Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Huntsville Alabama

This week I had been stuck working in the office with no service calls planned, and that’s both good and bad. Good because you need a chance to catch your breath and be with your family every once in a while. Bad because it’s not good for my continued employment to be sitting idle at my desk. So it was that I had mixed feelings when a customer in Huntsville Alabama called and was almost frantic that they needed their instrument serviced, and they needed it now.

My first scheduled flight was at 1145 to Memphis, but the night before the flight, I got a call from Delta that this flight had been canceled and I had been booked on a flight through Atlanta at 1:05. I couldn’t stand the thought of getting up at 4AM for a flight that didn’t leave until 1PM, so I asked my wife if she would be all right with my getting ready and leaving after my daughter was off to school. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea but did say that she didn’t mind – wow did that turn out to be a good thing for me later on!

 Huntsville AL 2010 12 15 001

This time I was wearing kind of a retro dress that was reminiscent of the 50’s or 60’s. I was given the TSA “Pat Down” on my last flight for wearing a long skirt, and I wasn’t entirely sure if this dress was going to get the same treatment or not. Sure enough, they selected me for additional screening again.
“Ma’am, if you will just step over here and wait for a moment please?” he says to me while pointing at a sigh that says “Wait Here”.
“Female Assist!” he turns and yells at no one in particular and goes back to watching the other people coming through the metal detector. I stood there, and stood there, and stood there . . .  About five minutes later he notices that I am still there and he starts yelling again.
I took a look around and couldn’t help noticing that there were two or three female TSA agents walking around doing nothing much, and each of them was doing their level best to not look in my direction. You can only ignore your job for so long though and so after another moment or two a young lady approached me.
“Are these your things?” she asked while pointing at my stuff that’s been sitting on the X-ray belt.
“Yes ma’am!” I told her and then watched her as she picked up my laptop, bag, and shoes.
“OK, I know you have been through this before so . . . “ she let the statement hang as she pointed toward the mat with the shoe prints painted on it. I’d have to admit that my heart sank a little. I had of course suspected that the TSA agents in Austin might be amused by their frequent flying cross dresser and I could handle that. The problem now is that due to the new guidelines that result in them searching me every trip, the female TSA agents appear to resent me. I don’t know why this bothers me so much but it does. The last thing in the world that I wasn’t is for the female TSA agents to resent me or be angry each time I travel.
“So what was it that set off the personal treatment this time?” I asked her with a smile as she was frisking me.
“It was your dress.” She told me.
“Well, last time my skirt was too long. I thought that this would be better.” I replied.
“Well, it’s mostly because it is loose and poofs out at the bottom.”
“So in other words, as long as I wear skirts and dresses that are obscenely short or tight, I’m good-to-go and wont need to go through the pat down?” I asked with a laugh.
“Yes!” she very quickly replied with a grin of her own. I’m still trying to decide if it would be funny or not to wear my one and only mini-skirt on my next trip. I might get a giggle by doing it, but wearing miniskirts and the like draws far too much attention and I think labels me clearly as a cross dresser. Still, it would be a giggle!

A few minutes later I was sitting in the gate area surfing the internet when a woman about my own age approached me. To be honest, the reason I first noticed her was because she was wearing killer pumps and a dress of just about the same length and volume as my own, and I found myself wondering if she had got the pat down treatment or not.
“So is this a hot spot?” she asked me while pointing at the row of seats I was in.
“Sure!” I said with a laugh, thinking she meant ‘a neat place to be’ and only a moment later realizing that she meant a place where she could connect to the internet. Fortunately I did realize this only a second or so after speaking.
“I’m pretty sure that the entire airport has wireless but it’s kind of pricey for my budget.”
“Oh! Well I thought I saw a sign saying that it was free?” she asked with a puzzled look on her face.
“No, they make you pay about $10 for it, and considering I’m only going to be here a couple of hours, I can’t see paying that much for it.”
“Oh. Well darn!” she said with a disappointed look and tone. Still, she chose to sit down next to me, and after we had chatted for a moment or two, I had a thought.
“Hey! You know it might be free for the holidays! I don’t know if Austin does that or not, but I do know that a lot of airports do that.”
Sure enough, she powered up her PC and was happily cruising the internet while I was still debating if I should ask her if she had to go through the TSA pat down because of her dress.

This turned out to be a terrible day to travel due to bad weather out East somewhere. In Austin Texas it was 78 degrees and clear skies though, and so I completely forgot to take my coat out of my bag before I checked it with the airline. I spent a good deal of time worrying about that as I went through a series of canceled, delayed, and missed flights as the evening progressed. First my flight out of Austin to Memphis was canceled and I was moved to a flight that left a couple of hours later to Atlanta. When I at last got to Atlanta I found that my connection was delayed by almost four hours, and so I went to the Delta skyclub to get some snacks and wait in comfort. Once I logged on to the Internet, I brought up the Delta webpage for checking the status of flights and I continued to refresh it as I was waiting. After several hours, their web page showed that it’s status had not been changed, and so half an hour early I left the club and made my way to the gate. Imagine my joy when I find that the flight has already boarded and the doors are closed! More than a little confused, and a lot less than happy, I approached the CSR at the counter.
“Has that flight already boarded?” I asked her in shock.
“Boarded and pushing back!” she replied.
“I don’t understand. I’ve been sitting in your skyclub and checking the status online, and according to your web page, that flight doesn’t even start boarding for another five minutes!”
“It was a delayed flight – you should have waited in the gate area.” She said with a complete lack of concern.
“I should have waited in the gate area for four hours?! Your own web page still shows that this flight hasn’t started boarding!” I replied with more than a little irritation.
“Let me see your ticket.” She said. I actually hoped that she might bother to get me on the plane that was still sitting at the gate, but no – that was not to be. She hits a few keys, prints out a ticket and hands it to me.
“Here’s your new ticket. The next flight to Huntsville leaves at 8:10.” She tells me and gives me the gate number.
“How about my baggage? Which flight will it be on?” I asked her.
“It probably went on this one.”
“Great! Just wonderful.”
I got to the new gate at about 7PM and was delighted to see that it had been delayed too, and was now leaving at 8:45. As you could probably have guessed, I spent those two hours sitting in the gate area and wondering if my baggage and coat were gonna be there when I arrived. One canceled flight, one missed flight, and several delays. What were the odds that my baggage, and more importantly, the coat in my baggage, was going to be at Huntsville where it was currently 30 degrees?

When the plane landed I first stopped at the Avis counter to get my car. As seems to happen less and less often these days, the woman behind the counter was clearly confused when I handed her my male drivers license. For just a moment you could see the frown lines as she was trying to figure out why the woman in front of her was handing her some guys license. You could tell the very second that she figured things out because her frown turned to a huge smile, and suddenly she became a lot friendlier and talkative. While she got my things together, I shared with her my miserable travel day, and we both had a good laugh at my expense. Once I had my car contract in hand, I went look for the Delta baggage center with my heart in my throat. I was already forming plans for a quick shopping trip to buy male clothes if my things weren’t there, but I sure wasn’t looking forward to the expense or freezing while I did it. As I approached the counter there were three CSR’s standing there and one spoke up.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“Yes please. I missed my flight and was told . . . “ I started to speak, but then stopped as I saw my bags beside the counter. “Huh, I’ll be damned! Thank you, but never mind! I think I’ve found what I was looking for!”
By the time I got to my hotel, it had been a 16 hour day in airports and airplanes on four inch stiletto heels. Do you know my calves actually hurt the next day? Clearly I’m outta shape and need to do more walking in stilettos . . .

Friday, December 3, 2010

Detroit, Detroit, Detroit . . .

Detroit, Detroit, Detroit – always going to Detroit these days!

Once again I started my trip off with a stop at Austin’s “Top This” to pick up my new wig that I was having trimmed there. Bonnie, the manager, took care of me personally and I’ve got to tell you that I really like that lady. She is very friendly, a nice lady, and cute too with sort of blue highlights in her hair. Now my only problem is that I’m not sure I like the darn wig itself. I just can’t get it to look good on my own, and the thing is MUCH hotter than my favorite wig that I am trying to replace. I was reasonably pleased with the way Bonnie got it to look, but I didn’t have much luck in replicating her results on my own later on. I’m hoping that it is just a question of my learning how to work with this wig and that I haven’t wasted yet another $200. Sigh . . .

