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Keep on Rouxlin’

IMG_6156There’s nothing quite like a nice Sunday with friends and a pot of gumbo.  Ok, make that a couple of hundred friends and over a dozen pots of delicious gumbo, some tasty King cakes, and a fun Mardi Gras atmosphere!

Last year my wife and I went for the first time to the Tennessee Equality Project’s annual gumbo cooking competition.  This fundraiser helps out TEP in their efforts in supporting LGBT issues in the state.  Anyone can help the cause by buying a ticket, sampling dozens of yummy gumbos, and voting for their favorite.  When I went last year I was kicking myself, thinking that this would have been a great opportunity to take Katie out on the town and show support for our good friend, Nathan, who was competing in the event.  I made a commitment that this year would be different, and my goodness was it ever!

As this event was a contest/Mardi Gras party, I of course had to break out my good ol’ glue gun and put together some fun and colorful accessories for the event.  I knew I wanted to dress up my new hair, so I threw together a nice headpiece, which ended up getting a lot of positive attention.  Oh, since my last post I took advantage of some great online deals and got myself a wonderful new wig called Heidi by Jon Renau, and I absolutely love her! 🙂

This year, my wife and I were more than happy to help Nathan out in setting up for the event, transporting some chairs, tables, gumbos, rice, drinks, and many, many King cakes! I made sure to plan accordingly in advance, so I had some nice comfortable flats to help haul everything from the car, and some nice booties for when the paying public started to arrive.

As a general trend, especially with my trip up to the Twin Cities last November, I was much less stressed out or anxious than ever before.  The more and more one does this, the easier and less stressful it becomes.  I was happy to meet some of the others enlisted by Nathan to help out, and also happy and relaxed to walk around the event floor, meeting so many new people.  My good friend Gabby, who knows a ton of people around town introduced me to anyone she knew, and I was more than happy to strike up a conversation.

One of the big things I realize now after a couple of days thinking about the evening was how I kept wanting to walk around the room and interact with people.  Nathan’s team, called “Rouxlin’ On The River” had a table set up with chairs, and I could have sat there most of the night, near the table with people I knew, but I instead wanted to keep circling the room to see what would happen.  I was stopped a few times by random people for photos, many gave me warm compliments, and others a wonderful smile.  In other words, I didn’t think I’d want to put myself out there like that, and as an introvert I usually wouldn’t do that, but damn that was fun!  Human interaction…who knew it could be so much fun! LOL 🙂

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Go Team!!!

By the end of the night, I had made some great new friends, met a bunch of new people, and we were all happy and proud for Nathan for receiving third place for his turducken gumbo, which was to die for!  What an amazing cook!  Congratulations to him for a job well done!!

Much love to all,

Katie Amor

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New Found Perspectives

As with so many of my previous outings and big events, I like to look at those experiences and try to see how my perspectives have changed and what I’ve learned about myself. With my recent trip to the Twin Cities to visit my friend Hannah and the MN-T Girls group, my views have definitely changed and I certainty have learned quite a lot about myself from such a huge opportunity.

One of the big things I noticed looking back (especially compared to the first time I ever went out in public) was how relaxed and excited I was. In previous occasions, I used to work myself up so much, mentally and physically, about heading out in public, worrying about the general public and what they thought. But by the time I was due to meet Hannah at a nice restaurant in downtown Minneapolis on a Friday night, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was more excited than anything else! The same goes for the day I met up with all the other girls for drinks and dinner.  Looking back, this was a big step forward because I hated how anxious I would get sometimes, and now I feel like I can do whatever I want. I don’t care much that I may be 6’6” in heels, and don’t have a voice to match my appearance. This trip really made me focus on the important things, which is to enjoy the company one has around them, and I definitely did!

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My “light” look… 🙂

The positive experiences continued the next day when Hannah, my wife, and I got some makeovers done at an Ulta store by a wonderful makeup artist. But before we meet up at Ulta, I had to do some light makeup, which if you know me at all is a difficult thing for me to do. I love doing big bold eyes and generally makeup on the heavier side of things, but since I was getting makeup done I didn’t want to do my full treatment and I didn’t want to go without any makeup either. That being said, I was happy to learn that I could do a lighter look, something more appropriate for a daytime look.  While Hannah was getting her makeup done at Ulta, I wondered around the store with a smile on my face. I was happy to be out in the world, doing everyday things, being the individual I wanted to be on that day, with great company in tow. What more could one ask for!

