Monday, May 21, 2018

A visit to DC, and my car barely made it.

GFJ was going to be with family, and I wanted a good place to be out and about as Marian. I put two people on notice that I might be visiting them (in completely different locations), and now would have to choose one or the other.  At the last moment, I found a disgustingly good deal on hotel rooms in DC, and decided to do a museum weekend en-femme before the summer's heat arrived. And this meant seeing Meg for a day of museum hopping.

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Given that I was tired and packed my bags late Thursday evening, I knew that I had to be careful to double check things Friday morning before leaving for DC.  And one of those things was the weather - Saturday was going to be HOT (90 degrees or more) and Sunday was going to be WET.  So I prepared for a typical mixed weather weekend as Marian.  But something said that I should put a bag of Mario's clothes in the car - just in case.

Well, on my way from NYC to DC, I stopped in Delaware (a halfway point) to fill up the gas tank and take a bio break. When I was ready to get back on the road, my car had a little problem starting.  I didn't think this to be a big deal at the time, and continued on my way to DC. 

Arriving in DC (and its stop and go traffic), my car started blinking the "engine hot" light, which is a signal for me to slow down, turn off the AC, open the windows, and go slowly until the condition righted itself.  I was afraid both to turn the engine off (which was a smart thing in retrospect) and to stay in stop & go traffic. Here I was, 6 hours from home, with a car that would likely die on me soon.  I pulled every legal driving trick I could do to keep my car moving to get cool air on the radiator, until I got to the hotel.

Once I arrived at the hotel, I stopped in the pick up/drop off area and found my car was dead on arrival. The symptoms were consistent of either a battery failure or an alternator malfunction while on the road. After a quick, but interrupted check-in, hotel personnel gave my car a push to get it out of the way and into a safe space - the handicapped parking spot. So I ended up calling AAA while in an unventilated car (I didn't want to have too many other people hear me using my male voice, but I wanted to stay near the car to be safe). After 15 minutes, I was told that AAA Service would be coming in a little over an hour.

Given auto mechanics and related brethren, I took a quick shower/rinse off, then changed into the one set of masculine clothes I had with me (after removing my makeup, but not my nail polish) and waited for AAA. The service man came with his truck and barely fit it in between my car and the truck parked next to me. He then did a test - the battery had failed.  (I planned to change it during the coldest part of winter, but it worked well, and life got in the way.)  So I ended up buying a new battery ($150 - same price as I'd have paid in Sears), and then I got several warning messages and idiot lights on my dashboard display when I started my car.  The service fellow (who was very polite and friendly, and for whom I want to write a compliment/thank you letter) said that sometimes it takes a minute or two for these lights to turn off.  So I parked the car and decided NOT to drive it unless needed.

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That evening, I took a quick dip in the pool (I was prepared with my swimsuit and breast forms) and then went to Ben's Chili Bowl to have a "Half Smoke" with cheese. While walking around the U Street area, I found that Lola's frozen yogurt shop was gone. It seems like the building's owner pushed out most of his tenants so that he could rehabilitate the building to get higher rents. So I'll have to email her and see what happened.

When I got back to the hotel room, I chatted with both GFJ and with Lili.  GFJ was concerned about how I was doing, knowing that I needed moral support.  Lili, on the other hand, figured that I should soon be looking for a new car.  Both were telling me things I needed to hear, and I was glad to be in contact this evening.  

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The next day, I met Meg at the nearby Metro station, and both of us were ready as possible for the hot weather to come later on.  Although Meg was in male mode, a close observer might have noticed a thing slightly unusual about her in male mode. (No, I won't give away what I noticed - Meg is perfectly presentable in both masculine and feminine modes.) I was thankful that I was wearing a feminine T-Shirt and a skirt, as it would have been much too warm for me to be wearing trousers of any type.

Once we arrived at the Mall, Meg escorted me through several of the Smithsonian museums. Although one could easily spend a full day in each of these museums, we breezed through them relatively quickly. (I had not been in the mood to plan my museum visits on Friday evening after what I went through earlier that day.)  Unfortunately, I was much more talkative than usual, as I was nervous about having to drive home with a car that might die on me again.  But Meg got in her share of the conversation - and I hope she didn't find me to be a bore. (One thing of note, Male Meg made sure to treat me as a proper woman, opening doors for me and everything you'd expect a polite man to do.) 

