Sunday, August 31, 2008

Boston Area, Sisters, and Tiffany Club of New England

For the first time in what seems like a long time, I was headed back for Boston! Boston is definitely near the top of my favorite cities list. I know some cool places to hang out, and have friends in the Sisters of Boston and Sisters of Worcester groups.
I usually try and get early morning flights so that I arrive where ever I’m going in the early afternoon, but my last few flights have left in the afternoon and I find I kind of like it. Since I’ve started doing a lot of my flights “dressed”, having the flight leave around noon allows me to wait until my wife and daughter leave for work/school and THEN get ready. Beats the snot outta getting up at 3AM to get ready and make a 6 AM flight.
So I decided to wear my new Needless Mark Ups skirt (Neiman Marcus Last Call) and a salmon top. At the last second I decided to throw a white belt on it but I spent all day trying to decide if I should wear the belt or not. It came off and on probably half a dozens times as I changed my mind through the day. My wife later confirmed looking at the pics that she thought it was a mistake and said if I was gonna wear any belt, it should have been a darker one. Oh well, can’t get it right every time! LOL

As you can see from the pics, we are in the process of painting the living area of our house so it’s sort of a mess.
Got to the Austin airport and have to admit I was a bit nervous as this was the first time I was going to try and fly dressed with an airline other than Delta. I was flying with JetBlue this time and had actually asked them last week if they would be cool with it, but I was still afraid that even though one person had told it would be fine, another might refuse to allow it. The worry was for nothing though as everything went smoothly and they treated me well. Going through security, the female TSA agent decided to pick on me a little. She looked at my ID (my male drivers license), then my ticket, then me, smiled.
“Nope, that is clearly NOT you!”. She was grinning from ear to ear so I was fairly sure she was teasing.
“Yeah, I know. I clean up pretty nice huh?” I replied and batted my eyes in an exaggerated fashion. She busted up laughing and handed my license and ticket back to me.
“You have a nice flight!” she said, and waved me through.
OK, I’ve gotta tell you – JetBlue ROCKS! Yes, they have three seats side by side, but they give you more leg room than the other airlines, AND each seat has it’s own TV! Add to that the facts that they fly direct Austin to Boston and their luggage folks are fast to get it to the luggage belt, and you have makings for my new favorite airline.
Got to Boston a bit after 5PM, found my luggage already circling the belt when I got there, so I was quickly on the way to the rental car and then my hotel in Peabody MA.

The guy that checked me in to the Holiday Inn was not rude or anything, but you could tell he wasn’t exactly amused with me. Took my bags to the room and was headed back out of the hotel through the lobby when I walked past a man standing there. As I walked past he looked right at me and smiled.
“Hello!” he said, as I walked by.
“Hi,” I smiled and replied, still walking because I was already gonna be late for my meeting with the Tiffany Club of New England.
“Fine day isn’t it?” he continues as I’m just walking out the door. I looked back at him but kept walking.
“So far so good!” I said. I get about 10 feet out the door when I hear his voice again. He followed me outside!
“Are you staying here?” he asked. Knowing I’m already going to be late for my meeting, I slowed but didn’t stop. It kind of freaks me out that he followed me outside.
Does he really think I’m a female? If so, is he gonna freak when he figures out I’m not?
“Yes, I am staying here”.
“Are you coming back tonight?”
“Probably, but pretty late.”
“Well, would you like to maybe get a drink or something?”
“Thank you, but I don’t think so” I replied as I approached my car.
“Oh, I’m sorry!” he said, “I didn’t see your wedding ring!”
“That’s all right,” I said, even though he has definitely made me nervous. “No worries!”
He gave a small wave and then returned to the hotel lobby.
You know, it tore me up for the next few days if I had handled that well, or if I was rude to him. When I spoke to my wife about it tonight, she tells me that I did exactly the right thing. The only thing she might have done differently was to return to the very public lobby when she realized that he was following her outside. I don’t know, I’m still worried that I was rude and didn’t handle that with any grace at all.
I got to the Tiffany Club of New England a bit late, but not too bad considering there wasn’t much I could do about my travel time to get there. Rita Bertrand had invited me when she found out I would be there that night. She is a class act, and a real neat lady! I have met her a few times before have truly enjoyed the time I’ve spent chatting with her.
I met a lot of ladies there and they treated me just like one of the club – one of the family! Do you know what that means to me when I spend so much time alone and so far from home? It was great to feel like part of the group. I met around a dozen folks there and have to admit I suck when it comes to remembering names, so there is no way I can provide them all here. (I hope they will forgive me when they see this!)
After the meeting, a few of us went to a local club for a drink or two. When we got there, there were two tables full of GG’s having a great time – lots of laughter and talking. As far as I could tell, not one of them looked twice in our direction. (Not sure if that is good or bad?)