The absolutely biggest thing I learned or realized about myself came to me after we made it back home to Memphis. Going forward, getting all dressed up and having a day in at the house won’t mean as much as it once did. What I mean is now that I’ve pushed my comfort zone to new limits, what I used to do, just won’t do any more. There are new frontiers to explore as Katie and I hope to keep pushing myself with every opportunity that comes along.

One has to be confident and fill ones space to show the world we belong and we don’t have anything to be afraid about. It was great to have this feeling reaffirmed and pushed to new heights.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Much love to all,

Katie Amor

A Birthday Excursion

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Spoonbridge and Cherry

Most years on my birthday I tend not to bring attention to myself. I don’t announce it on Facebook, or let everyone at work know “It’s my birthday”. This year has been a huge difference from all those previous years. One of my best friends in the world, Hannah McKnight, and I have for a long time causally talked about getting together someday to meet in person. Last spring we started to seriously talk about the possibility and since we both share a November birthday, it was only natural that we got together and celebrate. And girl did we ever!

My wife joyed the trip, as we made a nice little vacation out of our visit to Minneapolis. As the time passed and we got closer to November I started to make detailed plans for our trip. I knew I was going to be getting dressed up twice, once for a dinner with Hannah, and then another outing with the MN T-Girls group to a brewery and dinner. I spent a couple of weeks thinking about the outfits that would be appropriate for each event along with the right shoes and purse to go with it. In all, my wife and I had one checked bag and one carry on bag each, giving us some options in case plans changed. More on planning and packing in a future post…

We arrived in town on a Wednesday and headed straight to Surly Brewing Company, which is a very popular craft brewery in town. We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious beer and food along with a fun tour. That night we enjoyed a stand up show by Jim Jefferies, who is one of our favorite comedians, and we were not disappointed as he served up a two hour-long stand up comedy routine.

Thursday was spent going to the Walker Art Center to take in some awesome exhibits they had on display and of course check out the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture out in the sculpture garden. We also checked out some shopping at the Mall Of America and some shops along Grand Avenue near St. Paul.

The real big events started on Friday when we were due to meet up with Hannah for dinner at Ling and Louie’s downtown Minneapolis, just a few blocks away from our hotel. I started to get ready in the afternoon since I had lots to do, removing hair, doing my makeup, and finally deciding on what I was going to wear. On our walk to the restaurant I was so excited to finally meet my friend who I had only ever communicated with through email. So exciting!! 🙂

Hannah was dressed in a beautiful print dress, while I decided to go with a pair of jeans, and button up top and jacket. The jacket came in handy because for us southerners from Tennessee, it was cold! For Hannah, it was warm enough not to even wear a jacket! LOL. Meeting up with Hannah was amazing. We talked, we ate, we drank, and had an amazing time finally meeting face-to-face.

As the night ended, we finalized the plans for the following day. On Saturday we met up at an Ulta store near St. Paul and we all had something done. Hannah and I had makeover (thank you Tawni!!) while my wife had her hair styled (she looked amazing!!). The hair and makeup people at Ulta did an amazing job on us and were so very helpful. I even got some new products, because a girl can never have too much makeup! 🙂  Hannah was wearing a red hot dress, while I felt amazing in my black crochet dress and jean jackets.

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Two happy girls after some makeovers!

Next up was Sidhe Brewing Company, which is an LGBT-friendly place to enjoy a pint of beer or two. I especially enjoyed the nut brown ale. We also got to meet members of the MN T-Girls group who were celebrating their two-year anniversary as a group. It was great to meet the girls and great to see the brewery so busy with people looking to enjoy some good times.

The night ended with an amazing dinner at PUBLIC, a wonderful restaurant in downtown St. Paul. We sat at the chef’s table as we enjoyed each other’s company over some tasty wine, delicious food, and a yummy cheesecake. I enjoyed getting a chance to talk to the other girls, and make some rough plans for a future get together. Before calling it a night, I thanked everyone for such great company and a warm welcome to the twin cities. I also want to thank Hannah for planning the outings and being such a great host and an amazing friend. This trip really allowed our friendship to bloom. It was a great experience and something completely different to celebrate a birthday.

