So, lets get to the last 4 months of the year now, when a few things might have happened!
To do it in strictly in chronological order, the first new experience in September, was being wheeled through an airport in a wheelchair! In truth, I possibly could have survived the security experience at Manchester Airport (especially as I would have got Fast Track routing as a premium economy customer), but there was absolutely no way I was ever going to stand in the Immigration queue at Boston, I went with the ‘full in’ option. So fine, at Manchester it didnt quite work as planned (twice, but more on that later), as I got wheeled through security, and to the gate, but no one ever appeared to take me to the gate! So in the end, I managed to get myself down, and aboard the plane, but ironically that meant I was last on, not first! Boston end, it worked perfectly, and I can safely say I have never got through Immigration so quickly in my life, even if you allow for the time I waited on the plane before I got off!
The first few days on Cape Cod was a delight (Saturday night in Boston, went down there on Sunday) with Kate, just relaxing, and giving my back a wonderful break. Then, on the Thursday, we both headed back to Boston, Kate to head off somewhere with her partner, and me to head to Mahopac, NY, via Stamford (c/o Amtrak) to go to a friend’s wedding. Initially I’d assumed I would be going as a guest, then told I was a bridesmaid, only to find out I was Maid of Honor! Thankfully for all the others there, I didnt catch the wedding bouquet lol! It was an amazing experience, thanks go to Stacie, and Eric for the honor of doing that for me. Also thankfully, I was relaxed enough over those last few days that I managed to lay off the painkillers for just long enough to be able to drink at the wedding reception. Fine, I made up for it that night, but anyway…
Flying back afterwards was entertaining. Firstly, for some reason best known to themselves, the airline staff at JFK started boarding people, before boarding me in a wheelchair. It seemed they realized pretty quickly, and sent me through, but it was an interesting journey through all these people who had no interest in giving way to a passenger in a wheelchair!
On arrival at Manchester, chaos ensued. As had shown at JFK, I was the only person who had booked a wheelchair. Therefore, on arrival at Manchester, one wheelchair arrived, for me. Thing is, 5 people suddenly decided they needed a wheelchair, and one woman (who had the physical strength to push me out of the way!) decided she was taking it! Anyway, in the end, after a bit of a delay, a few more wheelchairs arrived, though only 1 extra pusher, and we eventually got through, but after quite a delay, obviously. Not helped by the fact that one person clearly didnt have the right paperwork (not sure if she was from my plane, or a holdback from a previous flight?). In the end, I sort of got up, collected my case, and struggled through on foot (someone pushed my case, thank goodness) to where I was being met! I only hope Manchester Airport does better next May, we will see!
After that, its fair to say that the year settled into LGBT mode at work. A presentation to just over 100 people on working as a Transgender person in my Civil Service Department, and gaining a position on a committee dealing with LGBT issues within said Department are 2 of the delights that followed. Oh, and on top of that performance, was of course, the performance as an Elf very recently!
Lastly, on Christmas Day, on Facebook of all places, someone posted a picture in one of the groups, of a young lady, in Christmas mode, of an event that happened nearly 90 years ago (1929). Yes, an unknown lady, at a pre-Christmas event in Los Angeles, way back when. Except…she looked familiar to me. Comparison to a few pictures taken about 5 years later, and agreement from a couple of other people on the matter, that lady is no longer unknown, to a few of us at least. Yes, 99.9% certain its a certain Clara Johnson! Talk about dream Christmas present, especially as in total, there were 3 pictures! Oh fine, here’s one of them, of her, at 24!
And thats about it! Two more working days in 2017, Friday all day, and a half day on Saturday! Not expecting anything major to happen, but we will see?
The video, big clue in the title. A live version of the song, from 2012, which means no Kirsty MacColl, but the woman gives a decent, if clearly rather starstruck performance
Tomorrow, a look forward to 2018, and what might, or will happen
Yes, I know, its been a while, so, what would you like me to tell you about? Being wired up so I rode in a Davros type wheelchair, rather than being pushed in a standard one? That nice mad scientist I met who transformed me into my past life self, Clara Johnson, at the age of 25, with all her dancing skills (and seemingly she had plenty), so I’ve been dancing the nights away at delightful flapper style parties, darlings? Or the journey on that flying saucer that whisked me across the Atlantic, in about an hour, maybe? Flight diverted to Hollywood, so I could sign up for a big acting role? Or would you prefer the dull, actual, truthful version of events lol?
Oh, by the way, if anyone wants to set me up for any of those first 4 events mentioned, I’d love it! I know, I know, in my dreams, nothing more…but… 😉
OK, lets catch up on reality, before I get the full makeover, as mentioned above! Ooh, that would be fun, mind!
