Saturday, September 30, 2017

A side note about shifting service from Verizon to Cablevision

Order Details You're receiving a special TV, internet and phone promotion.
This promotional rate will end in 12 month(s).

Changes to your account
Services Added
Optimum Gold Promotion $99.95
Service Protection $6.99
Optimum Online Promotion $39.95
Optimum 100 Promotion $0.00
Phone Promotion $14.95

Services Removed
Optimum Gold -$109.95
Optimum Online Includes $5 Promotional Savings -$54.95
Updated total monthly recurring charges
This is the revised amount that you can expect to see on your bill every month before taxes unless more changes are made to your account.


- - - - - -

As you can see, I spend a lot on Cable. And adding phone service will cost me more when
 the promotional rate runs out.  Until then, I'll be saving roughly $80 each month for having phone service moved to the Cable Company.
Although I could have gone with Verizon's FIOS, I believe that they will have major problems in the future. No, it's not what one might think. It's the fact that people like me, who have had service for many years, live in buildings where there are no demarcation jacks. Standard twisted pair, copper wire service is an albatross around the neck of this company, and they are stuck with labor/management issues which cripple them when responding to customer needs.  

Recently, one of my Transgender acquaintances announced that she was cutting the cord between her and Verizon. 

Well, we’ve done the unthinkable. 
After 12 years, we’ve returned to services with Kabletown.
Our Verizon FiOS Internet-only contract is about to expire and prices were going to get kicked up. And even with a renewed contract, it would still be quite expensive - and that’s with much lower bandwidth than we were getting in Pennsylvania. (It looks like they piggybacked the fiber optic unto the old DSL line. :/ )
We have tried and failed our experiment with cord-cutting. Living in a first-floor building makes for spotty ranges, even with a powered antenna. (No advice needed; we have done everything possibly to optimize reception.) And Verizon doesn’t offer TV where we live. We live in one of the nicest towns in Maryland and no FiOS TV in our immediate area. Hm, go figure.
Well, along comes Kabletown, the only other terrestrial provider where we live.
For $5 less, we get good TV, much more Internet bandwidth and don’t have to rent our equipment. Of course it will go up in 12 or so months, but in the end, it still ends up being a better situation than Verizon. And I can’t believe I even wrote that. Oh, don’t self-install. That’s a crock. So, we see how it goes. Don't fail us, Kabletown!

The service that she received was terrible. And it appears that Verizon (in her area) has taken the AT&T U-Verse approach of skipping the build out of fiber optic cable, by using existing copper cable to bring service close to the subscriber with nothing better than DSL service levels. This sucks!  But it allowed Verizon to steal customers away from Comcast and Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) because people hated the cable monopolies that much.  Luckily, I had two decent choices for consolidating my communications provider: Cablevison and Verizon (with true fiber optic FIOS).

A while back, I had a run in with Verizon when attempting to help Pat (my former hypnotist) switch from Cablevision to Verizon for cable/internet service. Not only couldn't I get a real price from them until we had virtually ordered a service change, but the miscellaneous charges and taxes added on to the bill brought the net cost of service up from roughly $80/month to roughly $120/month!  This was ridiculous to say the least.  Pat got a better deal by staying with the cable company.  Now days, I might have justified that Pat buy a cell phone through Total Wireless and drop her landline altogether. Then, I might have stuck a digital antenna on her TV to capture "Over the Air" signals, and use the cable company only for an internet connection.  After that, a ROKU box for the "free" streaming channels, with maybe a Netflix subscription.  This still would not have made Pat happy, as she is always finding something to complain about.

I think it is Pat's experience that soured me on Verizon and swayed my vote to Cablevision. The risk of a wire problem is always an issue. But how often do the lines inside one's walls fail?  And not paying for inside wire insurance has saved me a bit of money over the years.  Without a demarcation jack, there is no way for me to tell whether the wires under my control are the cause of any of the problems in my phone service. So the logical course of action given that Verizon will likely charge me for a service call is to finally cut the cord between me and this vendor.  Given that I can still contact a human 24 hours of each day with Cablevision and not with Verizon, this is icing on the cake.  Hopefully, I will have made the right decision....

P.S.: There is more to this story.  A future posting will give the conclusion....

Friday, September 29, 2017

Noise on the line and other problems....

Alright, the phone lines in my apartment (and in the building's walls) are not as old as the phone in the photo. But the old twisted pair wires inside the walls are probably going bad and could be the cause of the noise on my line that prevents me from making or receiving calls.

- - - - - -

I got up and moving early this morning, as I was expecting a call from Maria at 9:00 am. When she called, I found that I couldn't hear her amidst all the noise on the line. So we spent time shifting over to Marian's cell phone which had unlimited minutes and texts. She got confused because of all the different numbers I have, then after an explanation, got down to talking about her life.

Maria has two big problems: a daughter who is not emotionally fit to be raising Maria's grandson, and a husband who is both a drunk and a deadbeat. She needs to vent, but has little opportunity to do so with all the responsibilities she has before her. Maria sees her grandson being mistreated by a daughter who can not stay focused on any task without scaffolding, nor can she see that actions have their consequences. In short, she is ill equipped to be a mother, and Maria has to take on her daughter's responsibilities in order to protect her grandson.  Her husband does not contribute his fair share to the household expenses, and nickel-dimes his wife every chance he gets. If Maria had known things would get this bad when she met him, she'd have taken a pass and looked for someone else. Alas, they have been married for more than 10 years, and he would be entitled to some of the money and property that would be hers in her own right had she been smart enough to have a pre-nup before their marriage.

Once I was done with Maria, I went to the GLBT center to do my weekly stint.  They had me doing some last minute things for their yearly fund raiser, as well as editing their online presence. Sadly, one of the people who would have been at the fundraiser, Edie Windsor, has just passed away. And I think there will be a touch of solemnity over this year's gala because of her passing.

