Back in July, in my blog Independence Day, I mentioned that I was planning a fall visit with my good friend Lisa Lesher and that we were going to go fishing on one of the ocean piers near her home. She lives near the water in North Carolina's Inner Banks, an area of large rivers and sounds extending inland from the Outer Banks. Neither one of us has been salt water fishing recently or ever fished there as ourselves, although we both grew up loving to fish. I had planned to come see her in September when the Blues and Spanish Mackerel were still running on the Outer Banks, but I had to cancel that trip under strange circumstances.
I was all set to go see Lisa for 3 days in late September. Everything was packed, including my fishing gear, and the dogs had a reservation to stay at the kennel. That morning when I woke up I had a strange sensation. It felt like I had to pee but couldn't and eventually I had to go quite badly but when I finally did I noticed a little bit of what looked like blood. There was not too much pain, only a little, and after that the pain subsided substantially. Still, the sight and thought of blood had me worried so I called my doctor in Cary and he agreed to see me before lunch that day. This is the same doctor that prescribes my hormones and I am so glad I go to a GP instead of an endocrinologist because not only can my doctor treat whatever ails me, he can usually see me on short notice if needed.
The doctor seemed to think that I had or did have a kidney stone, but rather than x raying me he sent me home with some painkillers and told me to monitor the situation. He does not even have an x ray machine in his small office, so I would have had to go elsewhere had I done that and he is concerned about excess radiation. He is a good doctor with sort of a holistic approach, and I like that.
I remembered what happened last year when Mitchell woke up at my house in severe pain from a kidney stone and I had to take him to the emergency room. I was afraid that was what was in store for me, so I cancelled the visit to Lisa's and the dog's boarding reservation. I laid low for a few days and waiting, but nothing else happened. There was no real pain but there was some discomfort. I took a couple of the pain pills but since I did not need them I saved them for another time when they might be needed. The old me would have gobbled them right up with liquor or beer over the next few days. Apparently I had passed a tiny kidney stone and have to hope there are no more whammies waiting to hit me later.
|Fried soft shell Blue Crabs fresh from the Albemarle Sound.|
|Rough seas: Atlantic Ocean from Jennette's Pier in Nags Head, North Carolina...video below.|
Once Lisa arrived we decided to forgo the pier and enjoy our favorite indoor activity, shopping. The wind was wreaking havoc with our hair anyway and not only would no fish bite under such conditions, but we don't have the heavy tackle needed to fish in them.
They have a smaller outlet mall in Nags Head and we hit the Dress Barn there armed with a coupon for 20% off. Lisa bought a couple of tops, one of which may have become her favorite short sleeve top, and I found the perfect fitting pair of skinny jeans for only $19.99. I needed a couple of gifts to take home, so we also hit a gift shop and by that time it was starting to get dark.
When I was at the Outer Banks with Mitchell just a couple of weeks prior, the one meal I really wanted and did not get was a fresh tuna sandwich. Tortugas Lie usually has a very good, reasonably priced grilled tuna sandwich so she followed me there up the beach road. Tortugas is a fun little place with sort of a dive bar atmosphere and a Florida Keys decor. Lisa had never been there and although we really enjoyed our delicious sandwiches, I could tell it wasn't go to be her favorite place. Tortugas was very crowded during the dinner hour and quite noisy with several little kids running around and babies crying. There are a few tables and a big bar but I believe it has a family atmosphere early and a bar crowd later on.
|Grilled Tuna Sandwich from Tortuga's Lie...|
|Very good beer brewed on the Outer banks...|
|Albemarle Sound from the beach in Lisa's subdivision....video below...|
We awoke on Day 2 with a plan to drive up to Virginia Beach and hit a couple of Lisa's favorite malls. The wind was still blowing and there was a little drizzle, so it definitely would not have been a good day for the beach or fishing. It was starting to look like my first salt water fishing trip as myself was a bust and would have to happen next spring, but that was ok. There was still a ton of stuff to do in the area and she lives about an hour from Norfolk-Virginia Beach, which is a very large metropolitan area. We got ready slowly I am afraid (my fault as I am not a morning person) and finally left around lunch time for the drive north.
