Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's amazing how things in life change

How many of us still have phones like this in our houses? I wish I could have kept one of these phones and brought it into my apartment years ago. They were built to last, and had to be - unlike most equipment which had a 5 year depreciation schedule, telephones had a 50 year depreciation schedule. In short, tax laws forced the phone company to keep old equipment in the home as long as possible.

Why do I bring up old technology?

As I've mentioned in earlier entries, I've been looking for a new job since June. The resumes I've been sending out have both my email address and phone number on them. On Friday, I received an email from someone, asking me to call and arrange an in-person first interview. However, I didn't know that I had someone else interested in me, as they left a message on my telco provided voice mail, instead of on my answering machine. (I was on the phone when the call came in - and the voice mail system kicked in.) Since I didn't make any outgoing phone calls on my land line, I had no way of knowing that a message was waiting for me....

As I write this, it is Monday morning, and a blizzard is expected to hit tonight. So now, I have two phone calls to get in before the blizzard hits.  And on one of them, I'll have to say that I had the flu last week - a little white lie to explain why I didn't make a phone call until today.

- - - - - -

How does this relate to being transgender?

Most of us need a little help to look presentable. We all need makeup and prosthesis to disguise our masculine features and look as feminine as possible. There is nothing really new under the sun for us, except that the quality of what we use is better and more convenient to use than it was 50 years ago. Yet, because of some little thing or another, we will have glitches that cause us problems.

As much as I have my preparation routine that feminizes my appearance, I occasionally slip up. Luckily, those things are minor, and I still look quite presentable for a person of my size. If I skip the makeup that I use to provide contouring around my nose, this is not a big deal. But I have skipped the blush that gives my cheeks some color - and this does have a major effect on how my face appears at first glance.

When one is out and about as much as I am, one has to learn how to repair things on the fly. So I carry a small makeup clutch in my pocketbook at all times. In it, you'll find a small compact, a lipstick (with lip liner), a concealer stick, blush, and mascara. I can patch up most of the small flaws I discover without too many headaches.

As with the undetected message on my voice mail, we all have to be ready for glitches that have to be fixed on the fly.

- - - - - -

I'm glad that things are finally starting to look up in my job search after months of no developments. But part of me will be sad when I eventually find work - instead of being in Marian Mode 50+ percent of the time, I may be this way only 2 nights per week. So I'm cherishing what opportunities I have to be in Marian Mode for days at a time for as long as I have them....

Friday, January 30, 2015

This time, none of us can avoid the snow....

This is an image from a snow storm that happened over 90 years ago. A total 28 inches of snow fell in Washington, DC over a period of 2 days, killing 98 people, and injuring 133 people.Thankfully, American cities have gotten better in dealing with blizzards, but still have issues dealing with emergencies that come up during the storms.

It is Sunday evening as I write this, and I feel that I was lucky this weekend, being able to spend a full day in Marian Mode, and then relax at home the day afterwards. However, due to commitments that I have in the NYC region, I am not able to get away from it all and let the coming blizzard inconvenience someone else with its 24+ inches of snow.

While taking some garbage out to the dumpster, I saw one resident of my complex get several days worth of cooked take-out dinners from a delivery person, and then slip on the black ice in front of her place - spilling her meals on the ground and turning them into garbage. This could have happened to me - and I'm glad that the woman who fell on the ground wasn't seriously hurt.

This snow has already put a crimp into one of the events I planned to attend in en-femme, as it has just been postponed for a week. And, more importantly, it may cause the weekly Whine and Dine event to get canceled on Tuesday. Since the 2 "must attend" appointments I have this week (My Therapist, and the Personal Trainer at the Gym) are en-homme (if I can even get to them), it might not be until Wednesday (at best) that I am again in Marian mode.

- - - - - -

Onto other matters....

After I left for the evening on Friday, an email came to my attention - it seems like one institution wants to interview me to see if I'm right for a job opening they have  I submitted my application in Mid-November, and they are finally getting back to me now. Tomorrow, I'll be calling the HR Representative and arranging a first interview with them. I'll also finally get around to contacting a friend recommended to me (albeit, much later than I planned to speak with her) and see what we can do.  I'd like to get a decent position before my benefits run out, and the clock seems to be ticking even faster now than it did 8 months ago.

GFJ should be coming down again, as she has several doctors' appointments on Wednesday. Given that this weather coming up will certainly throw us for a loop or two, I'll deal with Tuesday's schedule when Tuesday comes, as I doubt that she'll be able to make it, or that her doctors' offices will be open on Wednesday.

- - - - - -

Given a choice of where I want to be, I'd rather be in my own apartment if the worst case blizzard scenario happens. Eventually, the storm will end, and services will return to normal. (I'm hoping we don't lose power, phone, or cable lines, as I'd hate to be without the "necessities" during the worst of the storm.) And then, I'll have to shovel out my car, get it out of the driveway, and see how the heavy duty clean up effort progresses. If this storm is like 1996's blizzard, I'll find a 15' high pile of snow in back of where I usually park my car. Hopefully, they will leave enough space for me to park my car in the "double spot" I have.

- - - - - -

Lili was asking me about what should she do in regard to the blizzard - her son would not come home to take care of her, as he has classes to attend (for now). He did offer her space in his apartment, and I told her to go - she'll be with people who can help her in case of problems, and their apartment is much more accessible than her house in case of a heavy snow.  (Lili's house is at the end of a 500' driveway, and I doubt that any private snow plow will reach her place until Thursday at best.)

- - - - - -

When I had Vicki the other night, she told me that her husband is very susceptible to illnesses right now, as they are treating a medical problem he has with immuno-suppressants. So when she catches a very mild cold, he can come down with the flu.  I'm glad I'm not in her shoes - both she and her husband deserve better. However, the reason I mention her is that her driveway is shorter than Lili's, but in much worse shape. I can only imagine how her husband will feel towards Wednesday when he has to take out the plow and clear things out.

- - - - - -

Luckily, my dad is smart enough to stay inside in any bad weather. However, I wonder what his dog will do if dad lets him go in back to relieve himself. Will the dog (a pit bull) realize he has to make his way through the tallest snow he will likely see?  Who knows? But that's my dad's problem and not mine. At least, my brother is a trained EMT and a member of the local fire department, so he should be able to get to my dad in case of emergency....

- - - - - -

And now we get back to me....

If I were en-femme 24x7, I'd deal with the snow as a woman would do - put on a pair of jeans, a warm coat, etc., and clear off my car as best as possible. If I were already on hormones, or through transition, I'd slip the snow removal folk a $20 bill, and ask them to shovel out my car. But I don't feel it inappropriate for me to use my masculine body, with its superior upper body and muscle strength, to deal with an extraordinary set of tasks....

So I'll close out by asking all of my readers to stay safe, and not to take foolish risks during and after this storm....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A fresh perspective on the North Country, with GFJ by my side

This is what I like to think of when snow falls on the ground near where I live. Sadly, this idealistic situation is not always the case. This weekend, there was about 6 inches of wet, sloppy snow on the ground when I shoveled it out, and I had to make a go/no-go decision about meeting GFJ and going up to the North Country in Marian Mode.

- - - - - -

As long as the roads were passable, there was little that was going to deter me from driving North - I cherish the opportunity to be with people who accept me as Marian, even when they know that I spend a good part of my life as Mario. Given that I knew Albany was only going to get a dusting from the storm, I knew it was going to be safe to drive North - especially if I started my drive when the worst of the storm was over.

Around 2:00 pm, I started my drive to meet GFJ in Kingston, and found that the roads were very sloppy (melted snow with dirt was being kicked up on my windshield) - which made me glad that GFJ volunteered to drive from Kingston to Albany, saving me mileage on my car, and allowing me to relax. Although I expected to be late to our meeting point, GFJ was a few minutes late, as she relieved her hunger pains with a quick pizza slice.

