(Continued from previous post)
January 31-February 8, 2015:
Day 6 - Thursday, February 5
I woke up at 5:30 to get myself ready to be over to open the suite at 8:00, and set the tone for the day with my best "drop-dead" business dress by Denim 24/7. The dress was made of a dark gray pinstripe menswear fabric, but had nicely feminine detailing, including a ruffle running down the left side of the skirt. I wore boots with two-inch heels with tights under it, and took the time to put waves in my hair with the curling iron.
After arriving at the Sheraton and checking in with the volunteer desk, I went up to the suite and opened the curtains. The view was, if anything, even more amazing than at night, with the mountains in the background and the 16th Street Mall in the foreground, with clear visibility all the way down to the D&F Tower. My volunteers arrived on time to begin their shifts, and the Trans*, Intersex, and Nonbinary Hospitality Suite was officially open for business.
Everything went smoothly that day, once we got a few things straightened out. Our network access was fine once I got the proper information on enabling it, and once we got the power strips set up to provide power to all the equipment. Our phone charging station was a hit, with many different power plugs for different phone types. Our meals were served on time, and people showed up to eat them. I tried to greet most people that came in, saying, "Hello, I'm Amy, I'm the suite chairperson." I got complimented on my dress, my boots, my makeup, and my organizational skills. At lunchtime, we had a presentation from a local reiki practitioner on stress management techniques, which was much appreciated by everyone.
When not actively running the suite, I had a chance to go down to the exhibitor space on the concourse level, and visit the various booths there. I also paid "goodwill" visits to four of the other five hospitality suites; the only one I skipped was the Youth Hospitality Suite, as it was the only one of the six that didn't have an "open door policy." On the 22nd floor of the tower with our suite were the Disability Hospitality Suite, the Bisexual/Omnisexual/Pansexual/Polysexual (BOPP) suite, and the People of Color suite, while the Senior and Youth hospitality suites were over on the 7th floor of the Plaza building. The other suite chairs knew me from our many committee meetings, of course, and were pleased to see me. (At the Senior suite, they gave me candy...now, I know I'm not supposed to be taking candy from strange men, but these weren't exactly "strange men.") It was about 10:00 PM when we finally closed the suite up for the night, getting everything straightened out and ready for the next day. I then went home.
Day 7 - Friday, February 6
I elected to wear my black Lane Bryant blazer over the red Avenue dress that Julie gave me, and, as the weather was warming up, switched to day sheer hose instead of tights and wore my Ros Hommerson low heels. That morning, as we were getting things under way, I saw I'd gotten an E-mail from my mother...so I called her, as Amy, to let her know what I was doing. She seemed to appreciate that I was doing some really good and important things, and filled me in on what other family members were up to. She didn't explicitly gender me or refer to me by name on the call, but seemed to speak to me as she always had. I came away from the call feeling that she was at least open to the idea of me being her daughter.
Suite operations had to be suspended around midday, as we had one of the Task Force officials interviewed in our suite. I helped get things set up for the videographer in the "back" area, then, while the filming was in progress, I sat quietly over in the sitting area, not wanting to leave the suite entirely, as it was still my responsibility. Most everyone else had been ushered out for the duration of filming. Once it was over, we got things ready for lunch.
My badge got some additional augmentation that day: a second ribbon along the bottom, with the label "Transwoman," exactly as I identified. I also added a sticker and a button identifying my preferred pronouns as "she/her/hers"; while I was unlikely to be misgendered there, I felt like I earned those pronouns.
Phyllis came to visit the suite, still somewhat weak but recovered from her strep throat. She engaged in makeup consultations and also made new contacts and friends, across both our suite and the Disability Suite across from us.
In the early afternoon, Karen called me over to the back area, saying that there was a problem. Phyllis and I rushed over. A young man was sitting next to the mini-fridge, crying. I asked him what was wrong; he mentioned that something had triggered him. I didn't ask for details, but simply asked him, "Do you want me to stay with you for awhile?"
