Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Creepy in Cincy

Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 15 003 

Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 15 001 

Wow, I am so tired. I think my no sleep, and always on the go last couple of weeks is catching up with me, ‘cause I am just plain tired. This weeks trip was to provide training and do some maintenance on some of our equipment at the University of Cincinnati. My flight didn’t leave until 10AM, so at least this time I didn’t have to get up at 3AM. I wore a new skirt I had bought a month or so ago. 
 Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 15 005
You could call this skirt a “Stealth Bad Girl” skirt, because it looks quite prim and proper on the hanger, and even on me while I’m standing. Sitting down however is a whole different ball of wax. This skirt has slits in both, the front and the back, and when you sit, the slit in the front pulls open to show a great deal more of my legs than I am comfortable with. I spent my entire day tugging it down and closed again. Other than that, I thought it was cute enough. I think I’ll keep it, but reserve it for going out in the evening when I want to be a little sexy, not for everyday wear.
Today was a “no confidence” day – I just felt like I was ugly and like everyone seeing me would know exactly what I was. Even before I left the house, I was thinking about taking a shower and going male, but there wasn’t time. I spent the entire day feeling like a man in a skirt, and feeling like people were staring at me. Oh well . . .
So, on this day where I feel a serious lack of confidence, I arrive in Cincinnati . . . and my luggage doesn’t. . . .
With all of the travel I do, this is only the third time my baggage has not arrived. Twice I was flying US Airways (including this trip), and once on a United flight. At least when United blew it, they could tell me where my bags were. They had sent them on a tour of the South Eastern US when I needed them in New York state, but at least they KNEW where the bags were. Both times with US Airways, they could not tell me anything about my bags. They had no idea if they had ever left Austin, and of course had no idea where they were. Now having slammed them for that, I would have to admit that the gentlemen helping me was very friendly, concerned, and professional, and did his very best. He called me several times to let me know what the status was, called me when they found them, and called me when they were on a truck to be delivered. So yeah, they lost them, but they bent over backwards to find them and get them to me, and they did it with a friendly and professional attitude. Considering that they were dealing with a cross dresser, something that they probably don’t encounter every day, I give them an A+.

 Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 15 007

Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 15 008
I arrived at the hotel, still feeling ugly and unpassable, more than a little tired from a long day, and very stressed over the entire luggage thing. Moving more or less on auto pilot, I approached the front desk and realize that the two women working the counter are absolutely stunning. They were both picture perfect Barbie Doll blondes, with the faces and figures of models or movies stars. For just a moment, I feel an almost physical pain in my chest, kind of a longing that is hard to describe. Here I felt like an ugly and tired old man in a skirt, and I was speaking with the exact opposite - a drop dead gorgeous young lady. I know it makes no sense to say you miss something you never had, but sometimes I sort of feel like I was robbed, like I should have had a life like hers, like it’s just not fair that I didn’t get it. I know it'snot rational, and that there’s nothing redeeming about envy, but there you have it.
Despite her young years, the goddess that took care of me never once hesitated. She gave me a huge smile and treated me as she would have treated any woman, and shortly I was on the way to my room. So there I am in my hotel room, dressed entirely as a female, I don’t have a stitch of male clothing, don’t know if my luggage will be found or not, and I’ve got to go to work tomorrow morning.
Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 15 012 
Nothing else for it I guess, and in a complete turn about from the normal state of affairs, Kimberly went shopping for Matthew! Eighty dollars later, I left Target with a complete male outfit, grumbling to myself the entire time that this money would have bought a fairly good pair of heels! Still wearing my stealth bad girl skirt, I stopped into a Italian restaurant called “Carlos” and had dinner. Again, I felt like everyone that interacted with me knew instantly what I was, but I was just too damn tired to care.
After dinner, I had sort of caught my second wind, and decided to head to a club called “On Broadway” that I’d found Online. It was supposed to do karaoke Monday nights, and now that I had male clothing for my work day I was starting to relax a little, so I gave it a shot. I arrived at about 9PM and was treated like gold. The bartender and a couple of customers struck up conversations with me. The only down side is that the karaoke didn’t start until “10’ish” which means more like 1030PM, and I just wasn’t up to hanging that late tonight, and so I returned to the hotel. Around 230AM I got the call that my bags had been delivered to the hotel. Wow, I could have saved my eighty dollars if I'd just waited, but I just couldn’t afford to run the risk.

Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 16 014

Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 16 026

The next day was a pretty exhausting one as well. I was here to work on our Residual Gas Analyzers (Mass Spectroscope), and while I was once pretty good with these things, I haven’t actually laid hands on one in years. This left me more than a little nervous going into this. When I arrived and was escorted into their lab, I was gratified to see equipment from my company everywhere. Their labs were like show cases for my company, with our products on every shelf, bench, and system I could see. With the economy being what it is these days, it’s nice to see  to see this. I was able to repair both of their systems, upgrade their software, provide training on how to use it, and also addressed a whole host of other problems they were having. I gave them three hours of my time for free, because lets face it, with our products everywhere, they had clearly done well by my company and so I went the extra mile for them. By the time I headed back to the hotel, it was 6PM, I had 40 minutes of driving ahead of me, and I was just plain tired. When I checked and found that my flight home left at 630AM, I decided then and there that Kimberly was not coming out to play tonight. I took some pics of the hotel area for my blog and then asked the blonde super models at the counter if I might take their picture for my blog as well. They both looked very embarrassed and told me they would prefer not. I was too tired to try to charm them in to it, and so feeling disappointed, I returned to my room. I know that even in boy mode, sometimes I must give off signals that say “Hey, I’m different”, and so between that and my being so damned tired, I wonder if I just came off to the girls at the counter as creepy? Great – half the time I’m a cross dresser, and the other half of the time I’m creepy . . .    I wonder if I should have just taken their picture with out asking, but somehow it just seemed rude. . .

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Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 16 044

Cincinnati Ohio 2009 06 16 046

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Presidential Suite

I’m off to Detroit yet again! The instrument I work on the most often uses a Infrared detector that requires liquid nitrogen to keep it cold. That container that holds the detector and the liquid nitrogen is a glorified thermos, with vacuum insulation that leaks over time, and so it requires periodic servicing to restore that vacuum insulation. This trip was to re-install one of these detectors that had just been serviced so it was pretty much a milk run for me. The bad news is, it was a fairly early flight and so I had to get up at 3AM to get ready in time. I seriously considered just making the trip the good old fashioned way (as a guy) so that I wouldn’t have to get up so early but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Detroit 2009 06 09 003

