Flying Solo in Vegas, Part 2

While I was happy I had arrived at my hotel room without any problems, I was tired, hungry, and a little sweaty from the journey.  I was also behind my planned schedule by several hours due to my missed flight and the long walk from the Wynn.  I had planned to head out to the outlet mall after settling in to my room since I would have had more than 5 hours until the concert. With the delay I decided to do the outlet mall the next day. I had bought a sandwich on the way from Wynn and so I ate it, took a nap, and then a shower.  Feeling all refreshed I put on the skirt and top I brought for the concert (a simple black cotton skirt from Jones New York and one of my endless Kohl’s t-shirts). Since I had some time I applied some nail covers I had bought from Etsy. They are precolored vinyl nail covers that are applied with heat (no glue). They don’t extend your nails but just provide color. For fun I selected the black one which gave me a slightly edgy look. It was a little weird at first but I eventually came to really like the black color.

I left my room and wandered down to street level for some walking. I planned to walk down to the “Miracle Mile” shops but they were too far and so I crossed over the Caesar’s casino and shops and walked around there. The shops are all high end and so I just looked.  I had a quick dinner there and headed to the concert.

I took a bus to the Wynn as I did not want to walk anymore. There is a bus that runs up and down the Strip and so I took it. It was only a couple of stops but saved lots of walking. I explored the Wynn, bought some overpriced ice cream, and went into the concert. The concert was nice and completely uneventful. I used the ladies restroom at intermission without any issues or odd looks from other women. After the concert I walked back to my room and went to bed. I felt really good about the day.

The next day I slept in a bit as I was really tired from the day before. I did not feel like wearing the jeans and so I kept with the skirt from the night before but with a different top. I wore the same suede boots I had worn on the flight down from SFO. I headed down to get some breakfast. I thought about going someplace and ordering breakfast but ended up with just some yogurt at a takeout place in the casino. I sat at a table for a while and watch people go by. As with the rest of my time, I did not seem to attract any unusual attention from the hundreds of people who walked by.

I headed back up to my room, packed my suitcase, and went to checkout. It was all automated  and so it went smoothly. I used Uber to get a ride to the outlet mall. My driver barely spoke any English (and I remember almost no Spanish) and so we had an amusing time trying to communicate with one another. He laughed, I laughed, and we ended up just listenting to the radio. He dropped me off at the outlet mall.

I had been to the mall lots of times in boy mode but never as Robin and so I was looking forward to it. I placed my suitcase in a locker and explored the mall. Unfortunately after spending hours visiting dozens of shops, I found almost nothing I liked (or could afford). It all just seemed uninteresting to me. All the freedom to shop and nothing to buy! I ended up buying a T-shirt top at the Calvin Klein store that I liked (marked down to $13 from $45) and some tall boots from the ECCO store. I needed new boots since the ones I had were stolen (along with a lot of other things) from the storage unit were I stored Robin things (but thay is  another blog topic).  The boots are real leather, very nice, and very comfortable. I have another pair of ECCO boots and just love them. They are one of my indulgences.

At that point I still had 4 hours until my flight and so I had time for lunch. One of my silly goals for the trip was to have a meal at a “sitdown” restaurant rather than just fast food. I have had lots of meals at sitdown restaurants as Robin but always with someone (and with uniformly good experiences). This time I was going on my own. For some reason I had avoided doing it but it was now time to deal with it. There was a Chili’s across the parking lot and that seemed like a good place. I walked over to it and went in the door. I was greeted warmly by a hostess who seated me at a table. Eventually a waitress came over, chatted a little, and took my order. I had my tablet and so I did some reading while waiting for lunch to arrive. She brought the food, I ate, and then I paid. It was so completely normal that I was left wondering (again) what exactly I was worried about. That happens a lot to me when I am out in Robin mode, I worry about how bad some situation can go and then discover than absolutely nothing unusual happens.

After lunch it was time to get my suitcase from the locker, call another Uber driver, and head to the airport. My flight was at 4pm and it was now around 2pm and so I would have lots of time at the airport. My Uber driver was friendly and we chatted about my trip and Vegas in general. At the airport he helped me with my suitcase and I headed into the terminal. I printed my boarding pass and headed to security. Given how well the trip had gone, I was very relaxed. I was going to achieve another of my silly goals: to fly wearing a skirt.

The security line was rather empty and so I walked right up to the TSA agent and handed her my ticket and passport. She was a relatively young woman who took calmly took my papers and then the fun started. She looked my papers, looked at me, looked at my papers, and sat there for a while not moving. She had an approval stamp for my papers which she moved toward my ticket, then pulled it back, then moved it forward, then pulled it back. She must have started to stamp it at least 4 times. Her indecision was sort of amusing. Finally she took a breath, stamped it, handed it all back to me, and said to have a good flight. I headed to the scanning machines, put everything in the scanner, and walked through the metal detector. Since I have TSA precheck, I get to skip the body scanner which can be a problem for TGs. The agent waved me through the scanner, I picked up my suitcase and purse, and headed to my gate.

I still had 90 minutes before the flight and so I walked around the gate area, got a soda and magazine, and then just sat and read. My journey was just about done. Soon it was time to board and so I got in line. The ticket agent took my ticked without any unusual reactions and I was on the plane. We took off and soon landed at SFO. I left the plane, took the airtrain to my car, and headed out.

It was a great trip. I did everything I wanted as Robin and had no problems at all. Everyone I met treated me with the same respect they showed other people. It was so normal that it was almost boring (which is a good thing). I now need to figure out my next trip!

 

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Flying solo in Las Vegas – Part I

I have had a great last 10 days. I have been on  three wonderful outings in which I did things that I have wanted to for a long time but never either the courage or opportunity (or both) to do. In the matter of just 10 days I was able to do them. In the next couple of blogs I will describe my outings.