"Yes," he sniffled. I sat on the floor next to him and put my arms around him, holding him, stroking his hair (cut in a short Mohawk), giving him an occasional small kiss. He leaned against me, gradually relaxing. I glanced at his badge; his name was Jessie, he used the pronouns "he/him/his," and he was also a member of the Host Committee. I figured him for a trans man; as I'd held him, I'd felt the straps of a binder through his T-shirt.
"How old are you, Jessie?" I asked him.
"I'm twenty-two, going to be twenty-three soon," he answered.
"Well, I'm forty-six," I told him, giving my right age. "That makes me almost old enough to be your mother. So just think of me as Mother Amy." And it was true; I did feel like a mother as I comforted him, for only the second time in my life.
Jessie's friend Stephen, who was also one of my volunteers, eventually showed up, and took him for a walk to help calm him. I stood up, straightened myself out, and resumed acting like a hostess. I saw Jessie again later that day, when he came back to the suite; he sat next to me on the couch, and, before he got up to leave again, he gave me a big hug. "You're a good boy," I told him.
That evening, I turned the suite key over to Paige, one of my trusted committee members, so she could handle closing that night and opening the next morning. I would be there as soon as I could, but I had another mission to undertake...
Day 8 - Saturday, February 7
Creating Change has a longstanding tradition of "Bow Tie Saturday," which I had heard about on Facebook. Once I did, I went shopping on Amazon for ladies' bow ties, and I bought three: pink, red, and black with polka dots. I elected to wear the pink one for Saturday, which went with the floral decorations on my New Editions blouse and complemented my navy Roamans skirt suit. I wore my Payless wedges with the outfit, but I occasionally had trouble with them pinching too much.
This outfit was even more impressive given that I had to get up at 4:00 AM to put it on. Why so early? Well, before going to the conference, I had to drive up to Thornton, pick up my godson Sean and his mother Sheila, and get them to CU Boulder by 8:00 for an educational program that Sean had been participating in for some months at that point. I got them up there all right, then returned as soon as I could to the Sheraton to get the suite key back from Paige, so she could go to another meeting she had to be at. I then had to duck out in time to get back up to Boulder to pick the two of them up at noon.
Instead of taking them straight home, though, I brought them along to the suite. I introduced Sheila as "my sister-in-law," since she and Sabrina called each other sisters, and it was easier that way. She appreciated getting to talk to a number of people there, and her service dog Velcro, a min-pin, made a great conversation piece. Meanwhile, Sean probably got a graduate-level course in gender theory and queer theory just by hearing the conversations happening in that suite. I did have to take them back up to Thornton eventually, as my newly-named sister-in-law was getting very tired. Lots of driving that day.
Phyllis also visited the suite again, and she and Karen and I had some discussion about certain possible upcoming matters.
I got a message via text that day: the Youth Suite needed mirrors for a drag workshop they were holding. Luckily, one of the things Karen had prepared for our suite was a bunch of hand mirrors, in case people wanted to check their appearance, with small weights attached so the mirrors wouldn't go wandering off. "Come up to the TIN suite," I responded, "we have what you need."
"You're beautiful," responded the Youth Suite head.
I sent in response, "So I've been told, and I shan't argue."
Vanessa then added the comment, "I <3 this conversation." They came up and got the mirrors, and made sure to return them to us before closing that night.
The end of the day marked time to strike all our equipment from the suite and return it to its original condition, and hand over the key. Dominique came to inspect the suite as we closed it out, all our equipment in the hall ready to be loaded onto a cart by a bellman, and pronounced it clean as a whistle.
"Dominique, I'm ready to be relieved," I said to her.
As she accepted the key, Dominique said (with some prompting from me), "I relieve you of your command."
"I stand relieved," I responded. We had just followed the change-of-command ceremony from the International Space Station; it was my way of being cute and geeky.
