Monday, November 30, 2015

Another meditation on being transgender.

Yes, these are the "New Girls on the Block".  And I wish that Cablevision had carried this show in my area. Of course, I can't control what the cable company wishes to provide to its customers, and I have to go to Lili's to see this show "on-demand" at her house since her media provider carries the channel.

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So far, I like what I've seen in this show. In the past, Transgender people have been treated as freaks - more befitting typical guests on the Jerry Springer Show.  This program shows transgender women as having many of the same problems as cisgender women, with a few extra problems thrown in for good measure.

Like the women in the show, I've had to learn how to shop for women's clothes on my own. There are many experiences that transgenders coming out late in life never had the chance to experience, or never will get the chance to experience. For example, when a cisgender female starts to develop breasts, she will quickly progress from no bra, to a training bra, to a series of bras that fit her developing figure. Over time, she learns which bra sizes work for her - even though most women wear poorly fitting bras. A transgender woman will likely find bra shopping an awkward experience at first, and she has no one to help guide her in her bra shopping through the stages of her breast development.

I have been with Lili as she shopped for bras - and have been treated by her as if I were a natal female in her fitting room, helping her hook the bras in back, and evaluating the fit when she turned towards me. As Marian, I get no thrill out of seeing a pair of breasts - my inner personality feels that having breasts "are no big deal", having a pair of them (albeit falsies) myself. Although I am sexually interested in females (mostly while in Mario Mode), I have almost no sexual interest while in Marian Mode.

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Another issue the women on this show have had to deal with is shoe shopping. Although the experience of shoe shopping had to have been staged for the show, I'll bet that all of these new ladies have had to deal with the fact that a man's foot is bigger than a woman's foot. In the show, one of the ladies mentioned that the group were all transgender (a faux pas in my opinion), instead of letting the salesman do his job and measure each woman's feet. This triggered a questionable response from the salesman, which in turn triggered umbrage from one of the ladies. Sadly, he was simply unprepared for what he was told, and would likely have treated these ladies as the women they are had nothing else been said.

Unlike cisgender women, transgender women usually have bigger necks, wrists, ankles, hands, and feet. This means that transgender females often can not wear the same jewelry that cisgender females wear. For example, I have found it almost impossible to find women's bracelets and/or rings that fit me properly - and I almost always have to wear necklaces with extenders. So I can only imagine how frustrated these new women must feel when they continually have hard times buying the little things that help make a woman feel pretty and feminine.

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The next problem these new women face is determining what items of clothing look good on their bodies. Most transgender women have broader shoulders than most women, smaller hips (in relation to their size), and a wider waist. If anything, transgender females tend to have undefined waists, and flatter hips.  Some of us are lucky enough to fall close enough to the natal female sizes that we can disguise our flaws with careful choices in clothes. In my case,  However, others are unlucky, and have to deal with waist nippers and padded panties (or other shapewear) to create a feminine shape.

I find that my body looks best in dresses, as they best deal with my issues with my waist and hips. But each transgender female has to judge her looks with a very critical eye, so that she doesn't look silly when contrasted with cisgender females. Given my size, I can't fall back upon things as padded underwear - females of my size usually don't need extra padding in the hips. Each of us transgenders will need to make compromises, so that we maximize our abilities to blend in as females.

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In many ways, being female is both a biological function as it is a social function. As I noted earlier, transgender women will never have all of the same experiences as cisgender women will likely have in their lives. Late blooming M2F transgenders will never have experiences such as choosing an outfit for the school prom, never wonder what a first kiss with a guy feels like, never get lost in the ideas and dreams of romance, and never get giddy with other young women about finding the right clothes, shoes, or accessories. Some of us late bloomers have no wish to try to live and experience the female experiences we didn't have while presenting as male.  Others want the whole thing, and don't understand how silly it looks for a 50 year old to be wearing clothes designed for a 20 year old. But over time, the rough edges get smoothed out. Yet some issues still remain....

For many transgender women, our voices are major problems. I find this to be true for me, even though others say that I have an acceptable voice. When we speak, our timber and inflections often give us away as natal males presenting as females. With some of us, this is something that can be lived with - several of the transgender women I've met accept this as a physical flaw that they must live with. With me, I prefer to learn how to use what voice I have to make a more accurate female presentation. And I have learned how to raise the pitch of my voice about 1/2 octave, bringing it into the low end of the female range. (Now if only I could handle pitch control for emphasis, etc. better....)

So far, my voice has not been a big problem for me. But it is far from where I'd like it to be, given the voice played in the link. Please note that when I use the word "Pass" in the clip, I don't mean that the voice "passes" as feminine, as much as I am using it as a feminine voice for now. However, other late blooming transgender women do not bother to work on their voices, and it can be jarring to hear them and their very masculinized voices when seeing female images. Is my voice "passable"?  Probably not. But it isn't holding me back from being accepted as female among cisgender female peers.

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Let's say that one is accepted by one's female peers. Is this enough?  I get worried about how I'll be treated when I attempt to enter new social groups as Marian.  Will I be thrown out (or rejected)? Will I be laughed at (or humiliated)? Will I be given the cold shoulder (or snubbed)? Knowing that my presentation isn't where I'd like it to be in relation to a cisgender female's natural presentation, I worry a little with each new interaction with a new group. In many ways, this is similar to what many cisgender females face - but we have a greater risk factor because we started with non-feminine standard bodies.

