La Vida Loca de Shirley Marquez|
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|Tuesday, April 5th, 2011|
|Shirley Life so far: the good and the bad
The good: I've been out and about and doing things. Acceptance continues to happen. Intolerance doesn't; I know it's still lurking out there somewhere but I've been spared so far. I had a busy weekend; highlights were seeing Promethius Bound (see pryder
for a review) and attending Alt.Share, a small conference on sexuality that was modeled on Bar Camp. (Speaking of Bar Camp, it's this weekend! This year I'll go on Saturday but not Sunday because Sunday is our game day at home.) I'm learning how to be more at home in my new way of living; I've been smiling at children, being friendly to store clerks, and remembering to thank my housemates for taking care of things around here.
The bad: I'm still broke. The whole job seeking thing still terrifies me (being an atypical woman instead of an atypical man hasn't made it any better) and I still have a sketchy work background. But all that bad stuff was in my life before transition and I didn't expect living as a woman to magically fix it.
The temporarily bad: I miss my girlfriend. She's been away for a couple of weeks catching up with things from her past life before she moved to Boston. I feel undersnuggled.
|Sunday, March 20th, 2011|
|Shirley Week Two and Shirley Life to come
I just finished a second week of living full time as a woman. This one wasn't quite the amazing experience as the first one was and I didn't expect it to be; it's not all shiny and new this time. But it was
the difference between living and merely existing; between looking forward to life and being blah about it.
So why should it end? The answer is that it's not going to. Except for certain special circumstances, I'm not going back to boy drag. One special circumstance: I'm a member of a men's morris team that is semi-retired but gets together for a few spring practices and one or two performances; I'm going to perform with them one last season. If all goes as I hope, by 2012 I won't be able to pass well enough to qualify!
I'm still undecided about the SCA; being a man in the SCA has never had most of the things that I dislike about being a man here and now. (It can
have those things I don't like; the SCA certainly has its share of fighter jocks but it also has room for other kinds of masculinity.) I once said (and still believe) that what I really want is to dress and move expressively, touch my friends freely, and live with an open heart, and as a man in the SCA I get to do all those things; it is only in the rest
of my life that they are incompatible with my gender. On the other hand, it would be harder to flirt with the cute men if I stay with a male persona (I can flirt with the women either way) so who knows?
|Monday, February 28th, 2011|
|It's getting more real...
Since Shirley Week I've been out a few more times. After living in boy drag for a week I went out the following Thursday; first to Transcriptions, a queer open mic night, and then to Queeraoke again, this time to sing. (Like a virgin, singing for the very first time! lol)
Sometimes I wear Shirley's jeans when I'm otherwise not dressed; they're just so much fun to wear because of the way they hug my body. One night that got, er, interesting...
; I was cuddling with my girlfriend and she touched my thigh and it felt really good... and she kind of went with that. It turned into heavy petting, then her reaching inside the waistband, and eventually peeling off my jeans... so I got to be her teenage dream in my skintight jeans!
But that's just all lead-up to the past weekend. At Transcriptions I found out that HRC was running a seminar for transgender job seekers
, right here in Boston; aside from the trans things I can certainly use help with the job search (and it was free, and a short bus ride from home, and they even fed us lunch both days -- with enough leftovers, as it happens, that it was also dinner) so it was too good an opportunity to pass up. First I went out to Dyke Night
, for fun and to get back into the Shirley groove; it was a fun evening out, I talked to some nice people, I ran into a woman who asked why I hadn't been at Queeraoke the previous night (I had been thinking of going, but I twisted an ankle a bit at morris practice on Tuesday and it still needed a bit more rest) and had another first experience, a guy buying a drink for me! (People have picked up rounds at the bar before but that's not the same at all.) Yes, men are allowed at Dyke Night; he was there with his girlfriend and I suspect they were checking me out as a possible partner for after-hours play, but who knows? Anyway, I might be the new girl in town but in other ways I wasn't born yesterday so I know the importance of safety. (To my girlfriend if you read this: I'll assure you that I wasn't looking to play that night, but it was flattering that somebody might have been thinking about it.)
Way too early the next morning I was up to get ready for the seminar. (Burning the candle at both ends, dangerous but sometimes fun.) I had set out an outfit the night before (a white blouse and black slacks) but when I put them on it all seemed a bit too stark, so I layered the gray cardigan from Forever 21 over it to soften the look a bit -- yay, I'm getting better at figuring out what looks good on me! (And it turned out that the additional layer was a good idea; parts of the AAC building were cold!) After a short bus ride over to the AIDS Action Committee headquarters, I arrived, checked in (sadly they didn't have a fancy printed badge for me as I was a late registrant), and soon it all began. Allyson Robinson from HRC was up first to greet us; she's a stunning transgender woman in a highly visible outreach post, and thus an inspiration. The actual training was done by Sharon Skipper, a no-nonsense woman who was once a combat pilot in Vietnam. 95% of the content applies to all job seekers, with only a few things that were specific to transgendered people (dealing with having a job history that doesn't match your current identity, how to dress, what to tell employers and when) and I expect all 100% to be valuable.
Saturday night was one of the weeks that the Jamaica Plain contra dance was on, so I headed over there. I had packed the amazing dance skirt that I got as Birka, and was looking forward to the opportunity to show it off on the dance floor again, and also the opportunity to meet the people from the dance as Shirley. There were lots of new dancers; Vickie (a second-generation contra dancer who has been coming to that dance from an early age) had brought a phalanx of her college age friends. After the dance was over I was one of the first to JP Licks and grabbed a table; Vickie decided to join me and I was then surrounded by her friends, who (being new) had no history with my male identity. A lively conversation ensued, I was included as much as anybody could be when thrust among a bunch of people who had shared history, and it felt good.
Sunday, back for more job search advice. It was an occasional struggle to fight off the yawns after a couple of too-short nights of sleep but mostly I won the fight. Afterward, home for a good talk and snuggle with my girlfriend (still dressed as Shirley until it was time to undress for bed; spending time with her as a woman is another important thing for me to do) and a welcome early night of sleep.
The most enduring lesson for me: before you can make this job search work you have to decide "who the hell are you?" That's what I'm busy figuring out, and attending a workshop for transgender job seekers was another step on that path. Living as Shirley really does make me happier, and the weekend convinced me that (although it won't be easy at times) it actually WILL be possible for me to make a living as a transgendered person, which was one of my big doubts. (The affect on my network of friends and acquaintances was another but that has already been answered with an emphatic "you go, girl!") So it looks like I AM going to "go girl", to twist the phrase a bit by changing the punctuation; time to push harder about getting counselling started. (That's one of the things you have to do if you want to get hormone treatment or legally change your gender.)
