Monday, May 29, 2017

Yet another day at the old homestead

Yes, it's another day at the old homestead, and my presence was needed more for moral support than for anything else. But I was glad to give it, as I want for the house to be done and rented out as soon as possible.

- - - - - -

Unlike the last time that I had to be on schedule, my brother was much more relaxed about things. So, when I called him around noon to tell him I was on my way, he wasn't that concerned. And when I called him around 1 pm to tell him that I was stuck approaching the bridge, again, he was relaxed when I called. So when I got to his place a little after 2 pm, he knew that I was fighting traffic and wasn't upset at me. (After a couple of bridge crossings of his own, I think he understands why I try to limit the number of times I visit Long Island.)

We got to the family homestead around 2:30, and started moving things into the basement, into the eaves, and into the North side bedroom (for staging). Once the South side bedroom was clear, my brother and I started to paint the room. There was not as much paint in the barrel as we thought, and we ended packing up things around 5:00. At this point, we went back to his house where I stayed until the end of "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

- - - - - -

Once I was done with my brother, I contacted RO - and met her at her place.  We went to a nearby restaurant that we both enjoyed, TR's, and had a good meal together. I told her about Lili and Kleinfeld's, with the formal ceremony next year, and RO said she'd gladly accompany me to the proceedings.  She doesn't care how I present, as she enjoys me as both Mario and as Marian.

After dinner, the two of us hung out in front of her house, and were having fun BSing, and playing videos from sites such as Improv Everywhere". She almost wet herself when watching "Movies in real life - When Harry Met Sally." And if I didn't see this video many times before, I'd have died laughing right there.

All too soon, it was time to go home. And again, I had to deal with horrible traffic getting to the Bronx. At least, once I got there, I had clear sailing all the way home.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pot luck dinner with the girls

Tonight is Pot Luck Dinner, Chapter 2.  The pot stickers I made the other day are ready to be nuked, and because they are pork filled, should be nuked until hot as hell. Pork is something that I learned has to be overcooked to be safe, and I should have chosen a safer meat to put in my pot stickers.

- - - - - -

Shortly after getting up, I was awakened by Lili, asking me to meet her for lunch so she could vent about her boyfriend. I told her that I could make it to the diner by 2:30 or so, but she needed to meet me at 2, because she expected her small stomach to be growling loudly by then. Right after taking my shower, I knew that I was going to be on a tight schedule, but wasn't worried about being there on time until...    Until, that is, Vicki called.

Vicki's dad has been living on his own, and is almost as old as my dad. He was in failing health, so Vicki and her husband have been doing things for him that he would have done when he was younger - such as food shopping. Recently, due to a combination of events, he is in the hospital, one step away from getting a tracheotomy. His lungs are filled with crap, and his breathing is being assisted by machine. Vicki doesn't feel that her dad's long for this world, and her brother feels the same way. So he and his wife are coming up to see their dad while he still can recognize them.

When Vicki called, she apologized for being out of touch, and I told her not to worry. I've known her long enough to know that she had to have had other more pressing matters to be concerned with. (That put her at ease.) What I didn't say is that I was preoccupied by a bunch of little things, and that she was furthest from my mind. (Nothing bad about her. It's just that I was focused elsewhere.) We talked for about 30 minutes, and this made me late for lunch with Lili - or so I thought. I was able to get made up, dressed, and out the door in time to make it to the diner a few minutes before Lili arrived.

- - - - - -

Meeting Lili at the diner, she proceeded to talk about her boyfriend. She has a hard decision to make. He accepts her with all of her faults, and makes her feel good whenever he's with her - except in bed. And that's where the trouble lies. I won't go into any details here, but extreme discomfort is part of the problem. She is not sure if she should leave him, and I can only listen to her, and feed her with an idea or two to think about.

