Thursday, June 24, 2010


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I used to visit a customer of ours in the Indianapolis area three days out of each month, but it has been quite a while now since I’ve been there. Having spent so much time there, at one point I had gotten to know Indy quite well and so I really kind of looked forward to visiting it.

As I was going to be spending the better part of two weeks there, I packed my suite case to the bursting point with outfits. You know, it takes a lot of clothes when your carrying two wardrobes for a two week stretch! It was while packing for this 10 day trip that I realized my wardrobe is seriously flawed – I have very few tops for hot weather. Most of my things are for colder climates, with thick fabrics and high necks. I went through my closet pulling out all of the tops that I thought might be reasonably cool, and then tried to match them up with skirts. One thing I hope I wont regret is that I am carrying a lot of new outfits – things I haven’t tried before. That means I am running the risk of finding out that I brought a lot of clothes that may not fit or look right. I guess we’re gonna see!

In a serious change of pace for me, I decided to wear a dress for the flight out! As a general rule, dresses don’t tend to flatter me. As a result of having your typical male body, I have relatively small “hips” and a large chest, and when I say chest, I do NOT mean breasts! This means that I wear a size 8 to 10 skirt but am stuck with a size 12 to 14 top. Finding a dress, a single garment, that flatters both ends of me is a bit tough. Anyway, I bought this dress about a year ago but have never worn it, so I figured that it was time to give it a spin, and I’m glad I did! It was the first time in probably a year or so that I actually felt pretty, and so that of course made it all worth the while.

Checking in with Delta at the Austin airport, the customer service rep was a man that I have not dealt with before. As he was checking me in, my favorite Delta CSR walked over just to say hello. Since day one, this lady has always gone out of her way to be nice to me and has always had a kind word, and this morning was no different.
“Well good morning!” she said with a huge smile.
“Good morning to you too! How are you doing?” I asked.
“Fine, thank you for asking. It’s so nice to see you flying with us more often again.” “Well, I like Delta the best, but my company keeps putting me on US Airways for some reason. I guess that US Airways must be cheaper or something.” I told her.
“You know, I saw you checking in and just had to come over and tell you that you look fantastic today. Your hair looks absolutely perfect and just shines!” she gushed at me.
“Awe . . .thanks! You just made my day! You know, you can buy this very hair yourself if you wanted to!” I told her with a grin on my face, and while twirling a bit of my hair in my finger. She was still laughing as I waved goodbye and headed for the security check point.

I had almost missed my last flight out of Austin because I got too cocky and showed up to the airport with just barely enough time to get through the long security line. This time I was taking no chances though and got the airport my customary two hours early, and that gave me quite a bit of time to wait in the airport. I was sitting in the food court area and completing my field service reports on my laptop when I noticed a female TSA agent sitting across the table looking at me, so I looked up and smiled at her. I would prefer the TSA folks thought of me as a person rather than just a cross dresser, so I took the plunge and said something to her.
“So it seems that Monday mornings are always going to be crazy around here from now on huh?” I asked her.
“Wow, you sure aren’t kidding! These lines are getting longer and longer every Monday morning.” She replied. While she spoke, she was taking some fruit out of a paper bag that appeared to contain her breakfast.
“It used to be that there were no lines at all to speak of if you had an early morning flight outta here. Not anymore though!” I told her with a grin.
“Only on Mondays dear, only on Mondays.” She said while shaking her head.

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The flight attendant stepped up and spoke to me as I started to walk past her while boarding the plane. “Honey, that dress is SO cute!” “Thank you! Cute is good right?” I replied with a grin. “Oh yeah, cute is definitely good.” She said while patting me on the shoulder. On the flight, I watched a movie on my IPOD called “The Road”. It is about a father and son making the trek south to warmer climates in a post apocalyptical world. I strongly recommend that you NOT watch this movie. It was well done, and well acted, that is not my complaint. My complaint is that there was nothing but horrific sadness to the movie. There were no bright cheerful parts in it. There was nothing redeeming to it. It was just minute after minute of harsh and extreme sadness and at the very end I sat in my chair almost sobbing at the despair of it all.

