Sunday, April 30, 2017

A house in time - Shots of work while in progress.

This picture is indicative of a work in progress. If you look carefully, the steps leading up to the house need new mortar, as it failed and the bricks are moving around. This is typical of a house that needed a lot of TLC 75 years after its construction, and I'm glad my brother and I are able to afford to do so.

- - - - - -

If you compare the above two pictures of the main kitchen area with the ones below, you will see a world of difference.  Moving the stove 12 inches to the right forced us to reconfigure the kitchen, so that the sink is in the corner and the refrigerator is next to the entrance from the main foyer.


Although we did not install a dishwasher, we have made provisions for one in the future. My brother is the type who wants to make everything as risk free as possible, and he sees that having a dishwasher with moving parts adds to the risk of tenants costing us money for repairs.

- - - - - -

Next comes the bathroom. This area had even less renovation than the kitchen in its 75 years, with original lighting fixtures, sink (with separate faucets for hot and cold water), and bathtub being in place. Add to this some ugly wallpaper from the 1970's, and you have a room in desperate need of the overhaul reflected in the photos below.

Although it isn't complete yet, you can see the basics of what the bathroom will look like.  

- - - - - -

The rest of the interior has been painted in a nice beige color, and all of the main floor's wood has been repaired and refinished.

The basement has also been cleaned up a lot, although we still have some remaining work to take care of.

By the time we're done, we'll have a house we'd want to live in.  And we'll get a pretty penny in rent for this house.  If my father was afraid that my brother and I would screw this up, I don't think he is anymore. (Living in a nursing home has made it possible for him to not give much of a damn about anything outside its four walls.)  Hopefully, this will be the start of a better relationship between me and my brother.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

One day as Mario, One day as Marian.

I had to get a little cheesy for today's post and use shots from that wonderfully trashy flick, "Glen or Glenda" to start this entry. Ed Wood was ugly in either mode, but he is remembered for some of the worst films ever made. And yet, because they are so bad, they have actually made someone some money over the years.

As for me, my Thursday was spent as Mario, and Friday as Marian. And there are some ties between the two days that are interesting.

- - - - - -

Unlike most Thursdays, I had to be in male mode this Thursday for two reasons: (1) Lunch with GFJ, followed by a movie, and (2) the yearly public Co-Op board meeting. As much as I wanted to blow off lunch, I figured that it would be better for me to go and see GFJ to either finalize what is in her heart, or to keep things alive. Either way, it wouldn't be right to avoid her. So I headed to Newburgh for lunch to spend the better part of the day with her.

Arriving at the diner, I ended up waiting a few minutes. The diner was relatively empty, as it was not yet lunch hour and it was far enough off the beaten track not to be crowded at any time of day. (I wonder how this place stays in business.) GFJ got there, we hugged each other, then went inside to eat. We talked a bit, but neither of us addressed the elephant in the room - what decision has GFJ made in regard to our relationship? Given that the movie ("Going in Style") was starting at 1 pm, both of us were able to linger for a while before driving the 5 minutes to the theater.

When we got to the theater, neither of us could remember the name of the film - both of us were suffering from a case of CRS (Can't Remember S--t). But we remembered the stars of the film, and were seated in time to see the start of the film. For the most part, this is a predictable film with a couple of fun twists. And it is a nice bit of fluff which I can easily recommend to occupy a dismal day. But what I found interesting was that GFJ and I were holding hands as if nothing happened.

After the film, GFJ and I chatted in her car. We finally got to talk about the elephant in the room, and she was still unsure of what to do. I gave her the case for staying with me, then gave her a kiss. To me, part of the magic we once had was gone.  But who knows? The way I feel, I have the freedom to quietly date. But I won't be placing any ads on OK Cupid soon.

- - - - - -

Leaving GFJ, I decided to call HWA to determine the time our co-op board meeting was supposed to start. and I was glad to have enough time to get home, take care of a couple of things, and then go to the library where our meeting was to be held.

Unlike many of our board meetings, we met with people we rarely talk to as a group, and then had an enjoyable public meeting. This year, we had no trouble getting a quorum of shareholders needed to vote in our unopposed slate of board members, as well as to make this meeting an official meeting. So it was nice when we were able to conduct our public business in less than 30 minutes, and be home by 9 pm.

- - - - - -

Friday came, and I just didn't want to get out of bed. I know that some of you may be a little envious of me for getting up at 11 am. But it is a mixed luxury, as it means that the day has less value to me than it does for most people.

I eventually made it to the GLBT center around 3 pm, and was working on their online calendar until 6 pm. Maintaining a calendar in their system is very awkward, as it doesn't provide for multiple entry deletes, nor does it take care of the little niceties (such as making it easy to search for a calendar or blog entry) well. So I didn't mind doing this grunt work, as it was mindless enough to help me kill the time needed before the FFGoW meetup.

While at the GLBT center, I met a man who didn't have a full helping of brains. I won't call him an idiot, as that would be insulting a whole class of learning disabled people. While I was walking to the lavatory, he intercepted me in the hall asking if I knew a certain person. Then he asked me to figure out why he couldn't open a certain file attachment on his cell phone, when Facebook's error message was telling him that the sender didn't have the permission to send the file.  Later on, he was so clueless in trying to fill out a voter registration form, that he didn't have a clue about the political parties in this country - and was asking me for help.  Although I gave him a little help, I felt that this was the kind of person who should never be let near a voting booth, as he had no clue about or interest in what is going on with the world. I'm glad that he took the hint that I was too busy to walk him though the application process.