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A wonderful night out with some amazing women!

In closing, this trip really pushed me outside my normal routines, and I think I really needed it. There were so many new and first time experiences packed into just a couple of days, which I hope to elaborate more in the future. First time traveling with all my femme clothes, first time agonizing about what to pack for a trip, first time getting a makeover, first time using a multi-stall woman’s restroom (most other places I had been to were single occupancy, lower anxiety…), first time dressing up on back-to-back days, first time wandering around downtown St. Paul in 4 inch heels after dinner trying to find where you parked your rental car… LOL. I’m so happy to have made the trip, I am happy to have made some new friends, happy to have experienced and learn so many new things, and happy to have finally met my BFF, Hannah! YAY! 🙂

I hope you all get a chance to experience something new and break the routines from time to time. Much love to all,

Katie Amor

Sharp Contrast

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Wiseacre, our favorite brewery in town!

As many of you know I have a love of beer, which leads to my wife and I enjoying ourselves whenever we go to a beer festival.  During our last beer-tasting event I was reminded of how sharp the contrast between the two ends of my identity can be sometimes, swinging from one end to another in no time flat.

We visited our favorite local brewery, which was hosting their first beer-tasting event and got to make a new friend.  There we were, getting something to eat at an awesome food truck that parked for the event, when my wife sparked up a conversation with a stranger wearing a gay pride shirt.  She said how we’re big allies of the LGBT community, which is when I stepped in to say that I was more than an ally, I was part of the T in LGBT, and told him all about Katie, only moments after getting his name.  Afterwards, I found it so interesting how a simple shirt got me to open up to a complete stranger.  I guess it’s part of me being much more comfortable with who I am.

Good people, beer, music.....and trains!

Good people, beer, music…..and trains!

It was just a few minutes after talking to our new friend when things swung sharply.  One of my ice hockey teammates (I play on a local recreational adult team) walked up to say hi, which is when we stopped talking about our favorite drag queens in town, and started talking about beer and hockey.  As you could imagine, a locker room environment filled with guys doesn’t make for the most reassuring environment, so needlessly to say, I don’t see myself coming out to any of my hockey pals.  Once my hockey friend left to browse the options, we resumed to talk about the local LGBT community, drag, and gender.  To be honest, I’m surprised I didn’t get whiplash, LOL.

Looking back on this day, I’m happy that I took the opportunity to make a new friend in the local community, which in the end was one of the goals I wanted to work on for the year.  This day also makes me think, why have such abrupt swings? I guess it’s a necessity for the moment.  I have for a long time felt that my gender views are a private matter, not secret in that no one should know, but a private matter that a select few are privy to.  In a perfect world it would be nice to speak on these matters open to everyone, but we’re still working our way there.

Anyways, it’s almost time for the World Cup, and it’s going to be a month full of excitement.  Excitement for my home county and excitement for my adopted county.

!Vamos Argentina!

!Vamos Argentina!

Much love to all,

Katie

So Long Summer, Hello Fall

What a summer it’s been. Yes, it’s been hot and humid, but I sure tried to make the best out of it.  I’m happy that this summer I’ve been able to make some new friends by sharing a deep part of my character.  I’ve also been able to keep practicing my basic skills as I come to appreciate what it takes to do makeup, and really taking it to the point where it’s a creative release for myself.  I’ve been able to support my wife as she has started going to school full time, and trying to keep that necessary balance needed for the both of us.

With all that said, I am happy that summer is ending and fall is approaching.  Fall will bring the change of season I love, especially when I go out to take pictures of the changing colors.  This fall will also bring some new opportunities for me to progress with the development of my identity.  During the past month or so, there have been two goals which I’ve been working towards, and shopping for.  The first goal, which I have committed to attending, is to go out for the first time as Katie to the mid-south pride festival in early October.  Ladies and gentleman, the time for practicing is over, now it’s time to get out there and enjoy a new part of life.

