Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Jumanji with Lili

It was raining hard when I got up, so I went back to bed and slept until the afternoon. Given that when I looked out the window that I could barely see the cars in the parking lot, I think this was a wise thing to do until the sun come out later in the day.

- - - - - -

I had only one thing on my schedule for today, and it was to meet up with Lili for a movie and some dinner.  Of course, this meant that I'd be going out as Marian, and that it would take me at least 30 minutes more to get ready due to the headaches of getting my face made up.

Later in the afternoon, I received a call from Lili. She decided to go to the health club and exercise, so that she could lose some of the weight she gained over the past few weeks. This gave me more time to enjoy myself at home, and when she called back, we agreed to meet at the theater instead of eating first.

With rare exceptions (such as when GFJ is with me), I'm always in Marian Mode when I see Lili. Although it takes more effort to make myself presentable as Marian, I prefer to go out this way. Given the choice, I'd be glad to get rid of Mario's wardrobe and live the rest of my life as Marian. But I digress. 

When Lili eventually caught up with me at the theater (I should say, at the pizzeria next to the theater), she was just on time for the trailers. Years ago, I remember 5-10 minutes of trailers before each film. Now, there is an average of 20 minutes of trailers before the film. And with today's upcoming films, I told Lili that I'd rather see Bat Pussy again than many of these films. At least, I wouldn't have to sit through that long a film to get the feeling that my money has been wasted.

In the case of Jumanji, I liked the film, as it was a modernization of the original film's story. However, the box which once contained a board game now contains an "old school" video game cartridge which sucks players into the video game world of Jumanji. There are two jokes which us transfolk may find interesting - one, where the female who inhabits a male character's body has to relieve herself with male equipment, and the other is where she gets visually excited about another male in the game. No equipment is shown, but the gags are funny. In some ways, it is a better film than the original, as it is a better mix between the real world and the fantasy world of the game.

After the movie, we went for a light Chinese dinner. She should never order roast pork again, as it was a little tough for her and didn't have the flavor she expected.  As for me, I ordered the chicken and eggplant in garlic sauce - and I forgot to take home the leftovers. Although it was good, I won't miss eating the leftovers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A weekend with GFJ, and the ride home in the melting snow

Mid January, and weather well above freezing.  Snow in the Catskills is melting away quickly, while we're already seeing dirt on the ground a little closer to NYC.  The fresh white snow that once was on the ground has turned into a grey mess that dirties up our cars, messes up our windshields, and takes away the beauty of this season.

- - - - - -

Saturday came, and I packed for my weekend with GFJ. We agreed to meet first at the Poughkeepsie Galleria where "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" was playing.  I wasn't sure of what to expect of this film, but I came out loving how the characters were drawn, as well as enjoying the needed humor used to break the seriousness of the story. GFJ needed to take a nap before the movie, and this allowed her to stay awake through the film.  (She has a habit of falling asleep at random times, and I usually have to nudge her awake during most films.) Both of us enjoyed this film, and I highly recommend it for those who want an intelligent film with no "cookie cutter" sequences.

Next, it was off to a diner, and then to GFJ's house.  Considering how tired we both were, we decided not to push it, and go to sleep early for a change.

- - - - - -

Sunday morning, we woke up earlier than usual and got out the door in time for a 3 O'clock showing of "The Post".  I've wanted to see this film for a while, and GFJ was interested in it too.  So we decided to amble into Kingston for a walk (both of us need to get back into an exercise routine), lunch, and then a movie.

You will note how much space is in between stores at Kingston's Hudson Valley Mall. They are carpeting all the floors and gussying everything up.  Why?  The shopping center is on life support.  The remaining big stores (Target, Dick's, and Best Buy) are in one corner of the mall, Sears (which is being closed) is in another corner of the mall, and the shells of Macy's and JC Penney are in two other sections of the mall.  What sane merchant would open up a store in this mall?

After a quick shopping trip to Target, we went to see The Post, and were underwhelmed.  Although the movie is a good movie, it seems to lack a soul.  Steven Spielberg directed a solid film, but a film that lacks that certain magic that turns a good film into a great film. Neither Meryl Streep nor Tom Hanks were able to generate any sparks to make a viewer care about what is going on. (I'm in the minority here, as professional film critics rated their performances more successful than I did.) Unlike "Three Billboards", GFJ fell asleep several times during the film, and I had to nudge her awake more often than usual.

