Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Audrey's Dream - My newest song

A song I have written for my Daughter. She is just convinced that she really IS a princess and that magic is indeed still in the world. As far as I am concerned, she is right, because as long as she is in the world, there IS magic here.
By the way! I just discovered that if you watch this video at Youtube , there is a selection at the bottim right called " watch in high quality". If you have a high speed connection, try that option as the audio is a LOT better that way!
(1st Verse) Bright blue eyes, a lot like mine
Always searching, hoping to find
That fairy tail unicorn that flies
Mermaids swim, and flowers sing
A prince will save you from evil things
All this I see, in Audrey's eyes

(Chorus)
Magic is alive and well
The fairies play in the wishing well
Where wizards live and the Princess reins supreme
Good guys win, the bad guys fail
The pure of heart can break evil spells
This is the world in Audrey's dream
(2nd Verse)
Furry Critters, with tails and wings
Help little girls in their time of need
There's a true love for each and everyone
Barbie Dolls with their hair piled high
They come alive when you close your eyes
A fairy God Mother's work, is never done
(Chorus)
Magic is alive and well
The fairies play in the wishing well
Where wizards live and the Princess reins supreme
Good guys win, the bad guys fail
The pure of heart can break evil spells
This is the world in Audrey's dream

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Out In Austin

My wife and five year old daughter were invited by my sister-in-law to go the the ballet this Saturday. I was told that it was to be a “girls only event” for several reasons. First, "girls only" speaks for itself, though it chaps my ass for obvious reasons. Second, my sister-in-law was treating and probably didn’t have the funds to purchase tickets for everyone. The reasons be what they may, I wound up by myself on Saturday and so chose to rent a hotel room and go out in Austin. This also turned out to be convenient as I had to drive to Dallas Sunday so I could be ready to work there first thing in the morning. Having a hotel allowed me to get ready and make the drive to Dallas “pretty”.
So, here are a few pictures of yours truly and some of the characters of ‘Bout Time in Austin Texas.
Kim in Austin 005
Getting Ready to Go Out in Austin. (One of my all time favorite outfits)
Kim in Austin 008
Getting Ready to Go Out in Austin. (One of my all time favorite outfits)

Kim in Austin 012
Kim in Austin 013
She was a performer at the drag show. I spoke to her for a minute or two and she was a nice gal.

Kim in Austin 014
The above picture is of Teree. I think she and I are becoming good friends. I know I like her, but can't speak for her tolerance of me. Her only draw back is that she is cuter than I am! :)
Kim in Austin 016
The above picture is of Stephanie, one of my favorite regulars at 'Bout Time. She just exudes confidence and an in your face attitude. She IS gonna be out in the world and you can just deal with it!


I did not catch the ladies name, but the gentleman next to her is Marshal. In my early years, I had come to 'Bout Time in a short little mini dress when it was about 25 to 30 degrees outside. Long story short, some jerk had slashed my tires when I politely (and I was polite) told no thank you when he so eloquently said "You wanna go home with me?". Mini dress, freezing my but off, Marshal and his SO went out and changed my tire for me. That was about a decade ago and I've never forgotten him for it. Marshal - you rock! Kim in Austin 023
Mary Kay! Mary Kay is one of my all time favorite people. She is one of the kindest and sweetest people you will ever meet. She was at 'Bout Time the very first night I was there (that was my very first night ever out and about as Kim). To the best of my memory, she has been there every single time I've gone there. They used to reserve the seat at the end of the bar for her, 'cause she was kind of THE queen of 'Bout Time.

