Thursday, March 24, 2016

Celtic Woman - Destiny Tour

Ok, so the other night I went to see “Celtic Women” live at the Murat Theater in Indianapolis! I’ve always loved them and so this was a really neat thing for me! I really sweated it out over what to wear, but in the end the high winds and relative cool sort of made the decision for me. I was going to wear a medium length kirt that was kind of fluffy, but with the really high winds that we had that night, I would have had my skirt up around my ears. I figured I was gonna be too busy trying to keep my hair from flying away to be properly dealing with my skirt, and so I chose a long sued skirt that the wind couldn’t mess with. All in all, I was reasonably happy with the look, though not exactly giddy.

The show was every bit as awesome as I’d hoped, with the young women being not only incredible singers, but of course also exceptionally beautiful. The beautiful blond woman that dances and leaps around the stage, all while playing violin beautifully, was absolutely heart stopping. She has piercing blue eyes that just reach out and grab you, and when you add that to her grace and talent, she is possibly one the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. She is a teeny little thing too, barely coming up to even the shoulders of the other women. I’d be surprised if she was even five feet tall – it was like watching Tinker Bell flit around the stage!
Of course lots of  performers have created beautiful renditions of “Amazing Grace” through the years, but the one that they offered was just incredible.  It started with two bag pipes and ended with the full blown band and a choir, and it was so beautiful that it sent chills up and down your spine.
Of course lots of women were very well dressed, so I didn’t stand out for my attire. Maybe for my height, size, and bulk, but not for my outfit. The woman that sat next to me on my right side had brought her elderly mother with her, and for some reason mom was not happy with the seats. We were only four rows back from the stage, possibly the best seats in the house, but mom was not happy.  The woman kept leaning over and speaking softly to me about her unhappy mother.
“She doesn’t like the seats! I have no idea what is wrong with her!”
So as the concert is starting, with the beautiful violinist I mentioned above taking to the stage, the woman next to me leans over and says “Wow! That girl has some arms on her huh?!”
Looking down at my own masculine arms and chest, I almost choked . . .

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On Long Term Assignment

It’s been a while huh? Sorry ‘bout that, but I’ve been a tad bit busy with my personal and professional life being a bit tossed about.
We have a service contract with a huge customer in Indiana that requires us to have an engineer onsite every week day. This was all well and fine until the guy that was filling that position for us decided to up and quit. Guess who the only other person in our field service group is that knows that product well enough to go in and pick up the pieces? Yup, ‘twas I! So, for the last six months I’ve been living in a hotel in Indiana.
It turns out that it is a good thing that the guy quit, because he apparently wasn’t devoting much effort to his job, and the customer was pissed off about it. Here our customer was mad as hell, but we had had no idea until this guy quit. Want to hear something funny? This guy turned around and started his own company, then tried to take the service business away from my company. Apparently he didn’t realize just how badly he had pissed off our customer and he had thought he could make his own personal fortune by coming right back in as his own contractor.  One of the managers I work with here flat out told me that if he saw that guy on the facility, he would personally escort him off of the premises.  Yeah, needless to say, he didn’t take the contract from us.  

Despite the fact that they're in a historically masculine industry where you would expect Good Ol' Boys and Red Necks to be in charge of things, this company is VERY accepting. I've met several openly gay people who are happily married here and are clearly accepted, and I've met three TG's that I know of who are open and out here. In fact, this company will actually pay for their GRS, and I don't know of any other company that will do that. Don't get me wrong, no one is running up to hug them all and say "You are SO welcome here!", but they do have good jobs, and are accepted. It is progress. I'd like to share their company's name because I am proud of them and they should be proud of themselves, but I can't risk breaking either their company's policies on social media, nor my own company's. Not worth the risk to me.

The good news is that my company is well aware of the sacrifice my family and I are making. I received a letter and a modest bonus from the Vice President of our company thanking me for going to extraordinary lengths to salvage the situation. The bad news is that I’m not sure their thanks and bonus is worth missing so much of my children’s growing. . . 