In short, our feminine experience in life will never be as complete as a cisgender female's experience. But for the time we spend as females, it may make us appreciate our femininity maybe a little bit more than the average female, as we weren't born with it.... (But I can't say this for sure, as there is no way for a person to be both a cisgender and transgender female at the same time.)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Questions asked and answered....

Jazz is a beautiful girl, isn't she?  Well, I attended a health fair today given by the GLBT center that I volunteer at, and one woman came up to our table while I was there.  It seems like her 5 year old son is showing signs of being transgender, and that she wants to help him (I won't say "her" until she identifies as such) be what makes him most happy.  I was glad to help this lady, and gave her a few links that may help her get her son the help he may need.  Additionally, I made sure to tall her that time is of the essence, as she needs to know what needs to be done (or not done) before her son reaches puberty....

After this lady left, Kelly returned and we talked about the new hire.  Kelly was making a big stink about how she wasn't seriously considered for the part time job, given the qualifications of the person who was hired.  I tried to tell her that the people making the decision wouldn't consider us for two reasons - I'd be likely to leave for a "real job" if something with real benefits came available, and that she (Kelly) doesn't have the self control to listen to others instead of trying to talk all the time. (In short, she pisses people off by needing to talk as often as she does.)  Given everything, I think that the right decision was made, albeit with a person I'm not sure is right for the job as it was originally defined.

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When I left the GLBT center, it was off to Yonkers, where I decided to pick up a few more pairs of tights in my size before the cruise.  (I know that once I get back, they will likely be gone from the stores, and I'll have to wait another year for my size to show up again.)  It was then, I found out the the night time store manager (who I've chatted with before) is from Suffolk county, and has a long drive to get to work.  I can't imagine that the drive is made up for by the money she is paid to go to work.  But that's not my problem.  I chatted with her for a while, and got another application - which I'll fill in after I get back from the cruise.

As much as I can't really justify the expense, I figured that since I had time to kill, I'd drive over to the Vera Bradley outlet and see if I could find an affordable bag to use instead of my Duffel bag for a tote when on the cruise. Although I could have gotten out for $50 or so with a nice bag, I figure that I'll splurge on a bag after I get a job, or before my next trip to DC.

After the outlet, I moseyed over to the Avenue in Newburgh, where I had the chance to chat with the store manager.  And I was able to find out (in a chat with her, and with K (a woman I once dated)) that she realizes that I am transgender, and this doesn't bother her.  In fact, she made an effort to give me information about her daughter's company, as they are looking for IT people.  If I get a position thanks to this lady, I'll be sure to get her a nice bouquet of flowers as a way of saying thanks....

- - - - - -

It's hard to believe my cruise is less than 72 hours away.  So now it's time to get ready, and take care of last minute tasks.  This is worse than usual, as I have to pack for 10 nights away, and I'm not sure of how comfortable I'll be when we're in tropical climes.  At least I know what I'm likely in for.  Does Lili?  I doubt it.

- - - - - -

Another aside....

GFJ tried leaving a message for me on the new cell phone that I reserve for Marian use.  (I'll always pick up the phone and use Marian's voice instead of Mario's voice.)  Since she couldn't leave a message, I set up voice mail and use as feminine a voice as possible.  Although the voice is far from perfect, it has gotten better.  Now to practice enough feminine intonations (I need help here from a voice coach) to make the patterns easy to do without thought - in short, make it possible for me to use "implicit memory" to speak in a truly feminine voice....

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Purchase College Transgender Symposium

Normally, I'd have been a very happy camper today.  I was going out for a mani-pedi, and then I'd get the chance to be one of six people discussing our lives and how being transgender has affected our lives.  However, the weather didn't want to cooperate with me - it got progressively wetter and wetter throughout the day, as the rain got heavier and heavier.  This made driving an unpleasant ordeal....

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One of the things I had to keep in mind during the day was that my cleaning lady was scheduled to work today.  So I had to make sure that I got everything cleaned up as much as possible, making sure that Marian was "in the closet" before she arrived.  Given the mess I had on my bed and scattered throughout the apartment due to my upcoming cruise, this wasn't an easy task to take care of before noon - especially when I factored in getting dressed to go out as Marian for a mani-pedi, and then the Purchase College symposium. But I was able to do so with time to spare - and get to the nail salon by 12:30 pm.

It's been a very long while since I was at the nail salon.  But I like this one over the others in town because of one factor - they make me feel comfortable without any strange looks.  They always offer me a cup of ginger tea to sip while getting my pedicure, and they never are in a rush to get me out of the place.  (They appreciate any business they get during their downtime.)

I didn't like going to the nail salon in late fall without wearing stockings under my dress.  But if I was going to get a pedicure, it didn't make sense for me to put on my pantyhose, remove them for the pedicure, and then put them back on again.  So I went out in the rain without stockings, and this made it easy for me to have that pedicure.  And, when done, I was able to put on my hosiery, and then kill a couple of hours before driving to the symposium.