Kim in Austin 026

One of the performers at 'Bout Time. Also a nice gal but wow, you gotta notice that hair! Seems to me she ought to have flashing lights on top of that hair to warn low flying aircraft away!
Kim in Austin 027
Erin. I first met her in boy mode when she was putting up some shelves. When she and I talked that day, I was kind of thinking to myself "Yeah right, sure your one of us." Imagine my surprise when I at last saw her this way! I laughed and told her she looked like one of those rich Texas women we all love to hate and she got this real cute smile and told me "Thank you! Thank you very much!" Clearly she liked the idea! :-)
Kim in Austin 030 Kim in Austin 032
OK, so the next day I had to drive to Dallas Sunday t be there for an installation and repair first thing Monday morning. The good news of having rented a hotel to go out the night before was that I had a launching pad to get ready and make the drive to Dallas "Pretty".
Kim in Austin 037
Kim in Austin 039
If you have been following my blog (What the hell is wrong with you? You cant be that bored?!) you probably noted the big bruises on my legs. They are from this wonderful little condition I have called Erythema Nodosum, ironically enough an almost entirely female disease. Leave it up to me to become one of the few men inflicted with it. Long story short, I have the sever and persistent variety and it has permanently disfigured my legs. Rather than be forced back in to wearing only long skirts, I decided to try buying a pair of boots. I am not terribly fond of them and would vastly prefer a cute pair of shoes but . . .
Kim in Austin 045
Kim in Austin 048
I got to Dallas and went to see the movie "Australia". Pretty good flick that one! Clearly they are going for the "Epic" type picture, and I think they've done fairly well. The acting was great, but I think some of their special effects (the boats in the harbor and others) were a bit thin.
I bought my dinner at KFC and took it to my hotel room with me. Of course they had failed to give me a fork and so I had to go to the hotel restaurant and ask to borrow one. The hostess saw me coming and gave me this great big smile.
"Hi dear, just you?!"
"Actually, I just bought some nice fattening fast food and they failed to give me fork. Can I borrow one?" I replied.
"Here sweetheart, just take this and you'll be all set!" she said with a smile as she handed me a whole little package with silver wrapped in a fine napkin. Once again I'd encountered the world and the world was all right with me. :)
Monday, I went to breakfast leaving a hell of a mess in my room. I had stuff thrown everywhere, breast forms here, hip pads there, boots and nylons in the floor, night gown across the bed. This is what my wife calls a "Kim Bomb". Not a problem though, cause I figure to put up the "Do not disturb" sign before I leave, thus sparing me the requirement of picking it all up, and sparing the house keeping crew from cleaning my room. Surprise, surprise though, cause when I returned to my room I found a maid already hard at work cleaning it. The bed was made, my nightgown set aside, most everything else still scattered across the room, and the maid hard at work. Oops. It's not so much that she knew I was a cross dresser, I'm way beyond worrying about that, but I was embarrassed she had seen what a slob I am. Oh well . . .
I spent most of my work day arguing with my customer. No matter what, when you find yourself in a conflict with your customer, you really cant win. I wont bore you with the details, especially since it wont mean anything to you if you don't work with high vacuum, but she was convinced our system leaked, and I spent 5 hours proving it to her that it didn't. Even then, she didn't believe me until one of her peers came in and agreed with me. It's funny how often a PHD thinks that their education trumps a decade and a half of real world experience . . .
Spent most of the rest of the day trying to compensate for the fact that her building shut off all of the vacuum and gas lines for the holiday. So, my day wasted solving and working around problems on my customers end, instead of installing and setting up the equipment I was supposed to be working on.
I got back to my hotel at around 620 PM and got as far as standing in front of the mirror with my razor in my hand to start the process of turning an ugly old man in to a butterfly. I stood looking in the mirror and just couldn't do it. All I could picture was a tired old man, with wrinkles all over his face, who was probably about to be unemployed due to the current economic situation. (Manager keeps hinting bad stuff coming January) Try as I might, I just couldn't dredge up the enthusiasm for getting ready and going out. Ultimately, I went down to the hotel pub, grabbed a snack, a long island Iced Tea, and sat there reading my book. Even though I had chosen not to get dressed up, I still found myself immensely depressed when I saw the women in the pub. None were particularly pretty, but they were women, they were out and smiling, and were having a good time, while this tired old man sat there reading a book. I find myself inflicted with depression more and more often these days and I really need to get a handle on it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tampa Florida

Tampa Florida 002

This weeks trip was to Tampa Florida!
This was one of the very rare times I've been sent someplace where the weather is nicer than Austin's. Usually they send me to hot places like Taiwan in the summer, and cold places like Canada and Detroit in the winter. When I left Austin it was 32(F) and when I arrived in Tampa it was just short of 80(F) - talk about a change of pace!Ugly Old Drag Queen on a plane 016
I did fly pretty again as this has sort of become my preference. It takes a long and boring day and turns it into something reasonably interesting and amusing. And to think I used to hate my time spent in airports and on airplanes! On this trip I had a connection in Cincinnati and took a couple of pretty neat pics of the Ohio river as we were coming in for a landing.

Ohio River from the air 004

Boarding my connection out of Cincinnati to Tampa, you had a Delta CSR scanning everyone's ticket with clockwork precision. She would take each individuals ticket, put it under the barcode reader, it would beep, she would say thank you and hand it back to the passenger.

Ticket, "BEEP", a smile and "Thank you"

Ticket, "BEEP", a smile and "Thank you"

Ticket, "BEEP", a smile and "Thank you"

Until she gets to mine . . . :-)

She took my ticket and gave me a long look. It was the "I'm not sure if I'm looking at a man or a woman" look. She put my ticket under the reader and it obliged her with a loud beep. Instead of handing it back to me as she had all the other passengers, she actually takes the time to read my ticket. Finding my male name printed there confirmed her suspicions, she now knew for sure what she was dealing with and got a huge smile on her face.

"Have a nice flight!" she said with a grin. As I walked down the jet bridge, also with a smile on my face, I hear her return to her routine

Ticket, "BEEP", a smile and "Thank you"

Ticket, "BEEP", a smile and "Thank you"

Ticket, "BEEP", a smile and "Thank you"

As the plane was boarding I couldn't help noticing one of the flight attendants. She had very short bright blond hair, flawless makeup, and when she smiled her whole face lit up. She was so cute my heart skipped a beat or two every time she smiled in my direction. Among some other pics I took, I snapped one of her.

Very Cute Flight Attendant 015

The problem is I did not catch her smiling! :-( I figured, what the heck, I'll just ask her if I can take her pic! That way I'll be sure to get a good shot and a smile! Screwing up my courage (remember I am fairly shy) I asked her as she walked by if she would mind my taking her picture. She blushed, turned bright red, and with an nervous smile asked me why I would want her picture.

"It's for my blog. you know, my big trip to Tampa?" I told her.

"You don't want my picture," she said, still smiling but covering her face with her hands. "I look terrible!"