- - - - - -

Monday morning arrived, and it was time for me to leave and time for GFJ to go to work. So I packed up my things and drove home.  While on my way, I decided to drop by the I-84 diner where DD (from The Avenue) works during the day. She wanted to see me in Mario Mode, and she recognized me as soon as she saw me.  (I guess my weight gives me away!) She was extremely friendly, and introduced me to one of her fellow waitresses as a good friend (this time slipping up with pronouns in the opposite direction than one usually might expect, and catching herself in mid sentence.)  During a free minute, she mentioned that she has quit the store, and moving on to another store closer to home.  (It seems like the boss she had troubles with went one important step too far, and she had to quit to preserve her sanity and her health.  I won't say more than that in this forum. But I expect that WDJ will want to get more information in a private message.)  And again, I had to leave.  Hopefully, I'll see WDJ before the end of the week and the end of her employment at the store.

Monday, January 29, 2018

A potential new cruise to take

Pre-Hurricane Norwegian Gem Caribbean Cruise Route - 2017

Post-Hurricane Norwegian Gem Caribbean Cruise Route - 2018

Last year, major hurricane damage caused the major cruise lines to cancel some cruises, reroute other cruises, and offer completely new itineraries to reach islands minimally affected by 2017's storms.  Recently, Lili has been trying to get me interested in taking another cruise with her on the same ship she was starting to grow tired of as of our 2017 cruise.  As much as I'd like to try a new ship, a new route, and a new cruise line, I am tempted to try this new itinerary out - if I can schedule two make up sessions for expected Spring Semester speech therapy.

How many months has it been since the hurricane trashed Puerto Rico?  In the past, our government would have given the rebuilding effort a very high priority and would divert resources to ensure a rapid recovery.  Not with this administration. Something as basic as the electricity grid will take another 6 months or so to rebuild. (To be fair, Puerto Rico's electricity grid, like its infrastructure, was neglected for years due to the island's financial problems.) So it is not a surprise that this island is no longer on a post-hurricane route.

The same hurricanes also hit the US Virgin Islands. and our government has treated them differently than they have treated Puerto Rico. For example, the Jones act prohibits foreign ships from transporting passengers and goods from one US port to another.  (Cruise ships get around this law by including at least one non-US port on their itineraries.)  Puerto Rico got a mere 20 day exemption from this law, while the US Virgin Islands got an unlimited exemption.  St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix have had an easier time of recovering from the storms and have reopened for cruise ships.

Tortola and St. Martin/St. Maarten were also in the storms' paths, and they suffered major damage. Yet, I expect that they will recover relatively quickly, as their parent governments (Britain, France and the Netherlands) tend to be more responsive to their colonies than we have been lately.

But where should a ship go when most of the islands on its normal route can't handle tourists yet?  In the case of the Norwegian Gem, they chose 3 islands which were outside the storms' direct paths: Antigua, Martinique, and St. Lucia. And I'd like to go to these islands while I can do so - the cruise line is redeploying this ship for 7-day Bahamas cruises after the last winter sailing in March.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Quickie: Nosy Neighbor

In the past, I've talked about the nosy neighbor I had living below me.  Well, it appears that she is moving out of the apartment she inherited when her mother died.

- - - - - -

Years ago, this woman's brother and sister in law moved into the apartment below me, and lived a relatively solitary life.  I'll never know what the man did for a living. But I do know that he had "Agent Orange" poisoning from Vietnam and died a death I wouldn't wish on an enemy.  Later on, his wife died (I'm not sure of the circumstances of her death, nor does it matter), and the man's parents moved in to the apartment along with their daughter (who I call the nosy neighbor).

I had a good relationship with the man and his family, and he commented that his daughter should have been born as a son, given her tomboyish nature. (If you listened to her for a while, you'd think her voice was that of a truck driver speaking in the wrong pitch.) But this family kept to themselves and were good neighbors for the time the father was alive.

Eventually, the father passed, leaving wife and daughter living together in the same one bedroom apartment. What's the old like about idle minds getting people into trouble? Well, these ladies had nothing much to do, and they stirred things up because they wanted to be the center of the apartment complex's rumor mill.

Sadly, the mother had to pass on (like all of us will one day), leaving the apartment to her daughter.  Since the daughter has found a boyfriend, she is selling off the apartment.  I wish her the best, and hope we get someone who isn't nosy or troublesome in her place....