I double checked that the trip to Kleinfeld's is next Friday, and found out when she has to be there.  She will encounter a lot of traffic, knowing that it is Memorial Day weekend. But it should be worth it for me to go with them, if only to have the privilege of being with a woman as she chooses her bridal gown.

- - - - - -

After I was done with Lili, I went back home and used my Silk'n Flash & Go on my arms, legs, and chest. I'm not sure if I'm able to see any results yet. But if I see some by the end of the Summer, I'll be happy that I purchased this device for laser hair removal. Hopefully, this investment will pay off, as I don't want to go back for expensive laser treatments when some of my hair is starting to turn gray.

Once done with my hair removal routine, I nuked the pot stickers, and made ready for dinner with the FFGoW's. I got there "on-time" which for me meant about 5 minutes late. And yet, everyone had already started to eat. (One thing I can say about WPB - she must have been a stickler about clock watching.) We nuked the pot stickers some more, and served them to to the gals at the table.

We gabbed quite a bit, and I had to make sure that I backed off when the chat came to politics. WPB and I look at this GOP mess very differently, and I didn't want to go too far in voicing the nuances of how I feel, as it could be disruptive. But the conversation was not all about politics, and I can say that I feel that all of the ladies were having a good time.

- - - - - - 

When I left, I called my brother. He will need a little help tomorrow in regard to moving stuff to the basement. But he realizes that I don't need to be there to get the rental permit application in to the town hall - he can and will send it by mail. (Yay - One more trip I don't have to make!!!)

Who knows? I might get to spend 5 days in a row as Marian next week.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I wish I could get my Mani-Pedi

Now that the weather is getting warm, it time for me to get a Mani-Pedi. Wearing sandals will be the order of the day, and I want my feet to look good while wearing those sandals this Summer. There is only one problem that now gets in the way of doing this - I have 3 dates for which I'm scheduled to present as Mario in the next week that make it cost-defective to get the Mani-Pedi until month end.

- - - - - -

Normally, I schedule activities so that I would not flip flop between Mario and Marian in a single day. If I  had anything that required my presence as Mario (such as a doctor's appointment), that item would appear on my schedule first with enough lead time for me to change into Marian. Luckily, I only had the following 3 things on my calendar for today:
  1. Volunteer work at the GLBT Center
  2. Getting together with YGN (Finally!)
  3. Diner Dinner with the FFGoW's
It was a typical schedule for me when presenting as Marian. First, I'd go to the GLBT Center and do 2-3 hours of volunteer work, then I'd call YGN and drop over for a chat, and finally go to dinner with the gals of the FFGoW meetup group.

There was a potential complication. My cleaning lady did not come yesterday, and there was the possibility that she would come today. This forced me to get up and out as Marian before her possible arrival - all while making sure that the important traces of Marian were put away in the closet for when I got home later in the day.

- - - - - -

I ended up getting out of the house a little before 11 am, and reached the GLBT center at 11:30. I've found that it's much easier for me to go out as Marian when I know I can leave my make up case (and other things) out in view, and I think I'll soon change my scheduled volunteer day at the center accordingly. I mentioned this to one of the directors, and will let him know which day I choose in the future.

Today's volunteer stint had me updating the calendar and "opportunities" postings on their web site, and it kept me busy for the better part of 3 hours. My eyes were beginning to cross by the time I was getting this task done, and I was glad to leave around 3:00.  When I got to my car, I called (and texted) YGN, only to find out that she was in Garrison doing a photo shoot. (I'd love to see her pictures one day.) So I had several hours to kill before going to the diner to see the FFGoW's.

- - - - - -

One of the places I can visit to kill time is a book store. And I decided to visit the Barnes and Noble store that took over the former Borders location in Eastchester. Whenever I want to kill time at a book store, I look for an interesting book, try to find a place where I can sit down with that book and some coffee (they have a right to get some money from my pocket), then enjoy reading for a while. And the book that I picked up, "The Orphan's Tale" was perfect for the day. If I had the time, I'd have finished the book in one sitting. Instead, I only got a third of the way through the book.