Old hair:
Detroit 2010 11 29 010 

New Hair:
Detroit 2010 11 29 012

Making my way to the Delta airlines counter to check in, I was feeling hot and less than confident in the new wig. While it has a much softer feel than my old wig, it has a lot more hair, and so it is much hotter. Add to that the fact that the bangs kept poking me in the eyes, and you have a recipe for my feeling a complete lack of confidence as I approached the counter. I hadn’t even sat my bags down when my favorite Delta service rep waved me forward.
“Good morning Matt, how are you?” She asked with a genuine smile.
“I’m fine thanks! How are you doing?”
“I’m well, thank you. So did you have a good holiday?”
“Sure, except that I ate far too much Turkey and stuff!” I told her.
“Well, this year I just had Chicken.” She told me with a disappointed tone of voice.
“Well that sucks!”
“I know! I went to Luby’s for dinner and it was just terrible. Normally I like Luby’s, but this time it was awful.” She told me.
“You know, you would think that if there was one day a restaurant should get it right, it would be Thanksgiving!” I commiserated with her.
“By the way, y’all have got my name down pat. Do you mind giving me yours?” I asked. She smiled and pointed to her name tag, then realized that it had been covered up.
“Mona,” she said. “Ramona really, but everyone calls me Mona.”
“Well thanks! I was just kind of wondering, because since the start you have been one of the nicest folks that I’ve dealt with.” I told her with a smile.

I placed my things on the xray belt and had just turned to face the metal detector when the TSA inspector gives me one look and turns to call out behind him.
‘What the hell?’ I was thinking to myself. I haven’t set off any alarms and they didn’t flag me for a random inspection. Why the hell is he calling for someone to inspect me? Since they were gonna inspect me anyway, I didn’t bother taking out my ear rings, so as I headed through the metal detector, he and the alarm sounded off at the same time.
“Miss, if you will just step over here . . .”  “BEEP” goes the metal detector. . . “ and wait a moment, someone will be right with you.”
In less than a minute, a young lady in a TSA uniform steps up to me.
“Have you been through the new screening process yet?” she asks me with a professional smile.
“Yup, a couple of times now.”
“OK then! If you will stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and your arms out to your side . . . “
She then proceeded to run her hands down the outside of my legs, all over my chest area, and then even patted down my wig.
“Ok, if you will now place one foot out in front of you, I’m going to run my hands up the inside of your legs until I meet resistance.” I couldn’t help myself and started to laugh.
“ ‘Meet resistance’ huh?” I said with a giggle. “That’s a cute way of saying it.”
“I’m sorry?” she asked, apparently not getting my sarcasm. Then I made things worse.
“You know, I don’t care what they told you, I didn’t do it. Honest!” I told her with a grin. She still didn’t get the fact that I was trying to be funny and make her smile.
“Would you prefer to be screened in private?” she asked me nicely, completely skipping over my failed attempt at humor.
“No, I’m fine if your fine.” I replied, and stuck my leg out as she had requested. She had not exaggerated – she did run her hands up the inside of my leg until she ‘met resistance’ and by the time she was done, I was blushing from head to toe.
“So what prompted my personal inspection?” I asked her as she was handing me my things.
“It was your long skirt. We have to be sure that there is nothing hidden under it.” She replied.
“Hmmm. So it’s short skirts from now on?” I laughed.
“That or pants!” She said with a grin.
Yeah, like THAT’S gonna happen . . .
As I walked away from the check point, I couldn’t help but think of all the innuendos that could be applied.
“Jeeze, I need a cigarette. . .”
“Do you think she’ll call me, or was I just a fling for her?”
“I wonder if it was as good for her as it was for me? Probably not, after all, I just kind of stood there . . . “
Bad Kim, BAD Kim!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Great Full Body Scanner Protest

Detroit 2010 11 23 003

As usual, I was off to Detroit this week and as usual I had be out of the house early in the morning before my children woke up. This morning I had a good plan for killing the time before my flight took off though – taking my new wig to get it trimmed at “Top This” in Austin. A TG friend of mine had sent out an email bragging the place up so I thought I’d give it a whirl. I’ll let you know how it turned out when I get it back!

As I entered the place, the owner, Bonnie, looked at me and shook her head.
“You look great! Ask any of the girls that know me and they will tell you that I’m pretty blunt and tell the truth, and I’m telling you that you look terrific!”
“Well thanks!” I told her with a grin. “Of course it’s all about the hair. I learned a long time ago that if there is one place that someone like me should spend the money, it’s on the hair!”
As she looked over the wigs that I had brought, she clearly agreed with me.
“These are nice, really nice. I love the highlights in this one.” She said as she gave them a professional eye.
“Isn’t that neat? I’ve spent over a year looking for a good replacement and this is the closest I’ve come to it yet.” I told her while pointing at the new wig that I wanted her to trim.
She gave me another long look and once again shook her head.
“You look so good. Do you actually work that way?”
“No, but I do most of my traveling this way.”
“And no one knows do they?” she said, phrasing it more as a statement than a question.
“Oh, you would be surprised. A lot of people figure out what I am pretty quick.”
“Well I don’t see how.” She said shaking her head.

Detroit 2010 11 23 001

Having successfully dropped of the hair I needed trimmed, I headed out for the Austin airport to catch my flight. It was kind of a miserable looking morning, with clouds threatening and a very high wind, so I chose to cost my company a little extra and park in the garage instead of the close-in lot where I normally park.

I got all checked in with US Airways and stepped over to a bank of chairs they have along the front wall to take off my jewelry, take out my laptop, and the other odds and ends you do to prepare for the security check point. As I made my way there, I noticed a woman making a huge production out of trying to get in the doorway, and all it took was one quick glance to tell why she was having so much trouble. The poor woman was struggling with two huge roller bags, had another bag across her back, AND was pushing a full sized baby carriage. She could only take one or two steps before something would drop or fall. I thought about offering to help, but airlines and the people traveling on them, are really paranoid about letting people touch other peoples baggage these days. As I was contemplating the issue, she moved another two feet forward before one of the roller bags fell. There was no question in my mind that she couldn’t possibly move all three rolling devices forward at the same time unless she suddenly grew a third arm and so I walked up to her.
“Where are you headed?” I asked the poor woman who was standing there gasping for breath. She just looked at me for a second with a deer-in-the-headlights expression until it struck me that I had not made my intent clear with that question.
“Which counter do you need to go to? I’d be happy to give you a hand if you like?” I clarified.
To my relief, her face lit up like a light bulb as she realized that I was just offering to help her.
“Thank you, but my husband is just parking the car and will be here in a moment.” She said with a grateful smile.
“OK, if your sure?” I said, giving her one more chance.
“It’s OK, I’m just gonna wait here for him, but thank you so much!”
“No worries!” I told her with a wave and headed for the security check point.

As I sat in my isle seat and people filed past me, the man in the seat next to me struck up a conversation.
“Normally I fly American. I have status with them so they treat me pretty well.” He said.
“I know what you mean. I usually fly with Delta myself, and for the same reason. I’m Gold with US Airways and Delta, but Delta almost always upgrades me.”
“I hear ya’!” he said. “I can’t recall the last time I had to fly coach.”

Sitting in an isle seat toward the front of the plane during the boarding process means a lot of leaning to the side and holding your hand out to keep people from clobbering you with the bags they have over their shoulders as they walk by, and at one point the guy next to me starts to laugh.
“So how many times have you been hit so far?” he says with a grin.
“At least half a dozen. I take it you’ve been there and done that too?”
“Oh yeah, that’s why I choose window seats!”
Just then, someone stops at the seat in front of me and tells the woman seated in it that he is in the window seat next to her. As she tries to stand up and get out of his way, there is a loud “Thump” as her head strikes the over head compartment. It was so loud that you hear several people seated around commenting on it.
“Tsk tsk” 
“ Watch your head!”
In a moment they are all seated again, but then she apparently realizes that she has left something in her bag and stands up to get in to the over head compartment.
“THUMP” we all hear as she strikes her head again.
“Owe . . .” the poor woman moans to the laughter of everyone around her.
As she takes something out of her bag and then takes her seat to fiddle with it, I tap her on the shoulder.
“Don’t feel too bad about that. I’ve left plenty of scalp on many planes myself.” I told her with a laugh. Apparently done with what ever it was she got out of the bag, she stood to return it to the over head bin. This time she was careful and didn’t get hurt, so I winked at her when she glanced my way.
“I see you finally got it right!” I told her.
“I know, right?!” she laughed and said.

