Sunday, May 27, 2018

Quickie: Thoughts on a recent trip to DC.

This incident occurred in front of the Lincoln Theater on U Street in Washington, DC on May 12, 2018. I have no idea of what happened, nor did this situation last for long. There were 3 police cars on the scene, and they all appeared as if from out of nowhere. From what I can tell, the fellow with his hands behind his back is handcuffed, and the fellow in back of him is displaying a badge. Could they have been staking out a drug dealer? I haven't a clue.

- - - - - -

With all the bad news in the press these days, one would think could have happened in a bad part of town.  And one would be wrong - this occurred in a very popular and safe (to me) area.  It was very lively at 11 pm, and would likely to be so for some time yet to come.

Adjacent to the theater is a quintessential DC joint - Ben's Chili Bowl.  In one sense, it is "just" a place that sells some of the best smoked sausages you'll ever eat.  But in another, it is an icon to DC as is a popular NYC frankfurter joint at Stillwell and Surf.  And I make it a point to visit this place whenever I am in DC.If you look carefully, there is a mural on the side of the building and Obama is easily seen at this angle. Given the neighborhood's history and the food served here, you can bet that you'll never see Trump's face on a nearby mural.

- - - - - -

Next time I'm in town, I'm going to plan my trip more carefully.There is so much I would like to have done.  But with hot weather one day, a bum car that I worried about, and an overly long drive to DC, I only had one real day of value out of a 3 day trip.  This is not acceptable to me. I will likely go back to taking the train and making reservations in advance.  Let's assume the following transportation costs:
  • Tolls: $25 each way - $50 total.
  • Gasoline: $30 each way - $60 total.
  • Parking: $20 per day - $40 total for a 2 night stay
Transportation to/from DC cost me $150.  For just a little more than that price, I could have taken Metro North, the NYC Subway, Amtrak, and the DC Metro to get where I would be going.  (Amtrak would give me the best value for my dollar spent.) Even throwing in peak commuter train prices and cab rides, I still come in at the $150 range - and would not have any hassles with driving to/from DC.

- - - - - -

Assuming that I drive to DC again, it will likely be to a place with free parking, walking distance to the Metro, and will involve a longer stay in town. If I take the train, the likelihood is that I will stay in the same hotel in Rosslyn, VA, as it is very convenient for me to access sites in DC. If by car, this trip will also involve a couple of stops in between the two cities, such as going to the B&O Roundhouse museum in Baltimore and stopping in Philadelphia to see the Barnes and Mutter museums.  Hopefully, I'll be able to meet up with a couple of my online TG friends along the way.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Did I really want to see Lili today?

On Monday, Lili had her tummy tuck operation.  She's not up to doing much, and she's been hanging out at her house recuperating from her surgery. The problem - I don't like hanging out at her place anymore, as her menagerie of animals go in and out of the house at will, and I don't know what kinds of problems (e.g. Ticks and/or Fleas) come into the house with her animals.

- - - - - -

As usual, I didn't get moving until late in the day.  But this was perfect for both Lili and I, as she asked me to pick up some milk, some ice cream, and some cookies on the way over.  This gave me time to get some cash out of the ATM and to fill the car with gas - for the first time since Sunday.

Arriving at Lili's, I found that she was depressed. She liked the dress I was wearing, and unlike the picture above, I was not wearing hosiery or a sweater. Instead, I was wearing a denim jacket with sneakers on my feet.  I was very comfortable and very informal.  It's nice to have a dress that I can dress up or dress down as needed.  Lili took out a couple of necklaces that she wanted to give me, and one of them looked perfect with this dress.  (I'll get a picture of it soon.)

Lili brought up the subject of my relationship with GFJ, and noted that the two of us love each other.  I wouldn't argue this.  Lili then said that she'd be willing to have me come to her son's wedding as Mario if this meant that GFJ would come. I noted that GFJ will either have to come to peace with me being both Marian and Mario. For if she doesn't, I won't be able to give up this part of me that needs to be out in the open.

My visit to Lili was cut short by her getting sick.  She said that she'd call for an ambulance if she felt abnormally sick, and sent me on the way for the day.  At this point, I was free to do some window shopping.  So, it was off on a loop to Catherine's in Poughkeepsie, to the Avenue in Newburgh, stopping off at Walmart in Fishkill, and then back to my apartment.  There was nothing really interesting in any of these stores, but I picked up some foodstuffs at Walmart before going home.

- - - - - -

While driving around, I tried to reach YGM to talk about the upcoming wedding.  But she wasn't available. Then GFJ called.  We talked about her divorce (it'll be final soon), the divorce settlement, and then she asked me how I knew she had a darker side to her. I mentioned how she reacted regarding the Wasband, noting that she advocates well for herself, but takes a while to build up the steam to be nasty.  And I said that I don't want to be on the wrong side of her when this happens....  She then mentioned that she never saw me in the same position, but she thought it would happen once. I said that I learned to recognize my anger bubbling up as a result of 13 years of therapy.

