Two days Monday, Sep 19 2011 

It’s two days until I board a flight to Atlanta for the Southern Comfort Conference. I’ve actually been far more organized this year than normal. Shipped a box of stuff to the hotel so I won’t have to deal with two bags on MARTA, and the cost was equal to what I’d pay AirTran for an extra bag. Tentatively, I leave here about 8 AM and skirt the traffic to DFW, park and catch my flight. I should be in Atlanta by 2PM their time, and hopefully to the hotel by 4. Check in, girl up and either get a ride to my favorite nail salon or go to the mall and use the one there, get a mani pedi done and back to the hotel. See people, get something to eat, and get ready for the rest of the convention.

At least, that’s the plan :P

The SCC Survival Guide, 2011 Edition Friday, Sep 9 2011 

The 2011 Southern Comfort Conference Survival Guide

Thanks to everyone who has posted suggestions and comments over the years. And please, if you come up with an idea or suggestion or correction, send an email to me (my email address is at the end of this document) and I'll add it next time.

The Most Important Thing You Need To Do:

Write the words "Have fun" on a Post-It note and stick it to the mirror that you use the most in your room. These are the most important two words to remember when you attend SCC. It is acceptable for you to enjoy yourself this week! I give you permission, okay?

Getting There/Getting Around:

-Give yourself some extra time traveling. If you're flying, there will be something to slow things down at the airport. If you are driving, traffic will be terrible and construction will make you crazy. The Crowne Plaza is located near I-285-aka “The Perimeter”-and Atlanta's rush hour traffic is legendary. Rush hour never really ends in Atlanta. Leave an hour early; if you get there early, more time to relax. And don't forget that GA-400 is a toll road; bring change.

-If you're driving in Atlanta, get a good map. It is not a joke that half the streets are named "Peachtree!" Street names change from one block to the next, and it's not all in a nice grid pattern. Then add in road construction on both surface streets and highways . . . Go online to Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, MapQuest, or your favorite mapping site and do some trip planning. Or invest in a GPS.

-MARTA is Atlanta's mass transit system; their website is There is a MARTA station at Dunwoody Plaza, on the western side of the mall. The hotel offers shuttle service to and from the station. I have heard both positive and negative things about MARTA. Some locals feel it's not a good thing to be on if you're in girl mode; others say it's fine. I have only used MARTA in drab, and it was a pretty good option. The North-South Line will take you from the airport to the Dunwoody Station, which is the closest to the hotel. The airport station is right off the baggage claim.

-I'm sure there are taxis in Atlanta, but you don't see them very often. Ask the concierge for recommendations, and make sure you get the company's phone number so you can have a cab pick you up when you are finished. Pricewise, they’re about the same as most other major cities.

-You can never bring too much with you. At least that's my excuse. But airlines restrict the number of bags you can check, and sometimes there are things you would rather not trust to them. Now they are using baggage as a profit center. Most airlines charge for one or more bags, and the fees vary. Before you book your tickets, check the airline’s website for fees. If you are using Kayak to compare ticket prices, you can also check these fees there as well.

UPS and FedEx have been promoting using their services to ship your luggage to your destination. You can box them up (or take them to a UPS Store or FedEx Office location and let them do it), and ship them to the hotel. Make sure you put "Hold for guest (your name), Arriving (your arrival date)" on the label. Let the hotel know you are shipping a package so they will hold it for you. On arrival, ask the desk to have the package brought up to your room. And, if you're smart, you'll get a return label to ship it all back home! I have used UPS for years and it’s been a very convenient, hassle-free method. My only problem was in 2010, when the hotel had failed to have the package picked up after I left (which is why you keep your tracking numbers; I found out on the UPS website it hadn’t been picked up and called the hotel to find out why).

-Atlanta's Hartsfield/Jackson Airport is the major transit hub in the South. There's an old joke that when you die, to get to Heaven you have to transfer through Hartsfield. There is some truth to this . . . Atlanta is the hub for Delta Air Lines and for AirTran (and the irony is never lost on me). Before you go to the airport, check their website ( and find out what terminal you’ll be flying out of. It is actually a nice airport, just incredibly busy.

-While flying has gotten more expensive, it is still possible to find good flights for less. Bing Travel ( uses Farecast's fare forecasting algorithm to predict if and when prices will change. I use this in conjunction with Kayak (, which searches airline websites and the online travel sites to find the best prices. Kayak, like all other sites can't get prices from Southwest or JetBlue, but since neither flies to Atlanta this is not really an issue. Kayak also has an option to show you how much a flight is with baggage fees included-which can make a huge difference in the cost.