I loaded my overnight bag into her car, and we drove off to Albany. Just as we got on the Thruway, I realized that I might not have locked the doors on my car. So we schlepped up to Saugerties and back, where I locked my car without getting out of GFJ's car.  And again, it was back on the road to Albany. We got to Albany about an hour early, so we killed time in the mall, where we both found interesting things in Lane Bryant. (I held off buying anything, as I really didn't need what was available.) When done with the mall, I was behind the wheel for the 15 minute drive to the gathering.

GFJ found our crew to be very interesting. But she noticed something this time that I didn't notice before - the hostess for the gathering had her harem there, and that she feels that the polyamorous crowd are simply a bunch of swingers who have open affairs with emotional attachments. (And I couldn't blame her for thinking this way, given how the poly folk were defining their relationships at the gathering.) What interested me most was her (later) comment about the group conversation - there is only a limited amount of things people could talk about in regard to Polyamory before the conversation gets repetitive. And this might be the reason that people from this group are dropping out, leaving only our hostess and her harem.

- - - - - -

Eventually, it was time to go home, and I was back behind the wheel on the leg from Albany to Kingston. We had our private conversation on this leg, and I noted what I am willing to do to have this relationship - but noticed that she is non-committal. So I know not to open up my heart too much until I see signs that she has done the same. And for someone who was seriously betrayed by her "was-band", I have a feeling that it will take some time for her to open up her heart - especially when my transgender nature is factored in to her decision making.

Part of what makes our relationship awkward is that I've never been over to GFJ's house. Her reasoning is simple - she still has one son living at home, and that this son has a problem with his mom going out on dates. (This, with him knowing that his dad ran out on his mom twice, now living on his own, and knowing that his dad is trying to deny his mom her fair share of assets developed jointly during the duration of their marriage.) Yes, this is common - even when the offspring knows that the parents' marriage can't be repaired. So I'll have to respect her wishes not to force the issue with her son - especially when it is more convenient for me to do this.

Reaching Kingston, GFJ dropped me off by my car (making sure it started), and then both of us were off to her homes. I got home quicker than expected, while she got home in 15 minutes. This is one time where both of us wished her son had moved out for good - as she would have wanted me to stay the night....

- - - - - -

Do I have a clue about what will happen to us in the long term?  Absolutely not - especially when she plays her cards close to the vest. But I'm keeping my most attractive options open until I can get her to tell me what her goals are and where I fit into them. Only then might I decide to close any of them out.... Yet, I know that I'll have to work a very fine line here, as I don't want to go too far with one of these women unless I know for sure that GFJ and I will not work out in the medium term.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The tale of two women - a warning for the rest of us.

As I've mentioned before, I'm on the board of directors for my co-op complex. And last night, I came home to the sight of several fire trucks with lights flashing. So, I had a legitimate concern that something had gone wrong that could affect me.

Now, I can not disclose any specifics about what happened - I am limited by a privacy document I've signed regarding the private communication I have with the board and managing agent regarding co-op affairs. However, I can talk about what I've seen in my own right (outside of communications to/from the board) regarding a couple of my neighbors.

- - - - - -

One doorway over from me is a sickly middle aged woman and a senile old mother living in an extremely cluttered 2 bedroom apartment.  When I first met them over 20 years ago, the daughter was physically healthy, but heavily medicated (as I found out later, for symptoms of schizophrenia), and the mother was simply getting on in years. The one time I had the opportunity to visit their apartment, it had no more clutter than my place has, and one could easily navigate from the entrance to anywhere in the apartment. The mother may have been collecting alimony at that point, and the daughter was getting Social Security Disability funds. So funds may have been tight, but they could live comfortably IF the apartment they lived in was paid off.

However, something just wasn't right with these women. They used to have two cars in the driveway, a double spot, which rarely moved. A few years later, they sold off one of the two cars, and the one that was left rarely moved. Eventually, they "needed" a new car, and bought a brand new one - and it sat unmoved in the parking lot for months at a time. In fact, there were a couple of times that the battery could not provide the juice to start the car, as it had not been on the road for several months.

Both mother and daughter knew that I worked for a bank, and would occasionally call me up "for advice". In reality, they had no friends, and needed someone to talk to. I can remember one phone call where she wanted to find out something to do with a property in which she had a part interest in Chicago - and left a message lasting over 30 minutes, while never getting to the point, or to the question. Give either of these two women the chance, and they'd chew your ear off for hours.

Over the years, things got worse and worse. There was one time that I went to the basement to do my laundry, and found the mother there - totally confused on how to use the payment card needed to operate the washers and dryers. Even after I gave her simple instructions on what to do, she was still unable to understand what I was saying - so I got out of there before I said things I might regret. Another time, I noticed that they left their car's left side rear window open for weeks, allowing the rain to go into the car and ruin its interior. (By this time, they rarely left the confines of their house - and this 3 year old car may have had 2k miles on it, suffering from a lack of use.) My nosy neighbor downstairs suggested that I buy this low mileage car. But I knew better - a car that's never used can have just as many problems as a worn out car due to seals not being lubricated, "flat" spots "appearing" on bearings, etc. - and I knew about the open window already....

After one hurricane, the car was no longer in running condition, and it had to be towed away. It's hard to believe that the hurricane did less damage to the car (maybe a couple of paint scratches due to a falling tree limb) than they did by not using the car. I'm very glad that the car was sold off - the mother was already showing severe signs of dementia, and the daughter was way too frail to drive the car.

A few months ago, I caught a glimpse of the daughter coming out of a taxi and entering her apartment. She had lost enough weight to make me concerned that she's dying a slow death. Is the mother able to take care of her sick daughter? Probably not. But I know that there's another daughter monitoring things. (And that's as far as I can talk about her without revealing any private knowledge). And I know that she's aware of all the visits from the fire department over the past year or so. Hopefully, this other daughter is now going to work to place the mother and daughter into appropriate care facilities, as there is now proof that neither mother nor daughter are capable of making decisions for themselves any longer.

- - - - - -

Now that I've rambled on about two sickly women, you might be wondering what lessons that us transgender folk can be learned from their example. And to me, the lesson is that we must stay connected to the outside world, no matter how difficult this becomes. These two women were isolated for years, and no one was interested in them, as they paid no attention to others. Although there was another daughter keeping tabs on things, she could only do so much when help is not wanted. In order to have a network of people to care for us when we need caring for, we need to care for others who may need us now.

How many of us lose friends and family when we come out?  I'll bet that all of us who are fully "out" have lose at least one "someone". But how many of us have worked to replace that missing link in our networks to include someone new? I hope that we're all doing so before our times of need....

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An evening totally wasted - from beginning to End

Imagine coming home to find neighbors outside your hallway's entrance, looking at fire trucks and emergency responders going into a neighbor's apartment to deal with a weird noise coming from that apartment - this would be a fitting end to a less than perfect, wasted evening en-femme.

But first....

When I originally planned out this day, I would do a volunteer stint, drive down to Pat's place, and then we'd take her car into NYC. Once we reached midtown, I could catch the subway to Lower Manhattan for a group session with a Transgender Voice Therapist holding a session on how NOT to strain your voice when vocalizing in your transgender voice, and then catch up with Pat for the return trip home. The only thing that went right was my volunteer stint - everything else went from bad to worse....

Meeting Pat at her place, I tried to signal her (as she was by her doorway) to buzz me in, so that I could use the bathroom. But she didn't pick up on this, and I didn't want for her to go back up the stairs when I could get relief upon reaching Penn Station. So we proceeded to Manhattan, and Pat figured that she'd look for a drug store after we parked the car so she could get a hearing aid battery.  On the way down, I received an email from the Voice Therapist that she was cancelling the session, as too many people cancelled making it impractical to hold the session as scheduled. Once the car was parked, I had no reason to rush off - so I ended up manning the car while she went to 9th avenue to search for an open drug store.  (If she went to 8th avenue, she'd have had her choice around Penn Station - but Pat is not a practical person, and doesn't have a feel for the city anymore.) This certainly didn't make me feel good - I had to hold it in for at least an extra 30 minutes. So, when she came back, I told her that I'd see her at 9, and ran off to find a women's room I could use.