- - - - - -

Arriving at the symposium, I was annoyed by the wind and rain.  But I kept my promise to be there - and I'm glad I did.  The keynote speaker, Dr. Elijah Nealy, gave a great presentation - and then it was our turn to shine.  Each of us had a story to tell, and I took elements of several of the presenters, added my commentary, and threw in a few chuckles for good measure before getting to the point - Transgenders are people who are still battling to have their rights recognized by others, and we still have a long way to go when 41% of us are attempting suicide.....

Of course, there was more to this group's individual presentations than I've described so far. The first presenter was Genderqueer, and noted her issues with not identifying with either sex.  Instead they (I must look up the Swedish word for a genderless he/she that is not an "it") vacillate between the two genders, identifying themself (again, I hate her word choice, but respect it) as somewhere in the middle - and wants to be recognized as such.  (And I fully support them in this.)  Next up was a F2M Transgender that I know from the GLBT center. He mentioned his problems as a transman, having to live part of his life as a female until he officially transitions at work.  Following him was a M2F transwoman.  She talked about having to have all legal paperwork in order, as she is black and could not benefit from white privilege as most of us do.

The second group of three had me sandwiched between two students at the college.  There was a commonality in their stories - how do you deal with coming out to traditional families?  I'll admit that I was getting tired already, as I didn't sleep well last night, and didn't pay as close attention as I normally would to these two people. (I had the advantage of hearing the first three people before, and could fill in the blanks from the prior symposium at the GLBT center.)  But I seemed to be in good form when I came up to speak, and yet don't remember much about what I said - except for discussing events on my last cruise with Lili....

After the symposium broke up, several people asked me for information abut this blog.  I was very glad to give it to them - and I hope they enjoy what they read.  But the most interesting chat I had was with the main presenter.  When I eventually go for gender related therapy, I'll be sure to go to him....

Friday, November 27, 2015

Life on the co-op board can be interesting

Today was the last day that I'd be fully en-homme for a while - and I won't miss having to be in my male persona.  It will be a relief to put on a dress again, and experience the world as a female.

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My first task of the day was to call back one of two headhunters who called me recently.  The first headhunter (the one I didn't bother calling) didn't understand that I was free to talk with his client - a major hotel chain which is about to go through a merger.  He could barely speak English, and was a bottom feeder that I could do without.  However, the second headhunter had more promise.  She was an American, and easy to understand.  However, when I called her back, she never returned the call.  I'll bet that she is another class of bottom feeder - but I'll give her another call in the morning before giving up on her.

Next on my docket was to chat with NPW and make sure that enough things are in order before I go on my cruise.  She was happy with the situation, as she could use the new system to process membership renewals - and go back to upgrading things after the new year.  We worked on a few very minor things, but she didn't have much time because she was running off to another meeting.

Once I was done with NPW, it was off to Walmart to pick up a few small items (luggage tags, etc.) I'd need on the cruise, and then a quick visit to Lili's place to get her printer up and running so she could have her travel documents in order for the cruise.  Her machine is running Windows-8, and I had to hunt a little before finding the settings I needed to get her printer working again.  Do I know exactly what I did to fix things?  No - but I knew enough of my way around a Windows system to get to the control panel, and then force recognition of the printer. (This is usually a no-brainer on most Windows systems....)

- - - - - -

When I was done with Lili, I rushed back home to a co-op board meeting.  This is when I really wished I could have attended en-femme - especially since most of the board has seen me in female mode.  During the meeting, I showed the president some of my more recent pictures of me en-femme - and she made a suggestion for my next mani-pedi: To get my nails done with a "French Manicure".  And I may just do this before we have dinner in a couple of days.

Our co-op president is always looking for someone to travel with - and hates the idea of paying the single supplement when cruising.  I suggested that I accompany her, and she loved the idea.  Heck - the more I get out in the world as a female, the less I want to go back to being male - especially when I have more friends who enjoy knowing me as a female.  So, if the opportunity arises, I may go on a trip with her - as long as GFJ is comfortable with with me traveling with a female companion.

- - - - - -

GFJ is still feeling unwell.  The other day, she went to the emergency room in the middle of the night - and was dismissed after a few tests.  The doctors have not figured out why she is hurting so much in her back and in her stomach.  Yet, her chiropractor and her masseuse have the same good idea as to what's causing her stomach pain - her GI tract is not eliminating "processed food" from her body.  In short, she is full of something, and it hurts to even get on the "throne" because of it....

Hopefully, when GFJ is feeling better, I can take her on a "longish" weekend away.  I won't be able to afford the kind of time she treated me to in Atlantic City.  But there are inexpensive things to do and places to visit within a half day's drive from here.  It would be nice to get away with her again before the winter freeze comes....

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Making a choice - TG Voice Lesson or Job Search Networking

Today, I had a decision to make.  I had the choice of going to the PMI meeting for job search networking, or going downtown and attend a group session with the speech therapist to help improve my feminine voice.  Given the choice, I decided to give my job search a higher priority.

- - - - - -

This was a day where I could have used some en-femme time.  Although I'll get almost 2 straight weeks of en-femme time coming up soon, I find that the longer I am en-homme, the more uncomfortable I get. Unlike some people, I never mix modes - except for very short periods of time.  (I might slip on a male pair of pants and use a convenient pair of women's shoes to make a quick run to the dumpster with a bag of garbage.)  So I'll be glad when I get a mani-pedi tomorrow, as it's nice to do something "feminine" and be pampered....