"Oh PUH-lease!" I replied. "You look gorgeous - your like a poster for Delta!"

She laughed but still didn't agree to let me take one! I don't know if she really was that shy about her pic, or if maybe she just didn't like the idea of some ugly old cross dresser taking it. Oh well . . .
Tampa Florida 034
Well, the next day I get to my customer's to find a combination of problems. The customers problem was that his computer could not talk to our instrument. In an attempt to resolve the issue, some fool in my company had given him a new version of the software to run his system but they had not helped him set it up. Stumbling around on his own, he had customer screwed it up and there was NO chance his system could talk to the PC even if there were no hardware problems. I figured this out fairly quickly and just used my own laptop to start trouble shooting. Pulled out my Oscilloscope to discover that the baggage handlers had broken two of my probes! Grrrrr! That's OK, I'm a firm believer in over kill and carry three! Got a clue which PC board was the probable culprit and started tearing into the hardware. Got a few covers off, had a good laugh, and told the customer I had found his problem.

"Where? Is the board fried?!" He asked, deeply concerned.

"Nope, it's a bit simpler than that," I told him and pointed at a cable that was clearly unplugged. "I'm fairly sure it will work better if all of the cables are actually plugged in!". OK, we laughed, but it wasn't funny. His instrument had just been returned from our service center and so we had made this trip as a warranty. More then 10% of my company has been laid off in the last two months, more layoffs are coming at us like a freight train with it's air horn blasting, and I had just spent three days and around fifteen hundred dollars to come plug in a cable. Not good, not good at all . . .

Got back to the hotel and fought the battle of the bulge by exercising for 40 minutes. The only thing I hate more than exercising is getting old and fat, so I continue to jog and peddle!. I got cleaned up and tried on a new skirt I've just got. It's really cute, hugs you in all the right places, and has this cute little pleating in the back.

Tampa Florida 045

Tampa Florida 041

I did a little shopping but didn't find anything I liked well enough to purchase. Next I headed to
Centro Ybor ( http://www.centroybor.com/ ) where I was to meet Joann for dinner. I had just entered the parking garage when I got a call from her that she was entering it. Still on the phone with her, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw this very hot little sports car entering the garage.
"Your kidding? That's you in the little sports car?!" I asked her. As she assured me it was her I'd swear her car growled at me! Mean looking little beast that one! (Yes, I live mean cars that go fast!). We hugged each other and started walking toward the shopping area. We passed one guy playing 5 gallon buckets like bongo drums and a woman making roses out of some fabric or paper. Joann started telling me that this was a nice area but that you wouldn't want to walk around some of the side streets or dark alleys by yourself. I looked around us and started to laugh.

"So you mean I wouldn't want to make the walk we're making right now by myself?!", I asked. She laughed and told me that was exactly what she meant.

This is a really neat little section of the city, either new or at least in very good condition, but made to have sort of a old style feeling to it. It was pretty much an outdoor shopping area, and even though it was almost seven PM, all of the shops were open. Kewl! If I ever get back to Tampa I will make it a point to go back there. We talked about all sorts of stuff, including how she had just been asked to speak in front of a college class about cross dressing. I thought that was so cool! Each of the people in that class have now seen and spoken to an actual cross dresser and can put a real face and human behind that phrase. Now there are a few ore people in the world that know that cross dressers are pretty much your average, run-of-the-mill people. We are not physco axe murderers, sex addicts, or freaks that the movies and TV make us out to be. Well done Joann, I'm so happy and proud that you did that for us all.

We had a great dinner and asked the waitress to snap a picture for us:

Tampa Florida 049

We walked over to a comedy club in the area laughing about how we'd better not sit in the front or we would become instant targets for any worth while stand up comedian. Turns out they weren't having any shows that night anyway, so it was a moot point. We packed it up and headed to the Seminole Hard Rock casino to donate some of our dollars. Took a couple of pics of each other with the Gold Albums:

Tampa Florida 051

I played my usual Quarter Video poker machines and lost $20 in about 10 minutes. Thinking that sucked, I went looking for Joann who was playing nickel slots. She was just about done herself, but I threw in a $20 bill on the machine next to her and hit the spin button . . . and watched all the pretty little symbols line up along with one for doubling or tripling the win. "Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding . . ." I glanced over at Joann who gave me this real odd look, sort of a combination of "All Right, way to go" mixed in with "I can't believe you had the gall to win so much so fast!" We high fived each other and she advised me to call it quits while I was ahead. Sounded like good advice to me so I did! The pot pretty much means I broke even for the two nights. We went to the little club where they had live music and sat and listened for a few hours before calling it a night.
Tampa Florida 052
If you ever get the chance to hang with Joann, you should take it. A real class act, and very much a lady.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dutch John and Vernal Utah