Walking towards Penn Station, I found a relatively clean Mickey D's - with a relatively clean bathroom. And this is where I ended up doing my first "Straddle" maneuver - sooner or later, I'd have to deal with the "sit or straddle" decision like a woman - and I figured that now was the best time for it. At least, I was able to do it right on the first try and not make things any worse for myself or the other women that would follow me.

While at McDonald's, I figured that I'd kill some time by eating - and ordered a salad - which erroneously came without dressing.  Since I was lazy, I decided to eat it that way, realizing that Iceberg Lettuce has less than no taste and should be banned from virtually all salads. In front of me was another table with people who I might have thought were homeless denizens of Hell's Kitchen. But appearances are deceiving - one of them had an iPad (or some other tablet device) and all of the people looked clean. They were obviously not of my social class, but I have no idea of how to best categorize these people, as their cues were totally misleading.

After McDonald's, it was off to Penn Station to kill more time. I figured that I'd walk around, buy a magazine, and then read it while sipping coffee at Starbucks. And this was the first of two times this day I got "Sir'ed" - when shopping for the magazine. This lady was wondering what I was up to - and I figured that I'd mention Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome is and how it affected me. (I forgot the other time I was "Sir'ed" - but I often gloss over such things these days.) I ended up at Starbucks, and nursed an Iced Tea for an hour or so while reading a magazine. After leaving Starbucks, I walked back to Pat's car and received a phone call - Pat was going to be stuck in her session until 11 pm. I was not in the mood to stay any longer in NYC, so I bid her adieu - and headed off to Grand Central.

Arriving at Grand Central, I had to make the "sit or straddle" decision again (rare, for the times I've been en-femme at Grand Central) and again, I took care of the problem as a woman would. (No cheating here, as one blogger noted doing in the same situation.) At Grand Central, I realized that Pat's not knowing when her session would end cost me a good opportunity to take advantage of the "20 at 20" deal  that started on Tuesday. And this left me a little frustrated. Such is life.

After waiting a short amount of time, I hopped on the train to Pelham, where I'd fetch my car and go home. Sitting across from me was a nice Asian lady who was knitting a blanket for charity. We talked about volunteer work and of knitting, and had a pleasant conversation before we both left the train.

Driving home, I was thinking of calling Pat to tell her that I reached Pelham - but I thought better of that. Instead, I drove home - and found several fire trucks in front of my building. It seems like my crazy neighbors from the next doorway had some electrical malfunction, and that they were going through the apartment to figure out how to prevent a bigger problem. So I parked my car in a visitor's spot, and chatted with two of my neighbors. (Now, I'm officially out to another of my neighbors - so, that's one more person I don't have to worry about.) I was getting cold, even while wearing tights, and said adios for the evening.

I know I'll have some email that I have to exchange with the managing agent in the morning. But until then, it's time to finish this entry and nod off....

Monday, January 26, 2015

First the left, and then the right

I was thinking of reworking "The Hokey Pokey" for this post, but I thought better of it.  Instead, I'll relate the tale of the day without subjecting you (too much) to my sense of humor.

- - - - - -

Last night, I only got 3 hours of sleep and I was dreading having to wake up at 6:00 am to be ready to drive Lili to the hospital and back home. So when I woke up, I made sure that my plans included getting both breakfast and the largest cup of coffee Mickey D's had on the way to Lili's house. Unlike last time, Lili only buzzed me once - to make sure I was up and moving - which I was.

I got to Lili's a few minutes late, but with enough margin to get her to the hospital in time to take care of all her paperwork and have time to spare before her scheduled eye surgery. Since we went through this routine the week before, we knew what to expect. And yet, there were minor differences - such as the nurse who gave Lili her pre-operation eye drops to dilate her eye not wanting anyone around while she was working. (This is what I'd expect if I was a nurse who could be easily distracted.) Yet, Lili was properly distracted from her worries when I started reciting Borscht Belt jokes to stop her from worrying. As expected, the operation took place on schedule - and I was dutifully waiting for it to end. And when Lili was ready, we were off to the diner for lunch - and then back to Lili's after a stop for dessert.

- - - - - -

Knowing that I needed to rest, I blew off the networking meeting I go to every month in hopes of making an employment connection - and vegged out for a while at home. Around 5:00 or so, I had the itch to go out again, and decided to get a manicure.  (Lili would have treated me to a mani-pedi earlier in the day, but I didn't want to bother removing my tights and freeze in the cold air.)

As most women know, nail salons are a "dime a dozen" in most places, and my town is no different. I figure that I have a choice of at least 10 salons in a radius of 5 miles, so I decided to try the one my late wife went to almost 2 decades ago. (I knew that no one would recognize me. Instead, I wanted to find out why she liked this salon over the rest.)  And, of all the nail salons I've been to in this neck of the woods - it is the best. Yet, I probably won't go there again - as the one male on-site may have misgendered me as I left.

Why, might you ask, is this place the best? The answer is in hygiene - when my nails were getting filed down, they used a disposable nail file and buffer. This limits the risk of infections from one woman being passed to the next from infected supplies. If a woman wanted to have her special nail files, etc. used, they have special storage for their regulars to hold their tools.

So I have to give my late wife credit - she knew a good nail salon when she found it, and was a regular there until her health failed.

- - - - - -

This weekend, weather permitting, GFJ and I are planning on visiting my friends in the North Country. Although I've told her what to expect, I'm still not sure if she's ready for the trip. She knows that this group is polyamorous - so I'm hoping that she sees the difference between people who are open, honest, and trusting vs. people like her "was-band", from whom every word is a lie, including "and" and "the". (I love Mary McCarthy's scathing criticism of Lillian Hellman's work, having watched part of the play "Hellman vs. McCarthy" recently. And I have no problem reusing that criticism to have fun with the "was-band's" character.)

Am I looking for a polyamorous relationship? No. But I feel that monogamous people have a lot to learn from the polyamorous, in the same way that straight couples have a lot to learn from gay couples in regard to sex and relationships.  If I can show GFJ that my intent is to always treat her with respect AND that I trust her not to be screwing others behind her back (as I hope she trusts me), then we may be able to build a really good relationship. Even if we haven't fully closed out the option of dating others, then we'll be in good shape no matter what happens in the future.

- - - - - -

So I'll close off with this old tune....

Ray Anthony and his Orchestra - The Hokey Pokey

And.... a philosophical question:

What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?  ;-)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Questioning how I'll out myself to a couple of people

When I first looked at the image above, I caught a sense of concern on the woman's face as she ponders the question: "Do I come out of the closet, or do I stay inside it?"  It is this kind of concern that makes me think twice when I consider outing myself to the remaining two members of the co-op board.

- - - - - -

But first.....

Today was a day that I expected to spend en-homme. The first task of the day was bringing my car to the dealer for a 7,500/22,500/37,500, etc. mile service - and my car made it through service with no other issues.  As it was, I got hit with price shock - my old car wasn't this expensive to maintain using dealer service. And then it was off to get lasered....

It seems like my regular laser technician is on an extended vacation (as she has done over several winters), as I haven't seen her for 3 sessions. So my legs were taken care of by her assistant - who I enjoy talking to now and then. For some reason, the zapping hurt more today than usual - and I probably could use a couple more sessions after the 6 visit package runs out.  However, I may end up shopping around for another place, so that I can use a Groupon/Living Social/etc. discount to make denuding my body of hair more affordable.

Once I had by legs zapped, I had time to kill before the co-op board meeting, so I ended up playing with the computer for a little while. And then it was off to the board meeting. We had some unpleasant business to conduct (which I won't talk about here), but we did it in a humane way, and a way which provided some help to the affected person.