|By the carousel in Lynnhaven Mall|
|The vastness of Lynhaven Mall|
|Not the happiest I have seen Lisa, I did not know how to interpret that look at the time..|
Greenbriar Mall was my favorite when I lived down in Elizabeth City, NC back in the 1990's and had my fisheries job. It was even nicer now than I remembered so we got some more walking in and worked up a good appetite. There was a really cool exhibit there for Breast Cancer Awareness Month called the Bra-ha_ha. You make a donation to help fight breast cancer and get to walk around the exhibit looking at all the unique ways people have decorated bras. Then you write you write your favorite one on an entry sheet and at the end of October a winner was declared. I picked out one designed by some children in grade school and I hope they won. This exhibit provided a really cool photo-op, all for a good cause.
After a nice dinner at Texas Steakhouse, we headed back to North Carolina to watch Lisa's favorite show, American Pickers, and relax. I love that show too and we both had our laptops out logged into Facebook, adding some pictures and posts about our day. Earlier this year I started a Facebook group called the Trans Beauty Network and designated Lisa as an administrator. One more friend, Ashley Dawn Oakley helped me fine tune the original group ideas and she also serves as an administrator. We spend a lot of time and effort on that group and even though we carefully screen each applicant we are up to almost 300 members and growing, at the time of this writing. We have both cis and trans women members (mostly trans) and have hair stylists, makeup artists and photographers among our membership. The group is basically dedicated to transgender women who are serious about their presentation in every way and dedicated to excellence in being the best that they can be. We deal with topics such as makeup, hair, fashion, voice training and much more.
|Makeup and skin care products haul from Thursday's trip to Virginia...|
Virginia was calling again on day three of this trip. The wind had died down some but there was still a little drizzle and I had more desire to go shopping than I did to go to the ocean and attempt to fish. I started off the day with some quiet, me time and a walk on the little beach there on the sound. When I came back I played with Flash, Lisa's big loveable Blue Tick Hound dog, for awhile before getting ready. That dog is full of energy and a lot of fun! Playing with him made me miss Night and Buddy so much. My dogs actually met him on my spring trip but Flash and Buddy, being two males, clashed a little bit so I decided to board my dogs rather than bring them with me. I really appreciate her offer for me to bring the dogs though, as most people I visit are not so dog friendly. Lisa is such a great hostess!
On this day we went to downtown Norfolk to visit the MacArthur Center mall and see the battleship USS Wisconsin, which is on display there as part of the Nauticus museum complex. Actually, this area of Norfolk is on the water and has soo much to do that one could spend several days within walking distance going to shops, restaurants and museums. I desperately want to go back and see more of Norfolk, it is one of the most fascinating cities I know of. It's one of the biggest ports in America with a huge Naval presence and a lot of history. I am glad we got to see a little piece of it and the rain held off enough for us to walk around outside as well as in the mall.
|When girls take over MacArthur Center...|
The MacArthur center was everything I was expecting it to be and more. It first opened when I was living in Elizabeth City and though I never got a chance to visit back then, I did read all about its construction and early parking dilemma in the Norfolk newspaper. The have since added a large parking deck and I had always heard it was a very upscale shopping mall. It didn't disappoint in the upscale department, as demonstrated when we walked in though the mall entrance into Nordstrum. The mall was absolutely fabulous but we didn't buy anything all day. We walked and looked and took it all in, then decided to set out for the Nauticus museum and the battleship. My visit came during the infamous government shutdown in October so we did not expect the museum to be open or think we could get access to the ship. It turns out that everything there was open but we arrived too late in the day to justify paying admission, so we just viewed the ship from the docks.