This weeks trip was to Dutch John Utah - a place way to hell and gone out in the mountains. Our Houston Texas based customer had purchased a lot of equipment from us, installed it into a system they designed, mounted it in a trailer, and then drove it all to Utah. Once they were way out in the wilderness, hours away from any major city or airport, they discovered a small flaw in their plans: They had not tested the design of their sampling system and plumbing.
Oops.
Thus starts a series of calls to my company claiming that none of our hardware works, and insisting that we send an engineer to fix “our” problem. Being one of the few engineers in our company with experience in all of the products he was using, yours truly was given the job. The closest airport and hotel was in a small town called Vernal Utah and even then, it was a long but beautiful drive through the mountains from Vernal to get my customer.
I had had every intention of flying “dressed” but my neighbor had different plans. When I leave for the airport, I can usually count on my neighbors to be at work, so there are no worries about my being seen. Just my luck that my favorite neighbor across the street had the day off and decided to spend it working and hanging out in his front yard. My son came in from class and told me to give it up, I wasn’t gonna get to the car with out being seen. I thought about waiting to see if my neighbor might go, but time was getting close for making it to the airport and my son was highly uncomfortable at the thought of my being seen. I gave up, washed my makeup off, and went drab. Drab and mad at my stupid neighbor for having the day off. Drab and depressed. Drab and bored.
In order to get flights that cost less than $1,200, I had to fly late which is something I hate doing. As a result, I was in the plane and approaching the Denver airport at sundown. The clouds made for an awesome sunset which I tried to capture with my camera, but most of the beautiful reds and oranges were lost in the pictures. I have no idea why – sorry! Still, while not as impressive as the actually event, they are worth a look
Colorado Sunset from the air 030
Colorado Sunset from the air 032
Sitting in the Denver airport waiting for my puddle jumper to take me to Vernal, a young lady in her early teens and her mother sat across from me. She was carrying a bag with a huge trophy and a Gown in a dress bag. Turns out she was returning from a beauty pageant in Southern California where she had placed but not won. My curiosity was killing me and I so wanted to ask to see her pictures, but I was afraid I might just come off as a creepy old man instead of someone with a keen interest in fashion and beauty, and so after the initial conversation I left it alone. Got in to Vernal at around 830 PM, got some exercise, and got a good nights sleep.
The next morning I got up early and was on the road as the sun was rising. The drive was just incredible! Mountains, forests, lakes, and the Flaming Gorge Dam. I took almost 100 pictures hoping to capture some of the grandeur. Most didn’t turn out too bad, but they unfortunately do not convey the scale and the sheer beauty of it. I will put a few of them here but you really should visit my Flickr page to browse them.
Sunrise in Vernal Utah Area 2008 018
Vernal Utah Area 2008 015

Vernal Utah Area 2008 030

Vernal Utah Area 2008 035

Vernal Utah Area 2008 041

Vernal Utah Area 2008 043

Vernal Utah Area 2008 064

Speaking of that, you know I’m kind of disappointed that I get very little activity on these kind of pictures. Some of them are of incredible scenes but hardly anyone on flickr bothers to look at them. In contrast, when I load pictures of this old cross dresser in a skirt, 9 times out of 10 I have comments on them before I’m even done with the upload process, adding tags and comments.

I had a surreal moment when way the hell out in no where I had to turn off the pavement and take a dirt road about 10 miles to get to their location. I was thinking the rocky dirt road might be a warning of things to come! (it wasn’t – everything turned out fine)
Vernal Utah Area 2008 046
Vernal Utah Area 2008 048

Passed a family of large deer before I realized they were there. They hadn’t bothered to run far so I snapped a few pics. When I tried to slowly back up to get better shots, they decided they had had enough of me and took off.
Vernal Utah Area 2008 050 Got to where my customer was working and fairly quickly proved that all of our hardware was working well and not at fault. At that point, I’d have been well with in my rights to hop back in the car and return to Vernal but the guy I was working with didn’t have the same back ground I did and clearly didn’t have a chance in hell of figuring out what was wrong with his companies design, so I stayed to help. We had a short phone conference with his guy that had built the system and he explained to me what his intent had been, and with in about half an hour I’d figured out where they went wrong and had a work around in place. (Just call me Montgomery Scott! :) )
Spent some more time training him on all of our equipment so that the next time he’d have a fighting chance to resolve any issues, and was then back on the road to Vernal by a little after 2PM, feeling fairly good about myself and my company.
It’s funny – I’ll post my travel plans before I go to huge cities with large TG populations, telling people where I’m going and hoping that maybe someone has suggestions or might want to meet. I very rarely get a response or feedback. Let’s face it, not everyone in the world is reading Kimberly’s blog with bated breath, in heart pounding anticipation of the day I may be traveling to a city near them. Imagine my surprise when I post about this itty bitty place I’m going to and I get a message from Susan saying “Hey, I live near there – wanna meet?!”
As always I took a few pics before I headed out to meet with her. Not sure why, but I like this skirt. It may not look awesome, but it’s long and sort of tight, and just kind feels sexy.
Kim in Vernal Utah 003 After a brief wait in the lobby, where no one gave me so much as a second look, Susan arrived and we took off looking for dinner. This was a minor adventure of it’s own as this was my first time there and Susan didn’t have much in the way of suggestions once I told her I wasn’t fond of Mexican food. We hunted a little and then found a place inside another hotel. They had a little wait, so we stood there for a few minutes waiting. I heard the hostess ask the folks in front of us if all of their party were adults. I assumed this to mean that there was seating available near the bar or something. When the hostess then asked if it was just the two of us, I smiled and told her “Yes, and I assure you we are both adults!” That got a very quick smile and off we went . . . to a table literally in the most remote corner they had. This almost amused me until I realized it wasn’t an insult, it really was one of the few places they had available. Susan and I joked that we were all right with being hidden away anyway. It was kind of cute how many times our waitress had other employees come to our table to talk to her. It seemed like as soon as she was near us, others suddenly realized they had pressing business with her and just had to talk to her that moment. I’m sure it had nothing to do with a chance to get a look at the two transgendered folks she was serving.
It seems that Susan and I have much in common. She also grew up in a one room cabin with all the same luxuries and amenities my childhood home had had – none. We swapped a couple of stories and had quite a nice conversation I thought. She had a grin on her face when I tried to order a beer and informed me that alcohol was not an option in this area of Utah! I laughed and asked if that might have something to do with the large Mormon population and she assured me it might. Apparently we are both insane, because we broke the cardinal rule and continued to talk about religion for a while. We spoke of popular religions in our areas, Mormons in the Utah area and Baptist in Texas. We spoke about Religion, God, and the Transgendered, with both of us agreeing that it was highly unlikely that God found us offensive for cross dressing. I can think of any number of things I have done that might irritate the heck out of God, but cross dressing is not one of them.
Susan has come out to her family and friends in the last year of so. No toe in the water for her, uh uh, she jumped in with both feet and told every one pretty much at the same time. She tells me that she didn’t loose a single friend over it, and that her wife is quite happy. What a neat thing that the world has come so far where this is possible! I enjoyed speaking with Susan but I’ve been through a lot lately and didn’t argue when she said it was bout time to call it a night. We took a pic for my blog as we were leaving the hotel and restaurant:
Kim in Vernal Utah 006
Got back to the hotel and played around with a very long wig I got a while back. It was on this wig that I learned you don't use a curling iron on synthetic hair. As a result of trimming burnt hair off, the bangs are trimmed a bit too short so I haven't worn it.

