Saturday, August 24, 2019

One wonders how some people get by in life.



As I might have mentioned before, my friend JS is nearing retirement and has family responsibilities that take up much of her time and money.  Her current plans are to work in her new job for the next two years, then move to Florida for her retirement.  A problematic complication is that her daughter wants to live with (or near) her mother and that her daughter wants to go to college near where JS works in New York.

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Recently, JS and I had an interesting conversation via text:

My daughter is giving me the freaking silent treatment because I said I need to eventually move

You want to move and live where it’s warm and less expensive. She can’t deal with change, as she’s probably afraid of adult struggles 

She says I can't leave her. Says she can't go back to FL Am I fucking stuck because of her?!?!? 


No, but you will want to move anyway. I think she will have to grow up if you make her do so. I’m not sure of how to do it, as I am not a parent. Don’t neglect your son and his issues. He is a happy healthy person as I understand it. But he is still not yet independent.

I met with financial advisor today who said I can retire now and should move to Century village now. My daughter had a freaking cow when I mentioned it

Her problem. Just make sure that you invite me down in the winter....

I don't see it happening for another year.

Be honest and tell her this. She will always be able to live with you. But she has to learn how to live on her own. No matter what you do, no matter how many people you talk to, your decision is yours not mine or anyone else's. You will know the right thing to do when it's time to do it.

She's having a shit fit

Her problem again. Don’t let her crucify you. She’ll need the year to prepare herself

That's what I think. Financial advisor says to do it now, but that's just not going to work

One year would be respectable. You should stay on your new job for a year. Then use family reasons to retire. Be careful though, as your daughter may need medical insurance on your plan. 

Financial advisor says she can get my daughter insurance Waiting the year risks real estate downturn, which is quite likely. But, I really can't pull the rug out from under her feet right now.

Damned if you do and damned if you don't. I think you'll probably be okay until the end of the school year. After that anything goes.

Yup But don't you think it's fair to give a year, come what may?

Well a year is usually going to be from roughly now to the end of June / early July. If it's not exactly a year you at least gave them a full school year which is the most important thing. 

And my daughter...

That was the gist of our first chat. Although I could go on, JS's financial advisor doesn't engender much trust from what JS has said. We chatted more over the next day, and I got more of the details of what's going on - and I want to be there when she next meets with the advisor. I am not sure if the person is acting in JS's best interest, and I want to see that this interest is served.  JS is overwhelmed by the headaches of dealing with her daughter, seeing that she gets the health treatment she needs, and makes it possible for her daughter to get the education she needs for her future.  So it is essential that someone is there for JS as she prepares to make some of the most important decisions of her life.

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Given that JS has to do this all on her own, I think it's a miracle that she hasn't slit her throat by now. So, if I can, I'll be there for "moral support" while she deals with the headaches she'll likely have over the next month or so....







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Friday, August 23, 2019

Indecision and decision


Indecision. It's a curse, but one we all deal with from time to time.  Lili had her on-again/off-again relationship with the ex-boyfriend.  I had my on-again/off-again feelings with Ex-GF-M. But the longer it takes one's mind up on any subject, the more one will have to pay later on for that indecision.

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Recently, I encountered the opposite of what I suffer from, someone who tends to make hasty decisions.  JS needed to replace her car if she were to take her new position in Brooklyn.  However, it wasn't an emergency that she do so.  She had a little bit of time and flexibility to replace the car, and to think of what she needed in that car.

JS lives in Fairfield county, and commuted to Queens, NY.  This Fall, she commutes from Connecticut to Brooklyn, a 150 mile round trip.  She only needs a car with all wheel drive in severe weather, and if needed, she could always call out for the day.  (Famous last words.)  So she called me one day and asked if I could go out with her and do some car shopping that she wasn't really prepared to do.  Instead of waiting for a week, she ended up signing a contract to purchase first car that was offered to her, but not yet the car she wanted to buy.

The next week, I was able to get together with JS, and I agreed to go with her to pick up her new car.  The old car had 230k+ miles on it, and it was a gamble of how long the car could stay on the road without major problems.  She wanted to be rid of it, and be in a new car - and that she did that Friday.  However, she didn't think things out.  Her son's truck was out of commission and needed to be replaced.  And if she didn't want to lend the son her new car, she should have kept the old car for her son's local driving.  So, now she's regretting the process of rushing into her decision to buy a new car.