When I got to my hotel in Canton Michigan, it was almost 8PM, I’d been up since 4AM, and I was looking and feeling pretty worn out as I approached the counter. There is a cute African American woman about my own age behind the counter and she looks up with a professional smile.
“Hi – welcome to the Holiday Inn. Checking in?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Last Name?”
She goes down the list once, then does it again before convincing herself that I must be the one and only Huddle on her list.
“Great! I see you’re here for two nights?” she asks.
“Yep, sounds about right.”
“OK, we have your platinum priority club status on record so your good there.” She tells me with a smile. “We aren’t very busy, so how about I give you a room upgrade?”
“Upgrades are cool. I like upgrades!” I told her with a grin.
“Well then, let’s get you one! Besides . . . “ she looks both ways to be sure that no one can hear her. “ we’re family!” She says this with a grin and then puts out her hand to high five me. It took me a half a second to realize she meant the GLBT family and then I grinned and high fived her back.
“Cool!” I told her with a smile. She starts hitting lots of keys to change my reservation to a better room and then looks up at me.
“Girl, you look fantastic!” she told me with a bright smile.
“Well thank you. Not too bad for having been at it for over 14 hours huh?” I told her with a smile.
“Your kidding?! Now that’s a long day!”
As she was getting my room key and paper work together, I grabbed a cookie from the box on the shelf.
“Thanks for the cookie and the upgrade!” I told her with a grin.
“Your welcome, and thank you for staying with us.”

As seems to be the norm these days, my next day I just did my job and called it a night. No movies, no clubs, no karaoke. Instead, I sat in my room surfing the internet, and copying my blog posts from Myspace over to blogspot because the new format at Myspace sucks.

Detroit 2010 11 23 005

The following morning it was time to fly home from Detroit to Austin, and oh good-goody, there was supposed to be some big revolt where people were supposed to refuse to go through the new airport scanners. As I made my way to and through the airport, I was really worried that people refusing to go through the body scanner were really going to gum up the works and delay my getting through security. I was talking to the Avis bus driver on the way to the airport about it.
“So do you have any idea if the protest against the full body scanners is slowing things down or not?” I asked him.
“I don’t know if it has been an issue or not, but most of the networks have film crews here just in case.” He told me and pointed out the window toward all of the news vans parked at the airport.
“Oh great, just what I needed! Now watch, some bright reporter is gonna freak – ‘Oh my God! They’re letting drag queens fly’”! I mimicked.  I thought the Avis bus driver was going to have a fit he was laughing so hard.

Detroit 2010 11 23 013

Checking in with the US Airways counter, the man looks up at me.
“Good morning and welcome back. I could be wrong, but I think I’ve checked you in before!” he said with a smile.
“It’s entirely possible. I fly out of here pretty often! So is security going slow today due to the ‘protest’?” I asked him.
“Not at all. In fact I think that people were more irritable yesterday than they are today.” He replied with a smile.
“Oh great – and I showed up three hours early just in case!” I grumbled.

As usual I was one of the first people to board the airplane and so I took my aisle seat in the second row. In a few moments I hear a lot of noise at the door to the aircraft and look up to see what it’s all about. I can’t see anything interesting yet but I can hear a woman breathing like a locomotive making her way up the steps.
“Do they. . . “ gasp, pant “. . . have a jet bridge . . . “ pant, gasp “ . . . at Austin?” I hear the woman on the steps ask the flight attendant.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know. I think so, but I’m not sure.” The flight attendant tells the woman as she enters the cabin. Flying in and out of Austin as often as I do, I know for certain that they always use a jet bridge there, and I resolve to answer the woman’s question as she walks by me. As the woman steps on to the aircraft, I’d swear that I heard the floor groan under her, and as she comes into view, I am nothing short of awe struck. I have never in my life seen a human being that large. She is easily six hundred pounds, and at least four feet wide, and the floor is literally flexing under her as she walks. As she entered the cabin, she had to turn sideways to fit between the bulk heads and I found myself desperately praying ‘Please, oh please, don’t let her be in the seat next to me!’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the type to poke fun at someone for being overweight, but my being an understanding person doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to spend the next three hours being pressed between the wall and huge woman that I don’t know. My heart sinks a little as she stops next to me while reading the seat number off of the over head bin. I made the effort to give her an inviting smile because I didn’t want her to feel bad or self conscious if she was going to sit next to me. After all, there are probably people that I sat next to that weren’t thrilled to sit next to a cross dresser either, but I didn’t recall any of them treating me badly. Still, I’d have to admit that I started to breath a little easier as she backed up, and with great effort took the seat directly in front of me. As the crowd that had backed up behind her started to file past, I tapped her on the shoulder.
“Yes ma’am, they do have jet bridges in the Austin airport.” I told her.
“I thought they probably do, but do they use them?” she asked.
“They do. I’m a frequent flyer from that airport and I’ve never once had to use the stairs like we did here.” I assured her and she thanked me as relief flooded across her face.
Just about then a young couple entered the aircraft and stop to compare notes as to where they are seated.
“I’m in 1A” he tells her, pointing to the seat next to the over weight woman in front of me.
“And I’m in 2A” his wife replies, looking at the seat next to me. Hearing these comments, the large woman in front of me starts the long process of getting out of her isle seat so that the young man can get past her. As long as she was up, she stepped a few feet forward to ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extender. The couple look almost panic stricken as they realize just how uncomfortable he is going to be for the next three hours. Right about then, the pretty young wife notices my glance in their direction.
“You know, we would really like to sit next to each other. Would you mind trading seats?” She asked nicely. This is normally not an unreasonable request, and one that I have always said yes to in the past, but there was no way in hell I was going to willingly change seats this time. Now the problem was, how to tell her that with out seeming like a complete asshole?! I looked at her, then looked at the back of the large woman still standing forward trying to get a seatbelt extender, looked at the seats, looked at her . . .
After about twenty seconds the young lady gives me a grin making it clear that she has thought it out and realized what she has asked.
“Maybe not huh?” she says with a little laugh.
“I’m so sorry. I’ve never ever said no to that request before, but not this time.” I told her, torn between a frown for the guilt that I felt for not exchanging seats, and the grin I felt for knowing that we both knew it was an unreasonable request under the circumstances. As she took her seat next to me, I glanced up to make sure the over weight woman was still standing forward and engaged with the flight attendant, then I looked at the young couple.
“I’m really sorry guys, I like to think that I am a reasonably nice person, but I’m not about to take that one for the team.” I told them softly. They both laughed and assured me that they understood. As everyone was getting settled, the poor guy kept moving around and shoving his seat back, desperately trying to find some way to be comfortable with the woman extending quite a way in to his seat. I sat there feeling guilty, and feeling sorry for everyone involved, and then I decided to try and get a laugh. On my last flight, I was in first class and they had brought me two of those tiny bottles of Vodka when I ordered a screw driver. One bottle I had used, and the other I had thrown in to my back pack. I reached in to my back pack and handed it to the wife.
“Here, give that to your hubby. It might make his flight a bit more bearable.” I told her with a wink. She looked at it for a second and then bust out laughing while she leaned forward to give it to her squished husband.
“This is from my seat mate.” She said with a grin and a nod in my direction. He turned to get a look at me and mouthed “thanks”, opened the bottle, and downed it all right then and there with no mixer and no chaser. I looked at his wife.
“Ouch! Well that might make his flight a little more tolerable. Looking at the bright side, you two are sure gonna have a story to tell when you get home. . . “

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Relics . . .

Ft Sill OK 2010 11 015 Pershing 2
My most recent trip was to the University of Oklahoma to install quadrapole mass spectrometer there. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that it made just as much sense to drive instead of flying. Anytime you enter the airline system these days, you can count on at least a six to ten hour travel day. Drive time to the airport, getting to the airport two hours early for security, usually waiting for and catching a connecting flight, waiting for baggage at the other end, getting the rental car, etc, etc. So, should I deal with all of that hassle or just jump into my truck and drive six hours? I decided to drive . . .

