Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Another short excursion...and the day after.

A Quickie:

We'd known for some time that my wife's niece's wedding was forthcoming.  Their special weekend approached and we headed out of town by car...

My daytime outfits enroute to/from this event were women's shorts and short-sleeve tops, with a pair of women's sandals.  To bystanders, my wife apparently was the lady of the pair, and I was neither "Sir nor Ma'am."   (This same phenomenon occurred on the way home.)

Enroute west by car, my wife noticed my pink nails (first time in 2+ months), and commented that she wished I had gotten clear.  I replied that they have been this way for a while (true), and it's hardly noticeable (except to her.)   Fortunately, the subject was dropped...

The wedding itself was a wonderful celebration.  And as I greeted the happy couple, I actually had tears of joy for them in my eyes...   (Since guys aren't supposed to cry, I wonder what this means for me?)  I wish for them a long and happy life together!

My dress-up outfit for the wedding was a blend of male and female...the men's part of it was the sport coat I wore at work till I retired.  (It was a bit snug at the waist when buttoned, but basically it still fit.)   Also, a pair of women's polyester dress slacks (which don't wrinkle, no matter what you do to them), black pantyhose, a women's short sleeve white shirt with shirt collar, and a nondescript necktie, which  I still can tie.   (All those years of tying one every day make it sort of like "you never forget how to ride a bike!")    And black patent ballet-style flats.  My nails were pink, my hair was in a relatively high ponytail, and I carried my purse... but wore no makeup or jewelry.

Some of the folks knew me, and addressed me by name.  Younger friends of the happy couple met us for the first time, and there was no issue - we are our son's parents.  (I couldn't tell if they believe we're a boy-girl couple or a girl-girl couple - because my given name is now used by females.)

However, at the reception afterwards, the answer became a bit clearer.I asked the female server for more water.  And I heard "yes Ma'am." When she returned with the water pitcher and filled my glass,  I thanked her.  Her reply:  "You're welcome Ma'am."  My wife was deep in conversation with the kids, thus they didn't hear the exchange.  (Which is fortunate.)

I found this quite interesting...my attire did not reek of femininity.  Does that mean I'm becoming effeminate in my everyday behavior?  Or since she approached me from the back, did the ponytail cause her to identify me as female?  The latter is possible, but I'll never know...

And the day after getting home from the trip, I stopped at the auto parts store in a nearby town - not the one where the guy in a skirt used to work.    :-(    I was wearing a shorts and women's tee outfit, with sandals, and was promptly identified as "Miss."  They even installed the wiper blades on my car for me, "so you don't mess up your nails, Miss."

Definitely another good day for me...

Mandy

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Finding my way home...last day.

Sadly, the last day on this trip!

The night before, having checked into the same motel as the past visits (with a different clerk this time) I found I had been involuntarily "upgraded."  A larger room, which was nice, but now I had to shuffle everything upstairs - using an elevator - my previous rooms had both been on the ground floor.   And this time the clerk didn't use any feminine forms of address...completely neutral.   Oh, well...she must have seen the "M" on my ID...   But at this point, who cares?

The next morning, I wore the following outfit:


It was chosen because the blouse was part of my everyday wardrobe (not requiring a change to go home in), and the elastic waist on the skirt meant it was easy to remove when I change into shorts out in someone's cornfield!  (Yes, the corn is high enough for that now!)  After shuffling all my stuff back down the elevator and into my car, I checked out.   The day clerk was much more friendly, and didn't hesitate to address me as a woman.

With that fresh in my memory, it was time to shed the one female cue I wore the entire trip,  the one which needed professional help to remove...pretty red paint (and flowers) on my nails.  (Good thing I'd planned to get professional help...the little jewels she put in the flowers didn't come off with regular polish remover!)   I'd become so used to red nails, that the color seemed to be a part of me.  And even now, much later, I look longingly for the red every time I see my hands...or feet.

Some things I learned (or had reinforced) on this trip...

1.   Generally, the public takes you at face value...give them enough cues, and they accept you as a woman.

2.   If you have met some folks and are sitting around talking with them, once they accept you as a woman, they typically don't change their mind.

3.   Voice can be a big problem, however in my experience this trip, it wasn't a major factor.  I can maintain a less-masculine voice for a few exchanges of words, but after that, it cracks and anything goes.   I did have that issue several times, but a cough and apology about my voice due to a cold, took care of it...   And the women promptly overlooked it.