- - - - - -

Next, it was back home by way of Panera Bread. When I finally made it home, I found that the cleaning lady had finally cleaned up the place. And this gave me the freedom to pull things apart so that I could figure out whether my phone lines were bad, or whether the problem with my phone service was on Verizon's end. Since I couldn't prove it one way or another, I decided to make a change - and switch over to the Cable Company's phone service. After about an hour on the phone with the cable company, I got a promotional deal.  The price for my service will go down by $5 when phone service kicks in. This means that I'll save almost $900 in one year, and then save a little less than if I kept phone service with Verizon.  Now, all I have to do is wait for the new cable modem to be delivered and install it.

- - - - - -

Eventually, I made it out to game night, and got there as the first game was starting. As usual, I didn't win any games (I'm a horrible strategist), but I enjoyed my time with the gang. Sometime around 10:30, GFJ texted me to let me know that she was going to bed early. Given her sleep doctor's advice, I doubt that she'll be wanting any 11:00-11:30 calls on the way home anymore.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Doing nothing all day, then going shopping at night.

If they had this dress at the Paramus Catherine's tonight, I'd have tried it on. I love the look of the model wearing this dress with a denim jacket and sneakers, and that's the kind of casual dressing down I love doing with a nice dress.

- - - - - -

My original plans for the day were to have a light bite to eat with WDJ, and then have dinner with Sherry.  It's been ages since I've seen WDJ, and it's been even longer since I've seen Sherry. So it would have been a great day to catch up with both of them. Unfortunately, WDJ emailed me to let me know that someone screwed up her schedule for the day (reason not being disclosed here). Therefore, lunch was out of the question. Later on, Sherry texted me to find out whether we were on for the night. And then she wimped out an hour later, claiming she had a stomach bug. (I could be a little sensitive here. But if she was unsure or not interested, she could have originally texted me to say she had a bug and asked to postpone.) As a result of these two cancellations, I had a free day and a free evening to use as I pleased.

As usual these days, I decided to watch TV during the day and relax.  It's cheaper than going out and spending money and it's much less taxing on my car. But I was going stir crazy from being at home (excepting the co-op board meeting) since Monday morning. So I decided to cross the river and drive down to Catherine's in Paramus.

Sadly, when I went into the store, I found that this Catherine's did not have the dress in stock. So I will soon have to order it online (if there is a clearance bargain) or do without. And then, I went to The Avenue at the nearby mall, and found nothing of interest.  If they had one of the dresses I liked in my size, I'd have tried it on in a size 30.

Unfortunately, they did not have the above dress in Paramus. So I'll have to go back to Co-Op City or Yonkers to see if they have this dress.  I probably will hold off on buying the dress, but I want to see how it fits....

Next, it was off to Target in Rockland County.  They rarely (if ever) have anything in my size worth trying on. But I was there to pick up sundries such as flushable toilet wipes, baby powder, and other minor sundries. Less than $20 later, I was out of the store.

On the way back to Westchester County, I chatted with GFJ for the second time today. She is trying to reset her sleep/wake clock in order to get a more complete and restful sleep. After a bit of angst, her sleep doctor has given her some advice on how she might get more sleep each night. Hopefully, this will help her - even though it makes it harder for us to chat late in the evening. And then, it was off to Walmart.

Once I arrived in Walmart, I stumbled into one of my favorite people there, M. She was busy and couldn't talk much. But we found some time which she might finally be available for coffee. And if our schedules work out, we'll finally have that cup in Peekskill. Then it was back to my shopping mission.  I ended up buying several large jugs of Snapple Iced Tea that I drink as if they were water, and then bought a cheap nightgown to replace one that fell apart a week ago. And again, I walked out of the store with less than $20 damage.

- - - - - -

One of these days, I'll have to start getting up earlier than I do now.  Hopefully, I'll be wide awake tomorrow morning when Maria calls, as it will be nice to catch up with her again.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Thoughts on inactivity

I'll bet that the turtle in the above picture may be older than I am. But then, Galapagos Turtles tend to live very long lives, but they are not known for being very active when full grown. (Or, so I've heard.)

- - - - - -

One thing my readers may have noted is that I have grown more and more inactive since I lost my job with the bank over 3 years ago.  Yet, I don't feel too much worse for wear, save that I may have become too complacent with things. And then, when problems occur, I may not be showing signs of resilience, but a lack of caring. I'm not sure about this yet.

Recently, I lost my membership in one women's meetup group, and it saddened me. Yet, I recognized my feeling being that of grief, and realized that there was nothing I could/should do except for moving on. Being trans will get in the way of some social activities, and I feel that I have encountered another sign of social prejudice against us. So, instead of getting angry, I just let it roll, and moved on.

- - - - - -

There is a word that might describe how I've been feeling lately:

Ennui - a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or 

This is the main reason I would like to find a job. I want some purpose that inspires me to wake up in the morning, and then stay active all day.  When I think about at my dad in his final few years of living on his own, he had little reason to get up and out of his chair and do something to nourish himself. And I'm in danger of letting something similar happen to me.

So what do I do?  It's been years since I had much of a passion for any activity. I'm no longer interested in programming computers - been there, done that. The idea of getting my PMP certification is nice, but working as a PMP doesn't interest me anymore. Painting was fun, and I may take it up again. But I will not likely be able to do things at the level of expertise that would please me. (That's not an excuse not to start. It's only a comment on the skill level I would expect to be able to develop.) I have found that I need someone to inspire and motivate me - even if that person isn't a romantic interest for me.

- - - - - - 

Could it have been the fictional Yoda or Mr. Miyagi that said "Do or not do. There is no Try." In a way, I understand what that means. You are either in motion or you are stationary. Being in motion is better, as all motion is "forward" from a single point.

Inactivity is the trap that catches many of us. And I will break out of it - soon....

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Quickie: An update on GFJ

Yesterday, I drove over to GFJ's place and met her for a dinner and a movie.  It's been forever since I've been to her place, and it was nice to see her there for a change.

- - - - - -

GFJ lives about 90 minutes away from me, and reaching her involves a trip into the Shawangunks.  (Think of the lower Catskills near Mohonk Mountain House.)  She grew up in Lower Westchester, and ended up moving to Ulster County around 30 years ago. And it was there that she and her (now to be ex) husband raised two sons and started a business. Life was good for her until her husband had an affair, and now the breakup is going to destroy both a family and the lives of the to-be exes.