Welp, I have a brand new granddaughter, Gwenevere, and she is just a few months old now! Of course you would expect me to say this, but she is one of the cutest critters I’ve ever seen. Funny, but as a kid, I always hoped that someday I would find someone stupid enough to marry me, but somehow the idea of having children never crossed my mind. It really floors me that I have three children and two grandchildren now. How the hell did that happen?!
Where I am staying in Indiana is about half the distance to visit my son and his family in Virginia as it would be from my home in Texas, so I made it a point to go meet my new granddaughter one weekend. It might be a shorter drive from here than it would be from Texas, but it still wasn’t a short drive. It took me 12 hours of driving each way over one weekend to git ‘er done, but I did it! Just to make it that much harder, I even made the trip back to Indiana with a massive hangover, because I’m just that kind of stupid.

I don’t get out much as Kim these days for a few reasons. I’m afraid that my three years of laser treatments on my face failed to kill my beard. It helped a lot, but it’s still there. Since it has been a couple of years since my last treatment, you can now see beard shadow through my foundation, and so it is pretty quickly obvious that I am a guy in a dress. Strike one against my confidence. Just to make things worse, my 50 year old face is rapidly degrading and showing its age more and more each and every day. It surprising to me just how rapidly the wrinkles and the sagging eyes are getting worse. It’s as if my face held out as long as it could, but has now thrown in the towel and said “Screw it! Let that shit wrinkle and sag!”. So at a time when I have to wear heavier foundation to hide the beard, I now have deep wrinkles that are exaggerated by the heavy makeup. Strike two for my confidence. Last but not least, working at this customer site is a major change of physical activity for me. I am used to lots of walking through airports, busting my butt off to do a job, then lots more walking through airports on the way home. My job with this customer? Sit at a tiny cubicle all day long just in case one of their 160 instruments fails. I’ve gained over 10 pounds since being tied down to one customer. Strike three for my confidence.  Let me sum that up for you – fat, old, bearded dude in a dress. Sigh . . .

So I’ve been in Indiana for about six months now and this last weekend is the first time that I got out as Kim, and my confidence was destroyed right out of the gate. I’d decided to go see the latest installment in the “Divergent” series (a mediocre movie by the way) and was standing in line to buy my ticket. There was a mother with two teenage boys in line in front of me. I’d guess one of the buys was probably about 16 and the other 14.  The 16 year old looked at me as he turned around to talk to his brother, and then the whispering started. The 14 year old starts looking up, down, and all around as if he were watching a bee buzzing about his head, before he turns fully around to look at me with a huge grin on his face. That was hands down the worst job of looking while trying not to be obvious that I have ever seen. It was so pathetic that it actually made me laugh a bit, so I thought I’d make the best out of it.
“You know, you really need to work on your subtlety a little bit.” I told the kid with a smile. He looked a bit stunned, but his mother and big brother broke out into a full laugh. 

So I guess here is the way things are panning out. I’ve traveled all over the country as Kim for the last 10 years or so. Perhaps I was deluding myself, perhaps not, but during most of that travel, I have felt as if I were perceived as a woman.  This was gratifying and fulfilling for me. Now, for the reasons that I mentioned above, I am clearly not being perceived as female, not even by myself, and this I do not find fulfilling. Now when I go out, I am clearly being perceived simply as a cross dressed man, and this takes quite a bit more courage and a thicker skin. I’m not sure I have it, and even if I do have the courage, what is the point if it doesn’t make me happy? I’m still contemplating things, but I think that the odds are good that I’m just about done with it. I told my daughter the other day that I was thinking about just being a “normal” guy, and she laughed and informed me that “normal” doesn’t impress her much. Damn I love my kids . . .

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Life is too short

Where to start? I have been busy for work, but for assorted reasons I've not been able to travel pretty on most of those trips. Yeah, I realize that I say that on more blogs than not these days, but hey; it is what it is.

