Thursday, September 20, 2018

Good Luck at the Golden Buddha






The Golden Buddha restaurant looks better on the inside than it does on the outside.  If I had passed by the place before tonight's meetup, I'd have thought it was a typical take-out joint which had a few seats for its patrons.  But looks are deceiving.  As the adage goes: "Don't judge a book by its cover."  And it would be right in this case.

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But first....

Although I got to sleep late, I started waking up around 9 am. At this point, I got up and started to surf the web a little. And then I had an idea.  Instead of calling my former employer to determine what happened with the Direct Deposit Summary I'm supposed to receive every month once my monthly pension payment has been deposited to my bank account, I'd send a written letter instead. The following is the gist of that mailing:



I’ve been receiving my pension for several years now without problems.  However, I cannot say the same about the Direct Deposit Summary that I also should be receiving on a monthly basis.  Normally, this is not a major problem for me.  However, I now have a need to receive this document on a regular basis, or to be able to print it from an online website for my records.                                                                

Looking at the attached document, you will note that the font and spacing used for my address makes it possible for the post office to deliver the mail to the wrong address.

(Personal identification has been removed from this part of the letter to protect my privacy when published in the blog.)

I would appreciate it if you can send me a fresh copy of September’s Direct Deposit Summary, and make it possible that I can log online to a website, so that I can print copies of any Summaries which may have been lost in the mail.  Additionally, if you can adjust your print layout so that my address is clearer (to prevent incorrect delivery of the mail), I’d appreciate it very much.



Just as I was finishing up on this task, Lili called.  And we agreed to get together this afternoon, so that she could vent about her boyfriend problems and that I could give her some money that I owe her for paying taxes and fees for our upcoming cruise.

- - - - - -

Around 2:30 pm, Lili and I met at a bagel shop near her house.  I had a sandwich while she sucked down some coffee. Then she went thru the saga of her and her (ex-)boyfriend, trying to figure out what to do about him.  She's so unhappy, that she's been eating everything in sight, and has gained a few pounds in the past few weeks.  She's afraid of gaining back all the weight she lost via Bariatric surgery, and is in a vicious circle of eating to deal with disappointments. 

While listening to Lili, GFJ called. She also had problems - this time with the Wasband.  He didn't want to sign some paperwork for her, as he wanted to collect money for work he wasn't involved in. So she walked out of the office for the rest of the day.  Sadly, she will still need to get his signatures if she wants to collect money from the customers. So she will need to figure out some way to "Blackmail" him to do his job and sign the paperwork. (Later on, I reminded her about a clause in her divorce settlement - and that will be some nice ammunition she can use against him if needed.)

When I was done with Lili, I chatted with GFJ again, and drove up to Catherine's in Poughkeepsie.  Although I can't remember the salesladies' names, at least one remembered mine.  We chatted, and I browsed a little, and killed a lot of time that needed to be killed before my Fishkill meetup.  Next, it was off to the bookstore for a while. And then, it was off to Fishkill.

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I was very lucky on my drive to Fishkill, almost missing a turn.  Making the mistake of turning late (having seen no cars on that street), I was lucky to stay on the pavement. From there, I had a very uneventful ride to the restaurant. And then, I was able to find a seat next to the wall - just before everyone came in. My choice to sit next to the wall was made so that I could sit next to another lady, H, who used to go to the Whine and Dine meetups. And we finally exchanged phone numbers.  Hopefully, we'll meet for coffee (or something) soon.

Eventually, more people came in, and I was locked into my seat for the duration of the meal. Our hostess told the story of why she started this meetup....

She was sitting alone at an airport bar, and had two nice conversations with two different males without any attempts to have anything but a nice chat.  She thought that if she were sitting alone at a bar outside the airport, it would be interpreted as a woman looking for a man to pick her up for an evening's intimate companionship. By setting up a meetup that was "dinner only", she could have a similar experience to her airport chats without having to worry about "next time expectations".

Later on, she told us about the costs of meetup - $10 for up to 50 people, and $16 for an unlimited number of members.  To spend $16/mo. to have a group of people to dine with is a cheap price - and something she is willing to do to have a nice evening once per week.

- - - - - -

On my way home, I had another chat with GFJ.  She told me about a business/future employment plan she has involving a business a half hour away from my place.  GFJ has done her research, and is trying to figure out how she'd approach the owner about (1) selling off part of her business and staying on as an employee and (2) closing down her business and joining this other firm as an employee.  Both are viable options, and both quickly separate her financial interests from that of the Wasband.

I hope GFJ can get what she wants from this potential meeting....





Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Quickie: Eating out as Marian


Looking at the picture above, you can see that I'm happy. You can also see that I need facial feminization surgery (especially to take in the sides of my jaws) to start looking more like an older woman. But what's more important is that you can see my love for eating out. This is the focus of today's entry.

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One of the things I miss about two of the meetup groups I once belonged to is that I got to socialize as a peer with women while eating out.  In our culture, food is something that helps bond people together. And I enjoy that bonding process.

Unless I end up in a long term relationship with someone who needs to see me as Mario, I intend to live the better part of my remaining life as Marian. And my interactions will be as one woman with other women over many nice meals. Right now, I get together with Vicki, Vicki#2, Patty, BXM, HWV, RO, and others for scheduled meals. And we always seem to have a good time doing so.  But I feel like the never married woman of grandmotherly age who doesn't have pictures of any grandchildren to show off.

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I'll always wonder what would have happened to me had my late wife survived the cancer that took her life.  Would she have accepted me as Transgender?  Would she have been comfortable being out with me as Marian?  There is no way that I can answer these questions and many others like them. But if I'm going to share any part of my life with someone, I want to share that l can share it with someone who accepts me as Marian.

Until then, you may want to visit this restaurant - McDowell's.  It has a very friendly staff, and it is centrally located. Read the reviews in the highlighted link, and you'll see why I want to go there soon.











Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A wet weekend with ideas of things to do when dry.


