Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another excursion!

It’s been a fantastic weekend...Mandy was able to do some traveling!

Her itinerary was to travel to Baltimore overnight Thursday, then Friday morning on to New York City (and a planned meet-up with Marian, one of the bloggers here on Blogspot).  From there, on to Chicago for a Saturday business meeting (not TG/CD related).  And lastly, join up with the better half, who was visiting her sister in the area, and return to Maryland (with Saturday and Sunday in androgynous mode.)

Thursday was, well, enlightening.  I left home in a skirt and top, avoiding our neighbors and wearing the new makeup I got earlier in the week.  First stop was the cleaner’s, to pick up a pair of shorts.  Now bear in mind, this cleaner's was 20 miles from home and has a branch in my home town, which I chose not to use, for obvious reasons.  As I got out of my car, what did I see, but our neighbor’s new car - 2 parking places from mine, right in front of the cleaner. 

Now you probably have noticed that just about every neighborhood has one resident who is, shall we politely say, “enlightened in everyone’s business, and willing to talk about it.” My own neighborhood is no exception to this, which is why I quickly learned what he drives.  So I got back into my car and moved it to a parking place further away, to watch for a while, and wait.   In about 5 minutes he came out, got in his car, and drove off.  It would have been a bit of a surprise for both of us,  had I walked in, with him there.  My extra vigilance paid off...big time.

Second stop was at a Dress Barn, to search for a new top to go with my red and black print skirt.  I'm somewhat "fashion-challenged", and didn’t know what color would look OK (other than solid white or black).  So, I needed assistance.   But my presence in the store wasn’t even acknowledged.  There were customers in the store, but they seemed to be gossiping with the staff, and nobody bothered to say a word.  After looking around a bit, I left. It was their loss, though...since I was prepared to *gasp* actually spend some money "not at a Goodwill"!  

The reason I chose that particular store was simple, “It was there and so was I.”  The neighborhood in which it was located was “highfalutin” and snobby, but I was hoping that the hired help might not be "cut from that same piece of cloth."  Or maybe they were just busy?  Don't know for sure.   Am I going to write a complaint letter?  I probably should, because they deserve it, but probably won’t...one foot is still in the closet.  However,  I WILL try another Dress Barn,  in a less snobby location, and at a more favorable time...like first thing in the morning.

Mandy at the National Electronics Museum near Baltimore.  Rest assured the skirt's red, not orange!

Mandy at the outdoor display of the 90mm antiaircraft gun.

The rest of my afternoon was spent at the National Electronics Museum in a suburb of Baltimore, which features displays of electronic “things” from the beginnings of the electronics industry (and electron tube products) to post-cold-war/Vietnam era aircraft navigation and radar units.  There was also a a small microwave (an original microwave oven) and infrared display.  Does anyone remember the US Air Force BOMARC anti-aircraft missile (vintage 1961 thru 1972 - a forerunner of today’s drones)?  There was a display about that, too - but unfortunately, not one of the missiles itself.  They also have a ham radio station there, but it was not active that day. 

When I finished at the museum, it was off to my hotel for the night.  When I checked in, the clerk was not well, so she was probably not performing “by the book”...no gender-specific forms of address at all.   

    Off to Timbuktu - but to get there I never set foot on an airplane.  Notice the seated camel behind the sign?

After getting settled in, I chose a local establishment with an interesting name - Timbuktu - for dinner.  Decor-wise, and food-wise, it really isn’t anything special...just your average local lounge, with average food and average clientele.  However the name itself is mystical.  For the geographically challenged, Wikipedia says Timbuktu is a town in the West African nation of Mali situated 20 km (12 mi) north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, with a population of 54,453 in the 2009 census.)

This was the only place where the dreaded S-word came into play.  My server clearly saw me from head to toe, and spoke as I walked in, but the first time she came to my table she addressed me as Sir.  Only once, so it could have been a slip of the tongue, but she couldn't miss my skirt and blouse, so that theory would be a stretch of the imagination.  As a result, my tip was not of the magnitude I generally provide for servers who recognize my gender preference and address me properly.

