Thursday, July 31, 2014

A new wig.... Of course, it looks better on the model.

This is the wig I bought - but in a different shade than what I'm wearing.  It's a nice wig, but it doesn't frame my face as well as it does on this model....  This could be me styling it wrong - so I'll give it some time to grow on me.

Comparing the feel of this wig to the wig I've been wearing for most of the past year, I'm pleasantly surprised how comfortable a properly sized wig can feel. This is one of the reasons why I suggest buying at least one wig from a good wig store - you can find out your size, see wig hair color samples before you buy, and get information on how to care for your wig, saving you money in the long term.

I decided to spend precious money (now that I'm unemployed) on one of the more expensive wigs sold under this brand name. I wanted a good wig, and I've noticed the little details that make this wig a pleasure to wear - such as the feel of the hair, as it is soft and natural.  If I grow to love this wig, I know I can order it again - and save even more money by buying it online.

- - - - - -

Most of us transgendered folk do not have as much spare cash lying around as I did. So I suggest taking a page out of Molloy's "Dress for Success" book, and examine the look and feel of the best wigs in the shop - and then look for lower priced wigs that have as many of the features of the more expensive wigs as possible.  

Kathleen notes in her blog, that a good hairstyle can save you thousands of dollars you might spend on Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). I agree with her for the most part. Put the right wig on my head, and my face instantly looks feminine. Now if only I could find a good and honest hairdresser who could style my wigs.

- - - - - -

One of the most important things us transgendered folk can have is confidence.  If there are minor flaws in our presentation, it is easy for others to ignore them if we are confident. If we aren't, no degree of perfection can help.

But enough for tonight....   It's time for a tune - another cover by a great singer.

Dusty Springfield - You Don't Own Me

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quickie: An intractable problem - Peace in the Middle East

(This post is not related to transgender issues.... Instead, it is a thought experiment designed to promote conversation, and illustrate why some problems are almost impossible to resolve.)

Most of the Arab countries in the Middle East state that they will only recognize Israel's right to exist when the Palestine situation is resolved.  One problem - If one draws a Venn diagram outlining Hamas's demands and Israel's demands, there is no middle ground.  Stratfor's article, Gaming Israel and Palestine, gives a good idea why peace is not possible. To me, it boils down to one key issue: Israel needs to have defensible borders AND be sure that the Palestinians can not attack Israel. Palestine requires that Israel leave the Palestinian territories, without any ways of guaranteeing that Israel will never need to fight a war over this land again.

The problem is getting worse with every year, and Israel keeps surrendering more and more of the moral high ground in order to guarantee its existence.  "Never again!" is a legitimate rallying cry for Jews, both in Israel and around the world. But it is the interference of outsiders like Russia, Iran, Turkey, France and the USA which help keep making things worse, as each of these powers have interests in the region that are not being discussed publicly. (For example, Israel gets to use American and French built fighter jets - a form of field testing which could never take place in countries that are officially at peace. And where is Hamas getting its missiles....?)

I don't want to take sides here. Both parties are responsible for the violence, and it has become a chicken and egg issue - we'll never really know what happened first. Yet, I do believe that this war is directly related to the carve up of the Ottoman Empire by the victors of World War 1. Had we left the Ottoman empire intact, they would have been able to keep a lid on this mess.

Of course, had the WWI allies been smart, they would not have taken land away from Germany after WWI, nor would they have forced the Germans to pay off war debts to the Allies. (If I recall correctly, even Churchill felt that this treaty would cause Germany to fight another war in his lifetime.)  Anyone who has seen the opening sequences of  "Triumph of the Will" will notice how the Germans felt about what was lost by the Treaty of Versailles - humiliated and emasculated. And this film makes it clear that even sane people could choose an evil person to lead them, if they regain a sense of honor and power.

We can not allow fertile ground for another Hitler. But as a concerned nation, what can we do to alleviate the suffering of the innocent, without rewarding either side of the Israel/Palestine dispute? Sadly, I don't see much that can be done - both sides have too much to gain from the status quo (as noted in the cited article). Maybe, the civilized nations of the world should try a different strategy - pull out, and let the fires burn, but contained only to that region.  Palestine would be fighting guerrilla war against hi-tech Israel. 

Years ago, someone said that this war would end when both sides care more about their children than continuing the war. Could letting the two sides bloody themselves to exhaustion be a route to peace? As long as any foreign power is assisting any of the warring factions, we'll never know....

Cupid, draw back your bow....

Sam Cooke had the voice of an angel, But that was the only thing about him that was angelic -the rest of him was as mortal and flawed as the rest of us.  Sadly, he has not been with us for half a century, due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong woman. His was an extreme case - he died under mysterious circumstances by a gun shot wound.  To be very cynical - he went out with a bang!

What does this have to do with being transgender?

Sam Cooke was very careless with how he lived his personal life. And many of us transgendered folk get so caught up in the present moment, that they are not thinking towards the future. Poverty cripples many of us. The loss of friends and family cripples many of us. But for the most part, we can simply suspend good judgement in pursuit of our goal of being our true selves.

- - - - - - 

I'm lucky to have a generally risk adverse nature. Going out and about en-femme took time for me to be comfortable with the idea, and then it took time for me to be comfortable with people knowing that I do so. What would people say?  What could they do to me? I quickly found out that it didn't matter what they said, as they weren't saying it at my job, nor were they saying it to my family. And as a result, there was nothing they could do to me.

