ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the July 19, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] curiosity. It also fills the "worth it" square in my 6-1-16 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Murasaki. It belongs to the Cuoio and Chiara thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem contains some intense topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. Cuoio attends a Family dance with Chiara and Salvo (who is dressed en femme). A bully from Salvo's family shows up and starts harassing him again. Cuoio puts a stop to that very forcefully. The poem contains a lot of social interaction, most of it positive but some angsty, attempted gender policing, fatalistic feelings about past and present mistreatment, feeling unsafe at a family event, distrust of formal methods of problem-solving that haven't worked in the past, moderate violence, unfamiliarity with local customs, and other challenges. Current environment is largely supportive, and it works out pretty well in the end. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"Small Beautiful Bones"


The villa at the heart of the compound
was lit by many lanterns, its tall windows
aglow with golden light in the evening
as Cuoio approached with Chiara
and Salvo at his elbows.

The children's dancing had evidently
taken over the courtyard, with a ring dance
following a circle of glossy tan flagstones that
stood out from the darker brown background.

The garage doors were all open,
and inside, the smooth floor provided
space for a Latin dance, with the band on
a portable stage in the one-car section and
all of the dancers in the two-car section.

Cuoio looked at the courtyard with
a stream of people eddying around
the ring dance and clogging the front
of the garages and said, "Let's
just go around the back."

So they backtracked a little
and followed the path to where
a patio and a two-story terrace
spanned the rear of the house.
People filled the swimming pool,
but left a clear lane to the door.

They came in past the bar and
the billiards room, up the stairs
to the breakfast nook, which now
housed an enormous buffet of
antipasti on platters and towers
of fine china or polished silver.

"Food first," Chiara declared.
She loaded a plate with fruit,
cheese, and cured meats --
then emptied it just as quickly.

Cuoio helped himself to
a bunch of grapes dripping
from a tower, and Salvo took
the little finger sandwiches.

They followed the music into
the grand room, beyond which lay
the gallery, dining room, and foyer where
people were also beginning to dance.
The band had formed up around
the grand piano tucked under
the spiral staircase by the door.

The first dance that they caught
the beginning of was a waltz.

Cuoio and Chiara followed
the custom of dancing together for
the first and the last, each intending
to entertain other partners between,
and Salvo invited one of the older ladies
who clustered on benches along the walls.

The waltz was gentle and elegant,
and Chiara made Cuoio look better than
he probably deserved to considering
that her skill far surpassed his own.

He wondered, for the first time,
how they chose the musicians for
these events, because he played
the guitar and the mandolin, and
had been learning the violin before
his life fell apart and he moved here.

Perhaps he could take lessons again.

The music was as lovely as the dancers,
gentlemen in their good suits or sometimes
a jacket and trousers, ladies in colorful dresses.

Cuoio admired the forgotten things,
homey miracles of their small beautiful bones
and their delicate strength as they swept
across the smooth parquet floors,
skirts whispering against skin.

Salvo's outfit was just as stunning
as Cuoio had expected, the shirt rippling
as he moved, the skirt-pants moving
first apart and then back together as
Salvo's legs opened and closed.

When the dance ended,
Cuoio and Chiara kissed cheeks,
knowing it might be a while before
they got to dance together again.

Salvo seemed a bit edgy, and
Cuoio sidled over to ask him,
"What's wrong? Are you not
enjoying yourself tonight?"

"It's nothing," Salvo said with
an unconvincing smile. "Just
some relatives I don't like much.
Achile made my childhood ... hard.
There are plenty of other people
I can spend time with instead."

"All right, if it's what you want," Cuoio said,
silently resolving to keep an eye out.

The band struck up a pizzica next,
a folk dance from Puglia once thought
to relieve the spasms caused by spider bites,
and now used occasionally for flickering and
more often for social entertainment.

The comares poured onto the floor,
women and a few men, because most of them
loved the vivacious flavor of these dances, and
because they weren't shy which helped put
other people in the mood for dancing.

Cuoio and Salvo watched as Chiara
pranced out with her friend Pomarola,
the two women frisking around each other.
Chiara had borrowed a pair of triangular scarves,
one white and one red, layered to accent her hips.
Pomarola had a red-and-yellow scarf tied
over her swishy black dress.

"That is so hot," Salvo murmured.
"They are all beautiful tonight."

"Yes, yes it is," Cuoio said happily,
watching the comares move. "We
could bake calzones in that dance."

He loved seeing Chiara show off
her athletic skills, and when she did it
in public, he felt like the luckiest man
in the world to have her in his life.
She made him feel alive again.

Pomarola twirled away with a Moorish girl,
yielding her place to a man whose dark curls
were caught back in a high, bouncy ponytail.
He flirted openly with Chiara, waving his arms
as if trying to herd chickens. She winked
and stayed just out of his reach.

"That is so hot," Salvo said.
"Look at his feet go!"

Cuoio looked, and yes,
the man's feet skipped and
skittered across the floor
with impressive speed.

"I am nowhere near that good,
but it's still fun to try," he admitted.

Salvo grinned at him. "Next dance?"

"Can you follow?" Cuoio asked.
"I'm learning to, but so far, I wouldn't
trust anything but my lead in public."

"I can follow or lead, depending
on my partner," Salvo said.

"Then I would be honored
to dance with you," Cuoio said.

It turned out to be a tango, which was
great practice for them learning to move
together, and Cuoio wondered why he had
never before thought of dance as good practice
for learning how to work with a bodyguard.

Probably because Galterio would have
given him an utterly dry look and declined.

In contrast, Salvo was bubbly as ever
and so light on his feet that they almost
seemed to float through the tune.

Cuoio had no idea how to flirt with
a male partner, but Salvo solved
that problem neatly with saucy steps
which made his skirt-pants flare and
long, smouldering glances with a wink
to show that it was all in good fun.

The end of the song brought them
back to the wall with bows of thanks.

Afterwards, Cuoio performed
a few more dances with strangers,
trying to choose ladies who looked
near his own level, and watching for
wallflowers in want of a partner.

It was a good way to meet people
and have a little fun together,
and Cuoio enjoyed it.

The next dance was a volta,
which Cuoio loved because of the lifts.

The ponytailed comare found Salvo
and asked, "May I have this dance?"
Salvo -- flattered and flustered in
equal amounts -- accepted.

Cuoio sought out Chiara on
the dance floor and swiftly paired up
with her, although it was encouraged
to change partners often so that everyone
could dance with multiple people.

As the music began, the two of them
bowed to each other, then skipped
lightly along the dance floor.

When Cuoio lifted Chiara, the skirt
of her dress flared and fluttered around her.
They hopped through the turn and then
repeated the same pattern.

It was an exhilarating dance.

Chiara tilted her head to show him
something, and Cuoio saw that Pomarola
was dancing with the elderly gentleman
she adored -- with a beefy bodyguard
behind her to provide the actual lift.

The teamwork was exquisite.
Cuoio grinned his appreciation
at Chiara for the tipoff.

When they parted company,
Chiara was quickly acquired by
a butch in a smart black suit,
whose brown hair showed
a streak of bluish green.

Salvo came off the dance floor,
flushed and lovely as he exchanged
farewell bows with his partner.

"Look at you, Alessio, all tarted up ...
are you changing professions again?"
purred a voice from behind them.

Salvo wilted like a wildflower plucked
from its stem by a careless hand.
"Afterglow," he said in a neutral tone.
"I'm sure we both have other places to be."

Cuoio spun on the spot and identified
the culprit by the look of shallow charm
on his face and the faint halo of red light
that trailed after him like taillight streaks.

"Oh, it's you," Cuoio caroled, cupping
a chummy hand around the back of his neck.
"I've been looking forward to this for months!"

Then he bashed the fellow's face against
the stone frame of the portico --
once, twice, thrice.

The small beautiful bones gave
a gratifying crunch as they broke.

Cuoio dropped Afterglow with
his right hand while corralling Salvo
with his left, and hustled out the front door
before anyone could try to stop them.

He cut a quick path through the crowd
in the courtyard, and didn't slow down
until they reached a niche with a bench
hidden by the overhanging foliage.

"How are you?" Cuoio asked
as they sat down together.

"I-I'm fine," Salvo said, although
he didn't sound fine. "He didn't
touch me, didn't have a chance
to get going this time."

"Thank God," Cuoio said.
"You know this Family better
than I do ... how much trouble
do you think I'll be in for this?"

"I don't know," Salvo said.
"We're not meant to fight
with each other ..."

