Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thanks Dude

This morning I was the first person on the parking shuttle, and since there was no one else to
inconvenience, the driver apparently decided to be chatty with me.
“So your name isn’t Sally by any chance is it?” he asked me.
“No sir, my name is Kim.”
“I was just asking because I see that you drive a Mustang. You know back in the sixties there was a super popular song called ‘Mustang Sally’ “  I had to laugh that he thought he had to tell me about the song, as if it wasn’t one of my favorites.
“Sure, I got the reference,” I told him with a laugh. “I have a thing about Mustangs so it is actually one of my favorite songs. I also have a 1967 Mustang at home.”
“No kidding?!” he replied. “I used to have a 67 Mustang myself, but that was many years ago. It was a GT and had a huge engine in it. I’ll bet it would be worth a fortune today.”
“I’ll bet that kind of irritates you huh? Wish you still had it?”
“Nah, not really. It got to the point where you couldn’t get the leaded gas for it, and its performance suffered. These days they choke a car to death with all of the emissions stuff and you just don’t get the performance that you used to get.”
“Oh I don’t know. That little red Mustang there only has a six cylinder but it still has 305 horsepower AND gets 33 MPG on the highway. I’m pretty happy with its performance and I can actually afford to drive it.”

I think I’m gonna change my name to “Grace”.  As I was entering the Austin airport, the wheels on my toolbox got caught in a joint in the sidewalk and I ended up dropping the handle. As I crouched down to pick up the toolbox, my suitcase fell over and damned near took me with it since I was crouched down and wearing platform heels. Yep – once again the very definition of grace and beauty here!

I was making my way through the long “premium” passenger line at the TSA check point when I noticed two older guys in front of me debating if they were in the right line or not. They both reminded me of my mothers last husband who had been the very definition of a macho man. Body builder, motor cycle riding, sports watching – you know the kind. Anyway, they apparently couldn’t decide on their own, and so they turned to me.
“So just what is a “premium” passenger?“, he asked me.
“When you fly a lot, you get status with the airline. Eventually you get enough points that they consider you a premium passenger and you get perks like this line.” I replied to them.
“So does this mean that we are premium or not?” He asked me, holding out his ticket and showing me where it said “Priority Boarding” on his ticket.
“No sir, that just means that you get to board the airplane before most people. This on the other hand is a really handy thing to have right now!” I told him, pointing at the “TSA Pre-Check” typed in large and bold letters on his ticket. “This means you get to use an even shorter line and you don’t have to take your shoes off, or take stuff out of your bag.”
“No way?!” he asked, not quite believing his good fortune.
“Sure. The TSA pre-check line is right over there, and if I were you, I would get out of this one and get in that one.” I told them, pointing to the other side of the security check point where there was a large sign saying “TSA Pre-check only”
“Hey that’s great – thanks!” they both told me, and then they did indeed get out of our long line to go to the empty TSA Pre-check line. Once I had made my way through security, I headed down the concourse toward my gate, and I happened to pass these two again. The one that reminded me of my mother’s last husband saw me as I was walking by.
“Hey! Thanks for helping us through the line . . .” he loudly told me.
“You’re most welcome.” I replied, but I spoke just a bit too soon, because apparently he wasn’t done speaking.
“. . . dude” he completed his sentence. Yep, no doubt about it that this asshole reminds me a lot of my mother’s husband because I never liked him either . . .

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Random Rambling

The simple truth is that very little of any interest has occurred on any of my trips to bother writing a blog. I guess if I want my blog to survive and continue, I’m gonna have to start making stuff up.

“Holy shit! I was on the way to the Atlanta airport, and in the middle of the flight, a bright beam of light filled the interior of the airplane! Next thing I knew, I was on another planet ran by gorgeous Amazonian  women . . . “
Yeah, sorry – ‘fraid I’ve got nothing that interesting to say, so I’ll just ramble on a bit if that’s all right?