Next, I decided to walk over to Starbucks. Unlike most B&N's, the Eastchester store has gone upscale and its "coffee shop" is more of a miniature restaurant and bar than a coffee shop. While there, I met (in passing) one of the people who I encountered earlier in the day at the GLBT center. This kept me busy for a while, until I decided to drive over to Yonkers.

Since I still had about 45 minutes to kill, I did some window shopping at The Avenue, where I found out that they were working with a short staff. (Read: If I wanted a grunt job that would keep me on my feet, I could get one here.) The lady I gabbed with reminded me that I should not buy anything until tomorrow, as they had a bonus point promotion that would give me 5x the usual credits for my spending. However, I may end up paying cash for the one purchase I plan to make, so I doubt this will help me with much.

- - - - - -

Once done with The Avenue, it was over to the diner where I met the rest of the FFGoW's. WPB made a comment that this was the first time that I was early - and I think it might have been a nice way of saying that I'm "on time" for a change. We had some interesting  conversations over dinner, but I could tell that something was missing - one of the ladies who added a certain irreverent spark to the topics that come up. (This lady doesn't look her age, and she often ends up with younger men around her - and she has fun with this with us.)  Hopefully, she'll be around next time. 

All too soon, it was time to go. On the way home, I called Lili to confirm our trip to Kleinfeld's next week. It'll be interesting to be in the same setting where the original version of the "Say Yes to the Dress" show was filmed. It'll be very interesting to be with a small group of women as Lili's daughter in law chooses the dress she'll use for one of her formal wedding ceremonies. Too bad that I won't be able to go to Vietnam for the ceremony being done for her Vietnamese relatives. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

It's too damned hot!

Years ago, Cole Porter wrote a song with this lyric:

According to the Kinsey Report, ev'ry average man you know
Much prefers his lovey-dovey to court
When the temperature is low
But when the thermometer goes 'way up
And the weather is sizzling hot
Mister pants for romance is not

'Cause it's too, too, too darn hot

When I went outside this morning, it was already over 80 degrees, and ready to climb into the 90's. There is no way that I'd go do my volunteer stint today in this weather, and there is no way that I would go to game night unless the air conditioner was blasting cool air directly onto me. So I made alternate plans, with the objective of staying cool.

- - - - - -

Knowing that my cleaning lady was supposed to visit today, I cleared out all easily visible traces of Marian from the apartment, got dressed, and then relaxed. There was no reason to start anything which would again mess up the apartment.  My plan over time will be to go through ALL of my storage in the apartment, and give away the things that I don't need and no longer expect that I will need. It'll be nice to see less clutter in this place and to have more room for things such as a nice wardrobe.

I'll readily admit that I have a full wardrobe for both genders. It makes sense for me to prune out those items I no longer wear, and make room for those things that I do wear (and will wear).  Given my large size, I have an over supply of hosiery.  My hosiery wears out too quickly, or it develops runs too easily. In either case, it's hard to find stuff in my size when I need it, so I stock up when I can find it. This takes up more space than I'd like. And it's one issue I'll address when I look for ways to do more with less space in the apartment, while using my storage compartment in the basement more actively.

I'll bet that the heat was a factor for my cleaning lady today. Normally, she'd have been in and out of my apartment around 3 pm, and she hadn't shown up. I don't mind it if she has to postpone things - especially when the weather is hot. But it would be nice to receive a call to let me know her status.

- - - - - -

For the past few Saturdays, I have been trekking to Long Island to help my brother with work on the family homestead. This coming Saturday will be the first day in a while where I will not be expected to go to Long Island. And given the weather over the past couple of days, I'm glad that we got as much work done as we have. It'd be too hot to do much as the weather gets warmer.

