Friday, December 9, 2016

A respite from the rain, and something to do to kill the boredom.

It was raining for the past two days, and I'm glad the weather has finally changed.  It'll be nice to get outside for a change and have to dress for cool weather instead of wet weather.

- - - - - -

One thing about volunteering at the local GLBT center is that I've found that the people there are slow to embrace change.  It took a long time for them to get moving on setting up a new web site, and from what I've seen so far, they do not know much about user experience.  The platform they chose is inexpensive, and it gives them what they have paid for. Since I wasn't there from the beginning, I can't say that I know the ins and outs of the platform enough to make a valid criticism. But I can say that some of the things I've seen are non-intuitive and are hard to work with. So, I think they may be unhappy with what they are producing and will never let the new site see the light of day.  Hopefully, I'll be wrong on that. If one person there has their say, they (I hate the modern "singular person" use of that word), it will become an active site. And it will all be because of this person's efforts.

At one time, I used to be excited about having someplace to go while unemployed.  This time around, it is different.  I think it's because I know my skills are underused.  And I know that the combination of skills I have are not enough to get anyone to be that interested in me as I search for work.

- - - - - -

After lunch, I drove down to the GLBT center and did my thing in helping to set up the web site.  This time, I talked to the one person who knew what they were doing on the site, and I was glad I did so.  Some of my comments hit the right ears, and I learned something about the new platform as well.  The GLBT center has a lot of data to be entered before the site goes live, and I can see the difficulty in doing so.  Part of this is related to choosing a non standard font to be used for text display. Every time someone selects this font, they have to go through a lot of extra effort.  And that goes for much of the formatting that has to be done for the site.  I know I'll have a lot of work to keep me busy, and I'll look for ways to make this work as easy as possible for me.

Once done at the GLBT center, it was off to game night with a couple of stops along the way.  First, I had to get something to eat. So, I headed off to Panera Bread. On the way, I called Pat, and we got into one of our political discussions.  She is not pragmatic, and never will be. While I am pragmatic, and realize that reality and idealism rarely mesh well.  She's the type of person who thinks that the world would be better off if everyone would lay down their arms.  I'm the type of person who knows that there will always be a few holdouts, and that they will be bullies.  So, instead, I advocate universal armament, because history has taught me that "Mexican Standoffs" usually end in peace.  To me, humanity (as a whole, and not at the individual level) is too dumb to learn the lessons taught by the world's great religions: "Love thy Neighbor", "Do unto others as you'd have them do to you," and other simple directives we learn from the Torah, New Testament, and the Koran.  I feel that humanity has to keep learning these lessons the hard way, as people are often too scared to stand up to bullies wherever they abuse others. And when they don't stand up and go "all in" to resist bullies, we keep having the same problems in every generation. Am I a cynic?  Yes.  I have no faith that people will do the right thing without incentives.  But I feel that wise leaders can design systems to nudge people to do the right things. Pat feels that people must magically change and practice "love", while I prefer to use market like forces to encourage desired behavior - even when people don't understand the underlying reasons that this behavior is promoted.

- - - - - -

But enough about my discussion with Pat.  After having a bowl of soup at Panera, it was off to The Avenue to do some window shopping.  Two of the salesladies complimented me on my appearance, as I was wearing the outfit below.

I tried on a pair of trousers and a sweater while there, and noticed that my tights were about to fall apart.  Instead of having to toss them at game night, I bought two packages of navy blue tights in my size, and figured that I would put them on in a clean restroom elsewhere. So, it was off to a quiet Starbucks where I knew the restroom would be clean.

- - - - - -

Once done at Starbucks, it was off to play some games. On the way home, my tire pressure light came on - and this means that I'll ask the folks at Mavis Tire to take care of this when I bring the car in for an oil change and tire rotation in the morning.  Hopefully, I'll have enough air in the tire to get there in the AM. I'll miss being able to get dressed in the morning as Marian.  Yet, I know I'll be able to be in Marian mode for the rest of the day.