I don’t know why, but it seems like my wife’s feelings might have changed a little recently. She has always cut me a lot of slack, but it’s also always been pretty clear that she doesn’t like my cross dressing. Really, who can blame her? You grow up as a little girl with a clear vision of how you expect your life to play out. No doubt you will ultimately be married to an adoring husband who is reasonably wealthy, built like Chuck Norris, and watches the football games with a room full of his rough and tumble guy friends. Chuck Norris was taken and so you marry a soldier – a fairly masculine man, with a hairy chest, and a decent though not exactly impressive set of muscles. You’re on your way to having something like the life that you dreamed about as a little girl and then one day you find out that you have been suckered into a “bait and switch” scenario, and you have actually married a guy that likes to dress like a woman.  Every single time that he leaves the house as a woman, you worry that your friends and neighbors may see, and the whole gig is up. No, I don’t blame my poor wife for not being thrilled about it – I wouldn’t be happy about it if I were her either. Still, she has always allowed me the freedom to be me from time to time, and she doesn’t give me hell for traveling as I do. Many, perhaps the majority of women, probably would have left me, but my wife has only asked that I be careful and not be too obvious about it. 

A few weeks ago, I was feeling depressed, old, and ugly and I shared with my wife that I wasn’t sure if I should “fly pretty” or not because I wasn’t sure if it was worth the effort.  She kind of surprised me when she looked at me and gently told me that she thought I should fly pretty on that trip because it had been a while and because she thought that everyone should feel beautiful from time to time. I have no idea if she knows how deeply this touched me or not, but it really had an effect on me. Where I am willing to risk my families happiness to spend time “as Kim”, she is willing to risk her own welfare so that I can be happy. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that my wife is a much better person than I am . . .