I'm still looking for a way to talk to the remaining two board members, so that they won't be shocked if they see me en-femme. Hopefully, I'll get around to doing this next month, so that I have the option of attending en-femme, if I so desire. Until then, it will be en-homme for me....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It feels strange being en-homme for so long

As a male, I never looked as good as this gentleman in Victorian garb. Luckily or unluckily, I never was interested in looking that good as a male. Instead, I always looked at women like Ginger Rogers, and wished I could be wearing their flowing gowns.

But back to current reality....

Since GFJ came over on Saturday, I was not able to get into Marian Mode, as she wants to see a man in bed. This is understandable, and part of the compromises I make to have her around. So when she left today (Monday), do you think it was on with the feminine finery? No.... I had errands to do in male mode, so I went out en-homme to do some shopping that had to be done in male mode.

I got dressed, and out the door I went. First, it was off to BJ's, where I picked up some food stuffs and other goods. And then, it was over to Walmart, where I picked up some exercise clothes that I'll be using at the health club soon.

- - - - - -

When I returned home, I could have changed into Marian, and gone out again.  Without a place to go, I didn't feel this to be a wise thing, as I don't want to get in the habit of going out for a drive when I get bored - I do this often enough for other reasons as it is....

What bothers me is that I'll have another day en-homme before I can do a half day en-femme when I take Lili to the hospital to get her other eye done. In theory, I could spend part of the day en-femme. But, if I'm not completely out to my co-op board of directors, I don't want to shock them by coming en-femme for the first time when we have serious work to do.

- - - - - -

On other matters....

Last week, B from the Volunteer Center called to tell me of some program geared for women reentering the workforce or needing retraining. Since I'm legally a male, I will not take advantage of this program unless it is also available to males. (There are many natal females who are much worse off than I am, so I don't want to take an opportunity away from someone who needs it more than I do.)

The way I'm going, I may end up working in that women's clothing store I often go to - and I'll hate standing up for several hours at a time.  At least, I'm not going to work as a waitress as my mom did - that's underpaid hard work....

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ice on the roads, and not in my drinks

This was a typical sight on New York City roads on Sunday. Cars were sliding all over the place, and wise people stayed home instead of driving on area roads.  Some roads were affected by ice, while others were affected by flooding. All in all, I am very glad that I did not need to go outside to do anything AND I am glad that GFJ was with me.

If the weather had cooperated with me, I'd have trekked over to the local Walmart and picked up some clothes appropriate for exercising. (Yes, I finally enrolled in the health club - and figure that I can afford the monthly membership fee even if I don't have a steady income come summer.) Instead, GFJ and I snuggled together, and watched movies all through the day and much of the evening.

When GFJ comes over, she usually wants to see Mario and not Marian. Yet, she isn't bothered by the idea of me lasering off all my body hair below the neck. Nor does she have anything against going to get a mani-pedi with me en-femme when she needs her nails done. 

- - - - - -

A while back, GFJ and K figured out that I know the two of them. GFJ teased me, saying that they'd have loved to see how I reacted if they dropped into the Whine and Dine.  Now that I know that they have discussed this, I will find it very interesting how both of them react if they carry out this visit.

One person who hasn't been to the Whine and Dine for a while is my friend J.  I won't say much about her absence, save that she has other things to take care of that are more important than the meetup. But I will say that we've kept up our correspondence, and that she continues to feel that I should write a book about life between the two genders.  Who knows - someday, I might just do that....

- - - - - -

Hopefully, I'll be able to get some "me time" (read: time en-femme) soon.  I'd like to meet with J over coffee and catch up on things. I'd also like to catch up with my motorcycle friend, A, and continue to develop this friendship. And, I'd like to get to one "Gal Pals" meetup, where I'd like to know whether I can develop other female connections with a more local group.

With this being said, I wonder how I can contribute more to the transgender community without making this the prime focus of my life. So far, I've been able to help Lisa with her class - a little bit of outreach that I'd have been scared to do a couple of years ago. I've been going out en-femme, and openly noting that I'm trans when I've volunteered (at the volunteer center, and not at their associated agencies.) I'll figure out this question as time goes on....

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sleep testing and a finicky car creates confusion in my schedule.

As I write this, GFJ is "sleeping enthusiastically" behind me.  (Yes, she snores worse than I do.)  So I have nothing better to do than to write a post that will be published in a few days....

- - - - - -

A while ago, GFJ and I shared a few hours together before she went off to a sleep test at a center near the local hospital. Although I knew she had to be out of the sleep center by 7:00, I didn't realize that she'd be calling me at 6:30 am to let me know she was coming over.

Usually, GFJ has been uncomfortable with me wearing my "normal" nightwear - the idea of seeing Mario in Marian's sleepwear is a little awkward for her, so I'll respect her desires until she becomes more comfortable with me mixing the genders.  So when I answered the door semiconsciously in my woman's night shirt, she wasn't going to complain....

- - - - - -

When we finally woke up around 11:00, it was almost time for lunch. I knew that we had to have my local mechanic look at her car, as the "check engine" light came on again over the weekend for a problem that her local dealership couldn't seem to diagnose correctly. So it was off to the mechanic down the hill.

I haven't been using this mechanic in a while, as his hours and my former commute to NYC have not been in sync with each other. (I found that getting my car worked on by the dealer was a reasonable thing to do when the hours were convenient for me. Now, I may end up going back to the local mechanic in the future....) So when I saw him again, I made sure to say that I've steered people his way, and that my hours have been screwed up for the past few years.... (I know the man is relatively honest - I just want him to feel good about having my friends as customers.) After GFJ described the car's symptoms, we left the car at the shop, and it was off to lunch....

- - - - - -

There was only one major thing on my to-do list, and that was seeing my therapist. So I made sure to choose a place for lunch that was on the way to his office. After lunch, it was off to my therapist's office, arriving there with a few minutes to spare. GFJ waited in the car until I was done, and then it was off to Walmart to pick up a few things before stopping back at the mechanic.

Arriving at the mechanic, we found that her car wasn't ready - so we picked up some stuff for dinner, and headed home. Then we found out that the car needed a replacement sensor (I forgot which type, but not the oxygen sensor), and that her car might be laid up for another day or so. This put a big crimp in my life.... I'm not used to having someone around the house for more than a day or so, and I'm not used to not wearing my comfy nightshirts.

Since GFJ would be around until mid-week, I wouldn't be able to be as free with my schedule as I'd like. I had to cancel lunch with a friend, as I'd rather spend time with GFJ. As the expression goes - be careful of what you ask for, as you just might get it. I find this to be true about relationships. And I might have a little more to say about GFJ in another post....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A cancelled meetup, then getting together with friends (new and old).

This was the second time in two weeks that the "Gal Pals" meetup was cancelled. I guess that I'll have to wait for a while to meet up with other women (without a safety net) as a woman at a women's gathering....

- - - - - -

Some of you might be asking - why is Marian pushing the envelope so much?  Isn't it enough for her to go unmolested in the "few" activities she attends en-femme?

To me, I think the answer is becoming obvious - I prefer life in female mode, even with the headaches I am likely to encounter along the way.  Most men have no clue as to why a natal male would sacrifice male privilege (if they understood what it was). But there is something much more rewarding about how women are socialized that I appreciate and want more of. And I think it has something to do with nurturing others and sharing one's feelings.

- - - - - -

I'm hoping that the next time a "Gal Pals" meetup is scheduled, that I'll be able to go AND that the meetup won't be canceled. But tonight is not one of those nights. (At least, I was warned by the meetup sponsor the night before that the meetup might be cancelled.) So, it was with pleasure that I received a call from Pat (my former hypnotist).

Pat wanted me to attend a couple of things with her that were going on over the weekend. However, those things had a potential conflict with GFJ coming over - and I don't think that she'd want to arrive, seeing Marian, when she really wanted to see Mario for the evening. Instead, I asked Pat what she was doing tonight, and she suggested that I come along to a gathering she was going to in New Rochelle this evening. Of course, I jumped at the chance to go out in Marian mode - and figured that I'd break out a dress I haven't worn in a couple of years.