But how should I manage dating?  Sooner or later, GFL and I will need to finally clarify what our long term intents are regarding each other. And I have been a little afraid to do so while looking for work.  (I'll have to talk to Vicki and write down what she suggests should be my opening for a talk with GFL.)  There are women who have responded to my Marian Mode ad, but not that many have sounded reasonably sane, sober, and able to take care of themselves.

- - - - - -

One thing I keep trying to do is stretch the envelope regarding the experiences I partake in while in Marian Mode.  Unfortunately, for a long while, I have been unable to wake up early enough on a Sunday morning to go to a GLBT friendly church. (And this trait still continues.)  It's not that I'm religious. Instead, I'm looking to participate in as many social activities as I can while in Marian Mode. This is important to me. I'm finding that I'm willing to sacrifice what's left of my masculinity to be part of the female world. 

Of course, with this in mind, I was very surprised when one woman answered my Marian Mode personal ad. This lady lives on Long Island, and is both walking distance (a long walk) from my dad's place, and a very short drive from my brother's place. This woman is more than happy if I am en-femme, and she is very comfortable associating with gender variant (both presentation and preference) herself. After a long phone conversation, it looks like we will meet later on in the week and see if there's any chemistry between us.

In our phone conversation, she mentioned that many of her friends were lesbians (her sister also came out a few years ago), and that some people were expecting her to also come out. She protested - she happens to like men and their equipment.  I joked - if I am introduced to them, I should be en-femme, as she could say she found the perfect man.....  

Only time will tell if she's the one which may draw me away from GFL.... (As I said before - I need to know what GFL's intents are before letting someone else get serious with me....)

- - - - - -

So I'll close things off with my customary little tune - one great singer covering another's hit....

Otis Redding - Cupid

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Waiting for the Grim Reaper to call....

In a way, we're lucky that the Grim Reaper is not as incompetent as Homer Simpson. If he was, the world would be even more crowded than it is now - and we'd have even more disputes that could never be resolved.

Sadly, one of my good friends is dying of terminal cancer. She had colon cancer, and it was detected too late to do much about it. For a while now, I've been trying to reach her (or her husband) to see if there was a day that I could come up and visit for 15-30 minutes. This would take a 4-5 hour drive each way, plus an overnight stay.  All this, just for a short visit....

Of course, I would have driven up in Marian Mode.  She knows that I dress en-femme, and that I travel this way. But she's never seen me fully dressed en-femme. So, if I went up, I'd have needed to switch back to boy mode, in order to avoid any confusion when I  would have visited.

It's just as well that I don't know her likely funeral plans. But I think she will likely have her ashes scattered in the lake behind her Cape Cod house. But she (or her husband) may surprise me, and yet opt for a plain pine box burial.  (She stressed that my wife should have the plain pine box - the dead can not appreciate any luxury in the coffin - why give the funeral home any more money than you need to?)

Sadly, the Grim Reaper will come for all of us one of these days. But hopefully, not too soon. There are rare times that death can be laughed at. But that laugh is usually one of nervousness - none of us knows what is on the other side of the divide, if there's anything there at all.  My friend on the Cape once told me that life wouldn't have any meaning without death. Knowing that the Grim Reaper is coming should provide all of us with an impetus to do the things that really count in life before it is too late.  And in my case, it was recognizing my transgendered nature, and living as fully as possible with it, instead of in fear of it.

On that note, I will close out with my usual tune (a cover of a classic)....

Ed Sheeran - Candle in the Wind

Monday, July 28, 2014

A day doing nothing, and yet....

One of the benefits of wearing longer skirts is not having to be as worried if one gets out of a car in a less than ladylike manner - nothing you don't want to be seen can be seen. Much the same can be said for wearing a skort, as underneath the skirt is enough fabric to emulate wearing a pair of shorts.

As I started to write this entry Thursday night, I couldn't get to sleep until after 4:00 am. So, when the alarm woke me up on Friday, I cancelled my registration at a couple of Webinars I was supposed to attend and went back to sleep.  Little did I know that I'd be sleeping until 1:00 pm. As a result, by the time I made it out of my apartment, it was after 4:00 pm. 

I had no plans - I just needed to get out. So I drove to Poughkeepsie to see what they had at Catherine's. And the pickings were slim, as they had not yet restocked the store with fall/winter clothes. Looping back the long way (via the Taconic Parkway and Peekskill Hollow Road, roads well known to people who live in my neck of the woods), I ended up stopping at Kohl's and picked up a pair of woman's shorts. Did I need the shorts? No. But they were marked down for season end, and I could still get 4-6 weeks use out of them. And then it was back home to relax.

- - - - - -

On the drive home, I ran some numbers. My target retirement date was somewhere between the time I turned 67 and the time I turned 70. I am now 10 years short of that time frame. Unlike most people, my pension plan allows me to collect a pension (at full rate) beginning at the age of 57. So, if I find a job by year end, and work 10 more years, the following situation will take place:

Scenario 1 - If had I been able to stay with my former firm:

       A. I worked to age 67 1/2 in my first and only firm.
       B. I collected my pension at age 67 1/2 - roughly 40x my last yearly salary.
       C. No extra money in bank.

