match the bag.    I guess another “Feminine Differential” is the matching of accessory items.  Most of time I am not fixed on matching but when two items can and do work so well together, why not.  Matches my hair too. 

Here are the shopping details.  One link is for the purse at Neiman Marcus and the other is Nortstrom. Nordstrom's is 40% off.  Shop around on the shoes.   If in Dallas, check the Highland Park Village, Cole Haan store.  It is offering a 40% discount on all merchandise until it closes/moves. The link for the shoes is the Cole Haan on–line site.  Signing up gets you e-mail notices for their sales.   

Over the next few days I am going to post a few beautiful shop windows that that I photographed.  WOW, gorgeous merchandise and displays.  Some of the most incredible shoes I have ever seen.  Shoes or art - Not sure.  A great place to walk around and "Window Shop".  Do people still do that?

Dallas, Texas

Python-embossed and smooth leather bucket bag.
Silvertone hardware.
Flat top handle; 11" drop
Removable, adjustable shoulder strap
Open top; drawstring closure with magnetic snap
Inside, fabric lining; one zip and two slip pockets with key clip
Back slip pocket
12"H x 11"W x 5"D

85mm | 3.5 inch leather wrapped heel - Almond Toe
Snake embossed leather
Fully lined - Fully padded sock lining
Synthetic outsole
85mm | 3.5 inch leather wrapped heel

It’s unanimous: the Fair Haven is pump perfection. With an almond toe and an 85 mm heel, this elegant silhouette is wrapped in sultry snake print leather. Whether Fair Haven is finishing off workwear or wedding looks, this versatile style will remain a chic choice season after season. Featuring a full leather lining, the shoe is constructed with our Grand.OS technology in the outsole, making it the ideal choice for all-day wear.


Anything special you have purchased recently?   Share!

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Land of Ma'am

Bryce's Cafeteria Texarkana Texas

Ma'am: A shortened version of the word madam, which was formally used when addressing women in the days when etiquette and common curtesy were commonplace.  The term Ma'am often flows off the tongue very smoothly if accompanied with a Southern US accent.

Last week I found myself in the "Land of Ma'am".  Many times when traveling I make an effort to learn the local history, see local points of interest and experience the local ambience.  There was not a lot to see or do in Texarkana, Texas/Arkansas.  However I did find a treasure - Bryce's Cafeteria.  

Their history: Bryce's was founded in 1931 by Bryce Lawrence Sr. and has been serving good quality food to the Texarkana area ever since. It's been family owned and operated since the beginning and now for over 40 years, Bryce's sons Bryce Jr and Richard have been running the local landmark and serving the same great food their father served them when they were little.  It was featured in Southern Living for its wonderful desserts and was also recently featured on The Food Network's, "The Secret Life Of".

Being born and raised in the south, I know southern food.  My grandmother's fried chicken was the best and on Sunday we always had a home cooked pie or cake.  Summer vegetable were fresh out of my grandfather's  the garden.  

As soon as I walked in the door at Bryce's, I was greeted with the down home southern hospitality that I grew up with in Virginia.  "Welcome Ma'am" and what can I get you?  Talk about walking back in time.  Every server along the line, "Ma'am" what would you like?  I had roast beef, cream corn (lots of cream and butter), candied yams southern style (sweet and cinnamon-y), dinner roll and lemon chess pie (just like my grandmother's).  Of course, sweet tea.  I took my time and so enjoyed the meal.   Who said you cannot go home? 

I was made welcome at every stop.  By the time I had gotten to end of the line I had been Ma'am so many times, I lost count.  Then the final one - "Ma'am please enjoy your dinner" as my tray was taken to the table and silver ware retrieved.  I did not even have to take my items off the tray.  After several check-backs, "Ma'am is there anything else you would like", I knew I had arrive in the land of Ma'am.  Home at last. 

If you ever find yourself close to Texarkana Texas, you need to stop.  Southern cooking at its best and their deserts are second to none. Be sure to dress in you best lady-like southern style (hoop skirt optional).  In any case the "Ma'am"s are a sure confidence booster.   

I did not want  to leave so hung-out in the lobby reading their history and snapped the photo above of a framed drawing.  A fun trip back in history.  