I wore my floaty multi-color peasant skirt and a new green top I had just purchased. I also wore the new pair of darn brown Mary-Jane’s I bought last week at DSW. This skirt is really neat, but you have to see it in motion to appreciate it. It’s made of such light fabric that it swirls around your legs like ocean waves when you walk. A VERY cool effect.
The green top is just a little out of my ordinary. I typically stick to relatively thick fabrics because I like the way they drape on me, but the drawback is that they are hot. This top is a rare foray into lighter and cooler fabrics so that I don’t die of heat stroke.
On the flight from Austin to Charlotte, I sat next to a large African American woman. Shortly after taking off, the flight attendant, a woman in her late 50’s I’d guess, came through the plane pushing the beverage cart. Apparently she was having a bad day, because she was curt to the point of being rude. She looked at the large woman next to me, who was sitting along the isle, and pretty much demanded she move her arm out of the way of the cart.
“Excuse me” says the flight attendant, with no hint of a smile, and in a tone of voice making it clear that this was really more of a demand than a request. Apparently the woman didn’t move fast enough to suite the flight attendant and so she pushed the cart on by, shoving the woman’s arm aside in the process. The lady looked over at me with kind of a bemused “Did you see that?” look.
“Well, she’s just a little ball of sunshine, isn’t she?” I told the woman. She started to laugh, and that sort of set the tone for the rest of the flight. Later in the flight, that same attendant pushed her again, this time almost knocking the book out of her hands.
“You know, maybe you should shove her back!” I told her, and then, just to be sure she realized it was a joke, I added “Don’t worry, I’ll come visit you in jail. I promise!” 
That once again got a good laugh from her. She turned out to be quite friendly and so we chatted off and on for most of the flight. When we landed I asked her of she was gonna shove the flight attendant on the way out the door, and she just laughed and told me she was considering it.  J
The layover in Charlotte was a pain because they had these three people trying to  shove their credit card applications down peoples throat. The annoying thing was, these three were doing it in such a way that the people they were stopping thought it was the airline stopping them for official business. This man would stand in the hall, and with an authoritative tone of voice he would stop people.
“Excuse me, are you flying US Airways?”  Usually this would get a startled look from the individual stopped, and then they would agree that they were, and the salesman would continue. “Step over here please.”  You see the thing is, he didn’t phrase it as a request, he phrased it in such a way, and with a tone of authority, that people were assuming he was an airline representative pulling them aside for a search or some other official reason. Then of course he tried to sell them on the credit card. He would yell after people who were walking by, calling to them three of four times, still sounding like an airline rep.
“Ma’am” he would loudly say. “Ma’am?!” he would repeat as she kept walking, and then for the few people that realized he was not with the airline and so didn’t stop, he would once more loudly call to them. “Ma’am?!” Most obnoxious! Watching them stop countless people this way, clearly trying to give the impression that they had no choice but to stop, just really pissed me off. I’m considering writing a letter to the airline to complain about it.
Get to Detroit and get my bags with no excitement at all, and make my way to the rental car shuttle bus. I arrived just as the Avis bus did, and for the first two or three minutes I was the only passenger on the bus. As the door opens, the driver walks up to help with my bags, and he is none other than the guy that was picking on me a week ago at the Avis lot. At the time, he was giving me hell for lifting my bags easily into the trunk when he could hardly lift them at all.
“Hey, I know you!” he said with a laugh, while grabbing my tool box. While he took that, I lifted my large suite case onto the bus, where he then grabbed it, and with some effort, slid it under the rack.
“Damn you sure made that look easy, that bag is heavy!” he said with a shit eating grin.
“Ah hell, here we go again!” I replied with a laugh. He kept looking at me, then tried to give me an innocent look.
“What do you mean?” he asked, his words dripping with niceness.
“I mean you giving me hell for being able to lift heavy bags.” I told him, with my own shit eating grin. I sat by the door near my bags while he moved back to the front. As he sat down, he turned around in the seat and patted the bench close to him.
“Why don’t you move up here?” he asked.
“Nah, that’s all right.” I told him, now getting kind of confused as to if this guy is really trying to be nice or an asshole.
“Well why not?” he asked. "We can talk!”
“All right, I’ll bite. What are we gonna talk about?”  I asked him.
Well, it turns out he is a retired corrections officer just moved here from Arizona and I actually ended up enjoying talking to him. I suspect he’d have eaten me alive if I’d been timid, but I think he sort of respected me for handing his shit right back to him.
Well, as it turns out, they didn’t have a car assigned to me when I got there so I had to go to the counter and get it. A short while later, I was sitting in my rental car and setting up my GPS when this cute lady taps on the closed drivers window. I see she is wearing an Avis tag, and wondering what was wrong, I lowered the window to talk to her, and she leaned in close.
“I just had to tell you that your skirt is beautiful!” she says with a great big smile.
“It’s so cool of you to say so!” I told her. “It’s definitely one of my favorites!”.
“Well you have a great day!” she said with a smile, slapping her hand on the top of the door and walking away. Grinning like an idiot, I proceeded to the guard gate where they check your contract and drivers license. As I pull up, I notice there are two female guards in the shack, and they both step out. I recall both of them from prior trips, but they have not been on duty the last couple of trips I’d made here.
“Hey there!” says one of them, “It’s been a while! How have you been?” Before I can respond, the other one speaks up.
“Yeah, we haven’t seen you in a while. How are you?” she also asks.
"I just couldn’t be any gooder, thanks for asking! How are y’all doing?” I asked them. We chatted back and forth for a few minutes, until another car pulled up behind me. I headed off for my hotel kind of bemused that all of these people had noted and remembered my prior visits. When you think of how many hundreds, or maybe even thousands of people they deal with every single day, it really is making sort of a statement that they noted and  remembered me.
I got to the holiday Inn in Allen Park and made my way up to the desk where I could see one of the ladies I had often chatted with, and what appeared to be her manager standing next to her. As I walked up to the desk, the young lady sort of tilted her head to the side, and with a grin she starts to speak.
“Why do you even bother going home?” she asked me. That one busted me up, so we all laughed.
“You know, I was kind of wondering that myself!” I replied. At that the point, the phone range, she grabbed the call, and the manager took care of checking me in.
“Well, I see you’re a platinum member! Thank you so much for staying with the Holiday Inn. I’ll tell you what, why don’t we upgrade you to a better room?” he asks.
“That’s OK, I wont be spending much time in it anyway. As long as it’s got a bed and an air conditioner I’m good to go!” I told him.
“Well, I can guarantee you that much.” He says with a smile. “We’ve got a suite on the first floor, will that do?” he asks.
“Sure, that will be just fine.” I replied. I handed over my credit card, signed the contract, and headed for my room. When I opened the door my jaw almost hit the ground. The room was HUGE. This single room was bigger than my living room, kitchen, and dining room combined.

Detroit 2009 06 09 006

I closed the door and headed back to the front desk. The lady I typically deal with was off the phone now so I approached her.
“Umm, I think y’all have made a mistake.” I told her.
“Oh no, what’s wrong?” she asks, clearly concerned.
“Well apparently y’all think I’m a senator or the President of the United States. I’m not, I’m just a traveling red neck and don’t need a room quite so grand!”   She just laughed and told me to enjoy it. She then explained that it had actually been a conference room that they had converted. I returned to the room, and heard the sound of the door closing echo off of the walls of the huge room.. I peeked into the bathroom to discover it was damn near as large as the room itself. Laughing at the twists and turns in my life that took me from a poor desert rat to standing in a uber expensive hotel room as Kimberly, I unpacked my things and confirmed that I had all of the appropriate male clothing with me for tomorrows work day.