Scenario 2 - Being forced to leave my former firm, and finding work by year-end:

       A. I worked to age 57 in my first firm.
       B. Supplemental Unemployment Benefits bridge me until I find work at year end.
       C. I turned on pension with my first firm, collecting roughly 1/3 my last yearly
            salary and banking it.

       D. I work from age 57 1/2 to age 67 1/2 in my new firm, possibly accruing some
            pension benefits.

       E. At age 67 1/2, I have 3x my yearly salary in the bank. 
At age 67 1/2, the difference between pension benefits in the two scenarios is roughly 35%. If my calculations are right, it would take about 25 years for Scenario A to return more money to me than Scenario B (before or after taxes). And even better, I have this money in my hands now - when I have a better chance of enjoying its use.

- - - - - -

Right now, I just need to relax. Burnout hit me hard over the past two years. The job no longer brought me any joy or any feeling that I accomplished anything. Yet, I'd like to get back to work in a new position/new firm while I still have the work habit ingrained in me. And I keep on sending out resumes in the hope that I'm the right person for a job. But I have asked myself - would I consider transition before retirement? And as much as I'd love to be going to work as a female, I can't see this happening in my present career. (If I can't find work in my field within a year, I know I can always work in retail - a hellish choice.) 

- - - - - -

So, I'll close off with a humorous video about interviewing....

Glove and Boots - Job Interview Tips

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A change in schedule allowed me to meet someone new.

It's been a while since I took a selfie of a new wardrobe combination, so I figured that I'd give you an idea of what I was wearing to last week's Women's Night Out in Beacon, and to this week's board games night in Yonkers.    Although I think I've hit my limit for what I can do about my face, I still can make my body appear more feminine.

Before I left for my volunteer stint at the GLBT Center, I exchanged a series of text messages with V, my polyamorous friend. (See this link for more information.) We were supposed to meet for lunch on Friday, but she suggested that she bring her girlfriend (non-platonic) along with her for dinner on Thursday.  I said - "Sure, the more the merrier!", and then left for White Plains.

Today's work at the GLBT Center involved me bringing the meetup calendar and website up to date, as well as generating a couple of new flyers for some functions they have going on over the next few months - and the time passed very quickly, as 5:00 came earlier than I would have thought - and it was off to dinner with V and her friend, J.  When I got to the restaurant, I had to wait for a few minutes. And I was very surprised when I saw her girlfriend - she was LARGE (read: tall, well rounded, and well proportioned) - even compared with me.  (I could very easily get attracted to her in female mode - If I am going to be held in someone's arms as the "smaller" person, I'd want someone like her!)  We went inside and had a nice sushi (and more) dinner, and sadly, things were over too soon.  Hopefully, I'll have another chance to be with V and J soon - they are a great couple....

After dinner, it was off to games night.  This time, I decided to pick up a Boston Creme Pie for my offering - and once it was opened, it went quickly. The most notable thing of the evening was the appearance of N, who hasn't been with us for a month due to the typical ailments from the early stages of pregnancy. I was very glad to see her again - she's a great gal, and I hope to be able to continue developing a friendship with her that will last - even when she's unable to go to games night because of "baby duty".

- - - - - -

Thinking a little about J.... I think I've just learned (in my own way) a little of how a typical woman may feel when looking at a man. She is large, and in the bedroom, I'd love to be held in her arms, to fall asleep in her arms, the way I hold women in my arms in male mode. It's a feeling of being safe and secure, with someone there to protect me. This is not a feeling I've had before, as I have always been bigger than the women I've slept with. It's a pleasant feeling that I figure is hard wired into most women of our species. And it is something I'm glad I could sense, and could only sense because I was en-femme at the time I sensed it.

- - - - - -

On that note, I'll leave off with another little tune.

Fats Waller - Two Sleepy People

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Interviewing - I understand why people get nervous

This was the first time in 4 phone interviews that I've felt nervous about doing well. Do I have the right skills? Did I make any serious mistakes? Could I have done better?

Could you imagine if I had to deal with the additional handicap of announcing that I am transgender while interviewing?  We are a small enough minority that it is easy to discriminate against us. And it's hard for many of us to be completely stealth post transition because of the "damaging" effects that years of excess testosterone has done to our bodies.

- - - - - -

As I've said before - I'm one of the lucky ones who have resources enough to get by on her own. But what about the rest of us?  How many of us are living below the poverty line?

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender people are four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical person in the U.S. Ninety percent of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination on the job. Almost one in five reported being homeless at some point in their lives. A 2007 Williams Institute report titled “Bias in the Workplace: Consistent Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination” finds that transgender people report high unemployment rates and low earnings: in sample surveys, 22 to 64 percent of transgender people reported earning less than $25,000 per year.

One of the bloggers whose posts I regularly read has flirted with homelessness herself - and she is still a paycheck away from disaster. It seems like the vast majority of transgender people I see on Facebook have mentioned how close they are to financial disaster. Only a small few who have either retired, or who work at large firms with GLBT protection policies, seem to be doing reasonably well.  As for the rest of us....

- - - - - -

Often, when we're young, we neither have the wisdom to recognize our transgendered natures, nor do we have the financial resources to get the therapies, treatments, and procedures we need - when they could do us the most good. And when we're older, we have to make greater sacrifices to be our true selves - a more costly price to be paid than when we were younger.

It is no wonder why many of us have to live two lives....

