Sunday, August 31, 2014

Juggling schedules and managing time

I think we've all felt like the fellow in the above picture at times.  There are not enough hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in a month, and months in a year. Yet, somehow, we get the most important things done. Today was one of those days where I had to juggle my time to accommodate the needs of other people who are intersecting with my life.

On Wednesday, I received two emails that would trigger changes in my schedule - one from my outplacement councilor, and the other from the HR department of a firm at which I'd like to be employed. The outplacement councilor needed to reschedule things for the end of the day, as he had a 10:00 am meeting that he had to attend. This would not be a problem for me, as I could take care of some laundry and cook at the same time, while waiting for this gentleman's call. The HR Rep was a little more disruptive, as I'd have liked to schedule her call for the morning. Instead, it was scheduled for mid afternoon. These changes aren't too dramatic - but then Maria texted me on Thursday to tell me that she had to reschedule our breakfast, and I moved it to a late afternoon snack - so that I'd avoid driving up to Dutchess county on Labor Day and then to Yonkers later the same day.

I'm trying to maximize the number of consecutive days that I can stay en-femme. It's nice to be able to keep my nails polished. And it's even nicer to be able to go out in warm weather wearing a flowing skirt. These are the little things that a woman notices and enjoys. Yet, I know that my presentation is far from perfect. So I take the occasional male reference to me in stride, because I am treated as female (let's say) 95% of the time.

- - - - - -

It's hard to believe that it's almost September already. Three months of unemployment so far, and only one company nibbling at my credentials. When I talked to the outplacement councilor mentioned above, he agreed with me - virtually nothing ever happens in August. September is when all hell breaks loose for roughly three months, where employers fill their slots before year-end. 

I've been a bit lazy - I have not studied for my PMP exam, I have not practiced skills for my feminine voice, I have simply taken it too easy. This can be dangerous, because it is too easy to become a slacker and waste too much time, making it impossible to achieve simple goals.

- - - - - -

There is a part of me that would really like to go to my High School's 40th anniversary reunion en-femme. But I'd be very foolish to do so - unless I have committed myself to the path of transition, living en-femme 24x7.  At my weekly board games night in Yonkers, I mentioned my High School Reunion to one of the participants, and said - I guarantee that no one would recognize me AND that I'd be the talk of the town. Going en-femme would be the wrong thing to do - and I know it. Yet, the little attention hound that I can be would love to do this....  (Don't worry - I know better than to give in to THIS temptation.)

- - - - - -

Vicki and I agreed that when I eventually get a job offer, that we would go out for a night on the town - both of us dressed to the nines. Each time I chat with one of my women friends, I mention that I am looking for an excuse to do this - and see how they react.  Who knows - I might get the chance to do this with someone one day soon.....

- - - - - -

And to close out today's entry....

Gene Wilder - Puttin' on the Ritz

Saturday, August 30, 2014

An interview, a dinner, and a dress

In this period of unemployment, I measure my job search success by how many times I get to speak to hiring managers. And, in many ways, I've been successful, as I'll be speaking with my third hiring manager early in September.

When I talk about my job search process and the firms that are interested in me, several people have mistakenly said something to the effect - "you're getting a lot of interviews with this firm, they must be looking for a way to hire you." This is a statement of hope and empathy, and not a statement of logic. Thankfully, I am aware of what people are trying to do - and am grateful to have friends and acquaintances who care for me.

- - - - - -

As I got up this morning, I was a little apprehensive about the HR interview scheduled for later in the afternoon. Part of me was wishing that I could have postponed things until next week. Part of me was wishing that I didn't have to bother with the interview. And still another part of me wanted to ace the interview and go on to the next step.  It was this last part of me that ruled the day. When I was called, I went through some preliminaries. But when I mentioned that another division of this firm (soon to be spun off) already had me in for a third interview (in person), she realized that she didn't have to do much work - I've effectively been vetted to speak to hiring managers, so she scheduled the first interview with the hiring manager to take place in a couple of weeks.

I was certainly feeling good - and finished making up my face before heading to Fishkill to meet Maria for a snack/dinner. She had a lot to talk about (which I won't go into here), and was pleasantly surprised when I told her about how both my job search and how my dating have been going. What was most notable about our meal was our waitress - she was very friendly, and told us (after Maria commented on her airplane shaped earrings) that she had just completed earning her pilot's license. (That's about $20k of flying lessons, books, flying time, etc....)   All I hope for Maria is that she can get a breather from her problems soon....

Leaving the diner, I figured that I'd go to Catherine's to look at their new merchandise (some of which I love, but can't justify buying yet), and then take the long way home. That I did - and was probably a mistake, because I stopped by The Avenue and bought another dress....

On my hanger On the model

The color of the dress on the left appears washed out, due to the limits of the camera on my cell phone. However, its' shade of blue pops as much as the berry red in the professional photo on the right and is similar to the vacuum cleaner in the lower right corner of the photograph. (Unfortunately, The Avenue's online offerings do not yet have my dress' color listed as available, or I would have clipped it from their web site....)

Of course, I am now looking to pack away some of my summer wardrobe - and I stopped by Walmart to pick up some air tight storage containers. Unlike my male wardrobe, which most of it I could wear year round, my female wardrobe is seasonal. And I have to plan for the seasons' wardrobe needs much more than I used to now that I am wearing items from a complete female wardrobe.

- - - - - -

There is much more that I could say, but I'll leave it for other posts. But right now, I'll leave you with another classic tune from my youth....