Karen got the bellman to load all our stuff (no easy feat!) and set it aside for us as I drove her to where her truck was parked, then let her go back to the hotel and get the equipment while I went on to the GIC and unlocked the door. We transferred the resource computer to my trunk, and the rest of the equipment to the GIC where it could be picked up later. Karen then presented me with a lovely bouquet, telling me it was for Sabrina; she'd bought her wife a similar one that day.
After the successful end of the suite run, we adjourned to the Black Crown. Lori and Father Michael were singing to accompany the evening's pianist, making it almost like a mini-Cabaret...just what this girl needed! Our friends Cheri and Cindy were also there, and many laughs were had.
I did make sure to get home and get to bed relatively soon, though, as there was one more day to go...
Day 9 - Sunday, February 8
With the suite run completed, all that was left that I wanted to attend was the interfaith worship service and the closing plenary brunch. I wanted something pretty and festive for both...and my pink, flowy, lacy, ultra-feminine HolyClothing "Tamara" dress fit nicely. I wore a pair of gold basket-weave flats with it. (I got more compliments during the day on the dress, and on my general style. One memorable quote: "She's so well put together--is that even a word? Well, it's whatever I'm not.")
The worship service featured elements of various religious traditions, including Lutheran, Unitarian Universalist, Jewish, Muslim, Zen Buddhist, Native American, "kitchen witch," and so forth. The music was what most frequently caused me to reach for my tissues and hope I wasn't completely destroying my mascara. The closing plenary and brunch was a great event, featuring performances by the Cleo Parker Robinson dance ensemble, who are really talented. At least one performance reminded me of Dancing With the Stars.
I had learned that Jessie, the young man I helped console on Day 7, was in the hospital. (I won't speak as to exactly why or what would transpire for him, to protect his privacy.) After I stopped by the GIC to pick up my board games from the things Karen and I had dropped off there the night before, I headed to the hospital where he was, only to find out that other people I knew, including my fellow committee member Jayme, had got there ahead of me. Jessie was happy to see me, and one of the things we did was play checkers. (It had been a long time for me, but I managed to pull off the win.) I also found that Jessie had made a list of all the people on his "team," those that cared about him and wanted the best for him, and my own name was about halfway down that list. I was touched.
The last thing I did before heading home was stop by the local Ulta Beauty and replenish a few of my makeup items that had run low over the course of the week. Then I went home, where I stayed dressed for the rest of the day, but wound up falling asleep for a few hours prior to getting undressed for my bath. And thus ended the Nine Days of Amy.
I knew I wasn't a perfect woman back then, and would probably never be. But, as an engineer, I know that perfection is unattainable.
But, for those nine days, I was certainly a very good woman, in the eyes of many. And, in the process, I got to explore some of the aspects of being a woman beyond just wearing dresses and looking pretty...and I proved that I was up to the challenge. The experiment made me feel that I could handle being Amy full-time, as, over the course of those nine days, I faced greater stresses than I would normally have to face, and came through it with flying colors.
As for the work I did for the benefit of the conference? Our suite subcommittee was by far the most organized of the six; we were the only ones to submit a complete volunteer schedule for all three days, and our volunteers showed up when they said they would. The engineering aspect of my personality paid off big-time here. Yet I was also told that even people coming into our suite that did not identify as trans felt like they were welcomed, safe, and at home. We did an excellent job at fulfilling our mission and our mandate, though I can't take all the credit for it; my committee members and volunteers deserved their share, as well as the Host Committee co-chair that gave me the opportunity to assemble this team and execute this operation, and even the person who invited me to be part of the Host Committee in the first place, nearly a year before.
And, aside from everything else, it felt good to be Amy all of those days.
My record of nine days consecutively presenting as Amy would stand until 2017...when I legally transitioned and began presenting as Amy full-time again. So it has been ever since...and so will it continue to be, from this day until my last day.