Friday, June 14, 2013

Two Weekends

The past two weekends have been quite a contrast to each other but both have been interesting, productive and enjoyable overall.  I was able to spend the first weekend of June with my boyfriend and of course time spent with Mitchell is always special, so being able to spend an entire weekend with him is the best.  Last weekend I drove myself to Pennsylvania for a massive, 2 day electrolysis session.  Having needles stuck in your face for 14 hours over 2 days is not what most of us would consider fun, but even though  there was some discomfort involved, the trip was fun because I got to get out of town and visit another part of the country that I had not been to in a long time.  Considering this trip had its own special conditions and limitations, I managed to make the drive up north and back as enjoyable as possible.

May 31- June 2

This was a really fun weekend and I am so lucky I got to spend it all with Mitchell.  I had an appointment with my stylist for hair color at 2:15 in Raleigh and he met me downtown when I got through.  We went out to dinner at 42nd Street Oyster Bar, which is a really cool restaurant with a great atmosphere that has been a Raleigh institution for many, many years.  I wish I could give them a better review on their food but I will just say that we were glad to go there and see it and will probably try somewhere else next time.  After supper we went to my favorite shoe store, DSW, and Mitchell got me a couple pair of shoes and one for himself.  I should be pretty set shoe wise for summer now although I am still looking for that perfect pair of low wedge heels and of course another perfect pair of heels.

Dining at 42nd Street Oyster Bar

Designer Shoe Warehouse, a warehouse full of shoes!
Mitchell followed me home Friday night and we had all of Saturday in Rocky Mount together.  After spending much of the morning in bed we went out to lunch at the Highway Diner here in town.  This was our second weekend in a row dining there so our waitress from last time recognized us and branded us as regulars.  The food is very good there, and reasonable, so I do think we will be eating at the diner often.  They also have some of the best cake and milkshakes in town so I know Mitch is dying to go back soon.  After lunch we went to a nail salon and I got a French manicure for the first time.  I really love these nails and I think I am sold on keeping my nails professionally done now, after frustratingly trying to grow mine out for so long.  It seems like just when I would get my nails where I want them they would start breaking, one by one, so I have thrown in the towel for now.  Saturday night I cooked us a couple of steaks and some veggies and we sat back and watched  movies and old episodes of the Sopranos on DVD.  The best part of having Mitchell over is that we get to cuddle all night, although I love everything about having him here.

Highway Diner

My new French Tip nails.
Sunday we went out to eat at Cracker Barrel for lunch and I cooked some pork chops here for dinner.  I know he hates to leave me to go back north for work, and I hate to see him go, but after dinner we watched some more of the Sopranos DVDs and then it was time to say goodbye.  I really missed him last weekend but I had a mission to accomplish and he needed to spend some time with his kids.

Riding to Cracker Barrel on Sunday
June 6th-9th

Last Thursday I boarded the dogs in a nice kennel and headed the van north on I-95 towards York, Pennsylvania.  I had purchased 14 pre paid hours of electrolysis from a friend and I had a full facial clearing scheduled for Friday and Saturday with James Walker from Executive Clearance.  I left about 12:10 and did not make it to my hotel in York until about 9;15 pm.  This wouldn't be so bad if I had made some sightseeing stops outside the car but the truth is I was in the car almost the entire day except to go to restroom, fuel the van or eat a sandwich I brought from home.  Google says this trip should take less than 5.5 hours. 

When having facial electrolysis you have to let targeted hair grow out for a few days so I had not shaved in over 3 days when I left.  I am at the point I can get by in public with a day off from shaving but this was ridiculous as far as going places and expecting to pass.  I only stopped at rest areas to use the bathroom and I did have to get gas one time and went to one drive through window for a Starbucks coffee.  Other than that it was quick in and out of the restrooms and I made a point not to interact with anyone.  Even with that limitation I wanted to have a little fun on the way up so I decided to make a side trek into downtown Washington D.C. to see the nation's capitol out my car window.

