Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Don’t do the Kimberly thing in Wisconsin

Current mood:tired
Madison WI 006    ............
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Well, on this weeks trip, I only spent about 30% of the time female as I had planned on spending. The night before my trip to Madison Wisconsin, I was getting my things together for the mornings flight when my wife started to get kind of sullen. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she was angry, but she was clearly not happy and dropped a few hints.
.. ..
“I’m not feeling good. I’m tired and exhausted, and wish you weren’t going anywhere,” she told me two or three times, at least once with the classic boo boo lip sticking out.
For those of you that don’t speak the “wife” language, or my wife’s language in any case, this was a hint to say “If you spend all night picking out and packing things for your trip, and doing your nails, I’m going to be hurt and angry.” Being the selfish and thoughtless person that I am, I at first blew past this and kept getting my stuff together, but within a minute or two, the guilt got to me.
“OK, no problem. Sorry but I still have to pack what I need for the trip, but I’ll fly the old fashioned way so I don’t have to spend a lot of time getting everything together tonight. Once I get it all packed I’ll come sit down with you.” I told her with a smile. She then assured me that she didn’t want to ruin my flights and it was fine with her if I got ready, but it was clear that her heart really wasn’t in the words and so I stuck to that plan.
.. ..
As I was packing, my wife’s uncle from San Antonio called me to ask where I was headed this week. These are the folks that kept asking me if I was Transgendered until I finally admitted it to them recently. They are fine with it and maybe even a little fascinated by it. As soon as I told her uncle that I was on the way to Madison WI, he got all excited and handed the phone to his wife. Who would have thunk it – that is where she is from!
.. ..
“OK,” she says, “If your going there you need to bring me back some cheese turds!”  What the hell??!!  I must have misunderstood her.
“I’m sorry, you want me to get you what?” I asked her
“Cheese turds!” she repeated. I paused, waiting to see if something will click and this will suddenly start to make some kind of sense. Apparently I paused too long.
“Are you still there?” She asks.
“Yeah, I’m just trying to figure out what the hell ‘Cheese Turds’ are!” I told her.
“Not ‘turds’ you idiot, ‘curds’! Haven’t you ever heard the Christmas song about eating curds and weigh?” she asks, sounding irritated with my dim wittedness.
“OK, curds and not turds – got it. Yes, I’ve heard the song but never did have any idea what ‘curds’ were. What he hell are cheese curds?!” I asked her.  She quickly launched into an explanation, sounding excited the entire time that she was about to get her hands on this apparently delectable cheese product from home. Frankly, I figured there was a fair chance that she was yanking my chain and sending me on the equivalent of a snipe hunt, and so I was a little less than enthusiastic.
“Cheese curds. Right. Got it. No promises, but I’ll try and look for them.” I told her, still wondering if she was yanking my chain.
“Try hell! You better bring me back some!” she said, and then paused for a bit before continuing. “You know, on second thought, forget it – they will never let you in to the state anyway.” she says with the smug attitude that makes it clear that now she is yanking my chain.
OK, I’ll bite. Why wont they let me into the state?” I asked. She listed three reasons, but for the life of me, I can’t recall what they were. The one I do remember is that you have to be a fan of their football team to get into the state, and as sports bores the hell outta me, I wasn’t gonna make it past that part of the entry exam.
“Oh, one more thing.” She says, suddenly sounding serious. I waited but she didn’t continue, and so I had to prompt her.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“Don’t do the Kimberly thing there.” She says, with the tone that makes it clear she is offering heart felt and honest advice.
“I do the Kimberly thing pretty much everywhere I go.” I told her. “Not only have I been out in places like Oklahoma city and Little Rock Arkansas where people warned me I was crazy to go, but they treated me better there than in the cities well know for supposedly being more progressive and open minded. What makes you think that Madison would treat me any poorer?” I asked her.
“Well, it’s a college town, and they don’t tolerate that kind of thing there – you just shouldn’t do it.” She warned me. Now I travel to most of the cities in the United States, and I long ago discovered that the area’s around a university or college are almost always the areas where diversity is welcomed and well treated. Still, she was giving me heart felt advice, and I very much appreciated the thoughts behind it. It didn’t change my mind or my plans in any way, but I did appreciate her concern. You know what the funny thing is though? I had nightmares all night long about the trip. I had the Transgender or cross dresser version of the ‘I went to work/school with no clothes on’ kind of dream. Nightmares where I was “dressed” with no wig or makeup, and everyone around me knew what I was and was laughing at me. Nightmares where the airlines refused to let me board the aircraft. Nightmares where the customer took a look at me and started laughing. We are talking about dreams, and they don’t have to make sense. All I know is I had nightmares all night about the trip and so my 5 or 6 hours of sleep felt more like 2 or 3.
.. ..
When I arrived in Madison, my first order of business was to find a grocery store and look for ‘Cheese Turds’ . . . err . . . I mean ‘Cheese Curds’ for my aunt. I stopped at a grocery store and found cheese curds in a variety of flavors. Having no idea what she may have preferred, I gave my aunt a call.
“OK, I’ve found cheese curds! They’ve got Pizza curds, they’ve got Ranch curds, they have this kind of curd and that kind of curd. They have yellow cheddar curd and they have orange cheddar curd. What kind of curd do you want?” I asked her, being sure to exaggerate the word ‘curd’ each time I say it. As I’m speaking to her on the phone, I see a lady standing next to me break out in a huge grin as she hears what I’m saying. Clearly my sarcastic attitude has not gone unnoticed by her. I just glanced at her, pointed at the phone in my hand, and then circled my ear with my finger in the universal “this person is crazy” sign. She busted up laughing and was still grinning as I walked away.
.. ..
Madison WI 017
.. ..
The next day I completed my repair at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and was back to my hotel at around 2PM. As I considered getting dressed and going out, I still had a feeling of unease left over from the nightmares the previous night, and kept hearing my aunts voice over and over in my head:
“Don’t do the Kimberly thing in Madison!”
‘Well damn!’ I thought to myself. ‘If I give in to this fear, I’ll be back hiding in hotel rooms soon!’. With that thought on my mind, I got ready and forced myself to go out the door. Just for giggles, I decided to try the new hair I had bought at SCC back in September. The last time I’d tried this hair I really hadn’t cared for it much, but this time I devoted a lot more time and effort to it and I think that I managed to make it look a bit more to my style and liking.
.. ..
Madison WI 035