There is still a little bit of work that needs to be done, and my brother will be taking care of it. One of the things that has to be done is carpeting a room that we didn't originally plan to rent out. We will likely go to the same people who sold us the carpet for the upstairs room we originally planned to rent and ask for the same carpet type in the "new" room. Another thing to be done is a window repair. One of the wood pieces that frame the glass separates from the other three. This likely can be fixed with both a carefully placed screw and some adhesive. (Famous last words....) And then, we must make sure that all of the radiators (we have steam heat) have radiator covers. There are enough little things that may force us to drop in some more investment money. Yet, we're seeing daylight at the end of the tunnel.

Once the place is rented, the tenant will need to install a window air conditioner for the upstairs rooms. Unfortunately, we don't have electrical service for an air conditioner in the South facing window. The family renting the place will need to figure out how to deal with that issue on their own.  (I'm glad that we're renting out the place - I'd hate to live in that  room in the Summer.)

- - - - - -

For the most part, I've been filling up my weekends without planning for GFJ being around. Although we are on the phone with each other almost every day, I've stopped hinting that I'd like her to come down on a free weekend. I think that over time we'll drift apart, as we are no longer making the investments in each other to maintain or grow what we once had. It's sad, but it's something I knew could happen from the beginning.

There are a few people I'd like to get in contact with soon.  It's been a while since I've seen WDJ. Life has not been idyllic for her as of late. But I won't go into what little I know of her situation here. Instead, I'm hoping that she comes out of her shell, so that we can catch up on things. It seems like forever since I've seen Vicki, and I'll have to give her a call to see what is doing. Vicki#2 has just had a wedding ceremony with her wife (remember, she is polyamorous and is already married to a nice fellow), and finally has some free time.

As it always has been for Mario, Marian seems to be the person always having to initiate contact with someone to arrange a get together. Although I am used to this, I really wish that more people would call me because they wanted to be with me. This might be the one thing I might ask for (within limits) if I already got my wish to be healthy, wealthy, wise, secure and happy.

- - - - - -

Lili has made a decision to go on a cruise towards the end of June. As much as I might want to go with her, I can't afford dropping $1,500+ for a balcony room when I don't have enough money coming in to keep from draining my savings account. I may just have to plan an inexpensive vacation cruise without her. I hear from Lili almost every day. But today's heat made it impractical for us to meet. She had gone out earlier and suffered through the hottest part of the day. Whereas, I was smart and stayed in air conditioned comfort. When I finally made it out today, the sun was about to go down, and even 88 degrees in the shade seemed much more bearable than 90 degrees in the sun. Too bad Lili was no longer in the mood to go out, as I would have liked to tell her about my cruise decision in person.

- - - - - -

When I finally made it out, I was in a summer dress that I hadn't yet had much opportunity to wear. So I drove to Newburgh and went to my favorite store, hoping that DD would be there. (She used to have a Monday, Thursday, Saturday schedule.)  Unfortunately, with a new grandchild on the way, she has changed her fixed days so that she can take care of family matters. While there, a woman came in with her daughter and was looking for a white summery dress for her bridal shower. (It could have been a rehearsal dinner, but I couldn't be sure of anything.) The daughter went into the dressing room to try on two dresses, and I struck up a chat with the mother about typical female things - such as not being able to lose weight. Everyone liked the daughter in the first dress (the one the daughter chose), and we thought that the second dress didn't quite work as well as the first. (If the overlay fabric didn't create hi-lo hem line, then the second dress would have been much better.) After the daughter bought the first dress, the mother made it a point to say goodbye to me - as if I were just another woman shopping for clothes.

My trip home was via the "overland route", going to Woodbury to first shop at Target and Walmart, and then cross over the hills, then the Bear Mountain Bridge on my way home. This is much longer than the way I'd normally go home from Newburgh. But it was a much needed change of pace. Although I tried on 3 dresses at Target, I had interest in only one - and again said "No" to the dress. There was nothing worth buying at Walmart save some tissues, so I got out of both stores with little damage to my wallet.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The last day of class. and I'm uncomfortable taking the next step.