As I was crossing the Mid Hudson bridge, GFJ joked about me seeing her friends for dinner. I asked if all her core friends knew about Marian, and she said they did.  I noted that I'm open about being Marian, would feel comfortable being with them in Marian Mode (as I was dressed today), but would never suggest doing so, as she (GFJ) is uncomfortable with me in Marian Mode.

- - - - - -

Hopefully, GFJ will get out of her house early tomorrow, so that we can go to Long Island before the Summer weekend traffic jams start next week. (Memorial Day Weekend)  I figure that it would be nice for us to see the Theodore Roosevelt house at Sagamore Hill (Oyster Bay), and complete the tours of the three Roosevelt houses.  If I can convince her to do this, I'd suggest a restaurant I know in Glen Cove (Stango's) for good Italian food, and to stop by my dad's place to see him without having to make an extra trip to Long Island next week.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The cleaning lady cometh

My apartment does not have wood floors that I can expose. Not only do I have a clause in my proprietary lease or house rules that require me to keep 80% of the apartment carpeted, but there is some damage to the floor underneath which would require replacement of some of the wood.

- - - - - -

Today, I woke up early enough to catch part of "Morning Joe", but decided to fall back to sleep until 9 am.  Rising out of my bed, I proceeded to clean up the remaining mess in the living room and bedroom areas, and prepare the place for the arrival of my cleaning lady.

Normally, my cleaning lady comes in the afternoon, so I proceeded to take a shower around 11 am, and started to get ready to go out as Marian by noon. These plans were interrupted by a phone call from my cleaning lady, asking to come before lunch.  Since I had not started to apply my makeup, I told her to give me about 10 minutes to get dressed - and that game me enough time to put the wardrobe I set out for the day and my makeup kit back in the closet until she was done cleaning.

About an hour and a half after she arrived, the cleaning lady left.  And I was finally free to make lunch, then get dressed in Marian Mode, so that I could do my volunteer stint at the GLBT center. Because I lallygagged at home after the cleaning lady had gone, I didn't get to the GLBT Center until 4 pm - and that is perfect timing these days.  My task for the day was simple - add the full list of vendors to their "Pride Day" web site, so that everyone viewing the site gets to see all of the sponsors in attendance. This was simple, and kept enough of my brain functioning, so that it was a pleasant way to kill time.

Next, it was off to Panera bread, then to game night.  It was busy, but not overcrowded at Panera, and I saw the lady who I'd have liked to develop an acquaintanceship. What I didn't see were the ladies who have been knitting at that table as of late.  Did they find somewhere else to go?  Inquiring minds want to know....

And then, it was off to game night.  This would be the last one for a couple of weeks, as the host/hostess' family will be going to Disney for a week. So I told the story about my car to a couple of people and played a couple of games.  The first game I played, I lost miserably. However, in the second game, City of Spies, I was finally able to win for a change.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I chatted with GFJ for a while.  She told me of the dinner she had tonight. It seems as if the Wasband wants to buy out her share of the family homestead. Hopefully, he isn't looking to get a bargain - she needs as much money as she can get.  Of course, I wonder how much she'll get from the rest of the division of their marital assets.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Quickie: Rain, Rain, Go away as soon as possible.

Last night, a nasty storm made its way into the Hudson Valley, then wreaked much damage with both rain, high winds, and tornadoes. This morning, many people woke up without power, with damage to both car and house.  I'm grateful that the worst of this storm passed me by, as I'm not in the best of positions to recover from a disaster.

- - - - - -

As much as I would have liked to go out as Marian, I really wasn't in the mood to deal with the wet weather. So I stayed home and straightened out my apartment a little while relaxing. There was a lot of clothing that needed folding, and even more that needed laundering.

When I settled down a little to watch a movie, GFJ called.  It was hard for me to focus on what she was saying as I was also interested in what was going on on-screen. Unexpectedly, this was the only chance I'd have to chat with her for the day, as she decided to go to sleep early after cleaning out some of the expired food in her larder.

By dinner time, I wasn't in the mood to cook.  Since I didn't want to apply makeup just to run down to the supermarket in Marian Mode, I ended up going out as Mario. Although I could have stopped at the bank, I skipped that task to stay dry until I reached the supermarket. And then, I bought just enough food to keep me supplied until the weekend. At that time, I'll do a shopping run with GFJ, so that we have the foodstuffs we want to eat over the weekend.

Not much else to say about today - except that I need another "long" stretch in Marian mode soon....