Madison WI 037
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I started off with a movie, and so went to see the new Sherlock Holmes. The young man that sold me my ticket didn’t bat an eye and I’m not sure he even realized what I was. The young lady where I bought the candy and a coke though, most certainly did catch on, and very quickly at that. As the family in front of me moved out of the way, clutching their assorted snacks and with the father herding the children away, the young lady behind the counter took one look at me and her face broke out in to a huge grin. Soon, I was clutching my snacks and walking down the hallway towards my movie. As I approached a group of teenaged boys standing outside another theater, they suddenly got quiet and watched me walk by. The entire time, I continued to hear my aunts words in my head – “Don’t do the Kimberly thing in Wisconsin!”. I honestly have no idea if they realized I was TG, or were just watching an older woman walk by, but my aunts words had made me hyper aware and paranoid, and I felt like everyone was staring at me.
.. ..
As I entered the theater, I stopped dead in my tracks because the place was packed and had very few open seats. Well, damned if I was gonna stop now, so I picked my way into the crowd, took a seat, dug my candy outta my purse, and started throwing “Buncha Crunch” in my mouth and washing it down with coke. It was a fairly good movie, and with some very well done costumes, scenes, and backgrounds of old London, but it is still not going to make my list of favorites. Sherlock Holmes love interest is a bad girl, which of course makes her that much more interesting. She was gorgeous, as you would expect, and she wore a couple of gowns that I would cheerfully kill for the chance to wear. I will never, ever, have the kind of money it would take to purchase a gown of that quality, and I can’t think of any place you would ever have the excuse to wear it in any case, so I suppose everyone is safe. Kimberly wont be killing anyone for gowns today.
.. ..
By the time the movie got out, it was almost 8PM, and so I decided to just return to my hotel and take advantage of the assorted coupons they had given me on account of my Platinum status with them. The waitress was a doll, very friendly and with the good sense to know that a good waitress checks with her guests just often enough to be sure they have the chance to ask for something if they want it, but not so often as to be an annoyance. As I was finishing my dinner, I noticed that my throat was starting to hurt, and my nose was starting to run. Uh oh – not good. It looks like I’m getting a cold. Still, I planned to fly home pretty and so I packed most of my stuff away, leaving out the outfit and makeup that I intended to wear. I guess the joke was on me though, because when I woke up in the morning, I was in no doubt that I now had a cold. I just couldn’t picture spending the day wiping my makeup off over and over as I blew my nose, and so decided I’d be better off flying drab, and I sullenly packed away my skirt and dug out the damned blue jeans.