Thank you:



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Escape to Music - TheTurtle Creek Camerata

Turtle Creek Camerata  - Dallas 

My Sunday evening in Dallas  was free and I was looking for something to do. I came across a free concert at the SMU Cox Chapel in Highland Park.  The whole Turtle Creek Chorale is made up of over 160 members.  This evening, Camerata, which is a specialized select ensemble of the Turtle Creek Chorale entertained.   A cappella, this group of singers presents mainly unaccompanied literature and this evening there was religious, American folk, classical, jazz, modern and  rock. Their version of the Beatles "Can't Buy me Love" was a delight.  What variety and talent.  What a wonderful concert, music  and evening.

Here is a description of the group:


Formed in the fall of 2012, Camerata is a specialized select ensemble of the Turtle Creek Chorale. This unique group of singers presents mainly unaccompanied literature in a vast array of styles, from classical to jazz. They have delighted audiences not only at mainstage concerts with the Turtle Creek Chorale but also throughout the Dallas/Ft Worth metropolitan area serving as musical ambassadors of the Turtle Creek Chorale. Camerata is under the direction of TCC Associate Conductor Scott Ayers.

So what are you doing this coming weekend?  If I travel half way across the country and find something to do, I am sure in you own home town, there must be many thing to do that you already know about.  If not look.  It is all part of escaping.  Your biggest hindrance is your own fear.  Get all dressed-up and have somewhere to go.   Escape and be yourself. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

An Unlikely Ally - David Gergen

David Gergen: (Wikipedia) An American political commentator and former presidential advisor who served during the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.  He is currently a Senior Political Analyst for CNN and a Professor of Public Service and Co-Director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.  Gergen is also the former Editor-at-Large of U.S. News and World Report and a contributor to CNN.com and Parade Magazine. He has twice been a member of election coverage teams that won Peabody awards—in 1988 with MacNeil-Lehrerand in 2008 with CNN.  

CNN political analyst David Gergen spoke this weekend at Elon University’s commencement ceremony. In case you missed it, here’s the video of his speech (excerpt and link to transcript below): 

I would like to depart from the tradition of showering you with personal advice. Instead, at the risk of offending some of you, I want to talk about the deepening concerns that I and many others have about the future of North Carolina, our beloved state.

Repeatedly in recent years, and especially in recent months, forces of political extremism have asserted themselves here, representing a sharp break from our past. After decades of struggle to become a just and fair people, we are sliding backwards. We are not only damaging our reputation but putting our fellow citizens at risk.

Enough is enough. For those of us who have stayed on the sidelines, it is time to stand up and be counted. It is time to raise our voices against this darkness. Indeed, it is time for fellow citizens of all stripes – white and black; young and old; native and newcomer; men, women and people of chosen gender — everyone — to join forces and preserve the best of who we are as a people.

 Listen to the whole address


Rhonda's Note:  The area of Virginia that I came from bordered North Carolina.  I always saw North Carolina as a progressive southern state.  One that I would have proud to call home, as I did my native Virginia.  North Carolina has ventured into an area that does no one well.  Mr. Gergen's address highlights reason and sound thinking.  When we think all logic is lost, listen and take heart.   

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Window Shopping

Highland Park Village - Dallas Texas

Growing up in Virginia my grandparents owned a general store.  My grandfather opened up at 6:00am to sell to the farmers, bailing twine, plow points, hay and feed.  The rest of the day was groceries.   That was a six day routine and they valued their Sundays.  Always church first on Sunday. I would go between my Grandmother’s Methodist Church and my Grandfather’s Baptist Church; the only two in town.  Although not religious now, I have fond memories of the break in routine.  After church my grandmother prepared the meal of the week where we all sat down together. 

After the Sunday dinner (noon meal) we would be off to visit either my Grandfather’s brothers, or my grandmother's, nieces.  On our return, either trip would lead through “Town”.  Not our little village but the place that had real stoplights and a two block downtown with stores.  On Sunday all store were closed but that did not preclude “Window Shopping”.

There were several woman's clothing stores,  a shoe store, a five and dime, a jewelry store, an appliance store  and a hardware store.  My favorites were the shoe store and ladies stores or as we know them now boutiques. They had concave fronts, u-shaped, to maximize the displays with manikins to display the seasons best.  The shoe store had one side dedicated  to men's and the other side for women's heels and flats.  My favorite side - no supersize there.

We never rushed as my grandparents savored the break in routine and enjoyed the faux-shopping.  

Side note:  I was back about 15 years ago and the downtown as I remembered, was gone.   None of the old stores are there - Not even replacements.  Walmart came to town. One main street drug store, several doctor's offices and a boutique coffee shop was all that remained. 