Thursday, December 8, 2016

I had a weird dream last night

I don't know that many women who sleep on their stomachs. But I've tended to date larger women, and certain features of their anatomies tend to get in the way.  And how I love those features!  (It'd be nice to have a pair of my own. But that's another story for another blog entry.)

When I woke up this morning, I had the memory of a dream involving my best male friend (who does not know I'm transgender) and a last minute visit to my apartment, where I had to figure out how to clean out all traces of Marian before he arrived. This would have been an impossible task. But the dream was pleasant, especially since I rarely dream - even using the CPAP machine and getting a more restful sleep than I did in the past.

- - - - - -

After yesterday's visit to the Department of Labor, I had two things to take care of: (1) Rewriting my resume in a format that highlights and focuses on my skills, and not when I worked; and (2) Contacting someone at Pace University to find out the costs of PMP training they have been contracted by the county to provide, and when the next session will be offered.  This is the type of thing that depresses me most, as I'm not really sure that I'm the right type of person to manage projects anymore.  But what do I do for an encore in my life?

Unlike many people who have been displaced by technology and by foreign competition, I am not angry. I understand what happened, and I was lucky to have been able to save the money I need to get by.  Sadly, others are not so lucky.  Recently, I posted a link to a video of an angry white woman's rant on Facebook that illustrates how long repressed feelings are now coming out in the new Trumpian age of meanness. Yet, I do not feel sorry for this woman - she is venting her anger at innocent people.  I feel sorry about her victims, people who could not fight back.

Picking on people who can not fight back seems to be a theme of Trump's appointments to his cabinet.  Each of his picks seems to be designed to destroy the departments (related to social services) they are supposed to run. I don't see much help coming from the Federal government for the next few years in regard to Transgender Rights.  We will have to fight our battles in the states, and hope that the courts focus more on the rule of law, and not of political expediency.

- - - - - -

With all this being said, it feels like an afterthought to talk about my day.  I didn't have much scheduled, save for a dinner meetup with one of my women's groups.  It'll be nice seeing the gals again.  But I did make the time to get in contact with WGN, YGWM, and RO to both keep in touch and to see when they might be available for a get-together.  It looks like WGN will soon be going back to work, manning her store in its new location shortly after the new year begins. YGWM will soon be taking some courses, in order to help qualify for her career. And RO has been busy, but wants to get together soon. The only person I missed in my list of people to contact was YGM, but she will soon be busy due to school being out for Xmas week. As I was about to leave for my evening meetup with the gals, YGM called.  We're now going to try and get together the week after next.

So it was off to the meetup in White Plains. It seems that virtually all of the important restaurants on Mamaroneck Avenue's "Restaurant Row" have rear entrances which allow a person to enter the restaurants from the municipal parking lots in the rear.  I was glad, as I was breaking in a new pair of heels on a rainy night, and didn't want to walk far.  (Silly me, I could have worn flats, but heels made my legs look better in the dress I was wearing. And several women have said that I have great legs and should show them off when possible. So I do.)  I did make one mistake - I paid for parking twice, as I entered the wrong parking spot number on the meter the first time around.

There were only 5 of us there, and I was the one who had the expensive (non discounted) "Juicy Lucy" burger.  YUM!  But I was a little frustrated at the end, as WPB had to be in control of computing monies on a shared check to the penny.  No, it's not a big thing other than the time she spent figuring out how much each of us should pay.  I tend to value my free time more than most people, and would have gladly thrown in a couple of extra bucks to make this part of the evening less of a chore.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I ended up chatting with GFJ for a while, then continued on past my normal exit.  The rain put a damper on things, and I didn't want to get out of the car until I absolutely had to.  Hopefully, it'll be a dry day tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A day that I could have slept through with nothing lost

All of my alarms were set this morning, so that I could get out of bed and off to the Department of Labor by 10:00 am.  I didn't want to get out of the house, and it was made worse because of the heavy rain outside.  As the fates would have it, I arrived at 10:00 am, and found out that my appointment was at 2:00 pm.  AARGH!  I should have reread the letter I was sent, but I've gotten sloppy in my old age.