Maybe I won't QUITE be a full time woman; I'm thinking that my SCA persona might remain male. (Or maybe I'll have two.) If it's good enough for the Baron of Carolingia and his consort, both of whom are biological women, I can do it also.
|Thursday, February 10th, 2011|
|More details about the later days of Shirley Week
Saturday we ended up having a house guest: John McGuire. I know John from the SCA: he's an amazing tailor, runs a decadent camp at Pennsic, and is an all around wonderful person. Saturday we all hung around and ate Thai food and talked; on Sunday, after a yummy breakfast made by two housemates, Jane and James (with Chip and Davey, two regular visitors, as extra breakfast guests), four of us (John, Jane, Davey, and me) went fabric shopping plus a stop at the nearby Marshall's. I got a holiday print fabric that will make nice tablecloths for the next New Years party, and some jeans.
Sunday evening Jane was in the mood to see a movie, and going out with a friend sounded like a lot more fun than watching the Super Bowl alone, so out we went to catch The King's Speech. Before the movie we stopped at Open Doors, a new age store in Braintree, because Jane wanted a reading; while she was busy with that I looked around the store. Two of the cards on the greeting card rack really got to me. The first was one that says "this is a long-distance hug" because my girlfriend is in California and I wished that I could make that card magically materialize there for her. The second was a mother to daughter card that said "I used to be your hero, now you are mine", praising the daughter on the wonderful woman she has become. That one got me because I don't expect things to be easy with my family and so I'll probably never receive a card like that.
The day on Monday was devoted to laundry; I don't have enough bras to get through a week without doing some washing. In the evening it was time for SCA Great Council, our group's monthly business meeting, and I decided to make a statement by going in a little red dress. (Council is usually a casual occasion; people don't wear garb to it, and they're only dressed up if they are coming from work or some other setting that called for it.) Catriona, the Seneschale, liked it.
Tuesday was a LONG day. In the morning I had an appointment with the dentist that should have been relatively short, but another patient at the office had an emergency. So after about half my work was done I had to wait a long time while they dealt with that; in total I was there for about four hours. But I was surprisingly calm about it; I rested for a bit, did some reading and web surfing on my Evo, got up to stretch, and all in all had as good a time as was possible under the circumstances. Somehow being Shirley made it easier to let the trials and tribulations of everyday life roll off and not spoil my day.
Once I finally got out of the dentist's office, I did a bit of shopping (bread at Trader Joe's, jewelry at Forever 21), then returned to medical for another appointment, this time with the eye doctor. (I have a recurring condition of inflammation that sometimes means I need prescription eyedrops.) After that it was time for morris practice, which went well.
Wednesday I spent the day relaxing at home. I got a new sound interface: an SDR-Widget, something mostly designed for use with software defined amateur radio equipment but it can also be used to play music. Of course I had to try it out, and the first thing I put on was Bring Me To Life by Evanescence. The song brought me to tears (third time in a week, is there a trend here? Actually make that fourth, I also cried at the movie, but I always cry at movies!) because being Shirley IS waking me up inside and bringing me to life; it's just that it's the person within me doing it and not somebody outside me.
In the evening I went to SCA dance practice in the evening. It turned out that there was an excess of men at practice this week, so my being there as Shirley was a Good Thing as it improved the gender balance of the group. (Not that I really care too much; I'll dance either part no matter how I am dressed.) Afterwards I went to Toscanini's for ice cream. When things broke up I shared a hug with Troy (something I've done many times, he's very sweet) but suddenly it was different
... I was there in his arms, and looked up into his eyes, and I felt like a woman in the arms of a man she likes. A lot. No it's not
the same as being a man in the arms of a woman he likes, but I can't define exactly how!
|So... what was living as a woman?
We're at the original official end of Shirley Week, though I'm going to stretch it into a Beatles Week (eight days) because there is a dance I want to go to tonight. But I'll write about it now anyway :)
So... what was living as a woman?
Dancing at a contra dance and SCA Renaissance practice
Seeing the Vagina Monologues for the first time and being brought to tears by the transgender one
Going fabric shopping with a house guest, another friend, and a housemate
Trying on and buying girly jeans
New Betsey Johnson panties
Spending more time doing laundry because of all the delicate items
Extra attention to shaving
Putting on makeup (but no eye makeup this week, I'm having a flareup of a recurring eye condition)
Being brought to tears at a greeting card rack
Going out to the movies (The King's Speech) with a housemate during the Super Bowl
Freaking out a little girl at the subway station (she saw me and hid behind her mother)
Buying groceries and makeup and plastic hangers
Eating more sensibly because Shirley cares about how she looks and feels
Walking nearly everywhere in warm snow boots with heels that come to just below the knee
Showing up at Great Council in a little red dress and a pearl necklace
Ruining a pair of cheap knee-high stockings by walking in them too much
Spending four hours at the dentist and being calm about it
Telling the dentist the two minute version of what's going on
Going crazy over cheap jewelry at Forever 21
Seeing the eye doctor
Bouncing (fake) boobs at morris practice
Eating Tosci's and BerryLine
Listening to Bring Me To Life by Evanescence and being brought to tears (sensing a theme here?)
Hugging a male friend and suddenly having it feel different
Being loved and accepted by all my friends!
So, what was it? One of the most extraordinary ordinary weeks of my life. Now I have to figure out how much of the wonderfulness was that I'm coming closer to being my true self, and how much was a result of everything being shiny and new.
|Saturday, February 5th, 2011|
After a slight delay due to snow, I'm spending a week full-time as Shirley. Somehow, doing it when I was completely housebound due to weather just wasn't the same so my week started on Thursday instead of Tuesday.
A few things happened before this week to help prepare. On January 27 I was part of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
day of action. They called for people to come to the State House and speak to their representatives (or their staffers) in support of a transgender rights bill. (Basically the bill would make gender expression a protected category, in much the same way that race, sex, and sexual preference already are.) So Shirley went and spoke to the staffers of Martin Walsh (likely to support the bill) and Jack Hart (who certainly won't but I was nice to his staffer anyway). Afterward I did a bit of shopping in Downtown Crossing and got a pair of winter boots and my first pair of girl jeans. (Until then all my dressing as Shirley had been in skirts and dresses, but sometimes pants are so much more practical!) A couple of days later I want to Market Day at Birka, an SCA event in New Hampshire; I wasn't there as Shirley, but I bought a skirt for her which will be described later.