- - - - - -

At 6 pm, I moseyed over to the FFGoW meetup. I was lucky to be close and have gotten there early. They were doing construction on Central Avenue, and the water main replacement was in front of the small strip mall that the restaurant was in. Making my way to the parking lot, I was lucky to find a spot because the lot was packed.

We had a reasonably large group, even with 3 no-shows. The fellow with the guitar was a very good singer, and we enjoyed his music throughout dinner and dessert. But I have an even more interesting thing to report. The lady who sent me Thanksgiving greetings via OK Cupid was there and sitting next to me.  We ended up gabbing like old friends, and due to the crowding at the table, my left leg was often touching her right leg, and we were touching each other in the way women often do when chatting with each other. If I weren't in Marian mode, I might have defaulted to a masculine way of interpreting things. Instead, I took it as if she wanted to be very friendly. I left her with an opening to get together - she is losing her severance pay, and will soon be on unemployment. So I volunteered to help her with her resume - and will see if she responds. No, I'm not going to make any moves unbecoming a woman. Yet, if she knows about me and is interested in me, I'll give her an opportunity to signal any intent (or not) she may have. But please don't think I did anything a cisgender woman wouldn't have done. I'm only trying to make sure I have an accurate read on what is going on.

- - - - - -

All too early it was time to go home.  Tomorrow will be my last day en-feme before I have to stay a day as Mario, so that my brother and I can sheetrock the upstairs storage room and the basement near the furnace. I'm not looking forward to doing that, as I'll have to deal with a physically exhausted and emotionally drained brother.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Things wear out after a while

One of the things I've found out while working with computers is that the I/O devices tend to wear out over time. Keys on keyboards tend to either get stuck or not register at all. Mice do not seem to register clicks properly over time, and are cheaper to replace than to fix. And then come the printers, where they are designed to be replaced cheaply - even though they might be the most complex pieces of external hardware attached to the computer.

I've been writing this blog for several years now, and I've already had to replace monitors, printers, keyboards, and mice to keep things running. Of these, only the monitor was replaced by choice - I wanted something slightly bigger than what I had, and bought it at a price I could afford.  In fact, on the day I started writing this entry, I replaced both keyboard and mouse because I couldn't count on the old ones anymore.

In certain ways, my career has been like some of the external hardware attached to my computer. Eventually, I had to be replaced, as I could not do the jobs the firm wanted done, in the location(s) that they wanted those jobs done. This is not a bad thing if people are able to upgrade their skills for the new jobs that are available. But most firms do not look at their knowledge workers as intellectual capital. Instead, they see their workers as machinery that should be replaced on a regular basis.

Please note that I am not complaining.  I've had a good career, and was able to be employed for the better part of 40 years. And even though I am out of work, I am grateful for the opportunities I've had, as well as the opportunities I now have outside of my career.

Going out as Marian has been a blessing.  The one thing I wish were easier for me to do is lose weight.  I feel that I look like an over inflated beach ball at times, as I have not been able to lose the weight I regained years ago when I was in a relationship with the wrong woman. And at times, I feel that my body is starting to wear out.  My damaged hand is still bothering me 2 1/2 months after my New Year's Day injury. My left shoulder feels lie it's going out of joint if I move the wrong way in my bed. And my knees bother me whenever the weather starts to change. In short, I'm getting old, and I'm starting to feel it.

Youth tends to crave novelty, while in maturity we crave stability. There is something good about that. When we are young at heart, we are open to new things  even though we see them through the cautious eyes of a mature person. I doubt that I could have opened myself up to becoming Marian as a young person, as I first had to overcome my fears. Now, I've learned that most people don't give a hoot about who I am, and that frees me to be able to be me without the fears that limited me in the past. This gives me a stability I never could have had in youth.

But where am I leading, you may ask?

Hopefully, one of these days, I will be able to wear out some of my feminine wardrobe in the same ways that I have worn out my male wardrobe over the years.

Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

It was a long day for me.

I almost woke up early enough to do laundry today. And I'll need to do that tomorrow, so that the cleaning lady has some fresh sheets to put on my bed. But I still have a lot of things ahead of me today, as I have to see my dad, take care of paperwork for renting out the family homestead, and then go to class.  I won't be home until at least 11 pm - and I'll be totally exhausted.

- - - - - -

As I noted, I saw the Cat Lady last night. We're at a state where we could stay friends, or become something more. But she has one annoying problem that I'm not sure if I can live with: She talks so fast, without pausing for more than a breath, that it's hard to keep pace with her and it's hard to get in a word edgewise. My mind was a little exhausted after being with her at her house after dinner last night. Being with GFJ is very different. She doesn't always feel the need to speak. And she is comfortable enough with me not to be always "on". You can easily understand why I avoided being in a position to see her yesterday (though it would have meant breaking a date with the Cat Lady), as I really don't want what we once had to be pronounced completely over.

If I end up pursuing something with the Cat Lady, I will need to deal with three things:
  1. Her tiring rate of speech. (I'll have to ask her to slow down a little for me to keep up.)
  2. Telling her about Marian
  3. Cats (I'll need to take allergy pills to prevent nasty allergic reactions.)
This will be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, and not something I'd advise to other people.  For me, it might be worth a gamble.  But I doubt I'd have the depth of feeling I've had with a handful of women since my wife died.

- - - - - -

I'm a little behind where I want to be with my school studies this week. So playing "catch up" will be something very important to me in the near future. In addition, I must apply with PMI to take the PMP certification exam. Of course, I want to chat with my former boss, so that I can be sure that he'll certify my work - in case my application is audited.