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Politics = Many Flesh-Eating Insects

As I started to write this entry last year, one of the big issues in Washington was what would be in the GOP tax bill. From what I saw, the GOP made a big mistake which they hoped that the Democrats will get the blame for when they end up cleaning up the law. This mistake is trying to lower a statutory tax rate without cleaning up many corporate loopholes. Instead, they will either eliminate social spending by shifting responsibilities to state governments, or eliminate tax deductions which the middle class has enjoyed for years. Promises have been made and the "Pied Piper" has to be paid. Sadly, they don't know enough when to leave well enough alone, or include their opposition in on the negotiations so that blame can be attributed to both political parties.

This alone would have been big news for the day. However, the current president's questionable dealings also take up a good portion of the media bandwidth. So far, three people have been indicted in "Russiagate," with one of these men having pleaded guilty a while back. Who is going to be indicted next?  Only the special investigator knows.  But from what we can tell now, the President's son and his son in law are both suspects.  Add to this a former security adviser and an attorney general, and the stench is almost too strong to bear. Of course, I shouldn't forget our current Vice President's involvement. It looks like we may have quite a few indictments yet to come before the GOP decides to clean house of this corrupt administration.

As a transgender person, I am appalled at the Trump/Pence administration's attacks on the LGBTIQ community. Getting rid of Trump will not solve the problem. Having a President Pence will only make things worse for us.  Trump is incompetent, while Pence is competent. Can we afford to have an effective anti LGBTIQ government with a GOP controlled House and Senate? I doubt it.

We are seeing a congress who has no sense of ethical outrage.  Only those politicians who have decided to retire, or who are dying, are ready to denounce the current administration. One of them, an "honorable" conservative has said that he can't move far enough to the right to win the GOP nomination and back to the center enough to win the General Election without violating his code of ethics. This was his reason for retiring from the senate.  Will these men and women have the courage of their convictions to impeach and convict the current president?  Again, I doubt it.  These are politicians drunk on potential power without the sense of responsibility on how to use it wisely. And we will get screwed once they learn how to use it well.

Currently, most leaders in the Democratic Party are playing it smart and opposing Trump without calling for impeachment.  Only those less powerful congressmen and senators are calling for impeachment, as they want to move up in their ranks. The smart leaders are holding their coats and letting the GOP self destruct.  Unfortunately, the Democrats have structural problems just as deep as those the GOP has. Hopefully, they will take this time out of power to develop a more powerful party, so that when they regain power, they will be a healthy party that uses its powers wisely.  Until then, all we can do is work to develop the political power that transgenders need to make us a voice that can't be ignored or shut down....

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

I didn't do much all day until I went out shopping.

I didn't plan on buying this dress today.  But with 30% off an already reduced clearance price, I was able to take it home for under $40.

- - - - - -

Unlike recent days, I did not get up with the sun today.  My window blinds blocked out enough sun to keep me "semi comatose" until I had to take a much needed bio break - and then it was back to bed for another couple of hours. Around 11 am, Lili called to let me know that she was about to go into surgery for her tummy tuck - and was interrupted as she was told to give her phone to her son, so that she could be prepared for her operation.

At this point, I was up for the day, but not ready to do anything much of value. After making a phone call to the dermatologist's practice to correct a billing problem (they sent the bill to the wrong insurance company), I had nothing to do except another 2 loads of laundry - which I deferred for another day.  So I ended up staying in bed watching TV for a while, then got moving to go out as Marian late in the afternoon.

- - - - - -

When I finally went out of the apartment, I decided to go to Paramus and see if Catherine's had a nice bra in my size.  (The nude bra I wore to DC has severe sweat stains that won't completely go away, and I want to wear something nice for the July wedding and feel as pretty as possible. Once I reached Rockland county, thruway traffic was backed up because of the slowly setting sun. So I ended getting off in Nyack and taking Route 59 to a point where I could get onto the Garden State Parkway. From there, it was a quick drive to Catherine's.

Reaching the store, I met one of the salesladies I often chat with, and she was both busy with moving merchandise and was in the mood to chat a little. So I ended up doing some light chit chat for a couple of minutes before seeing the dress above. And it called out to me, even though it is not as casual as I'd like for a Summer dress. Of course, the dress ended up jumping into my hand as I walked into the fitting room to try it on.  Looking into the mirror, I saw that the dress made me look pretty - so I bought it, even though I knew I wouldn't be wearing it much.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I decided to stop at Stew Leonard's to pick up some food.  I was very surprised to find that my purchases were under $20 - something I haven't done in years! At least, I know I have food enough for a couple of days. And I know that I still have money in my wallet.

It certainly felt good to be out and about again in good weather as Marian....

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.

- - - - - -            - - - - - -            - - - - - -

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.

- - - - - -

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.  

- - - - - -            - - - - - -            - - - - - -

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.

- - - - - -

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.

- - - - - -            - - - - - -            - - - - - -

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.

- - - - - -

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.

- - - - - -

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.