Last night after dinner, we stopped into GFJ's office and I had a look at two proposed property settlements. Even without tax considerations, GFJ is not going to be well off after the family assets are broken up.  Capital gains will take away a lot of the money she would need for the future. And then, she would need both a place to live and a job to bring in new money.  She needs to be with someone who has a few extra dollars to spend or needs to live with one of her sons.  If her to-be ex were to die before the divorce, she would likely inherit his share of the pie and be able to have some financial security.

Once we left her office, it was up to Kingston and off to the movies.  The Hudson Valley Mall has seen its better times, and most of its anchor stores have left for greener pastures. The internet has destroyed shopping for many of the malls, and this mall may not survive the next recession. The one sign of life when I was there with her was the movie house - the restaurant next door was defunct, and hasn't been open in ages. At least the theater was neat, clean, and relatively kept up to date. And, the movie we saw, Home Again, was a pleasant diversion.  Then it was back to GFJ's place.  I didn't plan to stay over, but I ended up doing so. 

- - - - - -

Both of us woke up early, and I was on my way home by 9 am.  Who knows if this will be the restart of something nice?  But if so, it was a nice way to do so.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Transgenders and Sex

Sex.  One of nature's prime directives for most animals. If it weren't for some form of sex, virtually none of us would be on this planet.  (I must exclude "test tube babies", so I hedge my wording here.)  But a funny thing happens when many transgender adults start their transition - their sex lives become non-existent.

- - - - - -

I had several versions of a personal ad out on one service.  The first version was used to meet GFJ, and I don't do any searching for matches there anymore.  But it is the other two versions that have had interesting behavior.  One version listed me as a bi-gendered person, and I get hits, but no one writing to me.  The other played down cross dressing. and got some interesting responses at first.  For the most part, these latter two profiles get bypassed by cisgender females, as there is a prejudice in our society about whether a M2F transgender really is female or not.

No, I am not complaining about this.  I'll admit to having similar prejudices, and I think it is due to the age I was raised in, and the attitudes we absorbed. Christine Jorgensen was big news when I was little, because genital confirmation surgery was rare.  Although many things have changed, we are often typecast as being of the sex we were assigned at birth - and fully out of the mating pool because of what we are.

- - - - - -

For those of us who are lucky enough to preserve their spousal relationships, things often change here too.  From what I can tell, most of these marriages turn asexual. In the case of a M2F transition, the cisgender female partner sees little to turn her on in the transgender female's physical configuration - and retreats into asexuality to preserve the emotionally intimate friendship with her closest friend.  Yet, I'm starting to see this change in the younger generation. One blogger who I read is a M2F transgender who reports that she still has a physical relationship with her lover. But I wonder how things will change as this trans woman gets closer to her surgery.

I wondered what would happen with GFJ.  She knew about Marian, but was careful to give me the time and space to make sure that she only sees Mario when she's around. As her divorce approaches, would she take the time to explore other dating opportunities with someone more "traditional"? Or, would she stick with me, knowing that I've been there for her?  Since she's a woman of my generation, I kept our community's experiences in mind, and kept a part of my heart in reserve - just in case.

- - - - - -

A while back, I had the chance to talk with Vicki.  And I said that if things with GFJ didn't work out, that I would likely leave the dating pool as an active member, and focus on spending more of my time as Marian.  There are many people I'd like to get to know better. YGN, YGWM, HWV and others have expressed their interest in getting together with Marian as a female friend - and I'd like to take them up on their offers of friendship. The tradeoff for these friendships is the last vestiges of my sex life as Mario.  Is it worth the sacrifice?  Yes.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saturday at Speech Therapy and on Avenue Q.

I had only one thing that I absolutely had to do today, and that was to go to the Speech Therapy center at Mercy College and start this semester's series of feminine speech lessons. After that, the day was my own, and I had a full day of it alone. Yet, it was not without problems, as issues at the family homestead caused my brother to respond to an emergency....

- - - - - -

My alarms were set to go off at 7:00, and with a moderate lack of sleep I arose to greet the new day.  It took me a while to get ready to go out, and to select a dress that I could wear to the first session. Once I found it, I finished getting ready, and out the door I went - with little time to spare.

Reaching Mercy at 9:00, I met the new student therapist, who was also a friend of the student I worked with in the Summer semester. And again, I went through a measuring of a base point from which to measure my progress. By the time we were done, I realized that this first session was geared to get the student practical experience in taking a baseline and not working from a prior therapist's data. So this week wasn't as productive as I would have liked.

Once done, I drove home. Along the way, I saw a Presbyterian church having a tag sale. Unlike many tag sales, I found out that all the proceeds from this sale went to local charities and not to the church. If I weren't getting rid of extra books in my apartment, I'd have bought one or two to read. (I'm still way behind in my reading, and don't need to add more books to my stack to be read.) When I was done at the church, I finally made it home and tried to nap for a while.

After stripping my clothes off to get comfortable, I read my email and saw today's show listing for 20@20.  One of the shows I wanted to see was supposedly on today, so I made plans to drive into the Bronx and then see the play I missed on Tuesday. Considering that it was warmer than I thought it would be, I changed into a different dress to be comfortable outside. Just before I left for the Bronx, my brother called to tell me that there was a backup in the family homestead's waste line leading out to the sewer lines in the street.  He had a very high price in mind for fixing the problem, and I told him that "we're in for a penny, and in for a pound."

At this point, I left the apartment and started my drive into the Bronx.  Stopping off at Mickey D's, my brother called again when I was on the drive in line.  Damn!  I didn't want to use Marian's voice to order my "fast food" when he was on the line.  So I pulled into a parking spot and chatted again. And then when the call ended, I walked into the store to get my burgers and drink. Eventually, I made it to the Morris Park subway station, and parked my car a little way from my ex-girlfriend's house. And then it was off to NYC.