Until I find new work, my highest priority is my job search.  However, I'm not letting the search dictate everything in my life.  If I did, I'd have driven myself nuts by now because of my lack of success.  Losing a job when one has resources to weather out a long dry spell made all the difference to me.  Five years ago, and the same event would have driven me into bankruptcy by now.  Today, I can ride out the storm - but not live as well as I did beforehand.

Having financial resources made it possible to explore my feminine side and to develop it. So it was an awkward decision for me, when I had to choose between my job search and feminine voice training.  I'd have loved to taken care of both things during the same week. But I was not going to jump from meeting #1 (en-homme) to meeting #2 (which I could have attended en-homme, but prefer not to do so) and have to leave as soon as I got there.

- - - - - -

Assuming things go as planned, this speech therapist will likely hold another series of transgender voice lessons next year - and I'll spend the money to attend them.  As much as I hate trekking to Lower Manhattan, it'll be worth it if I can develop a voice which is read as female when on the phone.

For me, it is very important that my Marian persona has as feminine a voice as possible. A feminine voice for a feminine presentation can be the difference between life and death if there are troublemakers around. Although I live in the New York City suburbs, I travel to many places as Marian - and I can't afford for anyone (save TSA and other "trained" government authorities) see anything that identifies myself as being legally male.

Even though I may have other pressing needs, I feel that I must make the investment in the feminine speech class - as by the time it is offered, I'll have likely clocked in about a year's worth of time living en-femme.  And with the exception of noted restricting factors I've mentioned in other entries, I could see myself living en-femme 24x7 (and, maybe doing a RLT) very easily once my feminine voice has been fully developed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Don't Sleep in the Subway....

Only in New York....

Over the years, I've seen public urination at Times Square, odoriferous derelicts taking up a few "seats" on a train, but never a person who I couldn't tell was alive or dead at first glance.

- - - - - -

Normally, I would not have had the chance to see a scene like the one above.  I don't get into the city that often anymore, and the people I normally photograph underground are performers like these....

Of course, I neglected to photograph the saxophone player who was performing "Fur Elise".  He caught my interest from across the tracks, and I was able to listen to the end of his performance of that tune as I made it to the express platform at 34th street.

- - - - - -

Why was I in the city?

I rarely get a chance to see my niece.  Unlike many doting uncles, I talk to her as an adult peer, albeit one with 30+ years more experience in life, but without the baggage that she has with her parents.

My niece wanted to talk with me about some of her goals - what she should do with her life, whether she should stay in the NYC area or leave it for better climes, and other things of general interest.  Well we covered this and more, and I came within a hair's breadth of telling her that I am transgender.

We are both visual people, and I had the pleasure of showing her some of my recent photographs, and she had positive comments on the composition of these photos.  I had the pleasure of giving her ideas on how she could parlay her BFA degree from FIT (with some new training) into other, more profitable areas than where she is now.  And, I was glad to learn that she didn't want to live for the sake of earning money, but wanted to earn enough money so that she could live "well".

She's a person who many of us can be envious about.  Although she doesn't know what she wants to do career wise, she knows many of the other things she wants to do with her life.  And I hope she's better at getting it than her dad was....

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A public service

Today's message is more of a public service announcement.  And it is not an official one coming from the IRS - it comes from a private citizen who wants to warn you about a scam that comes around again and again....

Recently, I got a call from someone claiming to be representing the IRS, and saying that this was the last chance to contact me before some unnamed action would be taken.  Of course, I wasn't going to fall for this scam - I know that my taxes are paid, that all my forms are in order, and that the IRS never starts out with scare tactics - they prefer to send bills....

I consider myself very lucky - my instinct is always to distrust authority figures, and those who pose as authorities.  But what about those people who have been indoctrinated to blindly accept what those who pose as authorities have to say?  These are the people who are most likely to get scammed by these parasites.

To help you, I am supplying two links to the IRS web site which may be of interest....

Hopefully, these parasites will not call you.  But if they do, you now know what to do.....

Monday, November 23, 2015

F**K! (Strong Message to Follow.)

I couldn't resist using this image to start today's entry.  We all know what it feels like to get caught in a trap, and this image illustrates that type of frustration quite well....

- - - - - -

It's been roughly 1 1/2 years since I was last employed, and virtually all of my experience can be summed up in one phrase: "Neither fish nor fowl."  There is no easy way to sell what I have.  And as a result, it's taken forever for me to even get a healthy nibble.  Could you imagine what would be happening if I would have done this job search as Marian?  Well, according to a recent study in Washington, DC, 48% of hiring managers are more likely to choose a lesser qualified applicant over a fully qualified transgender applicant.

As I meet more and more transgender people, the more I find that they either have to live in stealth mode (or not transition), in order to find a job and stay employed.  This is wrong!  But it is legal in many states, and is virtually impossible to detect because firms are usually smart enough not to give any feedback if they feel they are acting unfairly.  You can easily see why I prefer to search for work en-homme, instead of transitioning before I go back into the workplace.

- - - - - -

Another problem I've been dealing with has been scheduling my en-homme and en-femme time.  The mere act of changing clothes is annoying, because I must do so to switch modes between male and female. This has been an excuse for me NOT to exercise. But this shouldn't be an excuse - One blogger doesn't care what mode people see her in, as she goes to the gym in "fem boy" mode.  That is something I won't do - I never blend modes, as the clothes help remind me which mode I'm in, and help me reinforce any cues I am trying to send regarding my identity.