The first one  I want to describe is trip I took to Las Vegas in which I stayed as Robin from start to finish and did it all by myself. I have gone on other trips as Robin but always went accompanied by someone else who could handle any difficult situations that might arise. My goal this time was to go alone and deal with any problems without help.

About 2 months ago I noticed that one of my favorite rock groups was performing in Vegas and I really wanted to see them. They are all getting older and I had no idea how long they would continue to perform and so try to see them whenever I can. My BFF who accompanied me on the last Vegas trip, was unable to go and so the choice was skip the trip or go on my own. I decided it was time to fly solo (literally and figuratively). I booked the trip on Southwest and then bought the ticket. Unfortunately the theater at the Wynn only does “Will Call” tickets with government approved ID. That would make things difficult but I figured that if all else failed I could do a quick switch to boy mode and get the ticket.

The other issue was the hotel. Everytime I have checked into a hotel in Vegas (or anywhere these days) I have to show ID + credit card. However I found that many hotels  in Vegas now have checkin “kiosks” by which you can bypass the people at the front desk. You need to join their “total rewards” club ahead of time and give them other information but once you do, you can check in (and out) using the Kiosk. They did say something about getting your keys separately but again I figured, worst case, I do a quick boy mode switch.

Having everything booked, there was nothing to do but wait a few months. Finally the day drew near. I decided to pack lightly, unlike the last trip, and so packed only three outfits (for two days). I took a tunic and some leggings, a skirt and a top, and some jeans and a top. I took a sweater in case it was cold and some PJs. All girl clothes for the trip. It all fit in a small roller bag. I put my purse and computer in a shoulder bag so I could meet the two items carryon rules.

I had booked a 10:20 flight and so I had to be there by about 9am. I dropped my grandson off at school and headed to the airport. I changed on the way (in my car as I usually do) and arrived at the San Francisco airport a little after 9am. I had hoped to get there in time to use the less expensive long term lot but ended up in the daily lots ($35/day !) since I was a little later than I wanted. I got on the airtrain to the terminal only to find out it was running in some special mode and took the long way to my terminal. It was getting to be about 9:20 and I was still on my way to the terminal. As I began to panic, I got a text saying my flight had been delayed until 11:10 and so I now had lots of time. I relaxed and got off at Terminal 2. I left the train, and walked to security checkin. I have done TSA security in girl mode about 10 times now and never had any troubles and so I was not too worried. I did have a nightmare the night before in which Trump had changed the TSA rules regarding TGs as part of his plan to treat all LGBT people as second class citizens. I even got up to make sure the TG page on the TSA web site was still there (it was). Still I figured at worst I might get questioned.

Fortunately I have “precheck” which means no full body scanners. Just a quick ID check and a walk through the metal detector. The process was completely normal and the TSA agent did not look or say anything unusual. I was through in 30 seconds. At that point I visited the restroom, got some nuts and a soda for the trip, and sat down to wait. It was only 10:10 and so I figured I had an hour.

At that point my phone beeped again with a new text. My flight had been rescheduled back to its orginal time (10:20) and was boarding. I thought I was fine and looked at the board to see what my gate was. I then discovered I was in the wrong terminal. Southwest is in terminal 1 and I was in terminal 2. Fortunately the two terminals are connected and so I just had to run to the other terminal, a quick 5 minute run. Trying to run ladylike through an airport can be a trial but I made it to terminal 1 at 10:15. Unfortunately due to construction, terminal 1 is divided into two parts that are not connected and I was in the wrong part. Time to exit security and go through it again.

I still had some hope of making my flight as the line as the other TSA security checkpoint was short. Unfortunately the woman in front of me had all sorts of issues and took a while to get through security.  Once I got to the agent, he waved me through without any delay (twice in one day!!).

I finally got to my gate only to find my plane had left. I told the agent I got a message saying the flight was delayed and so took my time. He said not worry and they would reschedule me. I would now get a new “girl mode” experience… I went to the ticket counter and explained my problem. The Southwest agent could not have been nicer and had no evident reaction to this woman standing in front of him with a ticket in a man’s name. We chatted normally as he rebooked me on the next flight. He finally handed me my new ticket with the words “Have a nice flight Ms B..”. He totally made my day!!

I waited 90 minutes for the next flight, had lunch in the meantime, and just rested from all the running around. Eventually it was time to board and so I got in line. The ticket agent took my ticket without a hitch and soon I was on the plane. Takeoff was delayed a bit but we eventually left.

I arrived in Las Vegas an hour or so later, feeling really confident about things. I had dealt with a big mess the airport and everything turned out great. I was a little late but feeling really good about my ability to deal with problems. I was ready for anything. My first task was to get to the Wynn ticket office to get my ticket. I thought about catching a cab or a shuttle but that would have been expensive or take a long time. I thought it was time to try something else new: Uber. I had signed up for Uber a long time before but had never used it. It was easy to use and I quickly met the driver at the ride share pickup area. He helpfully loaded my bag in the trunk and we left the airport. We chatted normally on the trip over and he gave no indication his passenger was anything but what she appeared to be. He dropped me off at the Wynn and I looked for the ticket office.

Since I was feeling so brave, I decided to stay in girl mode and show the agent my boy mode ID to pick up the ticket. She greeted me, asked me for my ID, and walked away to get my ticket. She came back, gave me my ID and ticket, and said she hoped I enjoyed the show. I have no idea what she was thinking but our interaction was completely normal and pleasant. I was feeling really good now and was totally prepared for the hotel. I stayed at the LinQ hotel ($27/night + $30 resort fee) which is  about half a mile from the Wynn.