Saturday saw my first ride in a wheelchair for 50 years. I suspect it wont be the last holiday I need one at an airport, but we will see… It started off smoothly enough, as I got wheeled through security, and me, and my luggage checked over, without me actually ever leaving the chair. Then, after a slight delay on the flight (plane had to stop inbound, due to a medical issue, so was nearly an hour late leaving), I was wheeled down to the gate, and told someone would be back to take me down to the plane to board. Yes, fine, never happened, so eventually the Rep asked if the 2 of us were able to get to the plane under our own steam, so I went for it. Unfortunately, having taken the brace off, thinking I wouldnt need it again (its neoprene, and warm to wear for very long periods), I struggled the way with my hand luggage, and pulled it off. But yes, instead of having plenty of time to stow my bag, I was pretty much the last one on, but as I had a double seat to myself, I was able to get my bag stowed away anyway.
Arrival at Boston was good, and efficiently done. The two of us might have been the last ones off, but we were probably 2 of the Brits through first, all the same. Given I have a black, expanding suitcase, just like dozens of others, I need to get some pink, or rainbow tagging around the handle, so I can recognize it easier, even more so when you arent close to the conveyor belt, being in a wheelchair, and all that!
The rest of the day, just fine. After arrival at hotel (Kate had already booked us both in), we ended up calling out for food, chatting a lot, just having a good time.
Sunday afternoon, we came down to this glorious place we’ve rented on Cape Cod. Well, Kate did all the hard work booking it, I just paid a share of the costs really. Yes, its gorgeous! I’m sat in the living area, with a stunning view of the sea, typing this now. We ended up having pizza, watching NFL, just having fun.
Monday, being 2 ladies of reasonable leisure for the week, and given that neither of us are in the perkiest of health, we had a quiet day. Finished off for me at least, by getting my annual chance to swoon over Jon Gruden on Monday Night Football!
This morning, I had a couple of cups of coffee, sat outside, complete with a couple of muffins for breakfast, and just enjoyed the sun. Havent seen a lot of it in the UK this summer, so a real delight. Since then, just relaxed, and given my body the break it really needs. We’re here, somewhere near Mashpee, on Cape Cod, until Thursday morning, and I’m loving every minute of it. Might get another ride in a wheelchair at the 2 stations on Thursday, will have to wait and see. Or the next one, may be at JFK on Monday evening!
Yes, Thursday, I need to start getting into bridesmaid mode, but more on that later in the week. Thats when I could really do with that 25 year old, Clara Johnson makeover lol, especially if I’m expected to dance at the reception afterwards, as I currently have 2 left feet, in that sense. Where’s a good mad scientist when you need one, lol?
Right, video time. Yes, the blog title is a slightly tweaked version of that
No, if you think I’m wearing a yellow polka dot bikini, you’re going to be disappointed! Not even post surgery, if/ when it happens, lol! 😛 But the video, well, maybe…?
Fine, after the deservedly serious nature of Monday’s blog, lets get a little more fun, if only to allow me to let off some steam.
One issue I have with standard swimsuits for women, and the cut of them, is the fact that they really arent designed for pre-op Trans women, lets face it. Fine if there is only me, or people who know, and no one else, but otherwise, some might object lol! Me, in an ideal world, I’d go with the burkini, because it hides all issues quite nicely, and besides which, I love the design of them. But yes, for a white Trans woman, I’m just concerned that it might cause more issues than its worth, if I got one. And before anyone says anything, I’d be more concerned about white right wing men, than I would from Muslims! Sad, but true.
So in truth, I’d pretty much given up on the whole idea of swimming, or even wearing a swimsuit ever again, but then along came my back issue, that you already know about. Lets face it, one gentle form of exercise that would do me good, involves swimming, or even just walking across swimming pools full of water, working against my back.
Now in a perfect world (joke), some surgeon would immediately offer to remove, err the obstacle to wearing a swimsuit, with no recovery issues whatsoever. In a practical world, it would take time to arrange, and post surgery, it would be a while before you swam again!
There is however, one intermediate option, to get a swimsuit with a skirt! It enables me to swim as a woman, the skirt will hide the obvious issue, sounds good? So yes, I’ve ordered one today. Just hope it arrives before I fly out on holiday, as that will be a good time to wear it. Not just in water, but if I’m relaxing outside, at the place where I’m staying with my friend, if the weather is decent, then perfect! I have another friend (the one getting married) who would probably get me in water too, but I suspect we wont have the time. I suspect the Friday will be lively, in preparation, and I think she should have other plans for the Sunday than me! Then on the Monday, its back to NYC, and home. So…?