GFJ and I were interested in taking a food tour of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The company, Free Tours By Foot, provides them in several cities, and I figure that I'll take a few of their tours the next time I'm in one of the cities they have tour guides.  But with the expected rain, this will have to be postponed until some time in the fall.  Some of the best places on the tour will be closed for the Jewish Holidays, and replacement sites will be poor substitutes for the ones we missed.

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As is our custom as of late, GFJ now comes down on Saturday afternoon and leaves on Monday mornings. This Saturday was no different than usual.  Her handyman was scheduled to arrive at 6 am, and that meant she'd be awake 6 hours earlier than I'd be awake.  It also meant that I missed another chance to visit the insides of the Old Croton Aqueduct - something I've wanted to do since I found out that one can visit on occasion.

When I finally gained consciousness, I had skipped answering two calls from my dad. No malice or anger for me.  I was way to tired to talk when he called.  Given that the clock and calendar mean very little to someone in a nursing home, I figured that I'd call him back later in the day.

I took care of laundry while waiting for GFJ, and had my summer dresses hanging out to dry long before GFJ got here.  Of course, I was presenting as Mario when she arrived - a little later than originally planned.  So we rushed to the diner, and had a leisurely dinner there before going home early to catch up with the news and to sleep early.  (GFJ has been getting up at 5 am lately because of her handyman's 6 am arrival.  So she's tired by 11 pm.)

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The next morning, the weather forecast said it was going to rain all day.  That squashed any plans of ours to go outside and do anything resembling a long walk - which we both need to do more often.

When we finally made it outside, it was around 3 pm, and it hadn't rained much yet.  So we figured that we'd go to Walmart (to return some curtains GFJ had bought), get a bite to eat, take a quick walk, then go to a movie. Well, We took care of everything on the list, save going to a movie.  GFJ was way too tired for that.  Within an hour of leaving Walmart, we were home - and GFJ was ready to fall asleep.  (Strangely enough, I was tired too.  Rainy days have a habit of sapping me of energy - even when I've done nothing for the day.)  And that's where our day ended.

GFJ fell asleep right away.  I did not for several hours....






Monday, September 17, 2018

How feminine is your voice?


Many of us M2F Transgenders have real concerns about our female speaking voices. And we have good reason for this.  Most cisgender males speak in a pitch approximately one octave lower than the average cisgender female. This means that for most people it is easy for people to identify male speech from female speech from pitch alone.  However, there is an area of androgynous overlap where both cisgender males and females speak in the same pitch range. This is the range that I have been trying to master speaking in, learning all the appropriate feminine speech patterns to have my voice identified as female when there is no other social clue to guide a listener.

I have stumbled on to the following article: Identifying the Gender of a Voice using Machine Learning in my online reading. Someone has developed a prototype tool, "What is your voice gender?" which can be used to identify whether is a male or female.  



The question many of us will ask is: How do we use this tool to help us determine whether our transfeminine voices are being picked up as male or female?  And I have developed the following procedure for Windows PCs that can be used to record a voice clip, convert it to WAV format, and then upload the file for analysis:
  1. Using Windows' Voice Recorder, capture a short speech fragment of no longer than 10 seconds for analysis.
  2. Rename the speech clip to something meaningful. (e.g.:FemVoice-20170901.m4a)
  3. Convert the speech clip to a "wav" file. 
    (I have used the conversion tool at:
    https://audio.online-convert.com/convert-to-wav          for this task.)
  4. Upload the "wav" file (e.g.:FemVoice-20170901.wav) to the following site:
    http://voice-primaryobjects.rhcloud.com/
This should result in a simple Male/Female rating for your transgender voice. Please note that this is a work in progress, and may not be available at all times. I have uploaded a copy of the opening to Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky that was recorded by me. This should give you an idea of how my feminine voice has developed over the past few years.

The goals I have for my feminine voice development are:
  1. To be able to speak on the telephone without anyone being able to tell that I once spoke with a male voice.
  2. To be able to talk all day without my voice breaking or having trouble maintaining a feminine pitch or voice pattern.
  3. To be able to project my voice loudly so that I can make emergency outbursts (e;g.: "Fire!") or talk in noisy venues without using male resonance or pitch. 
These 3 goals are my reasons for working with the Speech Therapy department at Mercy College. It is important to me that I maximize progress towards these goals without risking harm to my voice. This means that I need guidance, as there are so many people out there who have done harm to their voice boxes because their vocal exercises went well beyond what their voice boxes were capable of doing at the time.

Kathe Perez of Exceptional Voice has worked with transwomen to help make their voices sound more feminine.  I have used her lessons to help me develop my feminine voice. However, I realized that I am a lazy person and that I am not given to practice anything without someone to prod me a little to do the right thing. So I have picked up what I could from her 3 CDs, but have not done anything with her iPad/iPhone apps as I prefer to spend my money on in-person training. 

Ms. Perez notes that your physical voice is produced by your vocal cords (or folds) which are encased in your larynx. A fascinating thing about the larynx is its location in the body. It’s positioned in the front of the neck right in the middle of a busy freeway of supply lines (airway, blood vessels, and nerves). Therefore, the voice is a unique witness to the many events that occur in the body. Poor health or disease often leaves some kind of “footprint” on the voice. Your uncertainty about who you are may be revealed in your voice. When you’re angry, anxious or upset, your voice shows it. When you feel joyful, your voice trumpets the news to others. Voice scientists, speech-language pathologists and ENT physicians (otolaryngologists) organize voice production into five components. They are:
  1. Respiration– power source
  2. Phonation– sound source
  3. Resonance– sound modifier
  4. Articulation– speech modifier
  5. Prosody– melodic aspects of speech
In order for there to be sound, the vocal folds vibrate and phonation (voicing) occurs. To achieve this sound air must travel upward from the lungs through the opening of the larynx called the glottis. Once the vocal folds have been set into motion by this air stream, the sound is modified by chambers of the throat and mouth, creating resonance frequencies. The size of the chambers directly affects these frequencies. The bigger the size, the deeper (or lower) the formant frequencies. We call these deep resonant overtones. Cis-gender females have a smaller mouth and throat and therefore does not have that deep rumble that you hear in most cis-genetic male voices. These chambers play a very important role in the perception of the timbre of the voice—whether it’s perceived as a rich, or nasal or thin voice. The articulators (tongue, lips, jaw, and soft palate) shape the sound into recognizable speech. Then it’s the prosodic features (speaking rate, inflection, pauses) which make your speaking style uniquely your own. In training your feminine voice, all five components must be included.