Oklahoma City 2010 11 15 001

The dress I chose would have been insane in most of the country this time of year, but in the central Texas area, it’s still mostly in the mid seventies. I knew it would get cooler as I drove north, but didn’t figure it would get too bad, so I got ready, loaded my bags in to the truck, and off I went!

Navigating on this trip wasn’t really gonna require my GPS because the directions pretty much consisted of “Go North on IH35 for 400 miles to the hotel on the left.” My one year old son had kept us up for a couple of hours that night and so I was tired and kind of dragging my tail behind me as I headed down the freeway. That’s OK though because I’ve learned a trick or two about dealing with the boredom on a long drive. I have a number of TV series loaded on my IPOD and listening to them while I drive keeps my mind awake and active. Six AM and driving north on IH35 while listening to the third season of “House” on my IPOD – there are worse ways to earn a days wages!

As is bound to happen on a long drive and after having drank a couple of cups of coffee, eventually I had to find someplace to go to the bathroom. Believe it or not, even after all of the time that I spend out and about in the world, using the women’s bathroom still scares the hell outta me. There is always this fear in the back of my head that someone will “read” me, get pissed off and think I’m a pervert or something, and make a scene about it. Anyway, I decided to wait for a rest area I knew of just south of Dallas. As I got out of my truck, I realized that my dress really was a bit too thin and cool for this time of year, even for this area of the country. As I entered the restroom and realized that the walls didn’t go all of the way to roof, I realized that women really get kind of a raw deal when it comes to rest area bathrooms, because it was cold in there!

About mid way to Oklahoma City, I started seeing exits and signs for “Scenic View” and so I decided to take one and see what it had to offer. I’d have to be honest that the view didn’t impress me a hell of a lot, but I still took the chance to snap a pic or two out in the great outdoors.

Oklahoma City 2010 11 15 004

Since I was gonna be there for the better part of a week, I had chosen to stay at one of the hotels that have kitchens with pots and pans and dishes and the like, so you can make your own meals. Of course this meant that I had to do just a little grocery shopping when I got there. I needed something off of the bottom shelf and knelt down to get it when a woman in her mid to late fifties walked around the corner, took one look at me, and started to giggle with her hand over her mouth. I thought I was past worrying about that sort of thing, but I’d have to be honest that it actually crushed me. I was self conscious and awkward for the rest of my shopping, and was fairly relieved when I got it done and could at last go hole up in my hotel room. I don’t know if it was due to that woman’s laughter trashing my confidence, or my work schedule, or both, but I did no more cross dressing for the entire trip.

When it came time to make the drive home, I had a few decisions to make. A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I had gone to basic training and been stationed at Ft Sill Oklahoma an hour or so south west of Oklahoma City. One of the very few Pershing 1A and Pershing 2 missiles remaining in the world were on display at the Museum there, and I was seriously interested in visiting them. It might sound odd to a lot of people to have an emotional attachment to a huge nuclear missile, but this thing represents a huge part of my life. It is how I got my start in electronics and it was my career when I met my wife and we had our first child. Once upon a time, it was my honor to tell people that not only was I a soldier in the Unites States Army, but that it was my job to maintain, trouble shoot, and repair the Army’s premier nuclear weapon. I decided that I would go ahead and make the drive, because I might not get many more chances to see the thing. Now the remaining question was, did I want to do it as Kimberly or Matt? Given that my confidence was down, my trucks “Service Engine Soon” light had come on when I got to OKC, and that I just wasn’t entirely comfortable at the idea, I chose to do it as Matt.

As I entered the open part of the Fort I was surprised and gratified to find that almost 30 years later, I still had a clue how to get around. A lot of things have changed since then of course, but it didn’t take too long to figure it out. The first thing I noticed is that they moved all of the exhibits to a new and much nicer location. The next thing I noticed was that they had replaced the very old museum building that I remembered from my tour there with a very large and modern facility. On the lawn just in front of the Museum was the Redstone Missile – the predecessor of the Pershing missile that I had worked on. The Redstone was much bigger than the Pershing, but didn’t have anywhere near the range because of its heavier construction materials. I made it a point to take pictures of it though, because in a fairly unlikely coincidence, it turns out that the grandfather of my daughter-in-law worked on it!  I took two or three steps across the grass to get to the missiles before it struck me that you do NOT walk on the lawn of an Army facility. I doubted very much that anyone was likely to start yelling at the 45 year old man taking pictures, but still it just felt wrong, and so I back tracked with a smile on my face and used the sidewalks.

IMG00112-20101118-0911 Redstone

As I was walking around the Redstone and taking pictures of it, a formation of several hundred soldiers marched past me and then filed in to the museum. It was almost surrealistic to stand there with the sound of heavy weapons fire and artillery off in the distance while I waited for the formation to go by.
“tat tat tat tat . . . HHHAARRRUUUMMMPPPHH . . . . tat tat tat”

Soon enough, the formation had entered the museum and I then followed them in to find that they were apparently getting a guided tour. I was invited to listen in as experts gave groups of twenty or so soldiers at a time lessons in history. They had not done this when I went to basic so long ago, and I think that it is an awesome idea! A soldier should know their history, they should know where their traditions came from. I came across a large model of the Pershing missile that had been used for training, and saw that one of the tours was approaching it with the expert describing everything in detail as they walked past. I stood there, eagerly waiting to hear what the expert would tell these young soldiers about the missile I had taken so much pride in, and found myself terribly disappointed when he walked them right past it, saying not a single word. Quite honestly, it irritated the hell out of me! The Pershing was the number one most potent weapon ever to be part of the United States Army arsenal. It was largely credited with keeping the soviets out of West Germany, and later, given quite a bit of the credit for the collapse of the Berlin wall. The most impressive and destructive weapon ever to be part of the US Army field artillery and the man had not even bothered to point at it, name it, or give any of it’s history. I felt robbed!

IMG00118-20101118-0927 Training Model Pershing 1A

On the way out of the Museum I walked past three drill sergeants and was amused at how young they seemed to me now. I couldn’t help myself and stopped to shake their hands and talk to them for a moment.
“I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys how significant a part you are going to be of these soldiers lives. It’s been almost 30 years ago and I still remember my Drill Sergeants name!” I told them as I shook their hands.

Next, I made my way down the path to the actual Pershings that they had on display. It’s an awful feeling to see something that you dedicated your life to preserving sitting out in the elements rotting and rusting. I couldn’t help feeling that the damned thing symbolized my own life and aging. Once young, strong, significant, and capable, but now old, rotted, rusted, and no longer relevant to the nation it had once served so proudly. It was with a fairly heavy heart that I set up my camera and tried to smile before the flash went off. . .

Ft Sill OK 2010 11 019 Me in front of Pershing 1A

(The Pershing 1A where I started my career)

Ft Sill OK 2010 11 017 Me in front of Pershing 2

(The Pershing 2 - Replaced the Pershing 1A and the version I spent most of my career working with)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My first makeover - 1997

All right, 1997. I mention it because it was when I got my very first makeover! I went to Boston for training and hooked up with Jamie Austin who I had met on the Internet before going. A lot of TG folks will know Jamie Austin these days because she is pretty darn famous for her makeovers. Well, she was NOT so well known then and gave me a make over as a courtesy to our common friend, Jasmine.

At this time, Jamie was still trying to decide if she wanted to do it professionally. Well, obviously she DID decide to do it professionally because she is now very well known around the country.
The pictures you see here are the last surviving remnants of that makeover. These were pulled back off the internet via screen capture after my hard drive crashed and then printed, scanned, and any number of other bad things that have now resulted in very poor quality.
This makeover was a water shed moment for me, an epiphany if you will. I have been a cross dressers my entire life, literally for as far back as I can remember, but this was the very first time I looked in a mirror and thought “Oh my God, I can be pretty!”  This had good and bad repercussions. 
Good, in that who doesn’t want to feel attractive? 
Bad, in that I became fairly obsessed with spending all of the time I could cross dressed.

So Much More!