When I was first unemployed, I was gung ho in finding a new job.  By the time this round with unemployment ended, I became ambivalent about finding a job. It was possible for me to "almost retire" and live off my savings. Do I really want to work as a project manager? I'm not really sure. But I do want to try and get this certification. Just like my Master's Degree, having the certification will say something about my ability to accomplish things. And it will tell me that I still had the chops to do what it takes - if I wanted to do so.

- - - - - -

I got out of the house around noon, and trekked to Long Island to see my dad.  He was in good spirits today, and it was a pleasure to visit him. There was only so much we could say to each other, and he knew when it was best to send me on my way.

Next, it was off to the town's bureau of records, where I found out what was needed for a rental permit. The fellow at the desk told me that it was not their policy to answer questions over the phone. So I'll bet that many people needlessly have to visit the office just to get questions answered. But he was very polite (very much like "Mayberry, RFD") and gave me the answers I needed. Then, he sent me downstairs to pick up the records I needed. It was interesting to see original paperwork that was over 75 years old regarding the house (Certificate of Occupancy and Land Survey), and then to have it photocopied for our use.

On the way out, I called my brother, and he said that the house failed inspection for a minor issue regarding sheetrock and the electric inspection.  It seems as if the inspector wanted to give someone a hard time, and my sister in law (and my brother) were the recipients of that hard time. My brother wanted me to go back to the town hall and pick up a copy of the electric inspection, and I wasn't in the mood to do so.  I had just enough time to drop off the copies to my sister in law, and then make it to NYC for my class.  He was very upset, but he can't complain too much.  If needed, I will go down there again next week and take care of things. Until my brother and I talk again, I won't know what my plans for next week will be.

And then it was off to NYC. I parked my car and took the train into Manhattan, reaching Patty at Grand Central around 5 pm. She was better than I was, having taken the time to do all of the exercises in the book. Class went well, and we took the same train back to Queens - where I would change to the Astoria line at Queensboro Plaza.

- - - - - -

Once in Astoria, I looked for the supermarket that carried Tipsy Scoop ice cream, but didn't find it.  Sooner or later, I will be able to get some and bring it home.  Until then, I'll just have to keep searching for something special....

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

As much as I try to get up early....

My plans for the day were to do some studying, and then go out and see the Cat Lady for a leisurely afternoon. But I didn't get to sleep until 4:00 am last night, the Cat Lady was also up all night (issues on her side), and both of us agreed to meet for dinner - all by several asynchronous emails.  The lack of immediacy in email is an asset, as replies can be at leisure, and no one need be awakened in the middle of the night.

- - - - - -

So when I finally got up and moving around noon, the Cat Lady was already on her way to the doctor, and to take care of errands she had to do. And again, via emails, we arranged to have dinner at the same German restaurant we ate at the last time we were together.

On the way over to see the Cat Lady, I got a call from my brother. We were interrupted by dead zones from Annesville Circle to well past the Bear Mountain bridge. But it was a good call, as we discussed many things - including my brother's relationship with his kids. And as I was just about to reach the Cat Lady's house, I received a call from GFJ. We had a nice chat, but I wasn't about to tell her where I was and what I was doing. So I said that I was driving towards the Bronx - just in case she wanted for us to get together before Thursday.

Once done with my phone calls, I went to the Cat Lady's house (which was around the corner from where I stopped to chat with GFJ) and picked her up for dinner. Both of us enjoyed a nice German dinner, and then we went back to her place to chat. (This time, I'm very glad that I took my allergy pill before going there - I was able to avoid the strong allergic reaction I had the last time I was inside her house.)  If any of you are thinking anything, it was just chat, and there was no hanky-panky going on. I was keeping options open, while things are still up in the air with GFJ.

- - - - - -

Eventually, it was time to go home. And I was in no rush to make it across the river. So I took the side roads back into New York, intersecting with roads I used to use when seeing an ex girlfriend of 30+ years ago, and a former female friend from 20 years ago. Although I could see nothing, I was able to relax a little before hitting the highway needed to cross the river and go home.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A dress, but not in my size

I got up very late (even for me) today, and spent most of it doing nothing. (Surprise, Surprise, Surprise.) And when I finally got moving, there wasn't much time for me to be Marian before a stretch of days I had to spend as Mario. So I decided to take a drive to Paramus, where I could do some window shopping at Catherine's and at The Avenue.

When I finally made it to Catherine's, I was surprised to find as many dresses on the floor as I did. Of course, being just after Easter, I'd expect that that their early Spring merchandise would still be on the floor.  And when I saw the dress above, I figured that I had to try it on - even though the dress was a size larger than I normally wear.  Luckily, the dress didn't fit right, and I was spared the decision of having to buy a dress I didn't need.

Before I go too far, if this dress was in a different fabric, I still might have bought the dress. It was comfortable and loose. but given the fabric, it was the type of garment that couldn't be dressed down to be casual enough for game night. And I already have too many dresses that would be appropriate for a more formal summer gathering - such as a casual outdoor wedding.

After I was done browsing at Catherine's, I went to The Avenue and did even more browsing. And there, I found a couple of dresses, had they been in my size, would have jumped in to my car with me for the ride to my closet. Again, I was lucky. Nothing there was either interesting, worth buying, or in my size.

