Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Things kids don't recognize anymore...

When was the last time you used onion skin with carbon paper?  What the heck is that, you thirtysomethings-and-under may ask?

Back in the good old days, well before Commodore and Atari broke down the doors for personal computers, before pagers, brick phones and then "new" flip phones broke down the doors for smart phones, before Hewlett Packard became the go-to choice for printers, and before Xerox became a generic word for copier, there were these noisy things called typewriters (many were made by Remington) on almost every desk in the office.

You typed on a keyboard, just like today, but the keys were linked by mechanism to long "arms" with letters at the end.  Very noisy when those arms hit the paper, which was on a hard-rubber roller and it moved as you typed.  At the end of the line, you then hit a return bail with your hand, and manually advanced one line/moved the roller back to the beginning position.  More noise.    You can most likely see one of these at nearly any antique store these days...

How would you make a copy of that letter for your file?  And one for your boss in Paducah?  Remember, there was no Xerox.  You went to the shelf, picked up two sheets of onion skin (very thin, almost transparent paper, like the outer skin of an onion - great for sending via air-mail, which doesn't exist anymore either), and two sheets of carbon paper (thin paper backed on one side with lightly-bonded carbon.  Very messy.)  Stacking the paper properly with letterhead paper on top, a piece of carbon paper facing carbon side down, a piece of onion skin, then another piece of carbon paper facing carbon side down, and the last piece of onion skin.  Roll it into the typewriter, with the letterhead facing up,  and go ahead with typing your memo. 

Woe betide you if you made a mistake...there was no easy way to correct carbon copies (remember, no white-out yet, nor any correction key!)  You simply tear the whole thing out, crumple everything up, and start over.  (No recycling yet...just throw it in the garbage!)  Be careful, don't make any more mistakes...    Need to calculate some figures to use in your memo?  Remember, there are no calculators as we know them.  Adding machines multiplied by repeat addition. 103 x 6 calculated very clumsily as 103+103+103+ 103+103+103.   Ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-CLUNK.

I can remember on Saturdays, playing with the "calculators" at Dad's office, huge old things that had gears and made all sorts of noise.  One thing for sure, Dad (the manager) could always tell when his employees were working, from the din in the office...and nobody was talking!  At the time (early to mid-1950's), this was advanced technology, since you didn't have to write figures down and do the math manually. 

Even a slide rule was considered "high tech" - for those privileged few who knew how to use one.

Just a little refresher course about "the way it used to be..." back in the halcyon days!

More later,


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Quickie - Seen in a store window....

While we were in Maine a couple months ago, I noticed this sign in one of the store windows...and couldn't resist a picture.  

For those who choose to imbibe, it may be a friendly the start of this holiday season!



Sunday, November 27, 2016

Quickie: The fun continues...

After getting home from the antique show, one of my first appointments was with the eye doctor.   The office was located in the mall where some aggressive peddlers have their kiosks, so I arranged to arrive early, before the mall officially opened, and do my walking there at the mall instead of the basement.  Perhaps getting to the office just as they open and avoiding the peddlers.

In the process of walking that morning, I explored some of the other passages of shops, and discovered that by walking a bit out of my way, there was a combination of hallways which would indeed avoid walking past the peddlers.   So, now I have a choice...pass them, or avoid them, whichever I'm in the mood for at the moment.  When I'm in the mood to be flattered about my appearance, I can route myself by them....    Choices are always good! 

I was dressed like many other women at the mall...capris, tunic top and flats.  Close shave but no makeup.  The biggest difference from other women was that I wore pantyhose, as is still my preference, though I've gone without on occasion.  When I showed up at the desk in the doctor's office, there were new assistants there.  And I was addressed as "Ma'am."  Which is always my preference, even in androgynous mode.