At the hotel I found the Kiosk and inserted my credit card to find my reservation. It asked me to insert my driver’s license and a credit card for expenses. I clicked a few icons and out popped my room key cards (!). I was registered and did so without leaving girl mode for a second. A few minutes later I was in my room where I collasped on the bed, feeling totally wonderful, tired, and safe all at the same time!! I had made in from San Francisco to my hotel in Vegas, overcome all sort of problems,  and had done it all as Robin.  The trip was off to a great start.

(to be continued)

 

Going Gay Square Dancing

Something that occurred to me after I wrote the last blog was that I never really described what makes “Gay Square Dancing” different from “Regular Square Dancing”. The answer is simply that anyone can dance either the men’s or women’s parts. One need not be a man to dance the men’s parts, nor a woman to dance the women’s. The dances and steps are exactly the same as in regular square dancing but on any given dance one gets to choose what part  you will dance for that dance. On the next dance you may pick the other part. Or you may be happy to just dance the men’s part or just the women’s part. It is all up to you and everyone else is perfectly okay with your choice (or they leave). It is perfect for TGs!!

Now that that has been cleared up, I can return to my plans. Having decided, in theory, to go to the dance, the next step was to decide what to wear. Unlike regular square dancing, attire at GSD (i.e. Gay Square Dancing), is entirely up to you. One can wear pretty much what you want be it jeans, shorts, skirts, etc.. Since there would be lots of movement I figured it would either be leggings or a skirt along with some kind of top. I had a mid-length blue denim skirt that I thought would be perfect for square dancing. Paired with a brown top and brown flats, it would be perfect. As a backup I brought along some brown leggings and a green sweater (for Christmas!).

The dance was at 7:30 and so I had time after work to eat and changed into the brown top and denim skirt. I drove to the church and found a mostly full parking lot which was sort of odd until I realized the church shared a parking lot with a synagogue. I found a parking space and walked to the door of the church meeting area. It was at that point, things went south. All of a sudden I had a complete loss of confidence about the whole venture, turned around, and headed back to my car. I left the parking lot and drove around the block, trying to figure out what happened. I found my way back to the parking lot, found a different place to park, and tried again. This time I looked into window and saw that almost none of the women were wearing skirts. I don’t know why this bothered me so but it did. I got to the door again, turned around, and headed back to my car. I was ready to give up. I left the parking lot again, drove around the block but this time I stopped and changed into the sweater and leggings. I felt instantly more confident. I drove back to the parking lot, got out my car, and walked in the front door. Somehow changing clothes made it all better.

Once inside I was met by a guy at a table who was collecting the $8 entry fee. I paid him, got a sticker with my name on it, and walked it. I had only wasted 30 minutes and still had 90 minutes of dance time. They were just finishing up a dance when I came in and so folks were moving back to the sides of a space where chairs and a snack table were waiting. I was feeling sort of nervous since I did not know anyone and was apparently the only T person there. Folks were friendly though and I felt okay. Fortunately the next dance was a line dance without partners and so I could start dancing without worrying about partner issues.

It was an easy dance to do and so I felt really comfortable doing it. After it was over, there was a short break and then it was time for a real square dance. I looked around for partners and this friendly guy came up to me and asked me to join him in his square. I said okay and there I was in a square with 3 men, 4 women, and me! Two women were dancing together along with 2 male/female couples. We all smiled, introduced outselves, and waiting for the caller to start. I turned out the guy who asked me was straight and was there with his wife. Both were regulars as were several other straight couples (you don’t have to be gay to enjoy Gay Square Dancing!). There were 3 other squares with all combinations of partners.

The dance was simple and fun. Since it was a beginner session, the caller lead us through all the steps. Most of the people there were class members and so were very familar with the steps and so were able to guide folks like me who last square danced in high school. I quickly got used to responding to instructions directed at the “ladies” and soon was not even thinking about it. After the dance was over we all hugged one another.

After a short pause, we started another dance. This time I was paired up with a young woman who took the man’s part and I continued in woman’s part. While I wanted to dance the woman’s parts for my own obvious reasons, it turned to be alot easier as a beginner to stick to one role. Trying to learn both parts would have been really hard. In this square we had 2 women dancing together, two male/female couples, and a woman and me. Again the other squares had all combinations of dancers. The dance was more complicated than the last one but I caught on quickly and had fun.

For the third dance, I ended partnered with a different guy. The dance was even more complex than the first two but I could follow it without much trouble. By this point I was just having fun!!

There might have been four dances but I don’t recall the fourth.

Between dances I chatted with folks. Everyone was friendly and pleasant. I was the only T person there (I think) but that did not seem to matter to anyone. Being there in my preferred gender felt like the most natural thing in the world!! It was also loads of fun.

I could get used to this.

 

 

 

 

Discovering Gay Square Dancing

I have this theory that there are 3 phases of non-updated blogs.

In the first phase of non-updating, the excuse is that I am too tired, too busy, have nothing interesting to say, etc to create an entry. This is sort of understandable given we all have busy lives and it often results in skipping an update or two but not too many.

In the second phase, usually after weeks or even months of not posting, guilt sets in and the excuse becomes that since I have not posted for so long, I need to come up with something really interesting to say in order to make it up to those readers who have been checking in, looking for some update. This phase can end by coming up with something interesting to say that will excuse the long delay.

In the third phase, usually have many months or even years of not posting, shame sets in. One simply becomes too embarrassed to post anything. One tells oneself that it has been so long since I posted something that my readers must have given up hope and that if I post something  they will all think I am some kind of flake or maybe just desperate.

