Current mood:happyThere have been so many personal and emotional roller coasters for me the last few weeks that I feel like I am reeling and spinning all of the time. Even knowing that it would irritate them, and might be professionally unwise of me, I sent a letter our director and to one of the vice presidents of my company asking them to consider keeping “Ted”, the engineer that had screwed up so badly recently due to alcohol abuse. I told them that now that we knew the source of the problem, it could be treated and addressed, and so there was no need to discard one of the smartest men I had ever worked with, along with his almost two decades of experience, training, and knowledge. I received a very curt and professional reply that basically boiled down to “Mind your own damn business”. Three days later one of the brightest guys I have ever worked with was formally fired.
I was looking at my half brothers facebook page and noticed two posts by women with familiar names – Pamela and Michelle. These two were my step sisters from one of my fathers marriages after my mother. I last saw them when we were all somewhere around 4 to 6 years old I think, and had not run across each other since. To see their names sitting there on facebook, and to know that these were the two little girls I remembered playing with during such a troublesome time of my life brought a flood of memories rushing back. Some were good memories from that time and some were not so good. I recall that I was too young to know that “honey” was a term of endearment and not a name, and since my father only referred to his new wife as “honey”, that is what I thought her name was. It wasn’t until years later that I realized why everyone laughed so hard when I called her honey. Well, I thought about it for a few minutes and then I took the plunge and wrote to both of them and have now been trading emails with them for a few days.
As you may recall, I recently blogged about telling my sons live in girl friend about me. As she is going to be living with us for a while, it seemed like the intelligent thing to do. The other day I took the entire family out for dinner on Mother’s day and this young lady wore a long and many layered skirt that I thought was just awesome. When I told her I thought it was neat she looked at me and smiled.
“The next time you take a trip, you can borrow it!” she said with a huge grin. She probably has no idea how deeply that small gesture touched me. To have her so easily and comfortably accept me for who and what I am was more than a little moving for me. Once I was sure I wasn’t gonna tear up I replied.
“I very much appreciate the offer, but I think that would just be a bit too weird even for me!”
“How come?” she challenged me.
“Well, because swiping my sons girlfriends clothing just has kind of a creepy feeling to the whole idea.”
“If you say so!” she replied, full of mock contempt. “But just remember that it is YOU that has a problem with it, not me!” She gave me a huge grin and then turned away.
This week I went to Methuen MA for training with my company. Methuen is just a bit north of Boston on I93 for those of you not familiar with the area. Normally when I get to the Boston area, I like to hang out with the sisters of Worcester on Wednesday night, but I couldn’t do it this time. Since I was there for training, I was with several other engineers from my company and there was just no way to head out on my own with out offending someone. The good news is, I had arranged to stay for Friday and fly on Saturday so that I could see part of the manufacturing process for a major component that I often have to troubleshoot. Since everyone else was done on Thursday, that would give me Friday night to do with as I pleased.
Anyway, I flew to Boston Logan international on Delta this time. I would have to admit that Delta is my favorite airline, at least when I have “elite” status with them, but I think I’m about to loose that. They have been splitting my flights up between Delta and US Airways, and so I’ve lost my “Gold” Status with both, which means I get fewer upgrades to first class. Damn . . .
The lady behind the Delta counter in this pic is the one who has always been so nice to me. One of these times I’m just gonna ask her if I may take her picture for my blog so I can show her to you a bit better, but I always feel a bit uncomfortable asking people. Anyway, I checked in with the guy that was next to her and still she went out of her way to walk over and speak with me. It’s funny how many companies never learn this simple lesson – friendly customer service is a major requirement. She is friendly, always has a kind word, and always goes out of her way to say hello to me. SHE is a significant reason that I like to fly Delta airlines.