As you may, or may not have noticed, I have decided to make my page a little different than most like it. I do not want it to be ONLY about being Trans-gender. Our lives are about so much more than that. One aspect of someones life should not define them 100%.
Anyway, I have decided to try and say a bit more about my life! Now when you are trying to do this with a blog that uses photos to illustrate, you have some tough choices to make. I want to show my family, my wife, my children - these are the things I am most proud of and would very much like to share. The bad news is that if the wrong person stumbles on to the page, and figures out who we are, my children could be in a tough spot. For this reason, I have decided to only use old photos of my family, photos that few people are likely to recognize them from. I sort of figure that if you have gone through the effort to find my page, and know the folks in these photos, then I don't mind your knowing who we are - let's hope I am not proven wrong. So! Enough about the why of it, lets get on to the story!
My Great Grandmother Welch
I know nothing of her history, only that she was 100% Irish! :-)
I spent a lot of time with her when I was very young. I recall that even though she was in her 80's, she and I used to walk the mile or so to the grocery store about once a week. She lived into her mid 90's - can you imagine all of the things she saw in her lifetime? Electricity, phones, automobiles, in door plumbing - all became common place in her lifetime. She started off with horse drawn carts and saw men walk on the moon - how cool is that?! I wish I had been older before she died - think of all the neat things she could have talked about.
Grandma Welch was a good and kind woman and I miss her.
Grandma Welch's Children
From left to right is my Grandmother Marie, Aunt Catherine, and Uncle Bill. My Grandmother I will speak a little more about below. My Aunt Catherine I didn't know real well - she didn't excite me a lot. What I do know of her? 1- She was a retired school teacher. 2- If you asked her how she was doing, she would tell you everything that was wrong with her in detail! :-)
Now my Uncle Bill - he was cool, but I'm told he didn't start that way. They were brought up on a farm in Grand Rapids Michigan and life was NOT exactly easy. Apparently my Uncle and his father were both headstrong and stubborn - perhaps a bad combination when talking about a father and son. According to my grandmother, my uncle was beaten by his father on a regular basis. Eventually he left home, I'm sure in no small part to get away from this, and he spent many years traveling the country working odd jobs. This is what some people may have referred to as a "Hobo", but I must make sure you understand this does not mean "bum". My uncle worked hard everywhere he went and earned every dollar he got. The bad news? He became a raging alcoholic and a "not nice" person. This person I never met and have only heard of from other people. By the time I came along, he had been in AA for decades and was happily married to woman that most of us didn't care for, but he obviously loved. I guess as a result of his early years traveling, my uncle knew everything about everything. He would never brag about this, or throw it in your face, but it didn't matter what you were doing - if you asked for his help he knew how to do it and would jump in and give you a hand. He continued to travel a lot when he retired and so we saw him fairly often even though he didn't live close. Every time he came to visit he brought all of us children a silver dollar.
Obviously I liked him - I named my son after him!
My Grandmother Huddle
As mentioned above, my Grandmother was raised on a farm in Grand Rapids Michigan and she was one tough woman! With my father absent the vast majority of the time, my Grandmother was the authoritarian in our lives. I recall a number of those walking / running spankings - "I told you" . . . whap . . ."not to" . . whap . . . "do that" . . .whap . . . "again!" whap!
I remember being stunned when I found the above picture of my Grandma and found out it was her. I found this pic and was mesmerized by the beautiful eyed girl in it and so I took it to my mother and asked who it was. When she told me it was my Grandmother I was rocked to my core! All I had ever known was an old and angry woman. I never looked at her, or any other older person, the same way again. What a thought - inside of every old person is a young person that used to run, skip, jump, and play in the grass.
Well, somewhere along the line, Grandma moved to southern California (LA) , got married, and had children. (I don't know if they were married before or after she moved to California)
I never met my grandfather and know nothing of him other than that he was full blooded German and my mother adored him. My grandparents owned a restaurant/bar called Luckys Little Italy and all of the accounts I've heard describe it as a happy place. Unfortunately, he died leaving my grandmother a widow. It was only now that she discovered that they were DEEP into debt and she ultimately gave up or lost the restaurant. She spent the rest of her working years as a waitress at the Green Tree Inn in Victorville where I believe she was well thought of.
This is one of very few pictures or memories I have of my Grandmother with a smile on her face.
My Mother
My mother had a number of cards stacked against her, the most significant being that she was born with a spine disorder that had her in and out of hospitals, in leg braces, wheel chairs, and on crutches most of her childhood. One of the pivotal moments in her life she described was when a Dr told her that she would never walk with out crutches for the rest of her life. She threw them in his trash can, walked out, and kept walking for the next 40 years or more.
While I don't know the exact number, my Mother had somewhere around 20 major operations for the spine disorder, and later to replace her hip that was destroyed by arthritis. These are not your out patient operations, these are in the hospital for a week or more followed by a month recovering operations. My mother has one of the kindest and gentlest souls I know - I wonder if it takes so much pain to make a soul like that?
I'm sure that most children think their mothers are pretty, but I was always sure MY mother was the prettiest in the world.
For those of you that are familiar with LA, you may be interested to know my mother was brought up there in her young years. She tells a story (sounds like a fable to me) about LA as being a beautiful and friendly place. A place where you knew each other, a place with beautiful streets you were safe to walk down and play in. I used to love the song "Maria" from West Side Story and I remember my mother with tears in her eyes asking me to stop playing it. It seems it made her think too much about how LA slide down hill and became gang infested.
My mother was married once before she married my father and she had two children from that marriage. These two are my older brother and sister that I grew up with. While my Father also had other children, I do not consider them my brothers because we didn't grow up together. When my mother and father split up, my fathers other sons went with him, and I went with her.
My mother does know about me and is cool with hit. Her first question was "Why didn't you ever tell me?!"
My Father.
I know VERY little of my fathers history. I know he spent many years in the Air Force, which is probably what brought him to Southern California (Edwards AFB).
I know he was married once before he met my mother and had two sons from that marriage.
I know he turned to alcohol when he couldn't bear the waiting to see if my mother was going to survive the next operation. (This is what he told me many years later)
I know that he received the only compliment I ever heard my Grandmother give to a man "He was a damn hard worker and wasn't lazy". This was high praise indeed from my grandmother.
He was French and American Indian (Seminole). If your keeping track, this makes me Irish, German, French, and American Indian - a mutt! lol
He used to drive a cement truck but most of the years I knew of, he was a bartender. Can you imagine a worse career for an alcoholic? Eventually the alcohol caught up to him and his liver quite. He begged me to bring my son to meet him before he died and I almost refused, but ultimately did so. My son does not remember him and I'm sure that is just as well. The first thing he did when I walked in was to offer me a beer! I looked at him stunned that a man dying from alcohol abuse would still be drinking! He laughed and said it was a bit late to worry about it. Still the thought made me sick so I passed. The last I saw of my Father was him in the rear view mirror with tears streaming down his face.
I'm very glad I DID go to see him - at least this is one bit of guilt I wont have to carry.
My Sister.
This picture is how I still see my sister in my mind when I think of her. My sister was a very beautiful (still is), independent, and strong willed girl. She is four years older than I am and is from my mothers previous marriage. She was one of the "tough" and "cool" kids in school that no one messed with - you just didn't mess with her and every one knew it. I remember when three or four boys ambushed my brother and knocked him senseless. When he came in the house and told the story, my sister was gone like a flash. I later found out she had whipped every one of them.
When our house was robbed, and our bicycles stolen, it was my sister who tracked them down, and when she did, the bikes were promptly returned.
When one of my step fathers (there were a few and I chose not to include them in this) found cigarette butts behind the shrubs where my brother and I had been smoking, my sister took the blame and the punishment and did not tell on us. Unfortunately, I was too young to understand or accept the concept of taking responsibility for my actions, or I was just plain a coward, and to this day I feel ashamed that my 8 or 9 year old self allowed my sister to do this.
In all my years in the Army, when in the deepest of depressions, it was always my sister I called. Probably every other weekend I was on the phone crying in her ears like a wimp, and every time she would listen with out judging or being harsh. When I spent all of my money on drinking and couldn't come home for Christmas, it was my sister that bought my plane tickets.
My sister does not know about my being transgender. She is now married to a good ol' Boy that has made his opinion on such matters very clear, and it is unreasonable to expect a wife to keep secrets from her husband. I often think of telling her but am afraid I have burdened her enough in this life.
Wow how I admire her - I always wanted to be just like my big sister. :-)
My Brother.
Much like my sister, my big brother was one of the tough and cool kids at school. He is two years older than I am and is also from my mothers previous marriage.
Like most older brothers, mine spent a good deal of time and effort trying to ditch his little brother - me. And like most little brothers, I wanted to hang with my big brother. Maybe I thought the "cool" would rub off on me, but it never did. He was the good looking kid, the one the pretty girls fell all over, and man did I envy him for that! He was often in trouble, and much like our big sister before us, he was sort of known at the school - by the other kids and the teachers!
Like most big brothers I suppose, mine wanted me to be tough and I can remember once or twice where he was kind enough to pick fights for me on my behalf! :-)
He also liked to "rough house" a lot and was constantly pushing me around, pinning me to the ground, etc. I'm pretty sure this is all normal big brother type stuff but man how I hated it. One day when I was probably around 14 or 15 he started tangling with me and I snapped. It was all sort of a blur, but I remember coming to my senses pounding his head into the sand stone ground in front of our cabin with my mother pulling me off of him.
My brother was always "THE" macho guy. No matter what you were doing, or who was doing it, he was going to prove he was tougher, braver, or stronger than anyone else. If we were digging trenches in the sandstone ground for laying pipes, my brother was swinging the pick twice as fast as anyone else. If carrying lumber, my brother carried twice as much as anyone. When framing houses, if someone was balancing on the roof carrying a load, my brother would take the same load and RUN across the 2 X 4s'. About ten years ago, he had his foot crushed by fork lift type vehicle being driven by an idiot on drugs with had phones on! He couldn't hear my brother screaming that he was on his foot and leg. I don't know the legal details, but the fight is still on going to get some sort of compensation. The legal stuff I don not concern myself with. What does horrify me is what it has done to my brother. He now needs a walker to stand and has in some ways I think given up. This ultra macho, never going to let anyone out do him guy, has given up and resigned himself to being crippled. It makes me so sad to see him this way and I long for the days where he would laugh as I refused his dares to climb the sheer rocks, or jump accross 20 foot drops in the rocks, or hang from a rope dangling down the rocks.
My brother DOES know about me, though I hadn't really wanted him to. It seems during one of my few visits home, my finger nails were a bot too long, or maybe I acted a bit to effeminate, but he asked my mother if I was gay, and she let me know this. I preferred my brother to have the truth and so made it a point to tell him on my next visit home. My brother, the ultimate tough guy, is cool with it. Phew . . .!
Well, if you are reading this you have probably already read some of my story in my blog, so I will not bore you with it all again. The thing is, it didn't seem fair or appropriate to put everyone elses picture out there while not risking my own, so here are the basics!
Born in Apple Valley California in 1965. I still think of Apple Valley as home.
Spent some time living with my father in Hesperia but not much. Just long enough I guess to have me transfer schools a few times to make sure I didn't have a chance to make friends. lol
Moved to Yucca Valley when in early teens.
Mom got married and we moved back to Apple Valley.
Guy was a loser, divorce followed, and we moved back to Yucca Valley again! All of these moves once again were cleverly designed schemes to make sure I had no chance to make friends. lol
Joined the Army at 17 and left for Ft Sill OK, the day after I turned 18. Spent three years there working on the Pershing 1 and Pershing II missiles (MOS 21G).
Got out of the Army for a few months and returned to California. Life turned to garbage and I woke up one day to realize that I had gone from being an electronics tech in the US Army, working on and responsible for a multi million dollar nuclear missile, to putting up chain link fences, living in a house with about 15 other people, sleeping on a bare mattress in a alcohol induced haze. In a rare moment of stunning clarity I realized how far I had sunk and rejoined the Army. Despite my objections that they were making a mistake, they sent me to Ft Lewis WA where there was no place for me to do my job. They were going to ship me off somewhere else until I reminded them that it was in my contract that I had one year there! (hey, I had my problems but I was never DUMB!)
Met my wife there and she was stupid enough to marry me. :-) Right then and there the drinking came to a virtual halt. I still drink sometimes, but no longer feel the need to drink to oblivion - I guess it was a lonely thing.
We went together to Germany for three years were we had my son! :-)
Went from Germany to Lowry AFB in Colorado somewhere around 1989 or 1990 where they retrained me into calibration and repair of measurement and test equipment (MOS 35H).
Graduated Distinguished honor graduate and this got me a post with a research and development group at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico where I spent the next two years.
Luck ran out, and they shipped my on an unaccompanied tour to Korea for a year with out my family. Moved my wife and son to Texas to be around her family while I was gone.
It was at this time government decided the Military was too large and they introduced the "Draw Down". This is where the offered career soldiers thousands of dollars to leave the service. WOW - what poor timing because it was right after this that they decided to make the US the worlds police force in the middle east. Given that my wife and I had HATED the year I was in Korea, we chose to take the money and run. I came home and promptly got a terrific job with a great company in the semiconductor industry. When I was hired, my service lab had a 286 PC and a DOT matrix printer on the floor - this was my service department. Six months later I had an ISO 9000 certified repair center up and running.
Around 5 years after that I moved to Field Service and haven't looked back.
The only thing I DON'T like about field service is that shortly after I took the position, my wife and I had a baby! I do wish I did not have to be gone so much while she is growing up, but I do my best to shower her with love while I am home.
I LOVE the way my life has turned out!

