Thursday, February 2, 2017

Blah blah blah

 I headed to Dearborn Michigan this week and talk about a shock to the system! When I left Austin, it was 75 degrees. When I landed in Detroit, it was 19. That suuuuucccckkkksss  .. .

Usually I get the early morning flights, but I found a direct flight from Austin to Detroit leaving at about 1 PM and not only was it a direct flight, but it was also the least expensive flight available. It was kind of weird to not be getting up at 3 AM to get ready and out of the house before the children awoke for school, but I managed to adapt.  There was plenty of time to get the children ready and out the door, drink some coffee, fart around, and then get ready myself. I almost got a bit too complacent though, and in the end found myself running a bit late.

As the driver of the shuttle bus from the parking area to the Airport came up to my truck to help take my bags, he noticed the “My son is in the Navy” sticker on the back window and struck up a conversation with me.
“My son is in the Navy too!” he said, clearly beaming with a father’s pride. “Where is your son stationed?” he asked. Well, as it turns out, both of our sons are stationed in Virginia. No, I didn’t tell him my sons name as I figure he has enough shit to deal with without the possibility of someone giving him shit over what I am.

I received my first upgrade to First Class in quite some time and I don’t mind saying that it felt good to be in a comfortable seat with a bit more room! The man next to me kept looking at me and grinning, but I didn’t let it get to me. He has his life, and I have mine. One of the flight attendants went out of her way to tell me that she thought my shoes were cute, so there’s that I guess.

When it came time to board the Avis shuttle bus from the airport, I was surprised and grateful when the driver came back and started helping people, including me, to load their bags. The Avis drivers rarely do this these days. Not sure if it is an insurance thing, or a “driver don’t want to do the heavy lifting thing”, but since I was feeling old and tired, I was most grateful for the help.
As I said earlier, it was in the 70’s when I left Austin, so I was a little less than delighted to find it cold as hell, and snowing heavily as the driver dropped us off at the lot. I made my way to my car, made my typical walk around to be sure they weren’t giving me a car with damage that they were later going to try and pin on me, and then started to lift my bags into the hatchback.
“Hold on ma’am!” I heard a man say from behind me. I turned to see a young man in an Avis uniform, with a well-trimmed beard and no mustache, getting out of a car that he was parking behind me.
“Why don’t you go ahead and get in the car and out of the snow and I’ll put these in for you?” He asked politely. Honestly, I was exhausted and my leg was killing me (a bit more on that later) and so I was intensely grateful to him and told him as much.

Things went a little less smoothly at the Holiday Inn Express when I checked in. The clerk greeted me with kind words.
“Welcome to the Holiday Inn Express, and may I say that I like your dress?!” he said with a smile. Well, I wasn’t wearing a dress, but I figured that wasn’t really the point, so I thanked him with a smile. Once he had me all checked in, I made my way up to my room just to discover that neither key he had given me worked. Not much to be done about it, so I headed back down to the first floor, had him program the keys again, and then dragged my suitcase back to the room.

This time the key worked.  The heater however, didn’t  . . .