So I'll close off with a country tune.....

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty - You're the Reason Our Kids are Ugly.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gender Cues

Looking at the drawing above, can you tell the gender of the above person?  In the past, wearing trousers alone would indicate that the person is male. But no longer. In the past, having long hair was an indicator that the person is female. But no longer. Today, we depend on a variety of cues to determine whether a person is male or female - and it is easy to get confused, especially when the person presents well, but is at the statistical extremes of his/her gender.

Since I've been going out en-femme, I've been refining the female cues I've been sending out, so that I maximize the chances of being perceived as female.

The image above illustrates the mechanism I depend on for this perception. If I'm sending out enough of the right cues, I am perceived as a tall, zaftig, so-so looking woman most of the time. But I am still "read" from time to time. I found this article very interesting, as it touches on topics I've tried to cover here with less success:

You Can be Womanly, Manly, or Both, at Work

There is much that we can do as M2F transgendered folk to improve our presentations, and be accepted as female (or male for F2M transgendered folk). And this involves study, practice, and repetition. This means we will make many mistakes as part of our learning processes. The more successful we become at sending female cues, the more we will be accepted as females.

- - - - - -

Let's focus first on the face. If you have an extremely masculine face, there's not much you can do without facial surgery. However, a good hair style (wig or natural) and a good makeup job can do wonders - it does so for me. Next comes the voice. Most men can train their voices to talk in a feminine timber, and learn feminine styles of speech. After this comes dressing. This might be harder than one would think, as men do not put as much effort into the subtleties of getting dressed. For example, the wearing of skirts and dresses will vary based on both age and weather - and even if you're dressing tastefully, wearing a dress could be an indicator that you are not a natal female. And then come the little cues - nail polish, jewelry, and miscellaneous accessories.

- - - - - -

Adults have learned that it is a social mistake to misidentify others, and will do their damnedest to making this mistake and offend another person. That's part of the humor behind Julia Sweeney's "It's Pat" routines. Children, on the other hand, have not internalized these rules. So when the hostess's child at Thursday's board games night asked me whether I was pregnant (see entry: Being open to the world), it didn't bother me at all - I am open about being TG, and I don't take any offense when someone identifies me as a female. If anything, it means that I'm presenting enough cues to be identifies in the way I want to be identified.

Thinking about this child, I realized that she had not yet learned all the cues that identify people as male and female. She had not yet learned all the rules of our culture's idea of what good taste is. Her innocence was a breath of fresh air, as there was no malice in her questions, no intent to offend, and no worry about whether she was doing the right thing. She accepted me for who I was, and merely was curious about me. Too bad adults can't always be this way....

- - - - - -

So I'll close off with a tune....

Paul McCartney - I've Just Seen a Face

Being awake at 2:00 am has got me thinking

I've always been a night owl, and this article notes that people awake at night are more intelligent than the average person.  Before you start jumping up and down, it also notes that us night owls tend to have greater emotional instability and deal with depression. Although I've conquered a form of instability, I still deal with physical depression on a regular basis.

- - - - - -

Since I lost my job, I've kept my friends and acquaintances aware of what has been going on in my job search. And I have been in contact with my ex-girlfriend Patty (and her husband), keeping up to date with her progress as well. Tonight, I told her of my attendance at a women's meetup, where we get together to shoot the breeze and have female company for one evening. I'll bet there's a part of her mind that's trying to get a handle on having dated a transgender person who can be comfortable on both sides of the gender divide.

When Patty and I were a couple, we had a good sex life. (I won't go into that here - it is private history for us, and something to be left in the past.) And I hope that her sex life with her husband is even better than what we had. But if you were a woman married to someone else, what would be on your mind if the man you once dated was going around and being accepted as a woman?

- - - - - -

I guess that any woman I date will have to come to grips with her own identity if she is serious about dating me. Some women who have responded to my Marian Mode personal ad have been financial basket cases. Others have been curiosity seekers. But I have had only a very small numbers who were interested in me as a "regular person". This is a problem with being reasonably honest when in the dating pool as a TG.

So, I take my time, and enjoy GFL's company while it lasts. I'd like to think that she wants me as a long term partner, but I am prepared for a time she says I'm not that partner.  Either way, I know that I won't be without company - even if that means I'm without romance for a while.

- - - - - -

Of course, having been awake at 2:00 am is no picnic.  I wish I could be as casual as the woman depicted in the picture below:

The picture (Sleeping Paleontologist)  is even more beautiful when viewed in person - especially when looking at the woman.  But I often feel like this woman (Multi-Tasking) below:

But like Patty (who went back to bed - 30 miles away), I also tried to get some sleep. So I'll leave off with this little tune....

James Taylor - Still Crazy after all these Years

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thinking of a Summer Vacation (preferably en-femme)

Seattle San Francisco Chicago

These 3 cities are at the top of my list of places to visit in a Summer vacation. And I have already been to both San Francisco and Chicago. 

My general requirements for a place to visit are:
  1. Cool and/or Dry when I visit, as I want to be comfortable en-femme.
  2. Natural Beauty.
  3. Interesting Attractions.
  4. Affordable to visit.
  5. Accessible via Amtrak, as I avoid the headaches of TSA security when possible.
  6. Trans-Friendly.
Given my interest in visiting a city, then again taking a long distance railroad trip which I can no longer afford, I doubt I'll make it to either of the first 2 cities in the above pictures. 

