Art Project – 21 Jenny and Angie

Art Project – 21
Jenny and Angie

By Jessica C

Andrew’s problems started with
Designing a prom gown instead of a suit...
Andrew’s problem turned into an opportunity…
Andrea is now in focus…


Come late Saturday morning, I am designing a sundress; when I receive a call on my tablet from my old friend Jenny Connors. We are seeing each other on our tablets and she begins, “Omg, you are fantastic. I can’t believe how attractive you are girl. I thought you said, you haven’t fully transitioned. Please start from the beginning and bring me up to date! I thought you or someone would have decided being a girl wasn’t for you; once the responsibility fell to you. I spoiled you, doing much what it takes to be a girl.”

Jenny is the one who is gorgeous. I know I look very good as a girl that’s mostly mom’s genes. She is correct that she helped me. I got a lot of pampering for little work on my part.

“Jenny, I feel so guilty about how I treated you. When I stopped being your friend; I was afraid you’d expose me and I’d be seen as a creep at school. I was afraid when you told everyone would be laughing at me. I stuffed everything deep down inside of me and thought I was safe. I used art and music to be creative and get the release I found as a girl.

“I was glad when Dan Johnson came out to California and encouraged my mom to come back here. I didn’t expect them to marry. But he’s become more of a dad then my dad was in accepting me. First, he didn’t know more than I was different, not like most guys.”

“When I started to school here I didn’t register for classes when I was supposed to. Most art classes were already too full. I took Advanced Art. The Art teacher told me to my face that he didn’t want me that it was more than I could handle. That was like a slap or dare; I wasn’t going to give him any satisfaction.

He gave us a yearlong assignment to make an outfit: a fancy dress or a gown or a suit or something. I wasn’t really listening, but drawing ideas. I didn’t hear that I would need to wear it. Well, the last time I wore a monkey suit was for my Dad’s funeral. There’s nothing creative in designing a suit.

”I even got a job at Carrie’s Towne Shoppe here to learn what I needed to know. I had drawn five dresses and gowns for five girls in my class. They were impressed and I liked that. One of them gave me ideas relating to a girl who might wear my gown. She was relating it to me. I had a girl Sharon I knew similar in height and possible dress sizes. I thought it would be great if I could kind of live through Sharon or some other girl who would wear it. I was like eight weeks into designing it and liking what I learned at the store and in sewing things in the Family Life class. That’s when the girls kind of got it through my head that I missed something in the assignment. I figured I could use my attention deficit as an excuse, if I continued. It would have been way to satisfying for Mr. Murphy if I dropped out or acknowledged my mistake.”

Jenny says, “I should say, I told you so. You were just digging yourself a deeper hole. Finally you didn’t get out of it this time, did you?” She asks, “When did you start realizing you’d be wearing the gown? I’ve seen it on your web-site and it is beautiful gown and so unique. I would probably wear it.”

I’m not fully hearing her, I say, “The girls in the class, who were juniors and seniors thought it was in February; that realized it was be for me. But it wasn’t; my parents and I began asking for an exception in March. The more stubborn Mr. Murphy got, the more I was set on making him back down.

“I had gotten Sharon to agree to model it for the Spring Art Festival. But I started to realize, I’d have to wear it, if nothing changed. But even that would not have been enough. I needed to wear it to the prom or some special event. That was when Terra Hobbs, a senior in the class, invited me to the prom as her date. I did have two boys who asked to take me, but I wasn’t ready for that.”

“I had enough makeup and my hair done with an added hair extensions for the Spring Festival that Murphy had not recognize me. He had already decided to fail me. When I let him know I modeled the dress and had a date to the prom, he was very upset.”

Jenny asks, “So did she pick your cherry; spoil your virginity?” I forgot how direct and crude Jenny felt she could be with me.”

I didn’t mean to tell Jenny that I made out with Terra once as two women. But Jenny says, “If I ever get to pounce on you, I could go for that.”

I change the subject and while we’re still on the computer, I do the preliminaries so she can be a sales associate in San Anselmo. I will allow Mara Williams handle all the details the coming week.

Vee Holmes and Mara are now my managers of operations for Andrea’s Threads. I give Jenny enough information on North State University that she can look into it as a college possibility. She’s tickled that my mom and I would consider coming there during spring break or her graduation. I did not let her know we might be there for both as well as to see Heidi and do some work to promote my lines of clothing.