Kim in Vernal Utah 009
With the night at an end I was about to clean up and go to bed when I decided that maybe I'd try one more pic. I hate to contribute to the perception that cross dressing is all about lingerie, sex, etc, but I couldn't resist trying this just once:

Kim in Vernal Utah 034 B

The following morning I spent doing reports and working by email from my hotel room. As with the flight here, my return flight was quite late. Ultimately packed it all up and headed for the airport. Do you recall that I mentioned how very small this airport was? Well, with an airport that small, they don’t have all of the expensive and fancy machines for inspecting checked luggage. Nope, they do it by hand . . . right there. . . right there in front of you, the rental car guy, and the airline lady. For better than an hour, I was the ONLY customer in the airport, so there was not doubt or confusion as to what man had all of those skirts, wigs, etc in his bag. While they inspect it right at the counter, they do not require you to stand there, and so I went off around the corner to sit down as I saw the cute TSA lady grab my bags. I was bright red and walking around the corner as I saw her open it. . . sigh . . .
Well, I didn’t hear any laughter, and believe me this place was so small you WOULD hear it. About five minutes later a male TSA agent comes out of his office, walks around the waiting area where I am the only person, takes a good look at me, and then returns to their office. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the cute female TSA agent that had gone through my bag had trotted into their office and told all, and the guy that had taken a stroll through the empty room I was in just wanted a look at a real live cross dresser. Later, when it came time to go through the X-ray machine with my carry ons, the same female TSA agent took my laptop back pack while giving me the biggest smile you have ever seen. I was still blushing, but I just couldn’t help myself.
“Don’t worry miss, THAT bag is no where near as interesting as the last bag of mine you inspected.” She gave a very short laugh.
“Good.. Good. Glad to hear it!” she replied.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Goodbye Mother

The only person in the world that thought exactly the way that I do is gone.
My mother, Sharon Huddle, was born 8 February, 1943 to Roy and Marie Huddle in Los Angeles California.



My Mother being held by her mother and father



My Mother being held by her mother and father 

Everyone thinks they have the prettiest Mother in the world but I knew I did. Maybe the word "pretty" is not the most appropriate. My mother was beautiful, with a beautiful soul, and this involves a lot more than mere appearance. Beauty is about the entire person.
She was born with a number of physical problems including spina bifida, that resulted in her spending the majority of her life in a great deal of pain. She spent most of her young life in leg braces designed to twist and force her legs, hips, and bones into a position that would allow her to stand and walk. Most of her early adult life was spent in and out of hospitals with surgery after surgery and years of painful physical therapy. In the same way it takes fire and heat to make glass, diamonds, and porcelain, I have to wonder if it takes pain to create a beautiful soul?


My Mother and Aunt on her first day of school 

My mother was a strong, proud, and brave girl and woman. She told my brother about how other crippled children were driven to keep trying in physical therapy by her example. When others would give in to the pain and exhaustion and quit, seeing this brave little girl struggle on through her pain and tears pushed them on to try harder.

 
My Mother and her family 

One of her favorite stories dealt with the day a doctor told her that she would never be able to walk without crutches. She threw the crutches in his trash can and walked out of his office, and she kept on walking for several decades. She walked long enough and far enough to raise three children and countless grand children.
She grew up in Los Angeles at a time when it still had many beautiful neighborhoods and was considered quite a nice place to live. I remember her asking me to stop playing the song "Maria" from West Side Story on the record player because it made her want to cry thinking about the way the city had gone to the gangs and turned into a place people no longer felt safe and welcome.