I was half way out the door and headed for  the airport when I realized that I’d forgotten something! I left my bags in the hall and went back in to my room where I opened the refrigerator and grabbed the bags of Cheese Turds.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gone to Massachusetts

When I landed in Austin last week, I was shocked when my bags came rolling down the baggage claim. The chemical smell wafting up from my bag was overwhelming and choking. It seems that my brand new bottle of nail polish remover had apparently worked its way open and happily soaked everything in my suitcase. That zip lock bag that I had the bottle in just in case of this unhappy event? Yeah, forget about it – it leaked too. Most of my clothing I have bought off of sales racks and at thrift stores. Very few garments I’ve bought were full price or expensive, and so wouldn’t you know it that the only skirt I ever paid more than $100 for was in that bag, and yes, it came out ruined. Everything else seemed to be OK after a washing and so it wasn’t as bad as I might have feared. One hidden surprise though – when I was getting ready for this weeks trip and putting my shoes on, I discovered that the acetone had apparently destroyed the elastic strap for the buckle of my favorite black Mary Janes. Now THAT really pisses me off but what can you do?
This week I was off to the Boston area, where I was to repair an obsolete instrument that had been shipped to our factory from Great Britain. When this customer first contacted us, I was terribly excited thinking that as I was the only one in the company capable of working on this instrument, I was probably about to take a trip to GB. I’ve been to Europe many times, but never to GB and so I was sort of looking forward to that . . . right up until my manager shot me down. He made it clear that his region was the United States and so was mine, and he had absolutely no intention of allowing me to travel to GB to do the repair. DAMN HIM!  J So anyway, they worked it out so that the customer shipped his instrument to our service center in Methuen MA and I would travel there to do the repair. The good news? I like coming to this region as I know several people here and enjoy meeting up with the various Sisters groups there.
This time I took a couple of what I considered to be fashion risks. As I seem to do fairly often these days, I had bought a long black lace skirt months ago and stowed it away for a while because it was far too heavy and hot for summer. I had also bought a purple, sort of tunic style top that I had feared may be too long on me, but I think my fears were unfounded. When I put the two together I was most pleased with the outfit.
Boston 2009 12 003 
As I arrived at the Delta counter, I could see my favorite lady at the counter and couldn’t help but grin when I noticed that she was dragging her feet so that the guy in front of me would go be handled by someone else, allowing her to take care of me. That’s OK though, because right after inflating my ego like a balloon, she punctured it for me.
“Hey, how are you doing today sir?” she asked with a friendly smile. I had long ago decided I wasn’t going to get worked up about the “Sir” vs. “Ma’am” thing, unless it was done with the intent to be disrespectful, and so I said nothing about it and just smiled back and struck up your typical conversation, none if which do I recall as I write this. I was fortunate enough to get free upgrades to First Class, and so flew in comfort. Having spoken with Kristen of the Sisters of Worcester, I knew that she was going to bring her guitar to their weekly get together and so I also brought mine. Several years ago, making this exact journey on United Airlines, my favorite guitar was destroyed by them. I was flying with Delta this time, but still I was far too frightened to check my guitar and so carried it with me. Unfortunately it was too large to go in the over head for the first leg of my trip and so I had to gate check it, so as I was getting off of the airplane in Detroit to catch my connecting flight, I had to stand there waiting for them to bring it up. After a dozen or so other bags were brought up, at last I see my guitar being carried by a female baggage handler. As she came in the door I waved at her to let her know it was mine and she got a huge grin on her face.
“I just knew it was yours!” she said. We both laughed as I thanked her, but as I walked away it occurred to me that I had missed the chance for an interesting conversation. I should have asked her why she thought it was mine. J
As I was leaving the gate area, a fellow passenger approached me.
“So you’re a musician then?” he stopped and asked me.
“I’m an amateur musician anyway.” I told him. I had the distinct impression that he wanted to talk more with me but was trying to decide if he should or not. He had a very pensive attitude, like someone trying to make a significant decision. I don’t know if that was the case or not though, because as I looked at the monitors to find out where my next flight left from, he slowly walked off. I mentally kicked myself, thinking that he might have really wanted someone to talk to and instead of giving him my full attention, I had focused on my own concerns. That was very thoughtless and inconsiderate of me . . .
I found my gate and was getting comfortable while I waited, when a woman sits down across from me and speaks with a British accent.
“What a wonderful traveling companion you have there. What is it?” she asked. I thought it was obvious it was a guitar and so assumed she wanted to know what kind.
“It’s a Takamine.” I told her. She got this blank look on her face.
“I’m sorry. What is it?” she asked again.
“It’s a Takamine.” I repeated, and then seeing that she still had a confused look on her face, I added “It’s a Takamine guitar”
“Oh! I see!” She exclaimed. She said nothing for a few minutes but continued to look at the case.
“Do you play guitar?” I asked her, thinking that maybe she would be interested in playing it for a moment.
“Oh no, not at all. I’m the audience you see.” She told me with a sheepish grin, looking like she was embarrassed that she doesn’t play one herself.
I got about five miles south of the Manchester airport in my rental car when my GPS starts to complain. “BEEP” it says, and when I look at the screen there is a message that the battery is low. ‘What the hell?’ I asked myself as I checked the cord connecting it to the car’s cigarette lighter. Everything was firmly connected and yet my GPS was getting no power from the car. “Blurp!” it again says, sounding sad and pitiful, and once again I acknowledge the ‘Battery low’ alarm. This time I had the sense to scan it’s list of future instructions on what exits to take to get to my hotel, and was in the process of trying to commit them to memory when the GPS turned itself off. Fortunately I knew the general area of the hotel and had no worries finding my workplace the next morning, and so not being able to power my GPS wasn’t going to be a show stopping tragedy. Still, I felt traumatized looking at me dead and dark GPS hanging from the windshield, because I have truly come to rely in the thing, and felt like my right arm had just been taken off.
The following day was just kind of a “blah” day, and so after I got off of work, I just went to the grocery store to stock my suites kitchen, and then walked through the Burlington Mall in boy mode searching for replacements for my now ruined favorite shoes. I found a pair in Macy’s that I was mildly interested in and as I was examining it, a SA asked me if I needed help. I held the display shoe out to her and asked if she had it in size 10. She assured me that they would and went off after it. When she brought the shoes out, I examined the pair and decided that they really weren’t what I wanted.
“Well, what did you have in mind?” she asks.
“Black Mary Janes, with three to three and half inch heels” I told her.
“Hmmm. . . . how tall is she?” she asked. I looked at her for a moment and then grinned.
“Oh, about this tall!” I told her while placing my flat hand on top of my head. She got a huge smile on her face and held up the shoes I had just rejected.
“Well then, these are gonna make her a lot taller!” she said with a laugh.
“That’s not a problem, I’m long since over worrying about that.” I told her with a wink.
She took me to another pair, but with two inch heels. I shook my head.
“Nope. Not sure why, but those scream ‘old lady’ to me. Is there a happy medium between ‘old lady’ and ‘slut’?” I asked.
“Oh ho, I see!” she said with a laugh.
“Hmmm . . . maybe I should rephrase that! Do you have a happy medium between ‘old lady’ and ‘sexy’?” I asked. She offered a few options but nothing I really thought screamed “buy me” and so I thanked her for her help and left empty handed.  