Mitch Ryder - Devil with a Blue Dress

Friday, August 29, 2014

A missed connection and a glass of wine

I've been looking or an opportunity to wear this dress for a while, and it would have been overkill for most of the events I've gone to en-femme. However, I had the perfect opportunity tonight - and took advantage of it.

One of the women in the Wednesday night women's meetup group I attend told me of a wine tasting group that was meeting for the first time - down the block from our usual restaurant. In response, I told her that I'd join her there - and made preparations to enjoy a night at the wine bar. I took the above dress out of the closet, along with the shoes I never had the chance to wear before, and had everything ready to go the night before.

Around 5:30 or so, I started to get ready, and was out the door early enough to make it to the new meetup by 8:00 pm. As I left the apartment, I met the new lady who moved into the apartment two floors below me. Since I am open about being transgender, I decided to control the first interaction with her while en-femme, so I said "hello" and chatted for a little bit. She asked me my name, and I said "Marian". (I figure that she'll meet "Mario" later on, and put 2 and 2 together.) We went our own ways, and I was off to the wine tasting meetup. One catch - I was not going to drink on an empty stomach. It was then off to the buffet, where I could prepare for an unknown number of drinks. (I don't drink much, but alcohol can have an exaggerated effect on me when I have an empty stomach - and I didn't want to take any risks.) By the time I made it to Beacon, it was close to 8:30 pm. I didn't worry - my friend wasn't going to be there until 8:15, so I'd only be fashionably late. However, I didn't count on one thing - I met up with the owner of the place where we used to have games night - and she was telling me that her business went up over 5 fold since she opened up with the new theme. We chatted for a while, as she was proud to have a real business where she could soon extract profits - and gave me the information I needed to meet up at the wine bar with my other friend.

By the time I reached the wine bar, my friend had already left.  (I missed her by 10 minutes or so.) However, I met a nice couple, and we chatted for the better part of an hour and a half - and we had a great time over a couple glasses of wine. I'm not sure if they had a clue about whether I was transgender or not, but they warmed up to me in a way that they never would have to my male alter ego. 

On that note, I will close out this entry with a fitting tune....

UB40 - Red, Red Wine

PS: If I recall right, the UB40 form is used by Britain's Unemployment Bureau - quite fitting, don't you think?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Keeping a roof over my head

Most of the time, the phrase "Keeping a roof over one's head" is a metaphor for paying one's bills, especially the rent. This week, so far, it refers to the work being done to pull 3 layers of shingles off the roof, replacing damaged wood underneath, and installing new shingles in their place. And this work has awakened me for the past couple of days, as work has now progressed to my building.

I figure that I have 9 months left to find a job. This worries me a little. There is only so much I can do to find work - the rest is simply wishing and hoping. At least I'll be able to pay the most basic of bills if I don't find one soon enough. But for now, I'll try to enjoy being able to relax and live life on my schedule.

- - - - - -

Life for a transgendered person can get quite complicated, as I've mentioned in other blog entries. Today was originally a day I planned to spend en-homme. However, my date had to postpone things due to a crisis at her place of work, and I suggested we meet a week from now - on a day that I have to be en-homme all day. So, this leaves me with a day I can spend en-femme - and I've moved all my identification (and money) back into my female wallet....

- - - - - -

The handbag I've been using all summer is one I have to hold by its handles - there was no way I could hang it over my shoulders. I dislike this kind of bag - I prefer crossbody bags, where the strap goes on the shoulder opposite where the bag rests. This makes it much less likely that the bag will fall off the shoulder, and makes it much easier to carry.  Yesterday, I stopped by The Avenue just before I went to the HV Poly group, and found a nice bag at 50% off - and bought it.  It's not exactly what I'd like, but it's comfortable and easy to wear. What else could a gal want in a bag? So, I transferred all my stuff to the new bag - and have officially retired the old bag - until next summer....

- - - - - -

Now, being part of a women's group is a lot more complicated than it might seem. Interpersonal relations are more important in a women's group than it plays in a men's group. For example, one woman, J, who was in the Beacon board game meetup group is also a member of the women's group that I've become part of. She has problems with at least two of the members M and S2. Last night, I had an exchange with S1 on Facebook, saying that we should get "the group" together if the organizer of the original group, S0, is no longer able to keep the meetup going. The following is the text I posted in Facebook....

If our weekly meetup is cancelled again, let's get a small group together and meet elsewhere for whining and dining.....

This morning, I got this response from J (all names in her response edited to protect privacy):

I sent S1 ALMOST the same note as I am sending you...I know u r new to that group & have not had the same experiences that I have had...

I am not on FB much but went on 2day, my feelings r a little hurt-- I am an adult & understand that I may not get included in everyone's plans, but posting on FB that u r getting a group together on Wed nite for other people to see that haven't been may be better to message eachother privately.
And I still have my opinions on how certain people have spoken to me/others & treat people, it's not for me to say how other people should or should not socialize or deal w/ them, I get that.

But if I see a woman (S2) repeatedly act mean/selfish (take potshots-not just at me, expected someone in the past to reschedule their BBQ, dominate conversations) I'm not going to want to be around her & I am going to wonder why others would choose to be in her presence either.

Maybe I am strange, but I'd rather sit alone than have a 61 year old bully-mean girl rag on me for "being overdressed"! Until she buys me a new wardrobe she has no business commenting!
If I am inappropriate I apologize, but I am done w/ keeping my mouth shut & swallowing my feelings, then eating over it cuz I am upset/hurt.