By the time you read this, I'll have started what will likely be my last semester of speech therapy at Mercy College. My goal is to work on Prosody and Respiration.  If I can help it, I'll start picking up a typical feminine speech melody, then develop it on my own later on....

- - - - - -
 
Training a biological male's voice to sound feminine is a time consuming task and is not one that should be done without professional help. There are ways to get this help without having to do in-person sessions with a speech therapist. However, it pays to get a therapist's help from time to time to insure you are moving forward to your goals without picking up bad habits or otherwise damaging your voice.





Sunday, September 16, 2018

Quickie: I figured that I'd buy the dresses....


You may have already seen these dresses on me.  But you might be interested in what I was thinking at the time I bought them....

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It was late on a recent Friday night, and I saw that the stock level on these dresses was getting a little too low for comfort.  So I figured that $40 would not kill me in the long run, and ordered these dresses from Target.  I figure that I'll get at least a month's worth of use out of them before the weather cools down, and then I can break out my Fall/Winter wardrobe.

Of course, there is the black dress below the first two. I had overpaid my Catherine's account by $40, and saw a great deal on this dress and a violet shrug. Poof! went the credit, but now I have a nice dress I can dress up with the right accessories.

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Shopping for me is often hit and miss.  Sometimes, I gamble on something inexpensive working on me. And if it doesn't work for me, I'll donate it to a charity, where it will do someone some good. However, if it does work for me, I'll have something I can wear again when the weather gets warm.

- - - - - -



Lili is someone who does things on impulse. And recently, this has meant that she'll take a cruise because she is feeling down. Guess who gets to go with her....

I don't mind being her room mate for a cruise, as we tend to stay out of each other's way. I think we've learned a lot about each other's zones of comfort since our first cruise several years ago.  On our first cruise, she was very insistent that I accompany her son and future daughter in law on a trip into Boston. I'd have rather gone to the Union Oyster House for some clam chowder. But that was not to be. I ended up going to the aquarium with her son and future daughter in law that day and got some nice shots of fish in their tanks.

There are still some things that bother me, such as when she goes hunting for a brand of tea that she can not buy in the USA and wants me to keep her company. But they are relatively minor.  And in many ways, the things I don't like about Lili are the things I've either already overcome in my life, or am still trying to overcome.  As has been said, one sees in others what others see in you.

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Hopefully, I'll get enough use out of these dresses to make the money I spent on them worthwhile.  They are comfortable, and will be perfect to pack on our next cruise to the Caribbean.



Saturday, September 15, 2018

The cleaning lady won't come until next week, so I can sleep a little....


My cleaning lady is (officially) on a 4 week schedule.  She comes on Thursdays, does her thing, then leaves. If I am in Marian Mode that day, I'm usually out the door before she leaves.  If not, Mario will often be in the house until she leaves.  She may see some traces of Marian's existence, but probably not enough to tie Marian and Mario together.  And if she has tied Marian and Mario together, she hasn't said a word.  However, she is coming either next week or the week after that. So I can sleep a little....

- - - - - -

The first thing I did after waking up was to call my cleaning lady and ask when she was supposed to come here.  She either said next week or the week after that. So I was able to rest until I wanted to get showered, dressed, and out the door.  Given that I had no plans, I asked myself - what do I want to do today?  If it weren't for the risk of another subway tunnel shutdown, I'd jump at the chance of doing another Free Museum Friday.  But last week's headaches on a "Free Museum Friday" caused me to think carefully about another trip to the city.


As usual, I lallygagged around all day. Then I realized that the 20 @ 20 Off-Broadway theater deal was on until the 23rd of the month.   So I showered, got dressed, etc., and went out as Marian, with the idea that I'd be going to an 8 pm performance of Smokey Joe's Cafe. I figured that leaving at 5:15 would more than give me enough time to reach the theater. But traffic on the roads would put this in doubt.  When I reached Tuckahoe Road, all the South bound roads were jammed. There was no good way for me to go South on the Sprain. And when I got off the Sprain, I decided to pick up a soda and a sandwich at the local Mickey D's. Even there, there were problems, as the soda machine wasn't working. So I skipped a quick burger, and barely made it to the train on time.

- - - - - -


When I reached Grand Central, there was a crowd near the entrance to the Vanderbilt Hall. (This was the former waiting room, when New York Central passenger trains were in their heyday.)  The entrance was blocked off, and the rumor (later reported as true) was that this was where Paul McCartney was performing for 300 people (and more listeners outside the viewing area). There was no way I was going to stand for two hours - even to listen to a live performance by an ex-Beatle.  (My knees would kill me if they weren't kept moving.)  So I proceeded to Theater Row.

I had my choice of two performances: Heartbreak House and Smokey Joe's Cafe.  The 20@20 site reported Heartbreak House as starting at 7:30.  And I arrived at the theater at exactly 7:30, walked in, and hoped that I could get a last minute seat.  The 20@20 site was wrong - the play started at 8, and $20 tickets would go on sale in 5 minutes.  This gave me barely enough time to walk to a nearby diner and get a sandwich, then return for the play.

At the diner, I ordered a gyro, and was seated next to another person dining alone.  We struck up a nice chat, and I was out of the diner in 15 minutes.  When I got back to the theater, Heartbreak House was sold out. So I hustled to Smokey Joe's Cafe and got a last minute ticket. It's hard to believe, but I had enough time to go to an almost empty ladies' restroom and still be seated in time for the play.

After the play, there were a couple of people who blocked my exit. And as a result, I got to enjoy another one of the pleasures of being a woman - the long women's restroom line. At least, the line moved quickly. Then I made it down the block for a couple of slices of pizza and a can of soda.  Why do I mention this?  There are some pizzerias that compete not on quality, but on price - making their money on volume alone.  Although the pizza is tasty (it's hard to ruin a basic pizza), it is cheap. It's far from the best pizza I've eaten, but it is better than most frozen pizzas. And it was enough to keep my stomach happy....