If I can get a job AND arrange for an unpaid week off, I may choose to take another New England/Canada cruise (if one is available), as I did last year with Lili. 

However, the possibilities for another cruise like this are slim for several reasons. First, if I were to find a job, they may not let me schedule a week off.  And if I don't have a job, it would be foolish to go on vacation. Second, assuming GFL is still in the picture, she might be upset if I were to travel with Lili again. Third, Lili might be bored if we took this same cruise again.

So, my schedule and/or employment may make the decision for me - I may end up going to Chicago for a few days and visit a form of Cemetery.  Mike Royko once said: "The Chicago Cubs, like life itself, are a losing cause. That's why we have cemeteries. And Wrigley Field."

Hopefully, they will be in town that week. I'd hate to go to the South side to watch 9 innings of baseball....

If I were to travel en-homme, many more options would be available to me. There are acquaintances of mine who've said they'd put me up for a night or two if I were to travel to meet them. I might take one up on one of these offers, as I'd like to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. And if I decide to drive (something I don't want to do), I could even make a stop at Fallingwater, switching between en-femme and en-homme as needed. 

However, I'm not in the mood to put in 1,500+ miles on my car in 2 or 3 days worth of driving. Mass transit is much more convenient for me, and taxes me much less than if I were behind the wheel. In my mid 20's, I'd think nothing of driving 20 straight hours to meet up with a friend in St. Louis. But in my mid 50's, issues such as Highway Hypnosis are important concerns to me. So I'll likely leave the driving to someone else.

At this point, could I consider either Toronto or Montreal? They are both wonderful cities to visit, and with the minor headache of having to learn a little French before visiting Montreal, would be good choices.

Toronto Montreal

The answer would be "Yes". But I'm not in the mood to cross national borders en-femme without someone traveling with me. Who knows what would happen if a TSA agent (or Canadian equivalent) wanted to cause me some trouble for who and what I am? Couple this with a minor currency headache, and I'll leave these cities alone for now, maybe visiting them on future vacations. 

Sadly, all I can do it think about this vacation right now. If I'm really lucky, I'll find a job, and be able to schedule it when I can really enjoy it....

Until then - A pleasant bit of music that's 3/4's fab.....

Paul, George, and Ringo - Jam Session

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Man's best friend...

This is a picture of a dog with charisma. Although he was trained not to relieve himself in GFL's house, that's the only way in which he has been trained - and yet, people love him - as if it were instinct to do so.

Sometime this morning, Lili called me to tell me that she had to put down her dog. Lili loved her dog as if it was a member of her family. During the last few months of the dog's life, the Vet's bills were well into the 4 digit range - and even Lili noticed the expenses were getting high.

- - - - - -

But I didn't mean for this entry to focus on the dogs in my life.  Instead, the dogs got me thinking about friendship, and what it means to us.

One of the consequences that most of us have when outing ourselves as transgender is that we lose some of each due to their discomfort with that part of our nature. They don't understand why we would change one of our culture's core characteristics about an individual. And they can't deal with their own cognitive dissonances.

However, dogs accept us as who we are. They don't judge us - they accompany us for a while on our journeys through life. The only time sex/gender comes into play in their lives is when reproduction comes to the forefront. Male dogs will almost always gravitate to females in heat - and it often is not a species specific urge, as any woman who has had her leg humped by a male dog will tell you.

- - - - - -

Like us, dogs are very social animals. Although there are "lone wolves", most canines seem to be pack animals.  In many ways, human and canine evolution parallel each other, save that the more intelligent, less domesticated blood lines are well on their way to being unique species of canines.  With humans, people with these traits are simply being selected out of the blood line due to a lack of social skills....

Us transgendered folk need our friends. And I believe that the friendships we have are more valuable to us than to the average person. Part of the reason for this value is the loss of friends and family I note above. But I think it is more than that - we need to develop new, additional social links in order to survive, and we value those links highly.

I have chosen to develop links with as many genetic females as I can. Working en-homme and living en-femme helps, as it supplies the money I need to afford building the social networks I need. But it is awkward for me - I always have to be "gender aware" - something that most people never need concern themselves about. The most obvious example that may come to most people's mind is bathroom use. It is more than that. I have to be aware of what voice I'm using, how I'm dressed, as well as what I "know" when in the gender in which I'm presenting. Even stories I tell have to be edited, so that the original connections make sense for a person of my (presently presenting) gender to tell....

- - - - - -

Even when one follows all "the rules", one can easily have disappointments.  One person who I thought was interested in meeting for coffee - as "just friends" was misread.  She used the same excuse twice to avoid setting a date for coffee - and I figure she's trying to use a friendly way to avoid saying "No".  That's OK with me - especially when I understand that females avoid making definitive statements when a simple deflection will do. 

And then, there was the retired lady at Beacon games night - she made the innocent mistake, slipping into a use of the wrong pronoun.  My feminine signaling probably wasn't as strong as it needed to be. Yet, on the way home, the checkout lady at the supermarket down the hill did something nice for me - the type of friendly action that women do for each other.

- - - - - -

Our social rules are very complex - unlike those of our canine companions. And each gender's rules can be mastered with effort, but perfection is not possible. Even natal women make mistakes - but they are sending enough cues, that no one thinks of them as anything but women. Hopefully, I'll be able to reduce my miscue rate to a low enough value that I'll be much more unnoticeable than I am now - except to be noticed as a female..... 