Would you believe that absolutely nothing of any interest happened on the flight to Boston? No cute comments, no TSA parade, no shocked parents grabbing their children and turning them away with horrified looks on their faces. As I was sitting in the Detroit airport waiting for my connection to Boston, my sister IM’d me through facebook and told me that she is collecting salt and pepper shakers, has a sizeable collection, and wants me to look for something from Boston. I just shook my head in wonder. She couldn’t collect shot glasses or coffee mugs like everyone else, no, she has to collect salt and pepper shakers. Once I stopped laughing I told her I’d be happy to look but would make no promises. I figured that other than the expense, the Boston airport might actually be the best place to look for something along those lines as they were presumably looking to sell souvenirs to people that were passing through. I walked through three or four shops in the Boston airport on my way to baggage claim, and in each I was greeted with a huge smile and outright laughter when I asked about them.
Giving up on the salt and pepper shakers for now, I got my bag and rental car, and headed north on I93 to the Rockingham Mall in New Hampshire. I figured I could look for them there and also continue looking for some shoes that would go well with my brown outfits. I have been looking for weeks, maybe even months, for brown Mary Janes with three inch heels and a rounded toe, and simply can not find them anywhere. It’s summer and so all of the shoe stores have gone to primarily sandals. Since I have scarred and discolored legs, I don’t care to go with out nylons, and most sandals that can be worn with nylons are not comfortable for a lot of walking. I’m sure the cute and flat sandals that most women wear with bare feet are most comfortable but I just don’t consider them an option for me. If you think I’m exaggerating about how hard a cute Mary Jane shoe like I just described is to find, give it a try. I made the rounds in the Rockingham Mall, going through the department stores and then making my way through the independent shoe stores. I was standing in one and looking through the shoes when I over heard the sales girl talking to another customer and it took me a second to realize that she was almost certainly a TG herself. She was very young and quite beautiful, but every once in a while I’d catch a hint here and there in her voice.
When she finished with her customer she approached me. She was very helpful and did her best to help me find something that I would like, but in the end there was no way to get around the fact that I was looking for something that was currently out of season / style.
I did of course find salt and pepper shakers in the mall, but nothing that was clearly from the Boston or even New Hampshire area. All were fairly generic and most were made in China, and so had no real value as something to send to my sister to represent Boston.
Just as I was leaving the mall, I recalled that there was a Off Broadway shoe store less than a block away and so I decided to go give that a shot. As I entered the store, I was greeted by what I at first glance took as a little girl. It took my mind a second or two to realize that she was not a girl, but was a dwarf. (I have no idea if that is considered a PC term or not?) She gave me a friendly greeting and encouraged me to ask her if I needed any help.
“Well thanks! I’d like one pair of everything you have in size 10. Can you have it all boxed up and carried out to my car for me?” I told her with a wink. She gave me a real odd look for just a second and then laughed as it struck her that I was kidding. I browsed their sales racks, didn’t find what I wanted, and then started to browse the store. Suddenly, there on the shelf in front of me was exactly what I wanted, and what I had searched through 7 or 8 states, over as many weeks looking for – the perfect Brown Mary Jane, with 3.5 inch heels and a rounded toe. With the sounds of a heavenly choir starting to rise and fill my ears, I picked it up and examined it in awe.
This was exactly what I had searched for. It had a very retro look to it, with stitching and accents, and I knew that they would look fabulous with my brown outfits, and so imagine my shock when I see that they are also affordable at around $50 on sale! Heart racing, I searched through the boxes under the display for my size. I look, and I look, and I look . . . and there are none . . . they did not have my size . . .
Apparently drawn by the sound of the heavenly choir that I had thought only I had heard, I discovered that the sales associate was standing beside me.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” She asked.
“Well sort of.” I told her, probably looking like someone had just shot my dog. “These are awesome and exactly what I wanted but you don’t have them in my size.”
“No problem! Let’s just go see if any of our other stores do have it for ya’!” she replied, grabbing the box and heading to the counter with them. She starts typing away on her PC and shortly looks up at me.
“Our database shows that our store by the Manchester mall has two size 10’s in brown! Hold on a sec and I’ll call and have them check just to be sure.”