But going back into the hotel, a gentleman held the door for me, so all was not lost!

Friday morning, I was up early for a good close shave and makeup application, in order to catch a Northeast Corridor train for New York City.  Marian (a knowledgeable and insightful lady from the Big Apple, whom many of you will recognize as one of the bloggers here) and I have been corresponding for a while.  We made arrangements to meet for the first time for lunch, when my train arrived in NYC.  However, that day, a problem developed.  She was able to alert me that her commuter train’s route into the city was blocked by a freight train derailment, effectively preventing her from getting into the city.  Darn it anyway...we were both looking forward to meeting!  So we're planning to try it again another time. 

As I went downstairs to check out of the hotel, I was chatted up in the elevator by a younger guy, which really made my day!  And this time, two different desk clerks addressed me in the proper gender, which is always a good sign.

Waiting for my train to New York was actually fun.  Even though it was hot outside, I chose to wait on the platform -  away from the huddled masses trying to stay cool in the sort-of-air-conditioned station.   So, who did I see?  Yep, a guy from my working life, getting off an inbound train.   There was no issue, because he didn't recognize me.  (Was it because men typically aren't observant?  Don't know, but whatever the reason, it was a good thing!) 

Some friendly women waiting outside included me in their conversation.  One was a cancer patient who had lost her hair.  She apologized to the me and the other girl for her appearance and offered to put on her hat.  I spoke right up and told her that she certainly didn’t have to do that on my account - the best thing would be to just “make yourself comfortable, especially in this heat.”   I told her that I'm in the process of trying to stop worrying about what others think.  If anyone has a problem, it's THEIR issue.  Both ladies liked that approach!   I never did figure out if they knew I was TG/CD.  Alas, they were riding coach, and I was business class, thus we wouldn't be able to sit together.

When I boarded the train, the Conductor knew who in Business was class boarding at that station, and addressed me correctly as Ms. Sherman.  Hats off to you, kind sir!

Mandy enjoying business class accommodations on a Northeast Direct train. 

Trenton, NJ has an interesting auto bridge which is equipped with their lighted town slogan..."Trenton Makes - The World Takes."  I've wanted to get this picture for years, and was finally in the right place at the right time! 

If the meetup with Marian had actually been happening, that Northeast Direct train I was riding took a delay enroute, which would have shortened our ill-fated lunch time by about 45 minutes.  It appears that some things just weren't meant to be.   As I mentioned above, we're planning to try it again... hopefully we’ll have better luck next time.

The change in plans gave me some time to stroll around Penn Station in New York, and buy a quick sandwich while waiting for my train west.  Some observations from my 2-1/2 days spent as Mandy:

In Penn Station, nobody was paying any attention to the transgender girl in a skirt and blouse as they walked toward me...no noticeable double-takes or the like.  Though if anyone turned around to look as they walked away I don’t know.  And the "new me" doesn't really care - these folks don't know me at all!

It was warm in Penn Station (well, just about everywhere), and wearing a skirt and sandals felt heavenly.  Like air conditioning for the legs.  Is it any wonder why in hot weather, lots of women were wearing them?  Pants and closed shoes are just awful... Why on earth don’t more men wear skirts?  If they tried it, they'd love it! 

With a touch-up on my makeup after boarding the train in Baltimore, then at about 3:30, and again at about 5:30 (dinnertime), my new makeup was still holding up well - meaning almost 11 hours.  (Lipstick, though, not so much....I had to pull out the lipstick and compact several times to refresh my lips.  And my cheeks turned red every time I had to do it in public...   Guess I either need more practice, or need some long-lasting lipstick for weekends like this.  Anyone have any ideas or suggestions?)