My LOOOONNGGG life story

(I wrote this many years ago when my blog was on Yahoo360 back before they did away with it.)

STOP! Go get a cup of coffee or a drink. This is long. REAL long. You have been warned! If you get bored easily, now is the time to move to something else. Run. No, don't stop and think about, run!

My story started in an itty bitty town called Apple Valley in Southern California. My father was my mothers second marriage. Her first ended badly and left her with my older brother and sister. My mother has been disabled most of her life with spina bifida and had been some where in the middle of 18 major operations when I was born. A doctor once told her at the age of 16 that she would never again walk with out crutches - she threw them in his trash can and walked out, and kept walking for the next 30 years.

My family was shocked when I was born - I was supposed to be a girl! It's not that they THOUGHT I was a girl, they were SURE.
Well, somewhere in the middle of all of these major operations on my mother (most of which I was too young to remember) my father found out that alcohol numbed the fear that his wife wasn't going to make it through one. He apparently needed a lot of numbing because he drank like a fish. To this day I can't stand to see the old yellow Coors cans - they literally make me sick to my stomach. Eventually this marriage too ended, to be followed by several more, ultimately teaching me at a young age that men are unreliable, come and go, and can not be depended on. (Yes, I'm well aware now that this is not true of all, but I didn't know it way back then).

A few snap shots:
Snap shot. A short period living with my Dad and his new family when I was around 4 or 5 because my mother was in the hospital. He had two daughters in this marriage and two sons that were from a marriage before my mother. I can remember feeling so sad and crying because it was so unfair that they got to wear the pretty dresses, and ribbons, and I got worn out hand me downs from my half brothers. I tried to spend my time playing with the girls, and of course my father didn't care for this and kept shoving me at the boys. Not comfortable with the boys, and not one of the girls . . . pretty much don't fit in any where. Regardless of the reasons my father STARTED drinking, he is at this point a full fledged alcoholic and life sucks. Eventually my mother is out of the hospital and recovered enough to try and get me back. I remember my father sitting me down and explaining that my mother wanted me, and it was up to me where I wanted to live. I was five or six at this point and hardly remembered my mother, but I just KNEW it couldn't be as bad as the life I was living - I chose my mother.
Now I am living with my mother and the two children she had from a marriage previous to my father (yes, I know there are a lot of marriages going on here. We're talking red necks here - keep up!) This is my older Brother and Sister that I eventually grew up with. A few catches here - they are all living with my grandmother and my brother and sister have been with them all along. Up to this point we have gown up apart and I am the outsider. Mind you, my brother and sister were in no way responsible for my feeling like an outsider - this was my own head trip because they grew up together and had the same father. They were, and are, wonderful parts of my life, and in every way the best sister and brother you could ask for.