Since it was now almost 9:30, I made my way home with a stop at the diner for a late dinner. Normally, I might not have mentioned this. But I had transferred the contents of my black handbag into a brown handbag for Easter Sunday services at the local church, and I had forgotten to transfer my reading glasses back to the black handbag for today's outing. So, I ended up squinting at the menu while deciding what I was going to eat. Unfortunately, I wish I had decided to go to a different diner.  No, it's not because the food wasn't good. (I actually enjoyed the mixed vegetables for a change.) No, it's not because the service was bad. (It was slow, but not annoyingly so.)  No, it's not because the food was overpriced. (It was slightly more expensive than what I get locally, but not unreasonably so.) It was simply because of the 6 teenage girls behind me that couldn't help but talk too loudly. And that's part of why I asked to take some of my meal home in a doggy bag instead of staying to finish my meal.

I had an enjoyable last night out as Marian, and will soon take the polish off my nails so that I can spend a day out with the Cat Lady tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Happy Easter!

It'll be a week after Easter by the time this post is published, so I'm wishing all my readers a belated happy holiday. 

- - - - - -

It's been a long time since I've gone to church. And I figured that I'd wear the above outfit out and finally get some mileage out of a dress I purchased late last Summer. So, when 8:30 am came around, I decided to quickly get showered, shaved and dressed - and out the door for a 10 am mass. And I'm glad I did.

There is never much to be said for a mass, save for the timeless familiarity in its rituals and its traditions. They can be comforting, even for those people who aren't that religious. Yet, if I could have whipped my cell phone out quick enough, I could have gotten a picture that would be the definition of cute: Two little girls pulling a "Radio Flyer" wagon, picking up offerings of food for the needy.

When services ended, the congregation gathered in the parish hall for an Easter Celebration. Finger food was being served with a little bit of bubbly, while the little children were being entertained by an Easter Egg hunt on the front lawn. I got into conversations with several people, one of whom was also called to Jury Duty - and picked to serve on that 18 month impanelment.  At least he has only had to report in for one followup session so far.  After that, I ended up chatting with a woman who made an effort to talk with me (that if I were in male mode, I'd assume she's interested in me for purposes other than friendship). We were getting along very well, and we exchanged contact information with each other.

By the time I left the church, it was getting warm outside, and I'd have never made it into the city on time to see a last Sunday Matinee associated with the "20 at 20" special. So, I decided to go home and change out of the dress, and get into something more comfortable and appropriate for a casual Sunday.  And then, I stayed home for the rest of the day, as there was nothing else that I wanted to do....

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I wasn't sure of what to talk about first

I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad.  And I'm not sure of what I should talk about today. So I'll start with a mention of my status with GFJ.  She mentioned that she was going to Atlantic City with one of her girlfriends, and I made a comment that we should do something like that soon - and there was silence. She gave me the answer I was waiting for, without having to say anything. Is this such a bad thing?  Probably not.  If she couldn't deal with me being trans, it's time that the relationship should end. But I don't expect that she will say anything until we meet on Thursday for an early dinner. (I wasn't going to foul up Tuesday with the Cat Lady just to get official bad news from GFJ.) And in many ways, I'd prefer not to bother with that dinner unless she is going to say something pleasant.

- - - - - -

The next topic for the day is my niece. We had arranged to meet at the Guggenheim for the beginning of the "Pay what you will" Saturday evening. And though we were on time, the line stretched around the block. Yet, once the doors opened, the line moved quick and we were inside by 6 pm.

We went to the top level and worked our way down the ramp, seeing many works of modern art that held my interest. She and I are kindred spirits. Neither of us believe the propaganda coming out of the right wing news outlets, and we both know to challenge the "news" coming out of the outlets we get our news from. We both fear what is going to happen in this country, but this was far from the focus of our conversation.

This is the first time I've had the chance to talk about her beau (who currently lives in London), her marital plans (not yet on the horizon), her options for childbearing (she is not ready to have a child, but wants to have that option if she chooses), and her parents (poor matches for each other, and part of the reason that she is being careful about the first three topics). Although she is young, she is wise beyond her years, and I am envious of her - as she has her whole life ahead of her.

Both of us liked the picture below, and thought that capturing the viewer of the art in the snapshot made this a great shot.  What do you think?

Next is a shot of my niece. She liked this shot of her looking at the mobile, as it puts the art and the viewer into perspective. (Some art wouldn't exist if it weren't for the people who view it.)

And lastly, I liked this shot of her - for reasons similar to the photo above.

She has given me permission to show her face and talk about her by name in this blog. So you may find better shots of her (and of us together) in the future.

For some reason, both of us breezed through this museum way too quickly. (I figure that she really wanted to go to a party out on Long Island, and she felt that her aunt Marian would understand. (I did, and might have been doing the same thing in her shoes.) So we took the 5th Avenue bus downtown (it was much slower than the Madison Avenue bus I took to get there). Around Rockefeller Center, I bid her a fond adieu, and proceeded to kill some time before seeing "Sex Tips for a Straight Woman from a Gay Man." (Believe it or not, I have a copy of this book, having been given a copy years ago at an Eulenspiegel Society meeting.)

- - - - - -

Once at the theater, the elevator wasn't working. So I had to climb the stairs to the second floor.  Did I say "Second Floor?"  Although it was marked as a "second floor", one had to walk up the equivalent of 6 flights of stairs to reach the theater. And then, when I got to the top, I was a little winded - but I still had to wait to take my seat, as one lady was taking care of ticket problems for her group of 5 ladies.