I have been somewhere between phases two and three for the last few months. I was in phase one for awhile as work and life got crazy which lead to nothing interesting to say.  I was also sort of discouraged about the antics of our new president. Still the urge to write has been building and so I am starting again. Fortunately I have something fun to write about: Gay Square Dancing. I will start in this blog and continue in the next posting.

As readers of this blog may recall, I seldom go to TG themed gatherings. I don’t go to bars, conventions, or even simple group meetings. I much prefer to spend my time “out in the real world” be it shopping, going to concerts and movies, eating out, running errands, visiting with a few friends, etc. Fortunately I have had nothing but positive experiences “in the real world” in hundreds or maybe thousands of outings. Over time, however,  I have grown restless in these situations because I feel that there is so much more to experience in my preferred gender.

I have long desired to be part of some ordinary but ongoing activity that involves all sorts of people and to do so in my preferred gender. I have often thought about volunteering with some group such as sorting food, taking care of animals, helping homeless people, etc. I have also thought about signing up for a university extension type course that I could attend in person and interact with the teacher as well as other students.  For various reasons, including other time commitments and lack of courage I have not pursued any of these very far. Hence I have felt sort of “stuck” for a long time.

Things changes suddenly a few weeks ago when I received a Meetup email that mentioned a group called  that did “Gay Square Dancing”. This immediately intrigued me as I like dancing and have long wanted to be able to dance the women’s steps rather than the men’s. I have thought about ballroom dancing and English country dancing but was worried about being partnered with some guy who would react badly to me. I found their web site and it seemed exactly what I wanted. They were clearly LGBTQ friendly (they said so several times on their web page) and so I figured what did I have to lose? The only issue was that the dance was being held in a church in a nearby city and I worried I might bump into someone I knew but that seemed unlikely. It was being held on a Friday evening on which the rest of the family was occupied elsewhere and so the timing would be perfect. All I had to do was to actually go.

Next time: I go square dancing!!

 

 

 

Three days in Vegas, part 3

Sorry for the delay getting to part 3. Life has been very busy the last month and I just have not had the energy to write part 3. Finally, here it is.

On the second day of my Vegas trip we decided to go down to Fremont Street which is home of the original Las Vegas.

Since we had a concert to go to later that night, we ended up going to Fremont Street during the day rather than at night. It is way more interesting at night as they have a great light show on the roof, lots of live music, street artists, and many wandering performers (Elvis impersonators, show girls, cartoon characters, etc) that will pose for pictures for a small donation. During the day there it is still interesting but less so. To get there we caught a bus from outside our hotel and it only took about 30 minutes to get to Fremont Street. The bus ride was pretty uneventful as it was mostly empty when we got on the bus and so we could easily find seats.

Once at Fremont Street we mostly just wandered around.  We had a quick lunch  at a Mexican food place that was part of a casino. It mostly just served tacos but we could sit outside and do people watching while we ate. After we ate, I stopped at a restroom where I chatted with another woman as we waited in line as the restroom was being cleaned. From there we walked down to a shopping area made from old shipping containers that were stacked on top of one another. There were some interesting shops there that we stopped at. The one we spent most of our time in was a reptile shop that had all sorts of snakes and lizards. The salesperson there was as interesting as the reptiles as she had numerous tattoos and piercings. She fit right into the shop.

After a few hours at Fremont Street, it was time to return our hotel and get ready for the rock concert that was the whole reason for our visit. Unlike the trip down to Fremont Street, the bus going back was packed from the moment we boarded and so we had to stand the entire trip back to the strip. There were some older folks that had strong Southern accents standing next to us and I had some concern about how they might react to me. Fortunately, they were friendly and we chatted on and off during the trip back. I did not pick up any unusual vibes from them in any way. The trip was long but it went well.

Once back at our hotel we rested for a couple of hours and then got dressed for the show. I changed from my tunic and leggings into a black top, camo skirt,  and black tights. It seemed like a suitable rock concert look. Once dressed we caught the elevator down the casino floor, sharing it with maybe 8 to 10 other people. We were the last to get in and so it was mostly full.  People were friendly and welcomed us in although it made it a little tight. Another complete nonevent!!

We walked around looking for someplace to eat. There are lots of them in the Venetian mall but I thought there was an Indian place that looked interesting and so we walked and walked looking for it but could not find it. We ended up at a seafood place where my friend and I were greeted with “good evening ladies”  and lead to our table. The food came soon after and we quickly ate as we had spent too much time looking for my imaginary Indian Restaurant.

From dinner we went to the waiting line to enter the show area at the Venetian. We stood in a long line that moved slowly as we needed to use an elevator to get to our seats. The concert was fun as it was one of the “legendary” 60-70’s groups. I have been to lots of their concerts over the years, mostly in girl mode. In fact it was a concert of theirs in Reno that was my very first “girl mode” concert that I attended all by myself. I had a great time then and at this concert. I hope to keep going to their concerts as long as they tour.

After the concert we walked down the strip to the “Dancing Lights” show at the Bellagio. My friend had never seen them and so we spent some time there. Eventually we made it back to our room and collapsed into bed. It had been a long day and we were to return home the next day. Unlike the trip down, I found I had no concerns about going through  TSA security at the airport and so simply did not worry about it.

The next morning we sort of slept in as our flight was not until about 2pm. Eventually we got dressed, packed our suitcases, and headed down to breakfast. We ate at the same place we had the day before and took our time as we nothing really to do before we headed to the airport. Eventually we headed back up to our room to get our stuff and then back down the elevator to the taxi area. A cab came and took us to the airport. We arrived there, printed off our boarding passes, and headed off to security.

This time there was a woman officer at the Pre-check inspection desk. I handed her my boarding pass and male Id. I smiled at her and waited. She smiled back and said “I can see its you”, wrote on my boarding pass, and said to have a nice flight. From there I put my stuff on the Xray machine and walked through the metal detector. The agent on the other side waved me through and I picked up my stuff on the belt. Like so much of the trip, it was completely uneventful.