Snap Shot. My mother is in and out of the hospital, in and out of marriages, and we are all in and out of my grand mothers home where we always seem to wind up when things go to hell. Funny thing that children can pick up on stuff you don't think they know about. I always knew my grandmother didn't like me. This was later confirmed by my mother a couple of years ago when she explained that she threw my grandmother out of our house when she looked at me and said "I can't stand that little bastard!" Seems my grandmother hated my father and that carried over to me by proxy. So my mother has now been married and divorced four times with a number of boy friends scattered here and there (She was an attractive woman). My grandmother obviously has a low opinion of my mother and of men. The whole time I am growing up around her, all I hear over and over is "no G.D. good for nothing men", "Men are no G.D. good", "If either of you boys EVER hurts a girl I'll kill you". You know it took me years to learn that "hurt" in this context meant "get her pregnant".
My sister, playfully teasing and with not a bit of malice, telling me "You were supposed to be a girl", "How come you got the pretty eye lashes", "Your the only boy I've ever seen with a waist", "you would have been such a pretty girl". One day at around 6 years old I think, I get home from school and have the house to myself for an hour or so. I find a bag of clothes someone has given my mother for hand me downs for us, and in it I find a number of dresses just my size. This is the early 70's and I know my mother has a number of wigs in her closet. I remember my heart pounding so hard I thought my chest would explode, but I just had to know, what WOULD I have looked like if I HAD been born a girl??!! Off I went, running through the house with the hand me down dress to my mothers room, where I threw the dress on, and VERY carefully got one of mothers wigs down and tried it on. Of course the wig didn't fit right, but I was stunned when I looked in the mirror! That pretty girl was me! Plain, ugly, yucky, no G.D. good for nothing Matthew was really a pretty girl! I'm sure it wasn't as clear as I seem to recall, but all of a sudden I knew what was wrong with me, and had ALWAYS been wrong with me - I was supposed to be a girl! I spend the next few years sneaking every chance I can get to wear dresses, coming SOOO close to being caught SOOO many times that I start to develop a bit of a nervous condition. Every time I know I'm going to be alone in the house and have the chance to "be pretty", I get sick to my stomach and end up sneaking to the bathroom and getting sick. For those of you that are in your 20's you may not understand the depth of the fear we would have had at that age and back then at being discovered. There was no internet, we were alone, and the only other men in the world we knew of that liked to wear dresses were perverts and weirdos. Certainly not normal kids like me. LOL

Snap Shot. Latest divorce has left my mother with far too little income to stay in the house we have been living in for years so she moves us 80 miles away. Now we live 20 miles outside another small town called Yucca Valley. I didn't have many friends when we left, and now I had none at all. Not easy to make friends when you live 20 miles away from everything, have nothing in common in with the boys, and the girls have no idea you think your supposed to be one of them! Get this - we have moved into a one room cabin with no bathroom, and no bathtub. We bathed by heating water in a microwave and on the wood burning stove, putting the water in a great big tub in the back yard. (I swear this is the truth, I'm not making it up). My mother had to just about force me kicking and screaming to take a bath this way. I don't care if the nearest neighbor is two miles away, I am NOT going to bath naked in the back yard!

Snap Shot. My mother buys a small travel trailer that becomes the bed room for my brother and I. Good news - it has a shower. My brother moves out when he was around 17 and it is MY bedroom. I am ashamed to admit it, but I started swiping odds and ends until I had a complete outfit hidden under one of the bunks in the trailer. Come home from school one day to find my aunt and uncle have come to visit. My uncle wanted a shower and so had gone to light the hot water heater - you know, the one that is under the bunk . . . along with my out fit. It is now scattered across the dining room table with my mother, aunt, and uncle all looking at me and asking what I knew of it. I went with the tried and proven - I played stupid. "Damned if I know, I haven't got a clue!"
Would you believe they bought it?! Every one started joking that my brother must have been doing the dirty with some girl when mom drove up, and every one had this delightful picture of this young lady running across the desert naked. We all laughed for a while, then I went into the trailer (my room) and threw up. I could never believe that they bought this and so I asked my mother about this a few years ago - she confirmed that they really did NOT suspect I was cross dressing! It's funny how far people will go to delude themselves when they don't WANT to see something.

Snap Shot. Open campus at high school for lunch. I'm walking down the street and see a number of pretty girls walking up the street towards me. Suddenly I feel so embarrassed that I am such a freak and I just couldn't bear the thought that they would see me or talk to me. I actually crossed 4 lanes of traffic to avoid them. I spend the rest of my teenage years intensely shy and nervous around girls. I thought girls were proud, beautiful, decent and I was so ashamed that I wasn't one.

Snap Shot. 17 and hating my life when a recruiter comes to school. Suddenly I realize this may be an option! Maybe they can make me normal. Maybe this will get me out of the desert. They will take me after I complete 11th grade IF I will promise to get a GED. I go to the MEP station with three other boys where they give you all the tests that they use to decide what jobs you qualify for. After the tests, we are all in the recruiters car. He looks at the other guys "I'm Sorry, but your scores were not high enough, we can't take you. You can do some studying and try again - I'm sure we can help you pass next time". Then he looks at me and shakes his head "Yours were the highest scores I've seen - you can take your pick of jobs". Imagine that - when you live as far out in the sticks as I did, the only past time was reading and I read a LOT!
I plead with my mother but she will not sign the paper work until I explain that even if she doesn't, I WILL go the day I turn 18 regardless of my situation at high school. She argues but eventually signs and I am on a bus the day after I turn 18 and two days before I should have started my senior year.

Snap Shot. Made it through basic and am now a soldier. I now have friends, you just can't avoid that going through basic and advanced training, and I am now up to my neck in macho and guy related stuff for the first time in my life. Also for the first time in my life, I am trying REALLY hard to fit in with the guys. Despite my knowing better, despite the example of my father, I am now hanging out with the guys, going to strip clubs, and drinking like a fish. The guys find out I am a virgin and have a field day with it. In this day and age, outside an Army post, there is no shortage of girls that are willing to solve the whole "virgin" problem - for a price. I probably shouldn't share this, but the guys attempt to "help me out" twice, and both times I am unable to do what comes naturally. There is no compassion, no romance, no tenderness, just "go ahead and take your clothes off and get in the bed". Add to this that I keep hearing my grandmother saying "If you ever hurt a girl . . ". I was SOO messed up in the head over this for years! Bad news, I tired to solve it the same way my father did - with alcohol.
I'm hiding stuff inside the molding of my car and renting hotel rooms every so often so that I can dress. This is dangerous as I have a top secret clearance and work on nuclear weapons so cars are inspected often, though I'd never heard of them removing molding. Can't hide stuff in the barracks room because this is the Army and rooms are inspected OFTEN for appearance and drugs.

Snap Shot. Been in the army for over three years now and have serious drinking problem. All off hours are spent getting trashed. The guys look at me with a mixture of awe and pity - I can easily drink most of them under the table, but some have seen me make a complete A$$ out of myself. I am now just short of suicidal. Hate life, wish it would end, but not quite ready to actively participate in its closure. I'm up in my room, falling down drunk, playing guitar when in walks Jerry - one of my friends. "You HAVE to see the girl downstairs who is on CQ". CQ is Charge of Quarters - the one responsible for making sure every one behaves in the barracks at night. It's a duty we all share and take turns at. So I grab my guitar and head down the steps, and here is this cute little blonde girl who is sitting there writing something. Jerry knows her and introduces us. It turns out she is writing poetry! She shares some of her poetry, and I sing her some of my songs. Cut to the chase, we wind up dating for several months. We get closer, things get intimate, and I am no longer a virgin! WEEEEE. I spend every moment i can with her and suddenly have no desire to drink. Then BAM! She comes down on orders for Europe and she is going to have to leave. I sat on the floor looking at her, and all I could think of was "oh my God, she's going to leave! She can't leave! I finally feel like a human being because of her - I CAN'T LIVE WITH OUT HER!" This is screaming inside my head and I look up at her and blurt "Will you please marry me?" No fore thought. No planning. No ring. No Romance. No getting on one knee after having delighted her with a romantic meal. Just tears in my eyse and "Will you please marry me?" blurted out from the floor of a inexpensive hotel. Would you believe she said yes and that was 20 years ago?

(Almost done - hang in there!)