Most of the weekend is spent doing reading for the new semester or designing clothes. I thought it would be hard and less productive, pressing myself to design more outfits and dresses. I spent six solid hours on Saturday and another seven hours on Sunday. Doing three designs for my new high end fashions are a joy as I have bolts of cloth handy. The larger thread count works differently. One of the designs is a replica of my prom dress with enough differences that make it unrecognizable as a copy. I am sure Vee Holmes my chief designer will recognize it. She will be the one to prepare it for immediate production, that’s if she thinks it is as good as I do.

I have a new sundress that is airy as it uses a lot of lace designed to accent the floral print underneath it. I sketch three designs for swimsuits. This is a new venue for me and it will be the first time Vee and I officially partner in designing a line of beach apparel, Andrea’s V Threads. JC warns me giving Vee credit could lead to Vee making a name and going out on her own. My hope and understanding with Vee is that it holds her to continue to work with me at least seven more years.

I begin reading Louise Erdrich’s "The Plague of Doves" for my Present Day Literature class. I am well into the book; finding it an intriguing read. I am bewildered as she is well acclaimed as a writer including her novels. But she does not received the notoriety that others get. I find myself pleased to be a woman reading her story. It is like our spirits connect through her writing.

I am taking a business class at State Center and an accounting class at North State University. I need to take American History as a state requirement. Miss Dobbs will be my Art instructor, she has me doing Design as Art. It is a class limited to twelve students, an invitation only focused study. I have women’s health as well as continue with my math class. I am starting to feel like I belong as I have a group of friends.


Working more with Vee Dorset and Maria Williams, I feel more like I have my staff. Vee is less and less clarifying things with JC and her production staff. Vee really knows the business; like with the sundress and the lace. My choice of thread would make it too heavy. Together we choose something that will keep its color, shape and show like I want. Nevertheless it is light and airy like a sundress to be. During the week and the weekend, Vee and I work together a lot. Vee compliments my ideas and pushes me until we are putting out enough choices that we can claim a good size niche of that market.

We were served notice by the X-Press Inc. that it better work. Pushing ten sundresses into production will cost and will require women and teens to buy into my designs if it’s to pay-off. Three of the ten will be in my upper tier of clothing, Angie’s Silver Threads. We even push our production schedule to allow four of the dresses to be ready early this spring. We’ll be missing some early spring fashion shows, but we prefer to introduce our new items with little time for copycats to get out.

With school, designing and traveling to Atlanta and St. Louis, January and half of February moves quickly and fairly smoothly. Someone from X-Press Inc. decided not to use the thread we acquired for one of our dresses. Fortunately, we caught it early and it showed the value of Vee’s expertise. The cost of the change became a corporate expense and not ours.

Come the first of February, we’re entering the market of prom and formal dresses. I had used my prom gown and my original drawings for Terra’s gown and Jennifer’s dress as inspiration. I am gaining an appreciation of the expectations of pregnant women. I get tense and irritable as the release dates for new items draws near. Unfortunately, it will take another few weeks and early sales to know how each will do.


My online fashion design class with Carrie Druthers and Hillside goes well. They were going to limit the class to twelve, but several designers wanted in. Between what they offered and it meant to be noticed it was too much to turn them away. I was impressed how Carrie held her own and truly lead the class. Several things Carrie pointed out to me last year, were new concepts not only to high school students but two of the professionals.

With our success continuing, we’re able to gain better places in stores placing of our dresses. Vee and Maria were out promoting on the east coast, and Tamara Robbins and her brother Lee in the Chicago/the upper Midwest region; partnered with me in promoting our lines.

Tamara having gone down three dress sizes becomes both an invaluable spokesperson and a model especially of my prom and formal line.

I suggested to Janice Richards to develop two advertisements using Tamara. She asked Vee, “Where did you come up with using Tamara Robbins? She’s absolutely the right person and it worked so well.”

Vee complimented me, “Andrea is more than a designer. She got Tamara to sell and represent us last fall. She pushed Tamara as well as Maria and myself to get out into our areas promoting our fashion lines. Maria as well as Tamara thought Angie had lost her senses in using us and then Tamara with you. But I think it is part of her genius in seeing possibilities others often miss. I agree Tamara’s image will resonate with our buyers.”

Janice says, “I am sure it will. I tested my first advertisement here and we only got good feedback. A few people were frustrated they had to wait to buy the gowns. That was their only complaint.”


It is early February before I accept another date with a guy. It’s with Matt Scott and has me going to Hillside’s winter formal. I wore a rendition of the dress I drew up for Linda Jones last year. I had to redraw it for me as well as design and lay out the dress pattern. I got out my sewing machine put it together; shaping and pressing it. I try to design and make something at least every three months, to stay in practice. I do it more often because I like it.