When Wednesday rolled around, I charged my GPS with my laptop and timed how long it took to go dead on the way to my factory, and then later on the way home. I timed it at about 45 minutes and figured that if I shut it off on the long stretches, this should be enough to get me to the Sisters of Worcester meeting at Club Blu tonight and then back home after.

 This is a great group of people, every one of them an honestly nice and kind person, and they always welcome me, and anyone else for that matter, with open arms and a hug. If your ever in this area, and don’t look up the Sisters, your being a fool. Well, shortly after I got there, Kristen showed up with her guitar and we started to make some noise. No question in my mind that if she and I had the chance to play together more often, we could be fairly good together. We made it through a few songs together and just generally had a very good time.

A few hours later it was time to go, and so I made the short and very cold walk to my rental car. As the car was warming up, I fired up the GPS and was immediately greeted with a loud “BEEP!” and “Battery low!” message. ‘Holly smokes’ I thought to myself, ‘I only used it for five minutes on the way here! It can’t be low already!’  The GPS really didn’t care about my opinion of what it’s battery life should be, and so I’d only gone a mile of so from Club Blu when it went dark and turned itself off, leaving me in a city I didn’t know, with an hours drive to another city I didn’t know well. No worries though, because there were a few things I had learned in over a decade of active duty Army service, and one of them was to always be prepared for the worst. With this very thought in mind, I had thrown my laptop in the trunk of the car, and so I pulled over and got it out. After plugging it into my cell phone, I was off and running with on the laptop in the passenger seat. It wasn’t safe, it wasn’t efficient, but it did get the job done, and so an hour later I was back at my hotel in Burlington MA.
Thursday turned out to be another “blah” day, and all I did after work was surf the net, and push the channel up and down buttons on the TV remote repeatedly, and for hours on end.
Friday I finished my work early and was back at the hotel around 1PM, and decided to go shopping for Christmas presents and then to the Sisters of Boston meeting at 8PM. I had already walked the Burlington Mall Tuesday and so knew there were no shoes there that I wanted, and so I headed north to the Rockingham Mall in NH. The traffic was horrible, and it took me over an hour to go the six miles from Burlington to the I93 / I95 interchange. By the time I got past that, I was a basket case and mentally already almost prepared to call it a night. As I pulled in to the parking lot for the Rockingham mall, I knew I had done something wrong, because I had been there before and recalled it as being a fairly large and state of the art mall, and yet I was looking at your typical and small strip mall in front of me. I was just starting to get irritated with myself for not checking out the mall location a bit better before heading out for it, when one of the stores in the little strip mall caught my eye – Saks Fifth Avenue  “Off Broadway shoe store”. Hmmm . . . as long as I’m here, this is worth a quick look see! I walked up and down each isle but didn’t see anything that I just had to have and so was about to leave when I noted a sale rack and went to look. On it, I found a pair of Kalvin Klein Mary Janes, with 3.5 to 4 inch stilettos. They normally sold for over $100 but were now on sale for $55. I’ve never cared even a little tiny bit about name brands on anything I buy, and I couldn’t care less that they were Kalvin Klein, but when I tried them on I was instantly sold. They were a touch higher than I wanted, but were remarkably comfortable, and so I snatched them.
“Would you like a gift receipt to go with that?” the SA asks me.
“No ma’am, I live in central Texas and so a trip to return them would be a bit out of the question.” I told her.
“Not to mention you wouldn’t want to come back to the cold!” she added with a small laugh as she rang them up. I got back in the car and tried to puzzle out where I had gone wrong, as this clearly was not the mall that I remember from prior trips here. I turned on my crippled GPS and searched for “Macy’s” figuring that there was a Macy’s at pretty much every mall, and so if I was close it should tell me. Surprise, surprise, the huge mall I recalled was only about 0.3 miles from me, and so off I went.
