Thursday, May 26, 2011

A walk through kimberly's closet on the way to Chicago

I was squeezing my way in and out of my tightly packed closet looking for all of the odds and ends I needed for packing for my three day trip to the Chicago area when it struck me just how wrong most people were regarding my closet and wardrobe. I often get comments along the lines of “You must have a fantastic closet!” and “Wow, your closet must be huge!”. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth as in reality I have a tiny closet that is packed to the point of being ready to go critical and explode. If this baby goes, it’s gonna hurt someone! I often pick on my wife and poke fun at myself when it comes to our respective closets, because when we moved in, I gave her the large walk-in closet.
“Let me get this straight dear! I love beautiful clothing and have to maintain two entire wardrobes, and yet you get the walk in closet? Do you see something wrong with that picture?!” I ask her every so often. Every time I poke her with that stick, she just gives me that innocent look with a couple of slow blinks and says “Why no, no I don’t see anything wrong with that at all!”
My closet is so packed that even I have trouble getting in to it and I am not all that large. My wife wont even try to get in to it anymore to hang my guy clothes after she washes them. When you open the door, the first thing you see is the shoe rack hanging from the inside of the door. It’s not a huge collection, but it’s big enough to restrict your entry into the closet itself. Off on your right is a shelf up high littered with wigs and other odds and ends. Under that shelf is a hanger bar that stretches the entire depth of the closet. This is the small portion dedicated to Matt’s clothing, and I really resent the hell outta his taking up such valuable real-estate that could have gone to things so much prettier. Under that rail is another rail where I have the majority of my tops. Now if you face the back of the closet, you find another shelf up high. This is the “it’s outta season” and “It doesn’t fit but I can’t bear the thought of throwing it out” shelf. Under that is a hanger rail where I keep the dresses and skirts. I’ve had to replace that rail recently because the sheer weight of all of my skirts tore it’s mounting hardware outta the wall, so I had to replace all of that and install a brace in the middle to help support the weight. At first glance, it might not look too overwhelming, but as you take a closer look you may realize that each of the skirt hangers is actually five hangers in one. These hangers have only one hook for the hanger bar, but have five sets of clamps one atop the other, allowing me to hang five skirts in the space normally required for one. I haven’t counted all of my skirts and I don’t think I should, because I don’t want to really know just how far over board I have really gone in collecting them. Until recently, this was all of the hanger space I had, and it just wasn’t cutting it, so I did a little remodeling and installed two more hanger bars on the left side. The one up top I had to attach above the door, so it is fairly high and a bit difficult to use. Due to the empty space of the door, there really wasn’t a good way to put in a brace for a lower bar, so I used steel line to hang a lower bar from the upper one. This turns out to be a good idea, because it is really hard to get in to the closet with these two new hanger bars in place, and having the bottom one hang from the top one allows me to shove it to the side a little to make more room for me to get in and out. So – the next time you see someone comment “Kim, you must have a huge closet!” you will understand why I break out in to hysterical laughter.

This week I was headed off to a town about half an hour north of Chicago. I was going to wear a black with white polka dot “retro” dress I bought a while back, and  instead of a black belt and shoes I wore the last time, I was gonna pair it with red shoes and belt. The thing is, it is fairly long and was sure to get me the personal inspection by the TSA, and I just didn’t feel like the hassle this morning so I went with plan B – a white top, jade green skirt, and white 4.5 inch heels. I was disappointed to find that the photos I took do not do the skirt justice. It is kind of a satin type material, very shiny and pretty, and with embroidered flowers all over it. Unfortunately, I assume due to the flash, the photos just make it look like one big white blur.
The white shoes are a whole story themselves. I bought them years ago at DSW, and as far as what they are worth, they are far and away the most expensive shoes I own. That was some time ago and so I no longer recall the exact price, but the original price was something like $400 and I recall my wife and my shock at finding them on clearance at DSW for something like $30. The heels are a bit taller than I really prefer, but given that they are all leather, they are remarkably comfortable shoes – at least they would be if they fit me. Despite being size 10, they are a bit large on me, and when wearing nylons, my feet slide around in them just enough to make them a problem. So the bad news is I found myself in the lobby area of the airport exchanging them for a pair of black Mary Janes I had in my luggage. Anyone wanna buy a pair of killer white all leather shoes that have only been worn twice? LOL
Chicago 2011 05 23 004

I was kind of surprised to find that the airport was packed. Usually you only see that kind of crowd first thing in the morning, but here it was around 10AM and the place was crowded and there was a huge line a the Delta counter. I made my way to the “elite” line reserved for frequent fliers and soon found myself being helped by a customer service rep that I didn’t recognize.
“Welcome back! We haven’t seen you in a little while!” she told me with a huge grin.
“Oh, I dunno, I’ve been flying Delta quite a bit lately!” I replied with a laugh.
“Well then, you must be flying earlier in the morning when I’m not usually here.” She said with a smile.
“That could be it!” I told her with a smile, appreciating the fact that she was trying to make conversation with me.