I tried the thermostat, noted that it was set to 75 but the room was at 60. Next I checked the wall unit and made sure it wasn’t meant to be operated from its own control panel, and then I made sure that it was plugged in. After all, I troubleshoot equipment for a living, and so I can work my own way through the basics. Having determined that it was nothing simple that I could address myself, I called the front desk.
“Guest services – how can I help you?” asked a cheerful voice.
“Yeah, my heater is dead and it’s just a bit too cold.” I replied. I began to tell him all of the things that I had checked but he interrupted me.
“Did you try to adjust it from the thermostat?” he asked in a somewhat condescending tone.
‘Well,’ I thought but didn’t say, ‘if you would have shut up long enough, I would have told you that!’
“Yes,” I told him. “I also . . .” Once again, he interrupted me.
“Did you see if you could operate it from the unit itself?” He asked.
“Yes, I tried both, the thermostat and the unit itself. The thermostat is set to 75 but . . .” I was going to say that the room was only at 60, thus proving the damned thing wasn’t working, but he interrupted me again.
“Ok, no problem. We will be glad to send someone up to look at it sir.” He said, still with that artificially cheerful tone in his voice.
“I’m not sure that there is any point to sending someone to look at it, as it is clearly dead.” I told him, and was about to ask him to simply give me another room when he interrupted me yet again!
“I understand. Hold on and we will have someone right up to look at it sir.”
Now I don’t typically get all wound around the axle about the “sir” thing. I know I don’t pass perfectly, so there is little point to getting upset about it. Given that he was talking to me on the phone and only had my voice to go on, I really couldn’t blame him. Still, I’d have to admit that it tweaked me just a bit, so there I sat fuming while I waited for someone to come do everything that I had already done.
 About five minutes later, I open the door after hearing a polite knock, and I allowed the young man to enter my room.
“The guy on the phone thinks I’m an idiot, doesn’t he?” I asked him with a laugh as he was looking at the thermostat.
“No, not at all!” he replied with the only answer he could have possibly given.  I then grinned as I watched him do everything that I had already done, and ultimately admit defeat.
“Yup, it’s lost its programming!” he told me. “I’m afraid that all we can do is move you to another room.”
“That’s pretty much what I thought myself.” I told him with a tired voice.
“I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you just wait here and I’ll go down and get you another room and bring you the keys?”
“That would be awesome – thank you!”
So the new keys AND the heater worked for the new room.

As is my usual habit, I opened my suitcase and made sure that I had a complete male outfit for work the following day. If I forget something important like, oh, say pants or shoes that are not high heels, I kind of want to know that before I wash all of my makeup off. I found that I hadn’t forgotten anything, and started to take my shoes off, just to discover that I couldn’t get my left shoe off. I pulled up my pant leg and realized that my left ankle was seriously swollen.  I’ve mentioned that I have Erythema Nodosum several times before, but this is by far the worst outbreak that I have ever had, and it has been going on for about a year now.  I wore pants specifically to hide the huge and ugly bumps on my legs, but the swelling of the ankle, far below the bumps, was a bit of a surprise! Sigh .  .

So the next day I completed my job pretty early in the afternoon and headed to the mall in boy mode to see a movie or two. I saw “Hidden Figures” and in my opinion, it was a great movie and I highly recommend it, especially if you have any geek or nerd in you. Any movie that can make you laugh AND make your eyes water a few times has got to be pretty well done.
I also watched the new “Resident Evil” movie. Honestly? Not that impressed with it.

When I was done with the movies, I figured “what the hell” and made my way through the malls “JC Penny” and “Macy’s” stores. I probably shouldn’t have done that. You never know what is going to trigger depression, but apparently for me, tonight, it was shopping.  Honestly I have little to be depressed about when I stop to consider things with my intellect, and yet I suddenly felt crushing depression. Not much of a man, definitely not much of a woman, walking alone as usual through a place that held nothing for me. Yeah, I know, I don’t really have any call to be depressed, and have a  life a WHOLE lot better than a hell of a lot of people, but logic really has nothing to do with depression. . .

Saturday, January 28, 2017

I don’t know where we went wrong . . .

All of my life I’d wanted a piano. I have no idea why, but they have always called to me and I’ve always felt that it was a most impressive and beautiful instrument. Now when you grow up dirt poor, in a one room cabin without plumbing (yes, that means without even a toilet), it’s kind of unlikely that you are going to have a piano. It was only at great effort on my part, and with the help of a wonderful old man, that I bought my first guitar as a teenager and taught myself to play it as a consolation prize.

Okay, so now we fast forward about 30 years and I’m all growed up,  I’ve got my own home with in-door toilets I might add, and so I went out and bought myself a used piano! Of course I still aint exactly wealthy, so that sumbitch went on a credit card, but hey, I digress. . .   
Besides the credit card payment, the bad news here is that a love and admiration of the piano does not equate to skill and talent on it. So yeah, I’ve got a piano of fair quality now, but I’m not about to claim that I can actually play the damned thing. I don’t have the time for lessons or anything like that, but I’ve been playing around with it now for a few years and have even managed to make somewhat pleasing sounds come out of it once or twice. Often, I’ll be messing with it and do something completely by accident that sounds neat, and then I have to spend an hour trying to figure out what I did and try to replicate it. Something much like that happened about six months ago, and so started my first song with lyrics that was created on the piano.