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A belated birthday dinner with the Cat Lady

I just couldn't resist this picture for the top of the entry.  The Cat Lady (TCL) certainly isn't crazy, but she loves her cats.  If there had been a spark between us as more than friends, I'd have given her a different moniker - such as GFL2. (You can guess what her name is - I'm not telling here.)  But I've grown to like seeing her now and then, as she is a form of reality check on my style.

- - - - - -

TCL and I have been trying to get together for a while. The holidays got in the way, and then a cold, the weather, and a foot injury. So I was very happy that the stars aligned for us to finally get together. So I got in my car around 4:45, and drove to TCL's house by the Bear Mountain Bridge.  I arrived at her house around 5:45, then helped her a little as she made it from her garage to my car. And then it was off to the restaurant for a 6:15 dinner.

The restaurant (Primo Amore) was amazingly empty when we arrived, but it got busy shortly after we got there. TCL doesn't digest lactic acid that well, so she took 3 Lactaid tablets before ordering Chicken Parmigiana. Since I have a cast iron stomach, I ordered some seafood over pasta in a garlic based sauce. We both decided to have dairy based desserts, and TCL needed to take more Lactaid tablets before we left for home. (I'll bet that she will avoid dairy products like the plague for a while, as she was running to and from the water closet more than she expected.)  When she was back at the table, I asked her if she was interested in meeting me while in Marian Mode, and she said "Yes."  This means I'll try to catch up with her before my upcoming cruise and introduce her to Marian....

- - - - - -

All too soon, the evening had to end. So I dropped TCL off at her house and made my way home. Although I could have called GFJ, I didn't have that much to say and I wanted some quiet time for myself. So I drove home, got comfortable, and surfed the web a little before getting ready for bed....

Friday, January 26, 2018

Game night with a new lady

Sadly, this was going to my last day out as Marian until early next week. And I realized that this would not be a dress or skirt day due to the snow left on the ground. So I was very glad to have a pair of women's trousers to wear to game night.

- - - - - -

As has been my custom for the past few days, I didn't bother getting dressed until I absolutely had to do so. Around 3 pm, I got dressed as Mario in order to do some laundry without being hassled by an unwanted newcomer to our complex. (There are issues here that I can't discuss in public.)  But once my laundry was done, I quickly switched into Marian mode so that I could go to game night.

I started to drive to game night around 7:45, and I knew I'd be late for the first game. Arriving in Yonkers, I found that there were two new people playing games. But I ended up sitting at the other table where I ended up playing a game of Qwirkle.  I wasn't getting the right tiles, so I knew I'd lose (which I did). Yet, as usual, it was fun.

Although I could have participated in a third round of games, I decided to relax and let the others play.  My mind was already fried. It looks like the two newcomers may just be back next week, so I may just get the opportunity to develop a new female friendship.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

I remember when snow was fun

Years ago, my dad used to take me to one of the parks in town, and I used to enjoy a long sled ride down the side of a hill.  Today, I wish I still had that sled, as they no longer make the longer sleds which were so fun to ride when I was young.

Even the above sled at 54 inches in length was a little shorter than the sled I used. And it allowed for a longer ride on the snow. Snow days were so much fun then!

- - - - - -

Today, the snow was more of a nuisance. It was not enough to get in the way of doing anything, but enough to force a person to clean off a car before driving. Further upstate, where GFJ lives, they had more snow and needed a plow to clean out long driveways. So, instead of going to do my volunteer stint at the GLBT Center, I decided to stay home and have another Jammie Day.

Now that I know what my schedule is likely to be towards the beginning of next month, I penciled in both a day with my niece at the Brooklyn Museum and a day at the theater with HWV.  GFJ may not be too happy with me reserving a weekend without her. But we have no ties that bind us together.

While talking with HWV, two of our co-op problems came up. One of them involves DOJ "advice" which may or may not have been revoked by Jeff Sessions. The other involves a tenant who may have broken one of the house rules. Sadly, I can not talk about either of these cases, as we may end up going to court eventually and I don't want to prejudice either of them if we end up going to court.

- - - - - -

Winter weather is getting in the way of everything. I was originally scheduled to see RO today. The bad weather put a damper on that. So I sent her a message and asked her if I could postpone our get together until next week. Hopefully, her schedule will be open then, as I'd like to catch up with her before I go away on my cruise. In addition to seeing RO, I have to catch up with Vicki #2 and with BXM. Snow and sleep will put a damper on my plans, as I always see them in Marian mode.