I spent many hours in Al-anon & find the whole dynamic very disturbing :0(

I know it is none of my business, just saying, be careful what u post on FB.

My feelings are just as valid as anyone else's!

What would you think if you received this? This person is having a little trouble weaving her way through the relationship maze. The way I see it, managing interpersonal relationships is essential to the female experience. And this is a skill that benefits me in both boy and girl modes.

- - - - - -

On that note, I'll close out with my usual tune....

Ray Charles - What'd I Say?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A quiet day - which is just as well.

I'd love to be where the woman is depicted in this photograph. It looks so beautiful from this perspective. Until I have a job lined up, I can't go anywhere for more than a day trip or for a weekend.

Currently, this is not a big problem. But sometime next month, I will have several weekend appointments that conflict with each other, and I'll have to make some hard decisions about what I'll do. On one weekend, I have a conflict between my Widow/Widower Gathering and the beginning of Fantasia Fair. The following weekend, I have a conflict between my High School's 40th Anniversary reunion and the end of Fantasia Fair. Add in a daytime complication - I'm looking at taking a course or two that meets on successive Saturdays, and this would conflict with both the W/W gathering and Fantasia Fair.

So, I'm enjoying a quiet day right now. I could have gone with Lili to see her ailing mother. I'm glad that she didn't bother to wake me, as I really didn't want to be there for this ride. Lili needs something in her life, but she doesn't want to do the work to have it. (I guess that's why I still hang out with her - there's a touch of laziness in me as well....) There is one key difference between the two of us that is very important - the therapy I've been going through for 12+ years has taught me to be aware of my feelings, aware of my surroundings, simply aware of life in general....

Strangely enough, I'd have never had the courage to go out in the world en-femme if it had not been for therapy. Once I learned to stop worrying about irrational fears, I was able to grow in ways I never expected. Being openly TG was only one of those areas of growth....

- - - - - -

Growth comes in many ways. Some people have to learn discipline as they grow. Others have to learn restraint. And still others have to learn discretion. There are many things to be learned as we grow in adulthood. But most importantly, we learn to see things in a new way - not in black and white with all the shades of gray in between, but in full color, with all the subtleties available in the full spectrum of light. 

I have learned to deal with a hypersensitivity to things I encounter in life. For example, I've learned how to deal with people who make unrealistic demands of me - and not take what they have to say personally. It still hurts a little to have to deal with them, having to deal with the cognitive dissonance between objective reality and the demands from these people. But it's better than how I used to feel....

- - - - - -

Today, I read in one blogger's Facebook entry, that she's in California with one of her sons. (Loyal readers of this blog have more than enough clues to figure out who this blogger is. And I hope she is enjoying this well deserved vacation.) What isn't apparent from her California posts is the growth she has experienced outside of her family members. From the little bits of her life she reveals online, she is much more comfortable now going out and experiencing life en-femme by herself and with friends. Will she ever progress to transition? Probably not - she has mentioned that her drive to present as a female does not override her need to have happy and healthy family relationships with her sons. 

While growing, not all movement is in a forward direction. For example, Lili wants others to take care of things for her. She has asked me to buy her a printer for her computer, and that she'd pay me back later. This is not the kind of thing I should be doing for her - and I lied to put the effort back on her shoulders. (This is an example of taking a step backward during a growth phase.) Yet, I will support her in her movement to get lap band surgery for weight loss. (Yes, this is an "easy way out", but there's more work involved in changing habits than she knows. She will likely have to deal with the feelings she has been able to avoid for years by overeating. And I'll bet that she becomes very irritable while she relearns how and what to eat, and learns how to process her feelings properly for the first time....)

My nephew is undergoing a different type of growth. For some unknown reason, he has decided to enlist in the Army to be a helicopter mechanic. He does not care what his parents say, and openly challenges them. I can only imagine what he's going to learn and deal with while he undergoes basic training. (Here's an example of a sideways movement that will facilitate a forward path.) I wish him the best of success, but feel a little sad, as I know that his rebellious streak will only cause him pain for the next few months of his life....

- - - - - -

What do we all have in common? At key decision points in our lives, we did not have the emotional quiet needed to process our feelings and nurture our own growth. We take the simple way out, as we tend to think in a cause and effect sequence, and not in a cyclic (vicious or virtuous) pattern. Maturity helps us break free of the need to see things in a simplistic way, and allows us to truly deal with the underlying issues in our lives - if we have the wisdom to do so.

Much of the time, learning how to deal with one problem in our lives helps us deal with other problems as well. Not having to expend as much energy keeping one problem area in check allows us to focus on other areas we may have neglected. Sometimes, all we need is some peace in quiet in out lives to facilitate this growth. For me, I'm grateful to be able to enjoy an occasional quiet day, and have the energy available for whatever purpose it's needed for....

- - - - - -

And now for a classic work fitting the picture at the top of this entry....

Ferde Grofe - Grand Canyon Suite

PS: No news on the job I recently interviewed for in Connecticut. 
       The other candidate told me that the HR on vacation until next week.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The road ahead

It's a long and lonely road we're on - much like Historical Route 66. Like the historical route, we travel to places where many people go, but also reach places that few people would choose to go if they could be avoided....

Most of us TG's have had the common set of human experiences. We've dated people of the opposite sex. We've raised children. We've purchased houses and cars. In short, we've done most of the mundane things most people do from birth. However, our experiences are special, as we travel along a different path.