Did she need all wheel drive?  No.  Without this, she could have gone with a less expensive SUV or a Sedan.  At the age of 65, she doesn't need a long term commitment to pay for a car.  Instead, she needs to be free of commitments, including that to take care of a grown son AND to continue being a nursemaid to her daughter's needs.  Since her daughter legitimately needs help, I can't blame a mother for taking care of a daughter.  But the daughter could end up destroying the mother because the mother hasn't set any limits.

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In the past week or so, I gave JS some simple advice - don't be in a rush to make decisions.  Sometimes, the uncomfortable feelings that lead to indecision must be heeded, and further research and analysis performed.  If JS had done this, instead of making a rash decision, her son would have a car and she would have a manageable car payment. In regard to her daughter, JS would have had the energy to help deal with the daughter's problems more effectively....





Thursday, August 22, 2019

Whatever goes up will come down.



Last night, the news reports commented that they expected a stock market drop to take place today.  Their predictions came true today, with a large drop in the market's value.  I'm not sure if I should bail out again, or just ride things out.  But if I could quickly convert all my 401k assets into cash, I'd still regret what I've lost in riding the market to its high and being a little too greedy.

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Something woke me up a little after 6 am today.  So I decided to get dressed and go over to Mavis (again) to get my oil change and tire rotation.  Unfortunately, their waste oil hadn't been drained yet, so I decided to come back later in the day and see if there was a slot available then.

Next, I figured that it was time to get my shingles shot.  When I last visited the pharmacy, they said that they didn't have the first (of two) shots in stock and to see them on the weekend.  Since I had to pick up a couple of refills that I didn't switch to mail order delivery, I figured that I'd ask about the shot today - and finally got the shot after a couple of years of delay. Then it was back home to rest.  I must have needed it, as I started to play the latest episode of John Oliver's show, and woke up after it had ended.

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I called Mavis back, and they suggested that I should go in tomorrow for an oil change.  If I do that, I'll have to be up at an ungodly hour of the morning (for me) to do so.  But I may just do that if GFJ is OK with it.  She wants to be on the road early enough to miss rush hour on our way to meet her kids.

This left me with a decision.  Do I go back to Mavis late in the day to see if they could squeeze me in?  Or, do I change into Marian mode, pick up the dress that's waiting for me there, and spend one last evening this week in Marian mode before presenting as Mario for the next 5 days?  So I decided to relax a bit before making this decision.

The decision was to call Mavis.  They said that they could take my car in for service around 4:30.  So I made it there by 4:15.  This was a good thing, as in addition to needing an oil change and tire rotation, the car needed new front brake pads.  Instead of getting out of there with a $75 bill, I got out of there spending $175 - Mavis was running a brake pad special this week.  And to make things even better, I was out of there before 5:30!

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Once done with Mavis, I came home and changed into Marian mode.  And I was then off to Target to pick up a dress that was at the store.  While driving there, I noticed something was wrong - my left headlight was out.  So I picked up the dress and hurried over to Advance Auto Parts to pick up a replacement headlight.  Unlike GFJ's experience, the fellow was not going to replace the bulb for me - even though I was prepared to tip him $10 for his effort. So I figured that I'd pick up some money from the bank for an upcoming weekend trip, and try to make it home without being stopped by a cop.

Thankfully, I still have good night vision. I got home without incident. After eating Chinese takeout, I viewed a Youtube video showing me how to get at the light bulb and how to replace it. So that will be something I will take care of before GFJ arrives tomorrow morning.





Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Quickie: A day free, but with things to do.


When I awakened this morning, I had a question to answer.  Do I really want to try to get the car over to Mavis?  Or, do I want to go back to sleep?  And I decided to dwell in the land of nod for a couple more hours....

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Eventually, I decided to get up.  But I didn't have much on my agenda.  So I decided to watch the boob tube for a while.  Towards mid afternoon, Lili called and we decided to get together.  By this time, I was looking to make a quick stop over at Target and pick up the above dress from their service desk.  Unfortunately, I missed the chance to get the dress today, but I can get it tomorrow.  Fortunately, I got the chance to see Lili for a change.