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The return home from Grand Central was uneventful.  However, I had my concerns about parking in a new area of Pelham, as not many people were walking in this direction. It's easy to understand how a cisgender female would feel walking down an empty street alone. And as I live more and more of my life as a female, the more these experiences resonate with me. But I made it to my car safely, and made it home without incident....





Friday, September 14, 2018

A downer of a day that could have been worse....


It was one of those where a lot of things went wrong for me.  Yet, "Debbie Downer" wasn't able to ruin my mood - even where she had many opportunities to do so.  The little headaches I had to deal with today were minor in the grand scope of things, and I didn't suffer much because of them....

- - - - - -

My cleaning lady was supposed to come today.  So I made sure to set my alarms to get me out of bed by 10 am, and was ready to face the day as Marian before noon.  Before I left the apartment, I stripped the bed of linens and put them in the hamper before her expected visit.

Once out and about, I did a little browsing at Lane Bryant, then picked up a couple of things at BJ's. And from there, I took a slow, leisurely ride to the GLBT center.  On the way there, I chatted with the Cat Lady (for too long), then called Lili after picking up lunch at I deli I frequented when I used to work for the Bank.  For about an hour or so, I worked on updates to the contents of their web site, and then I chatted with one of the directors of the center. While talking, the skies got dark, and "severe thunder storms" rolled in.  It was raining like cats and dogs, and I had no umbrella.  So I borrowed an umbrella from the Lost and Found box, got to my car, then finally delivered some books to the donation box.

- - - - - -

Getting back into the car at the GLBT Center, I found that I couldn't help but get wet.  (Part of my dress was caught in the door.) So when I got to Panera Bread, I took advantage of the restroom and was able to use their hand dryer to dry off the wettest parts of my dress without revealing anything to anyone. And then I got around to having dinner.

When I got up to leave Panera, I overheard 3 ladies talking about the abuses of the Emotional Support Animal designation.  So I politely jumped in, and told them some small details about my co-op's experience in this area. (I won't go into them here, other than to say that shareholders are concerned about potential abuse in this area, and that we are addressing this issue in the best interests of the shareholders.)   And then it was off to game night.

- - - - - -

The weather was a deciding factor in how many people attended tonight's meetup.  One of the regulars hates driving in bad weather, and she was missed. However, there was even more sad news - the host told us that he had considered cancelling tonight's meetup because L's mother had died Wednesday morning. L (the woman whose Karaoke birthday party I attended) had said NOT to cancel the meetup, but to make sure some strong liquor was available.  L needed to relax, and with help from 1 Lemon Drop Shot and half a bottle of wine did just that.

Even though L will feel like crap for a while, I know she will be a survivor.  Hopefully, I will be there to help her as a friend (and that she will accept that help). She is a good person, and I don't want her or her husband to suffer any more than normal for this kind of loss....




PS: The cleaning lady never came and I had to put sheets back on the bed in case she comes tomorrow.  A minor frustration to close out the day.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Some juicy tidbits to talk about for a change.



Over 100 years ago, several members of one family came to America from the island of St. Kitts.  One branch of the family has become more and more Black over the years, as they married people of darker skin than theirs. The other branch of the same family has become more and more White over the years, as they married people of lighter skin than theirs.  I come from the branch of the family which was "passable".  On the ship's manifest which brought my grandfather to America, he was listed as Black.  By the time of the 1930 census, he was as White as the driven snow.  Even though he was a mean son of a bitch who none of his relatives have said good about him and that I would likely have killed him had he lived to see me, I'll be one of the first to thank him for lying on a federal census form before the age of computers.  I've had privileges as a White transwoman that I wouldn't have had if I had been born Black.

- - - - - -

Why did I open with a discussion of my ethnic heritage?  I was on St.Kitts approximately 20 years ago, on a cruise with my then girlfriend, another female friend and her new husband. The two of us were sharing a honeymoon cruise with a couple who might have gotten bored shitless had we not been around. I won't go into too many details regarding the newly married couple, save to tell you that he passed away less than a year after this cruise.  He was the wrong man for my friend, but she was willing to put up with a lot from a man as long as he was Jewish. (I could write a comedy routine about this man, but I don't want to risk speaking ill of someone who can't respond in kind.)  Hopefully, she is very happy with her third husband, and that her house in the Miami area has stood up to the hurricane seasons which have passed since I last had any contact with her.

- - - - - -


My then girlfriend had a common body for a 57 year old woman. (I wish I had that body. I'd have to lose a lot of weight and go on hormones to start the process, and then it would require some surgery.  But I digress.)  This former girlfriend is 76 now, and no longer looks like the middle aged woman in the picture above, nor that in the picture below:



If she were not wearing sunglasses in this picture and that I doubt that anyone connected with her reads this blog, I would not be posting this picture of her to give you an idea of what she looked like.

But why do I mention her?

After I went to my Arts Westchester meeting today, I walked back to the parking lot where I stashed my car. On the way there, I met a woman who could have been my ex-girlfriend's spitting image. And to make it more interesting, we were chatting as only two women would do - unguarded, relaxed, and spontaneous with a total stranger.

We talked of Arts Westchester, her former profession of teaching, being pushed into early retirement, and then she mentioned that she and her husband will be doing an interesting snowbird routine.  During the winter, they will be staying with her son in Dubai, and returning to New York for the Summer.  (Her son has a great teaching job in Dubai, and has a standard of living much higher than that if he were a public school teacher in the states.)  We exchanged phone numbers, and hopefully, we'll be able to get together when she's next in New York.

- - - - - -


Once done with my new acquaintance, I made my way up to Poughkeepsie to kill time before tonight's meetup. I couldn't find the book I was looking for, so I picked up a couple of magazines and read them for an hour. Then, I went next door to Ulta and bought another container of Dermablend makeup, as the one I'm using is close to running out.

At this point, it was time to drive to Beacon. I was lucky to get a parking spot one car length from being in front of the restaurant. And I met one of the meetup regulars as she was arriving.  Of a 20+ person meetup, we were persons #11 and #12.  While there I met another person who was in the old Whine and Dine meetup. And she bailed out of the group when it switched to a "Whatsapp" group, as she was getting way too many "dings" when someone had something to say.