I’ll give you the names I’ve got! Starting on the left is John (The owner of the Glamour Boutique) , a great guy and a huge advocate for transgender folks, Rita Bertrand , Myself, and
Paula Howard . The last girl on the right was very nice, and drop dead gorgeous, but like I said, I suck and can’t recall her name! (I'm SO sorry!)
Day 2
Day two got off to a rough start. The instrument I was here to work on is obsolete, and hasn’t been made in more than half a decade. It was made by company mine bought years ago, and most of the people that knew anything about it did not come along when their company was bought. Including myself, there are only three people in my entire company that even know what this machine is, and the other two are the software guy, and a PHD who is now the manager for an entire product line. If I can’t fix it, there is no place to fall back to, no back up and punt plan, no guru to call to come bail me out.
There are no drawings, no schematics, no theory of operation . . . I’ve got nothing but the info stuck in my head and what I’d been able to figure out about the beast over the years.
Suffice it to say that working on this antique scares the hell outta me!
I had to replace a number of gold plated optical mirrors and when I was done, I couldn’t get the system aligned. I spent hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t find the image I needed in the optics. I tweaked the darn alignment so many times that I got blisters on my finger tips! Finally, I sat back on my tool box looking at the thing in disgust when the answer struck me.
“Nah,” I said to myself, while I looked at the only two mirrors that can be put in backwards. “Even I couldn’t be stupid enough to do that could I?”
I pulled up some pictures I had taken of one of these tools and found that I HAD been that stupid, and HAD mixed up the only two mirrors that could be put in wrong – literally backwards. Corrected my goof and had the system up and running in about 10 minutes!
On the way back to the hotel, I stumbled across a thrift store and stopped to shop it. I found a long dark blue skirt with white stripes and bought it. I liked it so much I almost wore it that night, but decided to stick with the red skirt I had brought with me.

I got back to the hotel and started to get ready. This night I planned to meet with the Sisters if Worcester for their weekly get together at Club Blu.
I had traded emails with Sally, Rita , Kristen , and Caroline , friends of mine in the area and also members of Sisters. They were all going to be there tonight as well, so it looked like it was going to be a fun one! I got a call from Sally and invited her to get ready in my hotel room. She arrived, we fought for mirror space, and eventually got ready!

Got to Club Blu and found a lot of folks already there. There had been some question if Rita and Kristen might make it so I was relieved to see them both there. All in all, I think we counted something like 18 TG’s there. This includes Mike, who is FTM, and a damn nice guy too!
Kristen brought her beautiful 12 string guitar!

We knew that Dee, the lady that runs the Karaoke there, usually also brings her guitars, and so we had hoped to maybe play a song or two together. Unfortunately, Dee did not bring her guitars so that plan fell through. Kristen and I tried to sneak off to the back room to play with her guitar but quickly discovered that was a mistake! Someone had ordered a bunch of Pizzas, had them set up I in that room, and so EVERYONE wound up there. We handed the guitar back and forth and tried to wake up dead brain cells and get a song or two out! Kristen kept claiming that she couldn’t remember anything – she fibbed! She played very well and I enjoyed listening to her. When she was playing, you could hear at least half a dozen folks singing along. Eventually someone got the bright idea to get a few pictures of everyone together:

Everyone returned to the main room where the karaoke was going on. There was a young African American girl singing and she was AWESOME! She was so good, it took a few moments for everyone entering the room to realize that this was NOT a recording we were listening to, and was actually the Karaoke!
Kristen and I did a song together. She played “Tequila Sunrise” and I sang. I’ve played and sang that song for over 20 years, so you would think we would be safe . . . and you would have been wrong! I forgot the darn words part way through! I guess that maybe not having a guitar in my hands sort of threw me (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it!) I felt so bad for Kristen, she had to do her part playing the guitar AND try and whisper the words to me to get me back on track! Sorry Kristen!
She was kind enough to loan me her guitar for a couple of songs. I didn’t butcher them too bad, but I don’t think I exactly wowed anyone either! LoL
Sally spent a good half an hour sitting on the pool table, reading through the karaoke book, trying to find a song and get the guts up to sing it. I took her pic just so I could pick on her later about being a fraidy cat!