My primary intent for this shopping trip was to get a “Ariel” doll from “The Little Mermaid” for my daughter. My wife had told me that this is something she had wanted, along with the male figure so they could ‘go on dates’. My mistake was entering the mall through Macy’s though, and so on my way through Macy’s to the Disney store, I had to walk past the shoe department. There are limits to my self control, and so I stopped to at least look in their sales rack, and was stunned at what I found. I found a killer pair of Mary Janes in a plaid cloth, priced at $70 and with a “Take 75% off marked price” sticker on them. I did some rough math in my head and figured that this meant that these awesome $70 shoes were now selling for around $15! I snatched it up and took it to the counter where the SA range it up at around $40.
“Hold on now!” I told her. “I know my math sucks, but it’s still good enough to guesstimate that %75 off of $70 is somewhere in the  ball park of $15, NOT $40.” She got this real surprised look on her face and started examining the price tag and the sale sticker.
“Your right!” she said. “It must have been miss-marked or else someone moved the sales sticker.”
“So you think someone was playing with the sales stickers and moved it to this pair? I asked her.
“Yeah, it happens all of the time!” she said while shaking her head. I thought about it for a moment and then decided to do the right thing.
“Well, if you think someone did that to you then I wont hold you to the price, but I also don’t care to buy them then. If you were gonna practically give them to me I was gonna grab em, but I don’t want them for $40.” I told her.
“Oh no, not at all!” she said with a huge smile. “That’s what they are marked at, and that is what we are going to charge you!”  She then took out a calculator and figured the cost at around $17 and shook her head as she started ringing it up and modifying the discount.
“Are you sure?” I asked her, not wanting to take advantage of something caused by someone that had clearly intended to steal from the store. “This is your last chance. If you think a customer swapped that sales sticker to take advantage of you, I wont make a fuss or hold you to that price.”
“Nope – that’s what it is marked and that’s what we are gonna charge you. Hold on a moment – I have to call security so they don’t think that I am trying to steal from them by modifying the discount.” She said with a laugh. I sat there wondering if she wasn’t really calling security to come get me, thinking that maybe I was the one that played with the stickers, but I heard her entire conversation to them describing the situation. Shortly I had a very colorful pair of awesome $70 shoes for $15 and was on my way to the Disney store where I bought three Barbie doll style Disney characters for my daughter.
Mass 040
Once again in my car, I headed south to go to the Sisters of Boston meeting at a hotel in Peabody. I tried to exit I93 to I95 and discovered that it was STILL a parking lot, with a huge line of cars all fighting each other to get where they wanted to go, and the line wasn’t moving at all. As far as you could see were lines of stopped cars moving perhaps one car length every two or three minutes. I decided to leave that stalled line and just travel a bit further south and work my way back to the highway a bit further East. After hunting and pecking my way around the unfamiliar city with my dead GPS, I did eventually find my way to the meeting, and what a gathering it turned out to be! Not only was it the standard Sisters of Boston (SOB) meeting, but they were sort of celebrating both Christmas and Ashley’s birthday. Ashley is the founder of  SOB, she’s a real looker, and a very bold and brave TG that sort of sets the tone for the group.
Mass 031
It turns out that we set a new record for the group, with an all time high attendance of 35 people! So many familiar faces in the crowd. People I have now known for half a decade or more, to include one of my very favorite people, Sally. I have a soft spot for Sally for several reasons. She and I have quite a bit in common, like many of the same things, have similar careers, and just get along great. In addition, it was Sally years ago that went out of her way to respond to me on a trip to Boston when I was all alone, inviting me to join with her and the sisters.
Mass 042
From that time forward, I’ve loved going to that area for the friendly and wonderful folks that live there. In fact, it may well have been that event years ago that kicked off my little hobby of meeting other TG’s when I travel.
We took up a collection for the Toys for Tots, and in addition to the $100 they had already collected before the meeting, we came up with another $150, giving us a total of $250 to donate. Believe it or not, a retired Marine came to our meeting to collect the donation, and he was a real trooper.