My Mother and Grandmother Lenna Welch



My Mother - her first Communion  







Her mother (my grandmother) had a good friend in the movie business and so she was present during the filming of several Western movies in the area of Pioneer Town in the desert of southern California. I believe that this is a picture of her riding Gene Autry's horse during the filming of one of his many movies:


My Mother on Gene Autry's Horse 

Her first marriage ended for all of the typical reasons that marriages end. Out of this marriage came at least two beautiful things – my older sister and brother, Karen and Donald Poindexter.

My Mother holding my big brother and next to my Grandmother and big sister


A few years later my mother remarried, this time to my father. This marriage too came to an end, now leaving my disabled mother with three children to take care of. She was a good mother in that all of her children grew up knowing they were loved and wanted. We did not have a great deal of material things, and there were of course hard times, but there was always love in plenty.


Being in such poor physical shape, and constantly in and out of hospitals, there were many occasions when our extended family would step in to help. We sometimes lived with my Grandmother in a relatively small mobile home. It seemed like we always wound up there when things got bad. This wasn't a bad thing though, because again, there was always love there. In this one trailer park was my Grandmother, my Great Grandmother, and assorted Aunts, Uncles, and cousins. That trailer park WAS our family and childhood.


As with the lives of most human beings, my mother had her fair share of emotional and personal ups and downs throughout her life. As a result of her physical challenges and many years in and out of hospitals, drugs were ever present in her life. She flirted with addiction off and on through the years and had a series of marriages and relationships. All of these relationships ended badly, with each adding another little bit to the load of hurt she already carried.

My Mother holding my niece and her granddaughter 

At the conclusion of one of her marriages, my mother bought a small one room cabin in Pipes Canyon – a picturesque canyon of flat top mountains only a few miles from the very same Pioneer Town where she had so many fond childhood memories.

Pipes Canyon near Yucca Valley 

By this time my sister had been married, had children, and had moved on to a life of her own, and it was now my mother, brother, and I. We went from your typical modern family and home, to a one room cabin, 20 miles from the nearest town. I recall laughing ourselves sick on the drive to our new home when we considered our situation. My petite mother driving a 69 or 70 Ford F150, towing a small travel trailer behind her, with a shot gun and bottle of vodka under the seat, headed to a small cabin in the sticks. We had just become hillbillies!
For all of us, this was a new and exciting adventure. For my mother, it was another turning point in her life. Almost mirroring the spirit and attitude that she had used to get through her physical challenges and obstacles, my mother had decided she would now stand on her own two feet and provide a life for herself and her children. This would be HER home. She did not require a husband or man to provide a home for her, she would do this on her own.
For the first few months living there, we had no running water and no electricity. We bathed by heating water and pouring it into a large tin tub very much in the same way you see the cowboys taking baths in the western movies. My mother cooked all of our meals on a fire pit in the back yard and our only light at night was provided by oil lanterns. For the first week or so we thought this was awesome, but eventually we settled in and it just became a mundane and somewhat harder way to live.
Of course we did get electricity and a wood burning stove eventually and things got a touch easier. It was nothing short of incredible the kind and caliber of meals my mother could prepare using nothing but a microwave, wood burning stove, and electric hot plate. I swear I am not exaggerating – my mother could have been a world famous gourmet cook. She would scour the cook books looking for new ideas that interested her and there was no telling what might be for dinner when we got home from school.
Of course being an adventurous cook does have it's risks – every once in a while there are going to be things that you don't care for. To address this possibility my mothers rules were simple:
· You had to TRY everything
· If you didn't like it, you didn't have to eat it
· If you didn't eat it, you didn't get anything else, so you better be damn sure you didn't like it!
I recall being woke up one stormy night to have a towel shoved in my face, and being told to start mopping water off of the floor. The wind was pushing the rain so hard against the cinder block walls that it was forcing the water right through them. There was water pouring down the inside of the walls, standing water on the floor, and everyone else had been at it for sometime before they woke up the spoiled youngest child to help. It wasn't at all funny at the time, but later we all laughed hysterically when we realized that for the first time in our lives we were living in a house with a roof that didn't leak . . . but the walls did!
One of the up sides to living so far out in the sticks, with no TV and little entertainment, is that it encouraged me to take up two of my mothers passions – reading and music. My own reading turned to Science Fiction which ultimately led to my career in electronics. Since most of the music we had was from my mothers record collection, the music I grew up with was pretty much a generation behind what everyone else was listening to. That's OK though, because the music we grew up with and enjoyed was just one more thing I shared with her.
I know it's hard to believe based on my description of things, but all of us agreed in later years that these early years in the cabin were the happiest and best time of our lives.
Eventually my brother left home to start his own life and family and not too many years later I left home myself and joined the US Army.


My half brother, Grandmother, Myself, and my mother the day I left for the Army 

If I remember correctly, it was 2 September, 1983 – one day before my 18 th birthday when she took me to the bus station. I was feeling scared of course, leaving home for the first time, but I was also feeling so proud and high on myself that I was leaving the desert to go start my own life. As the bus started to pull away, I was surprised to see that my mother had not left as I had thought, but had instead waited. There she stood, looking at the bus, all alone with tears streaming down her face.
Just when it seemed that my mother would spend the rest of her life alone, she finally met the right man – Stuart Hylton.