When I rescheduled my doctor's appointment, he made me promise that I would do some walking every day while on the cruise.  And I think it's a great idea - so I'm going to try to do so.  (Of course, it'll mean that I take some extra clothes that I can rinse out and reuse while on the cruise.)  I won't have much of anything else to do....

- - - - - -

I figure that there will always be things that are frustrating.  And it's how we respond to being frustrated that's important.  In my case, I've learned to accept many of the things that frustrate me - including an inability to stay focused on maintaining healthy behaviors and losing weight.  But it still doesn't make things much easier for me.  This is what happens when one has to juggle a lot more things than one would normally have to juggle....

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A late evening with BXM....

Another image from Edward Hopper....  There is something about his work that captivates me, that is timeless in many ways.  And I only wish I had that gift to capture a scene in the way he did it - especially in his masterpiece "Nighthawks".   

- - - - - -

Last night, I had nothing better to do, and I contacted BXM to say hello.  She was going to get home late, so I suggested that we meet for a late dinner at a diner local to her.  She thought about it for a moment, and said "Yes" - and we arranged to meet around 9:00 pm at her place.

Of course, I decided to take care of an errand before leaving the house (returning 2 books to the local library), and this caused me to be running a little late (not a problem).  And while on the way down to BXM, I decided to kill some time by giving Melony a call.  We had a good conversation, and will try to get together when I return from my cruise.  (She's no longer nearby these days - the family has relocated, and it now takes some planning to get together.) Additionally, I also spoke to GFJ - and she was hurting, due to a shoulder injury that never completely healed.  (This could cause us problems later on, but I'll wait for her to tell me how she feels after leaving her masseuse.) 

When I got to BXM's, I was surprised when she tapped on my window.  I was about to call her, and she saw me first.  The same thing happened a few minutes later when I was reorganizing the contents of my purse.  It's amazing how she surprised me twice in the same evening.  She got in the car, and it was off to the diner....

At the diner, we enjoyed our food - as would be expected for two women.  But everything was overshadowed by the news - the terrorist attacks in Paris had taken over the TV, and the newscasters were interrupting regular programming to report what little they knew.  I expect that the attacks will be the main focus of the newscasters and the talking heads for the next few days - and I can't blame anyone for wanting to know as much as possible.  These attacks are a threat to all of us, especially us gender variant people, as ISIS wants to return us to a 7th century way of thought.

All too soon, our evening had to end - even though the conversation could have gone on much longer.  BXM had a class to attend in the morning, and she couldn't be late.  So I drove her home, dropped her off, and then drove myself home to my elephant and to sleep (in my own bed).


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Taking it easy

This is exactly what I'd have been doing had the weather been warmer.  Instead, I hung out in my jammies, and watched the vidiot box for much of the day.

- - - - - -

I wanted to go out today, but to meet someone else other than Lili.  Being with people is important to me, but it is important that the people I'm with are healthy people. I can deal with people like Lili for only "so long".  And ten nights on a cruise may just be my limit with her.

There are other people I'd like to catch up with.  BXM is often hard to connect with. Melony has the responsibility of tending to her children. Both Vickis have their lives.  Maria has to worry about her grandson, and often stays incommunicado. And Pat (the former hypnotist) has periods in which she is virtually impossible to reach. Right now, most of the friends who know me in female mode are quite busy.

- - - - - -

At least, I had time to do some cleaning around the apartment....

Friday, November 20, 2015

I needed a break today....

I needed a break today, and I was not in the mood to bother with volunteering at the GLBT Center and them not knowing how to use my services.  This is a shame.  I realize that when I feel unappreciated, that I lose interest in bothering to show up - and this has been happening lately.  The advice that I give to Kelly may also apply to me - it's time to go....

- - - - - -

When I got up this morning, I had virtually no energy to do much of anything.  And staying in bed was the most attractive option for me, as the CPAP machine (with an air leak) woke me up too early, and wouldn't let me get enough sleep.  So it was back to bed, and the only thing that got me moving was a desperate need to go to the bathroom later in the morning.

Once I was moving, I took care of little things - and sent an email to the GLBT Center that I wouldn't be there today.  This allowed me to avoid getting into motion until 3:00 or so, when I prepared to do some little errands before going down for game night.

- - - - - -

On the ay down, I called GFJ, and she was feeling better than yesterday.  However, she made some plans to be with her friends, and I'm not sure if I'll see her until Sunday.  Part of me doesn't mind this, as I'll enjoy more time in Marian Mode.  But I'll miss her.

After having dinner at Panera Bread, I played a couple of games (losing both of them, of course) and almost won "Ticket to Ride (Europe)".  If I were going to play this game more often (and in more meetup groups), this would be one of the games I'd have in my closet.

All too soon, game night had to end, and I had to go home.  It'd be nice to strip off the stockings, dress, and bra (like most cisgendered women) and get into something comfortable.  And I realized - I'm much more comfortable in women's clothes than I thought I'd be years ago - it now feels natural for me to be in female clothing, as if I've been wearing these garments for years.  (I only wonder how I'll feel in male clothing after my upcoming cruise....)

