I have been in a creative funk; unable to write compellingly; unable to focus on moving photographic work forward. My “Feminine Mystique” project, which at the beginning of the year I imagined myself deeply engaged with by now, is creeping along at the proverbial snail’s pace. I have felt that I am pressing against cosmic headwinds to do anything at all.


I have been working very hard at reinventing my look. Last year I began exploring a feminine space. I did a lot of writing about it. As fall began coloring the landscape in yellows, oranges and reds, I began coloring my lips in natural and coppery pink, wearing my hair down with 60’s style headbands, wearing my nails longer and pulling tunic like garments out of my closet that I hadn’t worn in ages because they connected my outward appearance with the intense feminine I was feeling inside.

I have always had a strong feminine side, though I did not manifest it much outwardly. For a long time I have preferred the company of women more than most men I meet. And when I say I prefer the company of women to men, it is not only about sexual attraction. I identify with them more deeply than I do men. I like cooking, keeping the house, talking about the things women talk about. I don’t watch sports, I am not interested in fast cars, I have no desire to be a corporate titan, or a corporate anything at all. I don’t play golf, tennis or racquet ball. I do yoga. I have always operated at the fringes of what is normal for my sex and generation, making forays into alternative ways of conceiving myself and then scurrying back to the outer boundaries of normalcy.

In place of the creative projects I envisioned at the start of the year, I am spending a ton of time on women’s clothing sites looking for women’s clothing I can wear. I purchased my first sweater dress from Poetry in early December and it looks great on me. People have been complimentary. I wear it mostly over black slimline jeans. In that configuration it presents more as a tunic than a dress. I have also worn it with tights. In that configuration it presents very much as a dress. I have purchased some colorful knit tops and a couple of statement necklaces. I get compliments on these too when I wear them.

For the past few weeks I have been focusing on my spring wardrobe. The goal is to present in a feminine way without looking ridiculous or pathetic. To walk a fashion line that swings back and forth between feminine and masculine. I ordered a pencil skirt to see how such a skirt would fit on me and discovered that I might not be able to do pencil skirts which might also nix some of the denim sheath skirts I was lusting after. So now I am focusing on tunics and leggings, shirt and sweater dresses, and A line skirts. I have started looking for tops to go with the skirts. I am very enthusiastically putting time and resources into my look, which I have never done before.

Black and gray Marimekko A line skirt on a model.

Denim A line skirt with button front closure.

Model wearing blue tunic shirt.

It finally occurred to me that my creative project is what I am putting my time and resources into, and right now, that is myself. I am a caterpillar that has spun its transformation cocoon and is busy reinventing itself. What kind of butterfly or moth will I become? I am spending most of my time and a lot of my money, as well as psychological and emotional energy into revisioning my outward appearance. My artwork is me. Until I figure out my inward/outward self, I won’t be able to make art or write much. But when I have this transformation firmly in hand and have rolled it out to public spaces, I have no doubt that I will start making art around it.

This is a complex undertaking in which I continually feel I am risking things. I am risking people’s respect (am I doing this in a dignified way or in a way that makes me seem ridiculous?). I am risking the stability of my friendships (who among my friends will understand and who will distance themselves from me?). I am risking the stability of my marriage (How much change and how fast can our relationship handle?).

I am excited and scared. I also feel gratitude that at the age of 68 going on 69 I am able to reinvent myself like this. It is a beautiful gift to my aliveness.