As I wait, I hear her side of the conversation.
“Yeah the maker is Mudd, the name is Sade. Sure I’ll wait. . “
“No, she wants brown. . . .”
“None? Really?! Are you sure because the database says . . .”
Then she looks up at me.
“I’m sorry but she said they don’t have any at all, and they were the only store that the database showed with them. Here, why don’t you give me your name and phone number and I’ll call you if I find any?”
“OK, cool, I’d appreciate it. Thank you so much for trying for me!”
Dejected and bummed at having come so close to getting what I wanted, I headed to the car and for my hotel where I called it a night.
Wednesday and Thursday were tied up with my training class, and then having dinner with the other guys that were attending, and so I had no free time for myself. Still, both nights when I got back to my room, I devoted quite a lot of effort to finding a place to buy the “Sade” by Mudd Mary Janes in Brown on the internet. Would you believe that I failed?! I found the shoe in black in my size, but not brown. I did find the brown, but not in my size. It was most frustrating!
I had arranged to spend an extra day there to see part of the manufacturing and setup process for a major component of the machine that I work on the most, so imagine my joy when the training goes so well that we had enough free time on Wednesday and Thursday to get it done. That left me with the entire day Friday to myself! I managed to sleep in until about 8AM and then leisurely got my act together, put my face on, and got ready to head out the door. I was just putting my cell phone in to my purse when it rang in my hand, startling me so badly that I almost dropped it. Just my luck – it’s my manager telling me that I am responsible for our 24/7 after hours tech support phone line until next week. Oh goody. . . So there I was, all ready to go have a fun morning shopping, and instead I got stuck on the phone taking care of customers until almost noon. Still, the customers and the job are what makes my lifestyle possible. . .
I started by plotting out the Off Broadway shoe stores in the area and getting their addresses, and soon I was off. The first one I checked did not have the shoes I had so admired and so I headed a couple of miles further down the street to the Burlington Mall. I found a few brown shoes there that were kind of cute, but nothing I loved. Toward the end of my tour of the mall, I was going through Macy’s when an older sales associate offers to help.
”Did you want any help dear?” She asked. I looked in her eyes and sort of had the thought that she was offering to help because it was her job, and not because she had any real desire, but still I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
“Well, in a perfect world, I would like shoes just like those I’m wearing, but in brown.”
“Hmmm . . . I don’t know. For the most part it’s sandals and pastels this time of year, but let’s take a look!” We walked through the shoe department and she showed me a pair of brown pumps.
“Nope. I like them, but can’t wear pumps. If I get them big enough for my toes, my heal slides out of them. If I get them tight enough to keep them on my heel, my toes hurt.”
“Yes, a lot of women have that problem.” She said. “Well, hold on and give me a second to see what I can find in the back, OK?”
“Sure, and thank you!” I told her and took a seat, where I waited, and waited, and waited. I was just considering leaving when she walked out with three boxes. The first pair was a pair of pumps with 4 inch stiletto heels – I turned them down. The next pair was a brown pair of mary janes, but with a 1 inch heel and just screamed “old lady shoes” – I turned them down. The last was a pair that I liked and made by Tahari – a brand that I like. The catch is, they were 9.5 and I usually wear 10’s. Much to my surprise they fit pretty well, although they are a little snug across the top, they are really VERY comfortable! I didn’t like the look of these as much as I liked the ones at Off Broadway, but I did like them, and decided to settle on them because it looked like I wasn’t going to find anything I liked better.
