Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jinxed . . .

I’ve been a pretty busy camper in the last few weeks, but very little that would be of much interest to most of you that bother to follow my blog. Lots of work and lots of travel, but nothing related to being Transgender.  I’m afraid that the medication that I am taking for my blood clot, combined with just life in general, have had me feeling worn out and exhausted, and so my secret life as Kim has been placed on the back burner.

My pretty classic Mustang has been a mixed blessing lately, presenting me with problems that I guess one should expect when trying to keep a 46 year old machine in operation. My first problem was my own damn fault, and I suppose that makes it so much worse. Feeling that someone else, or perhaps the Universe itself has screwed you over is one thing, but knowing that you yourself did something stupid and careless, and so you have no one else to blame, really sucks. The modern but used Mustang that I have just purchased as a replacement for our recently totaled Dodge Caliber, was in the shop for a suspension problem and so I was once again forced to use my classic Mustang as my primary transportation. And so it was that one morning I arrived at the airport and found myself pulling my suitcase out of the back seat of the old girl when I heard an ominous “crack” and “crunch” sound. I sat my suitcase down outside of the car and almost sobbed when I saw where that sound had come from. After making it 46 years without any serious damage, I had managed to shatter the rear of my center console by allowing the suitcase to hit it on the way out. My car has never been restored, and is not a “trailer queen” nor is she a show car, but if there is one thing that I can brag about with my car that very few can claim, it is that she is totally original. She has not been turned into a hotrod, she has not been updated, and she has not been modified. Hell, I only recently had to replace the original alternator, and I have it sitting on the shelf so I can take it and get it rebuilt so that I can put it back in! She is 46 years old and yet almost entirely the very same car that Ford produced so long ago. . . and I just shattered a highly visible and desirable component.  Depressed just doesn’t do justice to the way I felt for the next week any time that I thought of this. I eventually used super glue to patch it back together, but it looks awful, and the damage is very obvious. I am still trying to decide if I should try to find an original console that will also be 46 years old and every bit as fragile, or buy a reproduction that will be new, robust, black, and very expensive. I’m leaning toward a reproduction, but don’t have anywhere close to the thousand dollars that they sell for.
A week later, when I arrived back in Austin, suddenly she started running super rough and stalling out. I figured that I had pissed her off when I shattered the console and so she had decided to be petulant and petty in retribution.  It would start and run well for about five minutes, then run rough and stall for another five or so, and then it would suddenly run just fine for the rest of the day. While the carburetor was relatively new, I had had a few problems that I was reasonably sure were due to carburation, and so after replacing the fuel filter, I very quickly reached the conclusion that carburetor was my problem and just went and bought a replacement. After I installed the new one, the car ran far worse than it had, and I was close to despair. Five years or so ago, most of my knowledge about cars was theoretical and “book learning”, with very little practical and hands-on knowledge. These days though, I feel pretty confident that I understand just about everything going on under the hood of my Mustang, and so it really irritated me that I had apparently got it wrong and still couldn’t figure out what was at fault. Still, since the symptoms had changed dramatically, I figured that either the new carb was flawed, or else I was on the right track. As I was troubleshooting the issue in an exhaust filled garage, my neighbor from across the street came over to see what I was up to, and so he and I went for a short ride in it. While we were at it, we kept hearing a loud hissing sound whenever I tried to accelerate, but we just couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, so we pulled over to try and run it down. To make a long story just a little bit shorter, almost by accident I discovered that when I had installed the new carburetor, I had placed the PCV valve hose on the wrong fitting, leaving a half inch wide fitting on the spacer plate under my carb wide open and sucking air into the engine. Talk about a vacuum leak! When I put the stupid hose where it belonged, my pretty little Mustang started to purr like a kitten again. So, the good news is that I had apparently diagnosed the original problem correctly, and it had been due to the carb. The bad news is, I had caused the second problem myself, and had to discover my stupidity in front of one of the few guys I consider a friend. Sigh . . .

As long as we are talking about classic cars, they had a car show not too far from where I live! They actually blocked the main street off, and had nothing but beautiful classic and antique cars parked along both sides of the street, and even right down the middle of it. There was no question that my family and I went to spend a few hours drooling over them.


Feeling inspired by the car show, I decided to find my most “retro” outfit for my next trip, and take my classic Mustang to the airport so that I could take a couple of pics with her. Nothing like a pin-up, don’t get me wrong, because I know I’m way too long in the tooth to get away with that these days. I just wanted to get a retro kind of photo, wearing an outfit that was sort of appropriate for the era of the car. I’ve got to be honest – I hate the pics. . .