We had gotten there about 2 1/2 hours before our flight and so we had lots of time to kill. We both had books to read and people to watch and so the time passed quickly. I did some jewelry shopping at a little shop and got a drink at some fast food place. It was on the way back that I encountered the only odd reaction I had during the entire 3 days.

A young girl, maybe 6 or 7 was walking with her mother as I was standing at the jewelry place. She looked right at me but continued walking. As they continued past me, I saw her turn around and look right at me again. She turned back forward and then looked back again.

The old saying about “out of the mouths of babes” came to mind.

In the grand scale of things, that was a pretty minor event.

Eventually it was time to board our flight and we got in line. This time the agent took my ticket without any reaction and so it went smoother than the flight down. The trip back to SFO was uneventful. After we landed, wecaught a bus to the long term parking lot and retrieved my car. From there I dropped my friend off at her house and headed home.

Overall it was a great trip. We had a good time and enjoyed spending time together. From a TG perspective, it was entirely uneventful. I was treated respectfully by  the staff at all the various places we visited  and by all the other  visitors we encountered.

If anything it was almost too “normal” for all concerned. For three days I lived in girl  mode among strangers and did so without a second thought and without getting any unusual reactions. I was just me for that time and it seemed completely natural. My friend commented after the trip that she thought I would have gotten more of a reaction from people we encountered and was surprised that she did not observe any. Everyone treated me as just another woman.

In the end it was all vaguely anti-climactic and I suppose that is just the way it is supposed to be when you can be yourself.

 

 

 

 

Three days in Vegas, part 2

At the end of part 1 of my Las Vegas trip I had just cleared TSA security with no problems. To me that was the second hardest part of the trip (the first being going through security in Las Vegas for the return trip). Once I got past security, I felt  I could relax and really start enjoying myself. This turned out to be entirely true as over the next several days I interacted with many  people and got only completely normal reactions from them. I kept waiting for something bad to happen (or even something mildly unpleasant) but absolutely nothing did. It was a completely uneventful, in terms of TGness, three days. It was great.

To return to the story, we had gotten to the airport really early and so had almost 90 minutes before our flight. Given the rushed schedule we were both hungry and so had lunch in one of the overpriced airport eating establishment. We were greeted by a helpful waiter who addressed us as “ladies” and showed us to our table. He soon came back to take our order and eventually our meal. The lunch was pleasant and relaxed. I had been a little tense about TSA security but no longer.

Eventually our flight time arrived and so we lined up in our Southwest boarding group. When my time came I handed my boarding pass to the agent who had a brief “oh” moment as she scanned my boarding pass with my boy name on it.  She recovered quickly and said “thank you” and I boarded the plane without incident. Once on board we found open seats, put our luggage in the overhead bins, and sat down. It was a familiar ritual that I have done on hundreds of other flights but it seemed special this time. As we took off I thought to myself, “I am really doing this” and felt great.

Landing in Vegas was without incident and we caught a cab to our hotel. The Venetian is a really nice hotel and we had a spacious suite. We unpacked, rested a little, then walked around the Venice themed mall. We were going to a Cirque du Soleil show later that night but had some  time to explore the place. I did not get any reactions from either other visitors or shop assistants. We were just two women exploring a mall while on vacation.

The Cirque du Soleil show we saw was “Zumanity” which is billed as the “Sensual side of Cirque du Soleil”. I have seen lots of other Cirque du Soleil shows but never this one and so I was intrigued. The show was at 9:30 at the New York, New York hotel which is reasonably near our hotel. We planned to walk to  the Planet Hollywood buffet for dinner and then continue walking to the show. Although my tunic and leggings would have been fine for the show, I decided to dress things up a little. I changed into a red 3/4 length sleeve top, black JNY cotton skirt, and black Mary Janes. It was not very dressy but was a nice change.

The buffet at Planet Hollywood was very nice with more choices than I could sample. We stood in line for about 10 minutes before being seated. Our waitress was very nice and quickly brought us our drinks. I visited multiple stations until I could hold no more. In the process I came across dozens of people who seemed oblivious to my presence.

On the way out of Planet Hollywood I stopped at the ladies restroom which was mostly unoccupied. I encountered a few women there but we pretty much ignored one another. A few had boyfriends/husbands waiting for them which gave me pause but they barely looked up from their smartphones as I walked by.

From Planet Hollywood, NY NY is a moderate walk. We left plenty of time and so arrived at the Zumanity show almost 20 minutes early. We gave them our tickets and were shown to our seats. Since we were so early, I went to the bar and bought some wine. I was really curious about what the show would be like. I really like Cirque shows and am always amazed by the artists and what they can do.

Unfortuantely Zumanity quickly became my least favorite Cirque du Soleil show. The things I liked most about Cirque shows (acrobatics, dance, music, etc) were of much lower quality in Zumanity than in the other shows. While most of the performers were topless most of the time, I found the whole experience to be very “unsensual”. It was like they were trying too hard to be sensual and risque and so the result felt very forced and artificial. I found myself checking my watch after 20 minutes. About the only interesting thing about the whole show was the TG Mistress of Ceremonies, all 6’6″ of her. She had a wonderful feminine/drag queen presence (my friend did not recognize she was TG until we talked after the show) and  some amusing remarks and jokes. Still many of her remarks seemed forced but compared to the rest of the show she was great.

After the show we took a cab back to our hotel having determined it was too far to walk. We quickly fell asleep as it had been a very long day.