Once on the next train, I initially heard “Ma’am” from the staff.  But as the afternoon became evening, and I gave up on trying to use my femme voice, some folks undoubtedly figured out what I am.  Including the 20-something young lady they seated me with at the dinner table in the dining car.  Nothing was said, but I'm sure she knew...in any event, she was very accepting, and we had a lovely meal together! 

Clip-on earrings are a pain in the neck (or more appropriately, the ears)...and I wore them for 2-1/2 days.  My earlobes may never be the same!   Mom never had her ears pierced, and now that I'm wearing her earrings, I don't know how she did it.  Having my ears pierced is not in the cards right now.  But at least makeup and long hair can cover the little scabs that resulted!

                       Mandy outside of her sleeping car accommodation on the Lake Shore Limited in Albany, NY.

My train took a delay at Albany, NY, so I had a chance to walk around outside in the tropical heat.  When the train got moving again, and after having dinner, I finally hit the sheets in the sleeping car.  That was the cue for Mandy's skirts and blouses to "climb back into the suitcase" for Saturday and Sunday...in favor of some androgynous outfits.

Maybe someday things will be different, or maybe not. Only time will tell what the future brings  But weekends like this make Mandy’s play time seem all the more enjoyable.  And I can live with that...

The tough part is going to be figuring out what to do as an encore! 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nobody ever told me makeup could be this much fun...but it is!

The idea to have a professional makeup session done and get colors selected with help from a professional, germinated from some of the various blogs I've read.  Since I know very little about makeup, and have no mentors, I visited a MAC counter at a major department store in the Baltimore area.  The ladies there were very friendly, and professional...and the 20-something girl I spoke with was more than happy to help me!

We made an appointment for a convenient time when the better half was out of town, as this would be "pushing the envelope" quite a bit too far to do with her around.  The artist gave me a sample of the proper color of concealer to try, so if it worked for the coverage, she would know how to set up my colors.

Tuesday was that day...here is the outfit I chose to wear.

The long tan skirt was for modesty, as I knew I'd be perched on a chair out in the public eye...and keeping my knees together is still a challenge.  The heels (new - and very comfortable) were necessary to keep my feet on the rung of the chair.  It turned out to be a very appropriate outfit, and quite cool on a hot day...almost like "air conditioning for my legs."  Guys just don't know what they're missing, since they're always stuck in pants!  And it was my first full day out in public in heels...  (Thanks to TxKimberly for the idea - I like the Mary Jane style a lot!)

The artists on duty were cool with both me and my attire...and I found out that they've painted guys there before.   Actually,. the most recent was 3 days ago.  Female customers smiled and said hi as they walked by to check me out.  Some told me that I looked good, and I didn't sense any problems with "a guy invading our space."   Maybe they didn't recognize that I was a guy in a skirt?  Naaaahhh...

Here is a picture of me at the artist's work station, after the application was completed.  Needless to say,  it was a daytime application, and it's not at all blatant.  I probably could wear it anywhere, anytime, with no problems.  But that was exactly the "look" I was seeking.  Unfortunately, the color appears a bit funky because of the fluorescent lighting...not great for accuracy or appearance.

Below is the obligatory restroom shot.  I won't try to kid you...it was a one-holer, so there was no issue from other women.  I wouldn't dream of bringing out the camera if it weren't!  And since I have very little practice with public washrooms, I need to build confidence about being out in public, before testing my wings with other women involved.  

The picture after that was taken out and about sightseeing, to see how my makeup looks and feels, in action.  It held up very well in 95 degree heat, and I had a fabulous time!

This girl has major issues with facial hair (how's that for a tactful description of my situation?)  All my previous experimentation with drugstore makeup proved that it can only keep the blue tint/stubble at bay for a relatively short time...maybe 2 - 3 hours max.  That's fine for a short event like a dinner out, or maybe dinner and a show that ends after dark, to minimize the chance of it being noticed.  And it works fine to reduce the effect of the bluish tint for daily wear.  For serious coverage, it's not nearly good enough, and seriously restricts any longer activities.