So yes, if you’re on Cape Cod in a fortnights time, and see a middle aged woman relaxing, in a cute swimsuit, complete with skirt, it might just be me! Well, unless someone wants to buy me a burkini, because then…? 😉 Just hope it arrives in time now!
OK, video time. Yes, its the obvious song from the title, but not the obvious version. Sorry, Brian Hyland, but… This version actually topped the charts here in the UK in 1990, and its just one of those songs that gets stuck in your head, so apologies!
Given how many times I have visited since the turn of the century, its hard now to believe that the first time I visited the US was only 30 years ago. Yes, it took me half of my current lifespan (more or less) before I actually flew across the Atlantic to make my first visit. That first flight, flying with TWA (who no longer exist) was into Boston, a city I have visited several times since, under my own steam. But like I will be doing this year, flying Thomas Cook Airlines, I didnt fly out of the same airport, or city, as I arrived at. For the last few days, we took the hire car back to Boston, then took a train to New York City. Funnily enough, this year will involve a shorter trip on the same railway line (to Stamford), and no, I havent travelled down it, in all that time! Yes, I suspect its changed.
I guess NYC is one of those cities that you either love, or hate. Its loud, in your face, and very, very busy. Yes, I enjoyed seeing the sights, and I loved seeing 42nd Street on Broadway, but the place as a whole wasnt my scene. The strangest memory is that we got the tickets for the musical, in a ticket booth which was either just outside, or just inside (it is 30 years ago!) the World Trade Center, which 14 years later, attracted news headlines for all the wrong reasons.
It was only after the event, after my stay in Chicago, that I realized that I’d taken to the noise, and bustle in a much easier way than I had in NYC about 20 years earlier. Had I changed in myself, or was it the start of the whole transition thing that lightened me up, who knows? Either way, Chicago is on the list of places I hope to get back to, sometime soon. Will be next year, if I get back to a 5 day week, and 2 holidays next year, but lets see how the health issues play out first. If not, Seattle is calling to me even louder, so if it comes to 1 slightly longer holiday, that will probably win out.
But yes, its my strong love for LA, which lets face it, is very loud, very bustling, especially Hollywood, that makes me wonder how I’d feel about NYC nowadays? I know I’ve changed since then. The whole becoming a woman matter has made me feel so much better about myself, made me more self confident, and probably livelier, that makes me think that I might now see NYC in a different light? Yes, the expensive nature of the city will make it hard for me to visit, but maybe at some point…?
No, it wont be this year. I will pass through the city on the way to JFK airport (which is where I flew out of, 30 years ago), but it will only be passing through, nothing more. And thats assuming I dont get driven to the airport, which I’m not expecting, but then again, I had to convince someone she wasnt driving to Cape Cod to pick me up, and I might still need to try and convince her again lol!
So yes, maybe at some point, I will go back to NYC, and see how I feel about it now. Hey, if I love Hollywood, I might love NYC now? But yes, even at 2 holidays a year, it will be a few years yet, as beyond the 2 mentioned for next year, San Francisco, Kansas City, and Minneapolis St Paul (probably in that order of preference) are all cities I want to go back to.
San Francisco for so many reasons, KC to see if I can find any more Harlow landmarks, and to see more of the city. MSP, no idea why, but I feel I want to go back, all the same. And thats all assuming I cant find where Clara Elaine Johnson was born in Oklahoma, and visit there! Texas, where she moved to LA from, I’ll see how they feel about transgender women by then, even if I do find out where in the state she lived. Mind, I might have had the op by then, so…lol?
But yes, in 30 years, the only place in NYC I’ve visited, is a couple of transits through JFK. Maybe someday, I should go back?
The video? Big clue in the blog title, how original!
Yes, I know, this normally requires 2 blogs, to keep them at sensible lengths, but I think 1 will probably do this year. 2015 has been a funny year, highs, and lows, and not much in between!
I must admit, if you’d told me back in January, when I learnt of the redundancy offer from Hills, that I’d still be job hunting at the end of the year, I’d have laughed at you. Fine, I’m not laughing now, but I’m still standing, for now at least. I was offered an option to stay on, but given it was the third time in 6 years that they’d made me redundant, and the offer was very good, I decided to go for it. One of the main issues for staying on, apart from being worn down by shop staff, was that I’d have to get myself home after 10.00 finishes, and buses dont run late enough for that around here. So I went for it, and took the chance to up my April holiday from 7 days, to 10, in Hollywood, as I wouldnt have to worry about holiday allowances by then! I actually left at the very end of March, having also managed to do the last escalated agent shift, a little while earlier.