Then the tech came in.  I've known her for many years.  We greeted each other, joked around a bit, and then she took me into the lens room, so I could remove my contact lenses, which were the topic du jour.  As I did, this time she watched me see how I moved my fingers with my now-very-long nails.  (That's been a topic of discussion before.)  But Success!  They came right out.   My question back at her was: "other women have longer nails than I do - how do they get their lenses out?"  "The same way you did..." was her answer.

Then it was off to the exam room.  While she operated the machines to measure my eyes, she complimented my outfit and asked "did you mind that the girls out front addressed you as "Ma'am?"  I told her that part of the reason for it may be my feminine given name.  But I told her that I respond to "Ma'am" or "Miss" and much prefer female forms of address.  So she can relax, it's never a problem.  I also mentioned that I do respond to Mr. or Sir, when appropriate.  She asked if I wore feminine things every day, and I said "I dress like you see me, absolutely.  One of these days don't be shocked if I show up in a skirt."  And she smiled broadly. "No'll look fabulous in a skirt.  What does your wife think?"  "She tolerates my sartorial style as you see it, but wishes it weren't so." 

Then the tech got serious again, regarding the results of the election and things that were said about women and various minority groups during the campaign (anyone who followed our election knows which ones, I don't need to recite them.)  "A lot of things were said about various groups, and now you're part of two groups in the center of the administration's crosshairs: Women and LGBT.  If things get bad for LGBT folks, is it possible for you to cut your hair, remove the nails and buy menswear as your ticket back to the male side for safety?"  "To answer your question, yes I probably could, but I don't know if I would - I'll make that decision later.  Hopefully MUCH later - or preferably never!"

"Well, I'm a woman and always will be, but I'm also (insert one of the new-administration-hated ethnic groups here - I've left specifics out for her privacy.)  So I'm doubly at risk, as are you at the moment.  But you do have one advantage:  to most people, you're an American woman.  Sweetie, whatever you do, and wherever you go, PLEASE BE SAFE.  It's dangerous out there.  As a woman, you follow the rules for female safety.   When you go out at night, beware of nearby men...and go with other girls or get an escort if necessary."  "Don't worry, I do - and I will."   Then it was time to see the Doctor, and I went through part of the above another willing, supportive person...   Good turn of events!

But there's one thing I'm curious about...if I were in front of her in line at the women's room, would she (as a seemingly-supportive female) feel threatened by me if we entered the women's room at the same time and she and I sat down in adjacent stalls, or if we refreshed our lipstick and powdered our noses at the mirror, side-by-side?

Since I don't know the answer...when the situation presents itself in the future, I'll ask!

More later...


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Epilogue...for my "pink fog" weekend.

The morning after the show, at the new hotel, something woke me up early.

A glance out the window brought sunrise into focus.  Mother Nature provided a magnificent "pink-orange with few high clouds" display in the eastern sky,  a very appropriate "book-end" on my weekend of "pink fog."   With plenty of time before I had to check out and start my morning,  I took the time to document it digitally.

With sunrise over, thoughts turned to "what to wear today."   Skirts - long OR short - weren't in the picture that day.  I would be too close to home, and in an area frequented by casual shoppers from our area.  Plus, the cornfields (for "cornfield changes") have all been harvested!   I settled on jean capris, pantyhose, turtleneck tunic, and flats, with lipstick, light makeup and some easily removable jewelry.   Below is a picture of the day's outfit, taken later in the day, against a background of muted fall colors on the western side of Chesapeake Bay...

This turned out to be a great choice!   When I appeared at the hotel's front desk to check out (with suitcase and other baggage in tow), the male clerk didn't hesitate a moment about my gender.   I was immediately addressed as female, and we even had a bit of lively conversation about the weather and traveling.  It all seemed so natural and appropriate to assume the female role in a situation like this.    I spoke a bit lighter, and with a bit higher pitch, than normal, but if I forced it higher yet, my voice would crack and I'd cough.  What I did seemed to work with this guy.   Note to works, so keep doing it!