I was a little nervous going through the TSA security, because this wasn’t a long skirt, but it wasn’t exactly a short skirt either, and being some what full there was a chance they might still send me through the pat down process that I am truly coming to resent. Say - did you know that the Texas legislature recently debated making the TSA pat down a misdemeanor offence and thus against the law in Texas? The cowards backed down at the last moment though when the feds said “Fine – then all flights from Texas will stop as we can not guarantee the safety of air travelers anywhere in the system.”  I was just starting to get my hopes up too. Anyway, they did not send me through the molestation process but the TSA inspector at the metal detector did get in parting shot at me as told me I was free to carry on and get my things.
”Have a nice day bud!” he said. It’s kind of irritating to go to so much effort to be seen as and perceived as a woman just to have someone go out of their way to refer to you as a guy, but he really did say it in an entirely friendly way, and without a trace of sarcasm or meanness. I wonder if he just doesn’t know that that is kind of a rude thing to do? So as I’m sitting there putting my laptop away, and putting shoes back on I can hear the conversation of a group of people that have just gone through the same inspection process. It’s an older couple and a woman about my own age, and they gave me the impression that the couple was probably the womans parents.
“Well did they pat you down this time?” The younger woman asks him.
“I wish!” he replied with laughing eyes and a giggle in his voice. “That’s the closest thing I get to sex these days!”
Believe me, I wasn’t the only one laughing at that one.

I was sitting in the gate area just a few minutes before the flight boarded when the Delta gate representative came over the intercom.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if you will, please have your ID’s out and ready as you approach the gate. Delta does not need to see them, but the TSA is doing random inspections and may ask you for it.”  I literally laughed out loud, thinking to myself that I had evaded the pat down / molestation, just to be caught and inconvenienced right here at the gate. A moment later, they announced that the first class section was welcome to board, and so I joined the line that had already formed there. The TSA did ask a few people for their ID, but much to my own amusement and relief they skipped right over me.
The guy standing in front of me was a huge African American, easily six and a half feet tall and with arms bigger than my thighs. I could hear him talking on his cell phone and was suitably impressed to hear what had to be the deepest voice I have ever heard in my life. I swear this guy could make Barry White sound like a tenor. I was just kind of zoning and thinking about this when he happened to glance back at me. Still chatting on the phone, he stepped to the side, gave me a huge smile, and waved me in front of him! Kind of surprised, I gave him my thanks, and handed my ticket to the gate agent while the gentleman fell back in to place behind me.
“Well hello there! I haven’t seen you in a while! How are you?” the female gate agent said in almost a carbon copy of the conversation I had had with the other woman at the ticket counter a few minutes ago. This time I just let it roll though.
“I just couldn’t be any gooder thanks for asking! How are you?” I asked, and was relieved to hear her laugh at my silly redneck joke.
“Fine, just fine thank you. Enjoy your flight.” She said, and then reached for the ticket of the gentleman behind me.

I was getting situated on the airplane by getting out my IPOD and my book, when the flight attendant started to make her rounds of the first class section before the general boarding started. She stopped next to a gentleman sitting across the isle from me.
“Can I get you something to drink Mr . . .” she paused while consulting a print out in her hand “Jones?”
 She then moved on to the man sitting next to me.
“And how about for you Mr . . . Smith?” (No, I don’t recall their real names)
Of course I know that my number is up next, and since she is looking at the passenger printout, she will clearly be well aware of what I am and so it should be interesting to see how she handles it.
“And for you Ms Huddle . . . “ she started, then got a confused look on her face.
“Well hold on a sec, that’s not you!” she said with a laugh, clearly having noted that the “Huddle” on her manifest was a “Mr” with the first name of “Matt”
“Umm, yep, it is me” I told her with a grin, and then batted my eyes at her just for the giggle factor. She looked confused for just a second more and then you could see it click.
“Well, what would you like to drink then Ms Huddle?” she said with playful grin.

Once we landed in the Chicago O’Hare airport , I was making my way to the baggage claim area and I found myself on a tall escalator standing behind four young men. One of them was facing backwards toward me and talking to the others, and it was all I could do to not laugh out loud when he took a look at me and then leaned forward to whisper to the others. Watching those three guys trying to find some excuse to turn around and look at me, without looking like they were looking at me, was just about the funniest thing I have seen since the Three Stooges. I briefly contemplated saying something cute like “Subtle guys, real subtle . . . “ but I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. They might have laughed, but they might not have . . .

As I stepped out of the airport, I was delighted to be greeted by the relatively cool air, such a relief after the heat in Austin Texas. I was not delighted however to find that once again Avis did not have my contract and keys ready, and so I found myself in a line of about ten other people who were in the same boat I was. All of us were freely chatting back and forth, most of the conversation poking fun at Avis for never getting it quite right.
“I think they need to try a LOT harder!” one of them quipped, making fun of their advertising campaign. I was gratified that those in line were perfectly willing to have a conversation with me, and never once batted an eye.

There were several other minor interactions that occurred that day that really did wonders for my confidence. None of them were really unique, significant, or blog worthy, but just nice person to person interactions. All in all, I was having a wonderful day, at least I was until I heard about the Tornado that destroyed Joplin Missouri. Joplin is less than ten miles from Quapaw Oklahoma where I have traveled to twice just recently. I was in fact in Joplin only a week ago, and so it broke my heart to think of that pretty town and its people being decimated. . .