My Mother and her husband Stuart Hylton 

All of us liked him because he was real, he was honest, and he was fun to be around. Among other things, he was a Vietnam veteran, and while he bore no physical wounds, he carried deep scars in his heart and soul. What we had not realized at that time, was that like so many of his peers and fellow veterans, he had turned to drugs and alcohol long ago and had a serious problem with them. He could very rapidly go from the fun loving guy we all liked, to someone that was frightening to be around. But up or down, good or bad, it was clear early on the he loved my mother, and so eventually they were married. Only someone that has dealt with serious drug addiction can understand the immense amount of effort it took, but early on in their marriage, Stuart pulled himself away from the drugs and the alcohol to keep my mother. That little sentence just can not do justice to the herculean effort that it took and required of him to go clean after so many years of addiction.
He told me just this morning that the turning point for him had been when my mother walked in on him in the act of taking drugs. He told me that he just couldn't shake the look in her bright blue eyes as she walked up and slapped him. That was over 20 years ago, and he hasn't touched drugs since. Very few people succeed at this, but he managed – all to keep my mother in his life.
There is also a bit of serendipity with these two that they only discovered well after they were married. It turns out that they had both been raised only one or two miles from each other in LA.
My mother had been in very poor health for many years before she died. I will not dwell on the details of this as it is not what I wish to recall or impart to you. What I do wish to share is that this man, who had met and married my mother when they were both living lives of pain and loneliness, took care of my mother when others would have run away.


My Mother and her husband Stuart Hylton 

As her health worsened in the last few years, I ended each of my visits with her in a mixture of tears and relief. Tears because with each visit it became clear that there would not be many more visits to come. Relief that I was returning to my own home and could escape the pain of seeing my mothers decline and suffering.
While I was running home to be with my wife and children more than a thousand miles away, my step father stayed by her side.
He loved her.
He cared for her.
He nursed her.
He protected her.
I can think of no human being that I admire and respect more, nor anyone that I owe more to.
When it became clear that my mothers life was drawing to a close, the vast majority of my family came to be with her. I have no way to know if she could hear it or not, but I sat with her for hours, playing my guitar for her. I tried to sing for her because I knew she would like that, but I couldn't do it without choking, so I settled for just playing.
Of course her husband was there, as he had always been.
My brother, sister, and I (her children) were there.
Many of her Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren were there.
I am so very deeply impressed with everyone that was there.
My Dad whose heroics I have already described.
My sister and my nieces, all of whom stepped forward to do all of the so very hard little things that have to be done to take care of someone who is dying.
My brother and his daughters who refused to sleep for the last two nights of her life, absolutely determined that if she were to pass, she would not do it alone or with out someone holding her.
The young husbands and boy friends that took care of the mundane things that freed us up to worry about nothing other than my mothers passing. I have a renewed respect for the younger generations. They are not afraid to do the difficult things that need to be done. They stepped up bravely and with honor, compassion, and respect that has awed me.
All of us were crowded around her at the end and I myself was honored to be holding her hand as she took her last breath. She died at home with all of us holding her.
We tried to return the most important gift she had given us - she knew she was loved.
My last contribution to this letter? My wife and I have been married for over 21 years and we share the same wedding anniversary as my mother and step father. The day before my mother died, my wife called me to let me know that we are pregnant! If it's a girl, I hope to convince my wife that Sharon is wonderful name.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Teree, Out in Austin, and Music


So in a rare turn of events, my wife and daughter spent the week and weekend at my sister-in-law's house out of town. As you might expect, I took advantage of the situation to do a few odds and ends and to go out in Austin on Friday and Saturday nights. I recorded a video in boy mode playing what I have so far of a song I'm writing for my daughter. The image is TERRIBLE as I failed to consider the bright lights behind me, but the audio is still good so I went ahead and uploaded it to Youtube. A reminder though, it is not finished so don't get annoyed when it leaves you hanging:

Audrey's Dream


1 st Verse

Bright blue eyes, a lot like mine
Always searching, hoping to find
That fairy tail unicorn that flies

Mermaids swim, and flowers sing
A prince will save you from evil things
All this I see, in Audrey's eyes


Chorus

Magic is alive and well
The fairies play in the wishing well
Where wizards live and the Princess reins supreme

Good guys win, the bad guys fail
The pure of heart can break evil spells
This is the world of Audrey's dreams

That's all I've got so far! I'm thinking about the next verse including something like:
Furry Critters, with tails and wings
Help little girls in their time of need

I'm having visions of the little animals helping Cinderella make her gown! I just need to flesh it out a bit more to work it in. J

I redid the video but it will take some time to put it together and replace this poor version. I also recorded a couple of other song ideas I'm working on and will upload them to Youtube in the next few days. If anyone has ideas where to take any of these songs, feel free to share. It doesn't have to be the exact words, it's more important to come up with idea's to be expressed. Once I get the ideas, I can figure out the wording.
People finding my page on Youtube are going to be awful confused as to my gender - welcome to the club! My profile is female, my voice is male, I've got some male video up there and will soon also have a couple of me in female mode . . . with a male voice! That ought to keep 'em guessing!
So after I made all of these videos I just spoke about, I drove down to Austin where I finally got the chance to meet Teree Webster in person. She and I have been chatting online for a year or more, but every attempt we have made to actually meet each other in the past has failed.
I stressed a bit over what to wear as Teree's pictures have always shown her to be a classy dresser. Usually people say much the same about my attire, but my problem was that I wanted to wear a mini skirt but didn't want to make a poor first impression!