4.    Nail polish (most particularly with nail art) helps a lot...both as a supremely feminine cue, and a conversation piece, particularly with women wearing naked nails.

5.    I have two pairs of dangly clip-on earrings, and I alternated wearing them all day, every day.  Though the first couple days they made my ear lobes sore, by the end of my vacation I could wear them all day, every day, without even thinking about them.  Now that I'm not wearing them any more, there are red spots on my ear lobes.  My long hair covers them while they're clearing up, so nobody is any the wiser.  Mom has reached 93 without pierced ears...so I guess I'm destined for the same thing.  (Now I just hope I can wear them often enough so that the pain stays away).

6.   If there were any men around, I frequently didn't have to open doors for myself.  They typically held them for me.  I was almost always given the "Ladies First" privilege.  And if there were no seats on a commuter/coach train,  with a few notable exceptions it was nice when one of the men gave their seat to me.

7.   I generally didn't have to hoist my bags on to, or off of, the train where there were only low platforms.  If conductors didn't help, many times civilian men rushed in to do it for me.  Yay!!!!  Chivalry is not quite dead yet...  And I'm no longer the one who has to be chivalrous!

8.   On the commuter train home, at rush hour, a young (twentysomething) girl noticed me as I walked aboard, towing my two suitcases.   She moved her smaller bags to the luggage rack so I had a place for mine.  And another girl actually "beat men to the punch" and gave up her seat for me...I guess doing an old woman a favor?   Being  an "elderly" woman has at least one advantage!

9.   The nail salon I used did a fine job, and at some point I'll use them again!

10.  Now I'm looking for a new dress...to give me a choice between denim and (?) when I want to wear a dress.

Yes, I'm truly loving traveling "pretty."  (Kim, if you somehow, someday read this, realize that your "flying pretty" has been one of my big inspirations!)

Till next time...

Mandy







Thursday, August 10, 2017

In a dress again... day 6 finale.

 

Here's a selfie I retrieved from the camera, inside the Chicago Metropolitan lounge:


It was a long day of waiting in the Lounge for my evening train back to DC.  Several women from the Capitol Ltd recognized me, so it wasn't a boring wait... I had a number of folks to talk with.   Basically just girl talk.  But it was fun.
 
Though it's a bit out of sequence, I'll add the following here: 

I experienced one of the Chicago station's legendary problems:  a panhandler, during a walk in the station itself (not the lounge.)  This was when I was getting my lunch.  He obviously thought "the lady" could be intimidated into giving him some "food money."   (Yeah right - more likely some "drug money.")

My answer was "no," several times.  He persisted in following, and trying.  So just before hunting down a police officer, with the panhandler following close behind me, jabbering about my giving him some food money, I took a chance, turned around and used a loud, fully male voice (right in his face, of course), as well as male posture, to give him a not-so-gentle reminder that I couldn't be shaken down.

That astonished look he got on his face was priceless, and it apparently worked - he hastily retreated, skulking off toward a nearby station exit.  I would have preferred to NOT go to that extent, but had to get rid of "my shadow."  And those around me, to whom I obviously "outed" myself, got a chuckle out of it.  Since I didn't know any of them and would never see them again, it was OK.  It gave them a fun little dinner-time story to tell their family, about the "guy in a dress" getting one over on the panhandler.  

Back to the proper sequence;

The Cardinal actually arrived in DC ahead of schedule, which gave me the opportunity to catch an early commuter train to BWI.   That was an adventure in itself:  riding an early rush-hour train with a thousand other passengers, doing it in a skirt (well,  actually a skort), and hauling two suitcases....

I managed to get on board, and when looking for a place on the floor to stow my bags, a girl moved her two smaller bags into the luggage rack so I could park mine there.  (Space was limited, commuter trains aren't blessed with storage space for heavy bags.)   I thanked her profusely.  I wonder if any of the men would have eventually gotten off their butts to help if I had tried lifted the bags (one 33 pounds and one 42 pounds) into the luggage rack?    In reality, probably not.

Then, sans bags, I looked for a seat, and found none.  A twenty-something girl actually got up and gave me her seat!  None of the men did...which surprised me.  Chivalry must be dead - at least among the male riders in that car.  (Again, profuse thanks, girlfriend.)  Turns out the girl was traveling with her friends who were stuck standing, thus she didn't really mind...while giving an elderly woman a place to sit.