When I got to Indianapolis, I raided a Goodwill near the airport on my way to my hotel. A tiny woman was behind the counter when I entered, and greeted me warmly. Soon, she was hanging clothes up on a rack near me, and we could both hear a woman a few feet away loudly talking on her phone.
”Honey, I’ve had it with this place. I want to go back to Texas big time.” the woman was saying. I let out a little laugh, finding it ironic that she wanted to be where I had just left. The lady hanging up clothes next to me looked up at my laugh so I explained.
“I just left Texas this morning and it is HOT there. I’ve got to tell you, I’d rather be here, because it’s like being in the air conditioning to me.”
“No kidding? Where at in Texas?” she asked.
“The Austin area.”
“That’s a GREAT place! My cousin went to school at UT and I visited with her for a week and loved the place!”
“Oh yeah, I like Austin just fine, but it gets hot there!” I told her with a laugh.

I couldn’t really put my finger on “why”, but traveling by air tends to be kind of exhausting. I mean, if you really look at it, it’s not terribly physically demanding, but somehow I’m almost always worn out by the time I get to where I’m going.

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It was around 4PM by the time I got to my hotel, and I was tired and done for the day. I had rented a room with a full kitchen so that I wouldn’t have to eat at restaurants every night for the next two weeks, but now I needed to go get food to stock it up with. I got cleaned up and returned to being Clark Kent . . .err. . . Matt, and headed out to the grocery store.

As I entered the store, I couldn’t help noticing that the skies were looking dark and ominous but I really didn’t pay it too much attention, at least not until I was standing in the check out line listening to people all around me talking about spinning clouds and the possibility of Tornados. How ironic would that be, for me to leave Tornado Alley in central Texas and then get hit by a Tornado in Indianapolis?!

The next morning I headed off for work. I’m in Indianapolis to cover for a service contract we have with a large customer in that area while our engineer takes vacation. This is the guy that I trained a couple of years ago and so we know each other fairly well and he was honest with me – this week is gonna be a cake walk. Apparently he spends the morning waiting around just in case they have problems and call him. If they don’t call by about noon, he is free for the day! It sounds like he and I are both going to be on vacation, and that’s OK with me. I’ve been running hard lately and could use the chance to slow down and catch my breath for a bit. Somewhere around 1PM, we called it a day, and I headed out on the 40 minute drive back up to Indy and my hotel.

Did you know that some idiot placed an outlet mall between Indianapolis where I'm staying, and Columbus where I'm working? I told the car not to do it, but suddenly it veered off of the highway and into the mall despite my objections. One of the stores I found there that was awesome was called the VF Outlet, VF standing for Vanity Fair. They had lots of neat stuff at like $5 to $10 including some really awesome and beautiful bras for $7. I bought a couple of them, and a few cotton tops and camisoles. Hopefully the cotton tops are a going to be a good start toward resolving my lack of warm weather clothing.

That evening the skies once again looked dark and forbidding as I entered the hotel carrying my bags purchased treasures. As the sun was saying good night to the world, I was in the exercise room trying to fight the battle of the bulge to be sure I could fit in the things I had bought. As I was peddling away on the stationary bike, the skies opened up and unloaded an ocean of water onto the face of the world. It was truly awe inspiring the way the rain was coming down so heavy. I had intended to go out and sing karaoke tonight but now I started having second thoughts about it. Fortunately by the time I was done exercising it had slowed down to just a normal rain storm, and was no longer of biblical proportions, so I decided I would go ahead and go out after all.

I had been back in my room for not more than five minutes when the room was filled with an ear piercing wail that almost caused me to jump out of my skin. It took a moment for my brain to engage before I realized that it was the fire alarm. I’ve been through several fire alarms in hotels and wasn’t about to get too excited. Especially in hotels where the guests have kitchens and do their own cooking, you can pretty much count on someone somewhere blowing it and setting off the smoke detector. Sure enough, it was just a guest cooking, and so soon, things returned to normal, and I started putting my makeup on. So there I am, standing in front of the mirror setting my foundation with powder when the lights and air conditioning go off and the entire room is plunged into pitch black.
“What the hell is it now?!” I asked myself, looking around and trying to see anything inside the dark room. I figured that the storm had temporarily knocked the power out and it would probably be back on in just a few minutes, and so I sat down and waited . . . and waited. . . and waited . . . Thirty minutes later, it was becoming clear that the power was not going to be coming right back on, and so it was time to either give up getting ready or to improvise. I used the back light of my cell phone to give me enough light to make my way to my tool box, where I found my flashlight. You know, sometimes it does come in handy to carry a toolbox!