There is one complication to all of this.  I have a crock pot lasagna cooking, and I'll have to take the pot out of the heating chamber around 5:30 pm, then let it cool off enough to go in the refrigerator before I leave for Pat's place. This is the first time I've used the new crock pot, and I'd hate to see anything happen to it on its first use.....

(Postscript:  Everything came out fine.  I also used a pot liner, so I was able to lift the lasagna out of the hot crock and into a Pyrex bowl and put it in the refrigerator safely.)

- - - - - -

I ended up leaving for Pat's around 6:30 wearing the outfit above.  This dress hasn't seen the light of day since a New Year's Eve party in the North Country held a couple of years ago. And I'm glad I wore it tonight....

When I picked Pat up, she wasn't sure of where the restaurant was, so we ended up circling around the main business district of New Rochelle until she got her bearings, and then we found the place - a combination Fair Trade Store / Art Gallery / Vegetarian Restaurant-Recologie. Normally, I avoid vegetarian places. This T-Gal is a meat protein and starch eater, and has never met a Cheeseburger she didn't like. But I may just go back to this place again, as the food was that good.

Pat told me that two of her friends were coming to meet us, and that there would be a nice jazz group playing there. Since the place did not have a liquor license, we brought a bottle for us to drink while enjoying the music. Although we came from the same area as Pat's friends, it took them at least an extra half hour to find it. And I'm glad they did so, as I was in rare form. No, I was not making an ass out of myself. Instead, (as Pat later told me) I was charming as heck! Pat had been wanting to have a friendship with one women warm up a little (not in a sexual or romantic way - only as the kind of friendship two really good friends can have), and she was very surprised to find her friend feeling completely comfortable sharing her experiences with me - as if we had known each other for ages. In short, I made new friends!

Eventually, it was time to go, and my new friends were off to another place for more music. Although we were invited to tag along, Pat wanted to go home, and I didn't want to be with these people too long - I might make a mistake and make them feel uncomfortable that they were sharing vulnerabilities with someone who is not a natal female. So we bid our adieus, and I drove Pat back to her place.

Pat was upset that I was playing the female role almost too well. She was very worried that if these two women found out that I was transgender, that she'd lose her friendships. And looking back at things, she was right to have this fear - but not for the reasons she might believe. For example, I will tell a blonde joke or two, only if I sense people can enjoy them. (I say that my husband and I collected them, with him being a natural blonde.) Pat senses this as being masculine, and I treat this asexually - as a way of breaking the ice. Then, Pat was uncomfortable when I responded to one of the two women saying that she hasn't gotten laid in two years - and I said that's what adult toys are for. (Pat would have wanted me to drop the topic, instead of having a sex positive attitude.) Regardless of what I believed, I told Pat that I'd be more careful....  (I hope that Pat can find a safe way to tell them that I'm TG, so that her worries are eased.)

In our discussion, I mentioned 3 women that I respected from childhood: Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, and Mae West. Of these 3, I liked Mae West the most (and still do), as she was very comfortable being a woman, very comfortable with sex, and very comfortable being in control of her life - all this in a man's world. Pat responded that these women were "masculine" and loved by the gay community. I saw things differently - these women were fully functional adults, and that all women should be this strong. (Having grown up with a overly strong mother, I am very comfortable with women who can stand up for themselves, and do not see this as an exhibition of masculinity.) Could it be that I have less problems than Pat in regard to what a woman's role should be in society?

I mentioned that I feel it a blessing that I can navigate the worlds of both men and women. Even Pat sees that I work well in a female environment, and prefers to see me this way. Who knows what the future will bring - I don't!

- - - - - -

And now for an appropriate OLD tune....

Mae West - Now I'm a Lady

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Activism and Social Isolation

As I've mentioned before, I regularly volunteer at a GLBT Center. And this week, I had a very interesting day of it.

Normally, when I go to the GLBT Center, I never know what I'm going to do next. One week, it'll be updating the various on-line sites where event information is maintained. And the next week may have me stuffing envelopes. I feel good helping out, but I know I'll never gain much more from my association with the center, save for a few good contacts. And that's OK with me. This week, I found out who the new intern was, and how isolated she was from "the real world", having associated with people in a very "liberal" circle of acquaintances. 

When I arrived, I took care of a little bit of computer work before the main event. Around 2:00 pm, a lady from another organization was going to make a presentation to us about why it is critical to get GLBT people enrolled with the right health plan under Obamacare/ACA AND that they know how to advocate for their unique health care needs under Obamacare/ACA. My presence (and that of the intern) at this presentation was to ferret out what was needed for inclusion on the center's web page, as well as to ask the questions we needed to get the information we required.

The first thing I noticed was how ignorant (not experienced might be a better way of phrasing things) she was of the ways of the real world.  Her father (who is now taking hormones to feminize himself - I'm a little torn about the use of "she" when her daughter benignly uses both "he" and "she" to describe her dad), raised her in a racially mixed community, has exposed her to GLBT people (via her dad's membership in the center), and has given her a very healthy outlook on life. However, this lady (who I'll call K for now), was woefully ignorant about Racial and GLBT prejudices in the more rural regions of the Northeast.

Normally, one learns how to listen to others - this woman is typical of a male or female of the 15-30 y/o age group - K is still learning how the real world differs from her theory of it, and wanted to share more of her "knowledge" (which was wrong) than enjoy listening to the lady making the presentation, and learning from her unique experiences (affects of prejudice) from being both bisexual and mixed-race, living in a relatively unpopulated area of the country.  But this woman picked up on the fact that her experiences were not that of the average person, and she was glad to learn from all of us once she saw that the real world differed from her theoretical world....

I volunteered to drive K home, but instead, drove her to the heart of White Plains to see her friends. We exchanged phone numbers, and I'll be sure to keep in contact - if only because I might be able to mentor this woman a little....

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Eye Has It!

Today was Lili's first cataract surgery - and she was afraid.  But who wouldn't be, who hasn't been through this procedure?

- - - - - -

Last night, GFJ was able to pick up her car from the mechanic's shop and drive home. (I'll bet that she was glad not to see my transformation into Marian early this morning.) So I was able to set my alarm clock for 6:00 am, and take my time in performing this transformation.

It was a frigid morning in the NYC area, and I had 2 outfits ready to go. The first was a cowl neck top paired with a corduroy skirt - something I'd be comfortable in, but would stand out in when the morning temperature was in the single digits. The second was a simple v-neck shirt over a pair of pants, with a poncho sweater over it. Although I chose this outfit, I'd have preferred the first outfit if it had been 15 degrees warmer.

While in the middle of getting dressed, Lili called to make sure I was up.  (I'd be doing the same if I depended on someone as she did.) And when I was 5 minutes from her place, she called again. I'm glad that I was not running late - even though we could have safely done so.

Arriving at her place, the ground had not gotten the chance to thaw, so I was able to drive on the ice in her driveway and get to her house without problems. This ice would be a problem later on in the day - but I knew I'd be able to deal with it then. Pulling into Lili's driveway, I knew that she needed help getting to the car - the ice was a big problem, as she couldn't clear it out. No amount of salt would have helped - it doesn't make sense to run a plow on gravel, and salt only works when there is a thin sheet of ice to be melted.

When we got to the hospital, I dropped her off at the ambulatory surgery entrance, and parked my car - where I was wishing I could have worn a skirt instead of pants. (Women's pants have a nasty habit of shifting on my body, and I always have to pull them up.) Lili signed herself in, and then we waited and waited....  Eventually, it came time for her surgery. And it was off to have Lili prepped.  I was cracking jokes meant to whittle away at Lili's nervousness, and I was getting her to laugh - unlike the nurse who was very professional, and doing her best to follow her routine as closely as possible. (She did a great job - and I was glad this nurse kept her focus on the job at hand.) Shortly afterward was the surgery, and I left for the waiting room....