About 5 hours later, I asked Meg to accompany me while I drove to the nearby Honda dealership for moral support. Less than a quarter mile into the drive, the idiot light went out, and the warning messages stopped displaying. So I drove back to the hotel and told Meg that I hope to again see her in less than the 3+ years it has been since the last time we met. I then noted that I might end up staying another 2 days, just because I may still end up taking the car to the dealership. And Meg said that if I was still in DC, that I was welcome to come to her game night crew's meeting Sunday evening.

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Again, I decided to take a dip in the hotel pool. When I got back to the room, GFJ said that she told her son about me (no reaction) and was going to tell her mom about me the next day.  YAY!!!  I am a person!!!  (I guess that waiting has its advantages.)  But I was rushing out to dinner, and we agreed to chat later on.  So I headed for the Ethiopian restaurant on U Street, and got good food with slow service.  (I should have planned better - the DuPont Circle area might have had a better choice of food than I found on a short stretch of U Street near the Metro.)  Will I eat there again?  Maybe.  But I will wear something that "feeding the girls" won't create the risk of ruining the garment.

Then I walked around a bit and found a frozen yogurt shop on a side street. (I doubt this shop forced Lola out of business - it was on a side street and not that easy to notice.)  While in the shop, I saw a drag queen with a pink wig, bathrobe, men's shoes and socks on, and wearing something feminine which was covered by the robe.  I'd have loved to chat, but I didn't have a good excuse, nor did I want to find out where the drag show was. (I had to talk with GFJ, and I'd likely be running too late for her to call me.) While there, Lili messaged me and told me that she was in the ER.  So I finished up my treat and slowly made it to the hotel on the Metro.

Once back at the hotel, I found that they finally replaced the remote with one that works with the TV.  (The wrong remote was in the room, and no one thought that it was incompatible with the set in the room.)  I had asked about this the night before, and no one checked it out while I was gone - even though I told the desk manager that they had the OK to do this. And then I went upstairs to find out that GFJ was asleep, and that Lili supposedly was OK.

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Sunday morning, I again woke up with the sun. And I decided to get into my male clothes and go home this way.  When I looked at my bill, I found two things of note - the Friday night rate was $10 lower than Saturday's rate, and that I didn't get billed the fee for my car's parking.  If this isn't corrected, I'll be thankful that someone may have been nice and gave me a $50 savings for being nice to them.  I'll just watch my bill when it comes and be on the lookout....

I was very glad that the car was parked indoors.  By the time I loaded my car, it was pouring outside and it was chilly. I was also glad that I had enough gas to get me to the halfway point in Delaware, as I knew that if I was going to have the same problem occur, it would give me an indication when I got there.. But the car started back up flawlessly at this point, and I felt much, much better about the drive.

Once I reached New Jersey, Google started trying to get me off of the New Jersey Turnpike and onto side roads. Is there a setting for avoiding toll roads that I missed?  If so, I couldn't find it. (Later on, I looked it up online and found settings which didn't appear on my phone when I tried them.  It's another project for another day.)  But it did try to guide me right when I got near the New York border with New Jersey.  Dynamic routing tried to get me to take side roads to the Palisades Parkway, in order to avoid a traffic jam on Route 287 that stretched from the bridge to Suffern.  Luckily, I knew how to use the side roads when I saw how bad the jam was, and took them to cross the Hudson at Bear Mountain to get me home.

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Unfortunately, I have no word from Lili on how she is after last night's visit to the ER.  I'll bet that she is not doing well, and none of her "family" knows how to reach me (or has even thought to do so.)  Hopefully, I'll hear from either her boyfriend or her son soon.  The Cat Lady just messaged me to let me know that her cat had to be put to sleep.  This is very sad, as she put so much of her heart into trying to keep the cat alive.  I guess I'll have to make myself available for a phone call tomorrow. Sometime later in the evening (if she is free), I hope to hear from GFJ and find out what her mother thought of her dating me.  But that will be grist for another blog entry.

As you can easily see, this has been a very busy weekend - and yet, it is not one I can say where planning had anything to do with the important things that happened.

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PS: Lili called me just before her scheduled operation.  She was taking care of a million things beforehand, and wasn't able to respond to my messages.


  1. Quite a weekend, sounds like it ended well, after initial excitement! Hope all is well with Lili... Glad you had a good time.


    1. Mandy -

      Every time I travel as Marian, I now try to go to places which have a hotel pool. This way, I can wear my woman's swimsuit and soak a little. One of these days, I'll have to see about getting hair transplants, so that I can actually go for a true swim and not worry about my hair.

      So many things on the "yet to do list" that haven't yet been done. And so little time and money to do them.