Well let’s see! This time I was off to Salt Lake City Utah. I’ve been there a few times but would have to admit that I have never really enjoyed myself there. It’s not SLC’s fault – I just hadn’t met anyone or found any place I really wanted to hang out at yet. The area has some awesome natural attractions, but in 100+ degrees, I wasn’t about to spend quality tine outside, be it “pretty” or “drab”! On this trip though, I received an invitation from both Sarah Charles and Sue Leighton to meet with them for dinner!
So the night before my flight, I am in my room packing things and picking out the outfit for the following morning. I just about had it all figured out when my daughter-in-law (who is home visiting) told me that her friend was going to be spending the night. I kind of laughed and told her it was a good thing she had decided to say something about it or else things might have gotten interesting the following morning when I came traipsing down stairs in a dress! The following morning I got up at about 5AM, which was a nice change of pace from the 345 to 4AM I usually have to get up at if I am going to be flying pretty. Flying drab does has it’s advantages ya’ know! Anyway, when I got downstairs I had a note on my laptop:
“He did not stay the night so you can go ahead and fly pretty! :-) “
I had to giggle because flying pretty is not something I can do at the last second and with no preparation. If I want any chance of looking presentable, it’s going to take me about two hours of effort to get ready, so it just wasn’t gonna happen. Still, I thought that it was a really sweet thing.
I had kind of a bad moment when the plane landed in Phoenix because things just didn’t seem to make sense. The pilot was telling us that we had arrived 20 minutes early and yet according to the clock on my Blackberry, I had already missed my connecting flight. It turns out that the fault was with the Blackberry though – it automatically adjusts itself for the time zone and for Day Light Savings Time, but it appears that it’s software is flawed when it comes to Phoenix and it was reporting the time as one hour later than it really was. It took me a tense five minutes to figure this out though! Despite the scare, this turned out to be the rare flight where there were no delays and no flight cancellations – YAY!
Once I got into the hotel in Salt Lake City, I started getting ready to meet with Sue and Sarah. I have been dragging this white skirt with me on my last four trips without wearing it, and so it seemed like it was time to give it it’s turn. It also didn’t hurt that it was one of the few outfits that I had brought with me that wasn’t horribly wrinkled and wouldn’t require taking the time to iron! In no time at all, Sue arrived at my room, and we said our hellos. I’ve met so many other TG’s by now that I know almost exactly what to expect at this point – just a fraction of a seconds hesitation while we try to decide what is appropriate – to shake hands or to hug. One is a male norm, and one is a female norm, and so for those of us stuck somewhere in the middle there is often a moment where you try to decide what the other person might think is appropriate. With a grin, we both went for the hug, and as she drew back, I realized that some of my rather heavy foundation was on her dark blouse. As we said hello to one another, I was torn – should I say something about the smudge I had just left on her top or not?! I decided that if the situation were reversed, I would want her to tell me, and so I bit the bullet.
“Hold on a sec, I think I have just the thing!” I told her and went after it. I handed the tape roller to her and watched as she tried to remove the spot that she couldn’t possibly see or reach.
“You know, I think maybe I could use a hand here!” She said with a laugh and handed the roller back to me. In very short order we had her back in tip top shape and we were just starting to laugh about it when Sarah called to say that she was at the hotel and needed to know what room we were in. Sarah was stuck in boy mode, which is not unusual when you visit with folks during the week day as I do. Still, I felt kind of sorry for her as I know that I would hate to be the one that had to stay in “drab” while everyone else got to be a butterfly. After much discussion about where to eat, who had what preference, who did or did not like this or that, and “what the heck is up with someone from Texas not liking spicy food?!”, we settled on the Spaghetti Warehouse. I had thought about “being good” and ordering a salad but I just didn’t have the will power, and so I ordered a nice fattening meal of pasta instead. Just to make sure that I felt horribly guilty while I ate, Sue did order a salad. The nerve of her anyway . . .
In no time at all, we were launched into a discussion about our families and our careers, and I was quite honestly flattered at how much they shared with me – they treated me as a long time friend and you just cant ask for more than that. The bad news for you my dear reader, is that most of it was personal and not the sort of thing to be shared on the WWW. Suffice it to say that they both are dealing with sickness in the family, and the conversation left me feeling that I was very blessed because most of my family is in fairly good health. You know, this is something that I think most of us should consider more often than we do. Take a look around you at your wife, your husband, your children, and your parents, and if they are not sick and in poor health, you might want to take just a moment to appreciate that gift. It was really remarkably pleasant evening and I very quickly felt like I had known them both for years. I don’t know if it’s related to the skin condition I have, the drugs I take for it, or just plain old age and exhaustion kicking in, but at about the two and half hour mark, I mentally crashed and burned. One moment we were chatting and having a nice time, and the next moment I felt like I hadn’t slept in a week. As with all good things, sooner or later it had to come to and end and so, feeling a bit guilty and hoping like hell I wasn’t offending anyone, I called it a night.