-When should you start looking for flights? As soon as possible. The best day to shop is Tuesday afternoons, when airlines post sales and other airlines try to compete.

The Hotel and What to Know:

The 2011 Southern Comfort Conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Ravinia, which is near Perimeter Mall. The hotel is near the intersection of GA400 and I-285. There are also a number of places to eat and shop within a short distance.

-This is our fifth year at the Crowne Plaza. The hotel staff now knows what dealing with an SCC crowd is like. But we still overtax the staff, and your drink and food orders take a bit longer than normal. Please be patient?

-ALL Hotels have bad lighting in the bathroom. Saves energy, makes doing your makeup or shaving harder. Bring a lighted make-up mirror.

-The City of Atlanta and Fulton County have a non-smoking ordinance, so if you have to indulge you can't do it in the bar or the lobby. You'll have to go outside the hotel.

-The hotel charges $9.95 a day for internet service throughout the hotel. Panera Bread, 4531 Perimeter Way, and Caribou Coffee, 123 Perimeter Center West, offer free Wi-Fi and are near the mall. Starbucks will give you free Wi-Fi as well; there’s one in Perimeter Mall, and the closest standalone stores are at 1155 Mt. Vernon Parkway and 5561 Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd.

-Most hotels charge a fortune for outgoing calls-local or other. Bring a cell phone or a calling card and use the payphones in the meeting room areas.

-Yes it's been mentioned before, but please, be a lady in the restroom. Or a gentleman. It is a public area, and you need to behave like you belong there! Girls, do NOT STAND UP TO PEE. And it's not a dressing room. Go to your room if you have major work to be done, okay? The hotel WILL ask you to leave.

-Parking is free at the Crowne Plaza, unless you use the valet service. The parking garage is behind the hotel. Follow the signs, and park in the guest spaces. And the hotel does not hold spaces for guests, so it does fill up.

Things You Might Want To Bring:

-Calling cards. You may think they are silly, but when you are writing your contact information multiple times and looking for scraps of paper, you'll wish you had some. You can use Microsoft Word to create a card, and Avery ( has templates on their website. Print them out on your inkjet on good paper, and presto! Another option is VistaPrint (,which will let you create cards online and sends you nice, professionally printed ones in a very short time.

-A small survival kit, with safety pins, a sewing kit, batteries, first aid supplies, meds, a small flashlight, etc. A Swiss Army knife is useful; a multitool is even better. If you are flying, make sure you pack the knife in your checked luggage! And pack a few zip top bags; they come in handy.

-Pack at least one pair of comfortable shoes. You may love your heels, and can walk all day in them, but at least once you'll wish you had some flats or tennis shoes. And how many times have you worn a new pair of shoes all day and your feet were in pain afterward?

-Snack bars or something similar, for those mornings when you don't have time to get breakfast. If you are me, that is pretty much every morning...There is a Starbucks nook in the lobby, for emergency caffeine (stories of my need for lattes are not exaggerated).

-A small notebook. I prefer the Moleskine books that you can pick up at Borders or Barnes and Noble or any good stationary store. Small enough to carry in your pocket or purse, they have a small pocket in the back to store cards and notes, built-in bookmarks and a good elastic band to keep them closed. But any notebook you can fit into a purse, bag, case, etc. will do. I never go to a convention without one, usually filled with notes on places I want to go, directions, things to do, and note from seminars.

-A camera. Even if you don't think you will take one shot, trust me, you'll want to carry one around. And make sure you have a large enough memory card that you do not need to download shots constantly. Of course if your phone takes high quality shots, you can use that for quick photos. A tripod would be nice to have, even if it is a tabletop one. If you are doing self-portraits, it makes things a lot easier. Oh, don't forget extra batteries or a charger!

Please remember to ask permission before taking photos of other people and to make sure that you are not catching someone in the background who might not want their picture taken. If you don't get permission, don't take the shot!

-Makeup wipes. Those disposable, moist towelettes you can use to remove your makeup. Use them to remove most of your makeup, then a good cleansing-which will leave no makeup on the towels. The housekeepers will appreciate it. I prefer Neutrogena's, but Ponds or Boots (from Target) work as well.