By Thursday, after being cooped up in the house for two days (everything that I would have done on Tuesday and Wednesday got cancelled due to weather) I really needed to get out and dance! So I made the expedition to Concord for the contra dance, with a brief stop in Harvard Square on the way for more shopping (a sweater and a second pair of jeans, and some froyo at Berryline). It's not one I attend all that often for two reasons. One is that it's a major expedition to get there, involving a subway ride to Porter and then a trip on the commuter rail, unless I get a ride there. The other is that there is often an excess of men there; the competition for dance partners is vicious, I'm not naturally pushy, and I'm not that well known to that community, so the result is that I end up sitting out more dances than I would like. (Most nights the ideal number is zero, but occasionally I get dizzy, especially if I've been following because there are more spins, and need to rest for a bit.) I wore an amazing skirt that I got at Birka last weekend; a huge thing that belly dancers sometimes wear. I'm not sure whether mine is a 15 yard or a 25 yard skirt (that's the length of the fabric at the hem line), but in any case there is a LOT of fabric and it flies out prettily when you twirl. Mostly it was fun, but the competition for partners things still seems to apply. And I was annoyed that more of my male friends and acquaintances didn't ask me for a dance. (Hint: if I've got boobs I want you to ask!)
The day on Friday was spent on the mundane task of laundry, though it's slightly less routine when I'm dealing with Shirley's wardrobe because there are more special handling items. (Have to make sure not to put bras in the dryer, and lots of things that require cold water washing.) In the evening I went to a production of the Vagina Monologues in Cambridge; I've read the book and wanted to see it on stage for years but somehow never got around to it. (In part that's because it was so Not The Thing of my late wife; she had little interest in or patience for identity politics.) The timing of seeing it en femme was accidental; I didn't even know the show was happening until yesterday when I got an email newsletter (The List) of local events. A pleasant surprise; somebody I know was in the production. Another pleasant surprise: one of the monologues (a newer one that isn't in the book) was about the experiences of transgender women when they were growing up, and "having the girl beaten out of them". I identified strongly with that one; mostly I was spared actual violence (the nuns wouldn't stand for it) but it certainly felt like the threat was always present. No, I never imagined growing up to be a girl, the notion of that was simply outside the mindset of the Northeast Pennsylvania Time Warp, but I know that I was uncomfortable with "being a man" and it caused difficulties with my classmates.
Not sure what I'll do today; there is a monthly dance in Jamaica Plain (modern, not the contra dance; that's not happening this week) that I've heard about but I'm not sure it's still running. Tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday and I don't know of anybody who is holding a Super Bowl party, so I may just stay home and watch the game on my computer (better than the TV set because it has an HDTV tuner installed). Monday will be SCA Great Council, Tuesday is morris practice if the weather cooperates, and on Wednesday I can either go to SCA dance practice or the English dance in Arlington if I'm feeling like going out. So the week is maybe a bit more of a social whirl than usual, but my girlfriend is away in California so there is less reason than usual to stay home!
|Sunday, January 23rd, 2011|
Odd experience: people actually seem MORE likely to sit next to me on the T when I'm dressed as Shirley than when I'm there as Mark. Since I'm sure that I'm still pretty easily read at this point, I'm totally mind-boggled by that. Maybe it's the body language; when I'm Shirley I occupy less space, so it might look like the space near me is more available.
Then again, maybe I overestimate how easily I'm read. Back in October I went to a concert by LezleeAnne (http://www.lezleeanne.com/
), a transgendered musician. It was out in Waltham; I took the train and had to walk a few blocks to the concert site. On the way back to the train, a guy driving by called out a compliment (which I accepted gracefully, of course, the SCA has trained me well!), and I totally don't know whether he was being honest or making fun of me. Whether or not he was being a proper gentleman, I behaved as a proper lady :) It was a busy area so I didn't feel threatened, and I don't remember the exact words but it was a pleasant compliment and not a rude one. (But I've been conditioned by years of SCA experience where people say lots of nice things about each other; I'm naturally inclined to trust the intentions of somebody who has a kind word for me.)
|Life after SLCC
So, how has life been going since SLCC, you ask? Well, I'm not going to bore you with ALL the little details (some have been good, some bad), just talk about the role that being Shirley has had in my life.
After SLCC ended I took some time to process how I felt about the experience before going out again. My next major trip out was in September; I went to a transgender pride march in Northampton MA, and then later to a party at a friend's house. The party was my first coming out to my friends and acquaintances (some knew because of reading about it on Facebook, but aside from housemates they hadn't seen me as Shirley)
In November I went to Transcending Boundaries, as I mentioned I had been considering. The conference was totally awesome; highly recommended to anybody who is curious about gender issues, whether you identify as transgendered or not. Next year's convention is in Springfield; Kate Bornstein will be the keynote speaker. (OMG, if I weren't already convinced to be there, that would close the deal!)
This month there have been two outings: a day at the Arisia science fiction convention (I also spent one day as my male self, one day as my SCA persona, and the final day as a mashup of all three), and a day at First Event (another transgender conference). Arisia was another big coming out, as the fannish community hadn't met Shirley. Everybody was wonderful to me in all my aspects.
The highlight of First Event for me was an evening trip out to Kowloon (a huge Chinese restaurant on Route 1) with a group of 22. There was a live band playing; they played "We Are Family" for us, and when a bunch of us got up to dance some of the other people at the restaurant joined us!
Finally, there have been a few minor things between the major events; a couple of social nights out with a transgender group, shopping trips, stuff like that.
So... I'm still figuring all of this out. The next step is going to be to spend a week or a month (I'm still deciding) as Shirley full time, doing all my everyday stuff; I have now accumulated enough clothes to do that. If only it weren't so darned cold lately!! So far all of my time en femme has been in skirts and dresses; I'm not yet confident that I could be read as a woman in pants. Maybe if I find some really sexy embroidered jeans it will work :) I had to cheat on the way home from First Event and pull on thigh-high socks (from my SCA wardrobe) over the stockings or else I would have been an icicle by the time I got home, and I wore my boy boots for traveling because I don't have any winter footwear for Shirley yet. It's not so awful really; everybody wears sensible shoes of one sort or another on the T.
|Monday, August 30th, 2010|
Last night I went to see Cat O'Mighty
and her roller derby team, the Panty Linebackers, which is part of Central Mass Roller Derby
. They were in an intrasquad match with CMRD's other team, the Switchblade Sallies. (Members of the two combine as the Petticoat Punishers for matches against other leagues.) The evening also featured a match between two men's teams, the Mass Maelstrom (part of CMRD) and the Connecticut Death Quads.