100_1366
So we met at 'Bout Time in Austin on Friday night. Teree is gorgeous – the woman looked like a million bucks! It's funny – I thought she looked incredible but she complained that she didn't think she was passable. With my usual subtlety and brilliance with words, I told her something along the lines of:
"Your Nucking Futs. You look awesome!"
Austin Nov 2008 002
We talked for an hour or two, trading stories and laughing. Eventually we got a little bored with 'Bout Time and I asked Teree if she wanted to risk her life and go to a "straight" club called Graham Central Station a few minutes away where they have something like four different bars/clubs in the same building. She said that since I convinced her that she looked good enough, she would take the risk! Of course she added that if we got assaulted, it would be my fault for convincing her she could get away with it. So as we were walking through the huge and PACKED parking lot, Teree looked at me and said something along the lines of:
"Wow this place is packed. I would be nervous if you hadn't already been here!" I glanced over at her and laughed as we were approaching the door.
"Umm, I think you misunderstood me. I was here a year ago in boy mode. I've never done this before either!" We both just laughed and kept on going! Everyone treated us terrific and we had a great time. We walked around and explored the place a bit, and then settled into the area where they were doing Karaoke. They have a couple of people sort of working the stage trying to get people excited and involved, and it really was a cute show.
See The Video
At one point, a couple of the staff got on stage, with one of them in a VERY campy drag outfit. I choked and almost spit my drink at Teree as we gave each other embarrassed looks. I couldn't help wondering if that was for our benefit or if they would have done that act even if we hadn't been there.
Austin Nov 2008 005
We'd been there a bit over an hour when it struck me that I had a bit of a problem. I had to . . umm .. . well . . go potty? Any one that does not get out in the world cross dressed might not have thought about it, but this is sort of problem. The mens room is out of the question for at least half a dozen reasons, with the highest on the list being my desire to get through the night with out bleeding. Using the ladies room presents it's own risks. What if someone "reads" me and gets pissed off about it? This is a straight place and it's packed, mostly with country boy redneck types. I can't help wondering if I'm risking my life, but I headed for the ladies room. I was relieved to see it was not full and there was no line and so I got in and out, and none the worse for wear.
Not too long after I got back from the bathroom, I see this very pretty lady lean over and tell Teree that she looked great! Having a woman tell you that you look great is about the ultimate compliment for us, and yes, especially so if that woman happens to be gorgeous! I asked if I might take her pic for my blog, and she agreed and posed with Teree:
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I went up to the sign up sheet for singing probably half a dozen times but kept chickening out. Yes, I do karaoke a lot, but NOT in straight clubs where there might be people I know in the crowd! At last I got up the courage and put my name on the list. It was right about then that Teree told my it was 1AM! Considering that I had to be up the next morning to get my face burnt . . . err . . I mean my laser treatment to kill my facial hair, I decided to call it quits and left before I got the chance to sing. Probably just as well!
Austin Nov 2008 004
The next day (Saturday) I had my laser treatment. This is a good news / bad news thing. Yes, it's killing that damn beard, but wow it hurts. It hurts AND it makes my face swell up and get lumpy. For a while, the swelling was so bad that I was worried I wouldn't be able to go out that night. Eventually the swelling subsided and my face went from feeling like it was on fire to just a bad sunburn. Spent the rest of the day doing the "Mr Mom" thing – lots of house cleaning and laundry. What a glamorous life I live huh?
Austin Nov 2008 017
Austin Nov 2008 016
That evening I got ready at the house and then tried to record a few more songs – this time without the bright light behind me! I have to do some work before I can load those videos to Youtube though because I tried to get clever when I made them. I used my little digital camera to record the video, but it's audio is awful. To get around that problem, I used my digital recording studio to record the audio. So to combine the two I have to do a lot of work. I have to:
Get the video off my camera and into my PC
Convert the video to a format that my Microsoft movie maker recognizes.
Burn the audio to a disk to get it out of my studio (it's a little older and that's the only way to get the data off it).
Rip the audio disk into my PC
Combine and synchronize the audio and video in MS Windows Movie Maker.
Like I said, lots of work to do before I can upload them.
Went out again to 'Bout Time where I again talked with Teree, met some old friends, and some new ones. I have no idea who picks the music they play, but I thought it sucked. I bribed the DJ with a tip to play an ABBA song "Knowing me, knowing you". Yes I know it's cliché for a cross dresser to like ABBA, but I've always loved them. Once my song played, they went back to playing stuff I hated so I went out to the car, grabbed my guitar, and took it out to the porch area where all the smokers hang out. Played guitar for about an hour and a half and sort of enjoyed myself. Had a few folks that sang along and several more just listened. I stayed out way too late considering that I hadn't got much sleep the night before and so had a lot of trouble staying awake for the drive home.
I really enjoyed meeting and talking with Teree and suspect and hope she and I will be good friends.