We sort of slept in the next day (it was a vacation) but eventually got up, got dressed, and headed out to find some breakfast. Our room was on the 11th floor and so we took the elevator down to the casino floor. Elevators can be a little scary since I never know who and how many will be in the elevator when the door opens. During our stay we made lots of elevator trips and experiened everythign  from an empty elevator, to a family, to several couples, to one virtually full that required some close crowding but in every case I found people friendly and pleasant. By the end of trip, I was not longer worryng about elevator rides.

We ate breakfast at small place off the casino floor. It is semi-self service in that you stand in line, order your food, and then pick up when they call your name. I stood in line and ordered my food without any issues. To the clerk I was just another customer.

After breakfast we walked over to see the gardens at the Bellagio and then to the shops at Caesars Palace. It was fun to stop at various high end shops and look  at $1000 dresses, $400 shoes,  and $600 handbags. My friend is a fan of Coach handbags and so we spent lots of time in the Coach shop while she discussed various bags with the sales lady. I must admit some of  the bags were really nice (and some were really odd) but I could not bring myself to spend that kind of money on a handbag. Mine is real leather and I bought it at Costco for $49 and I am quite happy with it. Still it was fun to be the target of an aggressive sales lady.

From there we visited other shops where I eventually bought something at a H&M store, someplace more in my budget. It was a long cardigan sweater that was colorblocked in brown, green, and ivory. It was only $19.95 and I love it.

We finished the shops, ate lunch and,  caught the bus to Fremont Street.

I will cover our Fremont Street “experience”, the music concert, and the trip home in part 3.

 

 

Disappointing myself

A few days after I posted part 1 of my Vegas trip, I had the “opportunity” to fly to the East Coast on a one day business trip.  These trips are not fun as I spend much of a day getting there (typically a Sunday), then most of the next day in a meeting, and then fly home the same day. By the time I get home on the second day, I have been up 21 hours or more and my body has no idea of what time it is.

After my confident Las Vegas trip I thought that it would be great to make the flight in girl mode. It would make the long trip a little more enjoyable and is something I have always wanted to do.  It seemed like a safe thing to do. The odds of running into someone I know are relatively small since my destination was not one where my business associates typically go. I felt I could get past TSA security without problems. I even got an aisle seat which meant I only had to sit next to one person. It all seemed good.

I selected casual girl clothes for the trip as virtually no woman dresses up for a long, Sunday flight. I picked a T-shirt, jeans, and low heel boots. I used a smaller purse that would fit into my computer case. I got my wig, padding, and makeup already to go. I allocated enough time to change at the airport. I was all set to go.

I arrived at the airport, parked in the parking garage, changed clothes, and sat there. I couldn’t do the full girl mode. I left my wig, forms, purse,etc in my suit case and walked to the terminal. My one concession was to wear the tshirt/jeans/boots I had picked for the trips as they were relatively androgynous. I went through security without a problem but felt really disappointed in myself for chickening out.

I tried to convince myself that I had a good reason for skipping full girl mode.

  • My computer bag is not very feminine and it would be strange for a woman to use it.
  • I would be sitting next to the same people for 6 hours and they might  react badly to me.
  • How would I get my rental car at my destination?
  • What if the flight was delayed hours and I needed to shave?
  • I might run into someone I knew
  • Why waste an opportunity to get through TSA security easily.

You get the idea..mostly pretty bad rationalizations. The reality is that I was fearful that someone would react badly to me (or even just say something)  and I let that fear control my actions.  I really disappointed myself.

On the way home I had the same debate with myself with the same result and the same sense of disappointment with myself. However on the trip back the universe decided to punish me for giving into my  fears. Since I was not wearing my breast forms, they were packed in my carryon suitcase that went through the TSA X-ray machine. I have done this many times and never had a problem. This time some observant X-ray technician decided that they looked suspicious and called out my bag for closer inspection. A young male TSA agent took my bag to the inspection area while I waited in front of him. He unzipped my bag, poked around until he found the suspicious items, and took them out. I keep my forms in a soft blue bag to protect them and so it was easy to see when he found them. He took the forms out and inspected them with a slight look of puzzlement on his face. He wiped them down with the explosive pad and fed it into  a machine for analysis. During this time I stood there trying to look bored and nonchalant while making up stories in my head to explain to him what they were doing in my bag (“they are extra ones for my wife”, “I am carrying samples”, etc..). Fortuantely the machine did not find explosive residue on them and so I was cleared to go. He packed them back into my suitcase and handed it back to me with a “thank you sir”. I slowly walked away and never looked back.

It occurred to me that going through TSA security in girl mode would probably have been less embarrassing. Still I did not change into full girl mode, although I still wore the same Tshirt, jeans, and boots outfit for the flight home (though I did change my shirt!!)

In thinking this over I realized that for many of us “part time” girls,  these fears are something that we must continually deal with. Everytime we go out in girl mode, we must face the fears and get past them. Just because we went out yesterday and everything went okay does not mean today will be the same. Even though I have been out hundreds, or even thousands of time, I still worry a little when I open the door to go out or when I encounter the first person. Once out, I am okay and everything goes well but there is always the little voice of fear. Hence there is always the temptation to just stay in our comfort zone of places, activities, people, etc. rather than push to have a full life,  albeit part time.  I tell myself I want to have that full life even if it involves overcoming some fears. I just get disappointed in myself when I give in to those fears.

PS

For those of you waiting to read part 2 of my Vegas trip, I will post it later this week. Sorry for the delay.

 

 

 

 

 

Three days in Vegas, part 1

While I usally get out as Robin at least once a week, my girl time seldom exceeds a few hours. Occaionally I get a  6-8 hour adventure, such as I described  in my last posting and even less frequently a  full day out. While these are okay nothing beats spending  multiple days being “full time”. The last time I did it was more than 4 years ago when I accompanied Denae Doyle of Femimage to the Southern Comfort  Conference where I helped her with the classes she was teaching. I wrote about this in a couple of blogs in 2013 (or was it 2012??).