As luck would have it, I was on an airplane on Veterans Day a few weeks ago, and was fortunate enough to get an upgrade to first class. I had chosen not to fly pretty for a variety of reasons and I suspect that this was probably for the best on this trip. As I boarded the airplane, there was the distinct air of tension with the flight attendants and it soon became obvious what the problem was. The young man sitting in the seat next to mine was seriously intoxicated. Everything he said was at a very high volume, and this had clearly begun to irritate those that were seated around him, and this of course greatly concerned the flight attendants who were all looking at him and conferring amongst themselves.
The young man had the look and feel of someone in the military, and so much to the regret of those seated around us, I struck up a conversation with him. It turned out that I was right – he was in the navy and this was his first trip home in years.  The airline had shown their respects to him by giving him a seat in first class, and he had taken advantage of that to start celebrating early. At this point in our rather loud conversation, a flight attendant walked up to me and gave me the “I am SO sorry look” and then asked me what I would like to drink. I looked at her for a moment, thinking that this trip would go a lot easier if I had a drink or two my damn self, but then I decided to take a different route instead.
When I first joined the Army at 17 years old, I was very much like this young man.  If I drank, I always drank way too much, and of course this resulted in my making a complete ass out of myself on several occasions. Through the years, I had many people go out of their way to help me when I was being stupid, and so I sort of figured I owed it to the Universe to see if I could help keep this kid out of trouble.
“You know what? How about I set the example and get a cup of coffee?” I told her with a grin.
“I’ll be right back with it!” she told me, patting me on the shoulder as she was turning to walk away, pointedly not asking the drunk young man next to me if he wanted anything else.
“MA’AM? MISS?”, yelled my seatmate as she was just turning away. “Can I get another . . . “ he paused, apparently looking for the name of the alcohol that he was drinking. I guess the name didn’t come to him, because ultimately he just held the little bottle up for her to see. “Another one of these?” 
I continued to talk to him, and this is how I learned that he was going to be met by his brother and his mother when we landed in Detroit. I nicely suggested that he might wanna consider slowing down a bit with the alcohol, because “you know you don’t want to be too far gone when you see your momma!”
Right about then, I can hear a different flight attendant on the phone to the gate agent.
“Yeah, he is REAL drunk – I think I need some backup down here. . . “  A moment later there are two additional airline employees standing at the door, and all of them are watching my seat mate as people continue boarding. You didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that they were considering taking him off of the airplane, and so I figured that it was time to be a bit blunt with him.
“You mind a little advice from a former NCO?” I asked him.
“I’m an NCO too!” he said, once again at full volume. Apparently someone had reached their breaking point, and I heard a very loud “shushing” from someone in the area.
“Well, you have clearly had a bit to drink and you are being awful loud. Unless I miss my guess, they are thinking about taking you off of the plane, and believe me, no one wants to see that happen to a service member on Veterans Day of all days. “
“Nah?! I’ll just wait until we take off – then they can’t throw me off!” Once again, this was nice and loud so there was no question the airline folks heard him.
“Well, that’s where you are wrong, because they will in fact land the plane if they feel that they have to. You really might want to keep it down a bit, you know? Then you wont have to worry about it.”
“Well that is just the way I get when I drink. I get loud.” He replied apologetically. I guess I was finally getting through to him though because his reply was at a normal volume and he did sound a bit apologetic.
“No worries man, just keep it down and everything will be fine.” I told him with a smile. We continued to talk throughout the boarding process, now at a much lower volume. I was greatly relieved when after about ten minutes or so, the flight attendants all seemed to relax, and the two men that had come down from the gate area left. I guess that I was a little premature in relaxing though, because as the aircraft started to taxi to the runway, he decided to go sideways again.
“Where is that drink I asked for?” he loudly asked no one in particular. Then he took off his seatbelt and started to stand up, apparently intending to make his way to the flight attendants to get his drink. If you don’t fly much, you might not know this, but it is a big deal when someone stands up while the airplane is moving, so things were about to get really ugly, really fast.
“Petty officer, you need to sit your ass down, and you need to do it NOW!” I told him, surprised to hear that I still had that “NCO” tone of voice after all of these years of being a civilian. Much as I expected, he reacted exactly as most enlisted people are trained to – he did exactly what he was told without stopping to think about it.
“But I want a drink” he just about whined.
“Well you need to suck it up and drive on my friend, because I can guarantee that she is not going to bring you more alcohol.” I replied with a laugh. We continued to talk for much of the flight, because at some point he confessed that if he fell asleep, he would end up vomiting. I figured that most of those around me would prefer a somewhat loud conversation over puke any day, and so we talked. When he later got up to use the bathroom, about four people turned to me and to thank me for keeping him calmed and quieted down. When he got out of the bathroom, I took a turn at it, and as I made my way back to my seat, the flight attendant briefly grabbed both of my arms and looked into my eyes
 “You poor poor man . . . “
I just laughed and told her the truth.
“I was that young, and God help me, I was that dumb. This is just Karma coming back around to me bite me in the butt.”

I’ve made several trips while “flying pretty” and very little of interest happened on any of them. I took a trip to a major customer of ours in Peoria IL, and if you are from the area, I’ll bet that you can guess who that customer is. My customer is actually pretty good at working on our instrument himself, he is just lacking in confidence and wanted someone there to help make sure that he was doing things right. Between the two of us, we managed to repair 11 instruments in only two and a half days.  To put that into perspective, I usually tell customers that it is not reasonable to expect that I can do more than two instruments per day. Yeah – we were busting our butts off.
I had to laugh when the man behind me in line at the airport counter commented on the size of my luggage.
“That looks like more than a weeks packing to me.” He said with a grin while pointing at my huge bag.
“Yeah, some people travel lightly. I’m not one of them.” I replied with a laugh.
“This bag is for a week in Japan.” He said, holding up a small bag, no larger than my backpack.
“Amateur!”  I scolded him with a laugh.

For my next service call, I made the drive from Austin to a customer in Tulsa OK. I decided to wear a medium length wig that I had bought a couple of years ago. I have bought at least half a dozen wigs looking for a good replacement for the long Raquel Welch wig that I wore out, but I have yet to find one that impresses me as much. I found myself wondering if maybe it is me and not the wig. By this I mean that maybe it doesn’t look bad, just different, and I just need to get used to it, and so I gave it a whirl. 
About mid-way through the eight hour drive, I eventually decided that I needed to use the rest room, but God help me I didn’t have the confidence or courage.
I stopped at a Loves truck stop and just couldn’t convince myself to go in. I kept picturing some rough red neck getting offended and getting in my face. I started the car and continued on. . .   
When I made it to the Texas/Oklahoma border, I stopped at the huge rest area there to use the restroom, but there were quite a few women making their way back and forth, and for some reason, I just couldn’t find my courage. 
Once again, I started the car and continued on. Yepper, due to me lack of confidence, I made about half of that eight hour drive distinctly uncomfortable.
Ah the joys of this crazy and messed up life I lead . . .