I can’t speak for anyone else that writes songs, but I don’t really care to try and be creative in front of an audience. Creating a song involves lots of trips down the wrong street, lots of trying words and notes that don’t work, and lots of playing parts of the song over and over while trying to refine it and get it right. Well, a full size piano is not something that you just casually pick up like a guitar and trot into an empty room with for privacy, so yeah, my family had to listen to this over and over for months while I was thunking it up. Then, when I at last had the song created, they again had to listen to it over and over and over while I recorded it on my Multi-track system. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s a special recorder that basically turns your home into a mini recording studio. A simplified explanation of the system is that you can record something like a piano, then play that recording back. While that recording is playing, you can then record your guitar on a separate recording (track). You then play both of those recordings back, and record your vocals on another track. Then, you play all of that back while recording something else. You do this on and on until you run out of “tracks” to record on – hence the name “multitrack” recording for the process.  Using this process, a single person can put together an entire song all by themselves, but there are a few drawbacks to it:
1-Very few people that I’ve ever actually met can play a wide variety of instruments really well. I’m sure that there are a few freaks . . . err . . I mean really talented people out there that can, but I aint one of ‘em.
2 – Different people bring different perspectives and “visions” to a song. I think that in most cases, these different qualities bring a vibrancy and life to a performance that a single person can not duplicate regardless of their talent with multiple instruments.
3 – Recording a song where you play all of the parts requires playing it over, and over, and over, and so everyone in my home has had to hear my songs hundreds of times while I was writing and recording them. Even if a song was of the caliber of Ludwig Van Beethoven's 5th Symphony (no, I’m not making that claim) you would come to HATE it after hearing it so many times. More or less, everyone in my household, including me, has come to hate every song I’ve ever recorded.

So, here is my latest song, and the only song that I wrote and recorded solely on the keyboard. I hope that you like it because God knows I can’t stand it now. Fair warning – y’all know darn good and well that I am Transgender, but if you have only seen my photos, this might be a bit jarring. 😀  Also, if you pay close attention, you will hear a female voice once or twice in there – that’s my daughter Audrey!  👧

 Things are relatively slow for work right now, but I have made a few service calls. I took a trip up to Tulsa Oklahoma to perform preventative maintenance for a customer up there. Roughly mid-way between Austin and Tulsa is the Choctaw Casino where I often stop to make a modest donation. I’m not much of a gambler, but it’s a convenient place to stop and stretch my legs on the 7 or 8 hour drive.

I draw the line at about $40 and kind of figure that this is a more or less reasonable fee for an hour of entertainment, and what the hell – there is always the chance that I might actually win something. Well, this time I was down to only $10 of the $40 left when I hit three bars and won $40. If you did that simple math, that means I had almost lost my money, but was now up by a modest $10. Feeling relieved that I hadn’t lost money after all, I cashed out and continued on to Tulsa where I checked into the remodeled Holiday Inn Express there.  

Yeah, I wasn’t real fond of this color of green back in the 70’s when it was first popular, and I find that I am no fonder of it today. While I was working with my customer, he asked me if I had asked the Holiday Inn to give me the special rate that he had negotiated for his company. I told him that I had done this once or twice in the past, but that I hadn’t done it this time. He got kind of a grin on his face and then explained that he had this agreement with the hotel because a good friend of his used to be the manager there. For just a second, I was concerned, since I have checked into this hotel many times over the years, and have on occasion told them who I was working with. If his friend was the manager when I had checked in on one of these occasions, there was a really good chance that she had probably said something to him about me. Then all of the sudden I decided that I really didn’t give a shit. I’m getting old and tired, and am finding it harder and harder to get worked up over things like this. Either he knows I’m TG or he doesn’t. I guess it’s up to him to decide if this is a problem for him or not.

In the interest of full disclosure, I stopped at that Casino on the way home too, and this time they got the whole $40. Damn it.

Next, I headed off to a service call an hour or so south of Shreveport Louisiana.  I started to laugh when the GPS guided me off of the paved roads and through miles of dirt road through the woods. I hadn’t realized it when I headed out, but I recall visiting this customer a few years ago. It’s the only time I’ve ever worked on an $80,000 Infrared Spectrometer, outside, on a hand poured concrete pad.  Git ‘er done!