- - - - - -

How many people are uncomfortable with their gender at birth? I was aware something was different about me since I was 3 or 4 years old. And my gender issues are mild compared to many other TG's. Let's complicate things a little by noting that I was born in the 1950's. The world was very different back then, and anyone who had gender identification issues was sure to be traveling down a lonesome road. How many people did we know that had GCS? Most likely, we'd talk about one famous TG woman - and that would be the only person we could identify.

When I was born, people were not comfortable discussing anything related to gender - homosexuality was considered a disease (or a crime) in many communities, and it was virtually impossible to acknowledge that one's birth gender did not sync up with the gender which the mind identified with. If one had any issues related to gender in this era, there would be no way to avoid this lonely road. There were no support groups, and the social stigma attached to a person who was "out" easily could destroy a life with just a hint of scandal - as illustrated in the movie (and play), "The Children's Hour".

- - - - - -

Of course, a lot has changed since then. Historical Route 66 is now traveled to see attractions and offbeat places that were bypassed by the interstate. Gay people are getting married, and are open to the world about their gender preference. And we, the TG community are able to reach out and support each other, while experiencing life head on.

But we have a long way to go....

TG children have a right to appropriate medical and psychological care. Please note that I am not looking to "turn" children into TG's. Instead, if a child insists that he/she was born into the wrong gender, that the child has appropriate medical and psychological intervention, so that he/she can delay puberty and make the decision whether or not to go down our path at the time they are at an age of maturity. This way, that child's body can mature into the body of an adult of the appropriate gender, without the sexually dimorphic characteristics of the other gender.

As for us adults....

We should have a right to have our medical care covered by insurance companies. Not only does this mean that our medicines and operations are covered, but the "little" quirks that we, the transgendered have - such as in M2F women, regular prostate checks. Right now, many insurance companies consider pre-op treatment of TG's unneccessary, as it does not affect the core physical health of the individual. And after GCS surgery, they do not have codes to cover those procedures appropriate for our original gender....

- - - - - -

Have I jumped on the soap box again?  Yup!  But each time I do so, I think of issues that concern our community. For example, I'd love to have a separate state issued ID card which would have all the information on my driver's license, but with my female image. (Yes, my real male name uses the same familiar name as my female name - such as Patrick and Patricia can both be called "Pat".) People don't care much about the name, they just want legal paperwork to be clean. Sadly, my state doesn't allow for this. So, I generated a fake license (never to be shown to the police or any other government agency) which I leave in my female wallet to enhance the number of female cues I am presenting in situations where I need to open my wallet. 

A while back, I lost a very old identity card to one of the warehouse clubs. It was so old, that my male image was laminated onto a paper card - and I used it for years at this club. I now use a new card with my picture printed on it. So I decided to delaminate the card, and place my female image in the card, then relaminate it. Although I've never used the card, it looks real - and it belongs to a legitimate club member - me.

Unlike most law abiding people, we (M2F TG's) depend on having two separate identities unless we go through full transition and change our legal identification to female at that time. However, this goes against the grain of society - most people need only one name.  How many people are known by two names, like Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens? Yet, many of us need two names and two identities - I certainly don't want to pull out my male image id when presenting as female. I'd prefer to pull out female image id with a female name - even if the check box (in very small print) noted I was legally male. And, sadly, I don't see any likelihood that we'd get the cooperation from government and businesses to create systems to allow us to have two IDs, but tied back to a single identifier, such as social security number....

- - - - - -

Given the amount of prejudice against us and misinformation being spread about us. we still have long way to travel until we are "just another minority" in our own land. We need to get help from other communities, but never forget that we must first look out for ourselves. All too often, our needs have been forgotten while our allies have negotiated in their interests. Somehow, we must get both a seat at the table during these discussions AND veto power, to prevent agreements that do not address our needs.

- - - - - -

On that note, I'll close out this entry with a tune

Nelson Riddle - Theme from "Route 66" TV Show

Monday, August 25, 2014

Life in the potholed lanes....

The above picture reminds me of a Garfield comic strip that was a 3 panel classic. 

    Panel 1, Garfield sees Odie with a big puddle of drool.
    Panel 2: Garfield walks away from Odie.
    Panel 3: Garfield is fishing in a lake of Odie's drool.

I am pleasantly surprised that someone would think of capturing this image and post it on the web for others' amusement....

- - - - - -

Lately, living my life seems to be like finding my way through a potholed road, like the one below.

There are stretches of smooth pavement that lull you into forgetting that the random pothole could more than just ruin your day. In my case, not getting notified that I have been offered the job, called back for more interviews, or being told that the job has been offered to someone else is frustrating. I have a hard time planning my life around a phone that doesn't ring....

- - - - - -

This summer, as noted before, I have been living as much of my life in female mode as possible. I've been able to catch up with Sherry (who helped me get comfortable with going out and about in this region), to join a women's meetup group for socializing, and to be seen by virtually all my neighbors, learning not to worry or care about who sees me en-femme. This has been a great blessing.

Out of necessity, I still live much of my life en-homme.  My job search has to be done en-homme. Dating women has to be done en-homme. And, seeing my family must be done en-homme. Yet, I only wish I could shed the masculine persona once and for all, knowing that it is not feasible at this time....

- - - - - -

Recently, I had a pleasant date with someone who has no idea of my transgendered nature. I'm sure that she is very interested in me. She is the type who likes to dominate a conversation - something which is both good and bad. I have found that I am not that much of a talker in either persona, but that I am more outgoing en-femme than I am en-homme. Someone who talks a lot could be an asset, as long as my "voice" is not drowned out.