- - - - - -

On that note, I'll close out this entry with my usual tune - hope the cliches make you smile.

Confederate Railroad - She Never Cried

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's a long way... to Tipperary and Staten Island.

No, I did not break up with GFL. But I did mention that I would not be seeking positions in Lower Manhattan unless I were living with her. (I hope this makes her think a little about long term issues.)

Staten Island (Richmond County) is the one borough of New York City that seems to be an afterthought in every major decision made by City government. Transit between Staten Island points in New Jersey is easier than between Staten Island and points in the rest of New York City - there are three bridges linking the island to New Jersey and one to the rest of New York. In fact, some express buses from Manhattan to Staten Island go through New Jersey because it is a more predictable trip.

I figure that it is a 65-70 mile trip for me to make each time I visit GFL. What was once effectively a free trip for me using mass transit now costs me at least $25 in tolls, $15 in gas, plus the wear and tear on the car. OUCH! Yet, I will not give up GFL because she is geographically undesirable.

With the above being said, what will cause us to break up will be either one of two things: (1) She has grown tired of me, or (2) She is not able to deal with my transgendered nature. Either way, it is still worth my investment in time and money to see her - for now. 

- - - - - -

This coming week, I'll be going to games night on both Monday and Thursday, a co-op board meeting in Tuesday, and a Woman's night out on Wednesday.  I will also have a second interview for a new position on Tuesday as well. My dance card is effectively filled!   Unfortunately, I will not be able to get a mani-pedi until Wednesday due to the co-op board meeting in which I must attend en-homme.

On Friday, I sent out emails requesting information for buying a wig.  From the store I visited last Wednesday, I asked the owner to check if she can get the wig in a certain style.  If she can get it at a reasonable price, I'll order it from her and help keep a small local business viable. If she can't, I have a question open to an on-line firm - can they get this wig (at a reasonable price) AND match it as closely as they can to my current wig's hair style? Either way, the wig I noted in last night's post is the only one I really want - and I'm willing to spend "cash money" to get it.

- - - - - - 

I may have mentioned that one of my friends is dying of terminal cancer. I have not yet been able to reach her, and find a time which I can drive up for the night and visit her for a short time the next day. Hopefully, I'll be able to do so soon....  What I didn't know until tonight was that my ex-girlfriend (with whom I had a bad 8 year relationship) lost her dad today.  He was in frail health for a long while, and she was spending a lot of time in Florida taking care of her parents. I'm not sure of what will happen with her mother, and I don't want to open up avenues of communication to send my condolences and/or find out what happens next.  (Sadly, if I open up the door, she will think it's a chance to reopen the relationship - and that's not going to happen.)

Thinking of that past relationship, I wonder - what would have happened if I stayed with her? First, I know I would never had had the confidence to go out en-femme for the first time. Second, I never would have met many of the interesting people I've met in the past couple of years. And third, but not last, I would never have been comfortable with the risk of being employed at this time next Summer.  A little bit of self confidence goes a very long way!

- - - - - -

So, instead of closing with the usual tune, I'll close with the final curtain call for the Mary Tyler Moore show....

PS: I've been a great fan of this show, and wish I could have been there for the filming of the "Death of Chuckles the Clown" episode.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Wigs, Wigs, Wigs

There are a lucky few of us transgendered folk in late middle age who still have enough hair to go without a wig, and use their own hair when presenting as female. I am not one of them. Unfortunately, I have to wear a wig in the hottest and most humid weather, as I have male pattern alopecia.

Luckily, I will usually go from air conditioned apartment, to air conditioned car, to air conditioned place without getting too warm. But I'm stuck outside for long, it can become unbearable. However, I've been lucky so far, with only a few minor incidents where I had to stay outside for more than a few minutes - where I usually had a breeze to cool me off.

Many of us M2F transgendered folk want to live out the fantasy of being a young female with long tresses - like the wig in the above picture. However, when a natal female reaches middle age, she usually chooses a shorter hair style, for ease of maintenance. To me, wearing the wrong length hair is often the first sign to me that a female presentation is amiss.

Soon, I will be buying a new wig - something in a style and color similar to that which I wear today. It will be long enough to soften my face, but short enough to be realistic for a woman of my age.  When I bought my latest wig, Lili and I went to a local wig shop - and she haggled with the lady at the store. (The lady gave me the wrong vibes, but Lili was able to get a good deal on the wig.) However, this time, we will likely go somewhere else - Lili got a bad feeling about this lady and the store's merchandise, and suggested that we try other stores in the area.

Hopefully, I'll find a new wig that works for me even better than the wig I now wear. Although I am not a good judge of quality, I think that Lili has an eye for wigs. (Of course, her mom used to wear wigs every day, being an Orthodox Jew when younger - if I understand things correctly with the Orthodox, a woman's hair is supposed to only be seen by her husband....) It took us about 2 hours (or more) of trying on wigs before we decided that the wig I usually wear was best for my facial structure....

With all this being said, a wig can be the most important part of your feminine presentation that can bought. And one has to be careful NOT to stray too far from what a natal woman of one's age would have as a hair style. 