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This flashlight is kind of cool, because it has a very strong magnet in its base that allows you to attach it to any metal surface. Lucky for me, the door frames here are steel, and so soon my flashlight was attached to the door frame, and I had just enough light to put my makeup on with. You just haven’t lived until you try to put on eye liner with a flashlight! A couple of hours or so later, I was ready, so I grabbed my umbrella, and my flashlight, and headed out the door. I had a real giggle moment when I realized that I was in four inch heels and on the fifth floor of a hotel with no power for elevators. Have you ever done five flights of stairs in heels before? It wasn’t as bad as you might think, and to be honest, I grinned like an idiot the entire way down.

As I got to the lobby, I found it crowded with guests who were all socializing near the open doors. The same lady that had checked me in the night before was at the desk and waved at me as I was walking by.
“Well let’s see! Fire alarms and fire trucks followed by a complete power loss for hours. I’ll give y’all this much, it aint boring around here!” I quipped as I walked by, and was gratified with the sound of her laughter.

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I made my way to “The Metro”, a local club that has great Karaoke twice a week. I used to do karaoke a lot, almost every time I traveled in fact, but I haven’t done much of it lately, and so found myself just a bit intimidated. Still, I got up there and was pleased to hear a couple of complimentary comments, so I guess I must have done OK. I was sitting by myself and was feeling kind of lonely, and so I texted Gina, one of my friends here in Indy. I told her it was kind of boring and sad to be there all by myself, and was pleased to get her response: “I’ll be there in few minutes!” Yay! Soon, Gina came walking through the door in boy mode, and so we sat there and chatted for an hour or so.

Indianapolis 2010 06 045

The following day I was off of work early again, and decided that I would go looking for a replacement for my current makeup foundation. I use Max Factor pan Stik and absolutely love the stuff. The bad news is that Max Factor has stopped selling products in the United States, and so you can’t get it anymore. You know, your average guy just wouldn’t understand the huge anxiety I feel at the thought of looking for a new foundation. A good foundation is critical to good appearance, to confidence, and thus to passing. To have found a great foundation and then have it go unavailable was just nerve wracking. Today I was wearing a liquid foundation by Maybelline - Super Stay Honey Beige.

Indianapolis 2010 06 052

As I was putting it on, I really didn’t think it was going to work very well. It seemed kind of dark and when I was applying powder over it, it seemed that the powder was not blending with the foundation, but riding on top of it instead, in a distinct and different layer. Still, it looked OK and so I headed out to the mall.

I started in Macy’s because it is my favorite department store. I often buy clothing and shoes there, but have never looked for makeup, so I probably looked lost as I wandered through the cosmetic department. In nothing flat though, there is a woman approaching me to help. One constant in department stores is that the customer service in the cosmetics departments are ALWAYS eager to help.
“Welcome to Macy’s! Can I help you dear?” she asked me. She was bright and bubbly, and it was clear that her welcome was a sincere one, and so I started to feel a little more comfortable. I dug through my purse and pulled out my pan stick foundation and showed it to her.
“Max Factor has stopped selling this so I need to find a replacement for it” She took it from me and started to turn away and walk towards one of the many counters.
“Let’s start here, because they are having a promotion and giving away freebies!” she said, giving me a wink over her shoulder.
“Free is good! I LIKE free!” I told her with a laugh as I followed her. The lady at the first counter took one look at it and shook her head ‘no’.
“I’m sorry, but we don’t have any sticks at all. You might try MAC?” she said, pointing to the MAC counter a couple of yards away. I thanked her and the lady that had first greeted me, and then headed over to the MAC counter.