-A towel. Preferably a dark one, which you can use to wipe your face while you’re cleaning off makeup. This keeps you from making a mess of one of the hotel’s towels, and if you have to go interstellar hitchhiking…

-If you bring your laptop, remember the cables for your charger, camera, iPhone, and whatever other devices you connect to it. It's not fun when you are far from home and you can't download your shots, charge the iPhone or the laptop...Many devices use the same kind of cables. And do not forget the charger for your cellphone and other electronic devices.

-A shoe shine kit. You'll want to put a nice shine on your shoes before going out, and you might find someone who needs a good shoe shine or boot blacking...

-A swimsuit. There is a pool party on Saturday afternoon, but the pool is available during the day and evenings. Work on your tan, unless you're me :P

-If you use injectable medications (hormones, insulin, etc.), bring a sharps container. The hotel does not have these in the rooms, which is not unusual. However, you do not want to dispose of needles, lancets, or other sharps in the regular hotel trash. In a pinch, you can use an empty soda bottle or can. Tape the opening shut before you throw it out to protect hotel employees from accidental sticks.

The Conference and Things to Know:

-Remember, you need to use the name you registered with on the SCC website when picking up your packet. The registration people will appreciate it. Check your packet BEFORE you leave the desk; if something is wrong, let the registration people know.

-Print out a copy of the schedule before you go and make a rough plan of what events and classes you want to go to. You will find conflicts-with so much going on you can't do it all! It is easier to plan ahead.

-Don't try to plan the entire convention! Leave time for the unexpected and the last minute adventure. I have SO violated this one too many times-made too many plans and ended up miserable for a day. Learn from my failures, okay?

-If you have the opportunity, go out and explore the city. Atlanta's one of the most LGBT-friendly cities I know, and there's lots of places to see and do. Again, it's up to your comfort level but I will say Atlanta expanded my horizons...

-If you have questions, ask! SCC staff members and volunteers are always there to help, and no question is stupid. I know we've been asked EVERYTHING!

-Keep your name tag on you. Not only will this identify you, it lets people know who you are. How often do you realize that the person you just saw is someone you've talked to online for years? It's happened to me many times. You will need your name tag to enter the seminar areas, events, and it is also your meal ticket for the lunches and dinners (if you ordered them). And when you leave the hotel, take your name tag off or you look like a tourist...

And Finally:

Again...have fun!

7/6/2011 v.1.2
Created, compiled and edited by Zelda Rose ([email protected])
You may reprint this if you keep the attribution.

Nevermind Sunday, Jul 31 2011 

I will be at SCC, after all. Things just worked out; thank whomever you wish. I so look forward to seeing my friends!

Requiem for a friend, and an announcement. Thursday, Jun 16 2011 

When I took my first steps into discovering who I was, I looked for a local TG support group. Through AOL’s Transgender Community Forum (in ’97, this was the best resource I had) I discovered Gulf Gender Alliance in New Orleans. Sending their contact a message, she told me I’d need to be screened before I went to a meeting, and she knew someone in Lafayette who she could send me to. And so, one afternoon, I went to a warehouse off Ambassador Caffery to meet the woman who would be the first person I had ever come out to face to face.

Ann ran a business selling shoes to women with large feet, and was approached by crossdressers and transsexuals looking for shoes that would fit. She became part of the community. When I met her, she talked to me with kindness and caring, and I felt comfortable. She introduced me to Crystal Little and Cissy Conley, who would become so important to my growth over the years. I met other CD’s through her. And I spent hours talking to her, becoming friends. When I needed a place to store my things, she offered to let me use her warehouse.

Later, when I moved to New Orleans, I went to my first Southern Comfort in Atlanta. And the second person I saw when I walked into the hotel was Ann. From then on, we’d see each other every year at Southern Comfort, catching up. We remained friends, and I looked forward to seeing her each year.

I had known she had been ill last year, but did not know the extent. On June 5, Ann passed away. I found out yesterday, and I am still numb.

If not for Ann, I don’t know how my life would have changed. She was a friend when I needed one, gave me advice when it was useful, told me the truth when I needed that, and I can never thank her enough for what she did. I will truly miss her.


I will not be at Southern Comfort this year. The short reason is that I can’t afford it right now. Also, I just don’t feel the same need to go that I have in the past. The last couple of years I’ve felt like this, but I managed to turn it around. Maybe a year away will give me the desire again?

I will miss my friends, and having a week being Zelda full-time. Please raise a glass for me, and have a ball. 