About an hour later, I was called in for Lili. She was having a hard time focusing on things - but I attribute that to the sedative wearing off. Lili was instructed not to lift things and not to bend over. So there would not be much she could do when she got home but rest. Once the nurse was done instructing her what to do for her eye, we were off to lunch, and then to her house. I was very glad I could drop her off at this point, as I didn't want to talk with her about men, women, or how I approach things differently than she does....

It was now 2:00 pm, and I figured that I wanted that formal dress badly enough to make another trip to Waterbury.... So it was off to the consignment store, and I headed straight to the dress.

From this picture, you can tell 2 or 3 things about it:
  1. I bought the dress.
  2. I'm wearing the wrong kind of hosiery.
  3. (not so obvious) the end of the sleeve is a little too snug, and will need alterations.
I chatted with the salesperson before I bought it, and he noted that it might need either of 2 things:
  1. Removing the rhinestone detail on the sleeve, and letting out the area that is gathered.
  2. Moving the sleep hem up 3 inches or so.
Because I had 2 options - I bought the dress for $50, and spent what little extra money I had on reserve until the end of the week. Since having dinner at Panera costs me about $15, I decided to skip the Scrabble night and eat at home. This would allow me to use the small amount of money I have left tomorrow, and then go to the weekly board game meetup in Yonkers.

Hopefully, I'll have an excuse to wear this dress soon. If not, buying it was likely a good gamble for someone who wants to spend the rest of her life as Marian and not Mario. Either way, I know I have something I can wear to a wedding other than a LBD.

- - - - - -

I don't have much left to say for today, so I'll close with a classic tune....

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels - Devil with a Blue Dress on

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Volunteering - A good way to keep busy

As I've noted in my posts, I do a weekly volunteer stint at the local GLBT Center. However, I want to do a little bit more to keep me occupied, and I'm not sure that I want to limit my volunteer work to this one organization. Instead, I'd like to explore contributing my time (in Marian mode, of course) to a more "mainstream" organization.

At the time I wrote this, I was planning on meeting with people associated with the local volunteer center to see whether my skills may be helpful to other groups. My goal is to develop skill sets as well as developing mainstream contacts who know me as Marian and who could give me references as Marian (knowing that Mario exists for purposes of paperwork).

- - - - - -

What would happen if I were to start a second career as Marian?  Would the reality of living my life as a woman be worth the surrendering of most of my life in male mode? Although I believe that the answer is "Yes", I wouldn't know for sure until I've done this for a while. Putting on makeup, stockings, and prosthesis can get tiresome. I certainly wasn't going to go through the bother of doing this while sick with the flu. So where would I draw the borderline?

Let's say that I got into a comfortable routine as Marian in the workplace. What would happen next? If someone recognized me from my old life, how would I respond? Even more interesting would be the issue of my dating. I couldn't expect anyone to help me meet someone - how many women are looking for (or would accept) a non-op trans person?

- - - - - -

Living with someone like me poses some interesting issues. For example, how would I dress up for a night on the town?  Depending on how rigid we were to define the rules for my wardrobe for our joint, public appearances, I could see myself wearing a dark suit (being in Mario mode) or a LBD (being in Marian mode). Given the choice, I'd rather be wearing the LBD - but not doing so would be the trade off I'd make in order to have a happy romantic relationship.

- - - - - -

So, my big question is - how should I best keep myself busy?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Fantasy and Reality

Many of us middle-aged M2F transgendered folk wish we could wear fashions appropriate for women in young adulthood. Sadly, none of us can recapture youth - all we can do is be authentic for our age, or look amazingly silly trying to be something that is not possible for us to be.

Unlike what many young people might expect, most old people still have dreams and aspirations until the day they die. These dreams tend to be more realistic - such as living long enough to see grandchildren,  And this is healthy. The aging process has given many old people opportunities to become wise, and share what they have learned from life. They may indulge a little in fantasy, but also are guided by reality - as they want to make the best out of whatever time is left to them.

- - - - - -

I rarely fantasize about things, but I do let my thoughts run wild for a while to indulge a fantasy. What I mean by this is that I realize something is a fantasy, and do not let myself get seduced by the fantasy to think the fantasy is real. This is important to me - I've had friends who have gotten lost in their fantasies, and have gotten into trouble because of those fantasies.

As much as I'd love to live full time as a female, I realize that my best chances for making good money are for me to preserve my male identity until retirement. This also benefits me in regard to my family, as I don't think that I would have the support of my family if I were to decide to transition (with or without GCS). Is this support needed? Probably not. But it would help - that process is tortuous enough for people as it is.

One book I read, Crossing, a Memoir - by Dierdre N. McCloskey, notes the problems one transgendered woman had to deal with that were inflicted by her family. This woman's sister actively interfered with her transition process, treating the author as if she was a psychologically sick person. The last thing that any of us needs is to have our families get in the way of our travels along this path of ours.

- - - - - -

The reality of our lives is that many of us transgendered folk are forced to live at least part of our lives in closets of some kind. And it's always a relief when we can escape those closets - even it is for only part of our lives. For me, this extended stint without work has allowed me to be out of my closet much more than I ever would have dreamed at this stage of life, and being out of the closet has helped me preserve my sanity during this period of stress....

Have I repeated myself in this blog again?  Of course!  There are themes that seem to repeat in my life, and one of them has been my search for objective reality in the midst of influences that could lead to delusions.  For example, my job search has stumbled into one firm (and a former parent) which has been a well of opportunities for me - even if I don't land a position. One person has commented - "they want you, but they're trying to figure out a way to get you into the firm." This can't be further from the truth - they are trying to determine what they want before buying it - and I must always keep the truth in focus first, no matter how well meaning a person's statements are meant to be.

- - - - - -

So, am I letting fantasy get in the way of reality? I doubt it. My job search and relationship search have a higher priority in my life than for me to experience it in Marian mode. I do schedule my life, so that as much of it as possible can be lived in Marian mode. And I begrudgingly cede time in Marian mode to be with family and certain friends.

How many of us have had to look at ourselves in a harsh light and see our imperfections?  I think most of us shy away from this, as we are afraid of the painful growth processes we'd need to experience, if we determined that changes were needed. We look for quick fixes such as weight loss pills, and keep hitting brick walls. Growth and meaningful change come slowly - as if mountains were being eroded by rain.

Most of us come into life alone, and go out alone. But we have company along our paths of life. It is up to us to choose companions that help us see objective reality instead of seeing fantasy worlds. Only by acting in rational ways in response to an objective reality will we maintain a firm grasp on reality - even if we indulge in occasional fantasies....

And now for a novelty tune from a completely rational character....

Leonard Nimoy - Highly Illogical

(The price you paid for this song is more than it's worth, don't you agree?  Aren't you glad I didn't choose anything by William Shatner!)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Nosy Neighbors and Other Distractions

Things are not this bad in my co-op complex. But sometimes it feels that way with one of the neighbors I have.

I live in a building that has 4 doorways, each of which connect to 6 separate apartments. There are 2 apartments on each of 3 floors. In my doorway, there are 2 pairs of 1 bedroom apartments, with studio apartments below them. This means that one would likely hear a bit of noise if any of the neighbors were loud....

The statisticians would call this complex a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC), given the large number of retired people who own apartments in this complex. Yet, we do have a fair share of young shareholders - many of whom grew out of their apartments and prefer to sublet them, rather than to take a hit on the real estate market. I'm somewhere in the middle - if it weren't for my wife dying at such an early age, I might have moved out of this place and become an absentee landlord myself.

My immediate downstairs neighbor is one of those nosy people who always seem to have a need to be in the middle of everything. She once said that the co-op board wanted me to resign, when it might have been only one member who wanted this - and this member is no longer on the board. Although there are officially 7 people on our co-op board, only 6 attend meetings. Of those 6, there are 4 who know I go out in Marian Mode. Given that the mother of this downstairs neighbor is on oxygen, neither the mother nor daughter is in any position to complain about me - they have much more important things on their minds now.

- - - - - -

You may be wondering - what does this have to do with being transgender?  The answer I feel compelled to give is "virtually nothing and almost everything."