Somehow I had known all along I’d end up there, because it seems that everyone who talks about cosmetics just raves about MAC, and I’ve heard over and over that they are very friendly to transgendered folks. Still, I’ve never been the type to jump on a band wagon just because it’s popular, and so I had thus far avoided MAC. There were two women working the counter and both were giving makeovers.
“Give me just a moment, and I’ll be happy to help you.” She said with a smile, briefly looking up from the woman she is working on.
“No worries, I’m in no hurry at all so please take your time.” I responded. While I waited, I looked at the women both working and shopping in the cosmetics department. One woman was so skinny I was pretty sure my thigh was wider than her entire waist. I wasn’t sure if I envied her for being that skinny or not. Skinny I like just fine and wish I were afflicted with the condition, but I think an ideal woman should have some weight for curves on her. Undecided about my opinion on the size 2 woman, I continued to observe the other women around me. I was just starting to work myself up to a serious inferiority complex when the sales associate finished what she was doing and walked up to me.
“And how can I help you ma’am?” she asked me. I handed her my Pan Stick and explained my needs to her, and was immensely relieved to hear her say she was fairly certain they did have something very much like it. She looked up at me and studied my face for a moment, then held the stick up.
“Is this what your wearing now?” she asked.
“No, I’m experimenting and trying a liquid foundation by Maybelline.” I told her, and then opened my purse to try and show it to her. I was a real class act, head bent over, peering and fumbling through all of the stuff in my purse, when my glasses slid off of my face and fell in to the open purse. I laughed, trying to cover my embarrassment, and did eventually find the foundation, and lifted it to show it to her.
“This is what I used today. I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s wrong with it, but I know it doesn’t look quite right . . .” I started telling her when she actually interrupted me.
“You know, I’ve got to disagree with you. I think it looks perfect on you. The color suites your face and it looks great!” she told me with the serious tone of a professional speaking on her subject of expertise.
“Well thanks! You do this for a living so maybe I shouldn’t be so hasty in discarding it!” I told her with a laugh.
“Nah, it looks great. OK, let’s see if we can find what your looking for!” She said, beckoning me forward with a wave of her hand. She took a sample off of my stick and smeared it across her hand, and then did the same thing with samples from two of her sticks. One of them was a perfect match and I swear I almost gasped in relief. Now I knew that I could get something like my own reliable foundation. There was only one major question now.
“So, umm, how much does it cost?” I asked, afraid to hear the answer.
“That’s $29.” She said, holding up a much smaller stick than my Max Factor.
“OUCH! I guess I was spoiled because the Max Factor was only $8.” I told her with a grimace.
“I know, but you can’t get it anymore can you?” she said with a grin.
“You got me there!” I replied, but I still hesitated. Maybe I’m just a poor hillbilly, but $29 for a small stick really is kind of expensive to me.
“Tell you what, why don’t I give you a couple of samples so you can test them and decide on the one you like the best?” she asked.
“That would be awesome! Thank you so much!” She scooped samples out of two different foundations and scrapped them in to two little glass containers that she then labeled “NW25 Stick” and “NW25 Tech”.
“OK, so give these a shot and see which works the best for you. You can take these to any MAC counter and they will know exactly what you want.” She told me with a huge smile.
“You rock! I’ve always heard great things about MAC and I’m glad to see that it is true. Thank you so much!” I left Macy’s walking on a cloud. It was expensive, but I HAD found a replacement for my foundation AND the professional had said that I looked great! It just doesn’t get any better than that!

Indianapolis 2010 06 053

Feeling most pleased with myself, I decided to go see a movie, and found that “The A Team” was just about to start. I had loved the series when I was a kid, and thought the movie might well be a lot of fun, and so I bought my ticket. It was every bit as silly as the TV series had been. Way over the top and utterly unrealistic, but I didn’t care. It was fun, and it passed the time.

Thursday, I once again prepared to go back to the Metro for Karaoke. This time I was trying one of the MAC samples I had received yesterday, the “NW 25 Stick” sample. It was kind of a pain digging it out of the small sample container, but I managed. I noticed that it didn’t feel anywhere near as greasy as the Max Factor, and I also noticed that my powder seemed to blend better with it than it had with the Maybelline. All in all, I think that it will do fine, but I’m not going to go buy it just yet, because I still need to try the other sample she gave me first. As I got settled at the Metro, I noticed an older woman with red hair. She has been at the Metro for Karaoke every single time I’ve been there and so I have chatted with her quite a bit over the last few years. She likes to sing show tunes and does a great job, not just with the singing, but with the performing. Clearly she has been a performer and is quite good at getting the crowd involved.

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When she finished a song, I went over to her table and knelt down to talk to her.
“I love it when you get up there. You sing so well, and seem to have so much fun. You know, if your this much fun drinking coffee, I’d love to see you after a drink.” I told her with a grin, pointing at the cup of coffee in front of her.
“Oh, thank you so much!” she said patting my hand, and then she leaned closer to speak confidentially. “Honey, I’m a recovering alcoholic. Believe me, you DON’T want to see me with a drink in me.”
“I’m so sorry! There I was trying to be funny and instead I’ve put both of my feet in my mouth!” I apologized.
“Not at all dear, you had no way to know! You know, the first time I saw you here a few years ago I thought you were a woman, and I was shocked when you started to sing. I was shocked because it surprised me that you weren’t a woman and then shocked again when I realized you had a wonderful voice!”
Awe . . .