When I reached Times Square, I walked to the theater and found out that the play was scheduled only for Tuesdays, and that the 20@20 email was wrong.  Luckily, I had a fallback plan - have a bite to eat, and then see either Avenue Q or The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking. Even with a different dress on, I was very warm, and wished I could take off my wig.  So I gravitated to places that were properly air conditioned to kill an hour before going to the theater. While at Starbucks, my brother called again - and I told him (via texts) that I was in the theater.

About 7:30 or so, I walked over to the theater and had no real idea of what I really wanted to see. Considering that The Imbible comes with 3 cocktails, I didn't want to bother with this play the way I was feeling. I ended up choosing Avenue Q, because I knew I'd get a good laugh.  Even though I've seen the play before, I still enjoyed it as much as when I first saw it.  The last thing I wanted was to wait on line when my face had gone past 12 hours without being freshened up.  So when the actors were taking their bows, I rushed out of my seat to be the first woman in the ladies' lounge, and the first woman out the door.  This way, there would be less chance of drawing attention because of my face.

Walking through Times Square to go home was a big headache.  Instead of walking along 8th Avenue like a smart person, I walked over to 7th Avenue and dealt with the tourist crowds. Not only did I have to deal with mobs of people, but I had to get around the various street performers who were taking up valuable space which could have been used by walkers. Eventually, I entered the subway, and it was as hot as I expected.  Luckily, I was able to catch a 7th Avenue express within a couple of minutes, and nabbed a seat before the train reached 96th Street. The best part of the ride was yet to come, as the local track in the Bronx was out for repair, and the train ran express to 180th street. Even better, instead of having to change there for the Dyre Avenue line, it was a through run!

- - - - - -

Sadly, Marian will have to go back in the closet tomorrow. But it will be nice for Mario to see GFJ again - this time, at her place.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A day as Mario with the family

I haven't talked too much about my family lately.  My brother is again absorbed by his work, my nephew is wasting valuable time working a dead end job at a local hardware store, my niece realizes that she should start looking for a better job than what she has, and my dad is in the hospital. We had planned on taking my dad out of the nursing home for the day to have dinner with my aunt and uncle (who just came in from the coast), and my dad spoils it all (not his choice) by falling down at the nursing home and breaking his hip.  This fouls up everyone's plans, and you can only imagine how my dad feels cooped up in the intensive care unit at the local hospital.

- - - - - -

When I got up this morning, I had to get moving quickly as I didn't know whether my cleaning lady would bother to be here this week. (She didn't come today.)  I'm the client she tends to drop when things get busy with other clients. And I wouldn't mind this that much if she would only call to tell me when she would finally get here.

Once semi conscious, I sent an email to the Cat Lady, asking her about when I should drop over for dinner tomorrow.  I didn't know it, but I had missed the following message of hers:

Called doctor who advises BRAT diet (banana rice applesauce toast) for 4-5 days. So no dinners out for me. My Friday dinner plans with my friend got cancelled last night when she sent text. Sorry. Once my gut settles down I will be so happy. All these carbs are not making it easy to lose s little weight!!

Second message follows:

Ah - you missed seeing my 4:56pm text yesterday. Called doc who advises BRAT (banana rice applesauce toast) for a few days til stomach settles down so no restaurant food ☹️☹️☹️.

I'm still waking up with lump feeling in my throat. Took 3 antacids this morning but it still feels uncomfortable so mentally I don't want to eat but physically I'm very hungry complete with stomach making noises!!
Will go to cafeteria for a banana for later and get some toast or a hard roll for now. Brought applesauce from home - maybe that will go nicely with toast.

Saw allergist yesterday - brought her the Tate's cookies wrapper and a Turkey Hill ice cream box so she could guess what I had that made me have a slight allergic reaction. Only common thing was sugar and vanilla and chocolate. Perhaps it was a different thing in each.

I am sorry I must postpone yet again but getting my health fixed up must be a priority. I can't enjoy food (or your company) if I'm worried about getting digestion problems after dinner!!!

If she were blowing me off, her style would be much different.  So I keep in touch to see whether things change or not.  GFJ had digestive problems of her own until she found out what foods were irritating her stomach. And now, she doesn't think much about eating, but only what she can eat.

- - - - - -

I didn't get out of the house until 3:00 pm, and it took me a little over 2 hours to get to my dad in the hospital.  His hip was broken in a fall, and he will be going back to the nursing home in a couple of days. While there, he mentioned his continued regret that he couldn't protect all his money from being taken for his nursing home expenses. But I again reminded him that he protected the most important thing, the house, and that's all I cared about. We also talked about mundane family issues, and had a good chat.  However, I can see that he is looking good - and that one good infection could end it all for him. At the age of 89, there is only so long that he can live, and I feel he might just be ready for that end when it comes.

When my dad and I exhausted the new things we could talk about, I took the hint and left for dinner with my aunt & uncle, my brother & family. This was a very pleasant dinner.  When I mentioned game night, someone asked me what games we play. I answered with a list which included Settlers of Catan, Fluxx, and Qwirkle - and my niece remembered these games.  I then mentioned Marian's exploits in the 3rd person (one of which had to be so, as it involved "Mansplaining") and she picked up on it.  She would make a good addition to the group - and I hope she is able to cross the river to join us one day.

All too soon, dinner was over, and I had to drive home.  Unlike the trip to Long Island, the trip home was uneventful. If only all my trips home were like this....


Friday, September 22, 2017

An evening with RO

As I write this, the view in the composite picture above is a distant memory. The island in the picture  got walloped by Hurricane Irma, and will likely not be ready for this winter's cruises. If I have extra money this winter, I will likely be taking a different vacation - and will likely fly as Marian.

Why do I mention this?  This topic was part of two conversations I had tonight. The first one was with RO, and the other was with Lili.

- - - - - -

When I got up today, I decided to skip game night for a change and drive out to Long Island to see RO. My first stop of the day was to the GLBT center, where I was tasked with entering information for their silent auction into a charitable donation related database. This was a relatively mindless task, but something I enjoyed doing. 

Next, it was off to Long Island. Traffic was bad (as usual), but I got to RO's area earlier than expected. So I killed a little time at Starbucks before driving to her place, and met her outside her house. Then it was a detour to Williston Park to introduce me to her daughter before going shopping at Catherine's in Carle Place.