|Lisa and I with the USS Wisconsin in the background.|
|Waiting for a sailor? No! I have a man back home.|
|This is what I understand is an amphibious aircraft carrier in dry dock, seen from the deck of Joe's Crab Shack....|
|Marci Kriz, Lisa Lesher and I at dinner....|
|Me, Marci and Lisa|
This was the last night of my trip and Lisa had to be at work at 7 pm. She works on the weekends but has off Thursday and Friday each week. This week she had also taken off Wednesday so we had three days and nights of fun, but it had to come to an end. Lisa had gotten her French manicure and did not want to go to work with those nails. That is definitely not the best way to come out at work, so we had to figure out a way to remove them. I have never removed professionally installed nails before, but at the salon they cut them and then sort of pry them off. They have the right tools and they know what they are doing. We had neither.
We tried cutting with little success and we tried soaking them in nail polish remover with even less success. Eventually Lisa remembered she had a Dremel tool and went out back to find it. She came in with that tool and we proceeded to just grind those nails right off. This was painful to watch and assist with and Lisa didn't seem to enjoy it too much either. We finally got them off with the worst part being the mangled fingernails that she was left with. Well, at least no one at work noticed manicured nails that weekend and she has since informed me that they are growing back quite nicely. It was a lesson learned in communication with English as a second language nail techs as well as emergency nail removal, although eventually she won't have to remove her nails to remain undercover at work.
We stayed up quite late that night talking, especially considering Lisa had to get up so early. When I got up Saturday morning she was already gone, so I got ready, packed up the van and said goodbye to Flash and Lisa's house until my next visit. I thought about driving back through Elizabeth City but going the beach route was much more tempting. I hit one gift shop to get a present for my boyfriend and then took a last walk on Jennette's Pier.
|Heading home via the Outer Banks...|
After leaving the pier I stopped at Striper's Grill in Manteo for the last seafood meal of this trip. I had never been to Striper's before and it's a cool place right there on the Roanoke Sound docks. The lunch crowd was sparse but the food was good. I got the namesake Rockfish sandwich served with fries. Rockfish is synonymous with Striped Bass, a fish common in the ocean and estuaries of the east coast. My primary job at Marine Fisheries had been collecting data on Striped Bass to assist in population and young of the year estimates that aid fisheries managers in determining recreational and commercial season lengths and catch limits. Often we would eat the data after we collected it, so Rockfish are something I have enjoyed quite a bit of in my lifetime.
|Lisa and I at Lynhaven Mall in Virginia Beach on Thursday. Has Lisa told you lately how much she loves that top?|
This is a girl that first went out during her teen years but things were much different then and she sort of retreated from going out as herself, at least on a regular basis, until lately. Now that she is in transition and will go full time one day, she is more dedicated than ever to do what she needs to do to get herself ready for that eventuality. Why not have fun doing it? We have become really good friends this year even though we live too far apart to hang out often. We met in person a year ago, have a great time when we are together and administer the Trans Beauty Network online together.
I love helping people along their journeys any way that I can. It was not that long ago that I took those first timid steps out of the house and into the public eye. Some people helped me out but I never really had the support I was looking for until I had learned and grown a lot on my own. It can be a scary world in the beginning and the biggest thing we need is confidence. Lisa used to call me brave for just going out and doing everything that a normal person does in the world. I told her I was not brave I was simply doing what I had to do and just living my life as myself, finally. Now she is reaching the same place in her life. In the short time since this trip that I am writing about, I have witnessed her blossom even more by going out and doing more and more things as herself. And now she is giving back more than ever to people who are reaching out for help in gaining the confidence to be themselves in this world. I love happy endings......
"I can't believe how far I've came in the last 12 months. I thought I was pretty good about going out and doing stuff but Tammy Ann Matthews opened up a whole new world for me. I found out that we can go anywhere and do anything with out a problem."
.... Lisa Lesher commenting on this picture in the Trans Beauty Network
|Cover photo for our Facebook group, The Trans Beauty Network....|
|Thanks for visiting Tammy World!!!|