Thursday, November 19, 2015


The CPAP Machine....  The reason I stayed in Mario Mode for much of the day. 

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The most important thing on my To-Do list for the day was to find out what was causing my mask to leak.  As this required me to be in Mario mode, I ended up en-homme for the 5th straight day in a row.  Although this is not a problem for me, I would have preferred to go out as Marian as soon as I woke up.

My appointment was for 12:30 pm, and I barely got there on time.  This wasn't a problem, as I learned from my prior experience with this outfit that they always run late.  By the time I met with a clinician, it was already past 1:00 pm - yet, I felt good about this visit.  It was a different person from last time - and this gentleman seemed like he was the one full timer on staff based on the conversation we had.

It seems like my prior clinician was a part-time person, and hadn't yet submitted the paperwork on my device after a little more than two weeks.  The prior gentleman wasn't bad, but he didn't explain that I would occasionally see high air leakage readings, and not to worry about it if it is a sporadic occurrence. This fellow then mentioned something about the metal pan in the water reservoir - that the pan can tolerate most tap water for short term use, but it would corrode the bottom of the pan if used long enough.  But the most interesting thing he said was about his firm's elimination of local customer service - people like him are now overworked, because people like me are not able to get simple information over the phone - causing us to have more appointments with the remaining staff on site.  Another case of misguided corporate cost cutting that affects the quality of service given to customers....

- - - - - -

When I got home, I contacted NPW to tell them that I'd have to meet with them on the phone.  This wasn't a problem.  We worked out several bugs in the import of data, and we finally had a database clean enough for the non-profit to begin soliciting for membership renewals.  There is still a lot more to do.  And I hope to be able to complete their migration to this new platform before I find a full time position.

So far, the NPW project has been a good experience for me, as it has allowed me to interact with people as Marian.  However, I have yet to figure out a way to build up the right kind of contacts which would allow me to find work as Marian and not as Mario.  But if I were to do so, then the big question would be - could I do it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Another day as Mario - I hope this doesn't become a habit.

I just couldn't resist this picture when discussing the events of the day as Mario.  There was no way for me to spend any reasonable amount of time as Marian, as I had evening commitments that would make the switch an awkward back-and-forth effort.

- - - - - -

My morning started with a wake up call from the company that supplied my CPAP Machine.  I've been getting unexpected intermittent leakage from my mask, and I think it's because the darned thing wasn't fitted right.  So I was very surprised when the person called me first thing in the morning (while I was semi-conscious) to arrange an appointment for a new mask fitting.  (This is a very pleasant surprise, as I should be able to use the new mask while I'm on the cruise - and that's important to me.)

Once tomorrow's appointment was scheduled, I started to read my email.  And I found that more data from NPW came in, and was ready to be loaded to their database.  That's how I occupied much of the day.  But when mid afternoon came, I had no more excuses I could use to avoid doing my laundry - and two loads went into the wash.  There's still more that I have to take care of, but I can do that sometime in the next few days.

- - - - - -

Lastly, it was time to go to my PMI meeting.  Although I didn't get much good information, I still found tonight's meeting good for networking.  Hopefully, I'll find a new job soon (in part) due to the networking I've been trying to do.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tasks that should not be delayed - and one that often is....

Usually, I don't have that much to do during the day. But this morning, I had an unusual task list:

  1. Talk with "XX" from "YY" (the organization I last interviewed with in person) and discuss both my strengths and weaknesses as a prospective employee, and how I can improve my chances of catching the interest of hiring managers.
  2. Contacting the company that fitted me for my CPAP mask, and say that I need a new mask that fits better - and get this mask before the 30 day time frame on the original mask expires.
  3. Contacting the people who administer my COBRA benefits, and find out how to remit payment early - so I can go on my cruise without worrying whether my insurance is up to date while on my cruise.
  4. Laundry - Something I've been putting off for a while.
Of these tasks, doing laundry seems to be the one thing I least want to do, and talking with "XX" is the one I was most nervous about....

- - - - - -

I knew that the drive home from GFJ's this morning would take longer than expected.  First, it would be a 90 minute drive.  And then, I had some shopping to do at the local Walmart on the way.  So I knew I had to get out of the house by 9:00 am or so, in order to get home by lunch time and prepare....

Strangely enough, it was a pleasure to talk with Mr. "XX".  Although someone more qualified than I was got the position, everyone there was impressed with my skills and how I handled the interview.  And I found out something very important - The "YY" organization does not use computers to screen their applicants - someone examines each and every resume.  This is very important, as now I know that my resume may be ignored by many computer scanning systems because I don't include each and every keyword that firms are looking for in their ads. Luckily, I'll soon be able to add 2 more very important keywords to my competencies after taking a course (free - I won it at a PMI meeting) in new project management skill sets....

- - - - - -

Next, was the issue of my CPAP mask.  Here was a place where I almost got caught in "automated response hell".  Luckily, I got to the point in an order where I had to talk with a human - and then got routed to someone who could help me.  One problem - it will take 7-10 business days to get anything done.  At that time, I'll be running a very tight schedule of last minute tasks before going on the cruise -and may not be able to squeeze in a fitting for a new mask.  AARGH!!!!