On my first song, I had apparently chosen someone’s favorite song, because a cute girl from the crowd ran up to me and started “singing” with me. I put that in quotes, because she was terrible and singing so loud in my ear that I couldn’t hear myself, and so I was all over the place. It was a crash and burn moment, and I wanted to kick her down the stairs, but about mid way through, she backed off, and I managed to get back to something close to the right key. I know I probably came across as a snob, but she really irritated the hell out of me. Still, I tried to give her a smile as I walked off of the stage in shame.
They didn’t have anything like the crowd tonight that they had had Tuesday night, so I got several more chances to redeem myself, and did a pretty fair version of “Hooked on a feeling”. Toward the end of the evening, a young couple sat next to me, and I could hear them kind of critiquing every one that sang. The guy blushed every time I glanced at him or spoke to him. I’m not sure if he was kind of embarrassed to speak to a cross dresser or what, but it was clear he wasn’t entirely comfortable speaking to me. The beautiful woman sitting with him, on the other hand, had no reservations at all in speaking to me and we chatted it up for some time. She reminded me of the “cool” girls in high school, probably not the cheerleader type, but one of the cool and tough girls that would be found in the parking lot smoking cigarettes or worse. You know, the type of girl that most didn’t mess with because you knew damn good and well she wouldn’t hesitate to throw down and try and kick your ass. Funny, she would never have spoken to me as Matthew, but somehow as Kimberly I rated a conversation.

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“You know, your hair is just fabulous!” she said with a matter of fact tone of voice. “Thank you!” I said, feeling most flattered. All it had taken me was 30 years and a good wig to get one of the cool girls to pay attention and notice me.
“Farrah Fawcett right?” she asked a moment later.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I asked, because I wasn’t sure what she had said or meant.
“Your hair, that’s like Farrah Fawcetts right?” she repeated and expanded.
“I hadn’t really thought about it, but I suppose it is.” I replied. I couldn’t decide if I should be offended or not. First she had said it looked awesome, but then she made it clear that it was WAY out of date and style. In the end I decided it didn’t matter. I like this style and in the end that is all that matters.
About ten minutes later, a couple got up to do a duet – “Suddenly Seymour” from “Little Shop of Horrors”. They did a great job and it tickled the hell out of me to hear it again. As I was listening to it, something struck me and so I let out a short laugh. “Cool Girl” across the table looked at me with the question on her face.
“Sorry, it just struck me though! This song was popular about the same time my hair style was!” I said, gently tugging at my hair. We all had a good laugh at my expense. Hey, it’s either laugh or cry, and I’ll take laughing all day and twice on Sunday.

Friday and Saturday I just couldn’t find any interest or enthusiasm for doing the girl thing. Instead of cross dressing, I went on a tour of Goodwill thrift stores in the region, and let me tell you, there are a LOT in the Indy area. In a little bit of good news versus bad news, all of the Goodwills where having a half off of everything in the store sale. The good news is that anything I might want was going to be half off. The bad news is, apparently word was out, because every store I went to was crowded and packed. The first one I entered was so packed, and with lines so long, I literally turned right around and walked back out. I couldn’t imagine finding anything in there that I would want bad enough to stand in line for an hour for. I literally spent more than eight hours traveling from Goodwill to Goodwill, and by the end of the day, I had very little to show for the effort. I found maybe four tops, and several camisoles. Not a lot of return on the time invested, but still, it had passed the day. Sunday was a day full of blunders for me. Still finding no enthusiasm for getting dressed up, I spent the day in my room watching TV, writing this blog, cruising the internet, and doing my laundry. At noon I decided to stretch my cooking skills and make some Mac and cheese and hamburger. Everything was moving along fine until it came time to drain the noodles and I discovered that there was no strainer in the kitchen. I figured it was no big deal and just tipped the pan over the sink with the lid still on it, allowing the water to drain that way. Soon though, the lid got too hot to handle, and so I had to set the pot down and get a towel to use as a pot holder. I was tipping the noodles over the sink again . . . and it slipped . . . “DAMN IT!” I yelled at the world, watching in disgust as all of my noodles slide down the garbage disposal. I was hoping against hope that there would be enough left in the pan to have SOME, but no, the pan was empty. In the end, I made a box of hamburger helper. Yumm . . . Next I headed down to the laundry room to wash some of my things and all of the new stuff I had bought. With out thinking, I put the new red and pink tops and camisoles in the laundry.
I’ll bet you can guess where this is going already, huh?
Sure enough, when the load was done and I went to remove it from the washing machine, I found that the two pair of guy socks I had washed were now pink, as was the bright white bra I had also washed. I had a yellow and white stripped shirt in there as well, and it was now pink and yellow stripes. Shaking my head in disgust at my own stupidity, I removed the red and pink tops that had caused the disaster, put soap back in the machine, and washed the load again. Half an hour later, when I returned again to put them in the dryer, I stood in disbelief looking at the glass front of the washing machine. The load was done, the washing machine stopped, and it was still absolutely full of soap. The entire glass front of the machine was a solid wall of white soap suds. I opened the door and reached through the wall of soap and grabbed something at random, and tugged it out of the machine. Dropping huge clumps of soap all over the floor, there I held in my hands a pink sock. Not only had washing it all again done nothing to help, but I had apparently used too much soap, causing the situation I now faced. You know, I had to wash that load two more times to get the damned soap out? Good news though! The socks and bra are still pink, but I think that my shirt is OK. Well, the way my luck was going, it would clearly be insane to risk leaving my room. I might get hit by a derailed train, struck by a falling satellite, crushed by a submarine – God only knows. Anyway, I chose to stay in the room for the night rather than risk it. . .