It proves that there still are a few nice people around in DC, despite the political mess down there!

Last installment to follow...

Mandy



Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Day 5-1/2 and 6

I remained inside the Metropolitan Lounge for the rest of the afternoon, till it was time to board the return train to DC, the Cardinal.  This train runs only 3 days a week, and may at some point be discontinued as the railroads don't like it disrupting their freight traffic.

That, in combination with the prospect of a knowledgeable guide giving narrative of the highlights of the eastbound trip, is why I chose to ride it.  It makes its  eastbound daytime run through the New River Gorge, which really is quite spectacular, if somewhat "tree'd in" by rapidly growing brush, which helps cut out some of the spectacular views of the river.

Such as:


The above was the best picture I could get of a sudden 23 foot drop in elevation of the New River.  Quite a spectacular drop, not necessarily a good thing for whitewater rafters!

Following is a picture of the famous bridge over the New River.  The guide was telling folks about the parachutists who have jumped off the bridge, and prior to 1993, bungee jumpers as well.  No thanks, folks.  I'll let them do it, and I'll watch!  Talk about spectator sports...


If you think this bridge is really high...you're right.  It's only 3000' long, was completed in October 1977,  but it's 876' above river level!  It's one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world, the third highest in the USA.   It serves over 16,000 vehicles a day.  And when the US Mint issued the WV state coin, this was the bridge shown on the reverse side.

Stay tuned for more...

Mandy



Sunday, August 6, 2017

Back out on the train...day 5

On day 5,  I was at BWI rail station once again, this time headed south, and waiting for a commuter train south to DC, to pick up the Capitol Limited for Chicago.  I was on site early and thus able to catch a quick selfie on the platform....


My rides to DC, and then Chicago, were uneventful.

I enjoyed meeting folks in the diner, and had some good conversation during dinner.  Seated with me was a man and his son, who were getting off in Pittsburgh in the middle of the night.  And one other woman.   The boy, who was about 11, was very articulate, and able to express himself very well.  He had two women to talk to...one a retired teacher and one a transgender retired office worker (me).  My transgender status didn't come up - the teacher and I kept him (and his dad) talking for most of the meal.  Wonder what questions the kid later had for his dad?

Upon arrival in Chicago, I hustled to get to the Metropolitan Lounge and get my bags stowed away before the rest of the crowd arrived.  My plan worked, and I saw several folks from the train as I got settled.

I immediately ventured out to the food court to get some lunch, and one commuter who needed to get past me in the crowd waiting for a commuter train said "Excuse me, Sir."   But I don't think it was an intentional slight, simply a mistake, he wasn't looking directly at me, and probably didn't see the whole picture of who it was that he was trying to get past.   Yes, I do have broad shoulders. (Quite unlike the conductor on the earlier train. whose comment was clearly intentional.)  But otherwise I had no issues!

Sunsets can be beautiful from a train...



Stay tuned for more...

Mandy





Thursday, August 3, 2017

Heading back for Baltimore...day 4


Another interesting day of adventure...

Got dressed and was ready to walk down to the station to pick up a train heading East.  But I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to have someone take my picture...so I did it myself, in the room, using the self-timer on my camera.

Following is/was my outfit for the trip back to BWI.   I find that I really love wearing this skort.   But I notice that as I sit down, it rides up a bit, and even more of my legs are on display.  Nothing wrong with that.  But it's an unusual feeling, one that I'm still not used to.  (I'll admit to tugging on my hem more than a few times...not that it made the skirt any longer!)



Notice my nails???  Several women did...and all commented favorably.  That's a delightful thing!

The train ride from Utica to NYC was uneventful.  But one particular Conductor couldn't resist taking a dig at me by using the dreaded "S" word, despite the fact I had been out and about in the real world as a woman for the past three days, with no issues.   He "had an axe to grind", but I let it pass....he obviously is a hater, and it's not worth risking an issue - I had a connecting train to catch.

After the crowds in the NYC Club Acela at Amtrak on my westbound trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find it almost empty...and cool inside.   Quite unlike the station itself...that was once again horribly crowded, and hot. 

Going to the Big Apple?   Expect just about anything!  You'll probably find it...

More later,

Mandy                                         

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Moving right along. Days 2 & 3

On my way westbound, here train-side, during a short layover at Albany, NY. 