Little Zelda’s trip to Southern Comfort, part seven Wednesday, Oct 20 2010 

Addenda, thoughts, and What It All Means:

The package I left with the hotel to be shipped off on the Monday after SCC? I call Tuesday after checking the UPS web tracking and find out that no, it’s still there because nobody gave it to the driver. They manage to get it on a truck Wednesday, and it was back in town by the weekend.

The nail salon in Atlanta that I love and forgot to name? Classic Nail, 4772 Ashford Dunwoody Rd.; the phone number is (770) 392-9135. Really, they did an excellent job and my nails still looked great the entire trip.

I have mixed feelings about the hotel this year. Because I used my Priority Club points to pay for part of my stay, I got upgraded to the Club Floor for free. I don’t think I would have paid extra for the privilege, but it was nice. The room was great-the AC worked perfectly, very comfortable and clean. The water pressure in the shower was sometimes an issue, as was the temperature, but you could never find a pattern to the issue.

And the toilet kept flushing itself. I had to talk to the desk twice about fixing it, and the maintenance person who came up to fix it thought I’d called about a blocked toilet. Nice, people. I should not complain about the parking, since it is free if you do it yourself. But the garage is too small-I was almost unable to find a spot in it, and the valets were not very helpful.

Do I like the hotel? I’ve gotten used to it, but I miss the old place. It was closer to the center of town, and most of the places I wanted to go to were nearby. But it’s no longer an option; now a W Hotel, there are not enough rooms for SCC.

I saved this to come back and finish it, and of course I published the frelling thing instead. So here’s the rest of my post…

I’ve said before that I was thinking that this was going to be my last SCC. This year, I haven’t felt the kind of anticipation or excitement that I usually do before the event. The SCCLounge was more of a chore than ever, and a few things happened that did not help my mood. People have been telling me they aren’t going anymore. They don’t feel like it’s worth going to; they’ve gotten everything out of it they can; it’s focused on things they aren’t interested in; they’re fed up with the “community.”

And probably the first two days at SCC, I was still feeling that way. And then I started talking to people, and getting back into a “groove” at the event. It made me feel like there was something more there. Are there problems with SCC? Yes, but they can be fixed. The health fair was a good start; making AIDS/STD awareness an integral part of the programming should be continued. The “Princess Day” was a great idea, and needs to continue. There needs to be more discussion about the direction the convention is going to take. And more openness, less leaving people in the dark and wondering what’s going on…

I’ve seen too often that people feel like they are being marginalized and not part of the “community” for a lot of reasons. There has always been the transsexuals who are on the One True Path to their “wholeness” who regard anyone who is not TS as fake. There are crossdressers who don’t give a damn about the issues of transsesuals, and transsexuals who think crossdressers can’t understand them. Transmen are often ignored because there’s this concept that they have it easier than MTF’s. And that’s only part of it.

I don’t have any answers. I screwed up enough this year. I was supposed to meet up with people and didn’t because I got caught up in my own thing, and I feel bad about that. I don’t want to be a flake, but I was one this year. I’ve tried to apologize to those concerned and hope that they’re gracious enough to forgive me.

I did have a good time. There were some great moments-Wednesday at the mall, shopping and being a model. Dinner with a friend Thursday night and finding out that she’s more fabulous than I thought. Getting a makeover Friday and looking fabulous and feeling blissed. Finding that I still had that goth girl inside and she’s still fierce, and getting to see someone who I really wish I could keep more in touch with. And going to the Barber Museum and seeing motorcycles and cars I only knew from photos.

So yeah, I’ll be back.

Little Zelda’s trip to Southern Comfort, part six Tuesday, Oct 12 2010 

Continuing the adventures, almost done…


Southern Comfort ends for me when I take the polish off of my nails. Getting a manicure and pedicure is one of the first things I do when I get to Atlanta. I can look down at my hands and see pretty nails and it reminds me that I’m Here, not There…

Taking a shower, doing just a minimal shave (I haven’t done any kind of hair killing so I shave. A lot. And after a week…). Putting on drab for the first time in days always feels odd for a few minutes. No bra, just a wife beater under my shirt. No panties, briefs. Jeans that don’t fit as closely, boy socks, Chucks…I’m now in my other drag-the one that lets me pass all the time. A part of me sighs…

Packing up took far less time than usual. Partly because a good part of my stuff was going back in a box, and that was just repacking it (and tossing a few things in to make sure my luggage weight was down). I know how backed up the bellmen will be-everyone wants to check out at the same time, and we bring a lot of stuff with us. I take my suitcase and hanging bag down to the car, since that’s easy. When I am going back to the room I see a bellman on his way up and ask how long it’ll take to get someone to pick up a box from my room; he says he’ll be right there.