Lili and I met at Panera, and both of us had a little something to eat.  I told her the story of JS and her daughter, and Lili kept defensively interrupting what I was trying to say.  Lili overly identified with JS's daughter, and wasn't able to deal with the other point of view.  Lili feels that the mother should continue her sacrifices for her daughter for an unspecified time, and not set a hard limit that her daughter might not be able to meet.  Yet, I will give Lili some credit - she recognizes the daughter's problem, and sees some hope.  (I see someone who needs to be prodded to develop life skills, and needs to be made very uncomfortable to be catalyzed to take positive life actions.)

After I was done with Lili, it was up to Milton to go to tonight's meetup at Buttermilk falls inn and spa.  This place had a farm to table restaurant on site that serves very good food.  Given that I was a little low on funds, I decided to have a humble burger, while the lady next to me enjoyed lamb chops.  However, before dinner was served, the two of us got into a pleasantly animated conversation regarding a cross country trip from the SF Bay area to Chicago with an overnight in LA.  I mentioned the circumstances that caused me to stay at the Ritz Milner hotel, the hotel from purgatory, followed by a stay at the Hotel Seneca.  She enjoyed the story.  And then we started chatting on the absurdity of women's clothing and the headaches of wearing it.  By the time I got to Donna Karan's design for men's body suits, I had made this woman's night! 

Shortly after we finished with that line of chat, our dinners slowly came.  We were among the last people to finish our food.  But it was well worth the wait.  This was the best hamburger I've had in a while, and the lamb chops were cited just as good by the lady next to me. By the time we paid our bills and left the place, it was about 9:45 pm.  So I decided to call it a night, drive home, and go to sleep....

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Quickie: Accompanying JS to the FInancial Advisor.


In the past, I've mentioned that I've been looking for a financial advisor who I can talk with and fine tune my retirement strategies.  I think I've just found someone I can talk with - all I need to do is find out her fees....

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This morning, JS and I had a scheduled visit with a financial advisor.  JS was unhappy with the advice the advisor had given her.  However, without meeting this person, I couldn't judge what the woman was like, nor could I get a handle of what was going on with JS.

We had an 11:30 am appointment, and met in Ridgefield beforehand.  JS needed to chat, and her nerves were getting to her.  With the problems she's been having over the past year and having a job she doesn't like in a location she hates, I'm surprised that she hasn't hung herself yet.  But I digress.

Sometimes, going to a financial advisor is like going to a therapist.  One knows that something is very wrong, but isn't comfortable admitting it to one's self.  JS was in this situation.  Today, JS saw the light, but could not act on it.  It made financial sense for JS to retire now, sell the house, move to Florida and leave her daughter behind to fend for herself. It also made sense from a mental health perspective - JS's daughter has created a codependent relationship between mother and daughter, and JS being in the position of the abused person.

Sadly, JS will likely end up living off her Social Security check, with the money gained from the sale of her house being her only important asset.  An insurance policy would partially be turned into cash, so that JS could pay off some credit card bills, while some serious cost cutting would be done to save about $500-$1,000 per month.  In the end, she will be living on less money than I have coming in from my pension alone.

We discussed a lot more, much of it related to JS's daughter.  She is the albatross hanging around JS's neck.  Yet, I understand what is happening - JS is afraid to cut the umbilical cord between JS and her daughter, as she is afraid that the daughter will fail.  The advisor is advocating tough love - and she is probably right, as she already deals with another young woman who was put in a "sink or swim" situation who is now getting her life together.


Guess which advisor I'm going to call when I'm ready to lay my financial information out for analysis....




PS: This week's Freshly box was properly delivered.  Let's hope this is the start of a good routine.






Monday, August 19, 2019

I almost called this ship the Double Nickel.


The Kalmar Nyckel.  It's a modern day replica of an old Dutch sailing ship that currently travels along the East Coast for educational purposes.  The photo can not do the ship justice, as the colors were much more vivid than what can be captured by camera.

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Now that the Summer semester's speech therapy sessions have ended, I was free to go to GFJ on Friday instead of going up on Saturday.  Given that GFJ comes down here more often than not, I figured that I should go up and visit her after doing a volunteer stint at the GLBT Center.  