RO's daughter looks as if she could be RO's younger sister. The key difference is that the daughter has better looking thighs than RO. She has a nice personality, and we took to each other immediately. (I mean, just as friends and nothing more.) All too soon, we had to go. And it was off to Catherine's we went.

We were greeted at the door by a saleslady who remembers us from the last time we were there - someone who remembers me with a big smile. I proceeded to bring a bigger smile to her face before I went looking for a top like the one I bought on my last visit to the Paramus branch of the store. It's hard to believe that this top was so popular, but I scored the last one in the store in blue. Then I found a blue pair of trousers that went perfectly with the top, and bought them both.

Next, it was off to dinner at Minado.  Rose loved this Japanese Buffet. It was everything I said it was, and well worth the money we spent there.  Between the two of us, we spent $90 (incl. tax/tip) on dinner. We talked about many things, one of which was RO's new boyfriend. I am happy for her, as she deserves to be with a nice man.  After we were done, two fellows started up a conversation, and the two of us sat at their table and chatted for another 20 minutes.  It was nice being treated like a lady by two gentlemen.  Mind you, neither of us were interested in the men, but it was a nice event to end a nice evening.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I chatted with Lili.  She fired one of the contractors working at her mom's house for incompetence. And she added more tasks to the contractor who took care of my family homestead. He's glad to get the work. We then talked about my dating, and being rejected by the woman from POF I saw a couple of weeks ago. Lili feels worse about it than I do. But then, I don't want to deal with having to explain my Marian/Mario persona to a woman actively raising a child at home. So this was a blessing in ways Lili doesn't understand.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A visit with an Ex-Girlfriend.

When I broke up with Ex-GF-M, her apartment was filled with clutter. In many ways, it had much less usable space than mine because of all the clutter in the place. Well, I had the chance to visit her at her house, and saw that things had gotten worse since I dated her.

- - - - - -

My plans for the day were to take a trip into NYC by subway and see another inexpensive Off-Broadway play. By the time I got moving, it was rush hour, and I was losing time in traffic. So I called Ex-GF-M to say hello, as I'd be parking in her neighborhood. By the time I reached the subway station, I knew that I didn't have enough time to get to Times Square and then to the theater on time. Instead, I dropped in on my ex, and again received confirmation that I made the correct decision.

My ex once said that she'd never want an animal in her life, as she didn't want the responsibility to care for the animal when she went away for a weekend. The strong, musky odor of three dogs permeated the apartment when I arrived at her door, and it was all I could do to avoid gagging. The family that hosts game night in Yonkers has one dog, and I have never noticed any aroma caused by the dog or caring for that dog. With this comparison in mind, I wonder if she can handle the responsibilities of caring for her dogs. But that's another issue I do not want to tackle when I see three healthy dogs.

Both my ex and her mother in law share a house.  Even though my ex may have lost some weight since I dated her, she no longer goes to the upstairs apartment she once lived in. Instead, she lives in the downstairs apartment with her mother in law, where one of them sleeps on the couch while the other sleeps in the bedroom.  I can't see the two of them living in the sama apartment, but they do. It's probably a result of my ex having major swelling of her legs and ankles, as if she has an untreated disease attacking her lower limbs.

As much as I can still make my ex laugh, I see a certain sadness in her.  When she said that she was dating a visually impaired man (read "seeing eye dog" blind), I thought of a very nasty joke that I didn't use. Instead, I said that he sounds like the type of man who could read the story of your life in Braille. And she smiled when she heard that, as she liked the touch of his hands on her body.

It was a good, but unplanned, visit. She sees me as female now, and is comfortable with this side of me. Although I date women, I know that I will never date this woman again - and I'm glad. It's a chapter in my life that's over, and it's one that taught me that I need to process each breakup before moving on to the next relationship.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My schedule seems to be sorting itself out.

The above picture illustrates how I felt when I first started to look at my schedule for this week. The weekdays looked something like this:
  1. Monday: Lili- All Day
  2. Tuesday: Either an Off Broadway Play or a 7:00 Ballgame.
  3. Wednesday: Possible 1:00 Ballgame and/or PMI Networking meeting.
  4. Thursday: Volunteering, Dinner with RO, Game Night.
  5. Friday: Alternate date for Volunteering.  
The catch - Wednesday, Thursday or Friday would have to be preempted for dinner with my aunt and uncle who were coming in from the coast, and the whole family (including my dad) would be there. This would make it impossible for me to go to this month's PMI meeting OR to go to this week's game night, and would force me to reschedule dinner with RO and my weekly volunteering stint at the GLBT Center.

Well, this morning I received a call from my brother. My dad had fallen and fractured his hip while walking (with assistance) at the nursing home. He was rushed to the hospital, and was being operated on today. There goes our change to have everyone in the family sitting at the same dinner table. My uncle mentioned that he'd like to see us on Friday for dinner. This was the perfect day for me, as it allowed me the greatest flexibility for the other days in the week. So I could now go to the ballgame on Wednesday, see RO on Thursday, and take care of a lot of business on Long Island on Friday.

Yesterday, I showed Lili the house in which I grew up. On Friday, I will need to stop by the insurance agent who services my dad's homeowner's policy and see what has to be done to transfer the coverage to us. Although my dad retains a life interest in the family home, we do not want for him (read: the nursing home) to get the proceeds from insurance if anything were to happen to the house.

I still have to figure out what my weekend plans are going to look like. GFJ is going to want a piece of my time as well as the Cat Lady. Since GFJ hasn't been sleeping over, I can schedule each of these ladies for their own days. But what happens with the other women from POF that I've talked with?  I'd like to see the lady from Rye again, and see a lady from New Jersey and from White Plains, each for the first time.  I figure that New Jersey would be a day time date, so that could be scheduled for the middle of the week (she is retired). But Rye and White Plains would need to be evening or weekend dates. AARGH!  At least, I have an excuse to delay things a little.... 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Little Miss Piggy.... ME!