A half hour later, I give up and carry a forty-five pound box to the elevators and then to the bell stand, sign a form so it will be picked up on Monday (I’ve already put a prepaid shipping label on the box, and the hotel has a regular pickup) and drop it off. Turn in my room keys, see a few people I know in the lobby and say goodbye.

One of the more interesting things to do on the Sunday after SCC is to play “Spot the T-Girl;” see if you can recognize someone when they aren’t looking their best, that is. I usually do pretty well with the game. Today, there’s not a lot of people checking out yet so I leave without getting to play.

Since my flight was out of Birmingham later that afternoon, and I had plenty of time, I went to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. It’s located on the grounds of Barber Motorsports Park, just outside Birmingham in Leeds. I’ve always wanted to visit the collection. I like vintage motorcycles, and old racing cars, and the Barber has both in numbers. I’m an admitted gearhead, which surprises people for some reason.

The museum is big, but you can hit the highlights in two hours (which is what I had) with enough left to want to come back to spend a far more leisurely afternoon. There were two motorcycles I really wanted to see. First was the Britten. The first time I saw a picture of one, I couldn’t imagine anyone ever building a more perfect motorcycle. It was the vision of one man, New Zealander John Britten, who wanted to create a V-twin racing motorcycle that was more advanced than anything built to that point. And he did it. Seeing it in person, all the incredible details, how it had just enough, no more…You know how you dream of something and fear that in person it’ll be so much less? This was better.

The other motorcycle was more classic: the Vincent Black Lightning. Besides being the subject of one of my favorite songs, Vincent built the first superbikes. If you love sport bikes, you have to love Vincent. Seeing one, in all black and chrome and perfect, was worth the trip. Seeing a whole range of them was fantastic.

The Barber has a wide range of bikes-everything from the earliest to some of the newest, from utilitarian to art works. And cars-a tribute to John Surtees, the only man to ever win world championships on two and four wheels. It also has the largest collection of Lotus racing cars anywhere. By the time I left, I’d taken a ton of photos and memories to get me through my post-SCC downfall, I’d hoped.

I know, geeky car stuff in the middle of my SCC post, get over it…

Birmingham Airport has become a favorite-it’s small enough to have everything close by. Dropping the car off and then walking across the road to the check-in counter-and no lines. I was there early enough to get something to eat (overpriced of course), and I’d already pre-checked in so it was wait for the plane and go home. We landed on time, baggage was off the plane quickly and I got to my car and back to the house sooner than I’d expected.

Oh, and I had managed to leave my iPod in the car. Nissan Versas have a little compartment over the vents that is perfect for putting your iPod in when it’s connected to the stereo. And to be ignored when you’re cleaning the car out. I call Hertz, leave a message, and totally expect not to see the thing again. Which is disappointing because it had been a Christmas present from the family. It’s not new (4th generation), but it works fine for my needs and it’s how I listen to music when I’m not at home. I haven’t gotten used to using my Droid for that yet. I do hear from someone Monday, give them my info, and pretty much expect that’s that.

Until Wednesday, when I get a call. They have my iPod, and need my credit card number to send it back. I eagerly give it, along with my mailing address. It’s there in a couple of days, and I’ll forgive them for the crappy packing (a sheet of bubble wrap that it slipped out of but the case protected it). So, Hertz in Birmingham Airport are good people.

Whew. I was going to sum things up in this post, but I think I’ll do one more.

Little Zelda’s trip to Southern Comfort, part five Saturday, Oct 9 2010 

The story continues…


The “big day” at Southern Comfort. Saturday is things like the pool party, the big cocktail party, the formal dinner, keynote and entertainment. It’s the last day, and everyone makes the most of it…

I got up at a reasonable (for me) hour, skipped the seminars. Instead, socialized and went back to Perimeter Mall to pick up some make up. Remember the faux Bebe watch I saw Wednesday? It was still there and the owner of the stall was ready to haggle. I paid him about what I expected to-less than his tag price-and we were both happy. Tried to find some boots at Nordstrom but their size choices were limited. I guess all their big shoes end up in Dallas…

I went to a mall on a Saturday alone. And had no problems. I know people who would never, ever imagine going to anyplace beyond their own comfort zone-their home, their support group, etc. Maybe that’s okay for them, but I need to do more. I’ve stopped finding bars that much fun anymore. But going out to dinner? Shopping? Yes.