"Ah well, if it gets me banished,
it's still worth it," Cuoio said.
"I won't let some bully abuse you."

"It wasn't -- exactly --" Salvo stammered.

Cuoio narrowed his eyes. "I know
full well that it was more than
one snotty comment tonight,"
he said. "Someone obviously
made your life miserable, and
I've been after him for a while.
I just finally found out who."

"Thank you," said Salvo. "I'm
the one who's supposed to protect
you, but I really appreciate it."

"We protect each other," Cuoio said.
"In a fight, you have my back. Never doubt
that I will stand up for you if you need it."

Salvo's answering smile was small but genuine.

It took longer than Cuoio expected before
they heard the deliberate scuff of boots
on the path approaching their refuge.

Cuoio looked up to see an older, portly man
waiting for him. His heart sank a little as he
recognized Nestore Dinapoli, the housefather
of the compound, who wouldn't come
looking to deal with a trifle.

"May I come in?" Mr. Dinapoli asked.

"I'll come out," Cuoio said, which
conveniently put him in front of Salvo.

"Well, that answers that question,"
Mr. Dinapoli said with a chuckle.

"What question?" Cuoio said.

"Whether you hit Afterglow out of malice,
or justification," said Mr. Dinapoli. "After you
left, I asked some brisk questions. It revealed
that Afterglow has been making trouble for
a while, but not necessarily your motive."

"I won't let anyone hurt my people," Cuoio said.

"Yes, a boss has the right to protect his own,
a point that Afterglow would have done better
to recall," Mr. Dinapoli said with a nod.

"He is the favorite of the patriarch where we
grew up," Salvo said with a tired sigh. "None of
this is new. I was just ... surprised when it
blew up instead of blowing over."

"Leave Salvo out of this," Cuoio said,
lifting his chin. "I'm the one who hit Afterglow,
and if there are consequences, I'll stand up for them.

Mr. Dinapoli shook his head. "It's more complicated
than that," he said. "True, we do not use violence
as a first solution to problems, and especially
we do not fight amongst ourselves."

"Tell that to Afterglow," said Cuoio. "I've
been cleaning up after him for months,
and only just found out who was behind
the mess he's made of my bodyguard."

"Oh, I shall," said Mr. Dinapoli. "I'll pass along
word that the patriarch has been playing favorites
in altogether the wrong way, and Afterglow will be
sent somewhere he can't cause such trouble. If he
handles that well, then he will have a chance
to earn back the Family's regard."

"What about me?" asked Cuoio.

"First, we --" Mr. Dinapoli waved at himself.
"-- have failed you as a Family. We gave
you a mentor but neglected to detail all of
the expectations for conduct. So you ran into
a tense situation before you got past the basics.
The proper response would be to address his boss,
and if that didn't work, your mentor or myself."

Salvo snorted quietly. "I tried working
through the usual, and it didn't work,"
he said. "That's why I left home."

"We strive for excellence, Salvo, but
that does not mean we always attain it,"
said Mr. Dinapoli. "There will be some
who are ... not a credit to the Family.
What's important is how we deal with
these problems when they come up."

"So what happens to me now?"
Cuoio asked, still trying to pry loose
an idea of how bad the punishment was.

"Considering the circumstances here,
our first concern is your education,"
Mr. Dinapoli said. "There is a class for
our older teens about such things as
deportment and problem-solving. For
de-escalation and negotiation, you'll likely
land with older students. These will serve
you well as the boss of your team."

That was embarrassing, but only fair,
and it was true they were necessary.
"Yes, sir," Cuoio replied.

"The other part is the more serious,"
Mr. Dinapoli said. "You will not be adding
anyone new to your team for at least
a month. You need time to learn, and
for your teachers to assess your skills."

That one pinched enough to make Cuoio wince.

He needed to rebuild his support network,
and the thought of waiting even longer --
with no guarantee of when it would resume --
made him feel like the ground had just dropped
out from under him, but he still said, "Yes, sir."

"Now that you know the rules,
if anything like this happens again,
there will be greater consequences,"
Mr. Dinapoli warned him.

"It won't," Cuoio said.

"I have faith in you, " said Mr. Dinapoli,
"or this would have gone quite differently."

"How badly did I hurt Afterglow?" Cuoio asked.
"I meant to give him a good knock but not
to do any permanent damage."

"You broke his nose and loosened
a few teeth," Mr. Dinapoli said.
"Nothing that can't be mended,
but considerably beyond what we
consider acceptable in-house."

"Understood," Cuoio said.

"Show me your hands," said Mr. Dinapoli.

"I didn't really hit him, I just shoved him ...
into a stone doorframe," Cuoio said.
"Besides, I'm tough guy, I'm fine."

"Hands," the housefather said firmly,
so Cuoio stopped arguing and showed them.
"Indeed, they look uninjured. For future reference,
do not ever assume that you cannot be hurt.
Some superpowers can get past each other."

"Oh ... right," Cuoio said. "I forgot about that."

"You'll need to account for that in your strategies,
but I think you have enough lessons for now,"
said Mr. Dinapoli. "After you finish these,
then consider one about superpowers."

"I can help too, if you have questions,"
Salvo offered. "I've been studying
superpower interactions for a while."

"Thanks, I'll take you up on that," Cuoio said.
"I can't afford that kind of mistake on assignment."

"Then I believe we are done here,"
Mr. Dinapoli said. "Cuoio, you will find
your comare waiting at the head of the path
to take you both home. I think you've had
enough excitement for the evening."

Cuoio winced again. It had been
a lovely dance, until Afterglow had
ruined it and he himself had put
the final nail in the coffin.

"Yes, sir," he said. "Thank you
for your guidance." Then he turned
to offer his hand to Salvo.

The bodyguard took it and
rose gracefully to his feet.

They waited for Mr. Dinapoli
to walk back toward the house
before following at a sedate pace.

Chiara was waiting for them,
as promised, and fell into step
on Cuoio's other side.

"That was a barbaric thing for
you to do," she said to Cuoio,
snuggling against his side.
"I am proud of you anyhow."

Salvo giggled. "Same here," he said.

Well, at least Salvo had come out of it
intact, and that had been the point.

* * *

Notes:

Pomarola (Martina Busto) -- She has olive skin, brown eyes, and curly auburn hair. She is petite and curvy. Her nickname comes from a Tuscan tomato sauce, implying both "red" and "saucy." She comes from Milan. Pomarola practices Fior di Battaglia, an Italian martial art for comares, specializing in cloak-and-dagger and unarmed combat. She is friends with Chiara Acquesta. Her boss is Dantel Chiefari.
Origin: As a teenager, she dressed up for a masquerade with a mask that turned out to be a super-gizmo. Sent by a rival family, it was meant to disfigure her face, but instead gave her superpowers.
Uniform: High fashions. She loves dressing up in both contemporary and historic Italian clothing.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Social Graces, Good (+2) Crafts, Good (+2) Exuberant, Good (+2) Fior di Battaglia, Good (+2) Theatrical History
Powers: Average (0) Passion Gifts
Motivation: To live life to the fullest.

Baldassare Pilo -- He has light olive skin, brown eyes, and dark body hair although his head has gone completely bald. He is short and stocky. He works for the boss Dantel Chiefari.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Bodyguard, Expert (+4) Strength, Good (+2) Dancer, Good (+2) Loyal
Poor (-2) Can't Swim

Dantel Chiefari -- He has light olive skin folded into many wrinkles, brown eyes, and white hair. He is the partner of the comare Pomarola. He is planning to retire soon.
Qualities: Master (+6) Gentleman, Master (+6) Lover, Master (+6) Mob Boss, Expert (+4) Interpersonal Intelligence, Expert (+4) Wealth, Good (+2) Art Collector, Good (+2) Dancer, Good (+2) Italian History, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Wine Connossieur
Poor (-2) Not as Strong as He Used to Be

Afterglow (Achile Sinacore)
-- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and brown hair with just a hint of red. He comes from Venice, and Sinacore is one of the primary Marionette families. A favored grandson of the patriarch in his villa, he is charming when he wants to be and a bully when he thinks he can get away with it. He works in the Family's gambling venues, where he excels at giving customers a good time while separating them from their money.
Origin: His superpowers emerged at puberty, making an already favored boy even more so.
Uniform: He dresses more casually than most Marionettes, often in jeans and a polo shirt. Sometimes he throws a dress shirt and tie over jeans, not realizing how tacky it looks.
Qualities: Good (+2) Gambling, Good (+2) High Alcohol Tolerance, Good (+2) Hot Sex, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Good (+2) Superficial Charm
Poor (-2) Bully
Powers: Average (0) Glow
He gives off a ruddy light. It doesn't actually do anything practical.
Motivation: To gain social status.