On my flight home, I had to catch a connecting flight through the Atlanta airport. Yeah I know, it seems kind of silly to have to fly all of the way from Louisiana to Georgia in order to get to Texas, but hey, I didn’t design the airline system, I’m just stuck using it. So anyway, as I enter the gate area, I noticed two beautiful young ladies with beauty pageant sashes across their blouses. They were sitting on the floor and leaning back against the wall. I didn’t want to look like I was staring or anything, but I figured they were wearing the sashes for a reason, so looked at them long enough to read them; Miss Alabama and Miss Teen Alabama! Yeah, I know all of the arguments about how these pageants exploit women, etc, etc, but still – I am suitably impressed and strike up a quick conversation with them.
“So are you competing for Miss Alabama or are you the current Miss Alabama?” I asked the woman on the left.
“I am Miss Alabama and this is Miss Alabama Teen” the older of the two replied for both of them.
“That is SO awesome! Congratulations!” I told them, and then immediately got onto facebook to brag about having met them. Of course everyone on Facebook started giving me hell, saying that it didn’t happen if there were no photos or videos to prove it. Yeah, I rose to the bait.
“Excuse me?” I asked the two, when I noticed that they weren’t talking for a moment. “Honestly, I’m kind of bragging on Facebook about having met y’all here, and I’m getting shit for not taking a photo to prove it. Would you mind if I take your photo and share it?”
They both laughed, and despite the fact that you could see they were both tired, they rose and stood just so I could take their photo. So here is to Miss Alabama and Miss Alabama Teen, who were both gracious to an old fart with a camera:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Some people's children . . .

So apparently some "holier than thou" transexuals find my blog to be offensive. I am informed that I, and others like me, are nothing more than offensive "men in dresses" and I apparently am single handedly undermining the transgender community.

Sigh . . .

Few things irritate me more than this attitude.
When you choose to give up your wife, children, and career to transition and live full time, this does not somehow make you magically better than those of us that refuse to pay that price.

I can overlook and forgive your average muggle for having hurtful attitudes or for saying unkind things. Your typical muggle has no idea what we go through, the inner turmoil that is our everyday life, or the fragility of our confidence. Someone who acts out of ignorance can be forgiven. Someone who is transgender however, does not have that excuse and is not entitled to that forgiveness or understanding. Knowing that a person making these kinds of comments is well and intimately aware of the kind of hurt that their words impart bring me as close to fury as I've ever been in the last 50 years.

If you feel that you are somehow inherently better than those of us with lives, obligations, and commitments that force us to straddle the line between genders instead of leaping over it, then I'd appreciate it if you keep that opinion to yourself. Don't you dare go out of your way to cause pain to people that are so much like you, and that you should without a doubt have some understanding of and compassion for. The very thought of another TG making comments on my blog that they know beyond doubt will harm the confidence of the majority of those that read it just infuriates the hell out of  me. . .

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You're Beautiful

Where to start?
You might (or might not) recall that I have this wonderful condition called Erythema Nodosom that causes large and very painful bumps on my legs. I had started to hope that the condition had gone away because for the first time in twenty years, I had gone over two years without an outbreak.  Yeah, well, so much for that hope, because they came back about a year ago with probably the worst outbreak that I have ever had. I don't want to dwell on that, and I'm not looking for sympathy, just explaining why I've not been writing my blog for quite a while. Nothing like being in constant pain and having huge lumps all over your leg to make you lose any desire for trying to be anything less than as comfortable as possible. 
I think there is also the fact that I've become so accustomed to traveling as a woman that it's no longer quite so fascinating for me. Much like your average woman, I've reached the point where I often decide that wearing a skirt and heels while traveling just makes things too much harder than they need to be. Try slinging two 50 pound bags on and off of shuttle buses while wearing a 30 pound back pack and wearing a skirt and heels and you will probably come to the same conclusion pretty quickly.