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I find your lack of faith to be disturbing . . .

It was the usual Saturday morning routine for us and I'm sitting there surfing the web and sucking down coffee when my wife says "Oh, look at that! The neighbors cat is playing with a squirrel!"
'Well hell!' I thought to myself, 'this sounds like a cute and adorable Kodak moment!' I grabbed my camera and started recording video when my wife revised her assessment of the situation.
"Yeah, he's gonna kill it. . ."
Needless to say, I dropped the camera and we both went out and saved the baby squirrel from the cat that was happily torturing it. I had to keep shoving the cat away, because he wasn't at all pleased to be giving up his toy and meal, and while I kept him at bay, my wife picked up the traumatized squirrel and carried it into the house. I gathered up some old blankets that I put in the bottom of a plastic bin, and we did our best to comfort the little critter. My wife made several attempts to feed it but with very little success. . .
Of course both of my youngest children fell instantly in love with it, and who wouldn't? I mean it's not every day that you get to hold and pet a squirrel is it? Many times over the next day, that squirrel was picked up and passed from person to person for some major cuddles and petting, but it was becoming clear to my wife and I that either the squirrel had been seriously hurt by the cat, or the thing had already had some sort of problem and that was HOW the cat had got him.


Monday, after taking the children to school, we packed him into the car and took him to the vet who very quickly told us that the little fella probably only had a few more hours of life in him, and they weren't going to be good hours either. The vet tried to pick him up and place him on his feet, but he would just flop over onto his side, and sometimes would use his legs to drag himself around in a circle.  We tried to do what was right, and asked the vet to put the little fella out of his misery, and the vet was kind enough to not only take care of it, but to do it free of charge. Small towns do have their points. . .
I'll bet you can guess what my little five year olds first words were when I picked him up from school that afternoon.
"I can't wait to get home and pet my squirrel!" Came the happy little voice from the back seat, amid the sound of his buckling his car seat straps up. It just about broke my heart to tell him that the little thing had not made it. . .
Still, I assured him that we had given it two more days than it was going to have, and that we had certainly given it a happier ending than the cat had had in mind. Instead of being tortured to death, we had given it a comfortable home, amid hugs and cuddles - there are far worse ways to go. He cried for a good solid five minutes, but ten minutes later was out playing and laughing in the back yard.

The Start of my Day
I checked in at US Airways with the same lady that took care of me the last time, and she struck up a conversation again with me.
"Well howdy stranger! Where are you headed this week? Oh! You know this is Tuesday right? Where were ya yesterday?!" She teased.
"Yeah, I'm running a little late this week!" I told her with a grin. "I'm headed to Denver this time."
"Oh ho!" She said with a grin. "You know what is legal in Denver now right?" She was alluding to the fact that marijuana was now legal in Colorado, but that makes little difference to me.
"Yeah, I know, but it doesn't matter to me - I can't do it!
"I hear you. I would be unemployed pretty quick myself." She commiserated with me.
"Yepper! I have to take drug tests periodically to satisfy some of our customers requirements, and if I came up 'hot' I would lose my job. I'm not willing to risk it."
"You know, some of my friends and I are thinking about moving there and all getting a house together. We would be like three old spinsters!" She thought about it for a moment and then added while batting her eyes "Not that we are old or anything, because I just turned 28!"
"I hear ya. I've only just turned 29 myself - for the twentieth time now!" I told her with a laugh. 