I turned 50 years old a few days ago and I'm less than thrilled about it. My daughter asked me why I was unhappy that it was my birthday.
All ready.
Damn it, didn't I just have one of these?!
I tried to explain it as best as I could to a 12 year old.
"Well let's see. You look forward to turning thirteen because, hey, now you're a teenager. Girls look forward to their 16th birthday though I'm not entirely certain what that is all about. You look forward to 18 because you are now legally an adult. You look forward to 21 because you can now buy alcohol. After that, you don't look forward to your birthdays so much. At 30 you sort of lose the claim to being young, though you aren't considered old yet. At 40, all doubt is now removed; you are not young any more. This is when a lot of people have mid-life crises and do stupid things like buying little red mustangs when they have two children that can’t possibly ride in it comfortably. 50? Yeah, 50 sucks. You are no longer just 'not young'; you are now officially old."
So. Yeah, I just turned 50. Shit.

You saw the comment I made earlier about doing stupid things like buying a little mustang when you have a family that needs to fit into the car from time to time? Yeah, we fixed that a couple of weeks ago and went out and bought a lightly used Buick LaCrosse. Never had a Buick before but it is a darn fine car - probably the finest car we have ever owned. We once had a Chrysler 300M and loved the hell out of it, and I think that I would put this Buick into the same league with that car. I haven't had the chance to drive it much though, because I have been leaving it with my wife so that she can drive something nice while I'm on the road.

About a week ago, my daughter and her best friend had been out riding their bikes, and they came inside to cool off for a while. After about ten minutes, they went back outside, then came running right back in the door. In the brief period that they had been inside, someone walked through our yard and up alongside our house and stole both bikes. Broad daylight, people in the house, and they walked right up into our yard and broke the hearts of two little girls. I've had bikes stolen before and it has been my experience that you never get them back, so I didn't bother getting all worked up, or go running around the neighborhood looking for them. The other little girl’s father wasn't so fatalistic though, and he spent the next couple of days looking for the bikes. A few days later, we were all sitting around the table talking while we waited for pizza to be delivered, when there was a frantic knock on the door. It was my daughters best friend, and in between gasps for breath, she managed to explain that she and her father had been out looking for the bikes when someone rode right past them on hers. They followed the kid home where her father, a pretty big guy, confronted the kid with her bike. That's where I stopped her.
"Hold on. Your father is there right now by himself?!" I asked her. She gulped before replying.
"Ok, we can get the details later, but let's go. Show me the way!"
She took off in a flash, and I all but ran after her, relieved to see my father in law jump up and head out the door right behind me. I was active duty army for over a decade, but I was a technician and so don't know squat about self-defense. My father in law is over 70, but he does know how to take care of himself so I was happy to have him behind me. As we quickly walked up the block behind the girls, I found myself getting madder and madder and was fully prepared to make sure that the thief went to jail today. They had hurt two little girls, one of which is my little princess, and that is a no-no in my book. Much to my own surprise though, my anger all but vanished as I turned the corner and found four cop cars parked up and down the street and saw two scared little boys sitting in the curb, looking utterly terrified. I remember when my brother and I were about that age and we had broken into a community center and were running up and down the hallways sliding on the floor. We broke nothing, and we stole nothing, but there was no doubt that we were doing wrong. We went slamming though one door too many and suddenly had a sheriff grabbing us by the collar. Right then and there we could have entered the legal system and our lives could have been so different. No charges were pressed though, and we received a second chance. Don't get me wrong, we got our butts blistered by our parents, but we didn't have to tangle with the legal system.
Seeing these two boys sitting there on the curb, all I could see was my brother and I in the back of that sheriffs car. . .
While we waited for the two boys parents to arrive, I spoke at length with several of the officers there and confirmed that the boys had never been in trouble before. As I stood there, i found myself imagining the immediate future of the boys and their families. Getting the kids out of jail today. Tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and legal fees. Possibly the start of a downhill slide for the kids and their families as these things have a way of snowballing. As mad as I was, I didn't want that, but I wasn't sure that letting the kids off with no consequences was going to be in their long term best interests either. If they learned nothing, then they might continue to do this sort of thing. Since I figured that he saw this sort of thing more often than I did, I asked the officer I was talking to what he thought was in the long term best interests of the boys. He just told me that he wasn't allowed to advise me on that, but he did repeat that the boys had never been in trouble before, so I considered that a hint.
"All right," I said with a deep sigh, "I don't feel the need to press charges. We'll let their parents take care of it, but I do want to see them both apologize to the young ladies that they hurt."
"Oh yeah, we can definitely make that happen!" The officer said with a huge grin that told me that he thought that I was doing the right thing.
I hope that I did the right thing but I'm not sure. With any luck, their parents handled the situation in such a way that the boys didn't get off Scott free. . .