Detroit 2009 06 09 019

Detroit 2009 06 09 013

I had a couple of hours before I was supposed to meet Jennifer Nelson of the Vanity Club, and so I decided to go shopping. I looked through the shoes in Macy’s but didn’t find anything I couldn’t live with out and so I made my way toward the mall proper. Of course they have it set up so that you have to walk the gauntlet of makeup and perfume counters to get out of Macy’s, and as I walked through, one of the makeup SA’s speaks to me as I walk by.
“Would you care to try some of our makeup? I could give you a little makeover?” she says, pointing at her stool with an eyebrow raised in question. I stopped for a moment and thought about. What an intriguing idea, to sit in an upscale department store and get a makeover just like the countless women I have envied in the past. The problem is, doing a makeover for a TG requires a whole different set of skills than working on your average woman. I have to wear fairly heavy foundation and she would have to wipe most of it off to get a fresh start, I wasn’t willing to take the risk right before meeting Jennifer for dinner.
“You know, that’s a really neat offer, but no than you!” I told her. She must have seen the smoke rising from my ears while I was trying to makeup my mind though, because she gave me one more chance.
“Are you sure?” she asked again.
“Yep, but thank you so much for the offer!”
As I was walking off it occurred to me – absolutely everything had gone my way since I arrived in Detroit this trip. Every one had stopped to chat with me and be nice, several people had gone out of their way to kid with me, and I’d just been offered a makeover. If I were smart, I’d call dinner off and head to the Casino to cash in on the days apparent good fortune! Shopped a bit more, and them headed for Ann Arbor where I was to meet Jennifer for dinner at Gratzi’s. Shortly before I got there, I received a call from her telling me that she was there, and would wait for me in the bar. She also told me that there was a parking garage behind the restaurant, and so as I approached, this is what I was looking for. I did find a parking garage, but it was a good three blocks away, so I wasn’t sure if it was the one she had referred to. I gave her a call and she described the garage to a “T” so I pulled in, parked, and made the three block walk to the restaurant. The walk from the parking garage to Gratzi (the restaurant), required me to walk through about half a dozen sidewalk cafĂ©’s, and as far as I could tell no one looked twice at me, and I actually enjoyed the walk. As I approached Gratzi’s, I just happened to glance in the right direction and noted that there was a parking garage much closer than the one I had used. I just hadn’t seen it while driving and trying not to kill anyone looking around. Oh well, I guess it’s a good thing that I had enjoyed the walk!

Detroit 2009 06 09 021

As I entered Gratzi’s, I could see Jennifer sitting at the bar, and she looked exactly like her picture – cute! We hugged in greeting, with me desperately tying to make sure I didn’t get my foundation all over her outfit, and then sat and chatted for an hour or so. Jennifer has some of the brightest eyes I’ve seen, and when you look in to them, you just know that your talking to a fairly intense person. We chatted about this and that, from shoes to careers, to hobbies. She specifically asked me not to mention or even hint at what she had done in her career, but lets just say that it was interesting and successful.

Detroit 2009 06 09 024

At one point in our discussion, Jennifer very casually mentioned that she had graduated from MIT. It didn’t really occur to me at the moment, but later on as I was considering the night, it struck me that a great deal of the TG’s I had met in my travels, had been very successful. Jennifer had graduated from MIT and her career had been highly successful and of a high profile. I have met popular musicians, airline pilots, several lawyers, PHDs, and university professors. In the midst of all of these successful and well educated people, along comes Kimberly the dessert rat. I couldn’t bare staying in school long enough to graduate and so had taken my GED and joined the Army at 17. The only college I have was in classes and on topics that had interested me. All of my technical education was through the US Army, and while that was quite a lot of high quality technical training, it was a long way from being a well rounded education. As silly as it sounds, sometimes I feel like “The Little Queen That Couldn’t”, or perhaps “The Little Queen That Didn’t”. Funny how those old insecurities still pop up every once in a while!
Anyway, I had a very pleasant night speaking with Jennifer. An interesting person, with  interesting stories to tell, and it made for an enjoyable night.
Detroit 2009 06 09 027

When I got back to the hotel, I tried on a gown I am considering for the Southern Comfort Conference this year. This was my first chance to try it on while having hair and makeup, and I wanted to see what the whole package would look like. Even after seeing it, I’m still not sure it’s “the” gown. I am considering wearing the same gown I wore last year. That gown was awesome, and I felt gorgeous in it, but I’m just not sure about the social implications of wearing the same gown twice in a row. What do y’all think – new gown that is just “ehh” or same gown I wore last year that rocked?
 SCC 050 Cropped

The next day it was time to pay the piper and go earn my paycheck. This instrument needed a lot of work, but it was all pretty standard stuff that I was more than familiar and comfortable with. So, a lot of work to do, but none of it particularly challenging. The really cool thing is, when I was done, the customer sent an email to my manager telling him that every instrument I worked on performed better than they had when brand new from the factory, and making it clear he preferred my company send me when his equipment needed support. Things being what they are with jobs and the economy, this was a very nice gesture and very much appreciated by me. Of course the first thing my manager asked was “How much did you pay him to write that email?”  He thinks he’s being funny, but on my next visit I intend to get him a steak lunch!