The next day was a bust work wise, but I’ll have to tell you a little bit about infrared mass spectrometers for you to understand why. Bear with me – I promise that the lesson wont last long. When you are going to use Infrared (IR) to examine a gas, you have to have an assortment of windows. Some for the operation of the instrument and manipulation of the IR itself, and some windows to keep the nasty gas you are testing away from the expensive components that you don’t want damaged by it, while still allowing the IR to pass through the gas you are studying. Now the bad news is that your normal glass windows block IR and so glass can’t be used. Not to worry though, because those clever little chemists came up with a way around that – they make windows out of a sodium material called KBR. More or less you can think of it as clear and polished salt that looks and works exactly like glass except that it does NOT block IR. Another way that it is different from a glass window is the crux of our problem here though – it can not tolerate moisture, not even the typical humidity that you find in the very air around you. There is a simple way to keep this from being a problem though – you make sure that the KBR windows have a constant flow of dry nitrogen gas around them to keep the moist air away from them. As long as you spend a little money on nitrogen gas, you can avoid spending a fortune having your instrument repaired and all of its KBR windows replaced. Well, someone at this customers company apparently didn’t read the memo and decided to use the instrument long term in a humid environment without providing it with nitrogen purge gas, and every single KBR component in it was destroyed. This includes some windows with special coatings and requiring extremely precise alignments that have to be performed at the factory. In thirty minutes I had determined that his instrument was beyond being repaired in the field and would have to be returned to the factory for a major overhaul. So it took about half an hour to tear the instrument apart and show the customer everything that had been damaged and explain why it had to be repaired at the factory, and then another half an hour to put it all back together for him. Tack in about two more hours of emails and paper work when I got back to the hotel and then I was free for the rest of the day!

Chicago 2011 05 24 006

I raided two Goodwills and found nothing worth buying at either of them and so I moved on to the Woodfield mall that my friend Phyllis Brown had told me about. I went through DSW, Macy’s, and JC Penny without finding a single thing that I just had to have and could afford. I did find a brown dress on clearance at Macy’s that I liked, but even on clearance they wanted $80 for it and so I sadly left it behind.
That evening I met with Phyllis and her friend Erica for dinner at a fairly nice steak house. With the three of us together, and Erica being a fairly tall post-op TS, it was a real giggle when the hostess seated us. There was a young girl I’d guess to be in her twenties at the table next to us, and she just couldn’t help looking our way over and over again with a grin from ear to ear.
Phyllis I’ve mentioned before. She and I have been online friends, trading emails and chats for probably more than five years and we finally got around to meeting each other a month or so ago in Peoria IL. Her friend Erica I had never met before, and I quite liked her. She was a very upbeat, confident, and energetic person to talk to, and chatting with the two of them made for a more than pleasant evening.

Chicago 2011 05 24 021

You know, for some reason I have been less than confident and kind of unhappy about myself for the last six months or so, but these last two days were different. For the first time in quite a while I felt confident and happy, and actually enjoyed my “Kimberly” time quite a lot. It’s not that I felt like I was passing, that had nothing to do with it. It was more that I just felt comfortable and happy with who and what I am. It’s amazing how big a difference your attitude can make. 


  1. Hey Kimberly,

    Glad to see that your swagger is back!! I know the feeling about the urge coming and going. I am glad to see you doing your thing.

  2. Thanks for the tour of your closet. Yikes! I thought you were showing us the inventory of a good size department store! ~~giggle~~

  3. Hi Kim. Loved that scene with the 3 guys - it happens once in a while and it is good fun when you hold your head up and smile back.
    Good also to note you're 'back in the saddle' so to speak!

  4. Great to hear that you're feeling good about yourself again. I'm still enjoying reading about your trips.
    Keep up the good work.

  5. oh how i can relate to the closet thing as i am sure many of the gals can as well.
    and i must jokingly say it is a good thing that for the most part you are " out of the closet" because there is no room for you to hide in there!

    i too have found the 5 skirt hangers to be very helpfull as well as rotating seasonal wear to a basement garment bag or to the knee wall ( our famialy bed rooms are in the former expansion attic hence this is the storage area behind the wall out in the eaves) for sweaters in the summer and tank tops in the winter.
    i do allow the male self a tiny area in the dressers and closet and i keep threatening to take this space as well LOL.
    the coolist part about so many of my famialy and friends knowing that i am non transitioning transgendered is that i don't have to hide my clothes anymore but i still seem to need more and more space even after i have weeded out the unused and unwanted clothes.

  6. Hi Kimberly,

    It is coincidental that you mentioned Phyllis. She and I have know each for years. She and a I are both Architects, two of about 7 Trans Architects in the Chicago area. Phyllis and I went to UIC and she and I almost worked together.

    I hope, that the next time you have the opportunity to visit Chicago, you and I can meet and spend some time together.

    FYI, I learned of your blog from Jacky Lucent, with whom I chatted many times, on fb.

    I am enjoying your blogs.

    Take care, Kimberly; please be, and ALWAYS stay, safe and well.