Looking at the first of the three pictures above, you'll see that the background is set up to make a joke regarding the book discussion (Raame --- Ram Me, as they used for the acronym.)  The second shot had an audience participant (on the right) being there as a foil for the jokes involving the two cast members. And the last shot has three female audience members doing air sex handjobs.  Now, there were two parties of women there: the first being ladies celebrating one woman's 60th birthday (she's bent over on the left) and the other being a bachelorette party (one woman from that party is on the right).  The 60 year old gave the best air sex handjob.

This picture is the one other audience member who got on stage. She had fun giving him a massage, as well as using a tickler where it wasn't supposed to go.  Could you imagine if this T-Gal had been called upstage to perform in either skit?

I highly recommend this piece of fluff. It's way too short, as I wished the fun could've lasted longer than it did.

- - - - - -

Then it was time to go home.  I'm going to get out of the habit of being in contact with GFJ, as once she (by her silence) told me that we were no longer going to be lovers, I no longer wanted to share parts of my life with her.  I "kind of" knew that this would happen a while back.  When she never accepted my help in things such as being driven to/from her colonoscopy, I knew that she didn't want to open up and trust me to take care of her.  Yes, I'm in contact with Lili almost every day. But we never shared a certain intimacy that GFJ and I once had.  In many ways, I feel she was looking for an excuse to end the relationship for a while, as I caught a message directed to her by one of her friends telling her that she could do better than me. (This sounds much like what Lili has been telling me to do about GFJ.) So now she has it - but I don't think I want to be in regular contact with someone who didn't really want me.

Of course, I'll go through the motions of seeing her next week, so that she can say what she wants to say. But I might find an excuse not to do so - simply because everything has already been said and done....

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sometimes, it's OK to expect to be treated as "Number One"

I couldn't resist this shot.  As I said in the title of this entry, it is sometimes appropriate to expect to be treated as "Number One."  This has nothing to do with the rest of the entry, except to show my readers what kind of mood I was in when I started to write down my thoughts for the day.

- - - - - -

Today was Good Friday. If I were religious, I might have been concerned about what food I'd be eating for the day. Instead, I started out by having an "omelette" made with ground beef. And this was my typical oblivious view of the world for the day - it may have been a religious holiday that many people honor, but it was something I remembered only when it was brought up to me.

Although I woke up at 7:30 am, I didn't get moving much until noon. My plans were to put in two hours of work at the GLBT Center, then kill some time before going to dinner with the FFGoW's. Well, my plans changed as soon as I reached the GLBT Center at 3:00 pm. They planned to close at 4, so I didn't get that much work done before they closed.

Once done at the center, I tried reaching Pat.  She and a man she was dating were on their way out to pick up her daughter at the group home, and then go to a restaurant to celebrate Pat's birthday. But that scuttled one of my options for killing time. So I decided to go to the bookstore, then get some iced tea and read a little.  It's amazing how one can easily kill a couple of hours at a bookstore is one has a mind to do so.

Next, it was off to the FFGoW meetup.  We had way too small a table for the seven of us. Two of the women were newcomers to the group, and one of them took an interest in my comments on Harpo Marx. (This woman was a professional actress at one time, and still has an interest in both stage and screen.)  Tonight, it seemed as if my feminine personality was smoothly firing on all cylinders, as I felt as if everything was working for me in my conversations with all the women at the table. And I was able to tell a joke that I picked up yesterday at "Not That Jewish" that almost got one of the ladies to wet herself. Later on, I got information from one of the regulars regarding an inexpensive education program she's part of - and I plan to attend these classes if I'm not working full time in the fall.

- - - - - -

All too soon, it was time to go home.  I wasn't sure about GFJ's holiday weekend schedule, so I figured that I'd wait to see if she reaches out to me via Facebook. This left me free to chat with Lili - and she doesn't want for me to resume things with GFJ if GFJ wants to come back to me. And there are good reasons for that - from my perspective. But I like having someone to hold. Lili wants for me to find a woman who likes people like me. This is a statistical improbability. So I plan to live my life among the company of women and be accepted as a peer.  Whoever I settle down with will know about my two lives, and have to accept both of them to accept me. Ideally, if the woman is truly a good match for me, this time around, I'll be wearing the pretty dress!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Not that Jewish.

Normally, my plans for a typical Thursday would have me going to the local GLBT center and doing some volunteer work. Today was different. I wanted to see "Not that Jewish" at the $20 discounted price available through the site. And I made my plans to do so.

The was one fly in the ointment.  I had promised my brother that I'd try to reach the town where the family homestead is, and try to find out information regarding a Rental Occupancy Permit that will soon apply for. They told me to expect a call back today - but it never came. So I'll have to pester them tomorrow morning.

Next on the list of things to do was driving to the Pelham Parkway section of the Bronx, so that I could park at the subway station and get to the play on time. For a change, everything went well. Not only did I find a seat on both trains on my way to the Times Square area, but I also was able to make a quick uptown connection that saved me a third of a mile of walking to the theater. This allowed me to get there in time to buy my ticket AND have a chance to go to the bathroom before the performance.

The play was enjoyable.  Monica Piper (pictured above) discussed her sense of Jewish identity, being a cultural Jew, but not a religious Jew. Anyone familiar with Jewish tradition (even if not Jewish) would understand all of her references. She proceeded to talk about her life up to the point of her adopted son reaching his teenage years, and having similar feelings about his Jewish heritage - albeit from a different direction.

Once done with the play, I made sure not to dawdle in the city, as I knew that rush hour was coming soon. So I got on the train, and made my way back to the Bronx, where my car was safely parked in front of the subway station.