 Detroit 2009 06 10 004

Detroit 2009 06 10 013
Got back to the hotel and tried on a new outfit I recently purchased. This one is a very bright orange and I wasn’t at all sure that it would suite me. I think these bright, almost neon colors, typically flatter women with darker skin tones. You know, people that are capable of getting an actual tan, unlike my own Casper-the-ghost white self. I got dressed and then reviewed my appearance in the mirror and tried to decide if the outfit worked for me or not. Ultimately I never did decide if it flattered me or not, but I didn’t hate it, so I moved forward with it. I figured ‘what the heck, gotta step outta your comfort zone every once in a while!’  Just to really push my luck, I also wore my white shoes with 4 or 4.5 inch heels. I don’t wear heels that high most of the time, so I was probably a little less than graceful when I walked.
Detroit 2009 06 10 015

I returned to “SoHo” in Ferndale, because they have karaoke on Wednesday nights. I had done this on my last visit to the area and they had had some fairly good singers, and music that I enjoyed, so what the heck. As soon as I entered the place and took a seat, I had two people ask me if I wanted a kitten. Not only did they ask, but they really put on the hard sell, but despite the kittens being adorable, it just wasn’t an option. The man sitting next to me was holding one of them in his arms, the cat flat on it’s back, paws up in the air, and it was sound asleep! The little critter looked exactly like the cat that I just lost a few months ago, and had this been in Austin where I would only have to throw it in the car and take it home, I’d probably have taken it.
Detroit 2009 06 10 018

Spent the night singing, and listening to others sing, and then headed for the hotel. By the time I got my makeup washed off and everything packed it was quite late and so I only got a whopping 2.5 hours of sleep before getting up and heading for the airport. I was sitting in the front of the plane on my connection from Charlotte to Austin and watching all of the people entering the aircraft when I noticed that one of them looked familiar. It took me a second to figure it out, but it was the large woman that I had sat next to a couple of days ago on my trip to Detroit. You know, the lady that the flight attendant was kind of rude to? Before I stopped to think about it, I started speaking to her.
“Hey, aren’t you the lady I sat next to on the flight here?” She got this real confused look on her face and then it finally struck me what I had done. On the flight next to her, I was Kim, and right now I was Matt. Well, too late to worry about that now, so I just plowed forward.
“You know, when the flight attendant kept shoving you?” I asked, giving her a wink. That’s when it clicked for her and she got a huge smile.
“Honey, she was so rude I wanted to just strangle her!” she said, placing her hand on my shoulder as she walked by.
“Well I wish you better luck on this flight then!” I told her. We both laughed. She continued on to her seat, and I sat there thinking that I must be getting old to be making such stupid mistakes as to unthinkingly out myself to someone. It’s not that I minded her knowing. After all, I didn’t know this woman and her knowing would never effect my life. What really concerned me was that I had done it with out thinking.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fremont in Northern California

Current mood:tired
This weeks trip was to Fremont in Northern California. We have engineers in San Jose that would normally service and install our equipment here, but the local guy that used to work on this product line here was laid off a month or so ago, and those who are left here have had no training on this tool. The kicker is that I haven’t worked on one of these systems myself in over a year, and this system has new generators in it that I have never even seen before myself. It makes me more than a little nervous to have to install and train customers on equipment that I’ve never even seen myself! Fortunately fear of failure motivates me and so I spent a good deal of time reading manuals before I went.

