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From: Stephanie2@aol.com

Enclosed is the journal I kept during my trip to Chicago. I offer it pretty much as I wrote things down. I couldn't have made this trip without all of the support and love received from this group which I have come to call the Electronic Gender Community.

Thanks for the support.

Stephanie

The following is a journal kept during the Be All You Can Be convention hosted by the Chi Chapter in Chicago, from June 8-12, 1993.

- Stephanie Julia Havens -

"My Journey - Be All You Can Be - 1993"

Day One - June 8, 1993.

What a day. When I awoke this morning I knew Steph was beginning a new adventure and my life would never be the same again. I was very excited and terrified at the same time. Chicago!

I was up until 2 am packing a suitcase that contained enough cloths for two weeks. Yet I knew the whole trip would last only 6 days. I will never bad mouth an over packed lady again. Thank god I visited Joan and -borrowed+ a few things. Stephen needs to take Stephanie shopping.

Took long bath and SHAVED! I+m read to go. Three quick stops; Post Office, Car Wash, Museum, then on the road. It should take about nine hours to arrive in Chicago. (Wrong - only 6)

Funny thing happened outside of Rockford. I decided to wear the forms under my white sweater. I pulled over for gas and got out to fill the tank. There was a gentleman filling his car just in front of mine. As he looked over I realized what I had on and that without makeup I looked like a guy with a serious glandular problem. Lost the forms before paying for gas.

Arrived at the Ramada Inn, sit of -Be All+ by 3 pm. Coincidentally the cab I followed into the parking lot contained my room mate Michelle from CT. Inside the lobby I call for Naomi and make connections.

Still in male mode, Michelle and I walk up to the counter and announce -Room for Stephanie and Michelle.+ I couldn+t believe it cam out of my mouth. the clerk made me spell my name and she (Joan) found the slips and we signed in.

Michelle and I hit it right off. We exchanged herstories and firsts like old friends. This was Michelle+s 5th Be All and while ironing clothes for the week she fills me in on what to expect.

6pm we head to dinner and eat a wonder Italian meal at the hotel. conversation was like that between old friends even though we had only met 4 hours earlier. (Cool)

Back up in the room Stephanie makes her first appearance. (Joan you are right, plucking the eyebrows makes a huge difference.) Michelle is working on her legs, arms, eyes. I decide to give plucking shot. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!!

Michelle gave me the most wonderful earrings. They use converter so you can take studs and turn them into clip-ons. WOW!

I decide to take a chance and leave the room for some soda. The first attempt went down in flaming failure. There were 3 men waiting at the elevator and I couldn+t get past. I was frightened but I didn+t panic. So I returned to the room with my tail dragging.

Michelle told me not to panic and take my time. Where have I heard that before. Later I made it to the machine, what a feeling of freedom. Still I am very self-conscious.

As the day closes, I prepare for bed and think of what is yet to come. What an adventure.

Day Two - June 9, 1993.

My first day out. After the plucking of the eyebrows last night, the eye makeup looks much better.

Registration begins at 10. So Michelle and I head down the elevator. Still very nervous I brace myself for sharing a ride with the other guests. It is always worse in you fears than in real life. A change begins to take place that is what I came here for.

No one is in the registration room. So Michelle and I go exploring the hotel. The outdoor pool looks wonderful. Maybe later in the week for a dip. I begin to gain confidence as we walk and talk. I get used to the stares and resolve that this is going to be a good week.

By 11:30 Michelle and I have been sitting in the Registration room for 30 minutes. We have met and chatted with Sandy and Karen.. They are a husband and wife couple from Canada. Just another example of how open and accepting this community is.

During registration met Vicki from IN. She is a country western impersonator. Rachel, Vicki, and Michelle and I chat, have lunch and can feel others watching. It doesn+t matter. (We are sharing the hotel with the Baptist General Conference [state] Convention).

Some of the Vendors have arrived, and I strike up a conversation with Anne for Louisiana. When I informed her that she might not have my shoe size, she starts looking. (Size 9 1/2, she specialized on larger sizes) She produced at least 5 pairs in my size. There are two pair I immediately fall for, a pair of red flats and a black pair of 1 1/2+ pumps. I can only afford the flats but I+ll have the pumps by Friday.