I won't rehash the air conditioner troubles I mentioned in an earlier post.  But let's say that it would influence my mood I was going to have all weekend.  Knowing that I am lucky enough to deal with problems like this now and then with an application of money, this problem would be like an itch that's impossible to scratch - one knows what has to be done, but one can't do a darned thing about it without help.

Arriving at GFJ's place later than expected, we cooked some steaks in the moonlight (or what passed for it) and then retired early, as we were both very tired.

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Saturday came, and we decided to take care of errands, then do some sightseeing. Around mid afternoon, we ended up at the Kingston waterfront and see the Kalmar Nyckel in port. Neither of us were interested in going out for a sail. But we were interested in visiting the Hudson River Maritime Museum.  So inside we went.

The Maritime Museum is a nice place to visit.  There was too much of a focus on model ships (of varying quality) and not enough focus on other artifacts of Maritime History along the Hudson River.  But that's my opinion, and not what others may think after visiting the museum.  Yet, I did learn something - how important the cross river ferries were to the communities along the Hudson, and how much information has been lost about this part of New York's maritime history.

After we were done with the museum, we walked over to Old Savannah to have an early dinner.  They had prepared the inside dining area for a wedding reception, and were seating everyone else outside near the water.  Although it was a nice place to eat, neither of us were impressed by the food.  So I doubt that we'll be going back there any time soon.

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I was surprised to find that I had slept for about 7 hours when I woke up on Sunday.  I didn't need an alarm to get up, and yet, I wished I could have slept a little more.  Yet, by the time we finished breakfast, it was about 11 am, and we still hadn't an idea of what we wanted to do today.  So we ended up deciding to see the residence of another one of the Hudson River School of painters - Thomas Cole.

It took us about 45 minutes to reach the Cole residence, and it was much more humble than Fredrick Church's Olana on the other side of the river.  Unlike Church, Cole started from very humble beginnings and was lucky to become prosperous. There wasn't much to see when we got there, save for the "New Studio", where paintings of Cole's and of others were on display.  Was it worth the time we spent?  Maybe.  But it was a good excuse to get out for the day.

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When we were done with the Cole House, we went to Catskill for dinner.  I wasn't expecting much from the New York Restaurant,  as it served a mix of Polish food and traditional American fare. But it was heavily booked for a Sunday evening, and we figured that any place that's busy on a Sunday was worth trying out.  Now, if you go there, please remember that the kitchen is closed from 4:30-5:00 on Sundays, and that a very limited menu is available.  That's what we tried out - and the 4 appetizers we had were filling enough to cause us not to order main courses.  So go there when you're in the neighborhood - you won't be disappointed.

Next it was back to GFJ's place, and then to home.  Both of us were tired, and wished I could stay the night.  However, I had plans for the next day that I didn't want to break. So, homeward bound I went after a short nap....



Sunday, August 18, 2019

I'm still not happy with my voice.


It's hard to believe that this opera singer is a baritone until you look a little more closely at the bone structure.  She is a M2F Transgender, out in the open and singing men's roles in public.  I just wonder if she's also worked her voice to speak in the androgynous vocal range when she's not on stage.

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Why did I look up Lucia Lucas when I don't care for any opera written by people other than George Gershwin?  The answer starts in an article in the New York Times regarding transgender opera singers.  These people have had to overcome a lot of prejudice.  And there are some M2F transgenders, such as Brianna Sinclaire, who have had to do the "impossible" to sing in a feminine voice.  So there is hope for someone like me to have a voice that doesn't give me away as being trans.

Over the past couple of years, I have been undergoing speech therapy at Mercy College.  It's helped me a great deal but I sense there's a limit to where I can go with my voice.  Yet, I feel that I have come a long way, given my earlier feminine voice in this sample clip and my current feminine voice in this sample clip. I still don't have proper feminine prosody yet, but my voice does sound much better than it did several years ago.

Although I can still hear the masculine undertones in my voice, they may be more pronounced to me because I know the person making the sounds is a biological male who is learning to speak as a female.  Do others hear these undertones?  Are they aware of what these  undertones are?  Am I deceiving myself to think that my voice is allowing me to "pass" 95% of the time?  Who knows?

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Right now, I'm thinking of Lucia Lucas and wondering - would I be able to have a healthy relationship with a woman if I were to transition?  And would a woman want to be with me?  It would certainly not be the type of life I expected for myself 50 years ago.