San Jose 2009 06 03 005

So I’m standing in one of the small stores in the Austin airport looking at the book rack. The book rack goes to about chest height, and then the wall behind it is glass, so you can see the people sitting in the food court area outside the store .. . and they can see in . . .
As I’m looking at the books my eye is caught by movement and I glance up to see this pretty young lady stretching up in her seat to peek at me. As soon as I glanced her way, her head ducks back down so that I can’t see her eyes anymore. A moment later I see it poking back up, and there she is peeking at me again. Feeling a little playful, a stretched up on to my toes so that I could look at her over the books, and found myself facing four young ladies sitting around a table, and all were turned in my direction and looking right at me. I can’t hear her, but I can see the lips of the girl that had been peeking at me say “I told you!”  Still having fun, I just winked at them and went back to looking at the books.
This time I flew American Airlines, and they treated me quite well, as have all of the other airlines I’ve used. It was a fairly typical flight, with nothing of any real interest occurring. The gentleman sitting next to me was quite friendly, and we chatted a little, but not enough to risk annoying each other.
When the rental car shuttle bus pulled up in front of me, it was already packed with people, so it took me a little bit of effort to get my bag and myself on it and in place. As I took my seat and started looking around, I realize the bus is almost entirely full of what I assume were Amish folks. The women all wore scarves and fairly plain dresses, and the men all wore round and black hats and had beards but no mustaches. I noticed that a few of them glanced my way but they didn’t appear at all concerned with me. I couldn’t help noticing that a couple of the older men were wearing what appeared to me to be fairly expensive suites – at least the fabric was expensive. It just seemed so odd to see these folks on a bus. When they got off and the door closed, the man across from me looked up and smiled.
“They are a long way from home, huh?” he said.
“It sure looks that way.” I replied “You know, it must take an awful lot of courage for them to make a trip like this.”  He merely nodded his agreement.
I hate to sound racist or ignorant, but I have to admit to a bit of trepidation when I got to the Avis rental car lot at the San Jose airport because all of the men there were wearing turbans. I’m fairly sure this is the custom for men from many nations and regions around the world, so I have no idea what country or culture most of them came from, nor how they might feel about someone transgender like myself. All I know is that I was a bit nervous handing my male drivers license over at the security gate, but my concern was for nothing. The man didn’t bat an eye and didn’t even hesitate at the difference between my appearance and the picture on my drivers license.
As I was leaving the airport, I realized it wasn’t even noon yet, and so decided to use my GPS to find a few Goodwill thrift stores and go shopping! I went through two of them but found nothing I was in the slightest bit interested in. The difference between Goodwill stores in different regions can be quite striking. Some have very nice things in them and are very pleasant to shop in. Some, like the two I hit here, were kind of plain and filled with stuff that really should have been thrown out. Oh well . . .
Still far too early to check into my hotel, I searched for and found a mall. How was I supposed to know that the Valley Fair Mall is where the wealthy people shop and that I had no business going there? My latest shopping quest is for a neat pair of brown shoes. I have an increasing number of Earth tone outfits but don’t really have a good pair of shoes to go with them, so I started my shopping expedition at Nordstrom’s shoe department, where I hit their sales rack. I found a pair of brown shoes that I thought were a bit interesting and picked them up to discover that even on sale, these shoes were going for just short of $400 dollars. Sorry, but that is way too rich for this little red neck, so decided that it was time to leave Nordstrom’s and see what else the mall had to offer. Walking through the mall I got several of the “I know what you are looks” from other patrons and from sales associates, but still no one was rude or anything like that. I found a really neat pair of retro looking brown shoes at Macy’s on sale for $49! My problem with womens shoes is that my let foot is about half a size larger than my right, so when I buy a pair of shoes I can count on one or the other not fitting quite right – either one will be too loose, or the other too tight. Since these were the only pair remaining, this time I was going to have to settle for the left foot being a bit too tight. Still, I walked around in them for a moment or two and decided that it wasn’t too bad, and they were really cute, and so I bought them.
By now it was late enough to check in to my hotel room and so I headed for the Holiday Inn Express in Fremont. When I entered, I found that the woman behind the counter was an absolutely stunning Indian. She was in her mid to late 20’s, and had huge amounts of long, dark, and gorgeous hair cascading down well past her waist. It took me a moment to find my voice and tell her my name as I noticed her huge brown eyes. The sad thing is that while I was mesmerized by her, she was less than thrilled with me. She clearly was not impressed with me, and her smile was completely insincere, never making it to her eyes. Several times over the next couple of days as I came and went, I got the same vibe from her:  “I work here and will be professional, but I don’t like you” was the way her look made me feel.