Short nap & the White Welcome dinner time 6:30. I became enthralled with all of the women who arrive. Beginning to feel part of a sisterhood. Politics is the conversation over dinner of salad, chicken (oriental) and almond Mousse. Some average and some drop dead good looking women.

Nature calls and another first, the women+s restroom. (I+ve cleaned enough of them.) It just didn+t feel right to go to the men+s room in a white sundress with pink turtleneck. First time to adjust make up.

Prior to the start of dinner we all stood and introduced ourselves and I found three other girls from MN; Roseville, St. Paul, and Duluth. Cool.

Heading off to the bar...

Tomorrow brings a boar tour of Lake Michigan, and a make over lesson from the Mary Kay rep (Fay). I know they may have been buttering me up, but I enjoyed the compliments just the same. The agreed to teach me how to do my eyes, I can hardly wait.

Everyone looked great. A few people commented on how lovely the gold bracelet looked. As well as the nicety of having a GG friend. (THANKS JOAN)

Today is the first time in my life I got my shot at being a girl, and I loved it. Thanks

Day Three - June 10, 1993.

As the day begins, Stephanie becomes more real to me. Today is for fun only. A boat ride s schedule at 10am. I head down stairs to get into the vendors room to meet with Fay and set up an appointment. On the books for 3 pm.

I run into Sonya, a designer from In. She is spending the day going into Chicago to meet with designers to sell her line of fashions. Living out a dream.

The bus ride over almost wipes out everyone. They never should have used school buses. The traffic due to construction is as bad as St. Paul was last year during the worst of it. 3x.

On the boat I have a lovely chat with two of the ladies from MN. They told me they brought NO male clothing along. Whew. The read of the boat ride I talked with Sandy & Karen. Except for chat with woman from Mississippi. We decide that if Stephanie make a public coming out, I+ll do it as the first Cross Dresser to canoe the Mississippi from end to end.

3pm and even though I am exhausted and sun burned, I sit down and take the lesson from Fay. She explains proper skin care and make up application. $103 is the cost of all of the accessories to make the face beautiful.

5:30 a new adventure begins. Rachel, from Houston, introduces me to Amanda from IN/FL. We decide not to take the bus to the dinner theater, but take Rachel+s rented Continental.

When we got into her car and looked around, the busses have left without us. Here we are three tourists with no idea of how to get to the theater. We head south in hopes of catching the busses. Amanda caught them moving down the free way parallel to the frontage road we are on. Quick U-turn and we are on the same road, but no busses.

We head south and go on for about 30 miles before pulling off at an oasis to call for directions. My personal instincts cause me to volunteer to make the phone call. So out of the car, not feeling particularly feminine I trudge into the Wendy+s and make connections with the Candlelight Dinner Theater.

Back on the road we laugh about the whole incident and continue onto the most wonderful performance I have ever experienced. First half of the play was a solo actress singing every word, the second was a dance troop of 12 dancing the same story. AWESOME. (Andrew Lloyd Webers: Song & Dance)

Back to the hotel by 11. I talk Michelle into coming down to the bar to get a coke. While there I spot a Baptist minister I met in the elevator the previous day.

I went over to say hello and see how the conference was going. This began a two hour Q&A session. They put my faith to the test and wanted to beat me with scriptures, but failed. Having a rock solid faith in Christ got me through the last 24 years, and didn+t leave me when I needed him most. They also couldn+t shake my lifestyle choice.

The women couldn+t truly accept Stephanie, but told me that I carried myself very well and by the end began to understand. I also realized for the first time that Stephen was very firmly entrenched inside. I was a whole person with an eclectic taste in clothing. I was comfortable with who I was and had become for the first time in over 20 years.

Exhausted I slip into bed a whole person.

Day Four - June 11, 1993.

Boot Camp! The session spoke about how to carry oneself, comportment. Most of this I learned a long time ago as an actor. How to stand, sit, walk, and just present yourself in the best light. The leader was a CD of many years who was pinch hitting for her wife who is a professional model.

Fashion was the next topic. Nothing that I hadn+t read about in the newspapers or seen on television. I did learn how to use color to create the illusion of a waist line.

The keynote luncheon speaker made a wonderful point...labels like CD,TV,TS are for the back of your shirts and dresses.