US Capitol Building

I began to run into heavy traffic on and off when I reached the Fredricksburg, Virginia area.  Traffic around Washington is notorious, especially in the stretch from Fredricksburg to DC and especially at rush hour in the mornings and afternoons.  I veered off of I-95 onto I-395 thinking it would take me through the city and out the other side.  I was still going north so I was still on course, or so I thought.  It turns out that 395 is a spur into the District of Columbia that just spills out onto city streets once it gets in the city.  At the end of I-395 I rode around downtown a little bit, getting that picture of the capitol while at a stoplight and soaking in some other sights of this great city.  I really did enjoy riding around down there so it was worth the detour. 

Road construction and big buildings everywhere

The Capitol in the distance

Homeless people on the streets of the capitol city of the United States.
Traffic was murder coming back out of DC on I-395.  It was now after 4pm and people were getting off work from government and other jobs en masse.  I crept back over the Potomac River bridge and followed a sign leading to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which would lead me to I-495 north into Maryland.  The parkway is actually a beautiful road along the Potomac and if you didn't know you were so close to a major city, you would think you were on a scenic drive such as the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Traffic was heavy on the GW but not too bad until I got closer to the end of the 11 mile drive, then it started backing up again.  There are actually scenic overlooks along the Potomac so I stopped at a couple of them, got out and took a look and a couple of pictures.

The Potomac River as seen from an overlook on the George Washington Memorial Parkway
While at a stoplight in Washington I set my phone's GPS to give me the directions to the hotel address in York, Pa.  I remember it gave me the option of an identical address in several other Pennsylvania cities but I thought I had highlighted York before pressing enter.  At the end of the GW Parkway I merged onto I-495 north and the bumper to bumper stop and go (mostly stop) traffic made for some extremely slow driving.  I finally turned off of 495 onto I-270 north, towards Frederick Maryland.  Traffic was no better on this road and when I finally made it to Gaithersburg I was almost out of fuel and had to make a pit stop.  It took me about one hour to exit that road, find a gas station (it was not near the exit and no signs pointed to it), and that gas station did not have a restroom so I struggled through traffic until I found a McDonald's.  I just didn't feel like eating anything there so I sat in the van and at a sandwich from home before hitting the road again.  I couldn't resist the Starbucks with a drive through window that I passed before getting back onto the interstate.

By now it was almost 7 pm but the traffic wasn't any better.  As I crept north and got a little farther from rush hour, traffic started moving better but it was still slow going.  Near Frederick I was able to travel at almost the speed limit and then I saw an other turn off for a scenic overlook with some historical significance I didn't take note of.  Soon after stopping at the overlook, I turned off onto US 15 north towards the Pennsylvania border and this turned out to be a very pretty stretch of highway.  There were mountains in the distance to my left and I passed by Gettysburg and the historic Civil War battlefield.  In one of the small towns I saw a turn off to the right for York but I stuck with my GPS and stayed north on highway 15.  As darkness set in on this cloudy day I found myself approaching the capitol city of Harrisburg, Pa.  In the past I would have had a map handy but I was relying on my trusty GPS and as I got into a city I turned onto Market Street and the phone indicated I was arriving at my destination.

View from a scenic overlook near Frederick, Maryland
I knew I was in the wrong place so I broke out the reading glasses and then realized that I was in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.  When I finally programmed the address in York, the GPS said it was 31 miles away.  It was now almost 8:30 pm and I had overshot my destination but it didn't really bother me.  I had seen parts of the country I would not have seen if I had driven the direct route and all I had to do when I got there was sit in a hotel room.  After 9:00 I pulled into the hotel parking lot in York and checked into my home for the next 3 nights.