Today, I'm finishing up a class that I should have taken 3 years ago when my work experience was fresh. I had much more energy then to keep up with things in class, and I had the self confidence I needed to push forward on my path towards getting my PMP certification. However, it is 3 years since I've been anything resembling a success at work, and I'm no longer sure if I really want to proceed down this path.

- - - - - -

But first....

Last night was a special co-op board meeting. And we discussed business matters that we would normally delegate to others. What I found interesting about the event was that some of the things I've been learning in project management classes has a use in this setting. After the meeting, I made it a point to chat with the president of the co-op to discuss my job search, and ask for whatever help she could give. I mentioned that I could easily work as simple office help, but would prefer to work as Marian if possible.

The meeting took much longer than planned, and I was starving by the time I got back to my apartment. For the second night in a row, I was eating a pork chop at the midnight hour. My circadian rhythms must be totally shot. This is an issue that I will need to take care of soon, as I'd like to have more time in my day where I can comfortably interact with others in real time.

- - - - - -

Waking up at 9 am, I found my apartment in a total mess. Although messy, I can get much of the place clean in 30 minutes. Over the past few days, I have attacked spaces in back of my dining room table to find things to either throw away or give to charity. Since I no longer need 20 year old luggage that weighs a ton, I can give these items to charity and not worry too much. There is an old computer on which I've loaded Linux that I'll dispose of, as it is slow and of not much use anymore. For the next day or so, these items will reside in my car, so that I can deliver these donations to either the GLBT center or the Salvation Army.

What I haven't mentioned so far is that I've also straightened out some of the boxes in my bedroom, tossing out things that I no longer need. This is a continuous process at this point, as I have accumulated so much stuff that I need to work in the downstairs storage compartment to make room for things I plan to keep, store, and use again.  Although I will likely have the time to work on the storage compartment, it will be limited by the weather. I don't do well when it is hot and humid.

In short, slowly, but surely, I am getting the overall mess in this apartment straightened up. It will be nice to have it in a shape which I can invite people here for a change.

- - - - - -

I left for class around 3 pm, and made it to Pelham in time to catch the 4:04 train with a couple of minutes to spare. After buying my ticket from the machine, I walked towards the soda machine and saw T from Arts Westchester. Did she recognize me as Mario? I don't know. But we both had a clear view of each other, and I acted as if I didn't know her. (We'll see if she has something to say at the next Arts Westchester meeting. If so, I'll talk about being transgender, and not wanting to open up a can of worms at the train station.)

When I got into NYC, Patty left me a message - she was leaving late, and wouldn't be able to meet me for dinner. So I picked up a very tasty burrito at the Mexican establishment, and then ambled over to class slowly. (There was no way I wanted to break a sweat on a day that broke 90 degrees. So, the slower I walked, the better it would be for me.)  Class started late again, as we had more problems with overhead projectors. Because of this, we moved to a third classroom for this last class. We are expected to finish up all of the remaining quizzes, the "post test" (an assessment to see how much we improved because of the class), and a simulated exam which will take 4 hours to complete - all within the next 2 weeks. I'm not in bad shape, but I think others will continue to play catch up until the last minute.

After class, Patty, another classmate, and I chatted about when we'll take the PMP exam. We all agreed that we will need to study until we know everything cold. This will take a lot of work. So I think we may end up doing a small study group during the summer, and take the PMP exam towards the fall. I hope this comes off. If not, I'll have to go it alone.

- - - - - -

When I got home, I decided to make the "Chinese" dumplings for this Saturday's FFGoW pot luck meetup. I am way out of practice for this. But I hope the gals find these dumplings both healthy and tasty. (These are pork pot stickers, so I'll want to make sure these dumplings are nuked well before serving on Saturday - just to be safe.) It took me almost 2 hours to get enough done so that everyone at the pot luck dinner has 2 or 3 of them. Of course, I ate a few while they were fresh. So this makes me the guinea pig for my own cooking....