Watermark (Culaccino) (Vedette Fedele) -- She has light olive skin, brown eyes, and short straight brown hair with a wide stripe of bluish-breen. A blue-and-white tattoo of a wave wraps around the upper part of her left arm. She comes from the municipality of Cosoleto in the region of Calabria in Italy. Vedette is a soft butch lesbian, and prefers lovers of moderate to butch persuasion rather than femmes. Her personality is fluid, easily shaping itself to the current context around her. Skilled at reading people, she makes both friends and business contacts easily.
Watermark works as a bodyguard for the Marionettes, particularly in cases where raw physical violence is not ideal. She uses aikido and de-escalation skills, along with subtle touches of her Water Powers, to keep people safe. If provoked, though, she is entirely capable of making limbs swell to immobility or of filling someone's lungs with water. Her nickname comes not from the colored hair but from her habit of leaving dangerous opponents with a permanent spiral scar by distorting the water within skin cells, so that she and others can recognize them easily in the future.
Origin: When she was thirteen, she got swept away by a flood and presumed lost. She returned three days later with a broad aquamarine streak through her hair, and Water Powers.
Uniform: On duty, she wears a masculine business suit. Off duty, she wears fashionable masculine clothing, usually from Italian designers. For swimming, she likes turquoise and white striped swim trunks with a bareskin top.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Adaptable, Good (+2) Aikido, Good (+2) Bodyguard, Good (+2) Connecting with People, Good (+2) Dancer, Good (+2) De-escalation
Poor (-2) Worrywart
Powers: Average (0) Water Powers
Vulnerability: As a Water elemental, she takes double damage from Fire, whether superpowered or ordinary.

Nestore Dinapoli -- He has olive skin, brown eyes, and dark hair going gray with a mustache. He is portly and cheerful, and he wears glasses. He is the husband of Megliore; father of Liborio, Lucinda, and another daughter; and grandfather of several grandchildren. He is the housefather of a compound for the Marionettes.
Qualities: Master (+6) Family Man, Master (+6) Housefather, Expert (+4) Interpersonal Intelligence, Expert (+4) Politics, Good (+2) Painter, Good (+2) Patient, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Nearsighted

Nestore (Italian: "homecoming")
http://www.italy101.com/articles/italian-baby-boys-names/

In the picture, Nestore is third from the left, beside his wife Megliore.

* * *

"In a dancer, there is a reverence for such forgotten things as the miracle of the small beautiful bones and their delicate strength."
-- Martha Graham

This is the villa in the Marionette compound where Cuoio and Chiara live. See the exterior front, the entrance circle, and the exterior back. Here are floor plans for the basement, first floor, and second floor. See the grand stairway, gallery, fireplace, kitchen, and rec room. Visible here is the mural wall opposite the fireplace in the grand room. The large open space spanning the grand room, gallery, and dining room is often used for ballroom dancing. This shows the front windows in the grand room and its parquet dance floor. The breakfast nook is often used to set up antipasti and/or a dinner buffet. You can see the rotunda of the nook beyond the table. Outdoors, there are many secluded areas, such as this niche with a garden bench.

Antipasti are Italian appetizers, also used as party snacks. There are fancy recipes, but you can also just assemble a plate from simple meats, cheeses, and other foods.

In a Family compound, the Marionettes host frequent social events. This usually includes a community dance at least once a month, most often semi-formal to formal, but sometimes more or less so. It gives people a chance to dress up, socialize, and have fun. A mix of music and dance styles are offered so that everyone interested may participate including children, elders, and people with special needs. You can read about community dances, family dances, and how to host a family dance party.

Learning to dance has many benefits. The right workout helps build a dancer's body. There are instructions for ballroom dance, slow dance, waltz, and many others. The more dances you know, the more popular you will become as a partner, and the more fun you will have on the dance floor, because you will rarely have to sit out due to not knowing the steps.

Etiquette of social dancing varies according to venue. The Marionettes are a little more conservative than a social dance club, which means they put less pressure on people to accept most dances or mingle with many partners. Some couples only ever dance with each other, and some people have a limited set of safe partners due to other personal reasons. The first and last dance are customarily reserved for one's escort if attending as a couple. However, it remains true that skilled and willing partners are the most popular. Unlike most venues, using superpowers on the dance floors is common and welcome, as long as it's done in a safe and courteous manner. Here are some more advanced tips on dance manners.

Wallflowers are people who rarely if ever dance at social events; they sit on the sidelines and watch. While some people enjoy watching others dance, many hang back due to social anxiety. The usual solution is to press the wallflowers to ask other people to dance with them. If that's a skill you want to learn, by all means do so. For many people, though, it's so unpleasant that they'd rather sit out or not attend at all. A better solution is to have designated dancers at an event whose job is to invite (not pester) people to dance so everyone gets a turn. It doesn't have to be that official, though; any capable dancer can become quite popular simply by inviting people who might not otherwise get to dance. Plenty of the Marionettes do this.

This Italian music glossary has many references to local dances. There are many styles of ballroom and folk dances.

Cuoio plays the guitar and the violin, which are among the most popular musical instruments. The mandolin is a famous Italian instrument.

Bullying involves people in complex social roles. When it happens among relatives, it can lead to exclusion from or avoidance of family gatherings. Victims of family bullying or other abuse often deny the severity of the situation. There are ways to cope with family bullies or help a friend who is bullied. While it is preferable to solve problems in a rational manner, this often fails to work on bullies. Most advice encourages people to be good victims, tolerate the abuse, and not fight back. Forget it. If you've tried the recommended methods and they haven't worked, you are justified in fighting back against someone who is still hurting you or yours.

Read about the waltz and watch an Italian waltz.

The pizzica is a folk dance from Apulia, related to the tarantella. They were originally used to treat a kind of hysterical behavior believed to come from the bite of a large spider, which in Terramagne could be anything from a spider soup to a shapeshifter to some other power such as Pheromones or Super-Speed. In addition to entertainment, the Marionettes use these dances to relieve flickering. There's a grain of truth in it: superpowers require energy, and if you exhaust yourself dancing, then there is less left over that can spark around randomly. Notice that it's a high-energy dance, without skin contact but with close interaction between two partners. They're dancing at a range where their personal energy touches at the edge, which helps maintain focus and prevent isolation.

Ballo liscio is Italian ballroom dance. Listen to the music and watch a dance.

A calzone resembles a folded pizza. Enjoy some recipes.

Gender roles in dance may vary by culture. Historically, people often switched roles, especially when the mix was uneven, but today in local-America it often meets hostility. There are advantages to learning both roles, as Cuoio is doing. In same-sex dancing, you get to choose whether you prefer to lead or follow, although the queer dance scene has its ups and downs. Some partners dress alike, others don't. One way to distinguish is for the lead to wear subtle tones while the follow wears bright tones, which in Terramagne is sometimes called "neutral and color" rather than "lead and follow" or "gentleman and lady." Watch some same-sex ballroom dancing and same-sex Latin dancing. Among the Marionettes, it's pretty common to see same-sex pairings, including cross-orientation ones between friends or acquaintances. Flirting on the dance floor is generally considered part of a social dance, not a genuine pass, except for singles events.

Tango has its own list of music. Watch a tango dance or learn the steps.

Volta is an old form of dance involving lifts. Listen to the music or watch the dance.

Know how to tell if a friend is struggling, ask if they're okay, and comfort an upset friend. Cuoio has known for a while that Salvo has some nasty relatives, so he's alert for the problem and not fooled by Salvo's attempt to cover it up.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-23 01:10 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
This... is remarkably like myself. Many moons ago I loosened the teeth of a spoiled brat of a bully who had been pestering me for over a year.... and now I'm ... learning how to deal more effectively. Been a long time between his lesson and mine.... but better now than not.

I like the way Chiara thinks. (Sometimes you do have to make a splash to get some attention...) Hmmm, the night is young, ne-c'est-pas?

I also like - a lot - that the Marionettes have a system in place so that when something *does* come to their attention, they can *deal with it* rather well. And Capo Dinapoli recognises the failings of the *system* and will work to improve it. (It might make for an interesting one-shot to be a fly on the wall when he reports back to the heirarchy and calls out Afterglow's patriarch...)

a good read

Date: 2016-08-23 11:42 pm (UTC)
thnidu: edited from img383.imageshack.us/img383/3066/ss35450qf7.jpg (smiley)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
• Sent by a rival family, it was meant to disfigure her face, but instead gave her superpowers.
> Neat irony on an intended dirty trick!