The next day I had to take a safety briefing with the customer I was working at. Typical large company brilliance. They let me work there the entire week without this safety certification and then want me to get it the day before I stop working there. Oh well, off to class I went. It’s funny how quickly some of the old Army bearing and posture returned when I found myself among all these huge and ultra macho type guys. Suddenly I was standing up straight, puffing my chest out, sucking in the gut, and trying to look just as mean as everyone else. So the guy giving the class was kind of a hard nose, I guess you have to be when it’s your job to make all of these tough guy vendors and contractors follow your safety rules. He started off by telling us all that he was known for being blunt. “. . . and if that offends anyone here, that’s just too damned bad.” He then followed with a long list of things that would get you in to trouble.

“If you do THIS I will throw you off our property. If you do THAT I will throw you AND your entire company off of our property. If you even think about sexual harassment. . . come one guys, this is 2010. . . . first strike and your toast. That includes whistles . . . “

An hour and a half more of this and he was calling each of us into a small office for photographs and badges. You know me, I couldn’t resist being a smart ass.
“So about being blunt . . . “ I said as I followed him into the badge room. He stopped in his tracks and turned to look at me with one eye almost closed.
“Yeah?” he asked, clearly getting ready for trouble.
“Personally I like ‘blunt’. You get to the point faster AND with less room for misunderstanding. I like blunt, blunt is good!” I told him with a grin. He just let out a laugh and continued walking. As we entered the room, a woman about my own age was behind the desk with your typical setup for taking pictures used for badges. A stool in the corner, a digital camera, a couple of light umbrellas, and she beckoned for me to take the stool. As I sat there, I couldn’t help wondering of those light umbrellas would make my vain little photographs look any better.
Getting bored, I decided to mess with the lady behind the desk.
“You know, I think it’s only fair to warn you that I have a detrimental affect on cameras.” I told her.
“Detrimental?” she asked, looking up from her PC to look at me.
“Yeah, I break ‘em!” I told her with a wink. They both started laughing, like it was the first time they had heard that one. Another minute and she looks up again.
“I’m so sorry, give me just a minute. Something’s not working but I’ll figure it out!” she said.
“HAH! I told you I’d break it, but did you listen? No, because nobody ever pays any attention to me . . .” I told them while rolling my eyes. This time they both cut loose with genuine laughter. In a moment she had it figured out.
“Ok, I’m ready so give me a smile. You wont know when the picture is taken because there wont be a flash.” She informed me.
“Oh, I’ll know when it’s taken all right.” I told her smugly.
“OK, how will you know when the picture is taken?” she asked me with a ‘I know your putting me on but I’ll play anyway’ smile.
“ ‘cause that will be when the smoke starts rolling outta your camera.” I told her trying to keep a straight face. It took her a split second before she started laughing so hard she couldn’t take the pic.
“Yeah, you laugh now, but just wait until your camera is toast.” In a moment she had her act back together and started peering hard at her screen, then me, then the screen.
“It just doesn’t look right. It looks like your squinting or something.” She told me.
“Look, I can’t help it of the bright lights are reflecting off my bald head and blinding your camera. If you have a marker we could draw hair on my head if that will help?” I asked her, trying to look sincere. Once again she started laughing so hard she couldn’t take the picture, so it took another moment or two before we were done. As they were printing the badge out, the safety guy looks at me, shakes his head, and then sticks out his hand to shake mine.
“You know, it’s nice to meet an instrumentation guy with a sense of humor. Most of ‘em are pretty serious.” He said, shaking his head in a ‘what a shame’ gesture.
“No kidding” And here I thought that being a smart ass was a requirement for working on instrumentation?! I’ve been doing it wrong all these years . . . “