Right now, this woman is only one of several that have expressed an interest in me. If we add K (who I dated a while back), we have 5 ladies on the list:

  • J   - A moderate possibility who does not know of my TG nature, but who has been ill of late, and has not been able to date due to this sudden illness. 
  • K  - A long shot possibility, but someone who knows about my TG nature.
  • L1 - A moderate possibility who does not know of my being TG. We have common interests, but she is in a very public position.
  • L2 - A moderate possibility who I dated once and lost contact with. This is the person I mentioned in the prior paragraph, and also does not know of my TG nature.
  • M  - A strong possibility who knows of my TG nature. We have common interests.

If I were to place bets, M would be the best shot, followed by either L2 or K, then L1.  For now, I'm going to try and keep all options open 

- - - - - -

Looking for a job has been a pain in the ass so far. Until September comes, I can not activate that many nodes in my network. I am not a church goer, my family doesn't have useful connections, and most of my friends are not in positions where they have useful information that I can use in networking.

I figure that I'm going to invest in a continuing-ed course (maybe two if schedules permit) to improve my skill set.  Ideally, I'd take 3 courses - but one of them will interfere with Fantasia Fair and/or my Widow/Widowers gathering that I'd like to attend. So, I'm looking at taking a Unix/Linux course that will be held in November, and try to take some SQL courses while I have access to the on-line course library provided by the outplacement firm.

Hopefully, I'll be able to take the in-person course(s) en-femme....

- - - - - -

As you can see, I have a lot of nuisances to deal with on my way to getting the things I want and need done in life. None of them will cause me a lot of grief. But all of them can be annoying to one degree or another. 

Like avoiding potholes in the road, sometimes one or two problems can't be avoided, and one has to hope that the important things in life are not affected too much.

And on that note, I'll close with my usual tune...

Michael Parks - Long Lonesome Highway

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Some further thoughts about "Normalcy"

At the beginning of their journey, a large number of us transgendered folk worry about passing as much as possible as often as possible. We want to be seen as complete women, although the variances within our presentations may not fit within the range of "normal" all of the time. For example, I am an obese person with large hands, feet, head, neck, wrists and ankles. Yet, I have been able to present as a female with little trouble - I send out enough female cues to allow others to perceive me as female.

Most natal females will have some features that are not in the "normal" range. For example, my late wife was 5'11" - a full inch taller than I am. She had very small breasts for a woman of her size and height, also outside the "normal" range for a woman. But she never had to worry about being seen as a woman - she sent out enough female cues (without effort) to be recognized as a woman at all times.  

The big question is - How well do we need to pass?  And the correct response would be - That is the wrong question. Instead, the question should be - how do we control the cues we send out, so that the feminine cues override the masculine cues, like heavy doses of estrogen will override the testosterone we produce as natal males? 

I have no idea of the relative value of any of these cues, but I'm reasonably sure that we should be aware of each and every one of them, so that we can avoid the big mistakes that immediately shout "MALE"!

- - - - - -

In addition to the easily noticeable cues, we also have issues of attitudes and behaviors. For example, women communicate to build rapport. Many don't know how to let go of a disturbing event, as their minds have to process it in many different ways. There are times that I tell Lili - "You are right. Person A screwed up. Let go and move on." And, of course, she can't do this. Her feelings of self doubt keep getting reinforced by these events. Whereas, with most men, we'd be told, "Yeah, you're right" - and that would be enough for most men to move on. So, when I am with women, I have to use a different symbolic language than I do with men. It is not as important that I communicate data (as when with men). Instead, it is very important that we synchronize our feelings and show empathy - as part of a bonding experience.

- - - - - -

So the question always returns to this - What is normal for a woman, and how do we emulate it?

When I was at Fantasia Fair a couple of years ago, I encountered a wide range of transgendered people. There was a single F2M transgendered male there (save for comedian, Ian Harvey), while everyone else I noticed were M2F transgendered females. There was one TG woman who had perfect presentation, save for her height - she is 6'3" tall. Her face is still a little masculine, but not enough to shout "MALE!" There was another, taller, TG woman who could never "pass" - events such as Fantasia Fair are godsends to her. There was one TG woman whose walk shouted "MALE!" - even though she was now legally a female. And then there was a TG woman whose presentation had me thinking she was a natal female. Our variety as TG's is great - and there is no one "normal" for us to aspire to.

As I see it, many of us can have successful emulations (or, as Stana would put it in her blog, "Femulations") if we work at it. And places such as the upcoming Fantasia Fair are perfect for the start of this work.

- - - - - -

 And now for a tune to close out this entry....

Van Morrison - St. James Infirmary

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Zap, Zap Ouch - before some leisurely games (and some comments about dating)

I wish I could have hands that look this nice.  But I won't be able to do this until I retire (or transition), as those nails would look strange in boy mode. At least, I can get the hairs on my hands zapped off, so that I can grow my nails out in the future....

As I'm writing this entry, I've also been removing nail polish in advance of a date in boy mode. This is a pain in the butt, as I'll refresh the polish later. Yet, it doesn't make sense for me to mix boy mode and girl mode on a date unless the person I'm with is Genderqueer. If something works out, I would have to tell this lady early on in the dating cycle that I am TG, but would not transition if in a relationship. This way, if I occasionally slip, and leave my polish on, that she'd understand what's going on....