Some misc pictures of the night:
Caroline (on the right) and her girl friend Courtney:



I was having a ball, but had an hour drive to get back to my hotel, and then had to be at the airport early in the morning, so I headed out at midnight. By the time I got to the hotel, cleaned up, and in my bed, it was after 2AM. Since I had to be up at 4AM, I was not exactly thrilled! Lol
So here is a pic entering Boston at around 530AM in the morning on the way to the airport. Tired. Bushed. Getting way too old for this stuff . . .

Friday, August 15, 2008

Detroit City

So once again I’ve gone to Detroit. This was a last second trip with no advance warning to repair failed instruments with two large customers of ours. Well, I was on the fence up until the last second as to if I should fly “dressed” or not but ultimately decided I didn’t want to have to get up at 3:30AM to get ready for catching the flight. I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t because after arriving at 6:30 AM for my 8:30 AM flight I was informed it had been canceled! I didn’t get out of Austin to Atlanta until 1130AM, and then my flight from Atlanta to Detroit was delayed. Before it was all over, I spent about 14 hours traveling and would have looked like hell had I done it as Kim.
Well, got to Detroit and had a little fashion show and photo shoot. I’ve bought a lot of little odds and ends lately and this was my first chance to see how the “whole package” looked.
The first outfit I tried on was a skirt and red knit blouse that I got at Beads and Baubles in Austin. The top was so cute on the hanger and looked so awful on me that I deleted the pictures and so no, you don’t get see it.
I have looked at this purple blouse in JC Penny in at least three different malls but finally decided to grab it. Here I matched it with a skirt I bought at a consignment store in Austin (I Think it was Beads and Baubles). I include the pictures just to show you that I DO make fashion mistakes, cause this looks awful. The skirt hugs me too tight in the hip area which is undesirable when your wearing hip pads as it makes them obvious. The skirt is a bust but I’ll keep the top. I think maybe it would look best doing he layering thing with another blouse under it – any advice?

The next outfit I tried is a long black “professional” type skirt that I bought at a thrift store more than a year ago but have never worn. I matched it with a cute little black top that has lace around the neck line. I think this outfit is a winner and will be wearing it when it gets a little cooler outside.

Same top, but different skirt. My wife and I were shopping at Goodwill last week and she found this skirt and brought it to me. I LOVE it. Not too long, not too short, and it’s light, cute, and flouncy. I decided I will wear this on my second night here.


For my first night out here though, I wanted to wear a new skirt I bought at Neiman Marcus Last Call. It’s kind of short, and has a cross hatch pattern to it that shines and glitters as it moves. The thing had a price tag on it showing that it had originally sold for over $200 but was now in it’s last sale for $60. That’s still a lot of money in my book, considering that much of my wardrobe is from Thrift and consignment stores, but I loved the skirt and decided to go for it. When I bought it, I had thought it would go well with a large number of purple tops I have, including the new one I just bought, but I think I was mistaken.

On the advice of my fashion adviser (my wife) I had also brought along one of my favorite salmon colored tops. I really wasn’t sure it would work, but as usual she was right. The salmon color highlights the cross hatch threading in the skirt and I think it looks terrific. Loved it and so wore it out!

As has become my habit in Detroit, I headed for the Motor City Casino. The bad news is I got greedy and wound up loosing $20. I find this particularly annoying as early on I had been up $40 and should have had the sense to bail out. The problem is, it was early in the night and I didn’t want to head back to the hotel after only 45 minutes. So, spent a couple of hours playing video poker, lost my $20, and was heading out when I heard what I thought sounded like a live band. When I investigated I found there WAS a band there and so stopped to listen. I think their name was Mem Shannon and these folks were out of New Orleans and were great. I swear, the front man looked and sounded just like BB King. I took a couple of videos to get some sound bites for my blog but the sound quality really sucks.
As I’m sitting there listening to this, a guy walks up to me, crosses his arms, and gives me an exaggerated frown. As this was more or less my own posture, he was clearly poking fun at me. When I started to laugh he walked up and asked me if I wanted to dance! Umm, I don’t dance . . EVER, but it was way cool to be asked. I listened to the blues for a couple of hours and then headed for the hotel.