So above is the result, back home after my MAC day out and about.  My makeup hasn't been touched (well, except for lipstick), and it still looks fine after about 5-1/2 hours...  If I'd touched it up at this point - a bit of additional foundation in the upper lip and chin areas, then some powder, it would probably have delayed deterioration for another 4 or 5 hours.

However, doing nothing - no maintenance at all (remember, this was a test) meant that everything would eventually deteriorate.  By the time I cleaned up (about 9-1/2+ hours after application and some 12 hours after shaving) I could finally feel the stubble.  And a close examination of my face showed the beginnings of makeup caking in wrinkled areas.  A re-application of powder might have disguised it, but I was just too darn tired to try.  Neither wrinkles nor caking were obvious from a distance, but the mirror...unfortunately...never lies.

Going with MAC tremendously improves my presentation, and should help my confidence level as well, particularly if I can shave closer to the time of the event, and have a safe place to do some preventative touch-up at about 5 - 6 hours out.   Thanks, MAC!

Now I just have to go back "someday" for an evening application!  THAT would be fun!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"Can anyone from the UK help identify this?" And, today's quickie...

Below is a picture of a train station in England, taken on (I believe) 4/31/85 during a group tour of Europe.  My all-too-sketchy, 28-year-old notes indicate that it may be Waverly Station in Edinburgh, Scotland.   But I'm not at all sure.

Could any of you UK girls help clarify? And if my notes are correct, has the scene changed much in the intervening years?  Thanks...

On a more relevant topic...today I visited my mother at the nursing home, wearing a pair of rather short (5" inseam) shorts,  sleeveless top, and sandals, with my silver toe nails and French acrylic nails in plain view.  We were sitting toward the back of the room (with only about 36 inches of space behind us), listening to an every-Monday piano music get-together, which she enjoys. (They specialize in music the elderly would enjoy, and sometimes sing, too.  Not a bad performance.)  

I sensed someone walk into the room...behind me.  Couldn't tell what gender the person was, but didn't give it much thought.  At least not until I realized that someone behind me was gently fondling and kneading my long hair - a very sensual and pleasant feeling.  I ignored it for a while, just thoroughly enjoying the moment.  (And mother was fortunately oblivious to the whole thing.)

After a few minutes, my curiosity grew as to whom it might be.  So I turned around and smiled - at the short-haired female staffer who helps with entertainment. (Little did I know that she'd be entertaining - me!!!)  I've gotten to know her (only by face - not by name), and I whispered that "It's OK." She whispered back that she figured it would be, but wanted to be sure.

Since I had some care-related questions for her, I excused myself from mother for a minute, and we went out in the hall to discuss them...   At that point, it was all business.  But I hope her hands will be destined to find their way into my hair again, in the not too distant future.  It's something I'll look forward to!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mandy's new skirt and dress...

When I picked up the pair of my newly hemmed shorts last time, I dropped off my red skirt and a jumper (cute thrift shop finds, you can see them below) to be altered.   I let the seamstress adjust the red skirt to whatever length she thought would let me blend in properly with the other girls, and she pinned up the jumper "to remove extra fabric so you can wear it without a bra or breast forms - your breasts may be small, but they should be noticeable."

I picked them up last Thursday, on the way to visit a small aviation museum near Baltimore.  The seamstress insisted that I try on the skirt, and we both liked how it looked, now that it was about 8" shorter.  "You look much younger in this outfit - a skirt, bare arms and legs, sandals and iridescent silver toe nails are the perfect girly summertime look.  Now get outside, girl, so I can take your picture!"   After snapping it, she hurried back inside and scooped up my shorts - the ones I'd just taken off - putting them in the bag with my jumper.  I gave her that "what-did-you-do-that-for-look", and she smiled, saying "No changing back, sweetie,  it's time you start wearing your new skirt!"  So I paid my bill, blushing a bit as I did, and we both walked out to my car!