I had a great time, and would love to go to this restaurant again with the same group of people.  However, I'd have liked to get to know the new people at the other end of the table. One thing I'm finding - people are reacting to me as if I were a large cisgender female.  Could I be wrong about this?  Maybe.  But as Lili had noted, the fellow who treated us to dessert last week wouldn't have paid for the two of us unless he thought us to both be cisgender females.











Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Labor Day Weekend, and then some....



Labor Day - The unofficial end of Summer.  To me, it's an indicator that the cool weather will soon be here, and that I'll soon have to pack away my summer dresses for next year.

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Saturday came, and I could have done a few things in the morning that would have been easier for me to do as Marian.  However, I chose to relax most of the day and met GFJ at West Point for the last outdoor concert of the season.

Going to see the West Point Band at Trophy Point (on West Point's grounds) requires that one present legal ID at two checkpoints at West Point.  The first one is meaningless - the guard is checking to see that you appear like the ID you are presenting. The second one is a little more important - this is where you present your ID again, then have your car's trunk inspected while the bomb sniffing dog does his thing. And finally, once through those checkpoints, you get to hunt for a parking spot.  If you get there early enough (usually 2 1/2 hours early), you can find a parking space within a reasonable walk of Trophy Point.  If you get there later, you could find yourself having to walk a couple of miles to your parking spot. And even if you park your car early enough, you'll still have trouble finding a perfect spot near the amphitheater.  So, one makes sure that one's car is "clean" before driving to the point AND one gets there early, to park close and get a good spot on the lawn.

GFJ and I agreed to meet at Trophy Point at 5:00. We were coming to the point from opposite directions, and this meant that our cars would be parked in separate lots. It was easy to find each other, as both of us wanted to place our folding chair on level ground (people have gotten injured after placing their chairs on the hillside) and relax.  And relax we did.  Around 7:30, the music began, and the usual mix of Sousa marches, popular music, and military tribute tunes were played. And then, the 1812 Overture began.  It's always a great piece of music, but there is something missing when it is played without real cannon. (I've heard this done at Lyndhurst over 30 years ago, and wish it could be cone this way more often....)

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

The Bible says that Sunday should be a day of rest.  And that's what we did all day.  It was too hot to engage in any outdoor activities, so we stayed inside and watched movies most of the day - until we decided to do a walk through Walmart to pick up some needed things.  For me, it was picking up a lot of flavored liquids (Lemon Seltzer, Lime Seltzer, Diet Iced Tea) to get me through the week, and a pair of replacement sunglasses to replace those that got broken yesterday.  As for GFJ, she had to get a birthday card for the woman who may (if her son is lucky) become her future daughter in law.

Not really much to talk about today, save that Lili looks like she'll be spending time with the ex-boyfriend again.  

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

Labor day came, and we decided to rest again.  TV was terrible, and neither of us were in the mood to see the newscasters rehash what is wrong with the world.  So, instead of being bedroom shut-ins for the day, we decided to get out and about.

GFJ suggested that we walk around the Jefferson Valley mall in air conditioned comfort, and that's exactly what we did.  It was sad to see that Sears was giving up much of its space in the mall. But it's better than seeing the store go out of business completely, as it would likely mean the end of this mall.  We made the mistake of eating at the mall, and had only 2 fast food choices: "Asian" Chicken or "Mexican".  Either way, what they call "food" wouldn't be that nutritious. So we split a "meal" of 2 types of "Asian" chicken, and decided to go to the diner after seeing a movie.

One of the films I've wanted to see for a while was The Wife, Glenn Close's latest flick.  It's a solid film that reveals itself in stages. Rotten Tomatoes' description follows:

After nearly forty years of marriage, JOAN and JOE CASTLEMAN (Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce) are complements. Where Joe is casual, Joan is elegant. Where Joe is vain, Joan is self-effacing. And where Joe enjoys his very public role as Great American Novelist, Joan pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm, and diplomacy into the private role of Great Man's Wife. Joe is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his acclaimed and prolific body of work. Joe's literary star has blazed since he and Joan first met in the late 1950. THE WIFE interweaves the story of the couple's youthful passion and ambition with a portrait of a marriage, thirty-plus years later--a lifetime's shared compromises, secrets, betrayals, and mutual love.

This film is one that is likely to grow on you as you think about it. To me, two performances stood out: Glenn Close's performance as the wife, and Christian Slater's performance as the biographer.  If you have the chance to see it, do so before it is gone from the theaters.

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

GFJ had to leave on Tuesday, but we didn't get much sleep the night before.  No, it's not because we were having fun.  Instead, it was because her phone was misplaced somewhere in the bedroom and that the ringer was off.  We just couldn't find the darned thing!  We ended up pulling apart a small section of the bedroom, but still couldn't find the phone.  So we ended up hoping that her alarm was set, as this would be the only way we'd find the phone in the morning.

Around 7:30, the alarm sounded, and we had to tear apart the area at the foot of the bed, as the phone fell between the mattress and the foot board, and was wedged in a weird position between the bed and a storage chest. And once we retrieved the phone, there was no way I would be able to go back to sleep for a while....

- - - - - -

Eventually, I did go back to sleep, and I rested well into the afternoon.  And I made the decision (not that hard, after all) to finally go out as Marian following 3 whole days as Mario.

Late in the afternoon, I got showered, dressed, made up and ready to go out as Marian. And I decided to go to Catherine's in Paramus to buy some underwear.  While out, I called the Cat Lady. But she didn't call me back until I was walking around Bed Bath and Beyond.  She's enjoying herself watching the final week of the US Open.  As for me, I couldn't care less about tennis, as it wasn't on TV in my formative years as much as baseball was. Even though I'm not a die-hard sports fan, I still want to hear the baseball season end at Yankee Stadium with Freddie Mercury being played through their PA system before Frank Sinatra comes on. (You can easily guess the songs I want to hear.)