• she got swept away by a flood and ^ presumed lost.
^ was

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-24 04:17 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
I know this is Italy, but in Argentina, when the tango first started, it was considered obscene for a man and a woman to dance it together in public. Men would dance the tango together, in front of women. Sort of like a mating display. This is a video of two brothers dancing the tango together, I love watching how they switch leads, and the whole attitude is 'look at me, look at me', rather than the sensuality I, at least, am used to seeing while watching people tango. Right here

Loved the poem. I love the interactions.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-27 03:21 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Indeed. I would love to see them doing this dance in either Renaissance garb or bright peasant clothing -- something that would be as peacocky as the way they're dancing.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-08-27 06:11 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Well, I've seen them dance in flashy suits, and it does fit better.

I love your idea.

Wow!

Date: 2016-08-26 05:16 pm (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
This story arc was just marvelous! And so full of useful links for where I am in my own journey of discovery right now!

I want Il Mosaico to exist in this universe! I want to go there, and have a sales team who will interact with me, affirm my identity, and work with me to help me find the clothing that allows me to share who I am with the world. And not have to dig it out from where it's hiding among all the clothes that aren't mine, or pay fetishwear prices for clothing that ought to be ordinary.

(Yes, major department stores do have "personal shoppers" who can help with that, and many will accommodate gender-variant folks by having an aware salesperson and providing a private changing room, but too much depends on who one gets to make it feel like a desirable option for me right now.)

And I want to go there with an understanding friend or three, and have a wonderful time -- and return home in joyous anticipation of showing off my acquisitions. Just like anyone of a more commonly found gender can do. *Sigh.*

Re: Wow!

Date: 2016-08-26 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> This story arc was just marvelous! <<

Yay! :D

>> And so full of useful links for where I am in my own journey of discovery right now! <<

I'm glad I could help. I enjoy exploring different aspects of this. Salvo is playful in a way that Astin doesn't seem to be, so they're having very different experiences.

>> I want Il Mosaico to exist in this universe! <<

I wish that too. It is actually a mosaic, though; there are specialty stores that cater to transfolk, butches, androgyns, etc. Over time, I'm seeing more stores that cater to different identities and fashion styles, which is encouraging. Those are places I'd enjoy shopping. Besides, if I describe what a fantastic all-gender store is like, maybe someone will make more like it here.

>>I want to go there, and have a sales team who will interact with me, affirm my identity, and work with me to help me find the clothing that allows me to share who I am with the world.<<

That would be so awesome.

Salvo is still skittish about sharing his identity with other people. He can do it, but it's hard for him to enjoy it the way he feels free to by himself. He'll get there, it's just going to take a while to wear off the crud that Afterglow packed onto him. 0_o

>> And not have to dig it out from where it's hiding among all the clothes that aren't mine, or pay fetishwear prices for clothing that ought to be ordinary. <<

Yeah, those things suck.

Honestly, it's anything outside of a fairly narrow range of "average" clothes. They mark up plus sizes, petite sizes, etc. The only ways to get clothes that look good in a wheelchair is make your own, hire a tailor, or buy from $$$$$ specialty catalogs. Much the same is true for Down's syndrome, autism, or any other condition that alters the type of clothing needed. The one category I've seen that seems to be on par with regular clothes is tomboywear. There are now several companies making awesome girl clothes with trucks, dinosaurs, and other "boy" motifs without racking up the prices unreasonably.

>> (Yes, major department stores do have "personal shoppers" who can help with that, and many will accommodate gender-variant folks by having an aware salesperson and providing a private changing room, but too much depends on who one gets to make it feel like a desirable option for me right now.)<<

Possible ways to find ones worth trying:
* Look for reviews, especially if you can find a genderqueer magazine or website that covers this topic.
* Seek referrals from other genderqueer folks who have gone there.
* Check the company's diversity policy for employees; if it's good, chances are higher they'll follow through on the sales floor. Some LGBT magazines having corporate ratings for this stuff. Start at the top of the list.

>> And I want to go there with an understanding friend or three, and have a wonderful time -- and return home in joyous anticipation of showing off my acquisitions. Just like anyone of a more commonly found gender can do. *Sigh.*<<

That would be so awesome.

I like shopping, if it's for stuff I have a reasonable chance of finding. I can usually find some clothes worth taking home, if I have several stores to choose from. Shopping for footwear is hell, and coats aren't much better. :/ But I do fine helping other people shop, for an hour or few. I have an excellent eye for color, fit, and combinations.

If we're ever in meatspace together, we might consider a shopping trip.

Something else to watch for is closet/dress-up/makeover parties. I think it started as a feminist thing, and then got into the trans and queer communities from there. I've seen one at WisCon, but that convention is nowhere near as good as it used to be. I do know the practice is scattered around elsewhere. The idea is to gather a bunch of garments, give people a chance to dress up, and discuss (if desired) how things look and what kind of personal style is intended. Some events include makeup too.

Re: Wow! (1/3)

Date: 2016-08-28 05:36 pm (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> Salvo is playful in a way that Astin doesn't seem to be, so they're having very different experiences. <<

Indeed. I identify more with Astin, probing tentatively into an unfamiliar landscape and working hard for acceptance. I expect xe will eventually understand the magnitude of the support network the Lacuna inhabitants can be for xyr, and blossom. Salvo was more aware of the support network the Marionettes provide, and quicker to realize that he could be himself.

>> Besides, if I describe what a fantastic all-gender store is like, maybe someone will make more like it here. <<

*crosses fingers and toes*

>> That would be so awesome.

Salvo is still skittish about sharing his identity with other people. He can do it, but it's hard for him to enjoy it the way he feels free to by himself. <<

I seem to be approaching things from a different angle. I'm pretty much not saying anything about my identity unless someone asks, in which case I'll answer honestly. But I'll go with whatever expression I feel confident enough with in the day and environment.

So far, it seems to be working. Most of the interactions I have seem to be unaffected, with only an occasional pointed question or harsh look. And I've gotten some heartening compliments on my outfits or components, which encourage me to further expand both the range and openness of my expression.

I took a big step in that direction a couple of weeks ago, when I attended the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, and the only item of clothing in my suitcase that I didn't regard as "my clothes" -- stuff consonant with my gender identity, as opposed to "stuff I wear", which is either inappropriately gendered or non-gendered, or still under evaluation -- was a pair of jeans I wore one day when I was helping some friends set up an exhibit. I not only survived the week, but attracted a number of favorable responses: mostly on the clothing, but at least three occasions of people I knew having seen me and noting to me that I looked much more confident and present, especially in my non-normative outfits. And aside from one slightly edgy situation when I got a round of silent "WTF?" and "let's pointedly ignore each other" expressions while sharing an elevator with half a dozen presumed locals and just me one evening, went basically unnoticed outside convention space as well.

>> Honestly, it's anything outside of a fairly narrow range of "average" clothes. They mark up plus sizes, petite sizes, etc. The only ways to get clothes that look good in a wheelchair is make your own, hire a tailor, or buy from $$$$$ specialty catalogs. Much the same is true for Down's syndrome, autism, or any other condition that alters the type of clothing needed. The one category I've seen that seems to be on par with regular clothes is tomboywear. There are now several companies making awesome girl clothes with trucks, dinosaurs, and other "boy" motifs without racking up the prices unreasonably. <<

:-( Yeah, limited runs, and custom work, especially handwork, are always gonna cost. If it isn't possible to make and sell in mass quantities, it's going to come dear -- and that pretty much covers all genderqueer options. So I suck it up and make do with stuff that doesn't match my body type well, for the sake of having something that looks like I feel.

Automation is starting to close in on construct-on-demand, and to-body, clothing. It's far from ideal right now, because right now everything is focused on measurements, and pretty much ignoring how they affect tailoring. Sooner or later, though, someone smart is going to apply machine learning to tailoring, and the result (no doubt after a number of false starts) will be a system that has an idea of how to adjust a pattern template to automatically create something that's a whole lot closer to being a fit.

Re: Wow! (1/3)

Date: 2016-08-28 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Indeed. I identify more with Astin, probing tentatively into an unfamiliar landscape and working hard for acceptance.<<

That makes sense.

>> I expect xe will eventually understand the magnitude of the support network the Lacuna inhabitants can be for xyr, and blossom. <<

I think so too.