Gradually, I'll find a way to catch up with everyone on my list. But it will take time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Having to schedule weekends with care

Years ago, I would key all instances of courses I wanted to take onto punch cards and feed them into a computer program of my own design. After a minute or two of number crunching, I would receive a chart of schedules in decreasing optimal use of my time. From there, I would go back to the registration area, drop in my cards, and not go through the angst most students went through before classes started.

- - - - - -

What does college class scheduling have to do with my life today?

Well, I've been juggling my time in Marian mode with time where I'm expected to appear as Mario. For the past several years, Thursday nights have been reserved for game nights presenting as Marian. But weekends have often been something else, as GFJ expects to see me as Mario. Days during the week have usually been blocked out as either Marian days or Mario days, depending on who people expect to see that day.

There are some days for which I have nothing scheduled. If I choose to go out on these days, I usually choose to go out as Marian, except when harsh weather makes it more convenient to go out as Mario. For example, on a warm, sunny day, I am much more comfortable going out as Marian as long as the air conditioning is on in my car. However, when it is snowing outside and I have to dig my car out of the snow, I prefer to go out as Mario.

Today was one of those days where I had nothing planned and the weather would likely determine how I would present when going out.  When I awoke, the weatherman was predicting 2"-4" of snow to fall, starting around 2 in the afternoon. This prediction changed, and the snow was expected to come overnight.  Cisgender women would dress for days like this in jeans. But I have yet to perfect a feminine appearance while wearing something other than a dress or a skirt. So I chose to spend another day as Mario, as much as Marian needed to come out for a change.

- - - - - -

If weekday scheduling sounds bad, then weekend scheduling is worse.  I assume that I'll be spending the better part of Saturday and all of Sunday with GFJ, with a possible departure from her place on Monday morning. This leaves Friday nights available for me to present as Marian or as Mario, depending on who I'll be seeing that evening. If I see BXM (or someone else who knows me as Marian), I will be in a female presentation. But if I see the Cat Lady, I'll be in a masculine presentation. If GFJ is not available for any reason, I will usually book that extra day or two to present as Marian. Now that Speech Therapy is starting up again, GFJ isn't that happy not being able to spend Friday nights with me, as she'd have to deal with seeing Marian get dressed for the morning. So she begrudgingly accepts that I will not be coming up to see her until Saturday afternoon. But this makes it easy for me to see the Cat Lady, or other people I want to see on Friday nights.

Soon, I will be taking advantage of a weekend and scheduling both a museum night with my niece AND a theater day with HWV.  GFJ will not be as happy as she would like, but I will try to see her that Friday for dinner and a movie.  This way, we get to see each other for a while. But the big problem will be when I go on my cruise. GFJ and I will not be able to see each other for two straight weekends and I'll have to make sure that I see her as soon as possible upon my return.

- - - - - -

Could things be worse?  Could they be better?  Yes and Yes.  Right now, I'm managing things, and I am still able to live in two worlds. This will change in the future. Until it does, I'll continue on this path, as there is nothing keeping me from enjoying life in two genders on the near horizon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Quickie: Colder than Ice Cold

The Hudson River is a critical artery for New York State water traffic. In the Winter, ice floes tend to clog the river in the most frigid of weather, and can be seen well past the midpoint between Albany and New York. And it is this kind of cold I want to discuss today.

- - - - - -

During a recent two weeks, the Northeast was gripped by a cold spell. We again saw ice in the river, and we again have to worry if our cars are going to start in this cold. It's hard to go out as Marian, as most of my wardrobe is not what a cisgender female would be wearing in this weather.

Luckily, in addition to the many dresses I normally wear, I do have a few outfits where I combine tunic length dresses with leggings to make a look which cisgender women would wear on days like this. I also have some feminine jeans which I can wear with long feminine sweaters. Although these outfits make it harder for me to disguise my unfeminine body shape, they do make it possible to blend in with other females in cold weather.

At the time I'm writing this entry, the temperature is expected to drop into the single digits, and maybe go below zero. Very few women would go out in a dress in weather like this, even though wearing fleece lined tights would allow a woman to be comfortable and still show a little leg. So the cold has become a sort of enemy for me, even though I am comfortable with it when presenting as Mario.

So this gets me wondering - what do other transgender women do if they want to blend in well and be well accepted by other females?

Monday, January 22, 2018

If it weren't for family, Marian would have been out today.

I wish I could go back to the time the above picture was taken. We had nice weather that day, and I enjoyed going out and about in Washington DC.  Today, there was a chill in the air, and I had to go to Long Island to start discussing things with my brother regarding the family homestead. And this meant that Mario, not Marian would be out today.