Ignoring most details of job hunting efforts (you’ve suffered enough of those over 9 months), the big event in April was that first visit to Hollywood, the 10 day hotel based adventure. As you know, I fell in love with the place, but more of that later. Yes, its a crazy place, and thats not usually my scene, but for once…Fine, I soon discovered that even 10 days wasnt enough, and pledged I would have to return some day, not realising how soon that would be!
Pretty much nothing exciting then happened, until the end of August, when I decided that unless I did something to break the sequence of frustrating job interviews, I was going to do something crazy, or just go crazy. So, I did something crazy! I looked into, and ended up booking a 4 week stay, starting at the very end of September, in a rented apartment in the Hollywood Hills. It was going to make the money issue ‘more interesting’, but I could do it, needed to do it, so it was happening!
Earlier in September, I’d had booked, for quite a while, a week on Cape Cod, with my wonderful friend, Kate. It was a lovely break, and teaming up with her again was wonderful. Then it was back to the UK, for a whole 10 days, before setting off for my Hollywood apartment! Again, the details of the trip can be found in the blog, so lets focus on the other issues. All my travel to the US before, has been staying in a hotel. But I discovered that having your own little apartment is pure heaven! No, I wouldnt do that for a 7 day stay probably, but anything longer than that, absolutely! Oh, and to a slight degree, even a combined total of 38 days in LA isnt enough to see everything! Fine, one thing I would love to have seen (Harlow’s home in Easton Drive) was out of range of a non driver, but otherwise…
Oh, and one thing got delayed, because of the 2 close together trips to the US, the change of name, and in passport terms, the change of gender. But immediately after I got back, the name change request went through, and in the last 10 days (because I’ve been using my old passport for ID), the passport change has finally been arranged, and as the fee has now been taken, I’m now definitely known as Harlean (other than those who are so used to using Steph/Stevie/Stephanie at least), and I’m definitely female, with an extra bit, for now at least. I cant see me removing it, unless need really arises, but never say never…Really looking forward to moving forward as Harlean, and no gender issues related to passport.
Fine, lets not mention that awful job choice I made in December, when I could have been on a research trial, OK? Live, and learn, I guess?
The video, what I seem to have been this year, judging by the amount of time I’ve spent there (about 45 days in all!). A clever video, for a song too old to have had one.
Yes, I know, its been a while, but in all honesty, there hasnt been a lot of wild excitement to report. But in the sense of what I needed in a break, thats been the perfect situation. Another good reason why nothing has appeared in a week, might be the fact that I would have had to write it, with the laptop perched on my lap, and thats not the best way to do anything like that. Wonderful hotel resort, but the socket positioning was a little interesting lol!
Fine, lets go back a week, and get started…
Last Friday, the trip to the overnight hotel went fine (not sure what went wrong with TPE?), beyond the taxi driver overshooting at the roundabout near the hotel, and going the wrong way round (very briefly, as there was no traffic around), rather than circling around, as most sane people would! Meal was fine, room was fine, so…Oh, amusing moment, I paid just over £56 for the room for the night, good value at the price. So I checked for the night before I fly to Hollywood, just in case, got quoted £141! Wtf! I know its a Wednesday, not a Friday, but even so…Ah well, if Nicole cant get me there, I’ll book a taxi from home on the Wednesday morning! Seriously, I dont mind paying a little extra, for a bit more sleep, but seriously…?
Saturday started fine, and stayed that way until I reached JFK. Yes, I’d read a few bad reports about Immigration process there, but even so…it was shocking! 95 minutes, seriously…? Getting back through security wasnt quick either, and it was about 2 hours in all before I was back in the terminal, waiting for my flight to Boston. Thankfully, I had nearly a 3 hour break, so…phew! Trip on to Boston was fine, met up with Kate as planned, and eventually my case turned up. Actually one of the first, but it took forever for them to start coming through. Then on to Cape Cod, and our hotel for the night. Internet was err, patchy, but otherwise, not too bad.
Then on the Sunday, on to the delight that is the Pelham House Resort, at Dennisport. Seriously, a room with a view over the pool, out on to the ocean, a real delight, as were the rooms. Apart from the esoteric placing of sockets in the room, and (for me at least) the lack of a coffee machine, the place was heavenly. As was the result of the Buffalo Bills game lol.
The rest of the week developed into a wonderful period of gentle travel, and lots of relaxation, just what I needed in fact. Oh, and excellent company in Kate, too. Plenty of food, a delightful massage, and generally just a totally relaxed state of mind, heavenly stuff. Yes, a couple of weeks time, when I’m selling myself in Hollywood wont be quite as relaxing, but this trip has got me in the right frame of mind to really go for it then.