The end of my day with no hem in my dress
Making my way across the Phoenix airport to catch my connecting flight, I grew annoyed at a long thread that was hanging down from my dress and catching on my legs, and so I reached down and tugged on it, and then tugged on it again when it failed to come loose the first time. As you can probably guess by now, this turned out to be a somewhat bad idea because that particular threads job had been to hold the hem of my dress. As a result of my tugging, I got to spend the rest of the day wearing a lopsided dress that had one side hanging lower than the other.  As if that wasn't bad enough, I had also failed to follow my own advice when it comes to wearing high heels while traveling - I had not made sure that they were going to be comfortable enough for an entire day spent walking. My feet were killing me! So there I am walking through two airports and a rental car facility wearing a lopsided dress and hobbling along like an old woman who has stones in her shoes. Yup - the very model of grace and beauty was I!

While waiting for my bags to arrive at the baggage belt, I took out my GPS and programmed in the address for my hotel so that I would be ready to go as soon as I got to my rental car. Inside of the airport, the GPS can't "see" the satellites though and just gave me the message "looking for satellites", so I chucked it back into my backpack. About half way to the rental car facility in the shuttle bus, my GPS must have picked up the signal because the bus filled with the deep voice of Darth Vader from the GPS in my backpack.
"I find your lack of faith to be disturbing - recalculating. Do not fail me again. . . "
Yeah, every single person on the bus was looking straight at me, some grinning, and some looking confused. Nothing like keeping a low profile and flying under the radar huh?

As usual, there was nothing particularly interesting about the work I had to do, so I won’t bore you with any of those details. Suffice it to say that I did my job, and then the next day I was on airplanes headed for home. For all of the usual reasons, I flew home “drab” (in male clothing). I was sitting in the gate area waiting for my connecting flight, when an older man and woman came and took the seats next to me. Considering that the gate area was largely empty, this took me a bit by surprise, but it quickly became obvious that the reason they had sat next to me was because I was near the electrical outlet that made it possible for me to plug in my laptop and start my blog, and also made it possible for her to plug in her cell phone for charging. At some point a conversation was started about where we were coming from and going to.
“So are y’all going to Austin?” I asked her.
“No, we are going to San Antonio, and then on to Houston. Have you heard about the Lesbians there?” she asked.
‘Huh?’ I thought to myself? What the heck does she mean by ‘the Lesbians’?
I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly, so I settled for just asking her to repeat it and perhaps expand on it.
“I’m sorry?” I asked her.
“The Lesbians in Houston. You know the mayor?”
“What about the mayor?”
“She’s a lesbian! My husband is a Pastor in Anchorage and he is coming to speak at a conference against the Lesbians.”
I almost choked at this point, because here I was, sitting right next to her writing and cropping photos for my blog about being transgender, and out of a whole airport, this woman chose to share her mission with me!  Sometimes you just have to wonder how shit like this happens – I mean what are the odds? I usually do my best to never be rude to people as it very rarely serves a purpose or makes me feel better, but before the filter between brain and mouth had engaged, I blurted out “Wow! You guys are going way out of your way to spread intolerance, aren’t you?”
I would love to say that she looked shocked, or offended, or maybe even chastised, but no – she didn’t. She just turned back to her husband, and a few minutes later they moved off to sit somewhere else. I was still sitting there musing the situation when my phone rang. It was a customer of ours that lives up north-west of Fort Worth, and it seems that a component that I recently installed has failed already.  A big company can tolerate things like this because they either have spare instruments that they can use, or they have the resources to absorb the loss of a paying job or two, but a small company like his suffers a huge setback if their equipment fails and they can’t complete a job that they had scheduled. For a tiny company, this can be the difference between being able to feed his family or not. Now the problem was, since it was a five hour drive away, there was no way that I could make the drive and take care of him the next day without missing my children’s Halloween – AGAIN. I could only think of one way to take care him and not miss Halloween with my children and that was to make the drive to his location that same night just as soon as my plane landed so that I could work on his analyzer first thing in the morning, and then make the drive back home in time for trick-or-treating. Talk about a LOOONNGGG couple of days . . . 

Our Front Yard on Halloween