First, for the skeptics among you, modern roller derby is a real sport, requiring strategy, tactics, and athletic ability. The bouts I saw were played under the rules of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association
, although CMRD is not currently a member league of WFTDA. Yes, the men also compete under those rules; the Death Quads are part of the Men's Derby Coalition
Each bout is a series of two minute jams. In a jam there are four blockers from each team, who skate in a pack, and one jammer from each team who starts behind the pack. The jammer scores points by passing the skaters of the opposing team; the first passing doesn't count for points, the jammer has to pass them a second, third, etc. time to score. The blockers (and sometimes the opposing jammer) try to prevent the jammer from passing; they can do this by simply getting in the way, or by permitted types of contact. (Basically body checks are OK; elbowing, headbutting, and tripping are not.) Players can be penalized for illegal contact, and the jammers can also be removed for going out of bounds without being pushed out. Penalized players go to the penalty box for a minute, which means that their team is playing short-handed; no more than two blockers can be in the box at one time, if there are more penalties the additional ones are deferred until later. The jammer can also go into the box, in which case the other team has a Power Jam; the opportunity to score with no concern for points scored by the opposition. (There are a few more subtleties to the rules; you can read more about the game on the CMRD site.)
The men were up first, and in the bout I saw the athleticism of the jammers seemed to be the main factor. Although the blockers tried to prevent it, the jammers on both teams combined speed and athletic ability to get around the blocking. The primary jammers from both teams (Muchacho del Oro and Peter Rottentail from the Maelstrom, Cirkle Jerk and Poster of Muppets from the Death Quads) were all extraordinary skaters, sometimes leaping over and around other skaters to pass the pack. The Maelstron fell badly behind in the first half (the fact that the talented Muchacho del Oro spent a lot of time in the penalty box didn't help) but rallied in the second half for a closely fought win.
The women were up after an intermission. In this bout blocking was a bigger factor, as most of the jammers didn't have the combination of speed, size, and leaping ability to just skate around the blocks. (The notable exception was Space Invader of the Sallies; when she was on the rink and the Sallies were not shorthanded, all the Linebackers could do was limit the damage.) The blockers did a lot of work, both in obstructing the opposing jammer and in aiding their own. Of course I HAD come to see one of the blockers which might have colored my impression a bit; when Cat O'Mighty was on the rink, she made good use of her size and strength. The pattern of this game echoed the earlier one; the Linebackers fell behind badly in the first half but rallied for a narrow victory, aided by a series of penalties taken by the Sallies in the second half.
You can see a few pictures of the event on my Flickr photostream
|Thursday, August 19th, 2010|
|Elimination of orientation - an alternate view
I sent the following email to Philip Linden in response to one of the points in his SLCC keynote speech. Here it is for your edification, with one error corrected and link to the dress added. No personal data here, so nothing I can't post in public.
In your speech at SLCC, you said that LL would be eliminating the existing orientation in favor of allowing people to immediately come in-world to interesting content. Although that approach may lead to an improved experience for some residents, I am not convinced that it will be a better experience for everybody.
I think back to my own experience entering Second Life for the first time. I spent HOURS at Orientation creating my avatar, and although the work on my outfit went to waste in short order as I went out and bought better clothing, the time spent on my body shape and skin tone did not. Although I have made further adjustments to my shape as I learned more about Second Life and how to use the tools effectively, my current shape remains a close relative of the one that I designed on that very first day.
For me entering Second Life was as much about creating the SELF that I wanted to be as it was about hurrying off to some event, and I don't believe that I am alone in that. I worked as a greeter at Virtual CSI:NY, where we got a lot of visitors who were new to Second Life (CSI was a registration portal). Although the majority wanted to learn how to use the crime-solving tools and get to that as quickly as possible, a significant minority had questions about how they could change their avatars. (The CSI orientation, unlike the standard Second Life orientation at the time, did not include that information; instead, you got to choose one of twelve predesigned CSI avatars when you signed up.) Like me, I think those people wanted to bring their virtual selves into alignment with their visions of the selves that they were (or wanted to become) before going out into the larger world.
What I'm trying to say is that, as in so many other things, one size does not fit all. Some people may indeed be better served by a new user experience that is more focused on immediate activities (concerts, meetings, etc.) And some people may not. We need to think about how to offer new user experiences to cover the ENTIRE range of the community, and that probably means offering more than one kind of entrance experience.
I'm glad you were able to attend SLCC in person. (So was I; it was my first SLCC. I live in Boston; the expense of traveling to past conventions was daunting.) I'm sorry we did not get the opportunity to talk; maybe next year. And I know you were at the Avatar Ball for a while; hope you liked the polka dot dress
|Monday, August 16th, 2010|
|SLCC - the good, the bad, and the ugly
SLCC was last weekend, and I had a wonderful time there. Everybody was welcoming and accepting of who I am and what i was doing there.
My convention started on Wednesday evening. Mery Ellen / Pebbles was already in town (she flew in from New Zealand!) so we got together for dinner. (The original plan had been to catch a Beethoven concert at the Hatch Shell but she had worn herself out walking around Boston during the day.) We had a pleasant dinner at PF Chang's, a block from the Park Plaza, and shared a bit of our life stories and convention gossip.
Thursday was a busy day, with both convention and non-convention stuff. First up was a medical exam at 9am (routine, nhey didn't find anything wrong so far though a couple of the lab results are still on the way). At 1pm I had my hair done; my stylist, Maria at Pure Hair Design, gave me a more feminine look, straightening out the bangs in the front but leaving the back somewhat curly, and neatened up my somewhat ragged ends. Then in the evening I went to the Park Plaza for the bag stuffing - that is, filling the convention tote bags with the assorted literature and schwag that the sponsors gave us to distribute. It was also my first opportunity to meet more of the rest of the convention staff (the board and my fellow track leaders) and some other volunteers. So far this was all as Mark.