San Jose 2009 06 03 010

I made a call to Carin, an online friend that I have been chatting with for a couple of years but had never actually met, and she made her way to my hotel where we sat and chatted for a bit. As we spoke, I would every once in a while catch just the hint of an accent and finally asked her about it. It turns out that she was born and raised in Ireland, a country that fascinates me. Supposedly I am a quarter Irish (Irish, German, French, and American Indian – a mutt!) and so Ireland has always held an interest for me, and as stupid as this sounds, I’ve always liked the Irish brogue. Were a pretty girl with in Irish brogue ever to approach me, I could be in serious trouble! We spoke for about an hour in my room, and then went to get Coffee at “Pete’s”. I’d never heard of the place, but apparently it is fairly popular and on a par with places like Starbucks. We were sitting outside and enjoying the breeze for a bit and then asked a lady sitting next to us if she would snap a picture for my blog. She laughed and confided that was actually a professional photographer and would be happy to. I told her that my camera shouldn’t present much of a challenge for her then.
San Jose 2009 06 03 011
Carin was wonderful, exactly who I was hoping she would be based on the posts I’d read from her over the years. Clearly a very intelligent person, and a very caring person as well. Carin and her wife had adopted several children that had come from less than nice circumstances, and so had seven children I think she said. I can’t imagine the kind of courage and dedication it would take to bring so many children in to your home and try and give them a decent life. If you knew nothing more about Carin, this would be enough to tell you what kind of person she is. And I have to tell you, that girl is SKINNY!  She’s one of those people we all hate who gets to walk into a shop and know she can pick anything off the rack she wants and it will fit. So many times I’ve found gorgeous dresses and tops that I would have loved to get, just to find that they were size 6 to 8, and were no where near fitting on my size 12 to 14 butt.  Grrrrrr!!!!!   Clearly Carin does not have this problem. It is of course not my place to share her problems with the world, but I think it is fair to say that Carin is in kind of a tough time in her life and trying hard to make the best of things. I very much hope that things will turn out well for her – I think that she and her family deserve it.
We went to dinner at Red Lobster where she ate like a rabbit and I ate like pig. It seems like old army habits die hard, because I realized I was almost done with my dinner and she had hardly started her own. It didn’t help that I hadn’t eaten anything all day and so was starving to death. When diner was done, we declined desert and so the waitress returned with the check. When she was setting it on the table, the “magic” shoes struck again.
“Those are cute shoes!” she told me with a huge smile. Apparently Carin had read my many posts about the magic shoes that seem to draw compliments from women every time I wear them, because from across the table I hear a snort and then a laugh from her.
“It’s true!” Carin said “And now you have a witness!”
The next day it was time to earn my paycheck. Since this new system had a brand new model of generator in it that I had never been trained on or even seen, I started my morning off by reading the entire manual again so that maybe I could avoid looking like an idiot in front of my customer. In addition to the customer, one of my companies local engineers was going with me for OJT, so if I made a fool out of my self, there was going to be a witness from my own company as well. The company I was working with had rescheduled this startup several times, and in the four weeks of interaction with them, the guy I was told to work with had changed three times. Let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of faith that they had done their portion of the install correctly and so fully expected this install to be a pain in the butt. No pressure though . . .  Surprise, surprise, they had done a fine job and provided my system with everything we needed, and had done a good job with their cables and connections between their tool and mine – everything ran flawlessly. Most of the time on these installs is usually used finding and correcting faults with my customers cables and signals and none of that was required for this one, so it went very quickly and easily. Even dragging things out by checking all of our interlocks and safeties, and anything else I could do to give the customer the impression that he was getting something from our presence, it still only took us about 4 hours from start to finish. A two day install, and I was done in four hours – cool! 
The other engineer I was working with suggested we get lunch and a beer, and further suggested that we do it at “Hooters”. Places like Hooters tend to bring conflicting feelings and emotions for me. On the one hand, I admire the female figure at least as much as any other guy. On the other hand, there is also a part of me that envy’s the girls there for their looks and their figures. To make matters even worse, now that I have a daughter, there is a small voice in the back of my head saying “How would you feel if someday some 40 year old man is staring at YOUR daughters behind like that?!” Brrrrrr. . . .  So, ate lunch, drank a couple of beers, and then we each headed our own ways!

San Jose 2009 06 04 003

San Jose 2009 06 04 002

That night I was to meet with Anita Prescott of the Vanity Club for dinner. I wore the new floaty brown skirt I got a month or so ago, and the cute brown shoes I had just purchased yesterday. Rather pleased with myself and my appearance, I headed out of my room and past the front desk, where I again received an ice cold smile from the beautiful woman at the counter. I got to Anita’s home about 40 minutes later, transferred over to her car, and we made the drive to San Francisco for dinner! The drive took at least an hour longer than it should have due to an accident ahead of us. We spent an hour at the entrance to the bridge into San Fran, moving no more than three or four car lengths the entire period.

San Jose 2009 06 04 005

San Fransisco 2009 06 04 013

At last the traffic started moving and we arrived at the Ana Mandara restaurant about an hour late for our reservations. Anita had done a terrific job in choosing the restaurant as it was unique, very elegant, and had great food AND a live jazz band! 

San Jose 2009 06 04 018

Anita Mae Prescott and Kimberly Huddle 021

Anita and I chatted about just about everything in the hours we were stuck in traffic and in the restaurant. The part that really stuck with me was the way that she and her wife had worked for years to build their own sail boat, and shortly after this dream boat was at last complete, her wife died. Needless to say, the boat had too many memories, and Anita got rid of it shortly thereafter. I’ll be damned if my eyes aren’t tearing up just thinking about it. Anita was a great gal, and a good host, I thank her very much for wasting her time with me.
The bad news is, after wearing my new shoes for a prolonged period, the toes on my left foot were screaming! When I’d tried them on in the store, the one foot had been snug, but not painful, but over an hour or so it became fairly painful. Brand new and awesome looking shoes and I may not be able to wear them much. I could just about cry. . .
I started the next day by following up with my customer to be sure that everything was still working well, and to see if they had any questions or concerns. Everything was great, and the customer did not want to see me, so I was free for the day! My integrity kept nagging at me that I really should try and get a flight home today, but I rationalized that the money I would have saved my company in hotels would have been offset by the cost of my changing my flights, and so I enjoyed a day in the San Jose area.