- - - - - -

The other day, I had a date with a woman who responded to my en-femme personal ad. She was comfortable with this side of me, but would not be able to be with me if I were to consider transition. And that's OK. What's amazing is that she'd be comfortable with being with me on the outside while I was en-femme. She's a winner - but I'd rather not count my chickens before they hatch. We'll have to have a few dates together, some of which have me en-femme, to see whether we have enough in common to move forward towards a relationship....

- - - - - -

But back to the Zap, Zap, Ouch....

This week, my usual laser technician was not available. Her replacement was in, and was busy. As soon as I was finished, there were two ladies waiting to be zapped. (I'm glad my face is done for now. I can only imagine what the woman getting her arm pits done would be feeling....) Upon leaving the salon, I thought - if I didn't have to worry about money, I'd schedule a series of appointments to take care of my arms, my legs, my chest, and my back. Right now, I have better things to do than spend (maybe) $20k to get rid of my body hair.

I had scheduled this appointment (and the next) with the idea that if I got the job offer (which seems doubtful right now, as I write this) that I'd be able to get zapped on the way home from work, or for me to get zapped on the way to games night (if I am still unemployed). And I think this is the wise thing to do for now.

- - - - - - 

Game night, as usual, was very pleasant. The lady who lost her job at the same time as I did, looks like she will have a good job offer soon.  Things may be picking up....  But most importantly, I feel that I am accepted as a person here. And that's the most important thing, much more than if I win or lose any games....

- - - - - -

As you can see, I didn't have that much to say - at least, not yet....

So I'll close out with a little tune....

Allan Sherman - Overweight People

Friday, August 22, 2014

Isn't she pretty? I'll say she is!

In the 1920's they had a two part expression.  One would ask - "Isn't she pretty?" And the other person would respond - "I'll say she is!" Of course, this expression got shortened to its second half - the answer to the question.

"I'll Say She Is!" is a missing piece of the puzzle for serious Marx Brothers fans.  The Cinematically Insane blog noted that the Marxfest reading held earlier this year helped fill in that puzzle piece. I wonder what he's saying now, that this play has been successfully restaged in New York City.  To be fair to the performers of the play - the 3 men playing the 3 Marxes are NOT the Marx Brothers, nor could they be as funny as the Marxes. Chico and Harpo died in the 1960's and Groucho in the 1970's. Yet, if they were alive, they would have enjoyed this NYC Fringe Festival attempt to reproduce their Broadway hit of 1924. 

One of the things about the NYC Fringe festival is that a show has 15 minutes to set up, and 15 minutes to clear the set. This means that there can be no elaborate stage props - as they would take too long to get on and off the stage. So this show relied on wardrobe (few costume changes, limited to a small number of cast members), lighting, and the enthusiasm of the actors to make this play come alive - and that it did quite well.

For hard core Marx Brothers fans, one could see the germs of ideas the Marxes refined and used in their later 2 plays, and in their films - one scene in "A Night at the Opera" immediately comes to mind, where both Chico and Groucho tear up a contract leaving only a Sanity Clause - and Chico says - "Ah, you no foola me. There ain't no such thing as Santy Claus...." The actor playing "Groucho" did a few scripted ad-libs, which is understandable, as no one could master the ad-lib the way Groucho did.

- - - - - -

Before going to the play, I decided to wear the new dress that I bought when out shopping with Sherry. I agreed with her when I had a choice of two dresses, one in navy blue, and the other in aqua, that the aqua dress "popped".

This dress and the shoes I was wearing, made the perfect combination.  Only one problem. Stupid me did not break in the shoes - and I was hurting by the end of the night.  (I agree with one TG blogger - most of us TG's should wear hip pads when we go out. It does affect the hem of a skirt or dress. Now, if only they made those pads in my size.) Yet, it was worth it to hear what Pat would say when I got to her place.

I had figured that I stop and see Pat (my ex hypnotist) to say hello. It's been a while since I've seen her, so it was nice to catch up with her. (And, as a bonus, I could park around the street from her place for free - and spend less money than it would cost to take the train from my station.) When I arrived, she said that I look better and dress better than she does - something I take as a great compliment when it comes from a natal woman. We chatted a bit (she got on her conspiracy rut again), and I was a little glad when it was time to leave for the train.

Normally, I wouldn't be caught dead using mass transit in the summer while en-femme. The wig would hold in way too much heat, and I'd be very uncomfortable. However, I made sure to carry a sweater, as I wasn't sure how cool it would get by 10:30 pm. For the most part, I was comfortable - even on the subway. (Of course, Grand Central's main subway platforms were once so bad, that the MTA installed air conditioning to make things bearable.) The only time I even came near being uncomfortable was when I was waiting on line to enter the theater - I had to stand in these uncomfortable shoes AND there was no breeze to cool me off. Fortunately, the theater was well cooled.

When the play broke for intermission, I was very glad to have chosen an aisle seat. Without being able to run (nor would I have wanted to do so), I was able to make it to the women's room before there was a line. By the time I finished with my business and washed my hands, there was a line about 30+ women long. (In fairness, there was also a much smaller line for the men's room. This venue does not have adequate rest room facilities.)  This is the second time in less than a week that I've been sensitized to the lack of adequate facilities for women - and wish that the men designing these buildings would provide more stalls, so that women could take care of themselves at the same rate as their male counterparts.

All too soon, it was time to go home. Would I see this play again? Maybe. It's not that the play was a good play. Instead, it was a good play to use as a vehicle for people who wanted to see good Marx Brothers impersonators. Was it as good as the performance of "The Cocoanuts" I saw 17+ years ago. No. But I would do this troupe a disservice by comparing  a NYC Fringe festival performance to one given on a Broadway stage. Yet, I could see this crew finding an Off-Broadway theater, and staging it well - these people do have the skill to do that, and do it well.