As I mentioned in my last blog, my wife has taken a job. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad one for our family, but I think that she is much happier now than she was, so it's all good. She had been spending all of her days surfing the internet and looking for things to get pissed off about, so I’m pretty happy that she now has something else to occupy her mind. It’s also forced our children to take a little more responsibility for themselves, not to mention forcing us to give them more responsibility. I think this is a good thing?

It sometimes seems like the Huddle home is under some curse by the universe to always be in some state of construction. I can't remember the last time our house didn't have some area that wasn't under renovation or rebuild and I've gotta be honest, I'm kind of tired of it.  Among the dumber things we have ever done was to sell the 150 year old house that we used to have and purchase a relatively modern 25 year old house. The antique home we sold 15 years ago was built so well that it will still be standing long after this modern garbage is bulldozed to the ground. The way things are going, a bulldozer won't be required because this place will fall down all on its own. The kitchen is now completely rebuilt, and the dinning room is about 95% done. The upstairs bathroom that we had to gut in order to rebuild the water rotted wall a few years ago is still unfinished. Just a plywood floor with no shower or tub on it. Sigh. . .

I took a trip to Houston for work the other day and scared the hell outta myself. There I am in Houston rush hour traffic when I started to get kind of dizzy. "Dizzy" is maybe too strong a word for it, as the world wasn’t spinning or anything like that, but it was kind of like driving with a few drinks too many in me. Not that I’ve ever done that mind you. *cough*  Anyway, when I realized that I was covered in sweat, scared to death, and gripping the steering wheel so hard that my hands ached, I made my way to the side of the freeway and sat there for ten minutes or so. When my heart stopped racing, I got back on the road and made my way to my customer to get the job done. The dizzy feeling receded but didn’t actually go away for several weeks. I hate going to the doctor, but this scared me bad enough to do it. Yeah, they ran lots of tests, EKG, all that stuff, told me that there were "markers" that I have had some mild "heart event" in the past, but that there didn't appear to be anything wrong with me. I made an appointment to see a cardiologist for a heart stress test, but after waiting a week for it, they called me two hours before the appointment to cancel it because the doctor had "something come up" at the hospital. The only dates they had available for a new appointment were dates I was already scheduled to be out of the state on service calls, so the heart stress test has died a quiet death. Since then, the dizzy feeling has largely gone away, so I am going to leave that one alone. Sigh . . . 

Swollen leg or not, I decided that it was time to take a trip before I lose all of my confidence, and so I headed to Arizona in an outfit that I bought recently.

I loved the cut and fabric of this skirt the moment that I saw it, but I had a moment of confusion and concern when I saw that they had placed the slit in the front center of the skirt, instead of in the back as most are. I sat there looking at it on the hanger for about five minutes, trying to decide if that was a show stopper for me or not, but ultimately decided to go for it since I really liked the fabric and since it was significantly discounted.  When I finally got the chance to put it on, I confirmed my worst fears - it looked like I was an idiot with my skirt on backwards! 

I stood there contemplating the dilemma for a moment:
-I already look like a dude in a dress.
-The argument could be made that I am too old for a pencil skirt.
-I am already drawing attention for being tall
Did I really want to add to that list that I looked like an idiot with her skirt on backwards? 
No, not really, so I grabbed the waist band and spun that puppy around so that the slit was in the back where the damn thing belonged and was delighted to see that it looked just fine! So now it doesn’t look like it is on backwards, but it really is. In some ways, this could almost be a metaphor for my life, come to think on it. 
You prolly also notice that I'm wearing new hair! The jury is still out as far as I am concerned.  I think it's cute but can't decide if it is really appropriate for me or not. 

It had been so long since I'd played with makeup that I got up at 2:45 AM to give myself a little extra time to get ready. The irony is that I apparently haven't lost my makeup skills as a result of neglect, and I was actually done faster than usual and so was ready to go by about 4:30. There was no need to leave for the airport quite that early though, and since my neighbor leaves for work consistently at 5 AM every day, I figured I better just sit tight until after he left for work.  As soon as his taillights disappeared down the street, I dragged my suitcase out to the truck and hefted it into the back seat, then I climbed into the cab . . .  to the accompanying sound of the seam in the back of my brand new skirt ripping some of its threads out.  Okay, so maybe I should have worn it with the slit in the front after all. . .