Mass 038

I had to giggle at the thought that he was the only Marine brave enough to come to this sort of meeting to collect the fund. He took it very well, laughing when he found himself surrounded by TG’s that towered over him because he was fairly short, and we were all wearing heels. He joked that he needed a box or something to stand on to even the playing field a bit. In the end, he seemed genuinely touched by the donation and thanked us all. It was a fine evening, among good people, with many smiles and lots of laughter.

Mass 048

Saturday morning I got ready for the flight home and headed to the Manchester Airport where no one batted too much of an eye at me. As I approached the TSA screening area, I saw two TSA agents standing there grinning at me. As I handed the first my ID and ticket, the second glances at my guitar and then looks up at me.
“How well do you play that thing?” he asked.
“Oh, fair to middling I guess.” I responded.
“Fair huh? Can you play ‘Clasiical Gas’?”  he askes me.
“I can play the very beginning of it, but not the whole thing.” I told him.
“Still, even the beginning means you must be fairly good.” He tells me with a smile.
“I just play the little I know, and then stop and act like I just got bored with it!” I told him, and they both laughed.
“Hmm. . . do YOU know how to play Classical Gas?” I asked him. “If you do, you can show me!”
“No, hell no I can’t play it! I don’t play guitar at all!” he said as the other agent returns my ticket and ID. I was reading a book as the flight from Manchester to Atlanta took off, and is they typically do, they turned off the cabin lights, plunging my book and I into darkness. Before I could react, I heard a click and my book was suddenly brilliantly lit! I glanced over and the gentleman sitting next to me had just turned my light on for me. I thanked him and gave him my very best smile.
On my flight from Atlanta to Austin I was once again fortunate enough to get a free upgrade to first class AND this plane had storage bins large enough to hold my guitar and so I carried it on with me. As I prepared to put it in the over head bin, one of the flight attendants stopped me.
“Look, I’m sorry but we can’t let you take the entire over head bin space in first class. Would you mind putting it a bit further down the plane and in the coach section?” he asks me.
“Honestly? I’d rather not because then your going to have me fighting to get back to my guitar against 100 passengers all trying to get off this plane when we arrive.” I told him. I wasn’t getting pissy or uppity with him, I was just telling him why I hated the idea. He gave me ‘what can I do?’ look.
“Well, we can gate check it then. They’ll put it in the hold last and take it off first?” he offers. It’s almost 8PM, I’ve been traveling all day, and am just too damn tired to argue about it.
“All right, but don’t you guys pull a United Airlines on me and ruin my guitar!” I scolded him, with a smile on my face to show him that I was teasing.
“Well, I don’t know what United Airlines did to you, but we’ll take care of your guitar for you!” he promised as he carried my instrument away.
Soon I see a young man, probably in his early thirties walking on the airplane and looking at the seat next to me. He sort of points to the window seat next to me to let me know that I need to get up and let him in, and I see him smile and shake his head as he contemplates sitting next to a cross dresser. We both get comfortably seated and he sits back with his eyes closed, clearly intending to go to sleep, when suddenly a child in the first class section starts to cry and scream. My seat mate literally starts to laugh, still shaking his head from side - to side, clearly unable to believe his lick this flight – sitting next to a cross dresser and with a screaming child only a seat or two away. Well, look at the bright side – he’s going to have a great story to tell his friends.
About 20 minutes in to the flight, the flight attendant walks up and kneels besides my seat to talk to me.
“They can just hold their coats – I put your guitar in the coat closet instead of checking it.” He tells me in a stage whisper. I was so touched by this gesture that I almost teared up.
“Your awesome! Thank you so much!” I told him. Then I sat back and relaxed, knowing that my beautiful guitar was safe and warm. The world really does have a lot of decent and kind people in it you know?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Back to Detroit