Before I go too far with the title of this post, I'd like to say that my irregular sleep patterns of late have influenced when and how much I have been eating. And I feel that breaking out of bad habits will take a little bit of thought and effort. Given that the one thing on my list of things to do today was to accompany Lili to consult with a plastic surgeon for a future facelift, I knew I had to get moving earlier than usual - and in Mario mode.

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I had my alarms set to wake me by 10 am, allowing me to be ready by noon. Around 9:30, Lili called, and she told me that she'd be picking me up at noon.  Normally, I might have taken a nap, knowing that I could quickly get ready as Mario. But I stayed awake. When I called Lili, SHE had fallen back to sleep, and she was grateful that I woke her up in time to make it to the surgeon.

When she picked me up, Lili thought that she had set her GPS to take her to Smithtown and to the surgeon. Well, she accidentally set the GPS to take her to her son's place, and we were lucky that I noticed this before we wasted a lot of time going the wrong way. (That's why I double check most of the planned route before trusting my phone's GPS and associated trip routing.) What I didn't mention so far is that Lili picked up way too much food eat herself, and way too much for me to snack on while she drove. And I made the mistake of eating the food, feeling bloated all the way to the surgeon's office.

We got to the surgeon's office early, and this allowed Lili enough time to fill out paperwork before being called in to see the surgeon. Once she was called in, the consult must have taken about an hour and a half, as I was ready to fall asleep sitting up in the chair. Lili came out and told me that the surgeon would be able to do her face, but work on her torso would be handled by a different surgeon. (Lili wants breast implants to refill the sacs depleted by her loss of fat, and some skin taken off her arms so that she can look nice in sleeveless outfits.) So I know who I'll be with some time in October....

After we were done with the surgeon's office, it was time to show Lili where I grew up. She liked the place, noting that it must have been a nice house to grow up in.  I didn't go into the bad memories. Instead, I directed her to the nearby diner, so that we could get something to eat. While in my old neighborhood, she kept getting calls from her brother regarding work being done on her family homestead to prepare it for sale. And she has more problems than my brother and I had getting our house ready for renting, as the house was in worse shape when she and her siblings got control of it.  This will likely cause her to miss the deadline for putting the house on the market.  Month-end is viable, but not mid-month.  Lili has not yet seen this reality. She will by the end of the week....

On the way home, Lili wondered why I didn't invite her out to do things that I do with other people. I mentioned that HWV and I are looking soon to go out dressed to the nines, noting that Lili doesn't like to do this. Lili mentioned that she likes to go to plays. I then noted that HWV and I are willing to take the chance that a 20@20 deal will not be available, something Lili wouldn't do. We are willing to take the money we save on tickets and apply it to a nice meal. (HWV and I can both eat and drink to our heart's content, something that Lili can no longer do.) At this point, Lili realized that she wouldn't have enjoyed an activity that I enjoy and pursued this line of conversation no longer.

As for me, I'm glad I am home. I have yet to decide whether I'm going to the ball game tomorrow. And it will likely be a last minute decision.....

Monday, September 18, 2017

A day with HWV and the Curvy Widow

The above picture is of the woman whose widowhood has been turned into a very enjoyable play, "The Curvy Widow." It's one of those plays that run Off-Broadway which more than justify the effort of going into NYC for the 20 @ 20 deal.

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Today's plans called for me to meet HWV at 12:30 (I was slightly late) and drive down to NYC for a 3:00 showing of The Curvy Widow.  My timing was almost perfect until we reached Manhattan, and then the West Side Drive fouled us up with a bumper to bumper traffic jam.  Luckily, I was able to bail out to Riverside Drive and slowly ooze my down to the theater district.

Arriving at our (now) usual parking lot, we walked 8 blocks to the theater - arriving 5 minutes before the 20@20 deal was to begin. So we got on the line and waited for "our" box office to open. After a short wait, we were in the theater and in our seats. Then the play began. This is one of those rare times I enjoyed going to a musical - the songs advanced the plot (not too heavy), and had a humorous touch to them.  If you didn't know that this play was based on the above woman's dating as a widow, you might swear that it was fiction. But the New York Times validated her claim that she was dating 6 married men at once (1 for each day of the week, with a day off for rest). Although HWV wasn't originally interested in the "Talkback" with the author after the show, she found it interesting - especially when audience members were asking about this woman's experiences in real life.

After the show, we went to a nice restaurant to eat, ordering from the prix fixe menu with an extra appetizer and drink to give us sustenance. Over dinner, she noted that sooner of later, I'll have to fish or cut bait in regard to living as Marian or Mario (she thought I was happier as Marian) and only then look for romance.  She might be right, but I have to live my life my way, and make my own decisions with the rewards or consequences thereof.  Before we left the restaurant, we both ordered espresso with anisette.  Well, we got our espresso with with a shot of alcohol, but the fellow brought us shots of Hennesey and not Anisette.  Not a bad way to end our drinking for the day!

The drive home was uneventful, and I dropped her off around 9:30.  And then it was off to the local Shoprite for food.  If only I could gotten there earlier in the day to get some Lobster for dinner....

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Quickie: I didn't do a darned thing I planned to, and I'm glad about it.

Lately, I've been relaxing at my computer, experimenting with this Gravity simulation put out my the MSTMF Lab. It doesn't take much thought, and it's fun to create binary systems with orbiting planets.  Now if I could only get to a third level of orbits, I'd have this simulation down pat.  There is no score involved. Instead, it's a meditative pleasure using someone else's serious work.

- - - - - -

I had set my alarm clock to go off early enough to have the option of going to Governor's Island to see Noah Diamond's Marx Brothers presentation. This is the same man who revived "I'll Say She Is" for the NYC Fringe festival. However, after a night of poor sleep, I decided to get back under the covers and relax for the rest of the day.

Later on, I had the option of seeing "Lili Marlene" as part of the 20 @ 20 Off-Broadway specials. And again, the option of not getting dressed felt so much more comfortable, especially when I didn't feel like spending money I didn't have enough of. So again, I stayed home for the day.

One thing of note. Since the Hurricane hitting Florida would make Tampa Bay's 3 game set against the Yankees unplayable at home, both teams have agreed to play this set at Citi Field. And, for $25 per seat, I suggested to my brother that he play hooky and come with me to the baseball game.  Alas, he has way too many responsibilities to do so.  So it looks like I might end up going alone to see a game.  (And you'll likely see this post after this 3 game set has been played.)