>> Salvo was more aware of the support network the Marionettes provide, and quicker to realize that he could be himself. <<

Yeah, Salvo knows that the Family as a whole is tolerant, he just got stuck with some relatives who weren't. So he moved, and now things are better even though he's got some baggage from before.

>> I seem to be approaching things from a different angle. I'm pretty much not saying anything about my identity unless someone asks, in which case I'll answer honestly. But I'll go with whatever expression I feel confident enough with in the day and environment. <<

That's a good idea.

>> So far, it seems to be working.<<

\o/

>> Most of the interactions I have seem to be unaffected, with only an occasional pointed question or harsh look. And I've gotten some heartening compliments on my outfits or components, which encourage me to further expand both the range and openness of my expression.<<

Yay! It's a lot easier to get natural reactions from spontaneous conversations than if you plan a disclosure meeting.

>> I took a big step in that direction a couple of weeks ago, when I attended the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, and the only item of clothing in my suitcase that I didn't regard as "my clothes" -- stuff consonant with my gender identity, as opposed to "stuff I wear", which is either inappropriately gendered or non-gendered, or still under evaluation -- was a pair of jeans I wore one day when I was helping some friends set up an exhibit. <<

Woohoo! Go you!

>> I not only survived the week, but attracted a number of favorable responses: mostly on the clothing, but at least three occasions of people I knew having seen me and noting to me that I looked much more confident and present, especially in my non-normative outfits. And aside from one slightly edgy situation when I got a round of silent "WTF?" and "let's pointedly ignore each other" expressions while sharing an elevator with half a dozen presumed locals and just me one evening, went basically unnoticed outside convention space as well.<<

That's wonderful.

>> :-( Yeah, limited runs, and custom work, especially handwork, are always gonna cost. If it isn't possible to make and sell in mass quantities, it's going to come dear -- and that pretty much covers all genderqueer options. <<

Bummer.

>>So I suck it up and make do with stuff that doesn't match my body type well, for the sake of having something that looks like I feel. <<

One possibility is that if you find garments you basically like, buy them to fit your largest measurement and then have the rest altered as needed. If you craft well, you can do it yourself; if you have a decent budget, you can hire a tailor. Altering clothes is usually cheaper than having them made from scratch.

>> Automation is starting to close in on construct-on-demand, and to-body, clothing. It's far from ideal right now, because right now everything is focused on measurements, and pretty much ignoring how they affect tailoring. Sooner or later, though, someone smart is going to apply machine learning to tailoring, and the result (no doubt after a number of false starts) will be a system that has an idea of how to adjust a pattern template to automatically create something that's a whole lot closer to being a fit. <<

These are things that machines do well. It's just a matter of design. There are two basic approaches: 1) Have a human figure out the algorithm for adapting a pattern and program that in. 2) Start with a learning program and show it 10,000 examples so it can figure out how to calculate the alterations on its own. Either of these will give you the capacity to print customized patterns, which would certainly appeal to many people who make their own clothes or hire out such work. Further along, it should be feasible to design a factory to make garments in that manner, and once people are doing a lot of that, it will get cheaper.

Re: Wow! (1/3)

Date: 2016-08-29 03:47 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> >> I attended the World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City [with a wardrobe aligned with my gender identity] <<

Woohoo! Go you! <<

They had dotties! I sought them out! I didn't wind up feeling out of place when I needed a nature break!

>> One possibility is that if you find garments you basically like, buy them to fit your largest measurement and then have the rest altered as needed. If you craft well, you can do it yourself; if you have a decent budget, you can hire a tailor. Altering clothes is usually cheaper than having them made from scratch. <<

I'm not that sort of crafty, and suspect I lack the fine motor skills to do a good enough job to be content with. As for "out"-sourcing it, that's one rub right there: deciding I'm ready to be out to a tailor. The other tricky thing will be to find one who's flexible enough to be unconfined by some notion of what "menswear" or "womenswear" tailoring is supposed to be.

This is something I'll undoubtedly want to pursue once I'm secure enough in my identity to go out in public as myself all the time. Until then, it doesn't strike me as enough worth doing while I'm still developing my style.

>> These are things that machines do well. It's just a matter of design. There are two basic approaches: 1) Have a human figure out the algorithm for adapting a pattern and program that in. <<

That only gives good results if the problem is algorithmic. Alteration is heuristic; you can only do it right if you shape the garment so it sits well on the body. It's a three-d problem with way too many variables to construct an algorithmic solution, so you have to pin, stitch, try on, and repeat as necessary until the fabric does what you wanted it to.

>> 2) Start with a learning program and show it 10,000 examples so it can figure out how to calculate the alterations on its own. <<

This is much more likely to work. An example in this context would wind up being the original pattern and the completed fabric pieces with the seams that were sewn marked. With enough of those, it might be possible to correlate the modifications with the underlying characteristics of the body well enough to get a worthwhile result.

>> Further along, it should be feasible to design a factory to make garments in that manner, and once people are doing a lot of that, it will get cheaper. <<

That's what I'm looking forward to.

ETA: Worldcon squee!
Edited Date: 2016-08-29 05:42 am (UTC)

Re: Wow! (1/3)

Date: 2016-08-29 06:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> They had dotties! I sought them out! I didn't wind up feeling out of place when I needed a nature break! <<

That is so awesome. I have become increasingly fond of dotties since recognizing those as my bathroom, not just a way to avoid the W/M rooms. :D

>> I'm not that sort of crafty, and suspect I lack the fine motor skills to do a good enough job to be content with. <<

Okay ...

>> As for "out"-sourcing it, that's one rub right there: deciding I'm ready to be out to a tailor. The other tricky thing will be to find one who's flexible enough to be unconfined by some notion of what "menswear" or "womenswear" tailoring is supposed to be. <<

1) Tailors live or die on their reputation. Many people have clothes altered for intimate reasons. A tailor who blabs is soon a tailor out of work. That doesn't mean none of them do, but few.

2) Referrals, referrals, referrals. I've seen ads for trans-friendly alterations. Especially in a big city there's probably someone doing it.

3) Crafty friends who already know the real you. It's a lot easier to make alterations than to sew from scratch, until you get into really complicated stuff.

>> This is something I'll undoubtedly want to pursue once I'm secure enough in my identity to go out in public as myself all the time. Until then, it doesn't strike me as enough worth doing while I'm still developing my style. <<

I agree with this on the topic of investing significant sums. However, you could learn a lot about your body and how to fit clothes on it by buying a few cheap things and hacking them into shape. Seriously, use safety pins or tape or whatever. Look at the way things need to be changed in order to fit you comfortably. This will make it much easier to talk with a tailor later.

>> That only gives good results if the problem is algorithmic. Alteration is heuristic; you can only do it right if you shape the garment so it sits well on the body. It's a three-d problem with way too many variables to construct an algorithmic solution, so you have to pin, stitch, try on, and repeat as necessary until the fabric does what you wanted it to. <<

Well, but there are only so many variables. A body is thus-and-such shape. Wearing ease has a narrow range, fashion ease larger; but both are still finite. I've seen calculations for how to make patterns and how to modify them. Again, those work in ranges, particularly when you start talking about how to scale a basic pattern into different sizes. Doing that by hand seems ridiculously difficult. Computers are good with numbers. They can make 3D models. A game was just released that generates whole planets. Surely they can figure this out. I mean, not everyone can be doing it by intuition and eyeball, somebody has to have done the math.

>>This is much more likely to work. An example in this context would wind up being the original pattern and the completed fabric pieces with the seams that were sewn marked. With enough of those, it might be possible to correlate the modifications with the underlying characteristics of the body well enough to get a worthwhile result.<<

That would be cool.

In any case, you'd still have to try on the clothes, but I suspect that a well-generated pattern would fit at least as well as off-the-rack and probably better. It will be a long time before a computer can match bespoke clothing, which is as it should be.

Re: Wow! (1/3)

Date: 2016-08-31 12:04 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> 1) Tailors live or die on their reputation. Many people have clothes altered for intimate reasons. A tailor who blabs is soon a tailor out of work. That doesn't mean none of them do, but few.

2) Referrals, referrals, referrals. I've seen ads for trans-friendly alterations. Especially in a big city there's probably someone doing it. <<

1) is good to know, but 2) is more important to me. I am reminded of how we selected a photographer for our wedding, which was in an unusual location. At wedding shows, we talked with a number of photographers. There were three sets of responses, generally categorized as: "Not interested", "Yeah, we could do that", and "Ooh! Neat!" We hired one from the last category, and got really good results. The tailor who says "Ooh! Neat!" is the one I want.