Current mood:cold
  Detroit 2009 12 022  

You know, it’s gotten so that there is almost no point to blogging about my trips anymore. It seems that every place I go, people are so used to seeing me that nothing terribly amusing or interesting seems to happen anymore!
I had the usual start to my travel day, where I get my daughter off to school and then get myself ready. It had been kind of wet and drizzling in the Austin area for several days and this Tuesday morning was no different. Still, it was just kind of misting and not really raining, and so as has become my habit, I looked for a place that might make a nice back ground for some pics.  The little stream I found is probably dry as a bone most of the year, but due to all of the recent rain, it was a little raging torrent. Even with the unusual amount of water in it, to see it in person was still not terribly impressive, but I’ve learned that scenes like it can often still make fairly nice pics. So 40 degrees out, a drizzling mist, and there’s a stupid person standing outside taking pictures of herself.
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Detroit 2009 12 006

I’ve probably explained this before, but I’m bored so I’ll do it again. Somewhere around 5 years ago I was getting bummed out and depressed, and would often pull out the only two or three pics that existed of me at the time so that I could remind myself of what I can be. I would look at them and think to myself “See, you weren’t always ugly – you have been pretty before and probably will again.”  I was looking at these old pics and thinking that at the time I hadn’t thought I was terribly attractive, but now I wished I had taken more pictures for the memories. It would have been nice to have more pictures from a time before the wrinkles found me, before the dark circles appeared under my eyes – before I had gotten old. It occurred to me that someday when I was 20 or 30 years older, I might well look back on today and think the same things – “Why the hell didn’t you take a few more pics before it was too late?” Well, I trotted out and bought a digital camera and started snapping pics each time I went out. In the two or three years that followed, I went from having four pictures to a couple of thousand! I guess I had made a habit or hobby out of it, and as with most things I do, I took it to the extreme. Now I find myself embarrassed when I see how many pics I have collected. It screams “Ego out of control here!” and yet that really is not the case. It’s more the rather pathetic effort of someone who see’s youth slipping away at an alarming rate trying to grab and grasp at it, desperately trying to salvage what little is left. Kind of sad huh?
I was walking from the Airport parking garage to the check in area, wearing my backpack and pulling my suitcase in one hand and my tool box with the other, when suddenly I hear this horrible squealing sound and my 50 Lb tool box suddenly feels like an anchor. ‘No problem’ I think to myself ‘the wheel has just been jammed by a rock.”  I stopped and pushed the tool box backwards to dislodge what ever it is, and then continue on my walk. That is, I continued for about 20 feet until the squealing sound returns, this time with a much deeper tone, and my box feels like it’s been nailed to the ground. This time I stop to inspect it and discover there is nothing jamming the wheel – the bearings are shot! One more time I manage to get the wheel turning, but again it only lasts for 20 or 30 feet before freezing up again, so I pretty much dragged it the remaining way to the airlines counter, leaving a dark streak behind me where the little wheel is being ground flat.
So as I checked in with US Airways, I received an ambivalent reception from the lady behind the counter. She is an attractive woman, I think of middle east decent, and she looked at me with out a smile or a frown – pretty much no emotion at all.
“Well, we haven’t seen you here for a while. Not flying as often?” she says
“Oh I’m flying quite a bit, but they put me on what ever airline is cheapest so I’ve had to fly with your competition. Good news though – today YOU must have been the best deal!” I replied with a smile to show her I was sort of teasing. She still didn’t smile, and in fact didn’t smile the entire time I was there. It’s a shame – she is probably stunning when she smiles.
In Detroit I got my bags and found that the wheel on my tool box would roll for a few feet, freeze up solid for a few feet, roll for a few feet. . . .  Considering the thumping sound it made due to the flat spot it had now worn in the wheel, this made my moving tool box the loudest thing in the Detroit airport and every where I went I had people turning to look at me with a “What the hell is that awful racket?!” look on their faces.
Thump . . . thump . . . thump . . . . SQUEAL   SSS QQQ UUU EE AL . . .  thump. . . thump - All the way to the rental car shuttle stop. Standing there waiting for the shuttle, I was hot from embarrassment and the effort of dragging my bags, and the cool air felt great. I glanced up to see a woman my own age also waiting, and she is staring at me.
“Aren’t you cold? Didn’t you bring a coat?” She asks me. I almost laughed outright thinking to myself ‘Why is everyone so concerned with my wearing a coat these days?’, but I realized that she wouldn’t get the joke.
“I think the cold feels great, at least for a little while.” I replied, then after thinking for a second I continued “Of course it depends on how little that while is!”  We both laughed for a moment, and then continued to wait for the shuttle bus. Wait . . . and wait . . and wait. . .
About 10 minutes later, after I had cooled down from my walk, I looked at her and laughed.
“And that is long enough!” I told her and reached in to my bag for my coat as she laughed again.
As I was leaving the Avis lot with the car, the guard at the gate starts to give me the standard speech.
“And will you be needing a map . . . “ he starts to say, then thinks better of it and smiles. “Ah hell, you’re here all of the time, you know where you going by now don’t ya’?” he says with a laugh.
The next day was the typical work day for me and I wasn’t back to my hotel until around 4:30 PM. Good news! While I was fixing my customers instruments, I also managed to get a bit of oil for my tool box’s wheel and got it to roll again. Of course the wheel now has a huge flat spot on it, and the bearings are shot to hell, so it’s not gonna last long. It was damn cold to someone used to Austin weather as I drove to the hotel and the wind was just howling and shoving the car back and forth. I made up my mind pretty quick that I wasn’t going anywhere once I got in to my nice warm hotel room. I also decided that I was gonna fly home drab due to the cold and wind, but the more I thought about it, the smarter I thought it would be to go pretty. My boy coat is just a blue jean coat – NOT made for Detroit winters. My girl coat on the other hand, is a long, thick, and heavy affair that is often too heavy and warm for me to carry or wear. The way I saw it, that meant that if I really wanted to be warm, I ought to fly pretty, and so I did!
Detroit 2009 12 026