One thing I like in going back to Hillside is that I’m easily accepted as Andrea being me. Younger girls have begun calling me Angie more and more.

I know Matt is excited to hold me close as I can feel him poking me though it’s not intended. I am just another girl at the dance. It is funny and Jennifer takes me into the women’s room so we can talk away from the guys. Jenn says, “I just selected today the dress I’m wearing to the prom. It’s one of yours and it looks like it was made for me.”

I ask, “Are you talking about the short petite dress? What color did you pick?” I giggle as she answers, “You’ve selected the dress I drew up for you last year. I was going to give you one.”

Jennifer says, “I wondered about that when it kept my attention. I’m glad I bought it. It would feel strange wearing a dress someone gave me for my prom. I would like sometime after the prom if we could go to the Credo Club and dance the night away.”

“Jennifer, how serious are you with Mark?”

“He’s fun to be with, maybe if we meet up again after college.”

We have a great time and it’s pleasurable to be part of a Valentine’s Day celebration.

I’m hearing that since I’ve only been Andrea since Christmas friends and family see being Angela as a decision that has already been made. I shouldn’t have spoken to anyone about my pending surgery. I am back to see Dr. Triggs my GYN doctor, who introduces me to Dr. Haley Pierce, the surgeon who will be doing my surgery in Chicago. We first meet Dr. Haley via an internet hook up and then days later in Chicago. She and Dr. Triggs received notice before me that the procedure had to be pushed back first to April later to May.

I find being Andrea twenty-four seven enjoyable but more challenging than I thought. It becomes apparent Andrew is more important to our business than any suspected. Several people had petitioned the courts to delay my surgery. Each delay requires new paperwork and jumping through hoops in rescheduling me surgery.


Come early March we know our venture into formals and prom gowns is meeting with success. The orders of my new sundresses are also ahead of sales projections. My percentage of revenue from sales now exceeds double of my salary. The income I am getting is unreal to me. I am lucky that Mom has my interests at heart. She’s become a wise investor as well as setting money aside for my education. And yes, I do share with Mom and my sisters.

I make improvements to my apartment complex, while I’m be able to keep the rent the same for now.

My next appointment with Dr. Triggs finds her asking me if I’m taking more female hormone than the low dosage she’s approved for me. Seemingly my male genitals are smaller and she’s suspecting I did something to push things along. Luckily a blood test verifies that I am not taking more medication. Seemingly my testosterone production has declined.

She says, “I cannot prescribe more hormones for you, even though it would be good for the natural development of your feminine body. If you could naturally get them into your body it would be a help to your developing.”

Mom is now with me and says, “I have done some research and if it will be helpful to you we’ll change your diet some.” She asks Dr. Triggs direct questions to be sure our information is good. Finally Mom asks, “Dr. Triggs can you explain why we didn’t notice the change?”

She says, “It has been two months since I’ve seen you, making it easier to see. But for you the change has been gradual. Seeing her on a day to day basis, you were less likely to notice the change. Someone who was looking to cause trouble, the change might have been noticed. Andrea wearing panties and keeping herself snug against herself could also add to the effect of lowering your testosterone production.”


March we fly out to California and we visit Heidi at Chico State. She’s a little embarrassed to have us, her mother and sis visiting. She is fairly outgoing and has been doing quite well in representing Andrea’s Threads. She has helped introduce my line into three more stores as well as making a good number of sales and promoting our on-line sales on campus. We have seen the impact of promotions and contacts making significant differences.

The joy for me comes in going to San Anselmo on the Wednesday before their spring break. I had communicated to Jenny that we might be coming on Friday if we were able to get away. Her mother, Ava, informed me of her class schedule.

I went to the school and saying I had been a student there. Their search showed an A. Stephens, but that he was a male student. I responded, “Yes, I know Andrew Stephens that was me.

Mrs. Howard the head secretary at the high school asks, “Who were your sisters who attended here?” Once I mentioned Leah and Heidi, she greets me more warmly. “So, you are the fashion designer made good. I heard that Jenny had talked to you, but nothing about you coming to see her. If it’s okay I will message for her to the office and then I’ll get her next teacher Ms Wilkens’ approval you to be in class with her, if you wish.”

I say, “I don’t remember Ms Wilkens, is she new?”