>> 3) Crafty friends who already know the real you. It's a lot easier to make alterations than to sew from scratch, until you get into really complicated stuff. <<

As my circle of people who know the real me expands, I'll keep my eyes open for someone I might be interested in exchanging favors with.

>> I agree with this on the topic of investing significant sums. However, you could learn a lot about your body and how to fit clothes on it by buying a few cheap things and hacking them into shape. Seriously, use safety pins or tape or whatever. Look at the way things need to be changed in order to fit you comfortably. This will make it much easier to talk with a tailor later. <<

That sounds like it might be fun. Hard to do alone, but interesting with the right friends.

>> Doing that by hand seems ridiculously difficult. [...] Surely they can figure this out. I mean, not everyone can be doing it by intuition and eyeball <<

Actually, as near as I can tell (second-hand insider perspective here: soon-to-be-wed niece and her mom are/were in the fashion industry), everyone really is doing it by hand, experience (not really intuition), and eyeball. It's as much an art as fluid dynamics was through WWII, when ships and aircraft were built to templates designed by folks with decades of hands-on experience with the vessels. It's not really difficult, but there is a long learning curve. OK, so the money question is: why isn't anybody working on defining a theory of fitting, and implementing it numerically (with computers)?

I'll accessorize my genderqueer nonbinary outfit with my tech professional hat here, and offer my view on that question, along with some thoughts on how your observations relate to the issue. The short answer is, "It's a deeper problem than the surface impression it gives." I'll put the details on why into another comment, which you can check out if you're interested.

To sum up, then: it's a hard problem; the math and programming are challenging and the skills required very badly, maybe inversely, correlated with the skills that make a good tailor; the people who are interested in the math don't seem to be interested enough in the problem to tackle it for its own sake; and it doesn't appear there's enough money in it to make it profitable to tackle. So it languishes.

>> you'd still have to try on the clothes, but I suspect that a well-generated pattern would fit at least as well as off-the-rack and probably better. <<

Definitely better. Probably lots better. And once the marginal cost gets low enough that the hit on a year's worth of clothing purchases is less than one or two things that sit in the closet and don't get worn, inevitable.

>> It will be a long time before a computer can match bespoke clothing, which is as it should be. <<

Agreed. But I hope that doesn't fall into the category of the perfect being the enemy of the good enough. Better fitting clothes for people whose bodies don't align with any norm ought to be enough of a win to have a very successful business, with enthusiastic customers of any gender -- even the normative ones.
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> there are only so many variables. A body is thus-and-such shape. Wearing ease has a narrow range, fashion ease larger; but both are still finite. <<

This is an archetypal example of an important property of numerical solutions that is at odds with first impressions. Solving a problem numerically gives better solutions when there are: fewer initial conditions; a broader scope for specifying them; a wider range of acceptable (= "close enough") solutions; and a lower effect of the initial conditions on the solution. The first two properties define the size of the calculation to be performed; some calculations (like drawing a smooth-looking curve through a set of points) don't care too much, while others (like decoding an encrypted message) do. The last two are important and influential enough to have names: "tolerance" and "elasticity". Just as in manual solutions, working numerically to closer tolerances is harder, and gets much harder the closer the tolerances are. And inelastic problems (ones where small changes in the initial conditions result in large (in proportion) changes in the solution) are not only more difficult to implement, but the necessity for the implementations to be sensitive to the initial conditions amplifies any small variation between the stated values, or presumed model, and the object being modeled -- often to the point where the amplified variation degrades the solution into uselessness.

Joints and curves, which are the most critical spots for getting a good fit, score poorly on all of these metrics. This is why those spots get a lot of tiny polygons in the 3D models animated feature films use to render their moving objects.

>> I've seen calculations for how to make patterns and how to modify them. Again, those work in ranges, particularly when you start talking about how to scale a basic pattern into different sizes. <<

The pattern is the map (it's effectively a representation of the garment on an equal-area projection of the body it was intended to fit), the body is the territory. The usual issues are present. And that's not even considering how the variations from the model in the body and the fabric affect the result.

>> Computers are good with numbers. They can make 3D models. A game was just released that generates whole planets. <<

Which shows what one can accomplish when one controls the model and doesn't have to have it correspond too closely to reality.

The big shortcut here, which I would guess they are taking significant advantage of, is that you only need to calculate things for the pixels you're actually going to show. That allows you to reduce the problem to something manageable. But it also means you'll get different -- perhaps dramatically different -- results based on the path you explore the planet along, even if you wind up in the same place. That's OK for a game, but won't work well for clothing -- global coherence is vital there.

>> somebody has to have done the math. <<

All right, let's try to find who that somebody might be. If it's an easy problem, someone might do it just for fun. It's not, so you need somebody motivated. Of the many sources for motivation, some of the most commonly seen ones are making one's job easier (a tailor), making one's business more successful (a clothing manufacturer or designer), and intellectual curiosity (a computer professional or academic).

Tailors come from people whose interests lie in clothing, and sewing skills, which are elastic in nature. Computer professionals come from people with strong analytical thinking skills; the problems they tackle, and the skills demanded, are overwhelmingly inelastic. People who can do both well are uncommon; people who can synthesize these traits are quite rare.

For a clothing manufacturer or designer to invest in the problem, it would need to be something with a return adequate to justify the investment. From what I understand of the clothing business, there are lots of easier ways to turn investment into increased sales. So that's not very likely.

Re: Wow! (2/3)

Date: 2016-08-28 05:37 pm (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> Possible ways to find ones worth trying:
* Look for reviews, especially if you can find a genderqueer magazine or website that covers this topic.
* Seek referrals from other genderqueer folks who have gone there.
* Check the company's diversity policy for employees; if it's good, chances are higher they'll follow through on the sales floor. Some LGBT magazines having corporate ratings for this stuff. Start at the top of the list. <<

Those are all great ideas. I've got folks I can ask, and a friend or two who might be interested in coming along when I do try it.

>> And I want to go there with an understanding friend or three, and have a wonderful time -- and return home in joyous anticipation of showing off my acquisitions. Just like anyone of a more common gender identity can do. *Sigh.*

That would be so awesome. <<

Well, I now feel like I have a chance in this universe of coming close to that. The tricky piece is the "wonderful time" part: not having it compromised by sales staff or other customers who perceive me as being "off my turf" and are ill at ease as a result. Even though I'm consciously trying to follow local customs.

>> I like shopping, if it's for stuff I have a reasonable chance of finding. I can usually find some clothes worth taking home, if I have several stores to choose from. Shopping for footwear is hell, and coats aren't much better. :/ But I do fine helping other people shop, for an hour or few. I have an excellent eye for color, fit, and combinations. <<

I've been having good luck finding stuff to experiment with at big-box discounters. The cost of many items I'd like to experiment with is manageable, and there's enough selection that I can usually come away with something.

Shopping remains challenging, though. The stuff sold in "men's" departments runs too heavy and clunky for me, while too much of the stuff sold in "women's" departments is unsuitable for extended wear or activity, or conveys messages I do not wish to broadcast. (Some of those I might wear for the right person, in the right environment -- but not out in public!) And yeah, shoes are probably the worst for that. Outerwear, on the other hand, I don't seem to have had much of a problem with. As a rule, there's enough play in the fit that I feel like I can get something that's suitable fairly easily.

The "women's" department covers more range, so there's more of it I find appealing. The "men's" department comes in handy for applications favoring durable or sturdy clothing. And I'm already confident enough to shop in either department, sometimes even while presenting more as myself.

>> If we're ever in meatspace together, we might consider a shopping trip. <<

I'd love to do that! If it ever happened, would other gender-variant readers be welcome? I'm gleefully imagining a sales staff coping with a bunch of us having a great time as we descend on a shop en masse -- prepared to walk right back out if they didn't treat us right. That would be a nifty consciousness-raising event!

Chambanacon is on your home turf; do you normally go? How about Chicago or St. Louis area conventions? Any of these you attend might provide an excuse.

ETA: This just popped up on the blog of someone I know in meatspace.
Edited Date: 2016-08-28 05:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Wow! (2/3)

Date: 2016-08-28 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>>Those are all great ideas. I've got folks I can ask, and a friend or two who might be interested in coming along when I do try it.<<

Yay! I'm happy to help.