- - - - - -

Tomorrow's a day in NYC with HWV to see "The Curvy Widow".  This looks like fun, and I'll tell all about it after the show....

Saturday, September 16, 2017

"OM" is where the heart is.

There were several titles I was considering for today's post, and one of them was even more corny than the one I chose: "There is no place like 'OM'". And given one of the exhibits, it would have been equally appropriate.

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I had only one thing on my "to do" list today, and this was to see my niece in NYC, and visit the Rubin Museum. And this almost didn't happen, but I'm glad it did.

Waking up this morning, I had to repeat my usual Thursday procedure for when the cleaning lady is expected. If I'm going out as Marian, get myself shaved, showered, made up, dressed, and out the door before the cleaning lady's expected arrival. Unlike most "Cleaning Lady" days, I had to call her to see what her schedule would be, so that I could be dressed as Mario if she were to come early in the day.

Calling my cleaning lady, I found out that she would be over late in the afternoon if it were possible to come today, and if not, to expect her next Thursday. So I got myself ready, packed away key traces of Marian, and was out the door by 12:30 pm.  The first thing I did was to get a quick bite to eat. And then I tried to take a nap in my car.  Although I couldn't get completely unconscious, I was able to rest enough to be able to be fully awake for the remainder of the day.

To kill time, I decided to go window shopping at The Avenue in Co-Op City.  They had a couple of Autumnal dresses that I liked (not yet visible on their online site). However, I decided not to buy them, knowing that I'd have a $60+ bill for dinner with my niece tonight, a possible $40 outlay seeing the Cat Lady tomorrow, a $100 outlay seeing HWV on Sunday, and another $150 out of pocket when my Uncle comes in from California next week.  Ouch! Instead, I decided to kill a little more time by going to the Bagel Cafe next door. As I was about to leave the Bagel Cafe, I had a need to take a bio break. Unfortunately, the door was locked.  Given that I don't know how clean the loo was in this place, I gambled on holding my fluids until I got to the museum.

Luckily, I was able to find a parking spot about 2 short blocks from the subway station, and I hopped on the train. And it was then that I received a text from my niece to suggest that we meet next week because she was running late at work.  After about 15 minutes of texting back and forth, we agreed to meet at the museum even though she was going to be a little late.  This was the best decision either of us could have made, given the conversation we would have later on.

I arrived at the Rubin Museum shortly after 6, and proceeded to the Ladies' Room to take care of important business. Around 6:30, my niece arrived, and we proceeded to the top floor of the museum for an aural exhibit. One of the spaces had a recording of many people chanting "OM" and explained how that one sound related to Tibetan Buddhism. And that's where I got the above picture of my niece who had already been listening to the chant for about 5 minutes.  Both of us said that we could easily come to the museum just to listen to that chant for several hours.

We toured the museum, and stopped in the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room to listen to the docent talk about the exhibit. It was very informative, but we moved on before the talk was over. By the time we were done at the museum, it was after 8:30, and we ended up going to dinner at one of my favorite Szechwan restaurants, Legend.  And it was there, in spite of the noise around us, that we had the chat that made the trip worthwhile for both of us.

I won't go into many of the details about our conversation, but family sexual issues were discussed in a "matter of fact" way.  (All I will say is that we were NOT talking about the act itself, but talking about how sex and its ramifications has affected us for 3 generations.) We also found another common interest between the two of us - a love for movies. And she loves one of my favorite "it's so bad, it's good" flicks - Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This is when I told her about the Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers. You can bet that she'll be a regular there when worthwhile films are playing.

By the time we were done with dinner, it was close to 10:30, and we headed to the subway. She got off at Penn Station, while I took the line to the Bronx. Getting off at my stop, I saw that Ex-GF-M's lights were on. But there was no way I was going to say hello that late at night. So I ended up driving home to find an apartment which had not yet been visited by the cleaning lady.

Alas, I'll have to juggle my Mario/Marian schedule again next week....

Friday, September 15, 2017

Wednesday and Thursday - The need for sleep finally caught up with me.

Schedule changes are not uncommon for me these days, and I was able to squeeze in a few things over the course of a few texts with people I haven't seen in a while. In the most recent case, I was able to figure out a way to schedule an afternoon with HWA, a day with HWV in NYC, an evening with RO, an evening with Sherry, an evening at the museum with my niece, and dinner with BXM and her new boyfriend. Some of these dates are subject to change, as my uncle is coming in from the coast to visit friends and family late next week. So I expect that I'll be blowing off a networking dinner in NYC to fit the key elements of my social life into my schedule.

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Hump Day came, and it was time to see HWA. Part of me wanted to blow this off. But HWA is a good person, and someone who both enjoys my company and who accepts me both as Marian and as Mario. So I walked over to her place around 2:30, and we chatted until sometime after 6 pm.  I don't have too much to say about this chat, as the time went very quickly, and it was something I needed to do to keep myself from becoming a hermit.

Next, it was off to see BXM and her boyfriend. It was still raining on the way down, and I didn't know how tired I really was. (I've been living with 5 hours of good sleep for the past few nights, and though I've felt rested, I knew I needed to get to bed earlier for a better sleep.) It took me about 15 minutes to find a parking spot in Riverdale, but it could have been worse. The rain was just a drizzle by the time I found my spot, and I had a pleasant downhill walk to the restaurant.

We've eaten at this restaurant before, and I'll never be able to remember the name of the place.  (It's an Irish name that doesn't stick in my head.) BXM and her boyfriend were already at the table when I got there, and I proceeded to sit down and chat.  BXM told me that her boyfriend is a little WASPish, and very pleasant to be with.  If I were a cisgender female with an interest in men, I could go for someone like him.  Alas, I'm a transgal, with an interest in females. BXM mentioned all the problems she has been having with her dad and his dementia, and this made me thankful that my dad is in a good place of mind these days.