So let's see. Last year my father in laws truck was stolen from my front yard while he and I were working in the back yard. Now my daughters bike was stolen from alongside our home, in broad daylight, and with us all in the house. Yeah, I bought a security camera system with 8 cameras that have night vision and I will be installing them this week.

So I finally got around to making a trip pretty. It had been so long that I'd have to admit that I was fairly nervous about it, but I did it anyway. I wore a pair of heels that I hadn't worn in probably three years or more. They have either 4 or 5 inch heels. I dunno because I've never bothered to measure them. They felt fine the entire day that I wore them, but I'll tell you what - my legs were killing me the next day! I don't recall ever having my legs hurt from wearing heels before, but there you have it. I started to think that maybe it was time to start wearing flats, but then the right answer occurred to me; clearly I need to wear my heels more often to get my legs in shape!

I was impressed when the Avis shuttle bus arrived to take me to the lot. These drivers rarely offer to help these days, but this gentleman insisted and wouldn't take no for an answer. When we arrived at the lot, he again insisted on getting my bags and even loading them into the car for me, despite my repeatedly telling him that I could take care of them myself. Cool!
There I was, riding high and feeling good when the lady at the hotel called me "sir" while I was checking in and almost ruined my good mood.

I was working at Ford on this trip, and almost felt guilty that I had sold my new mustang to buy a Buick. We will let that be our little secret while working at Ford though.

At lunch one afternoon, we got to talking about staying in shape while getting older. The man I was working with is ten years older than I am and looks ten years younger than I do. That just doesn't strike me as fair, but what can you do? Anyway, at some point in this conversation his colleague said something about how you could tell some actors had gotten face lifts, and then he almost spit his food out on the table from laughing at what he was about to say.
"Yeah, like Caitlyn Jenner. Now that's a hell of a face lift!" Hard to argue with that, so I let it slide, but this did move the conversation onto the category of transgender.
"Yeah, I actually know one or two transgender people." I told them, trying not to choke on the major understatement. "All I can say is that life is short, so if that is how you're happy, I'd say go for it!"
Much to my relief and surprise, both men nodded in agreement.
"I know a couple myself," replied Bob, the man I was working with there. "We had one guy that started living as a woman just a couple of months after graduation. I've seen him, well, her, several times since then and you would never know that she used to be a guy. I've got to say though, that I've heard some E.R. stories from my wife that make me shudder. They had a transgender in there just little while ago. She was just walking along when someone decided to get offended about her and just slugged her in the kidneys."
Awesome, just what I wanted to hear. NOT.

I rarely fly home pretty as it is a pain in the butt to change back into boy mode at the airport, but I decided I'd give it a whirl today. I’m writing this blog while flying from Detroit to Chicago where I have a three hour layover, and so far the worst thing that has happened is that a guy in first class kept glaring at me as I was walking past to get into the coach section. Like I said though, life is short. He can spend it glaring, and I'll spend it making the best of it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Keeping a low profile

Well, there is a tropical storm that is supposed to hit Austin this morning, so that made me sort of hesitate a bit to travel “pretty”. Getting stranded in an airport with the ticking time bomb of facial hair that is going to grow noticeable sooner or later is not a fun thing to do. Still, it didn't look like the worst of it was supposed to strike until well after my flight was scheduled to leave, so I went ahead and took the plunge.