On the way home from there, I chatted with GFJ for a little while. Then I went into Walmart and Stop and Shop, forgetting to call her back. So we'll talk tomorrow when we both have time....







Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Disappointments



We all get saddened and disappointed at times. For me, this often happens when I lose something important to me.  Recently, I lost access to a social group because one woman couldn't deal with having a transgender person with a group of women.  So sad.

- - - - - -

I am not alone. I lost a social group, but found out who my friends were. My friends showed that they'd fight for me if they could do so. Others urged me to fight for myself, feeling that I was wronged, and that a fight was worthwhile. But we can't force square pegs into round holes. There will always be people who we rub the wrong way by our existence, and there is little we can do about it, save to be as popular as we can be in other areas and hope that people will invite us into their lives.

- - - - - -

Sometimes, I wonder whether Fran has the right idea. She is openly and unabashedly transgender, and doesn't try to do certain things (such as perfect a feminine voice) which would make her blend in as a female. She goes about her life as the peg which will not fit into any hole (no puns, please) and seems to be very happy on the outside. But there could be something dark lurking on the inside after one looks a little deeper into her psyche.

Fran loves her art, and she loves performing stand up comedy. Great art and great comedy often come from the dark places from a person's soul. Given what I've seen of her art and of her comedy, she may be trying to deal with a pain coming from deep inside. The issue of being trans, losing intimacy, and having to work to be accepted by others may be taking a toll on her. But then, the picture could be very different than I postulate here.

- - - - - -

WDJ has lived a life where she was expected to make many sacrifices for others. She lived with a husband who was not good for her, and separated from him for her own well being. (I will not go into details here.) Recently, she has made the move back to the South, where she now lives with someone nice. Yet, there are certain subjects which I know not to talk with her about, as they trigger strong feelings I'd rather not have her experience. There is a touch of disappointment and anger in those feelings when they are expressed.

Why do people react strongly when certain subjects are brought up?  I feel, that like with myself, these feelings are related to issues we have yet to resolve. Each person's case is unique. In my case, it is a desire to be wanted and accepted by people. But yet, I am not a "people person" by nature. So I have accepted my limits, and have moved on to deal with other issues in my life.

- - - - - -

As I stated earlier, we all get saddened and disappointed at times. It's how we deal with the struggles we face that determine who we are. Sometimes we "win" and experience happiness. And sometimes we "lose" and experience disappointment and sadness. Either way, it comes down to the choices we make and how we make them.  We can blame our troubles on others and claim victimhood. But that never helps - even when we really are victims. Instead, we can take responsibility for ourselves, make good choices, and then live without regrets.

What are the things you've regretted most in your life and how did this affect you? 






















Monday, September 10, 2018

Quickie: Thoughts on a week where Trump was mostly drowned out.















Two great people, extremely different, but both have one thing in common - they represent the best in America, flaws and all.  Both Aretha Franklin and John McCain died within a week of each other, and share several characteristics:
  1. Both were people of honor.
  2. Both were people of conviction.
  3. Both were highly accomplished people in their fields.
  4. Both kept Trump from being the focal point of this week's newscasts.
Of these things, I think #4 may be (in the short term only) the greatest accomplishment, as they show the world (by the loss of 2 great people) what the American spirit was meant to be.  Neither person wanted America to be an authoritarian kleptocracy.  Instead, they both aspired to see America be a place where all men and women could be judged by the qualities of their accomplishments and their spirit, and not by the color of one's skin, nor by one's gender, national origin, etc....

- - - - - -

I started writing this entry on the Friday before Labor Day, and I was impressed that the news station I was watching split its coverage between Aretha Franklin's memorial service and John McCain's last presence in the US Capitol before his funeral service and burial at Annapolis.  For much of the day, we heard about these great Americans instead about hearing about Trump's latest assault on Democracy.  In fact, one of the newscasters said that they were thankful to Aretha Franklin for giving them the opportunity to do some uplifting reporting, to talk about someone whose life made this world a little bit better by her presence.

It would be all to easy to dismiss August's hopeful reminders of how great America already is as a nation. Because of us, most of Europe lives in freedom.  Because of us, many people have been (or being) lifted up from poverty by an international trade system designed by America to help prevent violent conflicts between nations. (It's hard to fight a war with a country that is a large market for your goods.) And, unlike Pax Romana, our Pax Americana has not openly conquered other nations to make them American territories.

Yet, we have far to go.  America's influence in other lands has not always been benign.  America has not treated many of its own disadvantaged people well.  And we now neglect many needs, save for that of the very rich.  When Trump says "Make America Great Again!", I have to respond: "When did America stop being great?"

- - - - - -

Our task as Americans should not be to make America great.  Instead, it should be to keep America from no longer being great. For that, we should look at people such as Aretha Franklin and John McCain to be our collective North stars, and ignore that orange haired heckler from the Peanut Gallery in Washington, DC.

 











Sunday, September 9, 2018

Looking forward to a long weekend, with no ideas of what to do.


One of the problems a co-op can face is when a person who games the system to bring in a pet, claiming it is an "Emotional Support Animal."  Big businesses, such as Delta Airlines have had to act unilaterally to curb abuses, by setting rules for bringing these animals onboard their planes. They have deep pockets, and can go head-to-head with the federal government to fight for their rights. Unfortunately, my co-op, like many others, can not afford to fight this kind of battle - even when a prior Department of Justice advice regarding accommodations in public housing has been rescinded by the Trump administration. So others suffer because the government has run amok in this area....

- - - - - -

Why do I open up with a matter that touches on politics?  Well, one time I planned to go to see the West Point Band, Trump's political gaming caused the concert I planned to attend to be postponed - and rescheduled for the day I was leaving on my cruise to the Caribbean. Today, I'm scheduled to go to another concert - as Mario. And this time, I really don't want to go.  Instead, I'd rather spend a full day out as Marian, driving down to Brooklyn for the last night of Burlesque by the Beach for the season.  You can guess that my relationship with GFJ has a higher priority than a trip to Brooklyn.