- - - - - -

On this note, I'll close off the entry with something different - a teaser clip from the show, and a clip from the first bit from the first act done by the Marxes themselves....

A scene from the first act of "I'll Say She Is!"

First scene from "I'll Say She Is!"

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Waiting, Wishing, and Hoping

Last Thursday, I had the fortune of interviewing at an important financial services firm. I'm keeping my fingers tightly crossed, wishing and hoping that I get a job offer.  It's a little scary for me. With one exception, I have been working almost non-stop in my field since I was 18 years old. And this is the longest I've been out of work in my whole career.

Yesterday, I had a date with a woman who sounded comfortable dating someone like me. And she asked a simple question - have you thought about looking for work as a woman? And I had to tell her that in my position, it did not make sense to do so, but that I could find work in retail as a woman sometime next year if I needed work at that time.

- - - - - -

Things could be much worse for me - especially when I see how others are doing.  Officially, the unemployment rate is somewhere under 7%. I don't believe those statistics. They do not account for those who can not find work within 6 months - the statistics claim these people have given up on their job searches. They also do not account for those who have been displaced and who are underemployed. The statistics say "a job is a job is a job" - no accounting for the quality of job is taken into account. My rule of thumb says that the real unemployment rate is usually double that of the official rate.

Recently, I read some projections that automation and long distance communications networks have the possibility of putting most of us out of work. As it is, machines are discovering mathematical proofs beyond what people can understand - and this information generated by machines is being used today. Honda's work in robotics is well known - Asimo the Robot.

But other work has been done to generate lifelike animations of the human face for robots, allowing to simulate facial human body language. .

They are using these robots to replace receptionists....

At some point, the automation of much work now done by humans may eliminate the need for most of us to work. And this scares me a little.  I may have a pension and other assets to fall back on, but what about the rest of us?

- - - - - -

Back to waiting for information - did I get the job or not?

Sometime towards the end of the week, I will likely find out whether I got the job. Seeing the credentials of the person who interviewed for the same job at the same time, I'd likely want to hire that person first. And I'm a little scared - I don't want to work in retail, not just yet.

- - - - - -

But what about retail, the last bastion for many of us to get employment?

Businesses such as Amazon are making it possible for many of us to avoid going to a store and buying in places which need to charge for the cost of real estate and the price of maintaining inventory. Yet, we're losing something important in the process - the ability to inspect the goods before we buy them, as well as the ability to get the service we need to buy the exact products we need.

In the past, I ordered much of my female wardrobe out of catalog sites, as I was embarrassed to buy female clothes in boy mode. Later on, as I felt more comfortable going out en-femme, I got better results by trying on those clothes in the store. My dresses fit better, my tops and bottoms were better coordinated, and I learned much more about how to dress as a female from the advice I was getting from people I met in the stores.

Sadly, many of these stores are cutting back on their outlets. I've seen Lane Bryant, The Avenue, Catherine's and others shrink their numbers of store fronts - and this has made it harder for me to shop for the clothes I need. But even the average sized woman is starting to feel the pinch of having less places to go shopping. Virtually all the major chains have cut back their presence. Most malls have several empty storefronts. And what do you think has been causing this....?

- - - - - -

So we come back to Waiting, Wishing, and Hoping....

By the end of the week, I expect to get the information I seek. It may be what I want to hear. And again, it may not. Either way, there is nothing I can do now to positively influence the situation. So I'll leave you with a little tune which echoes what I'm feeling in a little way....

Dusty Springfield - Wishing and Hoping

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dating - Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's a chore. And sometimes it's something more....

Today was one of those days where I wished I could get into a sun dress and enjoy the outdoors en-femme. Alas, I had to be en-homme for two reasons - a session with my therapist, and for a date with a new lady I met from the online site. She is very comfortable with crossdressers and with men of my size. In short, she could be "The Catch", if all falls into place. But first, she has to be interested enough in me to want another date....

It's a chore to date - especially when one has to reveal one's TG nature early on. That's why I use a personal ad with me depicted en-femme - if a woman reads the ad and responds, it means that she has (1) read the full ad, (2) is likely comfortable with a man who wears dresses, and (3) looks at life from a different perspective than most people. In this case, she almost skipped over the ad, because I looked very much like a female of my age.

I do get potential false positives on the dating site. For them, I use the following canned text response

I see OKC says that we both like each other. If this is a false positive from OKC, then I wish you the best in your search. If you were really interested, then I first want to say - thanks for reading my profile.

Although I have a very unusual pastime, I'm for the most part a very "normal" person. I love travel, having taken two cross country train trips in the past four years. My home library is overflowing, and I've had to cut back on the books I'm buying, so that I can have room in my apartment for myself...

If you're interested in chatting and maybe more, please write soon....

Of course, 9 times out of 10, I have received a false positive response. But that's OK. It's that last response that I'm interested in. I'm looking for someone special, and I hope that she is comfortable with me....

- - - - - - 

Most of the time, I enjoy dating.  However, when it is with someone with whom there is no chance for it to go further, it becomes a chore. One wants the woman to feel good about spending her time with you, but not good enough to think you want more. But, there are times that things just seem to click - and that's when there is something more.

Did this lady feel like there could be something more?  I don't know. But I know she has received my invitation for dinner soon. Keep your fingers crossed....

- - - - - -

Now for a fitting tune....  (And I grew up with Spike Jones' comedic version of the tune - but this fits my mood so much better tonight.)

Ray Charles and Betty Carter - Cocktails for Two

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mani-Pedi - it's not perfect, but that's not the fault of the woman who did my nails

Although I had reserved this day for being with GFL, I had a strong feeling that we would not be able to get together. And I was right. I had a back-up plan of seeing Lili and going with her to visit her mother. Of course, this didn't happen either - the last time she trekked to Long Island on a Summer Sunday, it took her forever to cross the bridge and get home. So, we ended up going for a Mani-Pedi at her local salon, and it was wonderful!

These are the times I am very grateful to be transgender. For the most part, "straight" men will never know the pleasure of being pampered at a nail spa - there is a certain sensual pleasure to having your feet immersed in warm/hot water, having your callouses removed, your legs massaged, your toe nails trimmed and polished in the color of your choice. (And getting the hands done is a similar feeling, save that the hands are not immersed in water to soften the callouses.)  Sadly, I couldn't get my fingernails done in the same color as my toenails, as I needed to see some people in male mode this week. At least, I could get them done in clear coat - which should be unnoticeable unless someone looks very closely. (And that's why I say my Mani-Pedi is not perfect - my constraints limited what could be done with my fingernails. Lili also shared her massage with me, and it was wonderful as well.  Next time I go with her, I'll make sure we both get full massages along with out Mani-Pedis.

After the Mani-Pedi, Lili and I stopped in for a slice of pizza, as I was relatively hungry. While waiting for her to-go sandwich to come, we discussed my transgendered nature some more. She was seeing me as a crossdresser. And I explained that if I were to go further down this road, that I will likely seek out a therapist with a specialization in gender issues. Lili didn't understand why, until I described an incident where I saw a woman removing her sweater (because of the heat from the fireplace). revealing a camisole with tiny straps and a bit of her cleavage. If I were a vanilla crossdresser, I explained, my first thoughts would have been: "What a great set of tits on that gal!" Instead, they were: "What a wonderful pair of breasts, I wish they were mine!" And only then did Lili start to understand - the next steps would greatly increase the odds that I would transition at some time in the future.

Lili expressed some concern that there would be some risk to my health if I went towards transition. There are risks, and I'm not ready to deal with them yet. For example, I would have to relearn how to eat - there is no way I could maintain my caloric input without the testosterone I'd need to process those extra calories. And then there is the greater risk of heart attack and of cancer. As I said before, transition is not a step to be taken lightly. There are very good reasons for a one year Real Life Test - and I support the doctors who require this of their transgender patients prior to GCS (Gender Corrective Surgery).

- - - - - -

Recently, Vicki and I went to NYC to see a play. During the course of a couple of hours, it was easy to experience some of the minor differences life is for men and women. When we arrived at the parking lot, there was a fellow trying to make his way out of the garage. Normally, that would be no big deal. But when he saw two women in the car, he had to make a point of being a jerk in the way that he left the garage. (Mind you, Vicki didn't have a clue about how to handle this situation - and I dropped into my male voice to express my frustration with the other driver as well.) After parking the car, the weather was perfect for wearing a skirt - in fact, it would be the only type of garment I'd choose for weather this perfect! (And it provided the type of sensual pleasure that only women are normally allowed to experience.) Arriving at the theater, we watched the play, and both of us had to relieve ourselves. One problem - the typical women's room line was well out the door. Vicki was willing to stand guard, so that women could use the stalls in the men's room. And one woman took advantage of this - until she saw a man come out of one of the stalls. At this point, Vicki and I said - to hell with the line, and decided to relieve ourselves at the restaurant we were heading for....

- - - - - -

Would I seriously consider transition with all the headaches women face in this world? Yes! Will there be big issues if I travel further down this road? Yes!  Will it be worth all the sacrifices I'd have to make if I decided on transition? If I could answer that.....

So, on that question, I'll close out the entry with my usual tune.

Candye Kane - (You need a) Great Big Woman

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quickie: More on Job Search

I'm glad that it is not as bad searching for work in today's environment as it was in the Great Depression. But it is bad enough, that I am going to be uncomfortable until I have started work at a new position. Anyone looking at the positions available this summer would be a little depressed - as the summer wore on, less positions appeared on the job boards.

Although I was told that I'd be notified by the end of the week what the results were from Thursday's interview, I have my doubts that I'll get the offer. I won't go into the details here, but I don't have a good feeling about it.  At least, this gives me a little more time to go out and about during the week in Marian Mode.

- - - - - -

Now that things have calmed down, it looks like I'll have another chance to see K again. (This is the same woman who was first uncomfortable with me in Marian Mode, and who gave another excuse later on regarding my scheduling.) I'm not sure which way she wants to proceed, but I made sure to tell her that today, I'll be out and about in Marian Mode - just to remind her that I will be getting out and about this way.

- - - - - -

Of course, it's laundry day. And I have a lot of clothes to put in the wash - about 4/5 loads or so.  If I had my own washer/dryer, I'd be doing clothes more often. But, being prevented from doing so by co-op rules, it makes more sense for me to take care of this chore when I have enough laundry to keep me busy.  If it were only my boy mode clothes, I'd consider taking them out, and have someone else do this chore. But with my girl mode clothes, I prefer to do them myself.

- - - - - -

So, it's back to the job boards and outplacement site, to see what things I can do to improve my chances of finding work by the end of the year....