Friday, October 31, 2014

Where is Monte Hall when you need him?

Given where I stand with several dating options, I feel like I'm bring presented with the classic Monte Hall Problem - Select a door, and find out that one of the other two doors not selected contain a Zonk. This leaves me with the question - should I stay with the woman I picked, or should I change my selection? If I base my decisions on pure mathematical logic, then the choice would be obvious. But I'm dealing with people, and the logic is not so obvious - do I really want to follow the "Rule of 12 Bonks?"

As I write this, I have the following options open to me, all of them in various stages of exploration. First is GFJ, a woman who will be getting divorced for reasons I will not cover in this blog. She knows about me and Marian Mode, but has not seen it yet. Second is M (from Artoberfest), a woman who works 3 part time jobs. She has seen me in Marian Mode, but the big question here is her availability - especially if I land a job soon. Third is L1, a woman who lives nearby, but doesn't know about me in Marian Mode. If I want to pursue her, I'd better call her very soon. And last is L2, who I haven't met yet, but should call very soon if I want to explore something.

Each choice has its risk. GFJ may be at the stage where I am just a ricochet romance - something I experienced with my second relationship after losing my wife. M (from Artoberfest) may be a good fit, but if she's hard to meet up with, she's not worth pursuing. L1 is much closer than the other two, but my gut instinct says that she might have a problem with me in Marian Mode. And lastly, L2 is the total unknown - someone worth a long shot bet if the first 3 do not pan out.

As you can see, dating wile transgendered can be quite complex. If I were a "vanilla" person, I'd give a much higher value to L1 in my dating choices. But, being transgendered, I have to give a higher value to anyone who can accept me as a transgendered person, knowing that I will socialize in Marian Mode and be comfortable with that. No matter what, the process of dating has stayed very interesting ....

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Back at Church - What would they think of my Polyamorous friends?

It's hard to believe that Ossining looked like this about 100 years ago. I wonder what happened to the brick building on the left, as there is a parking lot in that location today....

This Sunday was the second time I attended church in Marian Mode. And it was very pleasant to be accepted. But I see a big problem with this parish - they do not have enough parishioners to keep this church alive. It's very sad, because this is a beautiful church on the inside - much more pleasant to be in than the cinder block church I attended in the 1960's which had no atmosphere, and could easily be converted to non religious uses by a smart investor. Hopefully, a more benign fate will happen to this church and its parish - but I have no idea what that fate could be.

After having a cup of coffee following the service, I left when the parish decided to discuss what they wanted to do with their thrift shop. Most of the people attending services are getting on in years, and there are few youngsters coming up through the ranks to keep this church alive. So, I'll continue to go to this church now and then, as it is my heritage. Sadly, I don't think it will survive another 5 to 10 years.

- - - - - -

Could you imagine what the parish would think if they knew I had polyamorous friends? It's easy to defend myself as being transgender - to me, it's a birth anomaly caused by an unexpected estrogen/testosterone mix while in utero. However, I doubt that they would understand or accept polyamory - especially given the history of religion in the United States. And given the deal the Mormon church made, so that Utah could become a state, I doubt that anyone would be looking to change things for the polyamorous any time soon....

- - - - - -

When I left the church, I headed home and changed out of the dress I was wearing, pulling off my stockings, stripping to my underwear. It took me a second or two, but I ended up putting on a denim skirt, plum long-sleeved t-shirt, and a black pair of tights - and out I went to the Poly munch.  One problem - I got the time wrong and was there two hours early. So I decided to look at the outlets in Secaucus (not much worth seeing anymore), then go out to Union, NJ (where I worked many, many years ago) to see how things have changed. And yes, they have changed a lot, as there is even more shopping along route 22 than there was when I worked there almost 40 years ago. And yes, I had to stop into The Avenue, as they had a coat that was calling my name - at 40% off. ($50 was a fair price for the coat - I wouldn't pay more for it.) Now, I have a nice feminine coat to wear this winter.

Once I had bought the coat, it was time to return to the site of the munch. And I was there a few minutes after it was scheduled to start. It was nice meeting new people, as I think this group may avoid some of the problems I've seen in other Poly groups. It was nice to share a few things with other folk, socialize a little, and make myself known to a few people I'd want to know as friends. Strangely enough, I don't have too much to say about the people in the group. They all seemed like nice pleasant people who had only one thing in common - an interest in polyamorous relationships. And I wouldn't say much more anyway, as I wouldn't want to publicize things meant to stay private.

But again, all too soon it was time to leave....  At least, I made it hope in time to do some overdue laundry.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

40th Anniversary High School Reunion

How many of my readers remember the ad slogan "Trix are for kids!" Well, this is a picture from one of the floats that ran in my school's Homecoming Day Parade, many, many years ago. (And it is the only picture that I can dig up that doesn't have any "civilians" that I saw this evening in it.....)

As my readers know, I considered going to my high school's 40th anniversary reunion en-femme. If I did, I might have made myself the center of attention. I'm glad that I went to the reunion in "male business casual". Even though I remembered virtually no one there, others remembered me. When I said that I was only in the school for 2 years, they wondered how that could happen. But when they heard that I graduated 3 years early, and had already skipped a grade by the time I entered the school, the status of being an under aged geek who was then looked down upon turned to respect 40 years later. In short, it was a pleasure to connect with people I hardly knew and would likely never meet again.

Why is this so important? Although I handed out a few business cards, it was more to be social, and as a way for some to keep in contact. If I'm going to announce that I am transgender, I don't want to shock anyone - I just want to go about my business (if en-femme) as the woman I appear to be. (In short, being TG should be a small part of who I am, and while living in both genders, I should use this for both my advantage and for the comfort of others.) However, I did show a couple of pictures of me en-femme, the first claimed to be taken as a Halloween picture and the second as a special novelty photo. (This should get a couple of people talking, and if there is a 50th anniversary party, I will attend en-femme.)

Believe it or not, there was another person who shared my name, who was not able to attend the reunion. One of the ladies there sent a selfie of the two of us to this other "Marian" - I wonder what she would have done if I went en-femme, and attended as Marian and not Mario. After 3 hours of relatively meaningless conversation and being included in pictures I'll never see, it was time to leave, and time to get comfortable. So I hopped into my car, and sped home, chatting with GFJ, then Lili along the way.

The way I see it, we have a special responsibility being transgender - those of us who transition (or are in a position to transition) late in life have lived a full life in a body identified as the wrong gender. If we've been accepted in that gender, we should take care NOT to look like misfits when encountering people from our pasts. It is important for us to perfect our gender presentations as much as possible, not just for our own sake, but out of consideration of others.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Two days en-homme --- What will my High School Reunion be like?

Thankfully, I don't have to dress in a suit and tie anymore....

- - - - - -

As I write this, I've just spent the early part of Friday en-homme with the Department of Labor, and later with a former co-worker who got laid off two days after I did. It was a good idea for me to visit this lady, as she critiqued the resume that the outplacement specialist designed, and told me what needed to be done to fix it. This alone was worth the price of spending the day en-homme.

Afterwards, I drove across the Hudson, where I met my former coworker for a late lunch. It was good to see him again, as he looked healthier than expected, given the state of his chemotherapy. And to top things off, he was wearing a toupee! (Little does he know that I have much more experience wearing wigs than he has....) So we talked of shoes and ships and sealing wax.... All too soon, it was time to leave, and we pledged that we'd get together again - sooner than later.

- - - - - - 

Saturday evening is dedicated to my High School Reunion. I have no idea of how much fun (or not) it will be. Sadly, I must attend this gathering en-homme, as I will trying to do a little bit of networking here for my job search.  If I can squeeze in some time and go out early in the day, I might get some en-femme time in. But I don't think this will make much sense, given the demands which will be placed on my time.

- - - - - -

On Sunday, I'd like to be able to go to church again. But not being sure I'd get out by 11:30, I doubt that I could make it anywhere by 1:00 pm.  Luckily (for me) GFJ has car problems, and would not be able to meet me. (I could have driven there, but after we talked, we both wanted to sleep late and take care of things around our houses.)

GFJ has no problem eventually seeing me in Marian mode. In fact, she's likely to drop in on the Whine and Dine group one Wednesday night soon. Unlike K (from Newburgh), I think GFJ is less likely to run away from me than K was. But one never knows until she sees me in Marian mode.

- - - - - -

Of course, given my history with women who know me in both Marian mode and Mario mode, I can't assume anything with women. Therefore, I'm keeping my options open with M from Artoberfest. She is receptive to me texting her. So, I think I still have some possibilities with her as well. The trick will be to keep in contact with her as much as possible (within limits) and keep myself on her list of potential suitors. I have one advantage here - she has seen me twice already in Marian Mode, and she hasn't flinched yet.  (But the next time I see her, I'll likely be en-homme as well....)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Neighbors - What are they good for?

If all relationships between neighbors could be this friendly. Sadly, when one lives in attached residences, there are bound to be problems....

As I've noted before, I'm on my Co-Op's board of directors. There are things I can't say because I'm required to keep things said in the board room inside the board room. But I can say that a troublesome neighbor is at it again - with a potential new victim. And, sadly, that's where I have to leave it for now - until I have the chance to talk with another neighbor outside the board room and be able to tell the story in and of my own right.

- - - - - -

The other day, three fire trucks came roaring up the hill and into my apartment complex at 2:00 am. The last thing I wanted to do is go out in my nightgown in case of a fire. I kept my eyes open, looking through the window to see what was going on. And there was no movement towards putting out any fire. So I felt relieved when I knew I didn't have to go outside looking like a male, yet wearing female clothing. In the past, they have taken a resident or two to the hospital, but not this time. What was up?

In today's board meeting, I had the chance to pull the managing agent aside, and found out what happened. There are two neighbors (mother and daughter) living in one apartment who should be in an assisted living facility. Unfortunately, they will be living here until one (or both) women die. In this case, the pilot light (remember them?) on their stove wasn't on, they smelled gas, and they didn't know what to do. They called various people and didn't get help. So they called 911 and got the fire department to come. Of course, the fire department ended up lighting the pilot light to make these ladies feel better. But the fire department later ended up turning off the gas, yellow taping the stove to prevent its use and force someone to buy this mother-daughter couple a new, modern stove.

- - - - - -

One of the analyses of the causes of the 2008 financial crash pinned the blame on sub-prime mortgage lenders, both commercial and investment banks who securitized and sold pools of mortgages, and the rating agencies who claimed that the questionable securities were all AAA quality. Movies such as "Too Big to Fail" (based on true events) and "Margin Call" (fiction) give a good idea of what was going on at the time of the Wall Street meltdown, and banks holding bad mortgages changed their procedures when mortgages went sour.

In response to changing times, banks decided not to foreclose on properties which the borrowers could no longer afford to make payments. When the loan went sour, the property could no longer be abandoned, as the bank wouldn't foreclose, and couldn't be forced to accept a short sale. The homeowner was left in limbo, and stuck with the responsibility of maintaining a home he/she could no longer afford. The titles to these mortgages are called "Zombie Titles" - the bank is not required to give the borrower notice of when it would foreclose, and yet the borrower has no way to extricate himself from the contract, outside (maybe) of bankruptcy.

One woman I dated is the victim of one of these Zombie Titles, and her wages from one of her jobs is being garnished to pay debts owed to her former homeowners association. She has won her case against her bank (in both a trial court and on an appeal), in which she claimed the bank was acting in bad faith in telling her to have a property transferred into her name and telling her that they would lend her the money to finance the property. (There is more that I am not telling here, but I don't want to identify the woman or the bank without permission of either, nor do I want to do so without advice from a lawyer.) The bank is spending as much money as it can to keep the appeals process active, as they (and other banks) are likely afraid that if precedents are set, that they will lose the Zombie Title as a tool to extract money from people who can't afford to give any more money to the banks.

Sadly, this woman is not able to go to the press, as there is an effective gag order against her contacting the press. But if the press contacts her, then all restrictions are off - and she can talk publicly....

- - - - - -

Now, back to my co-op....

We discussed a situation (which I can't discuss here) in which the above woman's situation was relevant to the matter being discussed. I didn't want for us to be the indirect victim of a Zombie Title (or any conditions that resembled one) - and the board took appropriate action. I'm very glad that my knowledge base is wide enough to help others in unexpected ways.

After the board meeting, I showed several board members who know me both as Mario and Marian a picture taken of me in Marian Mode in Coney Island. They all agreed that this was one of the better pictures taken of me in Marian Mode in a long while. And they are all looking forward to seeing Halloween pictures taken of me in a Nurse's uniform.

On that note, I'll close the entry with this....

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Another day at the Lili Pond before some Whining and Dining

Whenever I go anywhere with Lili, I've learned to expect some drama. My latest visit was no exception....

The other day, Lili asked me if I wanted to go with her to see her mom. Going with her means spending at least 4-5 hours being around the "Sturm und Drang" that happens to be Lili's life. This visit had her venting about being treated badly by an office manager from a firm from which Lili was buying equipment for her house. (I won't go into this problem in much detail, save that Lili has less political skill than I have...) It was also noted by her having a big blowout argument with the people who are taking care of her ailing mother, one so loud that I had to get out of the way to maintain my sanity.

Each time I've visited Lili's mom, I have always been there en-femme. This visit was the first time I saw two new people - a new aide who I think will be taking over for someone who is retiring, and a hospice care aide. To both of these ladies, I was introduced as Marian - and I hope that Lili doesn't open her big mouth and use the wrong pronoun around them. And then the "fun" began - Lili's mom was showing signs of dehydration. Since others have to feed her mom, Lili was making a loud, melodramatic argument that her caregivers were not giving her enough liquids. (They claim that they were doing all they could, but....) It got into a shouting match - the only way Lili knows of getting her point across. (Lili believes that no one wants to listen to a fat lady, so she has to shout. She also believes that my male face is too soft -and- I'm too round, and that is why people don't listen to me. Could she have a point?) About 30 minutes later, she came down the stairs saying it was time to leave. I had to go back upstairs to pick up my purse and my coat - and saw the 3 ladies shaking their heads as if they didn't know what justified Lili's wrath.

Back on the road again, Lili had to talk to both her sister and her brother. Again, she was melodramatic as she talked to her family. I was glad to be going home, as I had more pleasant things ahead of me for the evening.

- - - - - -

After I got home, I took care of a couple of little things, and proceeded to go out again. Since I was out early, I decided to drop by The Avenue and visit my favorite sales lady. Of course, this meant that I'd be a little late to the Whine and Dine - and that was OK with me. Eventually, I arrived at the Whine and Dine, and proceeded to have a good time. Several of my friends (including J) weren't there, but the smaller number of people allowed us to have some very enjoyable conversations.

As usual as of late, I've had a little too much food to eat. And I'll have to postpone a doctor's appointment to save me from a little bit of embarrassment. (This means that I have to start getting my ass in gear and start walking.....) At least, GFJ is of the type who wants to get out and walk - and I hope to see her over the weekend for a "picnic" and a nice long walk....

- - - - - -

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

Fats Domino - I'm Walking

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Life in the sometimes passing lane.

Tonight (as I write this), I ended up visiting Pat (my former hypnotist), not yet knowing whether I'll be driving to Provincetown for the Tuesday night banquet at Fantasia Fair. In yesterday's post), I mentioned that my friend B (in MA) passed away, removing my main reason for driving up to the Cape. Given the distance I'd have to drive, the expense I'd incur for a one night visit, and the wear and tear on the car, I've been hemming and hawing whether I go up or not.  I'll miss my friends, but know that I'll have a chance to see them again next year - when I can be reasonably sure that I can attend this gathering.

Visiting Pat, I never know what to expect. But I know that her view of the world comes from a point where she has little control of her destiny, and looks to assign blame to others instead of taking responsibility (deserved or not) for her position in life. She's always talking of conspiracies, and doesn't see things as the unintended results of ignorant people in power.) Yes, I'll readily admit things such as the government is spying on us. But I don't think it gives a damn about what people like me say. Yet, I know not to trust the people in power, as it is too easy to abuse the powers they already have and that they are likely abusing some of those powers already. With all this being said, I like Pat as a person, in spite of her paranoid worries. (Because, in spite of my opinions, she may be the "Canary in the Coal Mine.")

After leaving Pat, I went to the Westchester Poly Munch (a small group) and had dinner with two people (formerly of the HV poly group) and with one other person, J. We had a nice dinner, and soon it was time for the two poly people I knew to leave. At that time, A used the masculine pronoun to refer to me (I'll have to talk to him about that), knowing I was transgender. I was upset, but didn't want to say anything at the time. After A and his wife left, I ended up speaking with J for a while, as he wanted to find out more about my being transgender - and we had a nice chat. He noted several things that could be improved regarding my presentation (voice, choice of words, etc.) which I took note of, and we talked about body image and other things related to life as a transgendered person.

Again, it was time to leave, and I proceeded to the supermarket down the hill to pick up some orange juice and a loaf of bread. Arriving at the supermarket, there was a checkout lady shouting "sir, sir, ..." as I was opening my car door, then said "excuse me ma'am". I walked inside, and started to chat up my favorite checkout lady (Supermarket M). She explained that a fellow took a voided receipt with him, and would screw up their close-out for the register later on in the evening. I picked up my OJ and Bread, paid for it, and continued chatting with this lady and her trainee checkout clerk for a while. Both were accepting me as a natal female, and we were talking as only natal women would talk with each other. Although I can't remember the exact phrasing or how we got to this, Supermarket M said that I can't be a man based on what she was seeing and hearing. (She's nice!) And it was also very nice to hear that she thought I was 10 years younger than I am. (Thank you, Dermablend!) But the conversation was soon ended as who this lady labeled "the Bobbsey Twins" came by. One of these men was F, a man I've chatted with many times before, and with whom I don't want to be seen as a cross dressing male.

Now if only I could lose some weight, so that I can wear some nicer clothes....

Friday, October 24, 2014

A weekend with widows and widowers - Debriefing

This is the view that greeted me each of the two mornings that I was away with my widow/widower group. The first morning was warm, while the second had a touch of snow. It seems fitting for a Poconos widow/widower gathering to have some snow in it - the first one (if I recall correctly) also had a dusting in early April, 1997....

Last Friday, my goal was to get to the lodge in the Poconos by 5:00 pm, and be able to relax a little before joining up with "the gang". However, I had a sad and unwanted duty to take care of first - my brother had called me the night before, and said that I should go to the wake of an ex-girlfriend's mother. I've avoided this woman for 3 years now, as our relationship was poisonous to me. And I didn't want to open up old wounds, by seeing her and her family again. Yet I did, only so that I'd have no complaints coming from the peanut gallery called my family.

When I lost my wife, my friend B (in MA) repeated in my ear until I was sick of it - "Plain Pine Box, Plain Pine Box, Plain Pine Box...." Coming from a Jewish background, she noted that a casket like the one above should be used in virtually all burials. It is 100% biodegradable, is easily affordable by most families of modest means, and provides for 6 pallbearers to carry the body to its final resting place.  And this is what I used when I had to take care of my wife's funeral. 18 years ago, a box like this alone cost $800 - I can only imagine what the funeral homes are now charging for a 1 day viewing, funeral service and burial.... 

Going to my ex-girlfriend's mom's viewing, I saw one of the more expensive caskets being used. When people are in grief, it is easy to extract more money from them for services and products that aren't needed. (How could a corpse care if the pillow the head rested on was covered in silk, satin, or plain cotton?)  In this case, given the ethnic group of the people in attendance, it made a sad sense for people to spend excess money on a product that would be unseen for 99.99% of its use.

But I'm not about to venture towards a condemnation of the funeral home industry. Instead, the focus of this entry is on people who are experiencing and/or have experienced grief....

I sat down with my ex-girlfriend, and chatted for a while. She looked like she was in much worse shape than when I saw her last - she is heavier than I remembered, needs a cane to get around, and her feet seem like they could barely fit in her shoes. There is no way I could have been happy to have stayed with her, especially since my date with GFJ and our 4-5 mile walk across the Hudson. Unfortunately, I stayed much longer than I wanted to, and ended up reaching the George Washington Bridge at 4:00 pm - much later than I planned -late enough that I'd hit all rush hour traffic jams from New York to Pennsylvania.

Eventually, I made it to Split Rock resort (the split in the rock is hidden by the trees), proceeded to check in, then find my friends. I chatted with L, who showed me where half of our group was assembled, and then chatted with the group in the assembly area. (L never came back that evening, and I'll discuss that in a minute.) Seeing H (who also just arrived), I decided to catch up on things with her, and with H, go to the restaurant in another building where the other half of our crew had assembled to eat. After dinner, H and I went back to the main lodge, and we had a great chat in the car - I had the chance to show her some of my pictures and discuss the nature of being transgender.

H and I retired to our own rooms as we both were tired after a long day. And I decided to call L to find out what happened to her. Like myself, she was exhausted, but fell asleep instead of going out to dinner with the crew. So we chatted for a bit, and I mentioned being transgender and talked about some of the photos I emailed to her after a Facebook conversation.

The next day, the crew met in a separate assembly room for breakfast, and most of us decided to go to Steamtown. Instead of going in someone else's car and not being able to control my own destiny, I decided to take N (an old W/W friend from the days of the 1st Poconos gathering) to Steamtown with me. (This benefited both of us later on, as the other group decided on having lunch in town - while neither of us were hungry.) We arrived about an hour after the first group, and the heavens opened up when we arrived. This might not have been so annoying had the line to buy tickets (at an outside booth) moved along quickly. With only 1 window being used for same day tickets AND many people using time consuming charge card transactions, everyone on line was getting wet. 

We eventually got inside the main building, and I was able to take a few pictures of some railroad artifacts inside the roundhouse area. Shortly after these pictures were taken, we met up with the other crew, who were then preparing to go out to lunch. N and I passed on lunch, toured the museum a little more, then headed to our home base.

As much as the management of the lodge screwed up things, its staff went overboard to see that our needs were met. We had arranged to have dinner in the restaurant attached to the lodge. But we were told that they couldn't seat us for an hour, as they didn't have enough wait staff to handle 18 people. This was not acceptable, and one of our group decided to complain a little and get some results. Shortly afterwards, 4 people came over from another restaurant in the resort, and we proceeded to sit down to dinner. 

Dinner was worth waiting for, if not for the quality of the food, then for the quality of the conversations that were going on at the table through the evening. Management comped us with a free dessert to help make up for the troubles we encountered. Yet, these troubles weren't over - separate checks for 18 people coupled with incorrect information kept us waiting to leave. At a certain point, management gave up, and some of us ended up paying less for the food than what we ordered - only so that we could finally go back to our rooms.

I went back to my room, and picked up my tablet. Instead of being to connect to the outside world from my room (the wi-fi signal was way too weak for me to get an internet connection in my room), I decided to sit on an uncomfortable couch in the lobby and check my emails. H came over, and I showed her some of my favorite Marian Mode pictures, such as the one below.

While showing H this picture, another woman came by. She must have seen this picture, so I mentioned that this woman was a doppelganger from where I worked, and I was going to a Halloween party as a nurse - hoping that people would mistake me for her until she arrived. GFJ called, and I said I'd call her back. (By the time I got back to my room, it was too late - and I texted her to say I'd try to reach her the next day.) Eventually, we all had to make it to our rooms. I went with H to her room, and we continued the chat we were having in the lobby. I showed her some more pictures, and we decided to have lunch with me in Marian mode in the near future.

On Sunday, it was our farewell breakfast - and it was clear that we all wanted this gathering not to end. Yet, it was fitting that we all wanted more of each other, and not less. In the assembly room, we talked of our joys and of our sadness. We talked of our spouses and our families, and we talked about chat room members (alive and departed), and shared stories that some of us knew, but never had the chance to share. (No one was revealing secrets - we were filling each other in on some information that would be passed on publicly had those people been around to share things.) Although 18-20 people may have shown up over the weekend, we talked about 10 times as many people we knew from the chat room.

And all too soon, it was time to depart. A few of us decided to go to the Split Rock (from which the resort takes its name), and we took a few pictures there.

As you can see, this is an unusual rock formation. (And I have blanked out the face of one of our crew members to preserve her privacy.)  There were 6 of us at the rock, and it was from here that I said my final goodbyes then drove home.

And as usual - a tune to close out the entry

The Beatles - Hello Goodbye.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A dinner, and some games with friends.

Doesn't this dinner look yummy?

Last Thursday, I had a quick dinner with M (from Artoberfest) before going to games night. If there is anything that will openly get in the way of the two of us getting to know each other (as friends, if not a romance) it will be the schedule of a woman holding 3 part time jobs - the dark side of the new economy.

However, I may be able to make public a problem she had with a large bank and issues with its lending - only after I receive some information I asked for. This type of problem is common enough with certain lenders - they are no longer foreclosing on real estate, as they become liable for certain expenses.  Instead, they leave the borrower (who can't pay the loan) in a state of limbo - making it even worse for the borrower who continues to have taxes (and other expenses) assessed against the borrower, when in the past, they would be assessed against the bank.  If I get the details, and am free to publish them, I will. (Hopefully, one lawyer who reads this blog will give me some free advice so that this lady can be helped by publicizing her plight.)

But all too quickly, dinner was over, and we had to part. Hopefully, she'll want to meet up with me again, and that I'll be able to help her (in my small way) get things moving so that her problem can start moving towards resolution.... So I left her at the restaurant, and then went over to Sears to see if a coat I saw in Yonkers was available in Nanuet. (Unfortunately, it wasn't available, and I proceeded to Yonkers....)

- - - - - -

As I was leaving Sears, I got a text from my brother. It looks like they will be waking my ex-GF's mother in Yonkers, and that MY family expects me to pay my respects. (The ex-GF has kept in contact with the rest of my family for the 3 years since we broke up, maintaining her friendships with them. And that was OK with me....)  Unfortunately, I am now expected to be there - and this will get in the way of my getting out to the widow/widower gathering in the Poconos on time....

- - - - - -

After this, my game night in Yonkers seems like an afterthought. I played a couple of games, and lost both. But the big thing about the evening was the end of the session - where all the ladies drifted away, leaving only me - and the guys talking among themselves. Normally a couple of women would have stayed to the end of the evening, but this time they didn't. So I figured that leaving early would be the best thing for me to do.....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Organizing my life - wallets and more.

 --- OR ---

Which wallet do I need to use today?

This is one of the many questions I have to ask being transgender and living on both sides of the gender divide.  When I went to bed last night, I had plans to meet one of my friends en-homme, and work on his computer. So I moved cash, credit cards, and appropriate identification into my male wallet, expecting to put on a shirt and trousers and see him. But before I started getting dressed this morning, my friend called to tell me that it would be too hot for me to visit (he has no air conditioning), and suggested we get together in a couple of days. So I moved everything back to my female wallet, and made new plans to go out en-femme later in the day.

Getting dressed en-femme has become such a normal thing for me, that the preparations I do to go out en-femme have almost become second nature. I've gotten to the point where I plan which days I will be spending en-homme and en-femme, and then schedule activities accordingly. On those days I need to spend en-homme (such as when I see my therapist), I schedule as many of the other activities I need to be en-homme (such as seeing family) as best I can.

I've developed a preference for going out en-femme. My friends and acquaintances have told me that I'm much more outgoing while en-femme than when en-homme. There's a certain gregariousness that I feel while en-femme - and I like that.

- - - - - -

Living life in two genders requires a lot more organization and planning than most people would want to deal with. The other day, I met a woman in my apartment complex's parking lot, and her first thoughts were that it was a lot of work for me to maintain the two gender identities. Although this is true, it gets easier with time.

There will always be more thought needed to live life in two genders.  For example, one can not simply decide to travel to another country without knowing enough of its mores and customs regarding gender variant people. Although I might be safe in the tourist zones in some Caribbean islands, the odds are that I'd be better off going elsewhere given their (general) attitudes towards gay people. (Even though transgendered people are not necessarily gay, we get lumped into that bucket "in the islands" and can have problems.) That's why I would only take cruises that go North into Canada - they have a much more enlightened attitude towards human sexuality....

But travel is only one concern. Socializing is another. Is it sufficient for us to socialize with other transgendered people? Or, do we need to socialize with "civilians" outside our transgendered circles?  In my case, I wanted to socialize with "civilians". So I had to develop a plan to do this - and I am still working on this plan. For example, I had to get used to meeting others as a woman - even if I knew that my presentation was a little bit lacking. I needed to practice my skills. After a while, I needed to find a safe women's group to meet with, and test my presentation skills. But before I did this, I needed to know how well I presented, so that I wouldn't risk embarrassment (or worse) when meeting the group. Luckily, I befriended one woman who saw me only as a woman, and suggested that I join her group....

Given my success, I will join even more groups - and truthfully answer that I am transgender if challenged. And then if I'm not welcome, I will leave. But I do not plan to worry about what people think of me....

- - - - - -

But organization is not just a matter of scheduling, it is not just a matter of socialization. Instead, it is a matter of understanding one's self and organizing those basic concepts that define one as an individual. And this is the tricky part of things.

What is the first characteristic you think of when identifying an individual? I think that most of us will give an answer referring to someone's gender. A person's race might come up second or third - but most of us look at gender (or, might I suggest, gender presentation) first. But most of us have many more characteristics that define us as individuals. For example, we look at a person's age as an individual characteristic. We might look at ethnicity, size, profession, etc. as identifying characteristics. It is up to us to sort out which characteristics mean most to us - and make sure that cues for these characteristics are exhibited as needed, so that others see us the way we want to be seen, allowing us to interact with them in the way we desire.

Do I want the first characteristic a person thinks of me to be that I'm female (or male, if in the other persona)? No - I'm much more complex than the average person might know at first. But that means I have to transmit (subtly) cues for intelligent, careful thinking, openness, etc. at a higher priority than I transmit cues for my gender.With this being said, I think I've always put gender identification, presentation and possibly preference at a lower priority than my other characteristics. And now it may be helping me....

- - - - - -

So how do I see myself in the future?  In some ways, I'll be the same person I have always been - no matter whether I decide on a full transition (or not). Although some of my friends see multiple personalities, I think they are confused. I think I'm presenting the same personality I've always had. But I am much more free to express characteristics of that personality in female mode than I have been in male mode. And this is noticed most by my closest friends....

- - - - - -

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

Harry Chapin - 30,000 lbs. of Bananas

(You can bet that I'll be humming this tune when/if I get around to visiting Steamtown in the Fall.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two requests for help

What do you do when someone refers you to someone who needs help?  What do you do if two friends ask you to help their friends by sharing your knowledge of issues you've encountered because of your transgender nature?  In my case, I feel an obligation to "pay it forward" and help these two people on their journeys towards femininity.

Do I know much about either of these people?  No.  But I'm glad to help those in need.

The first person had a very masculine body, and worked in a hyper-masculine environment. From what I understand, this person had no plan to develop his femininity, nor did he have a plan to address the expected family issues. Ready, Fire, Aim! He was in such a hurry to become a woman, that he destroyed many of the links to his male life that he would need to become a functioning woman. So, this person lives somewhere between the "he" and "she", and needs help to move forward from "his" life to "her" life.

The next person I know even less about, but is more willing to look for good advice. He wants to proceed to being a functioning female, and seems to be looking for information on how to start the process. So, I expect that I'll have greater satisfaction helping this person, as he seems like he's willing to make the effort to become the woman she wants to become.

You'll note the use of "he" and "she" pronouns in the above 2 paragraphs. It's hard for me to use "she" with people who haven't started on this journey, or who started running around without a plan. But I admit - the two people have been referred to me for help, and I don't know for sure whether either truly identifies as a "he" or "she" yet. Only by asking each person to tell me what pronoun they'd use to refer to themselves in the 3rd person will I know for sure.

- - - - - -

There are a lot of resources out there for the transgendered. And there are many events where they can go to explore their feminine sides. But it requires conquering fear - something few of us do well. When I started going out in the world en-femme, I was very worried about people in my apartment complex seeing me. Now, I couldn't give a hoot - everyone in my doorway has seen me in both male and female presentations. For others, the process can be different. I remember driving over to Triangles in Danbury, CT for their monthly CD/TG night. There were many cross dressers there, a goodly number of which were at the only place they could feel safe wearing a dress in public. But I felt very uncomfortable - they were acting like men in dresses, shooting pool and talking sports - while I really wanted to socialize with women as a woman. There is only so much I could learn in the lavender frock ghetto.

I don't mean to knock the bar scene. I just have different goals than many other people, and am better able to articulate them. The lessons I pass onto other people are filtered through a lens of a person wanting to become as feminine as possible without being unnatural or over the top. Anyone who receives my advice will be receiving it in the context of transition - whether or not GCS/SRS ever takes place. I intend to answer the key question: "What skills are needed to be accepted in the female role?" In answering that, I will also advise people on ways to make maintaining a feminine presentation much easier and less time consuming.

- - - - - -

Although my road may never lead to full transition, I want to be able to present as perfect a female presentation as possible. So I have done things such as working on the pitch of my voice, learning basic makeup skills, lasering my face, etc. to help perfect my presentation. These are the types of experiences I share - both in my blog, and in-person.  If I can help others as they travel along their roads, it will make me a happier person while I travel down my road....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Whining and dining with a little sadness at the end.

I wore this outfit to the Whine and Dine meetup tonight, with the exception of wearing black shoes instead of white.  And it felt nice getting dressed up to be with the gals. Whether or not anyone knows that I am transgendered, no one seems to care. I am just one of the ladies who wine and dine on Wednesdays.

This morning, it was very hard for me to muster the energy to get out of bed. One could blame depression. One can blame low blood sugar. But I blame being in a warm and humid room with the air conditioner turned off, having the type of sleep that leaves me with little energy until something more important (such as a pressing need to relieve myself) makes me use what little energy I have to get up and take care of business. Once up, I am wide awake, and have no incentive to get back on the bed....

Eventually, it was time for me to get showered and dressed. And not being able to dry off after toweling myself out of the shower, I was forced to turn on the air conditioner for the first time in weeks. Even then, the humidity interfered with my makeup routine, as the clear tape I use to give the illusion of having a mild brow ridge wasn't sticking well to my skin. After applying my foundation, I did what I could with setting powder to give myself a dry face, and then proceeded to finish the rest of my routine with drops of sweat coming down the sides of my face. (It didn't help that I tried to put on an item of shapewear in my arsenal, and gave up on when I couldn't get the tucked flat front I wanted before pulling the straps over my arms.) Surprisingly, my made up face looked quite good, in spite of the headaches I had applying my makeup. So, I pulled the dress over my head, put on my jewelry and wig, and got ready to go.

The weather forecast called for rain, rain, and more rain. So I decided to take my raincoat along, and proceeded to my car. As one would expect, there were slow pokes on the road who were afraid of a little rain. I'm not talking of people who'd drive within 5 mph of speed limit on the low side, but people who would drive 20 mph in a 40 mph zone. This resulted in me being later than expected to the restaurant, but still early enough to order dinner and enjoy it with the rest of the ladies. There were less ladies than usual at the meetup, but I enjoyed it as everyone at the table could hear each other speak.

After a couple of hours, it was time to leave. And I moseyed over to the venue where we used to have our Monday night gaming meetups. Looking inside, the owner was still there, so I walked in and we chatted for 30-45 minutes or so. While chatting, I got a call from B (in AZ) telling me to call her back.  (I was later to find that our friend B (in MA) just passed away.) This gave me my excuse to leave, get in my car, and call B to get the (expected) news.

I have no knowledge yet of whether B's husband S will be sitting Shiva or not. (Both S and B were culturally Jewish, but neither of them bothered to keep kosher.) I have no idea of whether there will be a wake or memorial service. From what B (in AZ) told me, S was totally out of it, not being able to do anything - he was still in shock, as I was when I lost my wife almost 18 years ago. I'll have to call S in the morning to see what he plans to do, and then to determine whether I'll drive up for a night at Fantasia Fair before seeing him.

So I'll close out with a song befitting the memory of B (in MA) -

The Beach Boys (The Wrecking Crew/Studio Musicians) - "Wouldn't It Be Nice" Instrumental Track

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gathering up some Widows and Widowers.

This is "Vinnie." His is the only face from our Widow/Widower gatherings that I plan to show on this blog, as I plan to preserve the privacy of civilians not associated with the transgender community. And Vinnie symbolizes a lot of our group's history, as he has been brought to the many gatherings we had while our group was at its peak activity level.

When I first decided to attend this gathering, I played around with the idea of attending en-femme. Of course, I decided not to do this, as I didn't want to become the center of attention. (And I didn't want to spend most of my time dealing with the curiosity of people I've known for years wanting to learn about being transgender.) I'll be leaving my prosthesis (wig and breast forms), my makeup, and my female wardrobe all at home. And I'll miss getting into Marian Mode for a few days. Yet, I do plan to out myself to a friend or two I can trust....

It's been a long time since the last gathering of old-timers from the AOL Widows and Widowers chat room. The last one I attended was three years ago in Pigeon Forge, TN. We had 40-50 people there for the gathering, and it was good to see old friends. It was sad to have someone get a bit maudlin, deciding to have a roll call of the group members who had passed on - but there will always be people who need to make this kind of memorial to the dead. And I'm hoping that this will not be done for this smaller gathering. (You can guess that I find cars with memorials to late family members, roadside crosses, and other types of public grief expressions  a bit too tacky for my taste.)

Before I go on too far, I have to mention that none of these gatherings was sponsored by AOL. Individual room participants made deals with hotels, with restaurants, and with other businesses to provide their online friends the most enjoyable experiences when they came to visit their towns. The Pocono venue was considered the first large gathering of many we had all across the country. Some of the gatherings I attended were held in the Poconos, Plymouth MA, Gatlinburg TN, New Orleans LA, Biloxi MS, Las Vegas NV, and San Jose CA. And there were other large gatherings I did not attend over the years - I could only afford so much time off to visit all the places gatherings were being held. It is only fitting that I attend what may be the last of these gatherings, having been there for the first.

The important thing about attending these gatherings is that people learned that life goes on after being widowed, and that many of us can find new love again.  But what does this part of my life have to do with transgender related experiences I may have had?

Many of us transgendered folk have a great fear of going out in the world. Many of us ask, "What will people think? What will happen to us if we are read?"  Many widows fear their own unknowns, as they have grown to depend on their late spouses - and this support has been taken away from them. In many ways, for completely unrelated situations, both communities have to deal with fear and overcome it. And once we break through those barriers, more confident people come out the other side.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Revelations and other good news

Sometimes, even I am able to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Of course, it usually happens when I want to cook Hassenpfeffer. But I never thought that I'd be able to pull one out of the hat after mentioning I was transgender....

Today, I went on a second date with a wonderful lady, who I'll call GFJ for now. As you can guess, her name begins with a J, and I'm adding a GF prefix to indicate her potential importance to me. (I could have done the same to M from Artoberfest (and Thursday's post) and call her GFM, but I'm not certain I'd want to do this anymore, given the chemistry and nervousness I've experienced with GFJ.)

- - - - - -

As often happens these days, my sleep cycle has gotten out of whack, and I had a hard time getting up early enough to make it to the Walkway Across the Hudson by 12:30 pm. Luckily, GFJ was running as late as I was, and we arranged to meet each other an hour later than originally planned. And even then, we got a few signals crossed, as I parked in one lot, and she parked on the street at another entrance to the park.

It was a cool and overcast day, and I was very glad to have brought my windbreaker as it would likely be a little chilly crossing the bridge. I was at the point on the trail being indicated by the finger in the picture. So I walked to where GFJ was waiting for me - just before the walkway opened up onto the bridge. We met, hugged and kissed, and proceeded to walk across the bridge - while my motor mouth ran a mile a minute. (I was nervous, much more than I realized at the time....)

The last time I walked the bridge, I only walked to a point just across the bridge. But this time we walked, stopping at a few places along the trail to take a few snapshots until we reached the town of Highland (indicated by the brownish area to the left of the above map)

When we reached Highland, we decided to stop in town, so that I could get something to drink - and we sat and talked for a while. Then it was time to return, where I got a few more pictures.

When we finally got back across the river, I suggested that we go and get a bite to eat. And GFJ was very happy to do so. So it was off to a nearby diner, where we chatted some more. By the time we were done, we had been together for about 4-5 hours or so, and I didn't want things to end. Yet, I was like a woman who didn't know how to signal I wanted more. Yet there was an elephant in the room - Marian. I was hinting all day that there was something I wanted to mention when we got to know each other a little better - and I decided to show GFJ some pictures of myself in Marian mode.  GFJ was pleasantly surprised - she thought that the elephant in the room was much worse. And she said that me being in Marian Mode didn't matter to her.

At this time, I opened up, gushing out of released tension.  We talked in the car for another hour, holding hands, and me having a different kind of nervousness, I mentioned my being transgender and my comfort in both Marian and Mario modes, and that I'd make sure that there was enough of Mario around for her to be happy. (I'd never transition while in a relationship with someone I love....)  And then, all too soon, it was time to leave.  (I wasn't going to say that she come back to my place - I wasn't yet ready for physical intimacy, though I'd enjoy having that soon.)  How lucky can someone get?!?!

Later on, I got this in an email:

I am glad you felt comfortable to talk to me.  I was wondering what was up.  You seemed a little tense and there was no physical contact and you seemed to be in a rush to go home.  I figured this was our last date.  I was glad you actually held my hand.  I will tell you something too that I am shy at first to show affect.  If I am shown affection I will respond  !!!!!   I am not saying that I expected more in fact is was nice to get to know you before any other emotions came into play.

Hopefully, I'll be able to build something very nice with this woman. I am attracted to her, and responded with the following:

Thank you!!!  Looking back, I obviously was very, very nervous, as I felt you brush your hand into mine while walking and my normal reaction would be to hold it - I wish I did, especially after our conversation in the car. I was feeling like a teenager (something unusual for me), wanting to have more time with you, but not knowing what the next step should be or how to make that next step.  It's amazing I was feeling this way after both having been married before AND having had several relationships since then. 

And I am shy too... (Or, at least I can say that about me as Mario) Now I'd like to let you know that I felt a spark since the first time we met - and am glad that it was mutual. Next time, you can be sure that I will show that affection!!!!! 

Especially when I had that elephant, Marian, in the room. I think you'll like that side of me as much as Mario, albeit in a very different way. 

What I didn't tell you when we met today, is that I was running on very little sleep. Caffeine was essential for staying awake enough to drive - and once I was out with you, I was energized once again. Leaving you, I made it home, and then napped for a couple of hours. (I could be the classic romantic and say that I dreamed of you. Instead, I'll say the truth and mention that I was giddy thinking about you, and couldn't wait to share things with my friend Lili on the drive home.)

Can't wait to see you again!!!!

Hugs hugs hugs!!!!

Of course, if things go further, I expect that we'll have the usual share of disagreements. But I haven't had promise like this in a while. And it feels good - very good. (And I'm hoping GFJ feels the same way.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Open House NY - A trip to the Masonic Lodge

There are nicer views of this entrance, but this is how it typically looks on a day like the day I visited this architectural gem. If you ever get the chance, I strongly suggest visiting this place for a tour, available Monday through Saturday between 11:00 and 2:30.

- - - - - -

But first...

In order to keep things easier to keep track of, I will refer to M from the Yonkers game night as FFM. There will still be other M's that I will mention, and I will give them unique identifiers as needed. 

FFM is a woman married to a gentleman attached to one of the armed services. So she has had to pull up roots several times in her life to follow her husband's career. In this New York area posting, she has yet to familiarize herself with "The City", and was glad that I suggested that we take one of the OHNY tours.

Having been up very late the night before, I knew I needed a lot of coffee in my system to make it to FFM's on time. Luckily for me, both of us were running a little late, so getting to her place at 11:30 wasn't a problem. We took her car into the city, with me as her GPS system, and found a parking spot near the Masonic Lodge a little after 12:15.  Never having been to the lodge myself, I wasn't sure of which side of the street it was on. But I figured that I should show her Eataly before walking over to the lodge. FFM was very impressed with the place, and learned a thing about how Manhattanites look at food shopping and food itself. And then it was off to the lodge....

Arriving at the lodge a few minutes later, FFM had to drop off her backpack before entering the place. (This was my only complaint about the visit - I was carrying a handbag, and was able to walk in with no problems. Her backpack, functioning as a handbag, had to be checked - but anyone could have taken her backpack at the end of their tour.) We then proceeded to a sitting area, where we were staged for the tour. (A lot of people were taking this tour, so OHNY made sure there were manageable numbers of people in each tour group.) Once they were ready for our group, we were escorted to the first of 6 lodge halls on our tour.


This was the only room painted in its original finery. Virtually every other room had major restoration efforts which ran in the hundreds of thousand dollars. (I won't go into the degree of restoration effort needed, but when there was an inch and a half of paint on most surfaces, restoration would be very expensive.)

Every room was in an Egyptian motif, reflecting the mythical origins of the Masonic society. Although the myth is only a story, it is meant to ennoble people to do great works. Considering the charities that the Masons support, I am glad that this organization exists.

In some ways, once you've seen one masonic hall, you've seen them all. But if you look closely, there are subtle differences which made each of these rooms unique and worth seeing. Each of these rooms is organized around an East-West axis, and there is an altar in the middle for "the law" that people are expected to live by. (There are Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and others in Masonry, and the one commonality among them is that they all believe in God AND strive to be examples for how good people should live.) One thing of note - there are no women members in mainstream Masonry. And I'll have something to say about that later on.... But first, I want to note how well lit these lodge rooms were - Much of the time, I didn't need my flash for indoor pictures, and the "greenish" pictures were usually the ones where my camera's auto setting did not trigger the flash for the picture being taken.

You'll note the transwoman sitting on the ceremonial chair.... She may have not been the only transwoman in the room this day. FFM and I had an interesting discussion about whether one woman in our group was trans or not. This woman was dressed in a style similar to how I was dressed in the photo above, save that she was wearing a shorter skirt, no tights, and open toed, slightly heeled shoes. She had big hands and feet for a woman, some facial hair, and a lack of a defined waist. Yet, she had long eyelashes, a lack of an eyebrow ridge, and most importantly, a voice which would be perfect for a natal female. So, was she trans or was she not? FFM and I will never know for sure, as it was inappropriate for us to engage her in a conversation about being trans. (If she was obviously trans, I might have engaged her in a generic, non-trans, conversation meant only to be friendly - as I might do with any woman I meet.)

One of my favorite places on this tour was the George Washington room (I forgot what they called it) which was gated off from the tour. As you can see it is beautiful, and not designed for tours. Thankfully, the glass was perfectly clear and allowed for a perfect picture from my cheap camera.

All too soon, we entered the final room on our tour. It was the largest room on the tour, and is often rented out for public activities. Before we left, I asked the Mason assigned to tell us about the room about transgender members. Specifically, what has the organization done when one of its members has decided to transition? And this gentleman didn't have a clue. Does a transwoman have to leave the Masons?  Is her former male status grandfathered in for her? This is something that many of us in the transgender community would like to know. (And for F2M transmen, do they now accept them as males after transition?) So many questions, and I didn't expect an answer at this time.  (I wonder if any of my readers are Masons and can provide an answer....)

And then it was time to leave.... 

FFM picked up her backpack, and we returned to her car without incident. It was too late to see anything else, as she had to leave for home at 3:00 for a late afternoon appointment with her son. So, I decided to show her a few sights on the way back home.  Instead of taking West Street North to the Henry Hudson Parkway, I decided to go through Greenwich Village, then doing the loop around the Battery, showing her where Ground Zero and the Staten Island Ferry are, and then up through Chinatown and the East Village before taking the FDR drive home.

On the drive home, FFM and I were talking as only two women could. We talked about how much effort it takes to make me presentable as a female, and she asked about how my voice sounds as a male. And I broke out into a Gershwin tune - Summertime. She then asked if I could sing it as a female, and I did - but not as well, because the notes were just beyond my effective female register. She loved both voices. FFM noted something about me always wearing loose fitting clothes, and I responded that I've worn leggings to the meetup. She noted how her mother had problems dealing with one of her friends who is a transman, and the headaches of switching between male and female modes. I mentioned that it is a "pain", but not the literal one that breast binding could be. I then explained how I "tucked" to be able to present a front without a bump. And knowing that there would be nothing she could see (I was wearing black tights, and 2 pairs of black panties) and knowing that she was OK with this, I lifted up my skirt to show a flat font - and she was amazed! She previously thought that being tucked was uncomfortable, and I said no - excepting the possible situation of sexual arousal. But I mentioned that it is very inconvenient when I had to go to the ladies' room, as I spent more time than the average woman getting myself back to presentability.

There were a lot of things said that only women would say to each other, and I will not repeat them here. But I know that I've passed the female test with her, and that we'll hang out with each other as long as her husband is stationed here. (BTW - He has met me, and is comfortable with his wife being with a transwoman.)

And now for a tune befitting a perfect day with a friend....

Ella Fitzgerald - Manhattan