Given that the weather forecast has changed, and that it's likely to be dry much of the weekend, we have the opportunity to take the tour of Green-Wood Cemetery.  This cemetery is on the register of National Historic Landmarks, and is still interring new "residents" 160 years after the cemetery was established.  However, to do this, we'd have to buy non-refundable tickets in advance and make sure we could drive to Brooklyn in time for the tour.  Knowing that getting up early has not been something I've been able to do lately, I wouldn't bet on us taking this tour this weekend.

There is also the matter of seeing my dad.  I haven't seen him in a while, and I should go down to the nursing home to see him.  Would GFJ mind me doing this?  Who knows?  But we could go somewhere nice for dinner afterwards. Yet, I'm a little hesitant to do this, as it would mean driving to Long Island on a holiday weekend - something which could mean trouble if there's a lot of traffic.

- - - - - -

There are so many things we can do.  But everything is in flux as I write this, and I will chronicle what I do later on....


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Going into NYC for a museum night.



I haven't had a museum night with my niece for ages.  So I ended up going into the city all by myself and visited the Rubin museum again.  ...too bad that I didn't know that there was going to be a planned disruption in subway service which would cause me to get home well after midnight.

- - - - - -

It too me forever to get to sleep last night, and I woke up late in the morning.  When I turned on the TV, the news channel I was watching was covering the Aretha Franklin funeral - a welcome relief from covering "wall to wall Trump".  And for the most part, this was a funeral service which one would wish could be held again.  But that would mean the departed would have to die twice - an impossibility, unless your name is James Bond. (Groan!)  By the time I finally decided what to do, it was late afternoon. And I had few choices left to me for museum visits.

If I left here at 4 pm, I'd have had a choice of 3 museums with late hours on Fridays:

  1. The Whitney Museum
  2. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
  3. The Rubin Museum
Getting to the Whitney would be a little iffy if we got the expected rain. I'd have to walk over 3 long blocks to get from/to the subway station. (There was no way I'd want to walk a half mile if there was rain.)  This left me with a choice between MoMA and the Rubin.  MoMA would require me to transfer to the 6th Avenue line, and that's a pain in the ass coming down on the 7th Avenue line.  (Who wants to walk a couple of blocks in a hot subway promenade?) Since the Rubin is 3 short blocks North of the 14th Street Station and a block South of the 18th Street station, that was my choice of museum for this visit.  And I had an uneventful ride into the city - even though I got to the subway station an hour later than planned.

Too bad I didn't look at the service advisories before going into NYC.  I may have chosen another way of getting into NYC.  But I wouldn't realize that I'd made a mistake until I was ready to go home.

- - - - - -

I enjoyed my visit to the Rubin, and after spending 90 minutes there, it was time to leave. So I walked down the block to one of my "go-to" Chinese joints. And it was there that I made another mistake - I ordered food way too hot for me to enjoy.  (I normally enjoy hot food.  But this was authentic Szechwan, and it was HOT!)  Instead of taking both the appetizer and main course home in a pooch pouch, I took only the noodles. (Too bad I had to throw them out later on.)  And then I got into the subway....

Walking down the steps, I find that the 7th Avenue express was running on the local tracks. This a sign that should have warned me of trouble to come. When I looked at the advisory, I found that service was being provided via shuttle bus between Northeast Manhattan and the Bronx from 135 street, Manhattan to E180 street, Bronx. AARGH!  To make things worse, I misunderstood the advisory, and went over to the 4th Avenue line to see if things were going to be better.  That was a waste of a half hour. So I made my way back to Times square, and prepared for the worst.

While on the subway, I chatted with the Cat Lady via email.  She knows that I prefer going out as Marian. But I'm not sure if she's trying to analyze me, or whether she's curious.  And maybe, I don't want to understand why I do what I do, as I've accepted what I am several years ago.

It's amazing how fast this 61 y/o T-Gal can move, so that she can get a seat on an incoming train. And I was glad to have it on the way to 135 street. I had never stood above ground in this area of Harlem, but I wasn't worried. There were way too many people waiting at this stop for troublemakers to assault any of us.  And again, this T-Gal was able to rush onto a bus, so that she could sit for the next hour.

Eventually, the bus made it to E180 st., and I hopped on the subway for 1 more stop.  Getting off at Morris Park station (which has no relation to Morris Park or Morris Park Avenue), I looked at my late ex-girlfriend's house for signs of life. None yet.  The stickers on newly installed windows were still there, and the only lights on were there to scare away people who'd consider breaking into the empty house.  (Hopefully, my ex's brother and sister will be able to get the house out of probate and unload it soon.)

Finally, I made it to my car, and then made it home - 3 hours after I left the restaurant.  There was no way I'd want to eat anything left unrefrigerated for 3+ hours, so I dumped those formerly good noodles into the trash.

Friday, September 7, 2018

One of these days, I'll be on a normal sleep cycle.


One of these days, I'll go to sleep and wake up on a 'normal' schedule. Until then, I'll likely stay awake until late in the night and wake up late in the morning.  And this will be one of the biggest problems I have to deal with over the next few months....

- - - - - -

Last night, I went to bed "early", and still couldn't sleep.  I had checked the timer on the white noise generator I've been using to help me sleep, and two hours had passed without me getting sufficiently drowsy enough to fall asleep. So I wasn't surprised that when I woke up without the alarm, that I was feeling tired and that I was regretting having scheduled a doctor's appointment for today.  But I showered and dressed as Mario, and went out for the appointment I dreaded.

The doctor appointment wasn't as bad as it could have been - I had lost 3 pounds since my last visit, and my blood pressure was in check.  (He wanted to make a minor adjustment to 1 prescription and reduce how much I'm taking of another after the appointment.)  And I had the pleasure of seeing his (now semi retired) nurse in the office for her weekly stint.

- - - - - -


Since I wore the red dress last week to the meetup, I wanted to wear the green dress that came in at the same time.  (This was the same dress I wore to the Dutchess Biercafe last night.)  So I gave the dress it's third day out before going into the laundry.

My first stop was the GLBT Center, where I updated their web pages to reflect events on the calendar for September.  This is much more of a pain than it should be, as their software platform is hard to use. After a couple of hours, I was done for the day, and I meandered over to Panera for dinner.  Once done, it was off to game night.  As I was leaving, I got a text message that told me that I had only 20 anytime messages left on my phone's monthly allowance. So I turned on "do not disturb" mode, and won't turn it off until Friday night when I have unlimited off-peak minutes to use.