Oh, and I broke another pair of sunglasses. Yes, cheap ones, don’t cry over them but at this rate I ought to just buy one nice pair and keep track of them…

I’d decided when I was packing for the trip that I was going to wear a nice little black dress for Saturday night. I didn’t have a ball gown, my sequined dress has a rip in it, and I didn’t want to buy something new. Simple, right?

And then I go to the vendor’s room and talk to the owner of Timeless Trends because I wanted a new corset.  Out of curiosity I tried on an overbust style corset. I don’t usually get overbust styles because, well, I don’t have a lot up there without some additions. But then I tried on one that had a smaller cup size and I got an idea…

So, throw out the planned outfit for dinner. And decide that my little inner goth is going to come out. Because, well, I’d been such a good girl all week. Kinda.

Now, if you’re wondering how a somewhat flat-chested person fills out the top of a corset? Tape, makeup, padding, and that corset certainly help. A fishnet bodystocking conceals enough but still gives you the illusion of showing off. A lace layered skirt from Torrid, black patent boots from Electrique Boutique. Finish the look with a black and red streaked wig, dark eyes and red lips (MAC Russian Red, thank you). Take a step back, and yeah, this works.

The look worked-lots of compliments. Not formal, kinda wild, but you know, I liked it.

Dinner was not bad, the end-of-the-conference thank yous were brief, and we had a break until the night’s entertainment arrived so we all took a break in the bar, got drinks, and chatted. Oh, and I stole a rose from the centerpiece and hid it someplace nobody would ever notice:
Don’t tell, okay?
The entertainment was ventriloquist Mark Merchant, who had flown in from Italy (he was doing shows on a cruise liner). I’m not a huge fan of the art, but he was funny and his first couple of puppets were fun. And then he brings out his last one, an older lady.
Named Zelda Rose. Really.
Okay, I knew about this because people had been wanting to tell me about this so I wouldn’t be upset. And of course, other people did NOT want me to know so I’d be surprised. Neither group was pleased because I really did take it in stride. Actually, Mark was far more surprised when I introduced myself after the show!
And FYI, “Zelda Rose” is less unique than I thought. She’s a Muppet. She’s also a twenty-three year old model. And a training manager in South Africa. There are twenty-seven Zelda Rose’s on Facebook. Among others. But as far as I have been able to learn I am the only TG Zelda Rose, and that pleases me.
Afterward, I drove over to The Jungle for the Skin Two Ball. I was only going because I needed to get out of the hotel for a while, and I was dressed appropriately. These aren’t usually my kind of things to go to; unless you are going with a group you know it’s not much fun. You get to see lots of fetishwear and pretty people but you can’t socialize much. I did show up, waited in a very long line to get in, found a friend who was there and who told me that someone I’d been hoping to see was there-and that I needed to know exactly what they were wearing…
So I walked around until I found a pair of latex aliens (catsuits, hoods with breathing apparatus) and told the shorter one “I know you.” She shrieked my name and gave me a hug; we hadn’t seen each other in years but it was like yesterday. She took her hood off and still looks fabulous (even sweaty!). She’s a prodomme, and no I won’t tell you who she is.
There was one downside-she’d had a bit to drink and frankly it was hard keeping her focused. But she’s a nice drunk, and her friends were going to make sure she got home. We did reexchange contact info so hopefully we’ll keep in better touch! After that, I lost interest after being blown off by someone who was more interested in their own attention, made my goodbyes and left. Spent a little while talking to people but ended my night earlier than I’d thought…
Next, Sunday, travel, and what did we learn. Really.

Little Zelda’s trip to Southern Comfort, part four Wednesday, Sep 29 2010 

Continuing our adventures in the big city…


Friday is either the “middle day” or the “first day” of SCC for many. Some of us like to arrive earlier in the week, to have time to spend in the city, to take in some of the pre-convention events, and to be able to catch up with people and do things before the convention’s busiest days. Thursday is the official first day, when seminars and the luncheons begin. Friday has seminars, lunch and the first dinner, which is less “formal” than the one on Saturday.

You can tell who is coming to SCC for the educational tracks and who is coming to party-how early did they arrive? The later the arrival, the more likely they’ll skip official things (either by choice or because they didn’t bother to register). It’s one of those open secrets.