After lunch Rachel full fills a dream...to go to the mall. We talk Amanda into going with. Amanda says she wouldn+t miss my first -mall crawl+ for the world.

We head out to the Woodfield mall and head for a larger women+s store. There is a freedom and nervousness that I feel until Rachel asks the head clerk, -how many cross dressers do you sell to?+ The ice broken the store clerks open up and all is normal.

We had to talk Rachel into this beautiful dress and then into buying it. I get talked into a wonderful black silk dress. The hem stopped at the knees with a string fringe to below the calf. It felt wonderful, but it was a size 22 and way to big for me. I couldn+t afford it anyway; $195.00.

Another dinner and I just couldn+t wear the same outfit one more time. No matter how many scarves and accessories I tried, it was getting old. So I headed down to the vendor area and put together a smashing outfit. A blue sleeveless dress with white polka-dots from one vendor. I found a perfect hat from Rachel+s Wigs, a red belt from Jim (makeover artist), the red shoes from Anne and a bracelet from Mary Kay.

Met my one and only Jerk. This guy was here on vacation with his wife and he just didn+t understand. He wore a -stupid+ grin and had nothing but fear in his eyes. Like what we were doing would somehow rub off and change him. He oozed machismo.

Later in the bar, I noticed that every time his wife would strike-up a conversation with anyone from our group, he would -reel+ her into his arms and hold her like a mother protecting a baby from the world. It was the saddest behavior I have ever seen.

1am - sleep.

Day Five - June 12, 1993.

Its Saturday. The day begins as usual; shower, shave, makeup. I+m off to a session about Balance. even as the session begins I sit and workout yesterday in my journal.

I+ve notice water goes through me a little faster...silly

The panel talks about adolescent & gender confusion. I think of Anony1 from AOL and how these people could help. I must get some names. They also talk about finding a balance to Cross Dressing and the public life.

Full time is not for everyone. Left unchecked this could become as destructive as gambling or drinking. Keep in sight who you are and why you do this. Make time for this like any other hobby.

Lunch is a fashion show. Amanda is wearing an absolutely stunning black dress with gold beading.

The big dinner is tonight, and I don+t know what I am going to wear. I have one last outfit from Joan...but no blouse. Just then Rachel comes along and invites my up to her room to try on a dress that was too small for her to wear. After an initial goof, the dress looks and feels great. I ask to borrow it for the night and she says OK.

I run down and get the shoes to go with it, these black satin pumps with gold and silver accents. Anne agrees to hold my check for two weeks so it won+t cause and overdraft charge. What a community.

Rachel (wigs) has agreed to work on my hair in exchange for back rubs previously given. It is another first, my hair in a very feminine style, and I begin to feel beautiful. She adds a black lace bow with rhinestones to complete the look.

After meeting and a short prayer session with the ladies of the Baptist General Conference, I run into Rachel (Houston) and agree to help her put together a surprise for Amanda. We pick up a few things at the gift shop and I get another Q&A from a stewardess.

Up in Rachel+s room with Amanda, Rachel reads a couple of poems she has written for the occasion. Tears and emotions swell as the words speak directly to my heart.

Amanda has been mulling over the purchase of the dress she wore for the fashion show when Rachel hands her the present. Inside is the dress. She then looks at me and tells me she really met to buy the dress I had on for me anyway. Amanda and I begin to cry again and I know what Anne means by -kindred spirits+

The dinner party was a great success. I looked and felt wonderful. We all stood for a group picture, the wide shot type. What a group of people.

I spent the rest of the night trying to make it last. Talking and joking with Barbara #1, and others until 3:30am. I finally meet Marsha Jackson from AOL. She came down just to meet me. What a group.

Day Six - June 13, 1993.

Sunday 8:00 am...
...tears...
...good-byes...
...tears...

Promises of a future meetings. The drive home had only one event. I took off En Femme and almost burst trying to find a gas station. The attendant pointed me to the Ladies room and after paying for my gas she said -have a nice day dear.+

I almost killed myself when I saw Joan, slipped on the wet grass running up to her. I wanted to tell her about the entire week and re-live it all. We went out to dinner at Bakers Square me still in dress and I felt the best week of my life coming to a close.

Short of my acceptance of Christ as my savior, this is the best I have ever felt. It is great to be whole. A new life/journey is ahead and I look forward to every minute.

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