Just the other morning as I was leaving Dallas on my drive to a client, I stopped by Highland Park Village.  My mission was Starbucks, but I remember my treasured time window shopping.  With a few minutes to spare and the stores closed, I walking and looked.   This is so different from a mall and the stores went out their way to showcase their merchandise.    Draw you in with the window  displays.


If you look closely in some of the photos you can make out my ghost reflection.  There are other photos that I will save for another post and a pair of shoes you will not believe.  Enjoy the photos and know that window shopping is something you can do anytime.  A great escape option and a confidence builder.    

Give us your window shopping story.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Beyond Beauty - Irving Penn

My visit to Dallas included a stop at the Dallas Museum of Art. What a find.  The traveling exhibition of the photography work of Irving Penn was on display.  Here is a description:

Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty, organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is the first retrospective of Penn’s work in nearly twenty years. The exhibition presents over 140 photographs including iconic images from his oeuvre as well as previously unseen or never exhibited photographs. Irving Penn (1917–2009) is one of the best-known American photographers of the 20th century. In a career that spanned almost seventy years, Penn worked on professional and artistic projects across multiple genres. He was a master of both black-and-white and color photography, and he was key to the revival of platinum printing in the 1960s and 1970s.


After walking around for a while I found a photo I could relate to.  Not the "Beyond Beauty" but the one to the left.  The title says it all.


               Sore Feet (1948)

                                                                       A break In the Outdoor Cafe

If you are in Dallas before August 14, of even close, this is well worth it. Put on your best "Beyond Beauty" outfit and escape.  Thank you Robert for a wonderful afternoon.

This afternoon's escape was glorious.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dancing with a Man

Rodney Carrington - Dancing with a Man

I found this a few years back. It is really cute and funny. Hang in to end to see who the dance partner is. 

Do you have any good videos that you watch? No not that kind, but funny.
Please share?


I am traveling the week of May 31-June 3 to Ontario California. If there is anyone in that area that would like to have coffee, dinner, or a glass of wine some evening, let me know. Use the contact page


Growing up the funnies were my favorite section of the Sunday paper.  I will make an effort to make this a regular Sunday feature.  Enjoy and everyone have a wonderful week!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Transgender History - Stonewall 2?

Transgender issues today are rooted in a decades-long struggle for acceptance. By RetroReport Publish Date June 14, 2015. Photo by Leonard Fink/LGBT Community Center National History Archive.

How much of our activist history do you know?  The NY Times did a short video history and back in 2015 put together an article.  Maybe it is time for
 "Stonewall 2."    

Some transgender activists feel shunted aside even by their brothers and sisters in the L.G.B.T. movement. “Trans people continue to be marginalized within the L.G.B.T. rights struggle, treated as tokens when convenient,” Meredith Talusan, a transgender woman, wrote last June in The American Prospect magazine.

The real point is “for people to get to know us,” Nick Adams, who represents Glaad on transgender issues, told Retro Report. “And get to know that we’re people just like everyone else.”

The late trans rights activist Sylvia Rivera, a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall riots.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Unisex Fashion Trends and Gender Equality

There's often a thin line between J.W. Anderson's menswear and womenswear collection. In any case, it seems his designs appeal to both groups: he won the 2015 British Fashion Awards for both categories.

By Mary Rizzo, The Conversation
January 14, 2016

See my note below.

When writers and filmmakers depict the future, they often include one strange detail: men and women dressing alike.

From the leather coats and sunglasses of The Matrix to the faded blue coveralls of Nineteen Eighty-Four, one of the characteristics of the imagined future is a break from gendered clothing, which is replaced by something more functional and utilitarian. It's a world of zippered jumpsuits, where a corset or tie is as exotic an artifact as a fossil from the Pleistocene Era.

Gender, these futurists seem to be saying, is an artifact of a less-progressive past. But is the future now?

Recently, fashion designers like Gucci and hip boutiques have begun selling what's being called gender-neutral or gender-free clothing: clothes that can be worn by either men or women. (Both The New York Times style section and The Guardian have recently covered this trend.)

Then there was Target's announcement in August that the retail giant would be eliminating gendered language in its children's toys and bedding, transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover and singer Miley Cyrus' self-identification as gender-fluid.

But before we raise a toast to a world of post-gender fashion, it's important to differentiate between marketing and actual progress towards gender equality. To be sure, fashion can advocate for social change. But just as often, fashion will exploit social movements, aestheticizing them as a way to seem edgy and turn a profit.