- - - - - -

As I got in my car, I figured that I'd try to call Pat - but with no response.  That wasn't a big deal. I was only looking to kill some time before going to game night. So I proceeded to Panera Bread for dinner, and then made it to The Avenue for some window shopping.  Strangely enough, this store carried several dresses I may have been interested in, including a pretty polka dot number that captured my eye.  Only one problem - I don't like this year's "cold shoulder" style, and think that this dress will appear dated after one season. But I did find a blazer in a size 30 that caught my eye, and came home with me.

I can see this blazer being worn over a solid outfit (or dress) and giving it some needed pop. And I might just be wearing it soon on a night out with a female friend.

After emptying out my wallet a little, it was time to go over to game night. And the fellow that creeped me out came up in conversation. We were making jokes about not playing "King of Tokyo", and I noted that he is a little like a puppy dog wanting attention from me. The hostess said that he may not have a full set of social skills for someone of his age. Yet, she recognized that I wasn't complaining, but only commenting about him. So "no harm, no foul" to anyone involved or discussed in that chat.

Of course, I lost the one game I played.  But I was very distracted (I didn't put my phone away) by texts I was receiving from Maria (she has to reschedule breakfast), YGM (she is still recovering from an operation), and my niece (having to schedule a museum date for Saturday). I'll have to learn NOT to pull out my phone as often as I do. If I were a smoker, I;d have puffed away a pack or so in the 3.5 hours I was there. (No one smokes tobacco there, but I'm only illustrating how my need to play with something is being triggered.)

- - - - - -

On the way home, I tried to reach GFJ.  But I think that she actually has made an effort to try and sleep earlier. If so, bully for her!  Maybe, she'll finally get a good night's sleep for a change.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Class was cancelled today

Both Patty and I were behind in our preparations for class today. Although she was further ahead in the workbook, I might have been further ahead in the online quizzes. But neither of us should have worried....

- - - - - -

One of the things I have been neglectful on doing is the online coursework for my class. In our text book, there are 15 chapters which we are responsible for knowing. Each of these areas will be covered in the class final, as well as the PMP certification exam. And, unlike Patty, I have no excuse for falling behind in the coursework.  So, when 3:00 pm came around, I knew that I wasn't going to be caught up by this week's class - and made it a point to not let this situation continue into next week.

At 3:15, I started my drive into Pelham, where I intended to park and take the train into Grand Central. The parking spot I was going to use is limited to 2 hours between 8 am and 6 pm. That means that if I parked my car at 4 pm, they couldn't ticket me after 6 pm. There is a wrinkle. If I got to the spot before 4, I'd have to wait until 4, so that I couldn't be ticketed. This would give me only 12 minutes to walk the 3 blocks to the station and buy my ticket. If I didn't make the train, I'd be unable to make it to Grand Central in time to meet Patty for a bite to eat.  This week, luck was working for me, as I made it in time for the 4:03 train that was running several minutes late.

I arrived at Grand Central before Patty, and decided to wait in the dining area where we usually eat. When she got there, she told me a story about leaving for a doctor's appointment without money or credit cards in her wallet, and having her husband run to the train station to give her cash as the train was pulling into Forest Hills. She was very lucky to say the least, as she was able to take the train (which was running late) and make her doctor's appointment on time. (If she didn't have cash when she met me, I'd have lent her the money to eat and to get home.)

Once we were done eating, we went to class.  Our teacher was late because of an emergency he was having at home. He had to interrupt class twice to deal with the emergency, and then had to drive home early to deal with that emergency.  Hopefully, he'll get it all sorted out by next week - and we will have an idea of how this class will be made up.

- - - - - -

After class, I had a choice. Do I go to an Off-Broadway play scheduled for 8 pm, or do I go home. As much as I wanted to see another play, I decided to go home. And this was the right decision....

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The beginning of the week, and falling prey to lethargy

An unmade bed.  Something which is a common sight in my place, except when the cleaning lady comes to do her magic.

- - - - - -

This week started very slowly. I could have done some studying - I didn't do that.  I could have done laundry - I didn't do that. I could have gone out en-femme - and I didn't do that. All I did was lay around in bed and watch TV.  Was this a bad thing to do?  Probably, if one is thinking for the long term. But right now, lethargy rules - especially when the weather is in the high 70's, and my apartment is at least 10 degrees warmer than that.

I need to start hustling to find work soon. But I really want to live my life as Marian, and I'm ambivalent about finding work as Mario. My friends know my dilemma, and they all want me to look for work as Marian, and get on with living my life in the way I want to live it. Yet, I'm going to give the possibility of finding work as a PMP at least one more year, as I don't want to see my potential Social Security benefits drop much further.

So, when I couldn't sleep this night, I started to do something proactive - I took the first of "many" quizzes needed to pass the PMP class. And I did terrible on the first go round. The next time, the answers came easily, in part because I remembered why I made my mistakes.  Unfortunately, I'm behind several weeks in quizzes, and I will have to develop a plan to catch up somewhat in the next week or so.

- - - - - -

Tuesday started a little better for me, as I had a reason to get out of the house - I had to pick up my tax paperwork, so that I could mail out checks by the weekend. So I was showered, dressed, and out of the house shortly before noon.

As expected, driving to Corona wasn't that bad. But weekday parking was a big pain in the back, as I could only find a convenient parking spot about 4 blocks away. (Convenience in this area means that I don't have to get up and feed a meter every 30-60 minutes.)  I didn't mind parking this distance away in the daytime, as the neighborhood is relatively safe when the sun is out. Of course, I was still surprised to see the door opened wide when I arrived at the office, as it is normally much cooler when I get my taxes done. But with a temperature over 80 degrees out, it was nice to have a breeze cooling the place instead of a noisy air conditioner doing the job. 