My appointment was rescheduled for 11:00 am, and I left the office to kill some time before returning an hour later. This time, I met with the one woman who seemed to know what she was doing there.  And yet, I felt like everything was a little meaningless when she mentioned a program geared to give people like me, with skills gaps, needed retraining to get work.  I mentioned that this office mentioned the program to me last time around, but that people in this office screwed it up for me - and I couldn't fight city hall, when people didn't want to do their jobs.  This time, she made sure that a skills gap was mentioned in my records, so that it would be easier to justify getting a grant for this course.  (Now I have to dig out old resumes so that I can start documenting 4500 hours of real world experience needed for the professional certification as a PMP.)

On my way home, I got a call from Lili.  She had still not seen the latest "Harry Potter world" flick, and she wanted company.  I told her the truth - I was very tired for some unknown reason, and I needed a nap.  She was unhappy, but I told her that I'd call her later.  And it was just as well, because I put my head on the pillow when I got home, and was out for a couple of hours.

Once I woke from my nap, I realized that I had no interest in going out in the rain again.  So I got comfortable, and relaxed for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Cyber Monday, and I hate watching my money

Cyber Monday, and I hate being careful with my money.  At several online stores, they have raised their usual discounts from 30% to 50% for one day only.  This means that I can get several nice dresses, tops, and skirts for a price I can easily afford.  However, this spending gets in the way of some other items I want to buy: (1) a new wig, and (2) a new pair of breast forms.

When I doubt, I tend to defer spending unless I need to spend money now, or if the money to be spent doesn't mean that much. Today, I have to make a decision on what I plan to buy for GFJ's Xmas present, as well as a gift for Lili.  For the most part, I'm tired of the yearly ceremonial exchange of gifts.  If I need something, I can buy it myself - and not be obligated to others.  Is this too much to ask?  It's not that I am against gift giving.  But I don't want others spending money on me, expecting reciprocity, when I need to spend money elsewhere - on things I really need.

It seems like several things I want to buy for myself cost between $250 and $350.  The breast forms I use are wearing out, and I could use new ones, like the pair below:

I could also go for a new wig, like the one below:

And it would also be nice to have a home laser kit like the one below:

If I were still working, all three would have jumped into my shopping cart, and I'd be using them already.  Sadly, this is not the case.  Of the three, I'm likely to go for the wig, as I can get that at a discount that won't be available until this time next year.

- - - - - -

There were two things on my docket for today, and I only wanted to do one of them.  I had a choice between seeing WDJ and going to to night's Hudson Valley Poly Group meeting. And seeing WDJ won out.  We first had a bite to eat at Panera Bread (actually, I ate - WDJ wasn't in the mood to eat, but was comfortable keeping me company.)  And then, we went to The Avenue, where she got the chance to see DD (and chat about her to be ex husband), while I proceeded to buy at least one gift for GFJ (a sweater, and a pendant that I might keep for myself) and a pair of pumps for me. Newburgh doesn't often carry size 13-W shoes, and even more rare to have them on sale - so I broke down and bought a new pair for less than the price I could have a heel replaced on the pair I had in my car.

Once we were done at The Avenue, it was off to Catherine's in Poughkeepsie.  As I expected, I didn't see any dresses worth buying.  I figure that if I'm going to buy a dress I like from that chain, I might end up going to Orange, CT or to Carle Place, NY.  Either way, it will be a long drive to look at clothes which might not be in stock.  But that drive was not on my schedule for the day.

By the time we were done in Poughkeepsie, it was time to go home.  So I dropped off WDJ at her house, and am hoping that all goes well for her over the next few months.  (I'll see her before then.  She just has a lot on her plate right now that I don't want to detail here.)  My next stop was at the Jefferson Valley Mall, where Ulta Beauty has just opened a new outlet. And I was able to pick up a new container of my favorite makeup - Dermablend.  (Patty hates the stuff, but it does cover up a lot of skin imperfections. So I use it before I go out without fail.)

- - - - - -

On other matters....