Got everything stuffed back in the car (it was FULL again) and headed for some errands on the way home.  One was to check on some items being sold for me by a third party.  Off came the jewelry, but I still was wearing makeup and the outfit in the picture...very feminine.  The female proprietor knows me as male and addressed me that way despite my feminine outfit and presentation.

At the big-box store, I had trouble with their self-service register, so a female clerk came over to help.  Again, no question as to my gender.  She addressed me as female.  As did the checker on the way out the door...nice!   And I love hearing "Have a wonderful day, Miss (enter my given name here, which is now used by girls.)"

Then it was off to the mall.   As usual, I had to walk the mall's center aisle to get to the stores I wanted.   Unfortunately I had to pass a kiosk with two aggressive male clerks double-teaming all the women (translation: overt flattery),  trying to get to talk to them about their potions.   They both obviously believed I was a woman, so it was my turn to enjoy(?) their attention.

"You look lovely, Miss - here's a free sample of our product. " "No thanks, Sirs" in my slightly-modified voice.  And I kept walking.  One of them said "Oh please, Miss, don't break my heart...just give this a try and you'll be even more beautiful."  "Thanks, sir, but no thanks."  And I kept walking as they were babbling away.  Finally out of earshot of those guys, who by then had given up on me and started to target the other girls, I arrived at the computer store, to buy a cheap accessory.   Again, I was identified as female by the male clerk, and he helped me find what I needed.

Now to head for the shoe store...

My recent luck has been good with a certain brand of women's shoes (and they aren't cheap.)  So when I got a coupon for 25% off, I figured I'd stop in and see if they fit.  "Would you like for me to measure your feet just to be sure you get the right size?"  To myself, I thought "Oh, my - he'll see my painted toes.  But why not?  I'm a woman, and I'm wearing pantyhose..."  He picked up the Brannock device and confirmed my size.  I told him what I was interested in trying on.  He went into the back, and after a few minutes, the short version of his story was "Ma'am, you'll need to order on line, as we don't have your size in stock.  But they will honor the coupon."   Daggonit, I was hoping to take home a new pair of shoes.

"OK, thanks Sir.  But...(and I summoned up some courage) can I try on a pair of these?"  I held up a pair of elegant pointy toe shoes, with about 4" heels...something I've never worn before.   They surprisingly had a pair in stock, so he had me sit down to attend to me. (That was another new experience - sitting in a chair at the shoe store, having the salesman fit me with a pretty pair of sky-high heels.)  He told me that they were very stylish, adding that  "they really dress up your capri outfit, and would look beautiful with skirts and dresses.  I can put your flats in the box if you'd like to wear these home." Then he added,  "You'll be Belle of the Ball in an evening gown with these heels!"   (Oh, my - don't I wish I could?)

I thought they looked fabulous, and made me feel even more feminine, if that's possible.  (That pink fog was really obscuring everything...)  But when I stood up,  I knew they weren't going to work...being a bit wobbly was bad enough,, but walking with my toes cramped in them made me long for my Mary Jane heels.   So I told him "I just love the looks, but they're not comfortable...I'm unaccustomed to heels this high, so I think I'll stick with the flats I'll order on line..."   He offered to put me in some lower heels, but I point in wasting his time, since there were other women shopping.  (None that I noticed were staring as I modeled the heels...a big surprise.)

Well, now that my shoe shopping was complete, the only way back to the car was - you guessed it - past those two aggressive kiosk peddlers.  Every girl's least favorite people.  And right on schedule, the banter started again..."Hey pretty lady, you're back...can I give you a free sample?"  The other said "We don't give up on you, do we?"  I stopped walking and said "No you don't sweetie, but I give you a consistent answer every time - No Thank You!"  "Won't you please reconsider?"  "Sorry boys, not today, maybe some other time.  This girl's got places to go. Bye now!"  "We'll cry, honey..."  "Sorry, sweetie, I'm fresh out of tissues...see ya later, boys!" I looked at them and smiled, winked, and off I walked...    (After the fact, I couldn't believe I was that bold!  I guess there really must be a girl within...)