In many large complexes, one has a relative degree on anonymity - but not mine. Being a NORC, there are enough old biddies who have nothing better to do than to look outside and see what a neighbor is putting in the dumpster. (I'm not kidding, I know people who have done this.) Over time, I realized that if I wanted to go out en-femme, I had to overcome the fear of wondering what my neighbors would think of me. So, I bit the bullet and surrendered my anonymity (while en-femme), in order to have the freedom to be the person I always felt I should be.

Surrendering my anonymity has been much more of a blessing than anything else. One of the ladies on my co-op board has invited me to come to her church - and I have been accepted as Marian. I have gone out with a co-op board member and our managing agent, and  have had a great time at our own little hen party. I have gone out for coffee with one of my neighbors, and am accepted as a friend in both Marian and Mario modes. In short, I am much freer than I was in the past, and feel like a great load has been lifted from my shoulders.

So now, I go out and about in Marian Mode, as if there was nothing to be concerned with. Yet, I do fear each time I meet a neighbor in Marian Mode for the first time. Is this fear irrational? I'm not sure. But having been in the closet for so long, it's hard to unlearn old habits.

- - - - - - 

Last year, I went to my High School's 40th anniversary reunion. And I was torn between going en-femme, and going en-homme. I realized that as long as I needed to have some people know only the en-homme side of me, that it was best that I attend this function en-homme. But come hell or high water, if I am still unattached by the time the 50th anniversary comes around AND there is a reunion, I will attend en-femme.  (And I plan to have lost a lot of weight by then as well....)

Now, there is one event that I attended that I was en-femme for - the fund raising gala for the GLBT Center at which I volunteer. I am anonymous enough that few people would notice me in a picture and link both my male and female persona together. But it would have been interesting if someone did....

And now for another tune from Ann Rabson....

Ann Rabson - One Meatball

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Politics - the bane of mankind, and even worse for the transgender population.

Although this picture is of a fight which occurred in Ukraine's Parliament, it often feels like the United States is only a short step away from this insanity. But, as trans people, we need to be acutely aware of politics and how bills and laws made in the state houses and in congress may affect our rights and privileges as citizens of this country.

There are hypocrites that have enormous influence with each party's wingnuts, and they are rightfully used as examples of their party's blind spots. But for the most part, the average politician comes into power trying to address the needs of his/her constituents, and finds out that he/she is unable to get anything done without the help of his/her party. Normally, this is not a problem when both parties have an interest in working together to keep government running. The Democrats may gain something in one election, and then the Republicans may gain something in the next. Today, the lunatics are in control of the asylum - the moderates who controlled both parties are under attack because of the cultural war going on between urban and rural areas.

In the past, the cultural war would not be a big problem. But the two parties have coalesced around values coming from their sides of the culture wars - the Republicans around traditionally rural values, and the Democrats around urban values. And the transgender community is caught in the middle of this culture war, as traditionalists are using the gender binary as a tool to rally their bases, making us pay part of  the price for the hatred that is being stirred up.

An example of someone stirring up hatred can be found in this article: Conservative uses teen’s suicide to smear transgender people as demon-possessed lunatics. When one lives in a low population density area, one's social life often revolves around that of a relatively homogenous community, a conservative church, and a life where people who stand out are often hammered into conformity with the social norms.  (Does anyone remember the original version of the movie, "Footloose?") Fear mongers use fear and tribal loyalty to gain power - and people who have been trained NOT to challenge authority become helpless to stop extremists from gaining power.  (One could say similar things about the left in urban areas, when a small number of protesters were calling for the execution of white policemen - and almost no one from the left called the protesters to task.)

Right now, conservatives control many of the state houses AND the both houses of the legislative branch of the federal government. Normally, this would not be a risky thing. Now, we have a lot at stake. Traditionally, the party elders could keep the extremists of their parties in line. This is no longer the case with today's Republican party - "Tea Party" members were elected in response to (mostly rural) needs not being fulfilled. They have little reason to compromise with anyone - and our existence (as transgenders) threatens their religious values and the way they see the world - God did not create all life along a gender binary system. (Good examples of life violating the gender binary can be viewed at the Museum of Sex in NYC.)

Children like Leelah Alcorn are often abused in the name of preserving the gender binary so precious to religious conservatives. Each person subjected to "Conversion Therapy" is a victim of abuse. Sadly, her parents still are not able to see the evil that they inflicted on Leelah. And we, the transgender community, mourn for the loss of another one of us to suicide - Leelah had no one who could help her in her time of need.

Contrast Leelah with Jazz Jennings. She is a happy, well adjusted teenaged girl, whose parents did not let their view of the world get in the way of what's best for their daughter. Jazz is fully supported in who she is, and she is on the road of becoming a fully functioning adult without the scars of the religious abuse Leelah endured.

Can we afford for the religious zealots to hold our rights hostage as a way to preserve their power over their congregations?  Absolutely not. So what can we do?

As for me, I'm living as much of my life as an "out" transgender person as possible. I will not advertise that I am trans, but I won't hide it either.  (I recognize that I will be living in both genders for a while yet due to conditions I've mentioned elsewhere in this blog.) Even in my dating, I will discuss transgender, as I did with one woman I dated. She could not "Grok" (thank you Robert Heinlein for that word) or totally comprehend what being transgender meant, but she seemed willing to slowly learn about it.

But what about the rest of us?  One of the board members of the GLBT center I volunteer at is a trans-woman who has performed a stand up act on local stages. Her face and voice is not that feminine, but she lives her life 24x7 as a woman even though her wife may not be completely happy about it. Obviously, she is very "out" and that is good for all of us. Yes, not all of us can be "out". However, we can defend trans people when hate mongers spew their hateful venom. We can learn which biblical verses they plan to use against us, and then counter them with other biblical verses. (The same goes for any other holy book people might cite verses from.) In short, refusing to give in to hatred might be the only we can survive it.

Hopefully, we will organize and stand up for our rights. There are certain people who would be natural leaders for us - but I do not want to draft them to serve us, as at least one of these ladies has already served our cause much more than we'd have a right to ask of her.

So what are you going to do to help our common cause?

Here's another tune from Ann Rabson - someone who passed way too soon!

Ann Rabson - Music Makin' Mama

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Being the class Transgender

Today was a real pleasure. Although I dealt with many minor inconveniences, I had the pleasure of chatting with a class filled with students who had few clues on what it meant to be transgender.

- - - - - -

Last night, I set my alarm clock to wake me up early, so that I could have an hour's leeway in reaching the school where my friend teaches. However, I got up late, and could never catch up properly. By the time I got out of my place, it was too late to make the train leaving from the Cortlandt station - so I drove to Croton-Harmon, where I was in time for the same train - barely. (No, I wasn't trying to catch this train. Instead, I was looking to catch a later train when it eventually came.) I paid my parking fee, then walked over a slushy parking lot to the station as the train was pulling into the station. So I walked up the stairs and then paid for an off-peak round trip, and walked down the steps.  Just as the train was about to leave, I shouted out - "HOLD THAT TRAIN". OOPS!!!!  My male voice came out!  But I was able to get on the train, and sit down for my 45 minute ride into NYC.

When I finally made it to Grand Central, I had to pick up a new Metrocard (I left the old one in my male wallet) so that I could get on the subway. And it took me about 40 minutes (via the local) to make it to 137th street. Getting out of the station, I knew I would need to walk up hill - and wished I was 20 years younger, or in the shape I was in when I was last in San Francisco. And I was at my destination - City College of New York.

My friend, Lisa, was on the train behind me, and took a cab over to the school. So, I waited an extra 15-20 minutes for her to arrive from Metro North's 125th street station. No big deal. After we had lunch, it was time for class - and we had an open ended discussion with the class. I could see how she was trying to insert points from the syllabus, and it was a pleasantly challenging discussion. I wasn't sure of when I was going to say that I was transgender - but I eventually did so. And the conversation became even more interesting after that. But all too soon, I had to leave.