It was nice to arrive at game night early enough to play the first round of games. It was even nicer when one lady ended up playing the game at my table.  She's a sweet woman, and I'd love to have her as a friend.  (She's young enough to be my daughter, so there'd be little chance that anything else could have developed.)  I ended up playing two games - one I lost, and the other was a game that I was on the winning team. While playing games, I had a little online chat with the Cat Lady.  If things fall the right way, I may see her tomorrow.  We'll see....

On the way home, I chatted with GFJ.  Lots of little problems with her insurance - all related to property being tied up between the two separating spouses and multi-line discounts.  Her insurance agent leaves much to be desired, and she can't get out from dealing with him.  Hopefully, her divorce will make it possible to sever the ties that connect her with the Wasband.








Thursday, September 6, 2018

A bucket of mussels, not muscles.


Today was Meetup day, and I knew I was likely to have a good brew.  And that I did.  But I was lucky to not sleep the whole day away, as I could have just as easily stayed home and have pasta for lunch and dinner.

- - - - - -

Although the alarms woke me around 9, I was asleep again until noon.  I had no interest in getting up, as the temperature was supposed to be in the 90's this afternoon. However, I had at least two loads of laundry to take care of, and enough time to get at least 1 load of whites and 1 load of colors into the wash.  So I did just that around 3 pm, figuring that I'd be done by 5:30, and out the door by 6.

While my laundry was doing its thing, I decided to get showered. When done with my shower, I went downstairs in Mario mode to put the clothes into the dryers. And then, I took it easy until I realized that I might have load my laundry VTM card. After looking downstairs and upstairs, I couldn't find the card. So I bought a new card while dressed as Mario. And then, I brought the dried laundry upstairs.  At this point, I had little time to spare, so I did my makeup, and changed into Marian mode for the evening.

- - - - - -

On the drive up to Fishkill, Lili called.  It seems as if she may get back together again with her ex-boyfriend if he decides to go to therapy with her. She then told me that she was early for the meetup and intended to walk around town a little.  I got there shortly afterward, and found everyone waiting in the back of the restaurant.  Instead of seeing 10 people there (originally we expected 14 people in total), there were only 5 others. By the time the meetup hostess was there, we numbered 7 - and she commented on the people she had to turn away before she found out about the last minute cancellations.


I was surprised to receive a compliment on my makeup tonight. It wasn't any different from the way I usually do it. But it may have had something to do about the dress I was wearing. Lili had thought the dress would be too light, as if it were made out of scarf material. But she loved it once she saw it on me in person.  Too bad that she didn't get the chance to see what I was wearing last night....

While waiting for dinner to come, one lady asked me to send her pictures of the meetup.  She wanted me to text her the pics, so that we'd have each other's number.  I'd like to develop a closer friendship with her as a woman. However, I'll have to exchange numbers next time, as we forgot to do so because dinner was about to be served.


Out of the 7 of us at the table, 3 of us ordered the mussels. I got the "classic" dish, and it was yummy!  None of us that ordered the mussels had any complaints.  However, Lili was unhappy with her chicken and had to return the dish.  Instead, she ended up having a Belgian waffle - a perfect snack for her today.  All too soon, dinner ended. And Lili wanted me to accompany her for coffee....

- - - - - -

Normally, Lili wouldn't ask me to go somewhere else with her after dining out.  However, one man (who I later found out was harmless) took an interest in her. So we looked for a place where we could have some coffee and some dessert.  The gentleman was interested in Lili, and I was there more as a distraction.  We ended up letting him pay the bill (feminine privilege, but one that could back fire on Lili one day) and he went his separate way.  Lili then asked me to sit down with her for a minute, cluing me in to her real purpose for asking me to tag along.  She didn't know how to brush him off politely, and she wanted me around "just in case."





PS:  I found that VTM card later on in the evening.  At least I know where it is, and don't have to worry about putting more money onto a card tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

I thought I'd spend some time with the Cat Lady, but....


My "Cat Lady" is not exactly like this.  She doesn't always have treats on hand for her one remaining "Meownster." But her fur ball doesn't need that many treats - he's a large cat who'd give Garfield a run for his money.

- - - - - -

I had made arrangements with the Cat Lady (TCL) to get together today. However, she had an inspector coming over to her house at mid afternoon and her stomach wasn't up to snuff. So we passed up having dinner tonight, and will have it another day. And this left me with nothing to do.



After lallygagging all day, I decided to get dressed (as Marian) and see if Pat was available to get together. Since my new dress from Catherine's arrived today, I figured that I'd wear it to Pat's.  It's very comfortable, and I'm highly likely to take it on my upcoming cruise.  Every woman needs to have a LBD with her on any trip she takes.

When I got to Pat's, I picked her up and took her to dinner at a local diner. Given her situation, all I can say is that I'm grateful that I have my problems and not hers. Her daughter may not walk again, and is likely to go back to a group home that's not good for her. She's having problems with her sisters, and feels all alone in the world. And then, her car suffered major damage in a parking lot, and may end up being totaled. At least I can say that I'm in better shape than she is, and I am glad I can be there for her as a friend. We chatted for a couple of hours, and then I dropped her off at her apartment.

On the way home, I chatted with GFJ.  House repair is going slowly, and she'll be stuck monitoring her handyman for a while yet. She now has to play games with the one remaining business she owns with the Wasband, as she can't count on him to contribute to the revenue of the business and worries about him taking unearned funds out of the business bank account without telling her he's doing so - resulting in checks that go bouncy-bouncy in the night.  I figure that we can't take a long vacation together until she has closed out this business.  So I expect that our first true vacation together won't take place until 2019.

- - - - - -

On other matters - I published a thought piece (as part of my other blog) on the Trump presidency on the day I wrote this entry.  You'll likely have seen it here (where I originally developed it for publication) before you see this entry.  So if you've seen something familiar in two different blogs, your memory isn't fooling you....

.