>>Well, I now feel like I have a chance in this universe of coming close to that. The tricky piece is the "wonderful time" part: not having it compromised by sales staff or other customers who perceive me as being "off my turf" and are ill at ease as a result. Even though I'm consciously trying to follow local customs.<<

If I'm actively searching for a reliable place to shop, then I scope out as many places as I can stand to, and follow up with the more promising ones. It's only fair to reward the good ones with my folding vote.

For me, this is an ongoing process with restaurants, because some of my needs are not typical. Places that complain, I won't go back to or will go only if it's someone else's birthday. Places that accommodate my (or other people's) dietary needs with a smile get bumped up the list. The same basic premise applies to any shopping or service experience.

>>I've been having good luck finding stuff to experiment with at big-box discounters. The cost of many items I'd like to experiment with is manageable, and there's enough selection that I can usually come away with something.<<

That makes sense. I enjoy thrift stores and yard sales for similar reasons. It's cheap, has variety, and if I wreck something while trying to fix it, no big loss.

>> Shopping remains challenging, though. The stuff sold in "men's" departments runs too heavy and clunky for me, while too much of the stuff sold in "women's" departments is unsuitable for extended wear or activity, <<

Okay, the best bet for nice men's clothes is to look for places that cater to dapper, dandy, or bohemian men. For sensible women's clothes, look in farm stores, outdoor/camp outfitters, army surplus, and lesbian wear.

>> or conveys messages I do not wish to broadcast. <<

At least someone other than me thinks about the messages, rather than just randomly "I'll wear whatever I want." Which I also do, but I at least want to say what I mean with it.

>> (Some of those I might wear for the right person, in the right environment -- but not out in public!)<<

First get comfortable with yourself, your wardrobe, and your presentation in general. Then explore variations of message that are best kept in private context. If you try to go too far too fast, that gets unpleasant. So do walk-ins, as Salvo discovered with Cuoio and Calliope discovered with Vagary. :/

>> And yeah, shoes are probably the worst for that. Outerwear, on the other hand, I don't seem to have had much of a problem with. As a rule, there's enough play in the fit that I feel like I can get something that's suitable fairly easily. <<

I'm glad you're having luck with outerwear. Last time I went coatshopping, we wasted a couple of days and still came up with less than optimum results because everything was for fashion. Even the stuff in the farm and camping stores. >_<

>> The "women's" department covers more range, so there's more of it I find appealing. The "men's" department comes in handy for applications favoring durable or sturdy clothing. And I'm already confident enough to shop in either department, sometimes even while presenting more as myself.<<

Yay, progress!

>> If we're ever in meatspace together, we might consider a shopping trip.

I'd love to do that! If it ever happened, would other gender-variant readers be welcome? <<

Yes. I like genderqueer folk and weird folk in general.

>> I'm gleefully imagining a sales staff coping with a bunch of us having a great time as we descend on a shop en masse -- prepared to walk right back out if they didn't treat us right. That would be a nifty consciousness-raising event!<<

:D Yeah, nothing says "you screwed the pooch" like several hundred dollars of sales walking out the door.

My partner Doug and I both have a penchant for driving away rude salespeople, and it's so gratifying if they're on commission. Doug's favorite story about that involves shopping for art, and mine shopping for computers.

Re: Wow! (2/3)

Date: 2016-08-28 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Chambanacon is on your home turf; do you normally go? How about Chicago or St. Louis area conventions? Any of these you attend might provide an excuse. <<

Chambanacon was my first convention, but I haven't gone there in years. Chicago and St. Louis were our customary grounds when we attended conventions regularly. The last science fiction con we went to was Archon, I think. Last couple events we've attended have been Doug's magic conventions. If we get a chance to catch another SF con, I'll try and remember to post about it for potential contacts. By the way, if you're shopping in St. Louis for less-conventional clothes, try the Delmar Loop. It has a lot of quirky shops selling different things.

>> ETA: This just popped up on the blog of someone I know in meatspace. <<

Mostly good advice.

1) I second the recommendation for thrift stores.

2) On a first trip, aiming for one or two items is indeed prudent. Second or third trip, if nobody's having a panic attack, start thinking about outfits. Dress and shawl, blouse and skirt, shirt and tie, etc. Once you've got the hang of that, and at least some idea what kinds of stuff you like, then begin working on a wardrobe. It's fantastic to go to a store that sells plain stuff cheap, where you can find a type of t-shirt that fits and buy a pack of 6 in different colors for $10-15. Having the basics makes it easier to mix and match, then you can add signature pieces when you fall in love with something awesome.

3) Size is always a guess for women's clothes because they don't have real numbers. At least men's clothes use measurements. You just have to try stuff on.

With colors and patterns, it helps to have a general idea what will probably look good, to narrow down what you try on to see if you like it. Vertical stripes make you look taller and thinner, horizontal ones make you look shorter and wider; which means most transwomen (who tend to be taller than average for women) want horizontal and most transmen (who tend to be shorter) want vertical. Colors have clusters of what looks good with each skin tone, but personal taste plays in a lot. It can be super fun to batch things by color family (warms, cools, earth tones, pastels, winters, etc.) and compare how they work for you, if you have the stamina to try on clothes for an hour. And if you can find them together, because stores follow fashions so there's usually just one or two families at a time. You can sure do it in a thrift store, though.

I actually have a great eye for color and composition. What I do not have is any regard for fashion. So if someone wants to look good and/or suit their personality, I'm a great guide; if they want to be fashionable, that requires someone else who pays attention to such things.

I don't think Astin would go for it, but give Cuoio and Salvo a little more time to warm up, and they'll be ready for a color lesson from Chiara. Mediterranean complexion usually looks good in autumn, winter, earth tones, and the vivid branch of beach colors that are actually called Mediterranean sometimes. Hence Chiara's love of black, white, red (all winters) and supersaturated blues (beach). Cuoio's orange shirt and tie are autumns and his sportswear leans toward muted colors which are a duskier relative of pastels and work decently on him. Salvo's fondness for pastels is a bit more challenging, but he'll figure it out. There are tricks to compensate if your favorite colors don't look best with your complexion -- you just bury them between others that do.

4) Being discreet I can manage. Keeping my mouth shut if someone picks on my friends? That is a very short fuse. I tend to be more the head-ripping-off person. And normal? Also not what Tigger does best. 0_o

I suspect, for people who can enjoy going out with several friends, it would be most effective to vary the mix of skills if possible. Put together someone who knows fashion, someone who dresses freestyle, someone easygoing, someone assertive, any kind of artist's eye, a gender scholar or at least hobbyist, a problem-solver -- in whatever combination of bodies you can manage -- and you pretty much have the bases covered.

Re: Wow! (2/3)

Date: 2016-08-29 06:00 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> I enjoy thrift stores and yard sales for similar reasons. It's cheap, has variety, and if I wreck something while trying to fix it, no big loss. <<

I've also explored those avenues. Gave it up because the signal/noise ration was unacceptably low. Too much digging around for too few nuggets, no comfortable environment for trying things on, and no recovery options from purchases that turned out to be mistakes or otherwise didn't work.

>> the best bet for nice men's clothes is to look for places that cater to dapper, dandy, or bohemian men. <<

Problem for me is that a lot of it is designed to accentuate the masculine features -- "I am a *manly* man" -- which is on the wrong side of masculine to be any good for me. And even the elements that are not typically masculine remind me of the species whose males develop contra-survival aspects: "I am so manly that my manliness overwhelms these 'girly' features."

"Bohemian" might have a better chance. I'll put that on my list of things to investigate.

>> For sensible women's clothes, look in farm stores, outdoor/camp outfitters, army surplus, and lesbian wear. <<

Those might be promising, once I filter out the stuff that looks too much like the equivalent menswear that fits me better. The lesbian wear category is close; I find myself buying quite a bit of stuff that fits under low femme. But it's not my sexuality, and I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of being possibly unwelcome in a space intended to be a safe place for people of a different alternative sexuality.

>> At least someone other than me thinks about the messages, rather than just randomly "I'll wear whatever I want." Which I also do, but I at least want to say what I mean with it. <<

Sooth. After all, the messages are a big part of why clothing is different. Heck, even in the time when all Chinese people were supposed to be wearing the same outfit, the more powerful people had the finer fabrics and the better tailoring. It was harder work, but still possible to tell.

It's especially important for genderqueer people like myself. I have to work much harder to send the messages "I am not a man. I am not a woman. I am still a person." than I ever would if I was more comfortable being on the other side of any of those boundaries. This means I have to be aware of the messages in the clothing.