I figured that the pride event would be the best opportunity to go out for the first time.  The weather will be cooler, the environment will be safe, and I’ll have some great friends to support me, while I support them as they march in the parade.  We’ve been doing some shopping at some second hand stores to put together an outfit, complete with my first purse (which will be great to hold my camera).  The more we go out shopping, the more comfortable I’ve been picking through the racks and trying on items.  I also finally purchased my first pair of breast forms, and a new bra to keep them secure.  Nothing too big, just a nice C cup.  I also got contact lenses, so I can show off the work I do on my eyes, along with the big lashes I use sometimes.  I’ve also been working lately to put together the makeup look I will be wearing to the event.

This past week, as I’ve been thinking more and more about the festival, I’ve been thinking that this opportunity could be much more than just my first time out.  There will be many groups/organizations that will have booths at the festival, and I’m sure I can use this chance to meet some new people and start interacting with individuals in the community.

Besides the pride event, I’m also working on my Halloween outfit, which isn’t finished yet, and for which we don’t have any events or parties yet planned to attend.

I hope that you all are looking forward to the changing of the seasons and the opportunities which accompany it.

Katie

Makeoverpalooza

In my last post I ended it by saying that this past weekend was going to be special, and boy was it ever true.  As I mentioned in my post, Gutturball, I came out to some of our friends from Mississippi.  One of these friends, L, was very interested in what I did, and had lots of questions about how I did the transformation.  Since then, L has been interested in transforming into his feminine self.  So I invited him and some friends over to have some makeovers.

We had plans for this big day for over three weeks, and I was so excited for the chance to dress in front of others (K being the only one who’s seen Katie in person), and give a friend his first transformation.  On Sunday, we invited 4 friends over, including L and his partner T, our bowling friend M and her husband W.

As soon as they arrived to out apartment, L wanted to check out my shoe collection and try on some heels.  He did well for his first time, although it didn’t help my shoes were large on him.  Then we went through my collections of wigs, as lots of questions were asked, all of which I was more than happy to answer.

L wanted to watch me get all dressed up first, but since our bathroom is not large enough for 5 people to watch someone put on makeup, I moved everything to the dinning room.  It was actually nice to have a chair to sit in and do my makeup.  It was my first time doing this in front of anyone, and in this case there were 5 people watching me.  It was a bit awkward to begin with, but after focusing on my routine, I felt more comfortable.  As I did my makeup, I began to explain my process to L, because I would be helping him with his makeup next.

After I got finished and dressed, it was time for L to get his makeup done.  I was a bit hesitant, because I’ve only been doing makeup a few times a month over the last year and a half.  Needlessly to say, I’m no makeup artist, and I’ve only done makeup on my face, which I’ve come to know how to work with.  As I got started, I had to fix a few mistakes, and kept asking the ladies in the room for their opinion for colors which would go well with L’s skin tones.

As we got closer to being finished, I could tell that he was happy with what he saw developing.  After getting into some clothes he bought the day before, and trying on a couple of wigs, we were both happy with the outcome, especially for being his first time.  He soon found out how hot the wigs can be, especially when it’s nearly 100 degrees outside.  The wig stayed on long enough for some pictures to be taken, and some big smiles to come through.

After all the makeup, shoes, food, and drinks, several hours had passed and it was time for them to go.  We all were looking forward to Sunday, and it was not disappointing.  I got a chance to be Katie in front of others (something that was easier than I thought), and helped a friend with his first transformation.  At the end of the day, we all said we needed to do this again sometime, which I’m already looking forward too. 🙂

Have a great week everyone,

Katie

An Overdue Thank You

A few weeks ago I was recognized by Kira Moore and transbeautiful for my little-o-blog, and I want to thank them for the recognition.  Sorry it’s taken me a while to get to this.  I always look forward to reading what Kira has to write about, and I do try my best to keep up with her adventure.  Transbeautiful is a wonderful blog written by the mother of a trans youth, which has opened my eyes to a new perspective on things.

All the blogs I list in the side bar, are blogs I follow and look forward to reading (I need to keep updating it as it grows).  I’ve been thinking lately at how things have changed since starting this blog nearly 5 months ago.  My original intent was to use the blog as a way to explain myself to friends I had come out to.  I also was looking forward to making connections within the trans community, and I am overwhelmed at where this has lead me.

I have connected with some wonderful people from all different kinds of background.  With my personal friends and online friends, I have been able to understand myself better, and have a better idea of where I’m going, which is a personal road for each of us.  One thing I’ve realized is that the road may be my own, but that doesn’t mean I have to travel it alone.  I have great friends to accompany my journey.