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Quickie: Politics - It's amazing what is going on.

One thing I know about political surveys - they can be error prone, especially when predicting the results of a presidential election. Sometimes, it can be of value to participate in one, even when you know you are one voice of many - you might be able to affect the views of people paying for the survey.

Recently, our lowly esteemed president fired the head of the FBI. This is the very government agency that is doing an investigation on the "possible" coordination of the Trump 2016 campaign's actions with the wishes of the Russian government.  Does anyone seriously believe that Comey's replacement will not have pledged loyalty to Trump over that to his country?

The above and many other issues that arose during the Trump presidency so far affected my responses to a robotic political survey. Although I am a registered Republican, I haven't voted for any member of the GOP in ages, as they have let the wing nuts gain control of the party. Since I didn't know who was paying for this survey, I made sure to answer as I were a Republican who holds Richard Nixon and Benedict Arnold in higher esteem than the current president.

This survey was relatively thorough. It wanted to find out whether one had any "buyer's remorse" for voting Trump over Hillary. It also tested to find out whether one felt that Richard Nixon was more honorable than Trump. And it even tested whether Trump (and his administration) could be counted on to tell the truth. From what I can tell, the survey was designed to collect information needed to determine whether the GOP will win or lose seats in the 2018 election due to Trump's presidency.

The one question that bothered me was related to VP Pence, as the survey asked whether I thought he'd make a better president than Trump. So far, Trump has mouthed a lot of things that could hurt the GLBT community. But he has had little effect on things so far, having not repealed Obama's executive order preventing discrimination against Gays in the federal workforce. Trump is smart enough to know that being Gay should not be a reason to discriminate against anyone. Pence, on the other hand, would pass laws that restore anti-Gay discrimination, as well as continue with the GOP's march to the 1950's.

Which person would be worse for the country as President?  To me, as a transgender person, Pence would do more damage to things I want to preserve. Yet, Trump would do more damage to this country as a whole. This is not a choice I want to make.

All I can hope is that the Democrats can hold off the worst until 2019, when (I hope) that they retake control of one of the legislative chambers of our government. This will allow for some checking and balancing of power - something urgently needed today. Keep your fingers crossed.

PS: You might like this article on how to use the word "Fuck".  We'll need to use this word quite a bit in the next few months.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An unplanned visit to Pat

Computer malware. Sometimes, it can provide something of minimal value like a screen saver in exchange for "enhanced" user experiences. (Read: More ads from unwanted sources.) And sometimes it can be downright nasty, as in the "WannaCry" Ransomware spreading around the world as I write this entry. This was one of the things that worried Pat this morning, and caused her to ask me for help.

I told Pat that I'd be there late in the afternoon. She asked me to pick up a memory stick, so that I could back up her computer before trying to fetch the latest Windows Update for her computer. By the time I got there, it was close to 7 pm, as I got stuck in Target for 30 minutes due to the lack of check out lines.

It was nice to see Pat again, and I promptly got down to the basic job of the day - backing up her computer. Although I did a half-assed job of it, a better job of it will have to wait until I find a safe tool to manage her backups. Once I was done, I applied the Windows Update, and she was good to go.

However, one of her friends came over, and we were gabbing much longer than planned.   We talked about many things - including me being transgender. Her friend knew that I live in both genders, because he picked up my old PT Cruiser. Yet, he knew little about the nature of being transgender until meeting me again. It was a very informative chat - and well worth my time to pass on a little knowledge to someone new. Pat asked me to use my male voice for a second, and I did. After that, she made several misgendering errors that I think were caused by my mixing male and female modes while I was there. She usually is flawless in this area.

All too soon, witching hour came and I had to leave.  It was a good evening, and I'm glad I made the time to have it....