Friday morning started early, it was my first day out at SLCC as Shirley so I had to spend a lot of time preparing in the morning. (Shaving all those body parts takes time, and then there is the makeup which I can't yet do as quickly as someone with years of practice.) In addition, I had gotten word on Thursday evening taht I could get an avatar picture printed out for my badge if I emailed in a 900x900 pixel file; I didn't have anything of suitable size so I went in-world, got on my photo stage to take a new one, and sent it in that morning. (Yes, it was waiting for me when registration opened.) My first SLCC outfit was a pink blouse with rhinestones (somewhat fitted at the waist, a slightly daring choice for someone with only a little bit of waist but I think I made it work), a patchwork peasant skirt, my sensible Mary Janes, and knee-high hose. (The sensible shoes were my footwear for all of the convention except the Avatar Ball.) Sadly I had forgotten to grab any jewelry before leaving the house that morning, so that had to wait until the next day. The bag stuffing ended early, so I got together with Susan for the late morning and lunch (a slice of pizza at Crazy Dough's in City Place, yum), and then she went home and let me have a bit of quiet time (which would be my last quiet time until Monday) in the lounge before registration opened. We had a meeting for bolunteers, ostensibly at 3 but it started late, and then registration opened at 4 and I got to meet people, including most of the people who would be presenting in my track. (One didn't arrive until Saturday.)
The evening activity was an offsite party at encuentro 5 near Chinatown. I changed into my evening outfit - a knee-length silk floral dress and pantyhose; I had gotten some actual stockings and a garter belt but the darned belt wouldn't stay up so I had to fall back on plan B, and the knee-length hose wouldn't work with that dress. That was a four hour event; in theory the middle two hours were to be live music organized by Ham Rambler of the Blarney Stone but that part stretched to more like three hours. Happily they kept the volume reasonable so it was actually possible to have a conversation. Susan joined me for about an hour of it (arriving late and leaving early); I think she felt left out because she didn't know anybody. More pleasant conversations, and some of the music was excellent. Things broke up around 11 and I headed home.
Saturday was the REALLY long day. First, another early start to get my look going on; today's outfit was a green floral blouse with short sleeves, a calf-length silk skirt (somebody said that style is called a broom skirt, a term which I hadn't heard), and more knee-highs. And now I had jewelry: the necklace and earrings that I bought during the morris ale in London, Ontario. Mercifully there was a convention schedule change that allowed an extra hour of sleep. Philip Linden was originally planning to stream in a presentation at 8am, but he decided to attend SLCC in person on short notice (we found out at about 9pm on Thursday evening, and our first notice was that he tweeted it!). He was taking a redeye flight and wouldn't arrive in Boston early enough for the 8am slot, so his keynote got moved back to 10:30 which required a bunch of rearrangement. I wasn't able to find Charles Mountain in time to get the video streaming working for my track's first program session at 9:30 (I provided the video camera and he provided the laptop with FireWire); we did get it going later in the day. (Sadly, nobody showed up to watch that presentation in person; a lot of convention attendees seem to have chosen to sleep in until Philip's speech.) Philip gave a good talk and released a few bits of news that I will talk about in another post. After lunch there was another keynote speech by Dusan Writer of Metanomics; after that I spent the rest of the day in my program room, either catching my own track's items or running the video stream for the Health and Support track which was sharing the room.
After the day activities ended, I went on the expedition to Cheers Beacon Hill (the bar formerly known as the Bull and Finch, the one that the Cheers television series was based on) for drinks and dinner. It wouldn't have been my first choice of places to go but I wanted to join Joel and Lina's event, though sadly I didn't end up at their table and we didn't get to talk much. But I was at a table with the people from Ozimals, and they were also good company. Susan came by near the end to say hello and have a bit of my beer and some leftover food; it was too late to order more before we were going to leave. When that broke up, it was back to the hotel to get ready for the social night.
So, Shirley's really big coming out was ahead; the Avatar Ball. To prepare I cleaned up my face, shaved AGAIN (a bit of shadow was showing by then, even through the foundation), and got into my ball outfit: a red polka-dot dress, just above the knee length with petticoat and red open-toe sandals with 2.5" high heels. To complete the look, a pearl necklace, a matching pearl bracelet, and red drop earrings with three glass beads taht I bought at the Camden Lock market in London during my first trip to the UK in 1999. I had planned to wear more pantyhose with that but the toes looked wrong in the sandals -- the hose weren't nearly sheer enough -- so I just had to go with bare legs. (Fortunately they had been shaved nice and smooth.) I emerged from the hotel room at about 9pm because I wanted to get out and be seen, so I caught a little bit of the live music showcase and then hung out until the ball started. The contest for the Best Dressed Avatar and Worst Dressed Avatar started at about 11:30; the contestants danced two songs while the judges looked on. The winner -- ME!! It helped that Tuna was one of the judges and had seen the in-world outfit that my dress was based on, so he knew that I really was dressed as my avatar and let the rest of the judges know, but I think I also looked good in the dress and that my joy at being out there on the floor as Shirley was apparent. Aside from that, the other highlight of the ball was dancing with all the cute women as one of the girls, not as a male interloper. (Yes, it did feel different that way and I liked it.) I managed to get to about midnight wearing the heels, including some dancing, and never fell down! After that I took them off (certainly another girl thing to do :) and danced barefoot for the last hour of the ball (which made it just as well that I wasn't wearing the hose). Somewhere along the way Winter Nightfire, one of the people who was doing the Art-A-Thon benefit for Virtual Ability, painted a portrait of Shirley in the polka-dot dress; on Sunday night I made a donation so I could keep that portrait. She also gave me permission to scan an in-world version, which will be hung soon on a wall at my house. Then off to bed - yawn! (But I stayed at the Park Plaza the one night so I would at least get SOME sleep; if I had also had to travel home and back it would have been REALLY hopeless.)