Mrs. Howard says, “She remembered you, because you’d sometimes would go to cheer leading practice with Jenny. Oops, you probably remember her as Miss Julie Honeysuckle. I’m sure she was happy to lose her maiden name. It’s Ms Wilkens now.” I’m remembering Miss Honeysuckle. I liked her both as Andrew and when I dreamed as a girl.

Mrs. Howard says, “You do remember her don’t you? I can tell by your smile.”

Jenny speaks from behind me, “Angie, you didn’t warn… inform me you were coming. And who did you remember with a smile, besides me?”

Mrs. Howard says, “I’ll check with Ms. Wilkens if it is okay to bring Ms. Stephens to your next class.”

Jenny says, “She’ll be happy to see Angie of course she’ll say yes.”

I turn to greet Jenny and I’m quickly embraced in her arms. “And it is nice to see you too Jenny.”

Jenny says, “If your mother’s waiting for you outside, you should let her know you’ll be with me.”

“We already decided that. She and your mother are going to lunch to talk together.”

“My mother knew you were coming and didn’t say anything? At least she told me to dress a little better.” She says, “I like your jeggings and the skirt, but you could’ve wore a shorter skirt.”

“Being here as Angie is new for me and I’m still kind of shy.” We sit on a bench and begin talking. My skirt is short enough that I hold the hem to keep it from riding up more. The class bell rings and Mrs. Howard says, “Ms Wilkens is looking forward to the two of you being together. She wants Jenny to introduce Angela when she says.” This will be Jenny’s last class before lunch.

I can tell by the way Ms. Wilkens greets me that she remembers me. She says, “If you’re not too set on visiting other students during lunch could I treat you and Jenny to lunch?”

Once everyone is settled in class, she calls Jenny and myself up. Three girls act like they recognize me. Jenny says, “Angela was a student here two years but then she was Andrew Stephens and had not yet become a fashion designer.”

Jake Toliver says, “Knowing Andrew, it has to be in pink or chartreuse.” Steph Briggs speaks up, “Andrew has more class and her Andrea's Threads are selling across the nation. You should be quiet and not embarrass us along with yourself.” Stephanie asks, “Is it true how you discovered yourself and learned to design women’s clothing.” Steph stops, “I’m sorry, Ms Wilkens, I hope it was okay to ask?”

Wilkens says, “It would have been better that you waited and then asked. I am thankful however that Jake was not representative of the class.” “Jake you can go down to the office and inform them why you are there. You are to stay there until I come and speak to the Principal about you.”

That was ironic because Jenny and I do go to lunch with Ms. Wilkens, but she waited until the second period after lunch to visit the office. She told us, “I want him to have a little stewing time in case the only punishment is a short lecture.”

She asks me, “May I ask if your studies have remained serious?” I tell her I have actually become a more serious student and that I am enjoying my studies more than ever. I told her that JC Harper said to me, I’d do myself a favor becoming a complete person. Relying on my present notoriety could be very detrimental.

She asked, “Then tell me something you read that students might get into and it a good read?”

I mentioned, “I liked Louise Erdrich’s “The Plague of Doves”. It’s a contemporary book that I think is well written and speak to our stuff today.” She’s heard of Louise and read critiques on her books, but had not read any.

“Is it alright if I ask a more personal question, about another cheerleader you use to admire?” The way she smiles; I was pretty sure it was safe to say yes. She says, “You use to like Margaret Barrett, but it didn’t appear to be completely like the other male students.” She stopped with the statement, giving me the out to say something or to move on to another subject.

I finally found my words and spoke, “It probably sounds funny, but I kind of looked up to her and felt like her. I would have liked to look like her. I even practiced trying to do my hair or makeup, like… But I had empathy, because along with how beautiful and nice as she was; people didn’t really know her. I kind of wondered, if in college they gave her credit for how intelligent she was?” I’m not really like her, but I felt bad because most people didn’t care to know me.”

Jenny says, “It wasn’t that we didn’t want to but you were very defensive. Ms. Wilkens and I and a few others thought it was about your grief after your father died. When you put out the tutus; we didn’t know if it was serious. When I saw a skater dress you designed, I thought you were thinking of us cheerleaders.”

I ran to the women’s room as I needed to cry and pee at the same time. Jenny and then Ms. Wilkens came into see if I was okay. They both apologize as they thought they must have offended me. Instead I received what I came back to California for people that knew me longer and hopefully cared about me, me more than my fame.”

One of the hurts about moving or moving on with one’s life is I couldn’t take everyone I wanted along.

Story to continue…

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