Today, we’ve come back to Boston, as both of us are flying out tomorrow. Her to the Mid West, me back to the UK, though her flight is at a much more crazy time than mine, rather her than me! In fact very soon after I finish this, it will be our last meal together, the final farewells etc, though I’m sure we will talk regularly when I’m in LA. Yes, I know, 11 days after I fly back to the UK, I cross the Atlantic again, to the other side of the country. Maybe if both had been planned at the same time, I might have done things better, but anyway…its all part of the fun!
So thats it, no wild happenings, just a really wonderful, relaxing week, with a great friend. Absolute heaven. Now behave, or I’ll get back to writing blogs whining about job hunting lol, for 10 days or so!
OK, the video. A suitable song, with a neat connection to the Republican Presidential Debate, I, err, experienced on Wednesday, see if you can work it out
Yes, lets get in the holiday mood tonight. Fair thing to do, as looking at matters, this is likely to be the last blog from the UK for a little while. Tomorrow is getting my body ready for the trip day, which at my age, is going to take a while. Friday, I will need to pack, get to the overnight hotel, and not be too late to bed, given I will have to be up reasonably early the next morning, for my 10.15 flight. So yes, next blog should be from Cape Cod.
I have been there once before with Kate, I think it was 3 nights, spent at 2 different hotels, in the same group. Why, because the first hotel had internet in reception, but not in the rooms, not much use for either of us. So they moved us along the coast the next day, to a hotel that fitted our needs, and that was that. A trip to Martha’s Vineyard, a trip out whale watching, and some nice places, and thats about all I can remember. Ironically, this time will also be 2 hotels on the Cape, one for the first night only, as we couldnt get in the planned hotel all week. Then back to a hotel near Boston Airport for Friday night, after a relaxing week.
Yes, a relaxing week. Its fair to say that both Kate and I need a break, though for differing reasons. Her, because work has been crazy, and me, because job hunting has got stressful in the extreme! I must say I’m looking forward to the company, and the break.
And then, after that, get ready for part 2, more of which after I get back.
The video, an absolute oldie, found via a You Tube search
Hi there, and whether you like it or not, the next 3 postings including this one, are going to be holiday related. At least it gives you an idea of events lol.
Saturday was the hard bit, getting here. Though to be fair to Aer Lingus, they did a brilliant job, good service, good food, so all in all, praise due. Somehow I got past Kate at the baggage claim area, possibly because I wasnt expecting to find her there, and possibly because I was too concerned with fginding carousel 3, and hoping it worked. It did, very well, if you cared?
No, no idea where we were going, though heading south suggested it wasnt Maine, Vermont or New Hampshire lol. Soon looked highly likely to be Cape Cod, not the biggest shock in the world as we talked about staying here last year. Find myself eventually at this beautiful place with its own beach, and very nice rooms too. Only snag, as Kate found out first, they had internet, but only in the lobby, not much use to either of us. Otherwise, the place was perfect though.
So, Sunday, we head down to Hyannis, a hotel within the same group, across the road from the harbour, with equally nice rooms. Park the car there, even if we cant check in just yet. Not a problem, head across to harbour, and head off to Martha’s Vineyard, a wonderful place, and a super lunch. Fast ferry out, traditional back, both fine, especially given how lovely the weather was. My arms prove that! Evening meal, downtown Hyannis, with great company, and yes, Kate, I do mean you! Come back, get on internet, catch up on things, while watching San Francisco see off Detroit in the NFL. Well, alright, I’d moved to my bed before the end, a real luxury, TV in bed. Not that I’d want it at home, but…
Today, top secret, and all that, until we are virtually on top of our destination. Alright, I might have had a clue, as I was told to put a long sleeved top on, which I didnt when I first saw her this morning. Been watching Whales, and indeed dolphins too, a truly wonderful experience. No, not Wales, where the men play rugby, and the sheep are nervous, but Whales, that glorious creature of the seas. A brilliant day, but one at sea has taken its toll, I’m definitely tired tonight. Oh, and full, a really good meal again.
Tomorrow, well we head off to Albany, to meet a wonderful, and very kind gentleman, who might just be blushing as he reads this, which I’m sure he will! Something is planned for Wednesday, I have no idea what, though no shock, Kate does! You will find out just what, in part 2, hopefully at some point on Wednesday, though dont quote me on that!
The video, absolutely obtuse selection here, though it has 2 very loose connections to things mentioned here. If I didnt give a clue in the tagging, you’d have to click the button