Detroit 2009 12 029

Dropping the car off at Avis, the bus driver came and grabbed my tool box for me and went way out of his way to chat with me as we sat on the bus waiting for others. I kind of like dealing with the Avis folks in Detroit. There is a minor tone of “picking on the crossdresser” there, but it’s playful and friendly, not mean. I would much rather have people deal with me by bullshitting that way rather than ignore me - Bull shitting is a lot more fun. Once the rental car shuttle dropped me off at the airport, I grabbed my bags and started off on the walk to the US Airways counter, with everyone again turning to watch me.
“Thump. . . thump . .  thump . . . thump . . . thump. .  thump . . . thump . . . thump” went the tool box, announcing my passage to all in the airport . . .

Friday, December 4, 2009

Peoria IL


This week I went to Peoria IL but due to the amount of work I had to do there, I had very little personal time and so this blog will be short. My customer here has a LOT of our instruments and they like to wait for several them to fail before they call me out. When you combine the failed instruments with the half dozen that they wanted me to modify, I was a VERY busy person!

Peoria 2009 12 002
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I have this pair of 4.5 inch stilettos that I just love, but I’m reluctant to wear them for every day things. They make me a bit too tall, and attract a bit more attention than I really care for, but I love the darn things and made up my mind I would wear them regardless. Since I knew it was gonna be cold out, I also chose to wear a long and thin skirt with them, and that turned out to be a bad combination. The long skirt sort of limits your stride, and then add the 4.5 inch stilettos, and you have a recipe for being less than agile and graceful. Important note to self – don’t combine long and thin skirts with long and thin heels.

Peoria 2009 12 010
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The only really amusing thing I recall happening was when it came time to exit the small regional airplane in Peoria. It was cold and dark out, and everyone else was struggling to get their coats on before making the small walk from the plane to the airport. Not me though. By the time I put the makeup, wig, and nylons on, I tend to get pretty warm and so was looking forward to the cool air. As I stood holding my coat in the aisle of the airplane waiting to get off, the flight attendant gave me a good look.
“Sweetheart, you better put that coat on!” she said, giving me the same look a mother gives her child when giving that sort of advice.
“Nah, not for that short of a walk!” I replied.
“I don’t care how short the walk is, it’s cold out there!” she told me.
“I don’t mind the cold so much, especially for that short a walk.” I repeated with a smile to show her I was flattered she cared. We stood there for a few more minutes waiting for the ground crew to get the door open. When the door opened and people started exiting the plane, she gave me one more parting shot.
“You know, you would still be just as pretty with the coat on?” she asked / commented.
“You know, that is important!” I told her with a laugh.
“I know, I know. Have a good night.” She told me as I slowly made my way down the thin stairs, in a skirt that was too tight, and heels that were too high. . .