The one peddler overdid it so much, that it makes me wonder:  could he have been flirting with me?   Am I off-base there?  Perhaps I was even beginning to respond like a woman playing "hard to get"?    Or maybe he thought he recognized my true gender and was simply disguising his "hate?"  Don't know, don't care.  I loved the attention...and I wasn't even wearing a skirt.   It actually was kinda fun!

Once back out in the car, that heavy pink fog (which had thickened significantly during this trip, and even more so during my visit to the mall) finally began to dissipate...   Now that my weekend was over, off came the jewelry, and a makeup removal towel removed my lipstick and makeup.   Time to go home...and stuff Mandy back in the suitcase.  She won't be seeing the full light of day again for quite some time.


This wonderful weekend was almost "advance compensation" for the upcoming long wait for "next time" whole experience was fabulous.    But meanwhile, thank heavens for androgyny!



PS the flats are now on order, and I got the discount, plus free shipping...will post a pic soon.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Another antique show - Day Three

Final day...and attendance picked up considerably.  This certainly helped sales for all the vendors.  I noticed that customers generally avoided using any gender-related form of address when speaking to me.  Only a few used female terms (that was a good thing...particularly with my associate close by, and people from our neighborhood running around at the show.)

But with the increased patronage came a few glances my way.   In particular, two young girls (probably around 7 years old) in tow by their parents at two separate times that afternoon, couldn't get their eyes off me.  I smiled at them as they went by.  If they hadn't been holding their daddy's hand, they would have tripped and hit the deck.  I wonder what questions they had for their parents later?

The one time that day I found myself in need of restroom, a guy (show attendee, I think) was exiting the men's room as I walked in. "Honey, this is the men's's off limits to women.  You use the women's room next door."   I said nothing, and kept walking "in."  Likewise, he kept on walking "out"...and as there was nobody else in the restroom to object, I stayed.  I didn't see him again.  I'm fairly certain that his comment was made with the thought in mind that I (seen by him as female) was walking into the wrong restroom, not as an anti-trans statement.  But we'll never know for sure.

Thankfully, the uptick in attendance turned the weekend from what could have been a net loss, into a nearly break-even weekend for many of us!  It could have been a lot worse...

Due to a previously-known significant increase in room rates for Sunday night at the first hotel, that made it necessary for me to change to another hotel for my third night.  Sunday morning I checked out of the first hotel, and after the sale ended, I loaded the car, headed for the new hotel.

Upon arrival, once again I was universally presumed to be female.  Not once did I hear the dreaded "S" word, nor were there any "genderless" greetings.  And at that moment, I wasn't even in a skirt or dress like the following picture - simply stirrup pants, pantyhose and a women's turtleneck tunic, with my purse and necklace.  Of course this girl quickly shaved, applied her lipstick and makeup, and changed into something more feminine...I wasn't about to wear pants to dinner!   In the hotel restaurant, which wasn't busy, there was good service.  The male server, who was attentive to this lady, got a nice tip.

Following are pictures of me as I returned to the room after dinner.  For technical reasons  (namely suitcase room) my wardrobe this trip was limited to two skirt outfits, one jean capri outfit, and one extra pair of stirrup pants).  So with the warm weather, I felt obligated to wear the skirt which kept my legs on display:

Maybe next year I should wear stirrup pants to the show, but bring my two favorite skirt outfits as  spare clothes.   As long as nothing happens to my pants (like spills or stains) I'd be fine, and it's true that I didn't need to wear my spare stirrups this time.  But I probably won't do it.  If I spilled my lunch on my pants enroute Friday, I'd end up in skirts full time for the rest of the weekend.  While my female side wouldn't mind at all, I'm just not prepared for that quite yet...

But it would be an amazing experience!