 My freshly altered skirt

After she put the bag of clothes in my trunk for me, to make them harder to reach and decrease the chance that I would try to change, I was off to the museum.  It was almost an hour drive, in some nasty traffic. 

When I arrived, I parked next to a repairman out having lunch in his van, then "powdered my nose" and reapplied my lipstick in the car, before walking into the museum.  He was on the phone and didn't seem to be paying any attention to me, which was fine.  Two  "60-something" male docents at the museum started out addressing me as "Ma'am," and continued for my entire visit.  I used my "slightly higher and quieter" female voice, and we talked back and forth about aircraft and flying (back in the day, I did some private flying, and could discuss the planes and pictures with them.)

Once I finished looking at the inside exhibits, it was time to go see some planes.  The docent said that since the flight line was out on the airfield and not within walking distance, I'd have to be accompanied, and he offered to take me in his car.  No problem - and another first for me - having a guy drive the en-femme "me" in his car!

Though I continued to hear "Ma'am or Miss" as appropriate, he forgot to open my door...oh, well, that's common for guys nowadays!  He took a couple pictures for me on the flight line, as well as gave me the history of the planes.  When it was acquired, this Martin 4-0-4 actually flew in under its own power, and is equipped inside as an airliner.  Unfortunately, the insides were not part of the tour:-(

This Martin 4-0-4 flew in under its own power, and subsequently received a restoration to original Martin color.

When we arrived back at the front door, I walked in with him, and asked where the restroom was.  He responded "there's one down that way (left) and one the other way (right).  The girls tell me that the one to the left is not as nice as the one to the right, which has been remodeled recently."  "Thanks, Sir!"   I trekked down the hall (a long one), passing nobody, and seeing nobody go in or out of the women's room.  It felt really strange to look at the mens' room door - and then bypass it!   But, wearing a skirt, sleeveless top, womens' sandals with iridescent silver toe nails, and carrying a purse, it certainly seemed more appropriate to use the women's room.

I hesitated for a second, took a deep breath, pushed open the door, and went right in, though my heart was pounding.  Inside, I could see in the huge mirror that I was blushing...again. But "Lady Luck" was with me.  I was alone.  The restroom was very pretty - freshly redone, with comfortable upholstered furniture, and it looked/smelled spotlessly clean (when was the last time you found upholstered furniture in a men's room?)  There was one small problem...I couldn't get the lock on the stall door to hold.  So, I moved to the next stall - a luxury afforded me by virtue of being alone!  When done (yes, I sat),  I washed my hands, reapplied my lipstick, and walked out, again seeing nobody.  My path took me right past the mens' room again...and I smiled as I said to myself "Off-limits to you today, girlie."  

Yes, I was happy to gain a little more "multi-stall women's room" experience, without any issues or repercussions!  Gotta control the blushing before going in with other women, though...that's an absolute giveaway.

About 2 miles from home, I stopped alongside the country road, got my shorts out of the trunk, hopped into the passenger's seat and pulled them up under my skirt.  Then I slid out of the skirt, for my return home.  And that night, with the better half at a hen party, I took a few pictures (below) of my outfits...what do you think?

Denim Jumper with Sandals

Denim Jumper with Sandals

Denim Jumper with Ballerinas

Denim Jumper with Ballerinas

Winter outfit, Red skirt with turtleneck blouse, though no pantyhose shown here - bare legs.  Wouldn't this look nice with a black turtleneck,  suntan pantyhose and my high heels?  And notice my nails...they're 3/8"long.  That's longer than they have ever been! 

Winter outfit, Red skirt with turtleneck blouse, though no pantyhose shown here - bare legs.  Wouldn't this look nice with a black turtleneck,  suntan pantyhose and my high heels?  And notice my nails...they're 3/8"long.  That's longer than they have ever been!