San Jose 2009 06 05 002

This time as I walked by the hotels front desk, there was a different lady there, and she gave me a genuine smile as I walked out the door.
“Have a nice day!” she said with a smile as I walked by.
“I hope you have a great day too!” I told her, with my best smile.

San Jose 2009 06 05 005

This time I headed for the “Great Mall”, where I intended to watch a movie and then do some window shopping. I still had it in the back of my head that I might find another pair of brown shoes that I could afford, so I kept an eye out for them.
I actually ended up watching two movies, not just one. I know that the critics had torn it up, but I thought that “Angels and Demons” was a good movie. As far as I’m concerned, the point to your average movie is to entertain, and this movie did a good job of that.
“Land of the Lost” I did not enjoy so much. It was OK, with a few good laughs, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Two movies under my belt, I headed in to the mall itself and started the very long hike through the entire thing. You know, I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying this, but despite the fact that it is where I was born, and despite it’s reputation for being something like the great Mecca for Gay and Transgendered life, California is one of my least favorite places to hang out cross dressed. Don’t get me wrong, the transgendered folks I’ve met there are top notch folks. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like people are very quick to identify me as TG here. Maybe it’s because they know that there are so many of us in the region and so they are predisposed to consider it when looking at others, or maybe it’s just in my head, but it just seems like passing, and being truly perceived as female, is damn near impossible for me in Northern California. Don’t get me wrong, everyone still treated me well, and no one was rude, but I just felt like I was being treated more like “the cross dresser” than like a woman. I was surprised by how many stores there were in he mall that sold only gowns, and some of them quite elaborate gowns. I looked at one lovely gown, Gold and long, with multiple skirts and layers, thinking it would look fabulous for the Southern Comfort Conference, but I had to walk away from it when the price tag showed it cost over $700. I’m sure it was worth it, but I haven’t got that kind of money for this sort of thing. Damn it.
I didn’t find a pair of shoes in the mall that I couldn’t live with out and so headed back toward the hotel. I say headed toward it, because part way there I stumbled across a DSW Shoe Warehouse and was drawn in against my will and better judgment. What do you know – I found a pair of cute little Mary Janes in brown AND they were on sale for less than $30 so I grabbed ‘em. I sat down in the car, trying to decide if I’d had enough for the day, or if I wanted to do anything else. I decided to check out a “friendly” bar called “The Savoy” in Santa Clara. I’d been there with Niya Blake before on a work night, and so I thought I’d see what it was like on Friday nights. There really weren’t that many people there when I arrived and I walked straight up the bar. The bartender was an adorable little girl, with short brown hair, big brown eyes, and a figure I wish like hell I had. She mixed me up a really good White Russian and I took it to a table where I could still see the TV. As I sat there looking around and feeling kind of bored, I noticed another tgirl sitting at the bar all by herself. I figured ‘what the hell’, grabbed my stuff and walked up to her.

San Jose 2009 06 05 007

“Sitting alone sucks, do you mind if I crowd you a bit?” I asked her.
“Not at all!” she said with a laugh. “Have a seat!”
We talked for a couple of hours and found that we had much in common. She had spent some time in the Marines and so there was a little good natured back and forth that you will always get when the Army and Marines get together. Turns out most of the males in her family had been in the Army so she didn’t pick on me too bad. I couldn’t help laughing though.
“So let me get this straight. They were all in the Army but didn’t try to convince you to go in to the Air force?” I asked her. She didn’t understand what I was getting at at first so I clarified it.
“At one point or another, most of us that were in the Army wished like hell we’d had the sense to join the Air force instead. They might have saved you the hassle by convincing you to go Air Force instead!” That got a good laugh from her. A brave person this one! When she was younger, she had just gotten on a cargo ship to Korea where she had made a living for a year or more. Can you imagine the courage it would take to just get on a boat and sail off to another country where you were going to make a go of it?
She had only been going out in the world cross dressed for about three months, and was still purty new to the whole thing. I bragged about some of the things I’ve done, trying to give her courage that she too could do anything she wanted to. I saw her eyes sparkle a couple of times and have a hunch she’s gonna be busy out and about in the near future. Anyway, we spent a couple of hours in very comfortable conversation, and it was an entirely pleasant night!
The next day was just my trip home as boring old Matt, but I had something neat happen. A woman in her 60’s was standing in line behind me and I was chatting with her a bit. We had stopped talking for some time when she reaches out and touches my arm.
“Your eyes are absolutely beautiful!” she told me, with a real kind tone of voice. She wasn’t flirting with me or anything, she was just giving me a compliment, but still I couldn’t help but blush.
“Well thank you so much! It’s been a long time since a lady has told me that and you just made my entire day!”