Right now, I have to take care of Xmas gifts for the following people:
  1. Dad (A pair of sweats - size to be determined by brother)
  2. Brother and Sister in Law (Single Serve Coffee Cartridges.)
  3. GFJ (Multiple Gifts)
  4. Lili (Single Gift, probably an article of clothing.)
  5. Cleaning Lady (Probably a box of chocolates and an extra $50)
  6. Yonkers Game Host/Hostess' children (inexpensive games)
  7. Yonkers Game Friends (They usually give me something, so I will return the favor.)
Fortunately, I can take care of everything quickly if I need to do it.  But I'll do so over the next couple of weeks, and have my shopping taken care of early enough to go back to shopping for myself.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A long weekend - and I didn't want to squeeze in anything more.

Leftover Turkey - Something many of us will be having well into the week after the holiday.  As much as I enjoy turkey, I don't enjoy having as much of it as many of us do because of leftovers.

- - - - - -

On Thanksgiving, I intended to get out the door well before noon so that I could be at my brother's place early in the day.  Well, things didn't turn out according to plan, due to not getting to sleep until late the night before.  So, I ended up leaving the house around noon, forgetting the chocolate truffle cake I had in the refrigerator, and dashing off to Long Island.  Strangely enough, I didn't encounter much traffic until I reached Long Island, and as expected, I bailed onto local streets to avoid traffic jams.

Once off the highways, I realized that I had forgotten to bring dessert, and I stopped at a French bakery in Bayside where I picked up a 12" Creme Brulee

I have one word for this - YUM!  But it cost me an arm and a leg, as the bakery sold the dessert along with the dish they cooked it in.  (I can't blame them - the dish alone justified the high price.)

The drive to Long Island didn't take as much time as I expected.  Even with the stop for dessert, the drive took me less than 2 hours.  EZ-Pass is doing what it is meant to do, and I expect that cashless toll collecting will make things much easier next year.  When I arrived at my brother's place, I took out the Creme Brulee, and my sister in law fawned over the dessert.  This made me glad, as I knew that the forgotten chocolate truffle cake would not have gone over as well.

About a half hour after I arrived, we had dinner, and then packed off a small plate of leftovers for my dad in the nursing home.  The food was still warm when we arrived at the nursing home, as it was only 10 minutes away from my brother's house. I'm glad we ate first, and I'm glad we got to the nursing home when we did.  My dad was in between meals, and we got him while he still had a hunger for my sister in law's cooking.  Once we were done feeding dad, we took him downstairs where we could talk without much interruption. And that's where I got pleasantly interrupted.

The nursing home has 3 floors. On the top two floors they have a central room dedicated to feeding the residents. Similar arrangements are made for the smaller number of residents on the first floor.  Off to the side of the entrance is a seating area where we often bring my dad, so we can sit down and chat - without stealing chairs from other rooms. We brought dad down to this area, and started chatting over coffee.  I was discussing the benefits of the Vanguard Funds and their low fees when one man broke into our conversation, making my point better than I could.  He had up to date expense ratios on Vanguard's S&P 500 index fund, and they were better than I thought.  My brother gained a new form of respect for my financial knowledge, and wanted more information.

Afterwards, we left dad at the nursing home, and my brother and I went over to the family homestead to discuss our next steps. I'm prepared for the need to throw a few extra dollars into the pot to get the house finished.  But my brother is a little overextended at the moment.  So he's going to be a little bit of a headache until we get the project done.

Soon, it was time to go, and I traveled back up North to meet GFJ at my apartment.  Both of us were sated, and didn't want to think about anything more to eat....

- - - - - -

On Friday, we didn't have much to do.  Although we took a drive late in the afternoon, there wasn't much to say about the day.  Saturday was a day much like Friday, except that we ended up going to Best Buy, so that GFJ could buy a Roku box to get extra channels on her TV.

As you can guess, Sunday was much like the previous 2 days, save that GFJ had to go home.  As much as I missed her, I was glad to have time to myself again.  No, I didn't do anything with this time.  But I did have the option to do so if I wanted - and this would include the opportunity of going out as Marian again.