Sunday started earlier than Saturday because the 8am keynote was on. First getting ready; today's outfit was a short red blouse (which would have shown some midriff if I hadn't been wearing a high-waisted skirt), an Indian silk skirt which was calf length but slit to mid-thigh on one side, and the pantyhose that I had eschewed the previous night. (Knee-highs were right out with a slit like that! It's a pity that the stockings and garter belt didn't work out though, it would have offered the occasional peek at the stocking tops.) Sunday's jewelry included the necklace I bought from Columbine at the Fetish Fair in July and some Indian-looking earrings. The morning event was an inspirational speech by John/Pathfinder Lester about the importance of virtual worlds, and the necessary traits for pioneers. His speech is the only place where the ugly came in; he played a clip from the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly during it, which contained the lesson "don't talk, shoot". At 11am was my own panel: "Virtually Transgendered: On the internet nobody knows you're a man". (The subtitle was inspired by the famous New Yorker cartoon about how nobody knows you're a dog.) Me and the two other panelists, Ivy Lane and Marly Milena, talked about the nature of gender in virtual worlds, why people choose to be a gender other than their real life one, and what we can learn from the experience. A dozen people attended it and seemed to enjoy it, so I feel it was a success. Then lunch, and the final keynote, a keynote panel by three Linden Lab developers about the future of viewer development.
In the evening we had the organizers dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy, which went somewhat less than perfectly. I had only 6 RSVPs but we ended up with over 30 people and the restaurant had to struggle to accommodate us, and they also straggled in late. As a consequence, the start of the showing of Life 2.0 had to be delayed a bit even though people mostly took their desserts to go. The dinner was yummy and people seemed to enjoy the food and the company; major props to the restaurant for their Herculean effort of seating and feeding all of us. By the way, eating family style works really well for a crowd of this size; I pre-ordered the food so the only choices people had to make on site were beverages. Life 2.0 was a mixed bag; The film was well made and the filmmaker handled the stories that he chose to tell very effectively. But I have doubts about his choices of story to tell; they struck me as giving a rather negative view of Second Life, highlighting the potential dangers to personal lives and relationships without any counterbalancing message about the positive effects that Second Life can have. I still couldn't quite escape; after the movie I made a copy of the videotape of a presentation for ECPAT Ihnen, one of the presenters in my track, and spent some time talking with Achilles Emerald. Finally it was time to wrestle all the stuff home (a big task, as I had brought the video gear on Thursday and the suitcase of clothing on Saturday but had to get it all home at once) but I managed it somehow, and even got to Park Street in time for the NEXT to last Red Line train. (The last train would have gotten me home much later; it stops at every station while the crew gets out and locks up the stations.)
So, that's the outline of what happened... but how did it all make me FEEL?? Good in a lot of ways. First, it was good to jump into my first SLCC with both feet, helping to run it; sometimes it seemed like everybody already knew everyone else and if I hadn't had a role in the organization I might have felt like I was on the outside looking in. Even more important, the experience of being Shirley went really well. People were supportive and accepting, and I got a lot of compliments. (It's hard to know whether "you look good" really meant "you look good" or "you look good for a guy in a dress" but I'll take it either way. And at least they were paying attention, I was anything but invisible.) The woman at the desk of the Park Plaza made my Sunday morning by addressing me as "ma'am" rather than "sir" when I checked out; I guess that diversity training pays off :) (The point here is that it is courteous to address people as they are presenting, even if you are aware that their birth gender might be different.) And there were lots of new people to meet, lots of good conversation, and lots of warm hugs - always an important part of a good convention in my book.
My fashion choices were fun: flirty and colorful in the way that Shirley is in-world, showing significant amounts of skin especially at the shoulders, and no earth tones. Shorter skirts might have been fun and I have the legs for them, but they would have also required more attention to sitting carefully, perhaps not the best thing for a busy organizer. I often wear dangly earrings to parties so that wasn't new, but the necklaces were; men's clothing and a hairy chest don't show most necklaces to good advantage so I don't bother when I'm dressed that way, and I enjoyed the opportunity to showcase that area and the fact that I had gone to the trouble to get it smooth. I didn't wear any low-cut blouses, which work a lot better if you have real boobs, though at the convention I saw a look that I COULD wear effectively -- a low cut blouse worn with another one layered underneath, more modestly cut but with cute lace edging. As someone living in a male body I had to dress more femme than most of the women attending; if I just wore jeans and a T shirt I'd be read as a man.
So... will I do it again? If I get to SLCC next year, definitely. I'm also strongly considering attending Transcending Boundaries
, a convention in November about gender issues, en femme. Aside from that I remain undecided; I'm going to relax for now and take some time to process the feelings that this weekend brought up.
|Monday, July 19th, 2010|
|Forging the RL/SL link
I just outed myself in the other direction (on my other LJ) and my RL identity is going to be thoroughly out in four weeks at SLCC, so here goes. You can read about my RL self at pryder
or my web site
|Shirley is out again (in the day this time)...
Saturday was the Fetish Fair Fleamarket, and I figured that was a good occasion for Shirley's second outing. (In that crowd it wouldn't matter if I didn't get it perfect!) I arrived in male clothing around 8 because I worked load-in; that's lots of heavy lifting of stuff out of people's vehicles and into the building, not work to do in a silk skirt. I was scheduled to end that at 11, but things were slow so I cut out a few minutes early and headed off to the men's room (irony there?) to transform: shave, put on makeup, and change my outfit. After a while I emerged, in a pink camisole, a purple silk skirt, and the red high heels that I had been practicing in for a while. I had on my Shirley jewelry (the same pieces I wore the previous night) but then I saw a pretty necklace at Columbine's table, so I bought that and let her put it on me. I wandered around the booths until 1, trying on a corset along the way (ooh, curves -- fun!), worked another shift in the volunteer lounge from 1 to 3 (and took off the heels for a while), then went back out to talk to people and catch a couple of demos. (Bendyyogagirl was fun to watch in action, and the erotic hypnosis demo was seriously hot - Julie was either having a REALLY good time or was good at faking it.) A bit past 5 my girlfriend came by, so I left the Flea and took my heels back off (heels + cobblestones = epic fail); we went down Tremont St looking for a place to eat and ended up choosing the Addis Red Sea which was right across the street from where we started. After that, we walked over to the Common, talked for a while, then took the train home.
So... another day out, and another rather public one (there were lots of people I know at the Flea), being with the girlfriend as Shirley for the first time, and the train ride home. And another whole bunch of fun! It's going to be hard to wait for the next occasion at this rate, though nothing is currently on the agenda before SLCC.
|Saturday, July 17th, 2010|
|Shirley's first night out
SLCC is going to be my big RL debut, but as I've been telling people in-world recently (though I hadn't gotten around to mentioning it here) I was planning to do a couple of shorter outings to get used to the idea of dressing as Shirley. Tonight was TraniWreck, so I figured that would be a good place to try dressing; it's a queer-friendly drag show where some of the audience dresses, so a friendly crowd and one where it wouldn't matter whether I got everything right. But then Anastasios Aurotharius decided that tonight would be a good evening for an RL meeting of Boston-area SL people. The timing wasn't incompatible (the meetup was at 7 and TraniWreck didn't start until 10:30), but did I want to do TWO things in one night?