I checked the time as I left the mall and realized that I still had at least three hours until Sally expected to be off of work and so I decided to head north to the Mall of Manchester, or more accurately, to the Off Broadway shoe store near the Mall of Manchester. That was the store that their data base claimed actually had the shoe that I wanted, even though their sales associate had said she couldn’t find them. I thought that there was always the chance that she had over looked them, or even that she might have actually been too lazy to look. When I entered the store I headed directly to the sales rack, because let’s face it, what’s the point of looking at the full priced shoes if you find something you like on the sale rack? Almost immediately I spot the very shoe I was looking for and it’s in my size! The sales associate hadn’t found them the other night because they weren’t on the floor, they were on the sales rack! So after searching across a dozen states, and two months, I had finally found what I considered to be the perfect brown shoe AND they were on sale for only $28! Most pleased with my self and walking on a cloud, I headed back to my hotel to get a shower and get ready to meet with Sally for the night.
I was just about finished getting ready when Sally arrived at my room. After we greeted each other, she began to get ready and was looking through her jewelry.
“Do you wear clip on ear rings or pierced ears? I’ve got clip ons that I don’t wear anymore.” She asked.
“Pierced, but thanks.” I told her, but then an idea struck me. “I wear pierced, but my little girl wants clip ons for dress up. Got anything a six year old princess might like?”
Sally looked through them and came up with a pair with lots of short strings of clear and blue little diamonds hanging from the central post.
“She would love those! What do ya’ want for ‘em?” I asked. Sally gave my mock dirty look for asking.
“Nothing! I would just like to give them to someone who would enjoy them.”
Well Sally, you did good, because my daughter actually squealed when I handed them to her after I got home.
Sally and I had decided to go to “Club 313” up in Manchester for karaoke instead of hanging out with the Sisters of Boston. Most of the sisters are younger, bolder, and fitter than I am, and so they usually end the night in a dance club somewhere in Boston. Since I have a phobia against dancing and don’t really care for the techno dance music that is oh-so-popular in dance clubs these days, I jumped at the chance to go do karaoke with Sally instead. On the way out of my hotel we had to walk by the hotels Grand Piano and there was no way in hell I was going to pass up the chance to get a picture of us sitting at it.
Club 313 was a very cool place with a great mixture of open minded people of all ages. I’d say that the vast majority were half my age, but they were very friendly and were more than eager to chat. We had hotties in adorable outfits, goth folks, and people that painted their faces apparently just for the hell of it. Let’s just say that Sally and I were far from being the most unique people there! There were also quite a few other TG’s there, with at least half of them being performers in a drag show they were putting on. I’ve never cared for drag shows and so didn’t go to the other room to see it, but I did poke my head in once or twice to admire the people in the crowd.
Sally introduced me to Kat and to Morticia. Kat was in boy mode and so no pictures of her. She was very shy and quiet most of the night, and Morticia was . . . not . . .
Morticia is quite confident and bold – not a shy bone in her body.
Unlike most clubs I go to, this one has specifically requested that TG’s use the mens room, and so I felt a little odd walking past a guy at the urinal on my way to the stall. He looked up at me and grinned as I entered so I decided to be a smart aleck.
“It’s a F*&#*d up world we live in, aint it?” I told him with a laugh as I walked by. Of course this broke the unwritten rule of male bathroom etiquette – “Thou shalt not speak to strangers in the mens room” but he laughed so it’s all good.
I sang two songs by myself, one I did fairly well and the other I hosed badly. At one point I was sitting with my back to the stage looking through the karaoke books when I realized that not only was a woman singing, but she was doing a pretty good job of it. When I turned to look I was surprised to see none other than our very own Sally on the stage! I have no idea how she managed to sing and sound female because I sure as hell can’t do it. Later, as we sat there talking, she threatened to put us both in for singing “If I had a Million Dollars” together. It was all very fun and amusing until she actually did it and we were called up. At first I was scared to death, but I’ll be damned if we didn’t do a half way credible job of it! Don’t get me wrong, no one would offer us a singing gig based on that performance, but no one was throwing rotten fruit at us either. As we were laughing and stepping off of the stage a young lady approached us.
“You two were awesome! My friend was in a funk and depressed until you two started singing that song. Thanks!”
I had a really great time!
Oh! On the way home, I DID find salt and pepper shakers for my sister!
Some miscellaneous pics from club 313: