Monday, March 31, 2014

Deadlines, the ACA, and the Transgendered


As I write this post, the big news on one of the channels I watch on the TV is the upcoming Obamacare (a.k.a. the Affordable Care Act) signup deadline. What bothers me is not the intended subsidization of health care insurance for those who can't afford it, nor does the mandate on people to sign up for health care, nor even the mandates on insurance companies to sell standardized products - this all provides for the gradual normalization of a health care market where prices are transparent *and* the uninsured are less able to distort prices in the market. Instead, what is bothering me is the venom that still comes from our right wing, saying that we must repeal this law without any hard facts on what we'd use to replace the law. Certainly, no one could honestly say that our system was working well before Obamacare / ACA was enacted. And certainly, no one thinks that Obamacare / ACA is the final solution to our health care problems. It is only a first step on that path.

Having helped a friend shop for her health care on New York's health care exchange, I can say that the process was not without its faults - and this was in a state that supported the ACA. My friend was not able to find out whether the plan she bought covered the doctors she used. And later on, she had to switch insurance companies to get the doctors she wanted, after being told by her doctors that they weren't taking the ACA group plans. Eventually, she got what she needed, in spite of a health care exchange that was opened up too early - but on the date specified by politics. In New York, the politicians and the technicians made the right trade-offs to get a system up and running on time - albeit with limited functions - a sign of decent project management.

The Federal system fared much worse, and suffered from both bad project management (both from the government and from its contractors) and from governments (Federal and States), some of which were willing to help get things done right, and others that wanted to kill the exchanges, regardless of the needs of the people. I'll let the history books write this story - there are way too many people with fresh and strong feelings to look at this train wreck with an objective eye. But this points to a major failure in government that few people are aware of: the outsourcing of Federal government functions to contractors.

How many people are aware of the fact (which I stumbled onto, and can't remember the source) that for every Federal employee, that there are at least two contractors employed for the outsourced functions?  Many of the remaining Federal employees are project managers who have no real world knowledge of the subjects they are supposed to manage. So these managers are forced to depend way too much on the subject matter experts employed by the contractors. (I saw this first hand in my project from purgatory, where I did not, and could not, know enough details of the business, which resulted in a severe weakening of my ability to manage the project.) This problem is not limited to just the civilian agencies, as the military has been weakened in a similar manner - many of its "non essential" functions have been outsourced as well. 

Back to Obamacare / ACA and how it might affect the transgendered....

(A "D'oh!" moment here...) In many cases, medical (surgical) intervention is needed for the transgendered to have a "normal" life.  The body must be reconfigured to match the individual's hard wired definition of physical self. Now that we're seeing transgender children and having the chance to observe and analyze them from the moments their transgender nature is detected in childhood. We are developing a better understanding of what it means to be transgender, and we are gradually being accepted in society.

Given that GCS (Genital Corrective Surgery) and FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) are surgical procedures required by the M2F transgendered, can we be sure that these procedures are covered in the ACA? One article I've read (What the Affordable Care Act means for Transgender People), notes that being transgender (as a pre-existing condition) should not be considered a hindrance that prevents a person from being covered for the condition. And an Aljazeera article (Advocates are hopeful that Obamacare will benefit Transgender Patients) notes many of the problems that the transgendered face in health care. And The Nation (What the Affordable Care Act means to Transgender People) notes that:

"...the ACA will bring Title VII federal nondiscrimination protections to the healthcare field. The Department of Health and Human Services, responding to both pressure from LGBTQ advocacy groups and precedents set by recent federal court cases, recently confirmed that this policy will ban discrimination based on gender identity. This will not only help transgender and gender non-conforming people obtain coverage but will also outlaw the discrimination Kallio and so many others have suffered when pursuing treatment. Considering that one in five transgender people have been refused medical care based on their gender identity, these discrimination protections are critical."

This one in five figure stands like a sore thumb.  Would any other minority group put up with this?  Of course, our medical issues (especially for those who've transitioned) will be more complex. For example, how many natal females have a need to be screened for prostate cancer? But should things like this be an issue? RH Reality Check notes some of the issues we might face even if we get coverage. It's understandable that the general understandings and prejudices of society will be reflected in the computer systems and policies that govern health care treatment and payment in this country.

So, we come back to deadlines....

With certain exceptions noted elsewhere, the deadline for signing up for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act is March 31, 2014. Will the targets for customer signup be met? but more important to our community - will we get the healthcare we deserve and that should be our right?














Sunday, March 30, 2014

And some people wonder why I like the camaraderie of Polyamorous people....


I wonder how many of you have ever been in a position where a woman is kissing you seriously and one of her boyfriends is saying that if we keep going at it, that we should go upstairs and do it right?  But that's typical of the truly polyamorous (as well as swingers), they recognize that one can love more than just one person, and that physical intimacy is something separate from emotional intimacy.

In an article I stumbled onto in Slate, the question comes up - "Spouses in happy marriages cheat. What are we all looking for?" To me, the answer is companionship. I am not looking to run someone else's life, and I am not looking for absolute fidelity. Yet, I can't say for sure that I'm polyamorous.  

One thing I've learned about the polyamorous community is that they tend to be accepting of gender fluidity, in both gender preference and in gender presentation.  Although the World Polyamory Association is trying to grow acceptance of the polyamorous in our society, I think this will be a greater change for society than accepting same-sex marriage.

What does this mean to the Transgender community?

We have another potential ally to help us in our quest for acceptance, another community we can work with to achieve our goals. There seems to be a higher number of bisexuals in the polyamorous community than in the population as a whole. Gender fluidity is not a threat here, as each person is another person to love, regardless of the body containing that person's soul.
Even if we don't agree with their behavior, if it is practiced by willing individuals, without coercion or fraud, should it be a problem of ours? I'm of a Libertarian bent, a person who believes in "live and let live" as long as no one is harmed.

There is also a hidden, but sad benefit - the people who hate us will have another group to hate. By dividing the people who hate, we reduce their power. They can't spend as much energy hating two communities as they can spend hating just one. The more people we can round up to be our allies will help us diffuse the hatred of our enemies. 

Hopefully, we can eventually live in a world where who we are, who we love, and how many people we love is no longer an issue. But until then, we have to inch our way to acceptance.




Honesty - it's a question of when, where, and how much.


Over the past few months, I have come across several situations where I'd have loved to tell more of the truth, but didn't for a variety of reasons. In one case, I had to tell a lie to a friend because I didn't want her to know that another one of my friends didn't want to meet her. In another case, I had to tell a lie to a family member, so I control if (or when) I reveal this side of myself to a family member. And in the last case, I had to fudge the truth a little about the nature of this blog, so that I wouldn't out myself while in female presentation. In all cases, I withheld the truth from others, and yet, may have saved people from disturbing feelings.

Vicki doesn't want to meet Lili, as she recognizes that Lili has a codependent personality. Vicki is the type of woman who can stand on her own, and (heaven forbid) something were to happen to her husband, Vicki would be OK. But what should I say to Lili? I've told a half truth - Vicki has been too busy to meet with anyone, including me. To be safe, I now try to steer Lili towards meeting people at Meetups, so that any friendship she does (or does not) develop is independent of my relationships with people. (Too bad that she hasn't taken me up on this....)

As much as I've outed myself to unsuspecting strangers, I also try to use judgement on where and when to out myself. Sometimes, I've developed new friendships. Other times, people have backed away. But I've tried to err on the side of openness. And, this bias towards openness has resulted in many a great conversation and a great story to be condensed for this blog.

So, I'll leave you with a tune fitting with this entry's theme....

Billy Joel - Honesty







Saturday, March 29, 2014

Up in the air, down on the ground.


It almost seems like it was only yesterday that these were the kind of cars that would be found on the street where I used to live. Although this was a staged picture, it is a classic by one of the masters of railroad photography - O. Winston Link.  

However, this entry is not about Link and his photography - I just figured that the picture captured the title of this blog entry better than anything else I could find....

Right now, I have no idea of what I'll be doing and when I'll be doing it.  At the time I'm writing this entry, I have work scheduled for mid day that should be completed in less than an hour if all goes right. However, I feel that there is enough that could go wrong, that I have allocated 3 hours for this work and potential cleaning up the mess we made....

Of course, work is putting a dent in my plans to get my car's first oil change. I'd have liked to schedule this task for sometime during the day. But, without knowing when office work will be complete, I have no way to tell the dealership when the car will be in. So I guess that I'll have to call them once everything is wrapped up, and hope they can fit me in this weekend. Otherwise, the oil change will be delayed, yet another week.

But, this is not all that is up in the air. GFL (from what she says) is feeling ill again, and will be going to the doctor (finally) to see what's wrong with her. Although I think she's telling me the truth, there are enough instances with us not being able to get together that I have legitimate reasons to be concerned about the health of our relationship. And, as I've said earlier - if this is meant to be, it will be.  If it is not meant to be, it won't be. Either way, I'll be OK.

If I don't see GFL, there is a "women only" (transwomen are OK) meetup that I'd like to attend (en-femme, of course). But to attend, work has to get done quickly AND, I have to get into NYC just as quickly. I doubt this will be a regular meetup for me, as I expect to be occupied most weekends.

But, right now, I'm a little tired, and I still need to strip. Like natal women, It'll be a relief to get my bra off for the night, and get into something more comfortable....




Friday, March 28, 2014

I wish I could afford to have some time of my own....


One of the problems with working where I do is that it takes me so darned long to get home after work. If I didn't have the freedom I've had with my schedule for the past 10 years, I'd have never earned my master's degree, I'd have never been able to get my face cleared of most of its hairs, and I'd never have been able to contribute my time to the co-op where I live.

The part of my trip that's on commuter rail isn't that bad - between Croton-Harmon and Grand Central is usually 45 minutes (or so) of uninterrupted running. With the exception of 125th street, the train is non-stop between New York and Northern Westchester county. But this commute gets in the way of me spending time in Marian Mode.

Since I had a laser session planned for late in the afternoon, I told my boss that I was planning on working from home - and there were no objections from her. The work I needed to get done was completed before 1:30 pm, and I cruised through the rest of the day. Yet, I couldn't get comfortable. My cleaning lady was expected today, and she came very late in the afternoon. There was no way that I was going to let her see me prepare my face for a laser session, so I had to text the technician to tell her that I was running late.

Even with the delay, I was less than 10 minutes late for my session. While waiting, I was chatting with the receptionist at the day spa, and I had an excuse to out myself to her. And she couldn't believe how good I looked, noting that she'd never had guessed that the woman in the picture (next to Lili) was me. After my session, I showed this lady another picture (which she loved), and then talked in my female voice. She said that I didn't have to change anything. (That was more than enough to make my day!)

So, it was off to get a quick bite to eat (2 slices of pizza), then back home to change into Marian Mode. As usual, I was late for games in Yonkers, but I had a great time playing one game. And even better, I had a chance to spend some time talking with the hostess - simple woman to woman chat. The more time I spend in Marian Mode, the more I feel comfortable describing the years I lived as a male as if I lived them as a female. "Marian" is becoming a real part of me now - and I don't want to give up this part of who I am.  (I could say that "Marian" was already real. But it's the real world experiences I'm now having that's giving the part of me that is "Marian" the gravitas of having a life that's been lived.)

Now, there are people who I want to see and places I want to be, but can't do so until GFL has released potential claims on my time.  (Isn't that what I should be doing if I have, or want to have a serious relationship with someone?)  And one of those things is a gaming group in NYC that's open to women (natal and trans), that would be more of an acid test for my Marian persona. I'd love to be able to meet up with this group - but I doubt I could do so until the last moment. Do I wish I had more time in the day? Yes, but... I know to be very careful of what to seriously wish for, as I might just get it.




Thursday, March 27, 2014

Taxes!


Yes, it's that time of year. And I just got back from my accountant. As usual, the Internal Revenue Service got its pound of flesh. (Most of us could do without their service - it's like having a colonoscopy, but without the lube or sedatives....)  I really shouldn't complain too much - I earn enough to pay my taxes, and pay enough to get a refund at the end of the tax year. But this is still a pain in the ass - I have to schlep to my accountant to drop off my paperwork, and schlep there again to pick it up later on.

Strangely enough, I don't mind paying taxes when I feel we (as a society) gets good value for what we pay. But I have a hard time believing that we get value any more - especially when we have politicians who look out for the interests of the "landed elite" over that of the working classes.

No, I am not a leftist. But I am upset with politicians who would maintain market distortions which prevent market place solutions to our problems from being developed. I am also upset with politicians who fail to see when markets do not work, and do not work to fix those markets. We've seen it in health care, where one party has worked to preserve the broken, dysfunctional health care system we grew up with. We've seen it in communications, where laws have been enacted to prevent competition in telecommunications companies. We've seen it in energy, where the government subsidizes the drilling of oil wells when existing wells are already profitable. In short, we have an elite that loves to talk about letting a free market do its thing, and ignores the situations that occur because they did not want to let the free market work its magic.

But even I realize that we can't depend on the free market to solve all our problems. Marketplace forces will never eliminate the prejudices of the ignorant. Humans have a nasty habit of acting against their own best interests when loyalty to a tribe's values are at stake. Many of the people who are acting against us are acting according to the values of their tribes - as defined by their leaders. This is where our problems arise. Just bringing up a leader's hypocrisy in his actions, his self serving nature, etc. will not cause his followers to question his lead. So how do we divide and conquer, in order to defeat these leaders?

Years ago, Charlie Chaplin said that he would never have made "The Great Dictator" had he known how bad Hitler was. I'd have responded that it was imperative that he make this film - if only to show the free world that Hitler was vulnerable. In the case of the enemies of the transgender community, we must attack them with humor - to subvert their ability to lead their flocks.

Recently, the former head of the Westboro Baptist Church passed away. The church's parishioners spew their hatred because its leaders teach hatred. How can we defeat this evil? Humor is one tactic - it's hard to protest a funeral when others are laughing at you. Of course, our approach can't be from a single direction - we must go after the tax status of such institutions as well.

And now we come back to taxes....

The Transgender community pays a lot of money in taxes. And what do we get from our governments? Do we get laws that recognize our transgender status and help us live our lives? (In some states, Yes.  In others, No.) As tax payers, we are entitled to the same rights and privileges given to other American citizens. We have a duty to remind out elected representatives of this fact - and we should use April 15th as our day to make our needs known to these representatives....

Now for an appropriate tune for the season.....

George Harrison and Eric Clapton - Taxman



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Do you want intrigue? If so, join your co-op's board of directors.



In the past, I have noted that I am on my co-op's board of directors. What this means is that I am privy to the details of what is going on in my apartment complex, have responsibilities to help keep the co-op running smoothly, for the benefit of its shareholder-residents, and to keep secrets (as needed) to protect the privacy of all appropriate parties.

Although I am out in the open about my transgender nature, I do not broadcast it throughout my apartment complex.  If someone sees me in my female presentation and decides to talk with me - great. If that same someone walks the other way - it wouldn't bother me in the least. However, this year, I am running again for one of 4 open slots on the board, and there are 8 people running. The odds are 50/50 that I will not be on the board next term, and greater than 50/50 that I will serve with someone who I dislike enough that I will consider resigning from the board.

You may ask - Resign from the board?  Yes.  There are some people whose presence on the board would make my presence untenable. For example, one board member has a problem with me. I will not go into details, as it might violate my responsibilities to keep our affairs confidential. But any of a small group of people get elected, I see potentials for a split board, no longer being able to accomplish anything of note. (One of those people is a nosy neighbor that I've noted in previous blog entries.) Right now, I have my issues with certain board members and certain attitudes they have - I can only imagine what would happen if these troublemakers are in positions of responsibility. And I'd want no part of the board while these people were on it - I have better things to do, such as buy a new frock or two....

But there are other issues as well. One board member has a bug up her ass about my presence on the board. She brought up an issue which I addressed promptly, and wanted to harp on my past rather than confront what she did in the present. So she may be in cahoots with the nosy neighbor to stir up trouble. After tonight's board meeting, I was chatting with our managing agent. And I said, that if someone brings up the fact that I have been seen in women's clothing, I will quickly respond - I'm transgender, like the mayor of Silverton, Colorado (see above picture), and that hasn't affected his/her ability to perform the responsibilities of Mayor - why should this be an issue for me, someone with less responsibility than the mayor? 

Yet, everyone has an opinion - and most opinions are worth little more than the hot air that comes out of a speaker's mouth. I know who I want to see on the board, and I know who I don't want to see on the board. If I'm stuck working with a dysfunctional board, I'll resign, and I'll find productive uses for my time - which may involve some volunteer work elsewhere....

So I'll close out with a classic tune from a performer whose name is more transgender than he is....









Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Good things come to those who wait - and wait.....



Good news!  It appears that my refund has hit my credit card account, and I have to pay for only one hotel room. So it looks like I should have a pleasant trip to Washington DC.

Looking at the map above, one can see that New York City is in the middle of the Northeast Corridor. What one may not notice are the two dots immediately North of New York City. I live near that second dot - and have used that Amtrak station when returning from cross-country train trips.

Amazingly, Washington has been an affordable place to visit - as long as I've used mass transit to reach my hotel.  This time, I'll be arriving late at night, and will need to take a cab to reach my hotel. As a result, I'm not sure if I'll travel en-femme on my trip South. But if I do, I expect to cause the person at the Hotel's reception desk to do a double take.

In theory, I could ride Amtrak on the leg of my trip between Croton-Harmon and Penn Station, NY, but I couldn't justify the extra $40 or so for both Northbound and Southbound connections - especially when I'd still have to connect to Metro North for the last leg of my trip. Yet, I may still decide to spend the extra money (especially if I travel back en-femme), as I don't relish humping my bags over subway turnstiles late in the evening, just to get to Grand Central Terminal.

I have found that for trips of roughly 300 miles or less, Amtrak is often both time and price competitive with air travel - when one factors in the headache of getting to and from an airport, the hassles of going through TSA security, and the actual trip on the plane itself. Years ago, I used to make monthly trips upstate, and I always found it easier to use Amtrak from my local railroad station than to fly out of any of the New York City regional airports. 

Luckily, most of my trip will be on the Northeast Corridor - and on this route, Amtrak runs its trains on a tight schedule, something they can't do on other routes. So I feel confident, that on my return trip I'll get home before midnight, and be able to go to work the next day.





Quickie: And now I'm ready for my trip Down Under

What is stranger - Soccer in America, or Baseball in Australia?

Baseball - As explained by an Aussie who knows nothing about baseball

To me, I'd rather learn the ins and outs of baseball than to consider bothering with what the rest of the world calls "The Beautiful Game". One may find an occasional murder of a baseball fan on occasion, but it's nothing compared to the common riot in a soccer stadium

Given how unsafe Soccer is (a.k.a. "Non-American Rules Football" ), one wonders why it is allowed to continue.  I, for one, yearn for a sport like "Rollerball" as depicted in the 1975 movie of the same name. If we're going to spill blood, it should not be in the parking lots or stands - it should be on the field of play, where it belongs.

Sadly, Americans are hypocrites regarding blood sports. So I'll leave you with this little bit of comic relief....

George Carlin - Baseball or Football




Monday, March 24, 2014

Shaving




If only shaving were as easy as it looks in this picture....

On average, I shave my arms and chest every 1.5 days, and my legs every 2.5 days or so. It's a big pain in the butt. Yet, if I skip more time than that, the shaving becomes much harder to do and more likely for my dark, masculine hairs to be noticed. 

With this being said, I wish I could justify spending the money (right now) to get the rest of my body lasered while it can do some good. Even after shaving, the stubble that remains irritates GFL when she lays next to me. So I am forced to wear something over that stubble just to make it more comfortable for her when she's next to me. If I'm lucky, I'll have the time to use a depilatory beforehand, and then shave to get at the places I missed with the depilatory. 

Of course, being a natal male poses its own problems, one of which is getting my back free of hair.  Stana told me once (at Fantasia Fair) that she applied a depilatory on her back using tools used to paint a wall's edges and corners.  Now, that's being creative!  However, I'm lazy, and don't wear clothes that would expose that area of my body. So I make do with a Mangroomer Back Shaver (which needs replacement). 

Now, in other entries, I have mentioned that I have gotten my face lasered - and we're at the point that I'll probably call it quits - I'm not seeing any more changes in how my face looks, and I'll limit my next treatment to my upper lip and chin area below the mouth. If I can get a good deal, I may continue with the laser but on my arms, my legs, or my back (if I can get someone to help me shave).

In my search for tunes about women and shaving, I stumbled on this NSFW ditty that I believe I have on a vinyl compilation somewhere....

Lucille Bogan - Shave 'em dry

Badass Digest - Shave 'em dry, a totally filthy song from 1935




Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quickie: Getting together with GFL

Shortly after my new mattress was delivered, I got a call from GFL - her contractor for the unfinished finished basement got pulled away (as usual) and we were free to meet earlier than we had planned.

When we meet halfway, we usually go to the movies at the Garden State Plaza - and have a dinner before or after the movie - depending on the timing of the film. This trip, dinner ended a couple of hours before the film, and we killed time by walking around the mall for an hour and a half. GFL is uncomfortable in malls, and seemed more at home in the stores, where it was more quiet than in the main body of the mall.

While shopping, I wish I could have been in Marian Mode - there were a few good buys that I would have loved to put my hands on. Unfortunately (or fortunately, given the money flowing out of my wallet lately), I couldn't do so - and had to settle for some long needed updates to my male wardrobe.

Once movie time came close, we moseyed over to the theater and enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was a mildly absurd film, but very charming in its own way. I highly recommend it - and wish I could have stopped the film in a couple of sections just to look at a couple of details that want by too quickly....

After the film, it was time to go home. The day passed too quickly - and I would have liked more time with GFL....

Since I don't have much to say, I'll leave you with some pretty music played by a master.

Chet Atkins - Beatles Medley




Quickie: Cleaning out closets


Based on the title of this blog's entry, you might have thought that I was about to talk about hiding my transgender identity.  Not this entry, as you can tell from the picture below....


As you can see, this is one of several closets I have way too much stuff on the clothing rod, and way too much stuff on the shelves above it.  And today, I've been taking some time out to make up a couple of gift boxes for Goodwill and bring them there for a charitable donation....

In addition to the clothing I no longer wear (in either gender), I have an assortment of odds and ends (a popcorn maker, a dent king (for dent removal), interface boxes to allow my VCR and DVD player to connect with older TVs via Coaxial cables, and more) that will be part of the donation.

Over time, I plan to empty my closets of even more stuff - but sorting out the keepers from the rest of the stuff takes time....






Saturday, March 22, 2014

Computerized hotel booking - I have my reservations


I've booked both my Amtrak and Hotel reservations for my upcoming trip to Washington, DC, and I've found that for some unknown reason, that the non-refundable hotel reservation went through twice. So I called up Expedia, and working with the hotel, I'm getting a refund for the non-refundable reservation that was issued due to a computer glitch.  One problem - the two debits to my charge card were issued and show on my account activity, but the credit isn't there yet. I can only imagine what problems may occur if I don't see the credit show up in the next day or so....




Hopefully, this glitch is not an omen of things to come.  Given that I didn't make my reservations early enough, my train will bring me into Union Station around 12:30 at night. Since it's a bit of a hike to get to the SW corner of Washington near the Tidal Basin, it means that I'll have to catch a cab from the station to get to the hotel. Paying a small cab fare to get me safely to my hotel is well worth the price at that time of night. 




Schedules permitting, I'm hoping to meet one of our community's bloggers for a day of sightseeing.  (I've written about meeting her before. But, unless she gives the OK to talk about things publicly, I can't say much now.) There are still so many things to do in this city - and I can go out and about and do them in Marian Mode without problem for the better part of 4 days. 




This trip, I'm thinking of seeing the Holocaust Museum, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Jefferson Memorial, and maybe visit Arlington (if the Cemetery is close enough to the Metro). And, if I'm in a historic mood, I'll go to Ford's Theater. (If they're showing "Our American Cousin", I'll skip the performance - it's interruption prone.) But for the most part, I simply want to get away for a few days, and DC is close enough to do it at a reasonable price. 




Of course, I've gone a little overboard in looking for pictures of Washington. I expect this visit to be fun, and I'm hoping to catch up with any friends in the region who will happen to be around when I'm there....







Quickie: A new mattress

Normally, I don't even bother getting out of bed until late morning on weekends - it's the one time I can get a comfortable amount of sleep without people having a stake in when I wake up. Today, things are different - I'm likely the first mattress delivery scheduled for the morning. My old mattress has seen a lot of life. But its coming removal reminds me of all the changes which have taken place in my life since this mattress entered my apartment.

When I got the mattress, I had just lost my wife. Her best friend, BB, was moving out of the local Bed and Breakfast (where she was a junior partner), and gave me her "old" mattress since she was furnishing her new home in California (a joint venture with the senior partner, BN) from scratch. My friends, M & D, came up from Long Island to help me move the mattress the 3 miles to my apartment - and that was the start of my 17 years with this mattress.

Over the years, the mattress has gotten a lot of use - in all the ways one would expect. When I got it, Both BB and BN were in the prime of life. Both M & D were close friends. And I was in the prime of my career. And now things are very different. BB is now married and has a beautiful daughter. BN is also married, but is suffering from health problems which have sapped the fighting spirit from her (an understatement). Both M & D are virtually gone from my life, as I've out grown them - seeing the world in color, instead of shades of black and white. And my career is now in the Autumn of its years....

Sometimes, it takes an inanimate object to help you focus on the changes in life. And for me, this mattress was an object that now helps put part of my life in focus....






Friday, March 21, 2014

My life in flux, and it is so apropos that we played Fluxx tonight.


As some people might guess, Fluxx is one of the games I enjoy playing the most. There is strategy involved, but there is an ample amount of dumb luck that determines who may win a game....

But first, some of the latest news in my life....

Rewarding myself for a job "well done" at the office, I finally decided to burn off one of my vacation days (the first of the year) and simply relax around the house. My laser technician had a family affair to attend to, so I was off the hook from being zapped for an extra week. This allowed me to take it easy for most of the day, and instead of going out for a short while in male mode to pick up my laundry, to refill my prescriptions, and to get my face zapped, I deferred the first two tasks for tomorrow, and decided to get into Marian Mode as early as possible.

As usual, I switched my money, my credit cards, and my id into my female wallet, and I was out the door. One problem, I forgot my wallet on my desk at home. So I drove home very, very carefully, picked up the wallet, and it was out the door again. This time, I decided to drive in a different direction, and get a boul of soup at Panera Bread before driving to the meetup in Yonkers.

Just before I got to the meetup, GFL called me - and told me some more of what is getting in the way of the weekend (the story rings true, as it now has perspective). But we will be trying to get together in Paramus on Saturday, to have dinner and maybe go out for a movie. (The timing of our meeting will depend on both a mattress being delivered to my house, and the contractor finishing work for the day on her unfinished finished basement.) She's suggesting that we go to Atlantic City for an overnight (I'd make time for that), and if possible, she might be able to meet me in Washington, DC in late April. (I'd love to have her do that as well, if only for a couple of nights.) But for now, she's going to try to come up here next weekend, even though I will have to do some work for a couple of hours around noon on Saturday.


What do you think of this combination? I didn't have the right neutral to go with the red skirt, so I bought a couple of sweaters to go with it. Do you think this works well? This is what I wore to games night, and as usual, I was slightly overdressed. But, as the hostess has noted several times in the past - "Marian, you are usually so well put together." And I've always taken this as an honest compliment given from one woman to another.

Unfortunately, the hostess was already in bed when I got to the meetup. She had gone on a business trip to Washington DC, and didn't get home until 4 am the night before. (She had to deal with a comedy of errors to get home, and got husband worried getting home so late. But I won't go into her story here - if they were to stumble on this blog, I'd want them to know that I respect their privacy.) So I ended up playing games with the "guys" and had a good time. After the first couple of games, I drifted into the main room, where I ended up playing a game that included the host's & hostess's son, and then played 3 games of Fluxx. Tonight was my lucky night at Fluxx, as I won 2 of the 3 games.

Alas, departure time came all too quickly, and I had to leave....

As I've noted before, only time will tell what will happen between GFL and I. Unlike Lili, I'm more than willing to take the chance at being alone for a while. No one person can complete me. I need many people in my life, if only to give me a variety of little things I can do, little ideas to share, and little friendships to make things easier in life. Going out to play games fills some of the void in my life Seeing friends and family fills even more of that void. But no one person, no one thing can completely fill that void. And I am starting to be more comfortable knowing that this void can not ever be completely filled.




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring must be coming - it's not snowing, it's raining for a change.



After the Winter we had, I'll bet that that most people in the New York City area are glad to get the rain we had tonight instead of the usual snow. As for me, it's a sign that Spring is almost here, and that time seems to be ticking away at a faster speed....

The fountain in the above picture is one of my favorite sights in Lower Manhattan - City Hall Park is a refreshing little oasis in the middle of a busy area, and it seems that the park is always filled with people in pleasant weather. But in the rain, it is blissfully empty, as there is no reason to linger there.

Wednesday afternoon, my friend P (my former hypnotist) called me to see how things went with GFL this past weekend. I told her what happened (and what didn't happen), and said that I'll be trying to meet her (to give her a hand with her computer) before she goes to Florida to be with her new beau for a short vacation. 

I don't have too much to say tonight, so I'll leave you with a little ditty....

Dan Fogelberg - Rhythm of the Rain







Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Someone else's closet...




Although I'm mostly out of my closet (with a few notable exceptions), there are many other people living in many other closets. One of these closets deal with Polyamorous people and their love lives.

Recently, one of my Facebook friends posted this link on her timeline: 

Dear Prudence: My polyamorous sister is pregnant and it's weirding me out

As much as I believe in civil rights for all, I pose a question that I am not qualified to answer - Should the government be adding complexity to all the laws relating to marriage by extending tax privileges, next-of-kin rights, and other social rights held by people in two-person marriages to triads, tetrads, etc....?  I'm not against extending the rights. But I wonder if the complexity of the laws we will need to evolve are justified by the number of polyamorous people in our society who would want those rights. I stress that I would support these privileges and rights, overriding laws applying to traditional legal entities via contract law. I just don't know if we could "instantiate" a new "class" of legal entity (to use programming jargon here) that is similar to a "person" (real or corporate), a married couple, a trust, etc. without too much legal angst.

The polyamorous are in our midst - you probably are friends with several polyamorous people without knowing it. I am lucky to know it, and I cherish the friendships with the polyamorous people I know. Why should they be in the closet? Do they threaten traditional marriage? Not really. No one can force me to love someone I don't want to love. And I think the same goes for you too....

In other posts, I have mentioned that I have left an OK Cupid profile active with pictures of me in Marian Mode. This profile gets more hits than the en-homme profile did, but gets less responses than the en-homme profile. No one can force any of these ladies who view my profile to contact me. If they are not interested in reading the profile and seeing past the pictures, then it is their problem and not mine. And the same goes for those who have a bug up their asses about the polyamorous - they have the problem, not the polyamorous.

If you are interested in learning more about the differences between polyamory and swinging, I'd suggest reading this book by a person who wrote about these lifestyles - The Lifestyle, by Terry Gould. Although there is a large emphasis on swinging in the book's publicity, he notes the difference between the two lifestyles and how the former is linked to emotional intimacy, while the latter is linked to physical intimacy. 

As for me, I found it hard enough to live with just one adult....





Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A visit to the therapist, and a mention of GFL




How many of you who read this blog have gone to therapy? I resisted the idea of going for years, and finally went as a last resort to help me keep my job. After 12 years, therapy has helped me a lot, and I strongly recommend it for people who need to change their self destructive behaviors to constructive ones.

Tonight, I mentioned to my therapist what's been going on with GFL, and he was glad that I finally brought up the need for GFL and I to talk about having (or not having) a future together. What I won't mention to my therapist (as I don't think he has the right expertise) are my gender issues, since I don't feel safe opening up this side of myself to him.

I'm not sure if GFL is reacting to the fact that I am transgender or whether it is simply a lack of adequate chemistry on her part to make things work for the long term. And I'm not worried about this. If we were to break up, I'll have more time in my life to explore things in Marian Mode. And, in many ways, I want this to happen sooner, rather than later....


Monday, March 17, 2014

Dinner with Maria and Games in Beacon

It's been ages since I've seen my friend Maria, and it was good to get together for dinner before Games night. So we chose a place (for which I had the wrong address), and I got there late. Of course, it was St. Patrick's Day, so the place was way too noisy for us to eat there. As a result, we ended up at the old standby - an Italian joint where we've eaten before.

Over dinner, I told her about GFL, and she had the same conclusion I had. But unlike Lili, she knew not to offer advice. She understood that I had to play my cards out and then see what happens. If things work out with GFL - Great!  If they don't, I'll take the time to grieve a little, and try to date again after a while. Maria had news of her own, some of which I won't discuss here. But she was proud of her 1 y/o grandson, and eager to show me his picture.

Eventually, we made it to the Games meetup - and I opened up the game of Tokaido.  After about 1/2 hour of setting things up and explaining the rules (some of which, we still got wrong and ignored), we finally started playing the game. 


Maria noticed that I made a few voice mistakes (I guess I was tired, recovering from stress, and not paying attention to things.), and I noticed her using the wrong pronoun a couple of times. (At this point, I figure that most people think I'm a cross dresser or transgendered person, so I'm not worrying much.)  But tonight was a night where I had to talk much more than normal - and I believe that was a big factor in my mistakes.

Around 10:30 pm, a little earlier than usual, Maria and I decided to get out of the place. Both of us had to make it home early, as we had to be up early the next morning. So I gave Maria a hug goodbye, and hope to see her next month....



Quickie: Games night in Beacon - and I can't wait!

Tonight, I'm finally getting the chance to go to Beacon and play games again. It seems like snow and work have conspired to make this a once-monthly event for me this Winter - and I need this outlet to stay sane.  A couple of months ago, I met Maria for dinner beforehand, and tonight will be the same. It will be at a different restaurant - but we should still have a great time before the games.  (I'll catch her up to what's happening with GFL - and see what she thinks.  It'll be an easier chat than I had with Lili last night. Lili is codependent, and wants to give me a lot of advice. But her advice is tainted by her codependent needs, and is only good to pick up upon potential threats....)

More later...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My life in transit, a party, some shopping, and only time will tell....

On Saturday, I ended up rushing to the train station, as I got out of the house late - and had to make up the few minutes I needed to be on the platform before the train arrived. And I was lucky to do just that - with my breakfast/lunch in hand. (Too bad I forgot to double check that my car was locked.  Luckily, I park in a relatively safe station, so I didn't have much to worry about on the weekend.) Once the train arrived, I found out that they were taking the diesel out of service, and that we'd be transferred to the uncomfortable electrics they now use on the Hudson line. (In a way, this summed up a theme for the weekend - discomfort. I was suffering from a mild grade cold. I had to be uncomfortable on my ride to Grand Central. And I knew I had to start approaching GFL about what her long term intentions were.)

When I finally arrived at Grand Central, I walked down the steps to the shuttle and saw something that would get a tourist confused.





That's a #4 train on the shuttle track in the first picture, and the sign in the second picture says "Union Square".  Did I stop in the Twilight Zone?  Did I get off at Willoughby? No. The next picture should give a better context to what's going on here.



There was another film production going on. The use of the 42st shuttle's track 4 makes perfect sense for some productions. It can be isolated, and yet it has that real subway station look, as it is an operating platform on a real subway line.



Like many in the military, they also serve who stand and wait. And the crew was waiting for a musical number to be shot.



One advantage of shooting a scene in the subway system is that one can use a subway car to take a break. And I think the people sitting in the car were doing just that.



The lady in the center was directing this scene (or, she may have been the choreographer for the scene). Does anyone have a clue as to who she is?



I can only imagine how they planned to shoot the scene. The picture below was taken as the director was giving the cast instructions on how to move and dance while reciting lines from a song - "Don't Sing in the Subway".  (Or, I think that's what the song was - I should have made a note as I was trying to get from one place to another.)







Alas, I couldn't stay longer - the train was about to pull out, and I wanted to make the 1:30 pm ferry to Staten Island. When I reached Times Square, I encountered this musician.



She plays her violin very well, but I had no time to linger.  Most of the time, she plays Classical violin, and if you have the time, give her a listen....  But then, it was off to the 7th Avenue line, and my trip to South Ferry. When I got to the platform, I saw that the express tracks were blocked off.











How often do most people get the chance to see a major subway station under heavy maintenance? Given the contents of the flat cars, it appears that they had pulled some old ties, and were replacing a lot of the track infrastructure just North of the 42nd Street station.

Eventually, my train arrived, and it was off to South Ferry. I was lucky to make the 1:30 pm ferry with a few minutes to spare. While there, this gentleman was entertaining us.



He wasn't bad, but it seems like violin players are a dime-a-dozen these days....

The ferry came, and it was off to Staten Island.  As usual, GFL was late to get to the terminal. However, I figured that I'd kill some time before she got there, and I decided to take a few shots of the salt water tanks they have inside the terminal.









By the time I got outside, I killed enough time before GFL arrived.  She started to tell me of the day she had (issues with her daughter and grandson, as well as her exterior door, inside knob falling off), noting that this wasn't her day.  (I noted that we both sounded "healthy", with our coughing - and this was after GFL being on antibiotics for a week.) And we still had to go to the "wilds" of New Jersey for a party one of her cousin's offspring was having to christen his new house.

Returning to her house, she showed me the state of the unfinished finished basement, where virtually all the tasks are 90% complete, but nothing is done yet. Even worse, the contractor made a rookie mistake which will cost at least a day of time and cost GFL at least a minimum of $150 in materials to fix. So she went to clean up while I killed a little time, and then it was off to the party.

Eventually the party ended (after I ate too much), and we made it back home. There was no way that I was going to start any serious relationship discussion at midnight, nor was I going to  put myself in a position where I couldn't get home until 6:00 am or so.... As you can guess, with my coughing and my angst about having an important conversation, I didn't sleep well.

Sunday was reserved for a furniture delivery, and we were probably the second house where the truck made a stop. By 11:00 am, everything was set up, and we were able to go for breakfast. After this, we went to New Jersey again to shop for some items to furnish the unfinished finished basement, where she found an item (that when unassembled, required 2 strong people to lift the box) that she bought and brought home in the back seat of her car. If I had noticed that the box weighed about 64 kilos (that's 150 lbs. to us Americans), I'd have told her to have it shipped. Instead we brought it home, and had to take everything out of the box just to get the contents in the house - she can't lift much, and I wasn't going to get a hernia trying to get this box inside her house. (I can only imagine what it's going to be like when we have to assemble this thing.)

By the time we got all the stuff inside, we had to rush to the ferry - and I barely got to the terminal in time. Of course, to make things worse, the escalator wasn't working, so I ended up running up the nearby staircase to avoid having to wait another hour for a ferry. Luckily, they hadn't start loading the ferry yet, and I was able to relax a little before my trip back to Manhattan.

When I got on the subway, I was regaled by a mendicant extolling the virtues of giving him money (or other contributions) and he would give us a copy of a publication geared for the homeless to sell and develop self confidence. (You can guess how much I now pay attention to mendicants in the subway - I can't remember the name of his publication. After 3-4 years of seeing and hearing people ask for money, one gets immune to many of the pleas one hears again and again.)

Reaching Times Square, the construction effort was still going on. This was as much light as I've ever seen on the tracks where the original IRT mainline meets up with the 7th Avenue line.





These workers must have been working hard, as they had to restore the tracks to perfect order before tomorrow's commute.

Getting to Grand Central, I knew my trip home was almost at an end. I don't know how many times more that I'll be making this trip. But at least, I'll have some interesting photos and stories to show and tell....

------------------------

For those who are interested in my relationship with GFL - I started to approach "the conversation" today, saying that we should be thinking about the long term and what we want to do. And she mentioned that there were things she still had questions about. Since we were about an hour away from her house running errands in New Jersey, I decided that introducing the issue that we should be talking about the long term was enough for now. I feel that after a year, if she isn't ready to talk about the long term, then she might never be ready. (Or, she has already made her decision, and isn't ready to implement it.) Only time will tell what action she'll take - and I'm ready for whatever happens....