Of course, calling up my old firm's help line wasn't much better - as it was just as easy to get caught in "automated response hell" on their system.  Too bad that the designers and implementers of such systems don't take into account the user experience that these systems provide.  There is no excuse for keeping a person from reaching a human if the question hasn't been properly anticipated for in the system.  Sadly, the idea of allowing people to reach a human is costly, and companies are putting cost controls over their relationships with their customers (and other stakeholders).  And again, I was lucky to reach a human who could answer my question....

- - - - - -

Laundry again took last place in my thoughts.  And again, it didn't get done.  This time, it was because I took a nap after an early "dinner" that I didn't wake up from until 8:30 pm.  And I figure that I'll have to do it in the morning....

I can't wait until Wednesday, when I can be en-femme for a couple of days....

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Weekend and a Change in Plans

As I mentioned in my last post, I changed my plans from visiting Washington DC this coming weekend, to take a cruise with Lili at the end of the month.  Of course, this will mean that I have to rush to take care of a lot of things, such as paying my month-end bills ahead of time, changing appointments with my friends and with my doctor, as well as halting deliveries made to the apartment.

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This weekend was the first time that I stayed overnight at GFJ's house. As a result, I had to find my travel toiletries, and pack a small bag with enough stuff for a two night stay.  Of course, I had to take "the elephant" with me.  Although I was traveling en-homme, I was treating this as a test run for taking the elephant on a long trip.                                              

GFJ lives in a relatively rural area of the state, about 1 1/2 hours from me, on the other side of the Shawangunk mountains. These foothills of the Catskill range are picturesque, but are a pain to cross, because any roads crossing them are very curvy, narrow, and are limited to low speed travel.  She warned me about the speed traps that are usually set on the main road from Rosendale to her town - and I used cruise control to limit my speed to 30 mph all the way from Route 32 to Route 209.  This is an annoyance, but it is better than feeding the many "Smokeys" that lie in wait along this road.

- - - - - -

The first night at GFJ's was a quiet one.  We were both tired from our respective days, and went to bed early.  I can't say too much about how time passed that evening, but we had a lot to talk about because of the Wasband having a stroke earier in the week, and a fireplace in front of us to help us talk.

The next morning, we got up early and relaxed before going out for a walk.  I was very glad that GFJ told me to bring up a sweater and a jacket, as it got a little nippy when we went outside.  From her house to the Walkill Valley Rail Trail, it was about 10 minutes - and I only wondered how often people who live in the area took advantage of this great resource.  The bridge in the above photo is a magnificent structure, originally built to carry trains across the Esopus <?> river in Rosendale, NY, and is now used for the rail trail. (I wish I could have also gotten a picture from below which captures the size of the bridge.)  From the bridge, I captured the pictures below:

I wouldn't walk across this bridge if I had vertigo.  Luckily, this was not a problem for GFJ, as we stopped several times on the bridge to enjoy the views in both directions.  Later on, she did me a favor, and took over to Williams Lake - where my late wife and I spent the first night of our marriage.

Checking my phone, I noticed that Patty finally got back to reading her email. Patty and Steve were going to a winery in the area, so I suggested that we meet them for dinner in New Paltz.  And that's what we did - meeting them at 6:00 pm at the Gilded Otter. Both Patty and Steve were glad that we didn't suggest GFJ's other choice - a Turkish restaurant in the heart of town.  After spending 18 days on a cruise and 5 days in Turkey, the last things they wanted to eat were Greek or Turkish food. All too soon, we had to part ways.  Patty and Steve had to go home, and we had to go back to GFJ's homestead.  Again, we talked a bit, and it was off to bed.  

When I woke up, I noticed that my CPAP mask wasn't getting a good sealAs a result, another issue was put on my list of things to do before going on the cruise. Both GFJ and I had things to do, otherwise we might have spent another day together.  So our weekend ended with a kiss at the door (hers for a change) and a long ride home.   

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cruising - and not in bars....

If I had had my druthers, this would be the cruise I'd have taken this year - and I'd have taken it several months ago.  I had done this cruise almost 20 years ago, after losing my wife, and treated the expense as a last gift to me from her.

- - - - - -

Next year, one of the people whose blog I read, is going on a similar cruise.  Hopefully, she'll have a much better time than I had on the cruise - who needs to be in mourning?  I won't say anything more about her plans - she is a private person now.  But I hope she goes en-femme for this part of her vacation, as it is much more fun to dress up to the nines for formal night in female mode than it is in male mode.

- - - - - -

Regarding my upcoming cruise....

I have a lot to do in addition to packing.  For the life of me, I can't find the paperwork I have regarding payments for health care insurance.  I need to make a payment while I'm away, and must chat with someone in benefits to get that information and to transfer the funds accordingly.  At least I know where my passport is!  

- - - - - -

Safety is very important for me when I cruise as Marian.  For example on the cruise below, I had to investigate each of the ports to determine whether I'd feel safe in getting off the ship.

In San Juan and in St. Thomas, I felt that the risk I'd be taking in the tourist areas might not be too bad, given that this is still American soil.  St. Maarten is shared between the French and the Dutch, and has a tolerant attitude towards people.  But Tortola is a place where I'd want to stay on the ship.

- - - - - -

Traveling Transgendered can be a lot of fun - but one has to be very careful to do it well....