Once I landed in Phoenix, I made my way to the rental car facility where I found a bright yellow convertible Mustang waiting for me. I took one look at it, then at my large bags, and turned to go back to the counter and ask for a car that was a bit more practical for me. I made it about two steps before my legs locked up - I just couldn't do it. That car was just too pretty, and I'd never actually driven a convertible before. I turned around and fought, kicked, and screamed until I got both bags into the damn thing and then headed for the exit with a grin on my face.

I didn't feel particularly passable or not passable for most of the day; just kind of hum drum. I got a lot of "I know what you are" grins in the airport and in the plane, but that's a pretty typical day. So it was with this mindset that I handed my driver’s license to the female Avis employee at the exit. I  have a Texas ID with my pic on it, but the rental car companies are one of the few places where I can't use the state ID and still have to hand out my male drivers license.
"And where is Matthew then?" She asked me after looking at my license.
"Yeah, that would be me." I replied, trying to smile, but being as tired I was from such an early day, I'm not sure if it came out as a smile or as a grimace.
"Oh, I see!" She replied quite calmly, and then took another and longer look at my license.
“For the record, you just made my entire day.” I told her to fill the silence while I waited.
“How is that?” She asked, with a puzzled look on her face.
“Because I was pretty sure that everyone I have dealt with today was well aware that I was a Matthew.”
"No, I don’t think so. So, how old is this picture?" She asked, still looking back and forth from it to me.
"Well, in Texas you can renew your license online, so that pic is probably about 6 years old or so."
"Hmmm." She said as she handed it back to me, and then continued as she looked into my eyes. "You look beautiful."
Here's the thing. You can tell when people say that just to make you feel better. "Yes dear, you are pretty" while patting you on your head, but this wasn't like that. She really seemed to mean it, and I kid you not, I choked up a little and it took me just a second to respond.
"Thank you - so are you!" I told her softly, and received a self-depreciating laugh from her.  I really meant it though, because with one kind comment, she had turned my dreary day into a brilliant one. 
If that isn't beautiful, I don't know what is.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Apparently I am Determined to show my ass end

So, in last weeks blog, I mentioned wearing a skirt that was a bit too large for me, and how the darn thing tried to slide off of my rear end while I was juggling my luggage at the rental car shuttle bus. Yeah, apparently I am determined to show my ass to people. Read on . . . 

I recently rejoined the Delta Skyclub; it’s kind of a country club found in most larger airports that Delta Airlines serves. It is a prohibitively expensive club to join, presumably to keep it exclusive and keep the riff raff like you and me out of it. The thing is, Delta lets you pay for it with your miles, and since I have a Delta credit card that I use to pay for all of my travel expenses, and I travel a LOT, I had plenty of miles to buy a membership. 

Anyway, after all of the coffee that I drank in there that morning, I had to use the bathroom and apparently I didn’t get my wardrobe back together entirely correctly when I was done. Not realizing this, I made my way from the club to my gate, where I stood in the boarding area for a moment before a woman in her 60’s walked up behind me.
“Excuse me.” She said softly. I assumed that she just wanted to get by me and so I smiled and took a single step to the side. Not to be put off, she followed me and repeated herself
“Excuse me?”
“Oh! I’m sorry! I thought you just wanted by me.” I told her with a laugh.
“No, I just wanted to tell you that you should tug that back of your skirt down – its caught up.”
Mortified, I frantically started feeling behind me, and sure enough, part of my skirt was caught up and pulled considerably higher than is decent. I turned about three shades of red and started tugging the damn thing down where it belonged.
“Oh my God, I wonder how long I’ve been making a complete ass out of myself? Thank you!” I blurted out to the woman.
“I don’t know, but you’re welcome.” She replied with a kind smile.
So there I stood for about five minutes, feeling small and just a bit humbled. Ok, maybe a LOT humbled. 

Eventually it came time to board the aircraft, and this kind woman was in a boarding group ahead of mine. As she stepped past me, I again expressed my deepest thanks to her, and she just gave me a smile and a nod. About 30 seconds later, she stepped out of her place in the line to come back to me.
“Don’t worry, you weren’t showing anything you shouldn’t have!” she said with a sparkle in her eye.
Good to know . . .