>> First get comfortable with yourself, your wardrobe, and your presentation in general. <<

Getting closer with that.

>> Then explore variations of message that are best kept in private context. <<

Still on the threshold here. I'm still keeping my wardrobe on the public side of the line, but I'm developing a better idea of what would work for me in a more personal setting.

>> If you try to go too far too fast, that gets unpleasant. <<

Especially when making this journey with an intimate partner, whom one still hopes to remain intimate with even though it wasn't what they thought they signed up for.

>> So do walk-ins, as Salvo discovered with Cuoio and Calliope discovered with Vagary. :/ <<

Been there, done that, still working hard on healing the wounds.

>> If we get a chance to catch another SF con, I'll try and remember to post about it for potential contacts. <<

I'd appreciate that. Archon is on my spouse's bucket list, and even though the evolution of our relationship through my transition is still very much a work in progress, I'd want to find a way to at least talk with you for a while should we wind up both being there.

MuseCon in the Chicago area is something we've also been to a couple of times, and might be something you'd find interesting. And your flist may very well intersect with magic or pagan communities.

>> By the way, if you're shopping in St. Louis for less-conventional clothes, try the Delmar Loop. It has a lot of quirky shops selling different things. <<

Well out of my stomping grounds. I have family in the upper Midwest (in Chicago next weekend for a niece's wedding), but my home territory is considerably west of there. Thanks for the info.

Re: Wow! (2/3)

Date: 2016-08-29 06:02 am (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> On a first trip, aiming for one or two items is indeed prudent. Second or third trip, if nobody's having a panic attack, start thinking about outfits. Dress and shawl, blouse and skirt, shirt and tie, etc. Once you've got the hang of that, and at least some idea what kinds of stuff you like, then begin working on a wardrobe. <<

This matches up well with my progress. I have a wardrobe in progress and a good idea of what I like. I've got a list of things I ought to add to the wardrobe, and put stuff on there when I find I don't have something that would improve the day's outfit.

>> It's fantastic to go to a store that sells plain stuff cheap, where you can find a type of t-shirt that fits and buy a pack of 6 in different colors for $10-15. Having the basics makes it easier to mix and match, then you can add signature pieces when you fall in love with something awesome. <<

I don't have a lot of love for big blocks of color right now. I prefer clothes with pattern and texture. I find "it's the same thing, just in a different color" too much like the same thing. Makes shopping more challenging, but more rewarding when I find something that really works.

>> Size is always a guess for women's clothes because they don't have real numbers. At least men's clothes use measurements. You just have to try stuff on. <<

I have to try the men's stuff on, too. My body is enough unlike what is manufactured for that only some of it fits well. And unless I'm willing to pass as a gender I'm not, I don't have a fitting room that I feel like I belong in, and have to do buy/try on at home/return what doesn't work.

>> With colors and patterns, it helps to have a general idea what will probably look good, to narrow down what you try on to see if you like it. Vertical stripes make you look taller and thinner, horizontal ones make you look shorter and wider; which means most transwomen (who tend to be taller than average for women) want horizontal and most transmen (who tend to be shorter) want vertical. <<

Tall and wide (all too common under the influence of testosterone) and short and skinny (present in all hormonal influences) remain tough. What works for one dimension brings the other to unwelcome prominence. Perhaps that's why I like diagonals and patterns: done right, it diverts the attention from the dimensions.

>> I actually have a great eye for color and composition. What I do not have is any regard for fashion. So if someone wants to look good and/or suit their personality, I'm a great guide; if they want to be fashionable, that requires someone else who pays attention to such things. <<

"Fashion" is a game we have made up to keep clothing stores in business. I'm not interested in playing. For what I want, you're a great guide -- and have the advantage of being a much better fit for suiting my personality than almost all of the world.

>> Cuoio's orange shirt and tie are autumns and his sportswear leans toward muted colors which are a duskier relative of pastels and work decently on him. <<

That's my color range. Except that I don't do oranges all that well due to an underlying yellow skin tone.

>> I suspect, for people who can enjoy going out with several friends, it would be most effective to vary the mix of skills if possible. Put together someone who knows fashion, someone who dresses freestyle, someone easygoing, someone assertive, any kind of artist's eye, a gender scholar or at least hobbyist, a problem-solver -- in whatever combination of bodies you can manage -- and you pretty much have the bases covered. <<

*keeps that in mind for recruiting a party for a hypothetical future mall crawl.* Is that more like FRP or cosplay?

Saw a fun T-shirt today: "Social Justice Cleric." Apparently, the manufacture makes one for each of the D&D character classes.

*hopes the GM doesn't decide to give the party a hard time that day.*

Re: Wow! (3/3)

Date: 2016-08-28 05:38 pm (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
>> Something else to watch for is closet/dress-up/makeover parties. I think it started as a feminist thing, and then got into the trans and queer communities from there. <<

I'm not sure how much there'd be likely to be available in my size. It's roughly average for bodies developed under the influence of the hormones I got naturally, but that doesn't match up well with the most common range for other hormonal influence sets.

>> I've seen one at WisCon, but that convention is nowhere near as good as it used to be. <<

That's too bad. Some people I know go, and their remarks suggest that a harmful strain of "there's only One True Way to do feminism" may have taken over, and people with different ideas have been made to feel unwelcome.

Another corrosive idea that I have read accounts of as poisoning spaces presumed to be safe is of self-styled "warriors" who are spoiling for a fight. Yes, it's important to have people who are willing and able to repel violent attempts (physical or emotional) to deny them participation in the culture they inhabit, but throwing the first punch, especially for members of the group seeking participation, so seldom ends well. Much like how Polychrome Heroics soups who lead with violence are often categorized as supervillains regardless of the nobility of their aims. Do you know whether WisCon hosts such folks, particularly in positions of power? That would be unfortunate.

>> I do know the practice is scattered around elsewhere. The idea is to gather a bunch of garments, give people a chance to dress up, and discuss (if desired) how things look and what kind of personal style is intended. Some events include makeup too. <<

That would be cool. I've started taking some tentative steps into the gender-variant community here, and will keep my eyes open.

Re: Wow! (3/3)

Date: 2016-08-29 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Something else to watch for is closet/dress-up/makeover parties. I think it started as a feminist thing, and then got into the trans and queer communities from there.

I'm not sure how much there'd be likely to be available in my size. It's roughly average for bodies developed under the influence of the hormones I got naturally, but that doesn't match up well with the most common range for other hormonal influence sets.

A well-done closet party tends to have a wide range of sizes precisely because most attendees either have already or would like to cross that threshold. Doesn't always happen, but a thoughtful organizer will account for the diversity. That includes offering items that are easily customized in size. The one at WisCon had saris for that precise reason. It's several yards of hemmed silk, one size really does fit all.

>> That's too bad. Some people I know go, and their remarks suggest that a harmful strain of "there's only One True Way to do feminism" may have taken over, and people with different ideas have been made to feel unwelcome. <<

That is exactly what happened.

The first time I went it was splendid. I went back later and it was iffy. A friend went and had bad experiences. I went back one last time for a special occasion, and the testicles not currently attached to my body wound up screaming "Get us out of here before someone sees us!" the whole time. 0_o I don't care if I have a female body, if folks are picking on my friends, I ain't happy.

>> Another corrosive idea that I have read accounts of as poisoning spaces presumed to be safe is of self-styled "warriors" who are spoiling for a fight. Yes, it's important to have people who are willing and able to repel violent attempts (physical or emotional) to deny them participation in the culture they inhabit, but throwing the first punch, especially for members of the group seeking participation, so seldom ends well. <<

Yyyyyeah.

>> Much like how Polychrome Heroics soups who lead with violence are often categorized as supervillains regardless of the nobility of their aims. <<

That's something I like about Terramagne, their tendency to gauge based on action, not claims.

>> Do you know whether WisCon hosts such folks, particularly in positions of power? That would be unfortunate. <<

I don't know for sure, as I have not been there recently and no longer pay much attention beyond periodically cleaning up their messes. It would match my observations, though. One of the more obnoxious things they did was trying to shut down the trans party -- which was a registered party, on the party floor -- for being "too noisy." Whilst having to shout over the ruckus of the dance party just down the hall, which several times louder than the quiet chat going on in the trans party. >_< I pushed back and they quit, but it still sucked.

>>That would be cool. I've started taking some tentative steps into the gender-variant community here, and will keep my eyes open.<<

Yay!

If nobody else is doing it yet, and you make enough variant friends, you could always do one yourselves.

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