Snap shot. We're married, and the Army has agreed to keep us together, so now we are BOTH on the way to Europe. Decide to take a train from Ft Lewis WA where we are currently stationed, down to Southern California to meet my family, and then on to Louisiana where HER folks are living. Don't know if you have ever taken a long trip on a passenger train, but it is intimate for a long time. My guilt is killing me, I shouldn't hide this from her. I swore to share it all with her and I'm hiding this. I swore to trust her with my soul and I'm hiding this from her. My legs are shaking so hard under the table that I can barley talk, but I managed to tell her. She wanted to know if I was gay and if I wanted an operation. I was almost in tears as I told her no and no. She took my hands across the table and told me it wasn't a problem! For the first time in my life I have someone I can talk to about it and I proceed to drive her absolutely nuts for about the next year by talking about just about nothing else. When we meet my family, for the first time in my life I feel like a real person, a complete person, and my family is surprised and even shocked - imagine that - Matt has a sense of humor. It goes with out saying that they adore my wife. My sister: "Matthew, she's NORMAL! I thought you would bring home some girlie girl prissy thing". I'm not sure they know she has literally saved my life

Snap Shot. We had a son in Germany. My wife completes her obligation and gets out. The army does away with my career and sends us to the states for retraining. Eventually I end up in Korea where I can't take them for a year! We can't stand being alone so I get out of the Army. Settled in Austin where I was fortunate to get a job with a company based on the experience I had in the military - measurement and calibrations. Found the internet and found others like me! Made good friends with a few and eventually my wife and I met two of them at a local club. My first time outside the house dressed and it was SOO cool!
My wife went out with me quite a few times, but eventually decided she wasn't interested. It's OK if I go out, but she doesn't care to be part of it. Any of you that are part of the community know that you have some people you are proud to say belong to your little group, and there are some . . .
Well, let's just say my wife doesn't want to hang with me anymore! lol

Snap Shot. After about 6 years with my company I move to Field Service where I start traveling the country, and sometimes the world! After another 4 or 5 years (About 8 or 9 months ago) it occurs to me that I should start taking advantage of the free hotels, and being so far from home, and start having fun! Though we have not used birth control since my son was born, we had not had any more children. Of course right after I take a position that has me traveling 80 - 90% of the time, we have two more children! Now I have a 21 year old son, a 6 year old daughter, and a 1 year old son. Funny, in all of the years that I was growing up, I often considered the thought of marriage and a wife, but children had never crossed my mind! Well, it crosses my mind quite a lot these days with three of 'em underfoot!

Starting Over!

Years ago I started writing a blog on Yahoo360. After investing years there and getting a decent amount of interest, yahoo360 came to an end.
Next, I moved my blog to Myspace thinking that it was a reasonably mature application that was not likely to go away or anything along those lines. Well, Myspace has just changed their format and now their blogs can hardly be read. The are confined to a small portion of a window that is otherwise covered by adds. I understand that this is how Myspace offers free web pages, but still, what's the point of going through the effort of maintaining a blog if it can't be read?
So, here I am trying out Blogspot. What do ya think - will IT last?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sheridan Wyoming

Sheridan Wyoming 2010 11 09 009

This week I went someplace that I haven’t been to in years – Sheridan Wyoming. I once visited Sheridan on a fairly regular basis as this is where my mother-in-law used to live. At the time, she was married to the Air Force recruiter there, and since I was going to a school in the Denver area, it was reasonably feasible to visit from time to time.
It seems that it has amused the folks at the Delta Airlines counter in Austin to memorize my name, because just like the last time I checked in, this time they all greeted me by name before I checked in or provided ID. It must have been amusing and maybe a bit confusing for some of the other folks checking in when three people behind the counter all called out some variety of “Hey Matt, welcome back” to the tall blond “woman” dragging two large bags behind her. Of course this means that now I’ve gotta try and learn and remember their names! Lol
Normally when I travel, I note a variety of attitudes directed toward me, usually amusement, sometimes even delight, and very rarely disdain. On this trip though, I’d swear that it was mostly disdain. The flight attendants on both legs of the trip were somewhat stand offish, and I’d swear that the flight attendant between Salt Lake City and Billings Montana was almost hostile. Nothing you could place your finger on or point to and say “See, she was rude”, but she left the distinct impression that she didn’t like me. Very curt and formal, never a smile, and never a “your welcome” to the many times I said “Thank you” to her for odds and ends.
I’ve recently learned that Delta will allow you to use your frequent flier points to buy membership in their airport club – the Sky Miles Club. This is kind of like a country club at most airports, where you can go in to a nice, comfortable, and quiet environment and get snacks, coffee, and even cocktails at no charge. I would never have considered forking over the $800 annual fee for membership, but since they let me use my miles, it was essentially free, and so I joined a few days ago.
When I entered the Sky miles club in Salt Lake, the woman at the reception desk was absolutely frigid. If I’d had to spend more than a few seconds with her I probably would have caught a cold! Moving past the ice queen at the front desk, I started to explore the place, trying to learn what Delta thought was worth almost a thousand dollars a year. When I entered the main club area, I found a large room full of people, a bar and bartender, a table set up with a toaster and bagels, and another table loaded with snacks. I was more than a little impressed with how big the place was and by how many people were in it. I’d say that there were easily over a hundred people scattered about in lounge chairs and at tables. It was too early in the morning for a drink, so I skipped the bar and continued exploring the joint. As I was walking past the conference and meeting rooms, a young man dressed in the staff uniform walked by me and gave me a huge smile.
“Well hello!” he said to me. Given that most of the feedback I’d had on this trip had been less than positive, I literally could have hugged the guy for the genuine smile on his face.
“Good Morning!” I replied to him, returning his smile.
“And how are you this morning?” he asked. From his tone and mannerism, I’d guess that he was either gay or TG himself. I know, I know, you can’t claim that “gay” has a special sound or vocabulary, but let’s throw political correctness to the wind and just be honest with each other here. The vast majority of the time, you can tell if a man is gay or not pretty quickly after starting a conversation, especially if he wants you to know.
“Oh, I couldn’t be much gooder, thanks for asking! How are you?” I replied.
“I’m doing just great thanks!”
“I’m exploring!” I told him with a wink and with about the same attitude that Elmer Fudd says “I’m hunting wabbit!”He just let out a laugh.
“Well good for you! Please let me know if there is anything at all that I can do for you.”
Feeling a little better about the trip after the friendly interaction, I then made my way to the very small plane that took me from Salt Lake to Billings Montana. When we landed at the airport I walked the entire length of the place looking for the Avis counter and didn’t find it. Most other rental car companies I found, but no avis. At last I walked up to the Enterprise counter where there was a bored woman standing behind the counter.
“Excuse me, but do you know where to find the Avis counter?” I asked her politely, well aware that I was asking her to help me find her competition. She just looked at me for a second, no smile, no nothing.
“They don’t have a counter at the airport.” She said with supremely bored tone. She didn’t bother expanding or offering advice, she just returned to her paper work and totally ignored me. I found a seat, sat down, and pulled out my laptop and checked my reservations. Sure enough, it said that they were located down town, not at the airport, and so I gave ‘em a call.
“Hi, I have a reservation with you and I am at the airport. Do y’all have a shuttle or something?” I asked.
“We sure do. As a matter of fact, he is right outside of door number four right now.” She said with a cheerful voice. I looked around me to see that I was only a hundred feet or so from that door.
“Awesome! Thanks!” I told her and then stuffed my laptop back in to its case. I grabbed my things and headed out the door where I found the Avis van parked not ten feet away. As I approached it, two gentlemen I’d guess to be in their early sixties both rushed forward to take my bags for me.
“Climb on in miss, we’ll take care of these for you.” I was told. As I entered the van, I found four male passengers already seated and one of them moved over to make room for me. As the driver got in, he turned to me.
“Can I have your last name please?” he asked with a smile, holding a clipboard and pen in his hand. I gave him my last name and watched him skim the list with his pen, and then look up at me again.
“I’m sorry, what was it again?” he asked and I once again told him. I saw him skim the list with his pen again and this time I saw the light go off in his eyes when he figured out that yes, he had the right name, and yes, my first name was “Matt”. That was where all of the smiles ended. . .��
It was all I could do to keep from chuckling as I watched him peeking at me over and over through his rear view mirror the entire drive to the Avis lot. I’d give fifty bucks to hear what he was thinking . . .