Well, I decided to jump in with both feet and do it. I spent the afternoon preparing; there was still some more body hair to remove (it has taken a LONG time to get it all... I'm just hoping that maintaining it won't be as time-consuming as removing the hair was in the first place) and I also wanted to dye my hair to cover the gray. Then I stuffed my bra, put on some new thigh-high stockings and my sensible Shirley shoes (I had also packed the heels for possibly wearing at TraniWreck but never got around to changing into them), got into a pretty silk dress, and put on Shirley's necklace and earrings. (I got them last month in London, Ontario, while I was at a morris ale.)
The first moment of doubt came just after I got out the door and hit my neighborhood street. I hadn't thought about the fact that going out earlier to catch the meetup meant that I would be walking in broad daylight and possibly running into neighbors. But that went fine, nobody paid any particular attention to me, and I got to the subway and on the way to Cambridge without event. Nor was there any unusual attention on the train. I got to Au Bon Pain and it took a little while to connect with the other SL people, as we hadn't met in RL before, but eventually we all got together. There were six of us: Anastasios, Ivy Lane and Phil, Karina and Alex, and me. People didn't feel like eating at ABP, so we came up with the plan to go over to the food court at the Cambridgeside Galleria -- but on the way there, we passed the new Za on Third Street and decided to cut our walk short and go there instead. We shared a pleasant meal and conversation. While we were inside, the sky opened up and there was a brief period of pouring rain and fierce wind; fortunately that subsided by the time we left, and what remained were pleasant breezes (especially in my silk dress) and occasional drizzle. Meeting Ivy, who I have chatted with in-world and on Skype, was especially fun.
The evening was so nice that I decided to push the envelope a bit farther and walk from Kendall to Harvard Square. That meant going through a busy Central Square on a Friday night (and again possibly running into people I know, though I didn't); some people did look but I really don't know whether they were staring at the oddity of me or just admiring the dress. In any case, it was a nice walk and I got to Oberon just as they were starting to let people in -- good timing. I met two people, Elizabeth and Rob, and we ended up sitting together at the show; a fourth, Harriet, joined us at the table. (A special thank you to Elizabeth is in order; she treated me as a charming woman, and if she was aware of my being a man underneath -- which seems likely, I don't think I'm close to passing yet -- she didn't show it at all.) Sadly I only got to see the first half (otherwise I wouldn't have been able to catch the train home and I'd still be in Cambridge right now!) but I enjoyed the part that I saw.
So, was the evening a success? You bet your sweet life it was!! I had a GREAT time being out, being pretty, and being Shirley. A few days ago, when I was dealing with the long process of shaving body hair and the pain (I mean actual pain here, not merely nuisance value) of shaving my face for the first time in many years, I was feeling some serious doubts about whether I could do this. Now I have done it, and I know that I can. Sure I was anxious and afraid at times, but I never let it stop me. If I could just learn to do eye makeup I'd really be set! (I tried today and had to wash it off and give it up as a lost cause. I'm just fine at the face makeup though, which isn't really surprising since I've done it for stage when I was in Iolanthe, and I've done face painting for morris.)
Oops, I just let out some more RL details that would let some people figure out my RL identity. But I've pretty much stopped worrying about that; my cover will be totally blown in a month anyway!
|Wednesday, July 7th, 2010|
|Moving forward... a day at a time
My appetite continues to be small. This is a Good Thing. Yesterday I stuck with the small meals and was satisfied. This morning I made up a pasta side dish package (what can I say, my breakfast choices aren't always conventional); in the past I'd have wolfed down the whole thing, but today I put half aside for a later meal. I'm hoping that if I stick with the small meals it will stay this way, it will make maintaining my girlish figure so much easier! Though it will make dining out harder; I'll have to become best friends with doggie bags. I'm still a girl of means, by no means queen of the road; throwing away large amounts of food isn't happening. Not to mention all that childhood propaganda about starving children in Africa and not wasting food.
I took a rest day from exercising yesterday; I was really exhausted from the heat because it got close to 100 degrees here. (As I said, my heat tolerance seems to have improved, but there are limits!) But I'll be back at it right after I get off the computer this morning; the belly results are sufficiently encouraging that I want to see more.
|Tuesday, July 6th, 2010|
|Final diet and exercise report
The 25 days are over and the numbers are in! Here they are, before and after:
As mentioned before the starting waist number is suspect; the one given above is my best guess about the actual measurement. (Whatever the actual number is, that's the area that has visually changed the most, though the firmed up legs are also a contender.) I could actually use a bit more size in the arms, but only if I can get it without majorly expanding my pectorals; I don't need more broadness there.
What can I say... OMG this is total awesomeness! I didn't really believe that I could make such a big difference in such a short time, but I did it! The keys were staying with the plan, eating only what I was supposed to (and I did, even at parties), paying attention to my appetite on the free days and stopping when I was full, and exercising every day. (I was so good, didn't miss even one though it was a challenge a couple of times.)
I'm still not going to wow the world as a woman with a 37-34-38 figure; I'll still need a bit of artificial help in the middle to really have curves, though with suitable choice of outfits I may be able to avoid the need much of the time. And of course I'll need boobs! But I'm looking so much better than I did a month ago... in a dress, in male pants, or in nothing at all ;)
|Wednesday, June 30th, 2010|
|One of my dresses is here!
I've gone maybe just a little wild ordering things... the pretty that arrived today is a silk print dress, in a floral pattern of blue, pink, yellow, and black. It was merely expensive through a bargain shopping site, rather than hideously expensive as it would have been. I got the size right (I might have even been able to go a size SMALLER though I think it's fine as it is); it fits comfortably on top, and I've got enough of a waist now to get into it in the middle though I expect to look even better by SLCC. (It's not a tightly fitted dress anyway.) And it looks BEAUTIFUL; bold colors, drapes and moves well, it's a perfect Shirley outfit. (This isn't the one that actually looks like one of my in-world outfits. That will arrive later and will be my outfit for the Avatar Ball.) Squee!