One good thing that happened this year was the inclusion of a Trans Health Fair. Though SCC has had the Robert Eads Health Partnership for years, which is named after an FTM transsexual who was the subject of the film “Southern Comfort.” Robert died because he had ovarian cancer and could not get medical treatment until it was too late due to what he was. In his honor, FTM’s have an opportunity to visit with doctors to be examined and treated for gynecological issues. This has been a vital, important part of SCC.

And this year, a health fair was conducted Friday at the hotel for all transpeople. This included HIV/STD testing, free flu shots, education and advice, etc. Also, during the week there was a table set up to learn about HIV/STD issues and to provide condoms and dental dams for those who wished them. Now you may not see this as a big thing but to me, it was huge. It was really the first time that the community seemed to acknowledge sexuality as a real part of who and what we are-and how much we’re all at risk.

I joke that “What happens at SCC, stays at SCC.” But it’s not really a joke-there are some things that keep going beyond the convention. It’d be naive to think that when you put a group of people over the age of consent, some of whom are sexually active and who may not exhibit very good self-control…What you do as an adult is your thing; how responsible you are matters to all of us. With HIV/STD infection rates on the rise in general, while survival rates have gone up the meds that are required to live have their own issues. I know too many people who are HIV+ who would give anything to be healthy again.

So, an acknowledgement of this issue to me was a very good thing. And I’m hoping it’ll remain a part of the convention from now on, and perhaps include a seminar on the subject as part of the regular schedule. I lack the medical background to do this, but I hope someone else will…

Lunch was forgettable, and I only made on seminar the whole day. And I lost my new sunglasses-which is why I buy cheap ones. But I did manage to do one thing kind of important…

I’ve never had a makeover at SCC. I’ve had other people do my makeup before, and it’s always interesting to see what someone who knows what they are doing can do with me. And I had a little extra cash left…I walked over to the God Save The Queen booth and asked if they might just have an opening that day. I figured it was probably a lost cause, but no-they did have an opening at the end of the day, about 5PM. I just needed to show up, shaved and without any makeup on. I took the spot, ran upstairs to get shaved and put on my outfit. What I was going to wear was a black Z. Cavaricci dress that I’d gotten from Torrid. It’s got an asymmetrical zipper on the front, much like a motorcycle jacket. Dressing it up I wore rhinestones (necklace, earrings, and bracelet) with fishnet stockings and my Le Dame Marliyn heels from Shoe Express.

Managed to get downstairs for my appointment, which if you know me is an accomplishment. Nicole Page Brooks asked me a few questions then began to work. She gave me a look that was as she called “Lady doing dinner at the Marriott.” I didn’t point out that we were at the Crowne Plaza; never criticize your make up artist at work. What I got was a polished nighttime look, dressy but not overdone. And I loved how she made me look-far better than I could have hoped for. And well worth the money…

Dinner was great, and I got a lot of compliments on how I looked. When we adjourned to the lounge for drinks afterward and a few photos:

We were just talking and I was happy that one of my favorite people had managed to arrive. It would not have been the same without her! I thought that was a great shot of me, then someone took this:
What do you see? Someone who’s content, happy, comfortable? Who is having a great time? I do. I like the person I see here, and I missed her a lot. She hasn’t been around much. There’s been so much to keep her away-life, issues, pain, depression…Who wants to be around with all that going on?
Maybe its when I see this, I realize how much I’ve missed that. I tell people, if you’re going to go through all of this and you aren’t having fun, why bother? I forgot my own advice.
A fabulous evening, one that I’ll remember for a very long time…

Little Zelda’s trip to Southern Comfort, part three Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

Continuing our story…


Thursday is the official first day of the Southern Comfort Conference. The vendor’s room opens, seminars begin,  there’s a luncheon, etc. I know a few of the vendors, who have been to SCC for years. Shoe Express has been to every SCC, but that’s not what’s significant to me. It’s based in my old hometown, and the owner, Ann, was the first person I’d ever talked to about being TG face-to-face. My first attempts to learn about transgender happened on AOL’s Transgender Community Forums. Remember when getting on the Internet meant using modems and AOL charged by the minute? Yes, that’s how long I’ve been at it…

I did some research and found a TG support group in New Orleans, the Gulf Gender Alliance.*  The contact listed was actually in Houston, but she knew someone locally who could talk to me about the group and refer me to a meeting. That person was Ann, a cisgendered woman who was the first person I was ever able to open up to in person. She was, and still is, one of the nicest people I know. For my first few years, she gave me advice, a place to store stuff, opportunities to unload and we became friends. At my first SCC, she was the second person I saw when I walked into the hotel. That’s why when I see her, I feel like I’m back…