While on the bus ride back to 125th street, one woman who answered my OK Cupid ad noted that she found out (from her friend) that I was a cross dresser (little did she know that my en-femme ad was a little bit obsolete - I should note that I am transgender) - and that was a deal breaker for her. To me, this was no big deal, as I already have GFJ (for now), and I wasn't in the mood for any relationship which would have me crossing an East River bridge.

By the time I got on the train, I had to pay a peak fare upgrade - at least that didn't cost me too much. While on the train, I found out that the Gal Pals meetup for tonight was canceled due to half the attendees cancelling. AARGH! At least, I didn't find out after reaching the venue.  Thank god for smartphones!

And the usual link to a song....

Ann Rabson - School Days

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Game night, and I hardly played any games

Tonight was a very unusual board game night - as I hardly played any games.  Instead, I talked with several women - and had a great time.  But first....

Another Thursday, and another stint at the GLBT Center. Again, they had me writing letters to thank donors for their contributions to our Year End Fund Drive. And I enjoyed doing this relatively mindless work. When I was done with the letters, I had a nice chat with the fellow running much of the day-to-day at the center, discussing simple things going on in my life - such as dating GFJ and making sure that she gets both Mario (her preference) and Marian time.

When I left the center, I tried to reach Pat (the hypnotist) - and as usual, she wasn't available.  But that was OK - I had other things to do, and I burnt a little time by going to have dinner at the Chinese buffet. (This time, I didn't stuff myself to the gills.)  Once done there, I picked up snacks for the game night, as well as some items I needed to freshen up my feminine appearance (such as a cheap disposable razor).  I didn't notice it, but over the past couple of days, some hair grew back on my hands - I guess I'll need to schedule some more laser sessions on them....

And then it was off to the weekly meetup.  When I arrived, I chatted a bit with the host's mother - who reacts to me as if I were born female.  (God bless her.) We chatted for a while, and then I went back to the main area as M (the neighbor from across the street with whom I went to the Grand Masonic Lodge in NYC last year) arrived with her son. By now, we both wanted to play a game, so we started to play the game below....

Toc Toc Woodman is a simple game - one tries to chop the bark off a tree, without chopping down the core. It's a perfect game for a child - and we had two of them playing with us. As much as I wanted the kiddies elsewhere, I enjoyed seeing them play the game without regard to any of the rules.

Once the kiddies were occupied elsewhere, a few of us had a wonderfully risque conversation until the hostess came home from her book club. And then things changed - the conversation became more subdued, but just as enjoyable.  Sadly, M will be taking a class on Thursday nights, and will miss our group for about 3-4 months. (Hopefully, we will be able to keep in contact.) Our hostess slipped away for a second, and then came back to us with gifts from N (the "baby shower" lady).  I love the scarf I got as a gift!

Later on, the hostess and I were talking about incidents involved in me being transgender (but not in a way her mother in law might pick up on), and I mentioned that I am dating someone.  She asked - what is my sexual preference? And I responded that I prefer to have my pleasure with females.  And I mentioned that if I could leave it only with dancing, I could very easily get into have a man lead me around in heels, taking backward steps....

And on that note, I'll leave off with this Movie clip....

"Swing Time" Movie Clip - Rogers & Astaire

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lunch with a friend

As I might have mentioned, there are two Vickis in my life. One is the friend I've had for roughly 20+ years, who has been like a sister to me.The other is a friend I made who is connected to both the board game and polyamory networks I'm in. Today, I had lunch with the second Vicki....

Vicki #2 (as I'll call her from now on, when I need to distinguish her from the first Vicki) is a very active woman, being on call as a labor doula. So it is often hard for the two of us to coordinate our schedules to have a simple lunch together. Today was one of those fluke circumstances, where I suggested getting together and that she had an immediate free spot on her calendar.

We met at a Mexican place in Dobbs Ferry, and I froze my buns off walking from my car to the doorway of the restaurant. I'm glad I was not the only woman wearing a dress - Vicki also likes to wear dresses long past the time most women have switched to pants. Vicki told me that the reason she chose this venue was because she needed to go back to work immediately after lunch. And I didn't mind this - driving to Dobbs Ferry didn't take much longer than driving to Tarrytown or Greenburgh.

I told Vicki the story about GFJ meeting K. And it looks like I dodged a big bullet, as I've been honest - K and I broke up a couple of years ago, in part because she couldn't deal with me being both Mario and Marian. So when GFJ and I communicated today, all the emails were pleasant exchanges. (Now to scuttle a date I have on Saturday - I feel that it is probably no longer right for me to keep L in the background anymore.) Vicki wants to meet GFJ, so I will try to make it so - on a trip to the consignment store in Connecticut we'll be taking towards the end of the month.

All too soon, Vicki and I had to go our separate ways. So I decided to drive to the consignment store and kill a few hours before playing Scrabble at a new meetup. When I got there, there wasn't as much good stuff there as I'd have liked. I tried on 3 things, and bought 1 - a black velvet skirt that will go very well with at least two tops I own. However, I should have bought one garment that I have no immediate use for - a beautiful jacket and dress in a taffeta fabric in a strong, but subtle shade of blue. I may end up driving back there this coming weekend, if only to have a shot at buying it before it is sold.

After this trek to the store, I had to trek back home. Luckily, the Scrabble meetup in Bedford was on the way home, and I was able to make it on time. It was nice to play two games with the same casual player - we each won a game, and had some pleasant chat as well.

I figure that this tune might be appropriate to close the entry, considering the games we played tonight....

Weird Al Yankovic - Word Crimes

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Another night with GFJ and an interesting surprise the day afterward.....

Just a short time ago, GFJ was concerned that I needed more time as Marian, and now she has stayed the night twice in less than a week.  As Arte Johnson might have said: "Verrry Interesssting!"

Today, I'd like to make a run to the consignment store in Waterbury to see what they have in my size. Yes, I'll spend a bit in gas - but it might be worth it for gently used clothing in my size. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to get GFJ to come along, as she might find an occasional visit to this store to be a worthwhile investment. But that would only be possible if she got out of her doctor's office early enough to do so.  This did not happen - instead, we ended up having lunch (with me in Marian mode), and then having manicures at the same nail salon in town.

All too soon, GFJ had to go, and we went our separate ways. GFJ went to a private group meeting in Newburgh, and I went to the Whine and Dine in Beacon (with a stop at The Avenue in Newburgh to pick up some tights). This week, there were two new ladies at the meetup. But a few of the old standbys weren't there - J, S, and M. And I had a great time as usual as one of the ladies.  However, I mentioned to S, the alpha female of the group, that I found an Eileen Fisher jacket for $20 at the consignment store, and she suggested that we go shopping together at the Eileen Fisher outlet in Woodbury.  (This type of suggestion is how I know I'm accepted - if I didn't fit in, women wouldn't be inviting me into their lives.)

While I was at the Whine and Dine, GFJ was dining with friends in Newburgh - and one of those friends was K, the woman who I missed just after New Year due to GFJ being at my place. GFJ mentioned my illness at Christmas time, and K mentioned my name - and they compared notes....  I came out well (as far as I can tell).  K texted me a picture of the two of them, and I responded that I'm glad they knew each other. (I was not trying to bed K, but only maintain a friendship.) In my texting with GFJ, I noted that I wanted her to know my friends - and was glad she knew K. I mentioned that K couldn't handle me as Marian, and that being the reason for our breakup.  So we'll see what happens with GFJ over the next few days.  One thing she has a right to gripe about - I didn't tell her that I was meeting with K. But at the same time, I have don't have any claim that I need to know everyone she's with....

So I'm hoping that I can get to the consignment store soon. I'm also hoping that GFJ sees this for what it is - me having a more complex life than most people could imagine, and that she's interested in that complexity.....

 So I'll close with a tune from Postmodern Jukebox.

Postmodern Jukebox - Like A Prayer (covering Madonna)