Well, I did my job there for the rest of the day, being sure to sport my brand new safety qualification badge that was gonna be of use only for that very work day. By the time I ever have to come back down here to support this customer again, my safety qualification badge will be long since expired.

My drive back up from Columbus to Indianapolis was delayed by a wreck. You know, there always has to be one person that just doesn’t grasp the concept of “slippery when wet.”

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Ultimately though I did get back to Indy though, and tried out the second sample I’d gotten from MAC. I didn’t really see a huge difference between the results I’d had with either MAC product or the Maybelline foundation I’d tried and so decided to hit up the MAC counter and ask a few silly questions. Questions like ‘what is the difference between the two samples you gave me? Why and how would I choose one over the other? What is the preferred way to apply these – sponge, finger, plunge my face into a vat of it?”

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The lady I had dealt with was not there this time. Instead, I found a very nice gentleman who took a few moments to talk to me. The first thing he told me was that the pan stick the lady had let me sample was being discontinued. Thank God he told me that because I would have gone nuts if I’d gotten attached to it and it was already going to be unavailable! Next he told me that the best way to apply it was with a brush, and he held it up to show it to me. I was kind of surprised that you would put on such a heavy foundation with a brush but he assured me it worked great.
“Awesome! How much for the brush?” I asked him
“$45” he replied, and I choked.
“For the ONE brush?!” I asked in shock. He looked around and then leaned in close.
“I’ve seen them in Walmart for a LOT less!” he told me with a smile. I started laughing and thanked him profusely. Well, all made up, and no place to go, so once again I went to the movies.

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This time I saw “Robin Hood”. It was a pretty good movie, as you would expect with Russell Crowe, and easily passed a couple of hours. As I pulled in to the hotel parking lot, I found a young woman literally staggering with her arms so full of shopping bags that she just managed to close her car door, and had no chance in hell of opening the hotel door, so I stepped in front of her and got the door for her.
“Clearly someone has been shopping!” I said with a grin.
“Oh yeah, big time!” she said with a giggle. “I had the day off and had to do something . . . “ This time I just about giggled.
“Yeah, I did the same thing this weekend.” I told her. It turned out she was going to the same floor I was and so we rode the elevator up. Just as the elevator stopped, I looked at her.
“Of course, now comes the hard part!” I said.
“Oh, what’s that?” She asked, gathering her dozen bags in her arms.
“Getting the bill!” I laughed.
“Nah,” she said, exiting the elevator and turning to look back over her shoulder at me. “That’s what husbands are for!”. DOH!

The next day I had to work with a different customer in the Indy area and by the time I was done, it was too late for doing the Kimberly thing. I did do a little more shopping though and found sort of a stealth bad girl dress. I say ‘stealth’ because it looked so prim and proper on the hanger and then when I tried it on, I discovered it was very cute and short. When I first saw it on the rack, I skipped right past it, thinking it was kind of old ladyish. Something about it kind of nagged at me though and so I went back to get another look at it and ultimately I bought it. I think we will keep this one for night clubs, or maybe wear it as a blouse, because I’m pretty sure it is too short to wear all day on a trip. I’d spend the entire day worried about who was gonna see what!

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For my flight home, I chose something a bit more appropriate and I almost wish I hadn’t. Let’s face it, the short flirty dress made me feel cute and maybe a little scandalous. The outfit I flew home in really didn’t.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back to Boston!

In a rare turn of events I found myself going right back to Boston for training again. It seems that we are still dealing with the fall out resulting from the actions of the engineer that was fired recently. We will be installing a new system there soon, and I have never seen this new model. While I could have figured it out on my own, we kind of figured it would be a bad idea to risk letting the customer see me struggle while I learned. At the last moment, my manager arranged to have the factory agree to train myself and one other engineer on the system so as to be sure that the customer didn’t perceive us as being less than knowledgeable on this new model.