I had to laugh at the absurdity of it all as I was having my own personal photo shoot. I stood my suitcase up a few feet away and used it as a tripod. There I am in the airport garage, walking to the camera and setting the timer, then almost running to get in front of the car before my ten second delay is up, and then trying to make it look like a casual photo:
Set timer
Aim Camera
Push button
Run for the car
Try to look like someone just happened to take your pic while you were sitting there, and try not to look like you had just all but sprinted in high heels.
Repeat process a half a dozen times in the hopes that at least one of these pictures will be worth keeping.
Try not to die of embarrassment when you notice that someone an isle over is looking your way as they see the repeated flash while walking to the terminal. . .

Once I grew tired of making an ass out of myself, I packed my camera away and then made my way through the parking area and into the terminal.  I was standing there and waiting for the elevator that would take me up to the ticket area, when a family of five arrived at the elevator – two young children, their parents, and an older woman that I assumed was probably the grandmother. They were loudly discussing if they should go up or down in order to get to the same place that I was headed to, and they ultimately decided on “down”. I stood there trying to decide if I should tell them that they would be better off by going up instead of down. After all, down would get them there too, they would just have to take another elevator when they got inside the terminal. Eh, what the hell. . .
“You would be better off going up. The top floor is where the ticket counters are.” I told the grandmother, who I couldn’t help but notice was looking directly at me as the others spoke.  Just then, my “up” elevator arrived and so I stepped into it, and after a very brief pause, the family all piled in with me. As the doors closed, the mother looked at me and spoke.
“Are you sure?” she asked, kind of hesitantly.
“Absolutely positive!” I replied with my best voice and a wink.
The whole time, Grandma was looking straight at me and I saw her lift her hand to cover her mouth as she let loose with a small laugh. Clearly she had just decided that I was indeed a cross dresser and thought it was fairly amusing. The rest of the family wasn’t far behind her as they all started exchanging amused looks and smiles with each other as the elevator made the climb.
‘Thank you, thank you very much! I will be here all day for your amusement and pleasure!’ I thought to myself, imagining taking a small bow.

I was going to Toledo Ohio, but it turns out that Detroit is the closest major airport, and so I knew that when I landed I still had an hour drive to look forward to. I suppose this made me a bit impatient with the whole rental car process, but I was really irritated when I tried to board the rental car shuttle bus. There were only eight or so people in front of me boarding the bus, but they all had apparently agreed in advance to stop right inside the doors, drop their bags right there, and block the entrance so that someone, oh say, like me, with two large bags, would have no way in hell of getting past them. An almost entirely empty bus, full of empty seats, and they were standing there and blocking the way so that I could not get my bags past them to place them in the bins. I just kept looking at them, waiting for them to figure it out and move aside, but the few that even bothered to notice, just stared at me and stood there.
“Fuck it”, I thought to myself and just left my bags standing right there inside the door. “If the driver hits the brakes, y’all are gonna get two heavy bags up against your ass ends!” I finally just stood there and grabbed one of the vertical bars in preparation for the bus ride. I guess the driver noticed the situation, because he made his way back, and more or less shoved his way past them all, and made them step aside so that he could put the bags away himself. I was almost disappointed, because by that point I was looking forward to seeing my 50 pound tool box smack one of them in the backside. Have I mentioned that I am tired and irritable lately?

I’ve got to tell you, I picked one hell of a day to road trip from Detroit to Toledo! There were massive thunder storms and the radio was constantly warning about Tornados. It was raining so hard that on multiple occasions cars were either pulling off of the freeway or were slowing to 25 MPH and turning on their hazard lights because you couldn’t see the road anymore. It was with immense relief that I at last pulled into the parking lot to my hotel, but I now had a dilemma – the wind was incredibly strong and the rain was all but biblical. I really wasn’t looking forward to making my way from the car to the hotel lobby in it.  I figured out that I could at least mitigate the situation by pulling my bag out under the overhang in front of the hotel and then parking the car, so that’s exactly what I did.  As I was taking my bag out of the trunk, I learned why it’s a bad idea to wear a dress with a full skirt during high winds. With both of my hands occupied trying to get my bag out of the trunk, I suddenly found myself blinded by my own darn dress when it lifted in the wind and all but covered my face. Dropping my bag, I grabbed my dress with one hand and held it down where it belonged, and used only the other hand to grab the suitcase. I really have no idea if I saved myself any heart ache with this plan or not, because even though I had done all of this under the cover of the overhang, I was still soaked as I got back into the car. I got my car parked, and after grabbing my dress with one hand, and my umbrella with the other, I ran like hell for the lobby. I didn’t bother to open the umbrella – there was no point in this wind. It wouldn’t have helped to keep me dry in this heavy wind and rain, and would almost certainly have just been shredded. As I ran through the down pour, I couldn’t help but think of how amused my wife’s uncle would have been if he could see me now. Just the other day we were talking about some of the cold places that I traveled to for work, and he had made a wisecrack about how it must be something to have a cold wind blowing up my skirt. The way that I figure it, that asshole must have jinxed me . . .