Day Two
Normally I wouldn’t mention who the customer is because I think that might cross the line into something my company might have a reason to yell about if they ever do stumble across my blog and figure out what I’ve been up to in my off hours. The problem is, how can I brag that I just got to see the 2010 Mustang if I don’t tell you I was at Ford?! LOL
As a lot of you probably know if you’ve read my blog and posts, I’ve got a 1967 Mustang – the fifth or sixth classic Mustang I’ve owned in my life, so I clearly have soft spot for the car. While we were fixing his instrument, I kept dropping the hint that it sure would be cool to see the newest model and he obliged by letting us peek in the window of the environmental testing chamber they had it in. Purty cool stuff! Literally – the chamber was at 20 degrees F. J
Well, got their instrument up and running very quickly but sort of dragged it out to get the engineer traveling with me some hands on experience. Even letting him stumble through our awful procedures to do the repair, we were still done shortly after lunch. It was killing me! This could have been an entire afternoon out shopping but here I was stuck with the new guy. This got me to thinking about things and so I took a hard look inside myself and decided that I have been a jerk. I had really made no serious effort to be sociable with this poor guy because I’d rather have my time to be Kim than socialize with a peer. Decided I didn’t like this about myself and so asked him if he might want to take a trip to the Casino with me and maybe check out the band they were going to have that night, and he agreed. We spent a couple of hours at the hotel going through documents and procedures so that we didn’t have to feel guilty about screwing off the entire afternoon and then headed to the Casino at about 3. He likes to play roulette and I like to play video poker, so we separated pretty quick. About 40 minutes later I’m down another $20 when he walks up, and says he just won $50 and is ready to go as soon as I am. Cool! HE is giving ME the bums rush to separate, and it’s still early!
Got back the hotel, got dressed, and headed back to the Casino again. This time not with my heart set on gambling, but just wanting to see what that nights band might sound like.

 I stopped at the bar / lounge and went to order a drink. As I’m standing at the bar, I notice the couple sitting next to me whispering and glancing my way, so I listen to see if I can hear them. Clearly I’ve missed the start of the conversation, but given their whispering and furtive glances my way, you don’t have to be a detective to figure it out.
“I’m telling you it is,” he says. She glances my way and quickly looks away.
“Uh uh, no way!” she replies. I turned and looked away from them, but am still trying to hear.
“It is too!” he says, “Just look at her . . “ and the noise in the lounge drowned out the rest of his words.
“No freaking (not the word she used) way!” she replied again. I got my drink and turned in time to see them both looking directly at me. What the hell, might as well have fun with it, so I looked them both in the eye, winked at them, and went and found a table to listen to the band. According to the Casino's schedule, this band was called the Bomb Squad. Problem is, I looked up their web site and they look nothing like the band I saw so I'm not sure the name is right. They were not just good, they were incredible! They started off with Motown hits of the 60’s and nailed everyone of them. As the gamblers heard the quality, people started filling the lounge and soon people were dancing and shouting encouraging the band. Besides the realy awesome music, they had to ladies singing up front and one these women was built . . . umm . . exceptionally well, and OMG could she dance and move. I’ve never seen anyone live (not on TV or movies) that could move like this woman. I’d swear her hips must have been mounted on ball bearings, because this lady moved like a professional belly dancer. She always had the brightest smile on her face and you just couldn’t help grinning when she looked your way . . and she looked my way a lot! Watching her dance was so much fun, I would have stayed just for that. As usual, this sort of thing fills me with conflicting feelings and emotions. On the one hand, I am filled with envy, and wish like hell I could look and move like her. On the other hand, believe it or not, I have all the same interests in attractive women that most men have.
The band took a break and so I hit the poker machine again . . . and promptly lost another $20. This sucks! I had started to feel like the Casino was my personal ATM because I usually walked out with more than I walked in with, but not this trip!
Heard the band start up again, so I returned to the lounge. Went to the bar first to order a drink and while I’m standing there waiting for it, a guy built like a wrestler points at my bangles.
“Aren’t those heavy?” he says, clearly joking with me. The place was kind of loud and so at first I wasn’t sure I’d heard him and gave him that “huh?” look.
“Aren’t all those bracelets heavy? How can you lift your arms?” he asks with a huge smile.
“Nah, their cute and fun,” I told him, as I got my drink from the bartender “You should try it some time!”. He must have had too much to drink, because he thought that was hilarious.
The bands second set was hits from the 70’s, and yes this included some disco. Most of the crowd was about my age, and we all ATE IT UP! Lol I listened the rest of this wet, watching the lady with the perfect figure doing impossible things with her hips, and then called it a night.
Day 3
My third day was all work and no play. Our next customer was a 2 hour drive north ot Detroit, and by the time we made the round trip, refurbished the customers instrument, and got dinner, it was about 9 PM and far too late to consider getting ready and going out.
All in all, a pleasant trip!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chicago and Peoria Illinois