My job for the week was pretty interesting. You know, along the lines of that Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting tines.” Let’s see, how do you describe this? My customer (we will call Company A) bought a semiconductor manufacturing tool from one company (Company B) , and a Ozone Water delivery system from my company (Company C). The problem is, Company B installed the incorrect cables and so their machine could not operate mine. The catch is, I had to PROVE that the faults were with Company B’s cables and signals and not with my machine. It would be a lot like you buying a car where one company provided the engine and another company provided everything else, and when the car doesn’t work, both of these companies are pointing at each other and saying “It’s his fault – not mine!” So I had six Japanese engineers from Company B all insisting to my customer that everything was correct on their end, and that the fault was with my equipment, and then there was little ol’ me running around with schematics, manuals, and meters proving that they were wrong time after time. In the end, I was proven to be correct, but the fight dragged the process way out and so I ended up staying in Salt Lake City for the weekend.
I would like to tell you that I spent the weekend doing wonderful things – taking advantage of the chance to see the beautiful state of Utah while I was there, but the reality is that I spent Saturday writing reports, surfing the net, watching TV, and sleeping. Multiple times I considered getting dressed and heading out, but I was too darn tired and it was way too hot out there anyway. The natural wonders of Utah were gonna have to wait until the temperatures dropped below the “Oh SHIT it’s HOT out here!” level.
Sunday morning though, I made up my mind that I would get out and about and so I got myself all geared up for the day and started getting ready. I had most of my makeup on when I got an email from Sarah inviting me over to her home for the afternoon. It seems that there was some major cooking going on (Pulled Pork was mentioned) and I was invited. I considered it for a moment, but I had already gone through the effort of getting ready, and really had been looking forward to a day of movies and shopping, and so I turned down the kind offer.
I kind of figured that I would take a look in Dillards and then call an end to the days shopping, and so I went ahead and took a walk through their sales racks. I have a red top that I wear every once in a while, and it has shown me that red really looks pretty good on me. For that reason, I’ve been looking for a red dress that I like and can afford for about a year, and so it was with a rapidly beating heart that I picked up a killer red dress by Calvin Klein. It was awesome and was just exactly what I was looking for, and it was going for only a little bit more than I really wanted to pay. I took it from the rack and headed toward the dressing room, but I only got part way there before being stopped by a sales associate.
“Can I help you?” She asked.
“Yes ma’am, I’d like a dressing room please.”
“No problem – I’ll be happy to start you a room. Is that all, or did you have more shopping to do?”
“Oh, this is it thank you!” I replied.
In the dressing room, I took off my dress, and unzipped the red dress to remove it from the hanger. I was still astounded that I had finally found the perfect red dress, in my size, and at a price I could afford, and so it took me a moment to realize that something was wrong – the zipper had only gone about half way down. I gently pulled it back up, and then tried to take the zipper down again, but yet again it stopped mid way. Thinking that I must have caught some of the fabric in it, I once again tried to raise the zipper, but this time it wouldn’t even go up, let alone down. I worked at it and worked at it, determined because I wanted that dress, but the zipper now refused to go up or down. Disgusted, I put my own dress back on and left the dressing room, where I handed the sales associate the red dress.
“You know, I couldn’t get the darn zipper to work. First it wouldn’t go down, and then I couldn’t get it to go back up!” I told her, suddenly concerned that she might think that I had damaged it.
“Well, let’s take a look at it!” she said, taking the dress from me and pulling at the fabric around the zipper. In a moment, she showed me where the zipper was pulled away from the fabric, thus causing the failure.
“I promise, it was NOT my fat butt that damaged it!” I told her with a laugh.
“It’s no problem, I’ll just damage it out!” she replied with a laugh.
Oh, and we did look, and there were no more copies of that perfect red dress . . . damn it . . .
Next, I decided to go see a movie, and I had already selected an independent film called “Another Earth”. It was playing in down town Salt Lake City at “The Broadway”, and I made my way there after taking a brief pit-stop at my hotel room. As I parked the car and approached the ticket counter, there was an older man outside with his hat on the ground and playing a cello. The bad news is that he really, REALLY sucked at it. I’ve never held a cello in my hands but suspect that I could have played it at least that well. Ticket in hand, I made my way into the theater where I was greeted with a genuine smile by a middle aged woman in a wheel chair. It was one of those smiles that says “I know what you are and I couldn’t care less – you are welcome here!” and her words backed up my impression.
“Well hello and welcome to Broadway! Your in theater one just down the hall!” she told me as she looked at my ticket and handed it back.
“Thank you so much!” I replied to her and made my way into the movie.
You know, for the life of me I still cant decide if I liked the movie or not! On the surface, it could be called a science fiction because it does involve a carbon copy of the Earth just suddenly appearing in orbit near us, but in reality, the movie had little to do with this event. Most of it was based around a tragic accident caused by a young woman, and the struggle of those involved to overcome the tragedy. Most definitely not a happy happy joy joy movie, nor an exciting Sci Fi, but it was worthwhile in its own right.
Tuesday morning when it came time to fly home to Austin, I sat in bed for half an hour trying to decide if I should make the trip pretty or not. One moment I thought ‘yes’, the next moment ‘no, it’s not worth it’, then ‘yes’, then ‘no’ . . .
Somewhere around 620AM I settled on ‘yes’, and wore the new dress that I had just bought.