I have really been wanting to have another multiple day adventure but things never worked out for one reason or another. However this last year the opportunity finally presented itself. One of my favorite rock groups was performing in Las Vegas at a time when I could get away. It was far enough in advance that I could get low cost airfare and a big discount on a room. I proposed to my BFF that we fly down for the concert which would probably mean we would have to stay overnight. She countered with a proposal to also see a Cirque Du  Soleil show that she had been wanting to see which meant we would have to stay three days and two nights in Vegas. That sounded okay to me as it meant even more girl time. It would also provide an opportunity to fly in girl mode, something I had also not done since my trip to Southern Comfort.

Since the concert was 4 months away, we were able to book $59 flights to Vegas and $120/night rooms at the Venetian, which for those of you not familiar with Vegas, is a really nice all suites hotel. Rooms there are normally $300/night. We got tickets for the concert and show and were all set. All we had to do was wait 4 months!

During that time, my thoughts were occupied with two topics: a silly one and a more serious one. The silly one was what clothes I should bring. The more serious one was flying as Robin.

Actually I spent more time worry about what to wear as there was little I could do about the flying part.  Vegas is a pretty casual place with very long walks  to get almost anywhere. We did have two concerts/shows to attend and so we could be a little dressy but not too much. We were going in October which means the weather was still pretty warm (85 or so) but not crazy hot (110+). I also wanted to limit myself to one suitcase so that I could carry on and not have to check luggage. Finally I wanted to bring only women’s clothing and leave all the boy stuff behind (just to make things interesting).

After making and revising endless lists, I decided on:

  • Two tunic/legging sets
  • two skirt/top sets
  • one pair of jeans with a tshirt
  • one long skirt
  • 3 pairs of shoes (all  flats that were suitable for walking)
  • PJs and robe

I could wear the jeans and leggings outfits for the days and the skirt outfits for the evening shows.The long skirt was backup but I never wore it.  It would all fit into one carryon suitcase although it was a little tight when other items like toiletries and curling iron were added.

The one extra thing I realized  I needed was a shoulder bag of some kind to hold my purse and computer. My regular computer case is decidedly unfemimine plus there is no place in it for a purse ( per airline rules, only TWO carryons). I ended up buying a black shoulder bag into which my computer and purse  fit quite nicely.

The flying in girl mode part was a more serious topic but I found myself oddly not too worried about it. The  TSA had a whole page dedicated to transgendered passengers which was very reassuring. I was also flying out of San Francisco (and Vegas) whose TSA agents had probably seen everything. Maybe if I was in Texas (or North Carolina) I may have been more concerend. In any case I had done it before without any problems. Besides,  what is the worse that could happen?? Maybe a grin or two from the TSA agent?? Even an “pat down”, while potentially embarrassing, was not likely to be a big deal. The key is all of such situations is to stay calm and respectful.

After much delay, our departure day eventually rolled around. We had a 12:25pm flight and so I picked up my friend around 10:30am. I had changed clothes in my car on the way to her house and so was girl mode when I arrived at her house. I wore a green tunic, black leggings, and some black Sketchers I had found at a Ross store the day before.   We drove  to the airport where we parked in long term parking and then rode a bus the terminal. I had printed out our boarding passes and so there was little to do when we arrived  except to go through security. We both had TSA precheck when means simplified security check (and NO whole body scanner) and so that made everything easier. I got out my passport (with my boy name/picture) and boarding pass and got into the security line. Eventually I reached the agent. handed him the passport and boarding pass, and waited. I was actually very calm, almost excessively so.

After a few moments, he wrote on my boarding pass, and said have a nice flight. My friend was watching him  and said his face did not change expression in any way (beyond normal changes). I was just another passenger to him. I put my bags on the xray machine and walked through the metal detector. The agent nodded as I walked through and that was it. I was through security and on my way to Las Vegas!!

 

 

 

 

 

An evening at the symphony

I have not posted anything for a couple of weeks now but it was not for lack of trying. I have been trying to write something meaningful about mess that Donald Trump is making of the country (after only two weeks) but others have been doing such a good job that my contribution seemed redundant. Hopefuly I will get more inspired  in the future since I fear we may have endure years of him.

So instead of a political post,  I thought I would write about something pleasant. One of the activities I really enjoy is going to the symphony, especially the San Francisco Symphony. I try to go several times a year when they are performing something that I  really enjoy. It also provides the opportunity to get a little dressed up which is a nice change from my usual tunic and leggings outfits that I normally live in these days. Of course I don’t get too dressed up as  the person sitting next to your is more than likely  wearing torn blue jeans but I always try to wear a nice  dress or at least a skirt and top.  I suppose the best look is what is normally termed  “business casual”.

Anyway, this last week they performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (the “choral symphony”) and I just had to go.  I attended another performance of the Ninth years ago and really enjoyed it. When the schedule for the year came out last summer, I knew I had to be there. I asked my BFF if she would like to attend and she did and so I bought two tickets. Since she works in SF, we agreed that I would catch the train into the City and she would meet me at the train station.