Now, I was hoping to make a connection with a former blogger after getting my taxes done. Unfortunately, her wife took ill, and she had to rush to her wife's side the night before. So that left me free to go home and get some rest. Unlike road conditions I saw 2 hours beforehand, all the traffic backups at the Whitestone bridge were gone, and I had smooth sailing on my way back home.

Although I was free to go out en-femme for the evening, I decided not to do so. I still had my studying to do for class, and I wanted to catch up on some of that study.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Summer in NYC?

Note: This post was originally written when I working in the city....

- - - - - -

Sometime last spring, the temperature hit the 90 degree mark and women took off their pants.  Of course, they were wearing their dresses and skirts.  And if one enjoys looking at female bodies, this was the perfect time to do so.  (No, I'm not thinking of sexual desire.  Instead, I'm thinking like an artist appreciating a work of art.)  

While waiting for a train at Grand Central, I took an informal survey of women passing by while I was eating a snack.  Roughly 50% of the women who passed by were wearing skirts or dresses, and they looked more comfortable than those women who were wearing slacks. The next day, even more women were wearing skirts or dresses.  When I reached work, I saw a lady who struck up a conversation while on the elevator.  She commented on how hot it was expected to get, the pleasure of wearing a skirt, and this being the payback for having to wear stockings during the winter.  (Little did she know that I also appreciate wearing skirts and dresses - and it was not something I'd bring up in a 30+ second elevator ride....)

- - - - - -

There is a big difference in the number of women who will wear skirts and dresses between suburban women and those who spend much of their time in the city.  It seems like when there is a greater population density, women will choose to wear skirts and dresses - as if there is a subconscious competition going on.  Yes, women dress pretty first to make themselves happy.  But there is competition going on as well.  

GFJ lives in far out suburbia.  I can't remember the last time she wore a dress.  In fact, I have worn more dresses and skirts while en-femme than she has done all year.  But then, women aren't competing with each other as openly as they do in the big city.  

I'm glad that I had access to the big city for work....


Monday, April 17, 2017

Opening up a weekend

Saturday came, and I was again free to do what I wanted. And given GFJ's movie recommendation, I put The Zookeeper's Wife on my list of things to see this weekend. But first, I must talk about my plans for Saturday and Sunday to put things into perspective.

- - - - - -

Saturday morning came, and I didn't have much energy to do anything. I should have been studying for class, but it was all I could do to muster the energy to get out of bed. Eventually, I looked at the clock and realized that I had to start moving if I wanted to make it to the FFGoW meetup at WPB's house.

I'm glad that I put the Brownies I baked on Friday by the door, as I would have forgotten them in the rush out the door. And rush I did, as I was running about 15 minutes late to WPB's place. Luckily, I made it early enough to enjoy dinner while it was "sort of" hot, and it was fun seeing all the ladies again.

There were more people there, but I didn't get any pictures. Given WPB's aversion to having pictures taken of her, I didn't include a picture of her here. We all enjoyed a sumptuous feast, and I enjoyed receiving compliments for my brownies.  One day, if I ever get a picture that truly flatters her, I will post it here - if only to give you an idea of what she looks like.

After being with the ladies for 3 hours, I figured that I might as well take the drive up to Mohegan Lake, and see The Zookeeper's Wife.  Yes, it's another one of those holocaust movies with a happy ending. But it is well done, and worth the time and effort I made to see this film.

- - - - - -

Sunday came, and I "hit the snooze bar" on all my alarms. When I finally got moving, I realized that I was going to be late for my trip into the city with HWV, and I called her to keep her appraised of my status. Even though I got out of the house 30 minutes late, we still had more than enough time to go have brunch then see "Church and State" afterwards.  I highly recommend the play - it is relevant for today's times, and it had solid performance from each of its leading characters.

Once we were done with the play, we walked over to Times Square, and then went for a drink before going home. Both of us chatted up the waitress, knowing that any chit chat we made was friendly chat among females, and nothing more than that. We dawdled over drinks and nachos for almost 90 minutes - and we were enjoying the food, the drinks, and the people walking in front of the tavern. As much as the citrus martinis we were drinking went down smooth and slow, I wasn't going to go for a third without a dinner between the drink and the drive home. So we paid the bill and drove home.

Both HWV and I had a great time, and both of us hope to do something like this again soon. She's a great person to have as a friend, and I'm glad that I opened up to her a while back....

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The ongoing story of a cell phone

For a while now, I have had two cell phone lines.  One of these lines is attached to a grandfathered unlimited data plan I have with Verizon. This line I use for Mario's calls, as well as calls to people who know me as both Mario and Marian. The other line is attached to an unlimited talk/text (no data) plan I have with Total Wireless. (Total Wireless is a rebranded reseller of Verizon's network capacity.) This line, I use only for Marian's calls. The first line costs me roughly $100, while the second line costs $25.

I had been using the "latest and greatest" of Motorola's offerings on the first line, often having paid full price for the phone to protect my grandfathered data plan.  If Verizon had offered me a plan where I could get the data I regularly used at a reasonable price, I might have surrendered my grandfathered status to continue getting discounts on my phones.  Sadly, this never happened when I needed it most.