Thank you again,

Katie

IDAHO

Today is May 17th and IDAHO day, or international day against homophobia and transphobia.  To be honest, in years past, this date didn’t hold much significance to me.  Don’t take it that the wrong way, I’ve always been an open minded person, especially when it comes to a persons right to be happy.

Since realizing that I was “different”, a crossdresser, which I guess falls under the all encompassing T of LGBT (as I’ve said before, these categories and terms confuse the heck out of me), I’ve had the fortune of making many new friends.  Many homosexual, some transgender, and some that would say they are whatever the hell they want to be.  One of these friends said on their Facebook page not long ago, that it’s not a phobia, it’s not about being afraid of people who are different, it’s about being an a-hole.  I definitely liked his status.

Since making these new friends in a new community, I’ve started to take notice of news articles involving LGBT issues.  Some times the news is positive, like Obama’s openness towards same-sex marriage, while other news items bring me to the brink of tears.  When you pay close attention, there are so many young people, going through the pressures of learning who they are, who end up being abused, assaulted, or worse.

This reminds me of the “WTF” podcast (hosted my Mark Maron) episode with comedian Todd Glass, where he came out publicly as gay.  Todd said the main reason he had to come out, was to speak out against the violence and suicide among the youth.

So on this day, I hope that we can all move forward towards love and acceptance for all.

Just a few thoughts I had today,

Katie

I Want to Know…

This is a great video my wife forwarded me.  I must be honest and say it had me weeping by the end.  Such a strong and powerful message.  I find this message very fitting considering the week it’s been, with the North Carolina vote, and president Obama coming out in support of same sex marriage.

Gutterball

credit: jon madison

credit: jon madison

It’s always nice to have an unexpected chance to introduce Katie to new friends.  This past weekend we planned some fun activities with some coworkers to go to a baseball game.  We had a good time at the game on Saturday and we had planned a relaxing Sunday doing the regular apartment chores (and to start reading the Hunger Games).  We got an unexpected message on Sunday from some of my wife’s friends in northern Mississippi that they were on their way into town to do some bowling, and wanted to know if we wanted to join them.

One of the friends (let’s call her M) knows about Katie and has been very supportive and a great friend.  The other two tagging along (we’ll call them L and T) are a great gay couple that I had met a couple times and were great hosts when we were invited to their home last year.

As I’ve mentioned before, over the last six months I’ve wanted to share Katie with people beyond these apartment walls.  I have a short list of friends I would be comfortable coming out to, and L and T were on that list.  For some reason I’ve felt very comfortable coming out to our homosexual friends.  I guess because I know they will be understanding of my situation.

On the way to the bowling alley, I knew that I wanted to tell them about Katie and started to think about how and when.  I wanted to show them that I was more than K’s husband, that nice guy who is shy and doesn’t talk much (a part of my character I’ve tried to work on).

I hadn’t bowled in about 10 years, so it took a couple of games to get the hang of it again. While I was sitting there, waiting my turn, I kept thinking about how to bring up Katie.  I didn’t want to just blurt out, “I’m a crossdresser, hooray!!”.  I ended up running out of time, our games were up.  Luckily I had another chance because they were going to grab a bite to eat at a place nearby.

During dinner I asked M if L and T would like to see a picture of my friend Katie.  I wanted to see their reaction to the pictures I have on my phone, without telling them that’s me.  At first L looked at the picture, and I’m guessing he didn’t think much of that woman.  Then he kept looking at it, then eventually he looked up at me, then back to the phone, then back to me, then his mouth dropped.  It was a priceless expression.  After the initial shock, we talked about crossdressing, drag queens, makeup, we even made some rough plans for halloween.  It was a very rewarding experience.  One of the things they pointed out that I never realized is that my smile is different when I am Katie, which was a very interesting observation.  Maybe subconsciously I am happier and relaxed, free to express those emotions on the outside.

I am glad that I didn’t chicken out, and let the opportunity to tell them in person about myself slip by.  I think years ago I would have missed those kinds of opportunities, whatever the topic.  I guess that’s a sign that I’ve gained some confidence over the years, although I know I have more work to do.  At least I’m happy to have made some new friends. 🙂

Have a great week,

Katie