I ended up wearing a dark green dress with black boots and a knee length wool coat. The weather was cool and rainy and so it seemed a suitable outfit. The dress is one I bought on Zulily (where I have a shopping addiction) but I had not had a chance to wear it before.  I drove part way to San Francisco and then caught Caltrain (the local commuter train). I have caught the train to the City several times in girl mode and it is always a combination of the ordinary and slightly exciting. It is ordinary in that absolutely nothing unusual ever happens. I buy my ticket, wait for the train, board the train, sit down, show my ticket to the conductor,  enjoy the trip, and arrive at my destination. I am just another woman taking the train. At the same time it is a little exciting since I am fully committed to being in girl mode and am pretty much on my own. Unlike when I am driving someplace, there is not a pile of boy clothes in the trunk that I can always switch into if something unexpected happens. There is also no one who knows me around to help if I need it.  When I am on the train in girl mode  (or an airplane as I written about in the past and will do again in the near future), there is no easy way back to boy mode. For better or worse (and odd thoughts of earthquakes, train crashes, attacks by crazy people do occur to me) I am committed to being a woman on her own.  It does make the ordinary a bit more exciting.

But at least for this trip, everything went fine and  was entirely uneventful. There was some light rain when I arrived which was sort of fun to stand around  in while I waited for my friend to pick me up. She met me near the train station and we drove across town to Davis Symphony Hall. Traffic was a complete mess and it took us almost an hour to get the parking lot. At that point we had about 90 minutes before the symphony was to start and so we found a nice place to have a quick dinner. It was a good time with a very attentive waiter who greeted us as “ladies” and quickly served us our dinner. We were sitting around in a roomful of people also having dinner. Again, it was completely ordinary (and wonderful).  We ate quickly and walked to Davies.

We arrived about 15 minutes before the start of the performance and quickly found our seats. I had purchased tickets in the middle of the second tier since the music there sounds as good as anywhere in the hall and they are not too expensive.  There were a surprising number of empty seats in the hall but those around us were all occupied.  It is always fun to people watch since all types come to the symphony. The average age of the attendees do seem older than either the ballet or opera but their were lots of younger people present.

The performance itself was very pleasing although I was a little disappointed by the soloists. Their voices did not seem to carry well and some were drowned out by the chorus. The orchestra and chorus performed very well and I enjoyed the performance as a whole. After the performance we walked back to the parking garage and drove back to the train station to get my car and then I drove home.

Overall it was a very nice evening and completely “ordinary”.  I ended up spending almost 8 hours in girl mode and was a little sad at having to return to boy mode at the end of the evening  Given the opportunity I would really prefer to be full time but that is unlikely to happen and so I really enjoy the girl time  that I do have.

 

 

Going the pharmacy

I have a  good friend, let’s call her Mary, that I have known for a long time. She is a genetic woman and is one of the few people who knows all about my TGness. I met her at a conference years ago and we became good friends. I usually see her in girl mode which is really nice since she treats me simply as another woman (Once when I did  show up in boy mode she made a comment about how Robin was crossdressing as a boy). We get together on a semi regular basis, mostly for lunch or maybe  shopping.

Over the past few years Mary has developed some serious health problems that limit her ability to get around and sometimes to even run routine errands. I have stepped in to help her with errands and shopping. Sometimes I accompany her and sometimes I just run the errand for her but almost always am in girl mode when I do it.

Doing these routine errands has been a wonderful experience for me. I have always sought to spend my girl time doing as many routine life activities as possible. Going to the grocery store as Robin and  talking to the checkout clerk has always been  more satisfying than attending some TG event.

I have done her grocery shopping, picked her dog up at the vet, and helped pick out a backyard umbrella at the local hardware store. We have returned her cable box at the local Comcast office and bought smoke detectors at Home Depot.  I have talked with her insurance agent, visited her in the hospital, and chatted with her neighbors. One day I encountered some paramedics in her front room after she had fallen in her home while getting ready for a planned lunch with me.

You have no idea how satisfying such things (well maybe not the paramedic part) can be and I would not trade these experiences  for anything. All of my interactions have been positive and oddly (and wonderfully) completely “normal”.

At the same time such situation have really, really stretched my girl mode comfort zone and especially my  girl mode “social skills”.  Having a long chat with Mary’s condo association business manager about some electrical problems in her condo and not reverting to boy mode “know it all-ness” was a real struggle.

The result of the all the various errands was an incredible increase in my girl mode confidence and willingness to venture into almost any situation without concern.

There are still surprises that do happen to me and hence the title of this blog (I am sure you were wondering what all of this had to do with going to the pharmacy). Mary has significant pain issues which require some pretty strong medicine. One day she had gotten a new prescription from her doctor but had forgotten to stop at  the local pharmacy.  I had dropped off some groceries at her place and was on my way out the door when she asked if I could drop off the presciption at the pharmacy and that she would pick it up later.  I said sure,  thinking it would be easy and quick to do. How hard can dropping off a prescription be??

As it turns out for certain kinds of pain medication, just dropping off the prescription is a big deal. I drove to the pharmacy and went in. I am in total girl mode wearing my current favorite clothing style: leggings and a long tunic top (my fashion evolution will be the topic of a future blog).

I stand in line for a while and it is eventually my turn. I hand the prescription to the pharmacy clerk and tell him that Mary will pick it up later. At that point he says that I must present my ID and the information on it will be entered into a state database.

That was unexpected.

At that point I had two choices. I could take the prescription back to Mary and tell her she had to handle it or I could give my boy mode ID to some low level pharmacy clerk. Now I had presented my ID to a CHP officer and to various TSA officers when I had flown “en-femme” years ago. Doing that was stressful but they were at least government officials acting in an official capacity. This was some clerk at the local CVS.

After a brief pause, I handed him my ID and waited. Nothing special happened. He scanned my ID, typed some things into his computer, handed back my ID to me, and said the prescription would be ready in an hour and asked if I wanted to wait for it.

That was it. No weird looks, no giggles, no comments.  Nothing out of the ordinary. It was oddly anti-climatic. A few hours later Mary picked up the prescription without incident.

And I am in some California data base of prescription drug buyers. At least they did not take my picture….

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