RL pics in a couple of weeks, after I come back from a camping gathering; I don't want to change my presentation in RL until after that because I don't want the weekend to be about my story. Yes, that means that my RL identity is going to be out, but it's going to be soon enough anyway with a public appearance coming up. Current Mood: happy
|Day 20 progress report (one day early)
I'm going to be at my girlfriend's house and thus away from the reference scale, so I did the measurements for this cycle today. Might have had a bit of extra weight loss due to a morning session of, um, exercise -- oh, let's not be coy, hot passionate sex -- before the weigh-in.
Another two pounds lost; that's 10 total. An inch from the bust (I didn't think I HAD an inch to lose there, that size is mostly a matter of ribs). Half an inch from the waist. And OMG, for the first time ever I can measure some change to the belly (I measure at the biggest point, which on me is right around the belly button) and the hips, an inch from each!!
Six more days to go on this program. The author claims you can lose "up to 25 pounds", but I always take such claims with a grain of salt; I figured anything over 10 would be amazing and wonderful. I'm already there with another cycle left for more, yay me! Current Mood: giddy
|Sunday, June 27th, 2010|
|Shirley, track leader!
When the SLCC info first went online, I applied to be a track leader in Art, Machinima, and Theater. I figured that my art world contacts from blogging for Brooklyn is Watching would be useful, and I wanted to make sure that SOMEBODY applied :)
A few days ago I got a reply. They didn't want me for that track, they found somebody else... but they asked me to be the track leader for Government and Nonprofit instead. I DON'T have contacts in that field, but I guess nobody else did either; I'll just have to rely on my intelligence, charm, and impeccable fashion sense. (Good thing I'm impeccable in some way; I've also been told that I'm very peckable ;) So here I am, in a leadership position!
If you have ideas for presentations or panels or events, in my area or any part of SLCC, please go to the site at slconvention.org
and send them in! Of if you have any questions, feel free to ask me; you can send me messages here or IM in-world, and if I'm in-world I'm always happy to talk about SLCC.
|Saturday, June 26th, 2010|
|You're going to be seeing less of me...
... in a good way, that is!
15 days ago I started a new diet and exercise program. I'll admit that doing that so I'll look better when I dress as my avatar in RL is a slightly odd reason, but I'm really excited about SLCC and I'll take my motivation where I can find it! Even if I'm doing it so Shirley will be hot I still get the health benefits. And that's important; my family history means that I'm a walking time bomb for diabetes, so staying fit and keeping my weight down are crucial if I hope to avoid that fate.
So, the progress reports...
Day 0: a distressingly tubular body. Bust, waist, and hip measurements all the same - ick!
Day 5: Down 1.5 pounds. No progress is showing on the measuring tape yet; I feel as if I have not so much shrunk but deflated. All the flesh is looser, under less pressure.
Day 10: Down 5.5 pounds. The first measurable results -- but not where I'm expecting them, it's my upper arms and calves that have tightened up, half an inch off each.
Day 15: Down 8 pounds. I can actually see that I have a waist now... it's down about 4 inches from the day 0 measurement, but I realized I didn't do the day 0 measurement in the right place since it was so hard to see that I actually HAD a waist. So the amount of change is suspect, but the fact that there is some is undeniable. A bigger surprise is that my legs have gotten noticeably smaller and tighter; an inch off each thigh and 1.5" off each calf. I'd better got some short skirts; I'm going to have fabulous legs, darlings!
The belly is being stubborn; the peak measurement still hasn't dropped at all, though the size of the area of bigness has decreased noticeably. The muscles are getting stronger, and eventually any further fat losses are going to HAVE to come from there, so I'm looking forward to progress someday; my genes may not let me ever got to model-flat but I'd certainly like to be flatter.
So, you ask, what am I doing? The diet is something I found online; you do a rotation of eating differently over a 5 day period. The first day is cheat day; you can eat whatever you like. (Though it turns out that there is a trick; although you can eat anything, after the other days of such moderated eating you just can't handle very MUCH food, or at least I haven't been able to!). Day two is fast day; you eat no food at all but take large quantities of BCAA (branched chain amino acids) supplements. Day three is shake day; you have five shakes, each with protein. The first three also have plenty of carbohydrates (i.e., fruit; I've been using a mix of strawberries, blueberries, and banana); the last two have fat (I've been using almond butter). Day four is moderate day; it's a low calorie day with 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat calories. Day five is protein day where you eat 90% of your calories as protein, plus taking more BCAA.
It's intended as a 25 day program (it's not a plan you could live on permanently) so I have ten more days to go. Surprisingly, I've never been more than mildly hungry; I expected to be ravenous, especially on the fast days, but it hasn't worked out that way. (But I did find that I needed to add a bit of salt on the fast and shake days or else I got headaches.) I've even managed to stick with it under two difficult social situations; a party on a moderate day (I had nothing there but a couple of burgers, which I planned for, and some raw vegetables (many of which are free in the diet). The other was going to a computer seminar which fell on another moderate day; I had a Clif Builder bar for breakfast (which I brought with me, they didn't have any suitable breakfast choices), and a lunch of half a sandwich with only one piece of bread, salad greens, and some fruit. (I obviously couldn't weigh those but I knew approximate portions from my experiences on the previous days; I was certainly close enough not to endanger my progress.) I ate the rest of the day's meals after I got home.
As for the exercise, I've been doing daily Callanetics, a program meant to tighten your body but not bulk it up. (It's certainly doing that for my legs and waist; I'm waiting for the belly to follow.) Most days I get in some cardio as well, largely in my normal life; walking large distances, bicycling, and dancing. I might be losing even more weight if I were doing all the resistance training that is in the diet plan, but that would require going to a gym. And I don't want bulky muscles anyway; got those male testosterone levels going on after all, so if I did a lot of strength work I'd get bigger than most women would. The look I want is sleek, not ripped.
After the 25 days I'll return to a more moderate eating plan; I think I'll stick with the five small meals a day since that seems to be working well for me. I really felt I needed the jump start of a more extreme program to show myself that I could do this, and make enough progress to make a real difference in how I look and feel. I'll probably cut back the Callanetics to three days a week and find some other exercises for the other days to keep from getting too bored. And I'll keep on walking, cycling, and dancing! My ongoing goal will be to try to continue to move in the right direction, but slow it down to about a pound a week for a while. I don't know exactly where the end point is; I'll judge that by the way I look and feel about my body, and make sure to stop well short of anorexia. Current Mood: bouncy