This is my dilemma.  I enjoy spending time with GFJ.  And I enjoy spending time as Marian. There will be no easy solution to my dilemma, and only time will help me sort things out.  The one thing I know is that I'm in this for the long haul, and that there will be many tough decisions I have to make in the future.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Do you strive for authenticity?

In my early days of going out as a woman, I was very concerned that little things about how I dressed would give me away as a man in a dress.  Now, with a lot of experience out in the outside world, I realize that that "yes, there are unspoken rules to learn. But, no, they are not always meant to be followed."

Being presentable as a woman is an art.  One has to learn many unspoken rules about dressing, such as the use of accessories, jewelry, and shoes.  For example, if one is wearing a high neck dress, a woman would often wear a necklace that breaks up the monotony, and adds a splash of color to the palette that stretches down to her breasts (and sometimes beyond).

I can't imagine this woman's outfit being worn with anything else but a necklace such as this.... But being authentic also involves knowing how much flexibility one has in obeying/breaking the unwritten rules. So it is important to always observe other people and examine their appearance for what does and doesn't work for them - if only to figure out what those rules are.

There are many kinds of authenticity. I work on my presentation, as I want to blend in as much as possible.  If you look at the cropped view of my face, you can see my masculine face with a little bit of effort.

The face without the glasses and the wig looks masculine. Even with this, if you focus on my lower jaw line, it implies masculinity. Thanks to make up and other feminine cues, I am accepted as a female for purposes of socialization. But some M2F transgender people don't bother much.  They are comfortable with receding hairlines, masculine faces which could be feminized with facial surgery, and voices that don't sound feminine. (No, this is not a criticism, as it is an acknowledgement of the differences in effort people are willing to expend to reach a satisfactory endpoint.)  I am not comfortable with my weight, but have to accept it for now, as well as the size 28w dress that I wear with it....

I also strive for authenticity in the way I speak, as well as the subjects I talk about.  So you'll rarely hear me talk about sports when I'm in female mode - unless the woman I'm with wants to talk about her daughter's soccer team.  The same thing goes for most things that are typically male in nature, which will include tools, cars, and other things that relate to a man having status in his "tribe" - unless it is a woman complaining about her man (or complimenting him) for some belief or behavior. Ideally, I'd like to pass for someone's grandmother - even if I'm babysitting someone else's children.

Somewhere, I think there is a limit to how authentic one can be.  Are we playing roles?  Or, are we just trying to be our real selves?  I can never be sure at times, as sometimes, being authentic is something we learn to be, and not something we are already. And in a way, this is part of the the equation that both defines who and what I am...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Writing entries ahead of time

There are times, such as long weekends and occasional vacations, that I post entries that I may have written days, weeks, or even months beforehand. It's not an ideal situation, but it does provide a break from the daily narrative.  But when I write one of these entries, I always have to edit check it, so that things that were true at the time I wrote the entry are either still true, or noted as having changed since the entry was written.

- - - - - -

Sometimes, a pre-written entry is a catch-all/catch-up entry, allowing me to update the status of individuals in my narrative without spending time on them.  Other times, the entry is a thought piece which allows me to explore an issue of potential concern to the TG community.  And then, at times, I simply write about a random subject - just because I find it interesting.

One of the things I've gained from this experience of blogging is a discipline which I may be able to take to other parts of my life.  Developing a routine of doing something every day, whether I want to or not, has proven useful to me - especially during my period of unemployment.  It would be all too easy to get too lazy, and let one of the last of my "daily" activities become an "occasional" activity.

- - - - - -

Writing entries ahead of time forces me to think about how to make an idea interesting - even if I have touched on a topic several times before. For example, unemployment keeps raising its ugly head.  But there is only so much I can mention it, before it gets boring.  I can say the same thing about Lili's travails most of the time. So I've leaned on a daily narrative, in order to preserve a form of freshness that one can only get by not looking ahead into the future, or regurgitating the past.

The biggest benefit to entries like this one is simple - it forces me to think out of the box for a while. And this allows me to take a new perspective when I get back to writing about my daily events....