Stay tuned for more...


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another Antique Show - Day Two

This show is always a fun event...

For the second day, I dressed in a different version of my stirrups/pantyhose/turtleneck tunic outfit, and decided against wearing socks over my pantyhose.  It's time to let a little bit more of Mandy show, for everyone's benefit.  

With attendance (and sales) way down, I somehow managed to time my two restroom visits so that nobody was around...thus no issue.  And I only heard "Ma'am" a few times, this from customers or strangers.   Nothing was said about my apparent femininity by the guy with whom I share the space...and normal conversation didn't require gendered greetings.

It took me by complete surprise when one of the folks from my neighborhood (whom I didn't recognize, but who recognized me) stopped by, introduced himself and invited me to visit their table.  Small world!  At that point I was glad that Mandy wasn't standing there in a pretty dress and makeup...that would have been embarrassing!   

As expected, I once again met - and talked with - the trans-woman vendor who first spoke to me in October of 2014 (see my archive post dated Tuesday November 4, 2014 and titled "Part 4...last day and main event!")   We've kept in touch by email and phone, and it was good to see her and her family again - her kids were there as well.   It was nice to be able to catch up on events...even if we had to do it quickly - using time stolen from our selling efforts. 

Interestingly, even with reduced attendance, she told me that she had seen (but not talked to) about 3 other folks at the show who could be trans, based on their mannerisms, appearance and actions.   I told her I hadn't noticed any of them yet.   But it was only a few minutes later that a customer was walking the aisles, with a feminine short hairdo, makeup, a masculine build and walk, and a feminine top and jeans with sneakers, but no purse or nail polish.  I spotted her immediately, and then pointed her out to my friend, who agreed - this girl was not one of the 3 she had spotted.   That possible trans shopper didn't stay around too long...   We'll never know if she was, or was not, trans.  But I'll look for her again next year.

We discussed doing dinner Saturday, but unfortunately our schedules didn't mesh to allow that on this trip.  It  would have been fun, but will wait till next year.   And I'll look forward to it!

Back at the hotel, I changed into a skirt and tunic, put on my sweater, and headed for the nearby Red Lobster.  Unfortunately,, two tour buses had come in, and there were folks milling around outside waiting for tables.  I wasn't in the mood to wait, so I drove back to the hotel restaurant for dinner.

But before I left the Red Lobster parking lot, I snapped a picture...see below.

At the hotel, before heading to the dining room I grabbed a couple more pictures - one at the elevator and one in mt room..   Once I had rung for the elevator, two men came around the corner, let me enter the elevator ahead of them, saying "ladies first" and I thanked them. 

See below:

I like the cooler helps to disguise some of the less flattering aspects of my physique.  You'll notice that I'm wearing flats instead of my Mary Jane, that was a "space" issue.  I simply didn't have enough room in the car to bring them!   The car was FULL!   And if I ever can find the perfect dress, that's an item I need to add to my wardrobe.  (Though wearing a dress would certainly limit my ability to "change outfits in the cornfields.")

After dinner, I walked to the elevator, to go back to the room...and who was there waiting, but my friend and her kids (both boys, one over 21, and one under.)  Out of the blue, the older boy invited me to join them at an after-dinner function.  Unfortunately, at that hour, I had to decline...time to finish up some paperwork in the room, and hit the sack, as the third day is an early one, even with the end of Daylight Saving Time.  But I was thoroughly pleased that her sons didn't mind being in the company of an un-transitioned trans woman...but then, I guess I looked fairly passable (there's that word I hate again - let's try "presentable!")   And it's certainly not a topic new to them, so  there's "no issue."

I'd love to talk about things with them.  We'll try for next time...

Stay tuned for more!


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Don't forget to vote!

To my USA readers:

It's election day.  Don't forget to get out there and vote...let your conscience be your guide as to which candidate.   A ballot not cast is a wasted vote.   Let your voice be heard!