I was standing outside the Lake Shore Limited, which was my "magic carpet" to a place called Utica, NY.  Home of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.    This ride was a minor adventure in itself.  Not only was the train late, but it had to stop to pick up passengers from a broken down train, who were stranded.  The staff told me coaches were SRO (standing room only), but fortunately those woes didn't extend into the sleeper.   And it was only for a short time, to get them to the nearest station.


Naturally, my sleeper was at the far rear end of the westbound train upon arrival in Utica, so it was quite a hike to the station.  When I got to the cab stand, there there were no cabs.  Not one in sight.  Rumor had it that since the train was running an hour late, cabbies had all left.  And when I called for one, they said it would take at least 15 minutes, maybe a half hour,  to arrive.  Twenty minutes passed, getting later with every tick of the clock, and nobody showed.

Having surveyed the area between my hotel and the station on a mapping program before I left home, I was familiar with the road layout, and decided that it was worth "hoofing it" to my hotel.  Yes, a girl in a dress, in a city, at night.   As the clock passed 11 PM, I chose the route with the fewest dark corners, hidden entrances, and buildings in general,  and off I went...with two 2-wheel suitcases in tow.

To make a long story short, it was the better part of a mile.  Since I usually walk more than that every day, it was no big deal.  But it's been years since I did it alone while in a city - at night.  Never before in a dress.   Fortunately, I'd done my homework.  And nothing happened safety-wise.  Any mugger (notice I used "singular" form) might have gotten a bit of a surprise - this girl isn't what she seems to be.  But more than one, and there would have been an issue.


Above is a picture inside Utica's Union Station.  Quite a thriving place.  Including a restaurant (during normal hours) and a branch of the DMV.  That's good...it's not in danger of being shut down.  And there's a children's museum on the grounds.


My hotel was a big downtown establishment, which had previously fallen on hard times.  But it's in the process of becoming a Hilton Doubletree, and they're seriously renovating the property.  The rooms were very nice, mine was freshly-refurbished, with new "everything."

Next day was planned as my only "boy" day this trip.  There was a slim chance of meeting people who might know me.  For the train excursion, I wore capris, women's tee top, the many other cues I always display, and clogs to hide my toes. (It was impossible to hide my red fingernails, though.)  I wore very light makeup. And when my long lasting lipstick wore off after lunch, I didn't re-apply it, I simply used regular lipstick.   Easier to fix mistakes as the train bumped along.   I talked with my hands as usual, and so on.

"Boy" wouldn't exactly be how I'd describe my appearance, and apparently others saw it the same way.  I didn't hear the "dreaded S-word" at all.   This was completely normal attire for me as both a girl and a boy...but I looked very much like many other girls of varying ages on board for the ride.  And I was addressed as female by everyone who had occasion to deal with me.



Above: me in front of the Adirondack Scenic depot at Thendara, NY.

I was one of the few paying customers on the short extension of the excursion to Big Moose, where the engine ran around the train.   But scenery made it worthwhile.  When we returned to Thendara, the only thing to do while waiting for the train to be serviced and watered, was to walk across the parking lot and have a meal. 

Van Aukens Inne

The fun part of that was: I met a nice middle-age couple from Ohio, and shared a table with them for our meal at Van Aukens.  They were apparently either convinced I was female,  or never missed a beat in addressing me properly.   It was a great day!  (And before you ask, I never saw anyone who knew me.)

Sitting on the veranda eating early dinner was very pleasant!  About halfway through our meal, a musician appeared, and began playing live music.   A great way to spend our afternoon, being serenaded while waiting for the train!   The color on my nails was no big deal...my table mates and the servers simply treated me as a woman.   Here's a picture of my nails...couldn't resist taking it - particularly since I was on my "boy" day.

Pretty nails...on he who was supposed to be a boy...but in fact looked - and felt - more like a girl.

Upon getting back to my hotel, I took a few minutes to review my wardrobe for the rest of the trip.  That's when I realized  I was  out of clean "less girly" attire.   Well, except for the one outfit I plan to wear home.  But, it's safely tucked away in my car's trunk in Baltimore, so I can't access it.

Having spilled something on my capris at dinner,  I sure won't be wearing them again till they're washed. Thus, it's skirts or dresses for me until I get into the car to drive home in a few days.   And that's the way it should be!

Stay tuned for more...

Mandy