After saying hi to people like Ann, John with Glamour Boutique (the best place to get things like breast forms and such at truly reasonable prices), Timeless Trends (the best inexpensive off-the-rack corsets I have worn), Marvelous Mayhem and God Save The Queen Fashions (who had Nicole Paige Brooks, a former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant doing makeovers). After lunch-which was actually one of the better meals I’ve had at the hotel-I actually made a couple of seminars. Yes, that was the earth moving that day…

Thursday evening is usually a group trip to a local restaurant. I decided to bow out, and went out to dinner with someone I’ve known for years but we’ve never done something like this. And she’d never been to P.F. Chang’s before, so that’s where we went. A brief wait for a table, then I introduced her to the joys of lettuce wraps. It’s chicken and spices and stuff that you put inside a lettuce leaf and, well, wrap. It’s also highly addictive. The waiter didn’t bring us enough lettuce, but the manager saw us talking and brought extras! Oh, yes! Dinner was great, the conversation was wonderful. Jessica’s someone I like a lot, and I’m glad we had an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Before this year’s SCC, I was thinking this might be my last. After eleven years, what’s left? I think I found out what-being around people I know and like, meeting new people, and being part of something larger than myself. I have friends who have decided that SCC’s not for them anymore, that the whole “transgender community” has little left to offer. And I can understand that feeling-when you reach a point, you start asking “Is this all there is?” Maybe I haven’t reached that point. Maybe I never will. Or, maybe I have found a balance someplace?

After dinner, I dropped in on someone’s room party that I’d been invited to, but it was so crowded that I just had to leave. Spent the rest of the evening in the lounge being social and making a relatively early evening of it…

Oh, and a photo from the day; self-photography isn’t my strong suit, I know…

* GGA folded at the beginning of 2010. Katrina decimated the membership, and with no new people coming in the remaining members closed it down. GGA got me out of the house, into the world, and the support I needed to become who I am. And I’ll never be able to thank them enough.

Little Zelda’s trip to Southern Comfort, part two Monday, Sep 20 2010 

Continuing our story…


A new thing at SCC this year was a “Girl’s Morning Out,” aka Princess Day. It was intended for both newcomers, people who’ve never been out shopping before, or those of us you just love shopping. Since I fall into the latter, I got up early and went to the event at Sephora across the road at Perimeter Mall. Sephora is a chain of makeup stores that carries a wide variety of beauty, skincare and hair products. Perimeter Mall is one of  the nice things about having the convention at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia-it’s within walking distance, has a good selection of shops and places to eat. While I miss the old hotel (I’ll get into that later), and the mini-mall it had, this is not a bad place…

I was asked if I minded being a demo model for one of the makeovers-one of the models didn’t show. So I of course did my part for the group and got a day to evening look makeover. I actually liked the look, and got some ideas for later.

I found my friend Sandra at the MAC store, where she was picking up a few things. While waiting, I snapped the above shot so I would remember the look. And hey, I did look great! We looked around a bit, and I picked up a new pair of cheap sunglasses. I rarely buy expensive ones-I either break them or lose them, and why buy something I’ll be upset over? I also stopped by a kiosk that had costume jewelery and looked at a knock-off bebe watch that he was asking $35 for. I didn’t like it that much, and he knocked a bit off of it but I walked away, knowing that he was going to bargain and I am a veteran of the French Market where everything’s negotiable…
Got the car and drove over to the Nordstrom Rack to shop for a pair of sandals; I hadn’t found any I really liked at the ones in Dallas. Bit of a wasted trip-not much in my size, and nothing I really felt I had to have. Drove over to my favorite LGBT bookstore, Outwrite Books on Piedmont. Really, I like the place, even if I didn’t find anything I really wanted this time. Headed back to the hotel to beat Atlanta’s horrendous rush hour, thinking I’d go to Little Five Points Thursday (I didn’t). Like many things this trip, I just didn’t do everything I wanted or should have done. That’s my biggest regret-I totally zoned out on seeing people who matter, and I can’t really offer a good explanation.
Wednesday evening was a mix of missed signals and missing people. Ended up eating (overpriced) fish and chips in the bar because I was ravenously hungry and hadn’t made any kind of dinner plans. I did talk to people so I shouldn’t complain-meeting people is always a good thing…

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