The next morning I drove to the appointed site, met James Walker and signed the usual release forms necessary to for him to perform electrolysis on me.  He took a little time going over the entire process and even though I had had electrolysis before at two other places, I did learn quite a bit.  He has some of the newest, state of the art equipment and I was impressed by his knowledge and dedication to his practice.  Over the course of the next 2 days I found out that his technique is less painful and much faster than any other operator I had experienced or have knowledge of.   Most of his clients are transgender and his approach of clearing the entire face, waiting a couple of months for the next growth cycle to come in and doing it again, is what I think will be the most effective for me both in terms of overall cost and time needed to attain my goal.  Electrolysis is one aspect of transition I feel I am behind on and I would love to have had all my facial hair cleared before I went full time but I wasn't close.  Working with James I should be through the worst of it in 6 months or so although it may take another year after that to get it All.

After the first full day of electrolysis, with half my face a little puffy and red from the treatment and the other half with hair still on it, I went into a Japanese restaurant and ordered a take out. I went outside and used the phone and when I went back in, paid for the order and picked it up the lady at the restaurant addressed me as ma'am which was a relief considering I was at perhaps my lowest moment of confidence ever.

I was prepared to stay a third day, if necessary to clear all my face, but at the end of the second day we were finished.  There are only two more places in the country that I know of that do these full facial clearings for trans patients.  The other one I was considering is way out in Dallas, Texas and they use 2 technicians working on you simultaneously.  It usually takes them 2 days with 2 techs to do an initial clearing so I was really relived to see that James really could get finished as fast as he did.  I would definitely recommend Executive Clearance to anyone serious about getting electrolysis.

My face didn't look bad at all at the end of the second day and with all my facial hair gone I went out to eat a salmon dinner before going back to the room.  There was still an hour or two of daylight left so I decided to go back out and ride around York to see what the rest of the city was like.  I was a little bit puffy so I really didn't feel like doing anything but riding around and I don't care to go to any bars or clubs by myself, but historic downtown York did look like a really cool place with some really old buildings, many of which have been restored and are now nice restaurants and bars.  The streets are lined with older row houses, some restored nicely and some not, and the residential architecture reminds me of Philadelphia or Baltimore.

Nightlife seemed pretty vibrant downtown on a Saturday night.

Downtown York

Row houses in downtown York
The Drive Home

Sunday I woke up and enjoyed one last free breakfast at the motel, got a shower, slapped on some sun screen and BB cream and hit the road for home.  I left a little before 10:00 am and needed to be back in town by 5 pm to pick up the dogs.  This time I had the GPS set correctly and actually the route is pretty straightforward, with all interstate highways, going by Baltimore and Washington DC.  I decided to take a little sightseeing jaunt into downtown Baltimore but other than that I stayed on the interstate heading south.

I parked in a 5 minute loading zone right next to the water at the Inner Harbor and got out and took a few pictures.  This is a very nice area on the waterfront with lots of upscale shops and restaurants.  People were strolling around the sidewalks and along walkway by the water on this nice, partly cloudy day.  I wish I could have spent more time down there but I had to hit the road after a short stop.  Getting in and out of downtown Baltimore was very easy on this Sunday morning and the only traffic problems I encountered on the return trip were on that infamous stretch south of Washington DC. 

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Domino Sugar plant as seen from the Inner harbor

Lots of boats and nice condos
I made it back to Rocky Mount just in time to pick up my dogs.  I don't know who was happier, me to see them or them to see me but I know we were all happy to get home.  I will be going back to Pennsylvania in August for another full clearing and will be making a few more out of town trips with Mitchell in the meantime.  We are supposed to go to Charlotte and Raleigh for a couple of parties and I am planning another trip up to the mountains to see him, so July should be a busy month for travelling.

These last two weekends were fun but I did miss my baby last weekend.  He is going to stay with me through Saturday this weekend and then go see his kids for Father's Day.  I will be taking my Mom and Dad out to eat on Sunday and giving Dad his card and presents.  We have already gotten a head start on this weekend after a bad derecho storm hit Lynchburg and knocked out power.  Mitchell decided to come see me a day early and he got here last night about 10pm so we got to cuddle all night.  He's going to be here for about 24 more hours so I am going now to spend some quality time with my baby and I hope y'all have a great weekend, wherever you are.  :)

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