On the second line, I used a cheap Motorola phone. Unlike the first line, I could only use a 3G CDMA phone, as Total Wireless had not yet cut a deal to allow its customers to use Verizon's 4G LTE network.  Recently, this situation changed, and Total Wireless now offers 4G data service.  I could now use an old Verizon 4G phone for the second line.

When I upgraded the phone I use on the first line to a new Moto Z Play (a midrange phone), I figured that I'd move my old phone to Total Wireless. It was working perfectly while in active use on my Verizon line. So I pulled the SIM card, and made my first trip to the Cell Phone Repair shop in Wappinger's Falls to get the old phone's battery replaced. If I had known what I'd be going through, I'd have bought a new phone instead of going the route I did.

Although I could have bought the tools required to work on the phone and had videos like this ( to guide me, I had decided to use the cell phone repair shop, as I knew that I'd likely screw things up the way my luck has been going as of late. The outfit's web site mentioned that it serviced Motorola equipment, so I figured that I'd be safe.

Knowing that it would take some time to get the parts, I was not bothered when the fellow missed his first target date of 2/4, and was prepared to wait another few days for the battery replacement. I called the gentleman again on 2/8, and he said the phone would be ready that afternoon.  However, with the storm that came the next day, I wasn't able to pick up the phone until Friday, 2/10.

On that Friday, I drove up to Wappinger's Falls and drove home with a phone not yet connected to any network.  So I put in the new Total Wireless CDMA SIM card and tried to use the phone.  Everything worked, save the speaker on the phone.  I played around a bit, then did a factory reset - that only served to clean out Mario's data from the phone. (I didn't mind this, as I didn't want Mario's name on the new phone for anything.)  So I drove back to Wappinger's Falls the next day and explained my problem.

My phone was back in the hands of the repair shop. Although I could have waited in the Poughkeepsie area for 2-3 hours, I decided to go home and pick up the phone the following week.  On Monday, 2/13, I found out that the speaker was still not working. So the repair shop had to order a new speaker.  This speaker came in on Saturday 2/18.  Unfortunately, the speaker still didn't work.  So the fellow asked me on 2/20 about sending it out for service, and I OK'd it.  As they day: "In for a penny, in for a pound."

On Wednesday, 2/22, I got a call.  It seems as if they ordered an incompatible speaker.  So, I was asked if I could wait for the new speaker to come in - and I said "Yes".  I have a feeling that he ordered the wrong part, figured out what he did wrong (with assistance), and then knew what he had to do.  AARGH!  Another 6-9 days of waiting.  At least, I don't depend on that phone for much of anything.

I figured that I should touch base with the repair shop on Monday, 2/27. And I was told that he is expecting to receive the part towards the end of the week.  This was not a problem for me, but it will now be a month that I have not had use of the phone.  Again, if I had known what would happen when trying to replace the phone's battery, I'd have bought a new phone and said the hell with the headaches I'd be going through.  But, without a functioning time machine, no one can have 20-20 foresight.

A week later, I decided to give the cell phone shop a call to see what was going on. The lady who answered the phone said that the phone was ready for pickup, and yet she wasn't sure about that. So she said she'd talk to the phone repairman (probably the owner of the franchise) and find out more. Well, I had plans to meet GFJ in Poughkeepsie for lunch, so I figured that I'd drop in afterwards.  

After a nice lunch with GFJ, we both went to the shop and asked about the phone. Both of us were confused about what the fellow was saying. Did he expect the phone to be shipped back from California? Or, did he expect to be able to contact someone in California in regard to when the phone would be shipped back to New York.  In either case, he was supposed to know something by 4:00 pm, and would give me a call (which came the next day). When I finally received the call, he told me that I should expect to see the phone on Friday or Saturday. 

On Monday (3/13),  I got dressed and made my way to the repair shop.  For the life of this man, he (and his crew in California) coudn't fix the phone. He offered me a partial refund (I know I could have gotten more) which I accepted, and then I went to Walmart to pick up a new phone for my "Marian only" line.  I should have known better than to have asked the fellow sweeping up the technology area for help. Although he was able to ring up the sale on the phone, it wasn't done right.  When I got the new phone home, I found out that it couldn't be activated because it was rung up wrong at checkout. As a result, it was back to Walmart to have this issue taken care of.  They ended up doing a return and new sale on a new phone, not bothering to do anything with the old phone. That was fine with me, as I got an extra phone charger out of the deal.

The old phone that no longer worked was a Motorola Droid X (2nd Gen.), while the new phone is a LG Premier LTE.  I could have looked more closely for a replacement phone, but I wanted something inexpensive and I wanted it now. As long as it worked with Total Wireless, and as long as it could run the most basic of apps, I figured that I'd be happy for a couple of years.

After I finally got the phone up and running, I was no longer sure if the phone would be piggybacking on Verizon's network. There is something about using "Big Red's" network that comforts me - and I think it may be related to having coverage I rarely need. (Several years ago, I drove to Cooperstown, and enjoyed listening to streamed music all the way up, save one small gap in a desolated rural area.) But when I checked the model number of the phone, I think I might have been lucky - this phone seems to be the CDMA version of the phone, and has a better than 50/50 chance of being on Verizon's network and not Sprint's network.

Sadly, this phone has mixed reviews, and I don't expect to have it around for more than a year or so. If I weren't so frustrated by not having a phone for this line available in over a month, I might have taken more time to buy something better. Battery life and memory size are two big complaints.  Although I can replace the battery on this phone, there is a limited amount of things I can do to cope with memory size. But until I decide to make the change, this will be the phone I use whenever I give out a number to people I want to only know me as Marian.