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As seems to be the usual these days, nothing terribly interesting or exciting happened on the flight there. I almost blew it catching the flight for a number of reasons. One, I’m getting awful tired of getting up so early and so had decided that maybe I was being silly for getting to the airport two hours early. This time I timed things to get there one hour before my flight and so you can just imagine the look on my face when I entered the airport and found the security line snaking clear across the entire length of the airport!  Even with my being allowed to use the “premium” passenger lane to get through security, I just barely made my flight.
The lady that sat next to me in first class from Atlanta to Boston liked to chat and so we did. It turns out that she is some sort of medical consultant and flies back and forth from Florida to Boston every single Monday and Friday. What a trip! Someone out there flies more than I do! We traded good and bad stories of our travels and just generally enjoyed each others company.

When I checked in to my hotel, conveniently located across the highway from the Burlington Mall, the customer service rep was a young and cute girl. As soon as I approached the counter she got a huge grin on her face and turned beet red. Still, she was cool and soon I was off to my room.

The first thing I did was to take my new wig out that I had just had the bangs trimmed on, and see what it looked like. I worked on it for a while, got it styled the way I liked it, and then stood back to take a look. For the life of me, I couldn’t decide if it suited me or not! The style was very close to my current wig, but the color is much lighter and with a slight red tint. I looked and looked and looked at it, and just couldn’t decide if it was going to work for me or not.

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Realizing that I wasn’t going to make my mind, I went ahead and cleaned up and headed out grocery shopping to fill the empty kitchen in my suite. Isn’t that an odd concept for a lot of people? I’m so sick of restaurants that I would rather cook my own meal. If you knew how bad my cooking is, you would appreciate the desperation behind that comment.

The good news is that the other engineer that was here for the same training was apparently a bit of a prima donna. He checked in to the same hotel where I was staying, took a look around his room, decided it wasn’t good enough for him, and checked right back out. I wasn’t gonna have to worry about him seeing me coming and going if I went out! In the end though, it didn’t matter, because I spent both of the next two days working too late to bother getting dressed up when I got back to the hotel. I DID take the time to walk through the mall drab though, and found a bright yellow top at Macy’s on sale for $8! My wife has insisted that yellow is a no-no with my complexion, but another Tgirl I know on the vanity club has the same complexion I have, and she looked stunning in it. I figured that $8 was worth the experiment!

Thursday it was time to head back home to Austin. The skirt I had chosen to wear was the one I mentioned a couple of blogs back. When I first saw it, I thought it was terrible! It was gold, with a complex texture, and a foot long ruffle around the bottom. Still, something about it kept nagging at me and I went back and looked at it twice. The second time I figured it out! The long ruffle was pushing it over the edge in to ridiculous. If it didn’t have that stupid ruffle, it would be killer! So I bought it and took it to be cleaned and altered, and they did a fantastic job. I was so relieved to try it on and see that it did indeed look awesome after having the ruffle removed.

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I swapped hair back and forth, over and over, trying to decide if I should stick with my tried and true favorite, or go with the new wig that I still wasn’t sure I liked. In the end, I made myself wear the new hair, thinking that maybe I just needed to get used to seeing it on me. The more I looked at it through the day, the more I liked it, and now at the end of the day I’ve decided to keep it. I think my indecision is just that it’s different.

On the flight home I struck up a conversation with the flight attendant, who was sitting not more than 4 feet from me. She had very curly and bright red hair, and had it put up in the back, with a couple of long curly locks loose in front – think Nicole Kidman. So I was looking at her hair and thinking how adorable she looked, and also checking out what colors she was using for makeup, when she looked up and caught my eye.
“OK, I’ve got to tell you that your hair is utterly adorable!” I told her. Her face lit up like a 100 watt light bulb and she gave me a heart stopping smile.
“Thank you! I tell you though, I had to get out of Boston – the humidity was messing it all up!” she told me, reaching to push the curls out of her eyes.
“You know, I don’t have that particular problem!” I said laughing, while playing at primping my own hair. That got a genuine laugh from her, so I kept yapping.
“Ya know, everyone is telling me that my hair is too ‘big’! I figure that I live in Texas and I’m supposed to have big hair!”