A style often worn by a younger woman

A style often worn by an older woman 

There are no hard and fast rules here.  One older woman I know wears her hair very long, and a younger woman I know wears her hair very short. Here is where you must use your judgement - and that of a friend, if she's available.

After looking around, I think I've found my next wig without Lili's involvement. (After sending her a link to the above wig, she thinks it's perfect.)  I'm not sure if I'll go the mail order route, or whether I'll buy it from the wig shop in Walden. If the prices are in the same league, I'll go to Walden and give a "local" small business the business.

When you find something you like, try to find something similar to it in as high a quality as you can afford - even if you can't tell the difference in quality, other people can tell the difference. Don't always take the word of the person trying to sell you a wig. If you are not sure of whether it works with your face - don't buy it. You'll know when the wig is right for you.

And now for a tune I'm glad never made the charts....

The B-52's - Wig

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I'm en-homme for a change

Believe it or not, I sometimes get dressed a a typical male and go out about my life. And today is one of these days, as my plans were to visit my dad out in Long Island, stop in to see my brother, and finally, buy a replacement monitor for my computer.

Before getting into the shower, I tried on the swimsuit I bought, placing the breast forms in the cups and wearing it as a normal woman would. And it looked good on me.  I hope I have the opportunity to wear it soon. (But I know I'll want to buy the self adhesive breast forms first...)

Right now, it feels a little strange not to be making up my face, not to be putting on a bra (and wearing falsies), and putting on my wig. (That's because I've had a long run of days where I could do just this as a natural part of getting ready to go outside.) But it's not uncomfortable - just different.
- - - - - -

I went to my dad's place and he took me out for a belated birthday dinner. (I'm glad we went to an inexpensive Chinese joint - one can eat well, and not break the bank.) And then we were off to buy a new computer monitor. I saw a very nice monitor selling for a very reasonable price - and bought it.  Only one problem - I forgot the measurements of my old monitor - But I was lucky that the new monitor barely fit in the space formerly used by the old one.

I never made it to see my brother - he was being ferried to/from work, and since it was payday - I knew he'd be late....
- - - - - -

So, I'll cut this entry short, as I don't have much to say tonight. And, as usual, I'll close out with a song.

Benny Goodman - "Amapola"

Friday, July 18, 2014

Being open to the world

Sometimes this blog reads more like a diary than I would like. Lately, this has been the case, as I have focused on unemployment and the opportunities that have presented themselves to me as a transgendered person.

One of the most important opportunities I've had has been to string together several days of en-femme time, allowing me to be out and about as if it were a vacation. This is a great stress reliever for me - I feel more at home in female mode. As part of this opportunity, I've been able to open up about my transgendered nature, and be honest with people I want as my friends.

Another opportunity has been to be able to sleep more, being able to avoid being sleep deprived. I still need to go for a sleep test to determine why I snore so loud. But I'm enjoying the ability to be more alert and awake throughout the day, instead of feeling run down and unable to focus during long and drawn out conference calls. Why do I mention sleeping more and being more alert?  Well, when I'm out and about with women, it allows me to be more aware of my surroundings, avoiding many of the slip-ups that could occur when overly tired. And this allows me to better develop my feminine persona.

I'm finding that people are very accepting of the M2F transgendered when we aren't parodies of natal females. Even when I'm pegged as not being born a woman, I've been accepted as one. My experience seems to prove (at least to me) that being female is as much a social role as it is a biological role. And this is very important.

- - - - - -

Today, I went to perform my weekly volunteering stint at the local GLBT Center. After my work was done, I chatted with the director, and he told me of three sites with a large volume of transgender resources - one of them developed in the past year. Because of this information, I am likely to revamp my resources page to stress these external sites as they are much more complete than anything I could generate.

Afterwards, I headed down to Pat's place - I haven't seen her in a while, and it was nice to chat with her in person. And, as I usually do, I asked her to take a picture of two of my latest outfit.

I know I look fat. I'll have to work on that. Vicki says the basic outfit looks good on me. But I think I need a little something more as an under layer on top only because one can see the waist line of my leggings....

All too soon, it was time to go to my weekly games night in Yonkers. Although I lost every game I played, I had a great time. The hostess told her daughter that she was being a little rude, when she asked me whether I had a baby in my belly. (Out of the mouths of babes....) I said that I was never lucky enough to have any children, and her mom mentioned that not all women are lucky enough to become mommies.

Later in the evening, I got into a conversation with the host, hostess, and one other woman. (There was another person there with open ears - I wish he had openly joined in for this conversation.) I discussed being transgender, and it was a good opportunity for outreach. If they had any questions, I was glad to answer them. One question asked was about "The Operation" - and I went into the mechanics of what is done to turn a man's plumbing into a reasonable facsimile of a woman's plumbing. (Of course, the transgendered woman would be infertile.) It was good that I could discuss this openly - it shows that us transgendered folk are not freaks, but normal people with an in-utero development issue not usually diagnosed until a child has gained the ability to talk and state that s/he really is a boy/girl....

An important part of the discussion was when I mentioned that I have to work hard to be presentable as a woman - I've had to cram a lifetime of learning into a much shorter period. Things like makeup, appropriate dress, etc. have to be learned on the fly, by making mistakes - and I've gotten to where I am in less than two years. The host had a hard time imagining having to develop fluency in being your true self, as if learning another language. (That wasn't the language used in our chat - but it expresses what we were saying better than the language we used at the time.) In a way, by relating my transgender journey, I earned his respect (and the guest with us) as it is such a risky path....