So this was a two part journey – working fist in Chicago Illinois for a couple of days and then driving down to Peoria for the rest of the week. Still traveling with the new engineer I'm training but this is turning out to be not much of a problem. He is a very likeable guy but seems to have absolutely no interest in hanging out after work. He also prefers a different hotel chain than the Holiday Inn that I prefer to stay with and so we are staying at different hotels. I literally couldn't have asked for this to work out any better! All kidding aside, I am starting to wonder if he has his own reasons for wanting privacy. As I said, he is very likeable and easy to talk to and he has already commented on my nails. He said he used to keep his long too. When the conversation led to discussion of how I am fairly confident in my manhood, he want on to say that he used to wear a "man purse" until he wore it out. Wouldn't that be funny if he and I stumble in to each other some night in the same club. LoL

I have this wedding dress that I bought probably 8 years ago. It's beautiful but is huge and takes up a lot of valuable closet space for something that I'm never going to get to wear anywhere. Add to that the fact that the dress doesn't fit and I decided to take it with me, take some pics, and get rid of it. Yes, I know it LOOKS like it fits here but the zipper is not all of the way up and it's torn from my prior attempts to fit my size 14 behind in to the size 12 dress.

So Chicago turned out to be pretty cool. Someone online turned me on to the fact that Hunters does Karaoke on Monday nights and so I decided to check it out. I wore a new skirt that I think is cute and flirty and tried a couple of different tops. Decided the teal really didn't suite my skin very well and so went with the blue instead.

As luck would have it, I arrived just in time to see half a dozen people putting away guitars! Damn damn damn, I just missed either a band or a jam session – I was mad as hell. Stuck around for the Karaoke and was pleasantly surprised to hear that the majority of the people were really good and so it was a pleasure. Of course we're talking about a Monday night so there weren't many Tgirls out and about. There was one other Tgirl there – very young, skinny, and cute (the bitch! lol) with a huge head of curly blond hair. At least twice I said hello as I walked by her or she walked by me. Either she didn't hear me, or doesn't care to talk to ugly old cross dressers because she didn't even bother to smile back. Oh well . . .

Drove down to Peoria on Wednesday. After we got done doing some training on our software, the other engineer headed out for his hotel and I was free! Got cleaned up and headed out for some shopping.

I hit up a Goodwill right next to the hotel and found nothing of interest there and headed to Kohls. I was shopping through the shoes when this young lady loudly says "Oh no! I can't believe this happening to me!" I glanced her way and she took that as an invitation to start a conversation with me.

"I've got to go to a funeral tomorrow and they don't have the shoes I wanted in my size!"

I said something stupid along the lines of I was sorry to hear about that. She sighed and continued looking for the perfect she for her skirt. A moment later she walked up to me and asked:

"Do you mind if I ask you a question?" I figured we were about to get into a discussion about transgender and told her "Sure, go for it!"  She held up a black skirt with white dots she was carrying and a pair of black pumps with much larger white dots with red four inch heels.

"Do you think these work together?" I was floored. I thought she was going to ask me about being a cross dresser but instead she treated me as another woman and asked for my fashion advice. I almost teared up! LOL.

I told her "I really don't think so, and the four inch red heels might send the wrong message at a funeral. We both laughed, she said thanks, and then off she went. Sigh . . .

Finished shopping and headed for the "Elbo Room" – a karaoke bar there in Peoria. It is a "straight" place, but very popular with young people and the medical folks from the surrounding hospitals and is really a very friendly place. I had a ball singing and listening to others. A few folks really made an impression with me and so I asked if I might take their pictures.

This is the bartender there. She is attentive and friendly lady and gorgeous. I love her sense of style too as every time I've been there she is wearing cute blouses that I want!

This is the lady that ran the Karaoke. She is just cute and adorable and very easy to chat with.

 This is another patron and singer. I took her picture because she sings VERY well, is cute and a bit different, AND I loved her dress. LOL