As I was driving into the airport, I was passed by four different police cars that were all leaving the airport with their lights flashing and their sirens on, and so I had to wonder what the heck that was all about. I never did find out.

On my flight from Austin to DFW, there was an elderly man and woman seated directly in front of me. The gentleman was clearly in bad medical condition and couldn't make it to the back of the plane where his assigned seat was, so the flight attendant told them to just take two seats in the first row of coach. They took the aisle seat for him since they had to just about lift him into the seat, and she took the middle seat next to him. The boarding process was almost complete when a man I would guess to be in his mid 50's shows up with another flight attendant in tow. 

"Excuse me, but I think you have this gentleman's seat." She says to the old man.
"Would he mind taking the window seat so that we don't have to move my husband again?" Replied the man’s wife. She had a smile on her face, confident that her request was reasonable and that no one but a pure asshole would decline to sit two seats over from his assigned seat. Well, she was wrong, because after a brief conversation between the man who had been assigned that seat and the flight attendant, she turned back to the couple.
"I'm sorry, but he does mind, and he did pay a premium fee for this seat, so I'm afraid that I am going to have to ask you to move."  The poor flight attendant looked like she wanted to crawl under a rock and hide, but she didn't have much choice in the matter. You could clearly hear several people sitting in the area gasp with surprise as she conveyed the assholes wishes. We were all shocked that this guy would force a frail and sick old man to move. I sat there watching the poor flight attendant and the old mans wife literally pick him up, one on each side, and lift him over and into the next seat. I'm pretty sure that I wasn't the only one glaring at the asshole that had refused to change seats. It turns out that this couple was also going all of the way to Minneapolis, and so we sat in the gate area talking about the jerk while we waited for our connecting flight.

When I arrived in Minneapolis, I made my way to the baggage claim to get my huge suitcase and toolbox. Much to my surprise, a woman stepped out into the walk way directly into my path, forcing me to come to a stop.
“I just had to tell you that I think your outfit is adorable!” she said with a kind and sincere smile.
“Well thank you so much!” I replied, and gave her my best smile. To be honest, I consider this to be a bit of a back handed compliment. Women don’t step out and block each others paths just to complement their outfit. Now if you were standing around waiting in line or something, you might well make such a comment, but to step out and stop a complete stranger walking down a hallway just to complement their outfit is just not something that women do to each other. The unsaid and complete message she was giving was “Gee, you sure look pretty for a man!”  At this point, I know there are going to be half a dozen stories shared in the comments of this blog with people trying to tell me that I am wrong, but save your breath, because I never have and never will get in the habit of deluding myself. In the end it really doesn’t matter much to me, as she gave a kind compliment and gave me smile. Thank you lady, I appreciate that!

I guess that the angle of the baggage claim belt and the orientation of my box was just perfect to allow most of the weight of my tool box to rest on its wheels, because that puppy came rolling loudly down the ramp at flank speed, making a most impressive noise as it rolled over the metal belt material at high velocity. It was making so much racket, and going so fast down the ramp, that the people gathered around the bottom of the belt waiting for their own baggage all backed away in a near panic!
My fifty pound tool box hit the rubber padding at the bottom of the ramp and then momentarily threatened to flip over the side of the rail before falling back down with another fairly impressive “WHAM!”  I swear I am not exaggerating – at least three people gasped in alarm when it struck. While everyone else was laughing and talking about the rogue tool box, I was turning several shades of red while lifting the topic of their amusement up and off of the belt.
“Yep, there’s nothing like keeping a low profile!” I thought to myself . . .