I am grateful that I am accepted by this group of people. They are great folk. To protect their privacy, I never mention their names - even though someone willing to do about 30 minutes of research could easily find out who they are. And they have taught me a valuable lesson - I can trust people to treat me as an individual, with respect - even though I may not meet up with all the traditional standards of what a woman should be. I am accepted, regardless of whether I have transitioned - because I have their respect....

- - - - - -

A side note....  When I came home tonight, I had computer problems. After a little plug and replace diagnosis, I found that my old computer monitor was dying. Several times after a system shutdown, the monitor did not come on. I've reseated all the plugs, but to no avail. The only option left to me was to use a back up monitor I had saved for use with my old computer. This will be another item to replace when I go out to my dad's in the morning....

- - - - - -

So, in closing, some music to entertain you....

Willie Nelson and Paula Nelson - "Have You Ever Seen The Rain"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Going out with the gals - a women's meetup

Yes - I'm finally at the next step....  Going to a women's meetup with no safety net.  If I am questioned, I'll simply say that I am transgender, and considering my one year real life test.

But first, let me describe the day....

By the time I made it out the door, it was early afternoon. So with the Whine and Dine meetup not starting until 7, I figured that I'd see whether that swimsuit was still available at Target - and if it was, buy it.  Well, I got caught in a traffic jam in Harriman State Park which caused me to lose 45 minutes due to road repair. That shot some of my plans for the day - but it didn't matter much, as I'll explain later on.

When I reached Target, it was 3:30 or so, and the swimsuit was still there. I bought it, just in case I have an opportunity to go swimming en-femme in the near future. (Every woman has to have at least one swimsuit, where a man can get away with a pair of shorts....) By the time I got out of Target, my next destination was a wig store / mastectomy boutique which closed at 5:00. So it was out the door and onto the Thruway to my next stop of the day. 

I called GFL, and we agreed to chat later - she was about to get to the service department of her local dealership and order a replacement mirror for her car. 20 minutes later, I was at the wig store, and chatting with the owner. This store was opened by a cancer survivor, serving the needs of other cancer survivors. (I love this lady's attitude - she saw a need from her own experience, and decided to help others with her own store, having a business to keep her busy.)  I got a very good vibe dealing with this lady, and I tried on a couple of wigs (for size) and she was willing to order one for me. It would cost me less than the wig store I was at last week, but I'm not sure of how the wig would look until it was on my head....  I'll send a picture of the wig to Lili, and if she says OK, I'll go back and buy it.  (I also intend to include her on my list of TG friendly stores.) After showing me wigs, we then talked about breast forms - and she showed me a self adhering form that I loved. I WANT A PAIR!!!  Unfortunately, she doesn't carry the medical adhesive that I wanted, so I'll have to order that online from Janet's Closet.  At this point, it was after 5:00, so I took my leave and promised to see this lady again.  Just before I left, GFL called, so I made it a point to call her back once I was on the road.

If it weren't for the earlier delay, I'd have been able get to a second wig store before it closed. But I decided to drive past that store, locating it for future reference.  So I had a 60 minute talk with GFL, talking about the troubles her daughter is going through - details I won't mention here for their privacy.  While talking and driving, I went past the location of the store, and found out that it had closed - not for the day, but for good. I guess that fewer women are buying wigs these days, and the few that do (such as cancer victims/survivors) are very price conscious. So, I looped back to Walmart, and killed time there before going to the dinner meetup.

So now for dinner with the girls....

Arriving at the restaurant, I went to the back patio and met 3 women - none of which had seen me before. The lady on my left, M, and I took an immediate liking to each other - and we were having that comfort chatting that often takes years to develop. During our chat, M asked me - am I a crossdresser or transgendered woman? And I said - I'm transgender. The group gradually grew to about 10 women, and I was accepted by all.  As it grew, J, a woman from the games meetups, arrived - and she was very glad to see me - and me her. And it was a night of very pleasant conversation for all - a hen party with wine. Later in the evening, J and I left the main area to talk - and that's where I mentioned that I was transgender. 

Back to M....

M found a kindred spirit and me, and would love to get together again soon.  Hopefully, that can be arranged. Assuming I'm there next week, M will send me the two pictures of the two of us together. When I receive them, I'll post them - maybe, as a quickie....

Back to J....

J and I (with one other woman) effectively closed the place down. I walked J back to her car, and we started talking of me and my transgender nature. Although she may have been a little worried about offending me, I said don't worry - I'm glad to talk.  And I answered many questions, noting that I was very glad I could be open about myself. J was very surprised when I showed her my male image, and even more so when I spoke in my male voice. She knows me only as a woman, and only thinks of me as such. Hearing the male voice was very, very strange....

So it looks like I have two new friends - and I'm very glad to have them in my circle. Over time, the more people who see me as Marian and the less as Mario, the happier I will be. Socializing as a woman is much more rewarding, as it is my natural style of communication. 

And now it's off to clean up my place before the cleaning lady comes in the morning. I figure that I have to be out of the house relatively early for a change AND have my transformation tools (i.e. Makeup, etc.) hidden away.

So I'll close out with an old tune that I hope makes you smile....

Spike Jones - Hawaiian War Chant