Subcultures, fashion and subversion

To understand what fashion means, we have to place it into its historical context. Likewise, we can't understand clothes outside of the society that gives them meaning -- or apart from the industry that makes and markets them.

In my research, I've studied how subcultures in the United States have used clothing to create communities that are critical of mainstream values. And there's a long history of gender lines being blurred in clothing as a way to demonstrate equality of the sexes or freedom from sexual roles.

Founded in 1824, the New Harmony socialist utopian community let men and women both wear trousers. It was borderline-scandalous for the era, but representative of their vision of gender equality. In the late 19th century, women's rights advocate Amelia Bloomer famously argued for the right of women to wear pants -- called bloomers -- under their shortened

In less political subtexts, like the counterculture of the 1960s, unisex styles differentiated hippies from middle-class society. While this allowed hippies to recognize one another as people with similar values, looking different could also be dangerous. During filming for the counter cultural road movie Easy Rider in parts of the South, actors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper discovered that men who grew their hair long were often asked whether they were a boy or a girl -- and not in a friendly way. These real-life experiences were incorporated into the film's violent ending.

But before we raise a toast to a world of post-gender fashion, it's important to differentiate between marketing and actual progress towards gender equality.

When hip-hop became a nationwide cultural phenomenon in the 1980s, male and female breakdancers -- also known as b-boys and b-girls -- wore tracksuits and other athletic clothing while they performed, blurring gender roles for a shared physical ability.

All of these examples happened organically, outside of the fashion industry. They show how people -- especially those on the margins -- adapt and remix the clothes that are available to them, fashioning new styles and new meanings in a process that anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss has called "bricolage."

The motives of the fashion industry

On the other hand, when the fashion industry promotes unisex styles -- like the Peacock Revolution of the late 1960s or the groovy styles of the 1970s -- it's always tied to making money.

So while today's unisex fashions may seem like another benchmark for equality, it's rarely progressive when you look at it through the lens of a lucrative fashion industry that's looking to turn a profit.

Fashion, ultimately, is an industry that trades on notions of exoticism and aesthetics; to achieve these twin ideals, designers have historically exploited the oppressed or downtrodden.

For example, in 2010, haute couture company Rodarte released a line of clothes and cosmetics inspired by the women who work in the maquiladoras, or factories, along the Mexico-US border. Poorly paid and often the victims of gender-based violence, these women's lives became the source material for expensive clothes they could never afford and lipsticks with names like "Factory."

Equally repugnant was model and fashion designer Erin Wasson's claim in 2008 that "The people with the best style for me are the people that are the poorest. Like, when I go down to Venice Beach and I see the homeless, like, I'm like, 'Oh my God, they're pulling out, like, crazy looks and they, like, pulled shit out of like garbage cans.'"

African Americans have long been used by the fashion industry in this way. Posing Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen in the arms of screaming basketball player LeBron James on the cover of Vogue in 2008 was a not-so-subtle echo of racist images that depicted vulnerable white women threatened by animalistic black men. In the case of Taylor Swift's colonial fantasy video for "Wildest Dreams," blacks are entirely absent from its African locale. And fashion magazines have been known to "black up" white models rather than hire black ones.

In all of these instances, racial differences, poverty and violence are repackaged as "exotic." Aestheticized to appeal to our eyes, they create a clear distinction: there is us (the mainstream consumers) and them (the outsiders we are fascinated, disgusted or thrilled by).

The fashion industry's current attraction to unisex or gender-free clothing may be similar. While transgender models like Andreja Pejic and Hari Nef (shown right) walk the runway and appear in fashion magazines, the real difficulties facing transgender individuals are often ignored. This is doubly true for transgender women of color who are the victims of shocking amounts of violence.

Given the fashion industry's historically poor record of including African Americans as models or designers (outside of the urban fashion niche), it's unlikely that it will be any more progressive when it comes to portraying the reality of the lives of transgender people of color -- or in employing them behind the scenes.

Probably more than any other daily act we engage in, clothes are how we convey our identity to the world. For that reason, they are important. They can be used in radical, subversive ways.

But before we congratulate the fashion industry for   making gender distinction a thing of the past, it's important to understand its motivations, its practices and its limitations.


My Note: How do you feel about men and women dressing alike? What happens to the "The Feminine Differential" that we love?  I know - not in our(my) lifetime, but in the future?  Please comment.