Saturday, November 14, 2015

A rare Friday en-femme

I knew that I would be taking advantage of my last chance to be out en-femme until next week.  And since the day was about 20 degrees warmer than usual for this time of year, I decided to go out in something comfortable - as in the above photo....

- - - - - -

Last night, Lili told me about  cruise that she wanted to take.  This morning, she pushed this cruise again, saying that she needed to get away.  Well, I told her that I'd think about it and get back to her.  What I didn't tell her was that I was going to research each port of call, and determine whether it would be safe for me to get off the ship at any of them.  After doing my research, I figured that a stop in San Juan (PR) and St. Thomas (USVI) would be safe, as I'd be covered by US Law. The stop in St. Martin (FR/NE) would be safe, as the island is reasonably GLBT friendly. But the stop in Tortola (BVI) would be one where I'd likely stay on the ship.  But I hadn't made up my mind yet, so I'd sit on making a decision until evening.

This left me with another decision to make - Do I make the reservations for Washington, DC for next weekend?  And I decided to hold off another day, so that I can chat with GFJ before dropping the hammer on that deal.  At least two of the people I wanted to see would likely be unavailable that weekend, and with a possible cruise coming up - would I want to spend another $500-$600 for a long weekend?  

So I had two decisions to make, and it wasn't even noon yet.  And that's when I started to get a series of emails from NPW that I had to respond to.  The director is finally working on the last stages of contact cleanup, and I wanted to assist her, now that she has the time to feed me data.  So I took the better part of 2-3 hours to import her data, then analyze any errors we encountered.

- - - - - -

By the time I was done with NPW, I had to get ready to meet DCD for dinner.  I was going as Marian, to hammer home the point that I am TG, and that he'd have to accept this side of me if we wanted to stay friends.  We discussed problems related to his ongoing divorce, and I noticed that he was feeling much better about things, now that he has some "ammunition" to fire back at the to be ex-wife for all the crap that she's been dumping on him.  

When we were done, I went to Target and bought the LBD that I tried on the other day.  Although I have a couple of other black dresses, I wanted a little something I felt I could dress up or down as needed.  So I hemmed and hawed a little before buying the dress, and would likely take it with me if I were to go on the cruise.

On the way home, I called both Lili and GFJ.  Since GFJ encouraged me to go on the cruise, I then called Lili to tell her that I'll go with her.  Of course, she reminded me that I should buy a new swimsuit.  But I may have to skip that, as I only have a limited amount of money to play with, and a mastectomy swimsuit will likely be low on my list of things to buy.

- - - - - -

Back to GFJ....

GFJ's situation with the Wasband is getting complex, now that his stroke is affecting the business they own.  I won't go into any details, but there are things that GFJ must do to keep the business alive while the Wasband is out of the office.  And if she does those things, it could bite her in the ass later on.  So she has to be careful.  At least, I can visit her this weekend without worrying if he's going to be around....


Friday, November 13, 2015

Volunteering and playing games.

Views like this are part of the reasons why I love living in the Hudson Valley.  Although there is nothing majestic or special about a view like this, it is the ubiquitous nature of views like this throughout the Hudson Valley that make it irresistible to me.  But there is a price to pay for all good things, and I believe in "paying it forward" when I can do so.

- - - - - -

I am far from an altruist.  If people want to ask what I've been doing for the last year and a half, I need to be able to say that I'm doing something - and the two volunteer gigs I have show that I am doing something.  However, it will soon be time that I leave the GLBT Center (where they keep spinning their wheels) and find somewhere else that can make good use out of my free labor.

Lately, I've noticed that I care less and less about what goes on at the GLBT Center, in part because they really have no idea of how to use my services.  But then, it is not an organization that handles change well.  Nor is it an organization where the board knows enough to let the small number of paid staff members do the jobs they are meant to do.  One staffer mentioned that one board member did a write up for the gala they are having next week, and that she had to spend 5 days fixing a document that she could have written from scratch in 1 day.  It is no wonder why they can't get much done.  

Today, I went in for a couple of hours, and realized that they had nothing for me to do.  (The one thing I might have done had already been given to an intern, leaving me to spend 5 minutes editing a document that could have been done just as easily (and faster) by the person who gave me the assignment.) Instead of recording my hours, I finished this one task and left early - I figured that I might be able to spend some time with Pat (she was busy) and kill time before game night.

- - - - - -

When I arrived at the meetup, I told the hostess about the offer of help I received from the person with whom I last interviewed.  She was happy for me, and then asked - are you searching as Mario or as Marian?  And I said, Mario for the high salary jobs, and Marian for the low wage grunt work.  Then others came in and the conversation changed.  There was a lot of good conversation going on, and I was in fine form as an entertaining guest.  I mentioned an old Don Imus routine - The Right Reverend Billy Sol Hargus - and someone said - I'd love to have what she's been smoking.  And then I played one of Imus's routines from You Tube - and everyone was laughing!  Later on, I played a couple of bits from Improv Everywhere (Movies in Real Life: Ghostbusters and When Harry Met Sally) - and it looked like a couple of people were about to wet their pants!

Later on, one woman and I left the house so that the host and hostess could go to sleep - and then we talked for over an hour in front of her car.  She is interested in going for coffee.  So I think I've developed the kernel of a new friendship. (Mario should be as lucky as Marian!)  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to reach GFJ again for the night.   But I'll have to do so before I drive to her place on Saturday....