Normally, having one or two drinks doesn't get to me. But when one is tired, things can be quite different. In this case, I was feeling affected by the first glass of wine, and was starting to feel very tired by the second glass of wine. As much as I wanted to stay with BXM and her boyfriend, I wanted to go home and sleep. Driving home, I was feeling very tired, and considered pulling over for a nap. But I continued on, and was grateful to have made it home in one piece and without any interference from law enforcement.

Within 15 minutes of getting home, I passed out for 3 hours or so, and was wide awake afterward. So it was off to clean the apartment, as the cleaning lady was scheduled to come over the next day.

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Thursday can be a very busy day or a very lazy day. It's never somewhere in between these days. In this case, I rushed to clean up the apartment for an expected visit from the cleaning lady.  Unfortunately, she didn't come today, and I will have to call her tomorrow morning to check when her next visit will be.

Once I finished cleaning things up, I loaded my car with whatever I could take downstairs in a single trip and brought it to the GLBT center. It was nice to get another receipt for charitable donations. But the next donation will be for a box of clothes and some more books. I only wish that I started this task while I was employed and had a higher tax bracket, so that the tax deductions would be more valuable.

Work at the GLBT center didn't keep me that busy today, but it got in the way of me going to the Drafthouse theater to see a new movie for only $5.00. It's not a big deal. When I finally got out of the center, I took a slow drive down to The Avenue, and chatted with one of the salesladies for a few minutes.  She's always glad to see me, and I think it is more her personality than mine.

Eventually, I made it down to game night, and had the usual good time.  Unlike most nights, I was on the winning team for a change for one of the games. And we were going strong until shortly before midnight. Even though I was talking with GFJ all the way home, I have only a fuzzy recall of passing through the construction zone just North of route 287.  The need for sleep must still be there, even though I was much more alert than I was the night before.

After making it home, I brought a lot of stuff upstairs including distilled water, a new door handle/lock mechanism for my bathroom door, some single serve brownies in a cup mix, and some chain extenders for necklaces I wear. As I walked up the steps, I became more alert, and figured that I'd change the door handle while I was reasonably awake. Although I could have finished the job, I decided to hold off on one subtask which required the use of a hammer and could annoy my neighbors with a single loud noise.

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Next week, I have no definite idea of where I'll be on Thursday.  Will I be having dinner with my family on Long Island?  Will I be seeing RO?  Or, will I be at Game Night as usual?  I won't have an answer to this until the weekend at the earliest.  Life is sure interesting!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thoughts on Travel - and some advice

Before Trump's election, I didn't worry too much about taking a trip en-femme. Since Trump's election, I have started to worry a lot, as his administration has removed much of the information useful to the GLBT community from Federal government web sites, and that his Vice President (a religious zealot) is looking for the chance to cause us harm.

- - - - - -

Lili has been urging me to commit to taking another cruise with her. And if a Democrat was in the Oval Office, I wouldn't have any worries about it, as I've crossed the border en-femme before. Now, I wonder what other transgender folk will be going through if Pence becomes president (after a possible removal of Trump via the 25th amendment) and am a little antsy about planning for the next trip.  

Instead of staying worried about things, I decided to contact someone prominent in the GLBT community and ask her if she's noticed anything different lately. Not being sure of when (or if) a response might come, it makes sense to proceed with caution. One blogger I read regularly travels en-femme. Kim has done a lot of travel, and will occasionally post an entry about her travels. Now that she may be getting a job that reduces the number of trips she takes, I wonder whether she has a read on the current situation for transgender travel.

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If I had gone through both legal and medical transition, this would not be much of an issue for me, as all of my ID would be in sync with my gender presentation. But when I have to present my male id while in a female presentation, there is a concern in the back of my mind that I'll get hassled by someone with the power to interfere with my trip. This is not an idle concern, as I was singled out for secondary screening when I came home from my second cruise with Lili.

Assuming I (a non-op transgender) were to go through an airport scanner, I'd have to deal with the potential embarrassment of triggering an anomaly requiring further inspection. In my case, I'd be wearing breast forms and have a little extra "something" between my legs. The TSA doesn't make it easy for someone to request special, private screening, nor are the agents trained well enough to assume transgender people will be treated with appropriate respect.

Of course, once I get off the plane, I still will need to present government issued ID to rent a car, and (usually) to rent a hotel room. This is another problem area for some TG travelers. Each point where we must present male ID while in female presentation presents a possible risk. Yet, on the one trip I made to Washington DC totally en-femme, this was not a problem. And when I checked into a motel on a recent trip to Groton, CT, flashing a fake id also served me well. 

- - - - - -

So where does this leave a typical TG traveler?  

If one's papers are in sync with both one's gender presentation and one's anatomy, then I do not expect many problems right now - except some rube getting out of sorts by meeting a TG for the first time. However, if there is something out of sync, then I advise caution - especially when in less progressive areas of the world. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Quickie: The day after the holiday - Sifting through boxes.

As you can see, I have a way to go with my clean out.  I've been able to toss at least a box worth of stuff, get rid of most of what was sitting on top of that dresser, and will soon start attacking what is in the corner between the dresser and the night stand.

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Getting up this morning, I had nothing important to do. So I did nothing until the afternoon, when I started going through the boxes on the dresser and on the storage containers. It takes time to go through everything, as I have a habit of storing paperwork to be filed in small boxes for later filing into a metal filing cabinet - then never getting around to doing so. And I was glad to take this time, as I found information regarding how to verify employment at a former employer that I will need at some future date. There was more important paperwork in these boxes, but nothing worth mentioning here.

Right now, I have a pile the side of 5 of the storage containers in the foreground sitting in the living room for donation.  This pile, along with two boxes of books in the downstairs storage area, and another two boxes of books in my car's trunk have all got to go to the donation bin.  The books will likely go to to the GLBT center, while everything else will go to the Salvation Army.  This way, I can start diversifying who receives my charitable donations.

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Next week, I am supposed to go with Lili when she visits her potential plastic surgeon. This is one time I don't want to go with her, as she will want to go to her family homestead where the fellow who worked on my homestead is now working. This means that I have to be in Mario Mode, and I hate losing a day as Marian.