- - - - - -

Yesterday, Maria postponed breakfast because her grandson's dad didn't pick him up for his weekly overnight stay. Today, Maria had someone around to take care of the child while she was finally able to meet me for breakfast.

Maria has a lot on her plate these days. She is the primary caregiver for her grandson, as her daughter has no idea of long term responsibilities. This is due to a chemical imbalance for which she takes medication. Yet, the daughter can only be helped so much, and is lucky to have a work environment structured enough to keep her focused on the job and able to earn a decent salary. In addition, Maria's husband recently fractured his ankle, and is going back to the hospital for a second surgery to stabilize the foot for long term use. This means he will off his feet for 3-4 months, and unable to work until the ankle heals.  It also means that Maria's earnings have to go twice as far as they used to, now that they have to cover expenses his salary once covered.  It was with these complications that Maria met me for breakfast and to talk about her life as it is now.

It took me a minute or two to find Maria in the crowded diner, but we got to chatting as if no time had passed.  I commented that she would have seen Marian today, had I not needed to visit Long Island. And she understood that.  Shortly afterwards, Maria took out her phone and showed me photos of her husband's ankle in a device that looked like Dr. Frankenstein dreamed it up. Like my former co-worker (now retired), recovery will be a long process. Unlike my former co-worker, his sitting on his ass doing nothing is nothing new.

All too soon, Maria and I had to part, and I had to go back home. With a little bit of rest (not enough), I was ready to drive to Long Island to see family.

- - - - - -

The drive to Long Island was totally uneventful, and I was surprised to see how little traffic there was on the roads. I guess that this being a three day weekend for many people was a factor in the traffic's lightness. But I digress.  I made it to my dad's nursing home in about an hour, and had a nice long chat with him. It's rare that we chat more than 30-60 minutes, but I was there for over 2 hours. So I think my brother was probably surprised that I called him back as late as I did.

My car started acting up again on the drive from the nursing home to my brother's place, but the car did not flash the "Hot Engine" warning I got the week before. Instead, I oozed over to my brother's house, picked him up and went to a Japanese restaurant to talk. As much as I wanted to go into more details about what we needed to do, my brother was not in a detail oriented frame of mind. He's exhausted from the 60 hour weeks that he's been putting in at the office. Yet, we did get some things accomplished, such as an idea of the work that remains to be done on the house and how it will be financed.

Again, it was all too soon that we had to part. My brother no longer has the time to devote to anything other than his work. Being the CFO of a medium scale firm is a big stretch for him, and it will suck the life out of him if he isn't careful. It is not the responsibility I ever could have handled with equivalent training, and it illustrates how different my brother and I are in temperament. But he is well suited to it, as he is the type of person who enjoys drilling down into details and making decisions based on what those details tell him.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I took it slow and got home without incident. The car was performing properly, but I know I'll have to take it into the dealer soon.  At least, I know that I need an oil change, and can couple a quick look-see at that time. Hopefully, with the snow expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, I can get in some Marian time before having to switch back to Mario mode.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

And now, what do I do for an encore?

As you already know, I've been out of work for a while. But I figure that I will eventually need to find some gainful work.  And even if I do so, I have to be careful, as earning too much money might make me unable to get subsidized health care insurance AND cost me money to work.

But that's not the focus of today's entry....

When I went to sleep last night, there were several factors which played a part into what I planned to do this weekend:
  • GFJ spending Saturday night with some of her friends.

    This gave me the freedom to plan my Saturday and Sunday for things I'd do alone as either Marian or Mario.
  • Me spending Saturday Morning with Maria having breakfast and catching up on things.

    This blocked off the morning, and would determine which presentation I'd be using for the day.
  • Me spending Sunday Afternoon in Mario mode seeing my Dad in the nursing home.

    This would allow me to see my brother as well, and we could discuss issues related to the family home.  We need to agree on how the asset would be disposed of upon one of our deaths, and how it would be managed afterwards. 
When I woke up in the morning, Maria had to cancel out on things, as her grandson's father didn't come to pick him up for the weekend.  She had no one else who could take care of the child, and didn't want to take him to breakfast with us.  However, she did suggest getting together on Sunday, and that would be OK with me. As for GFJ, the girls cancelled out. So my reason for blocking out this weekend no longer existed. Since I planned to see my brother, GFJ couldn't complain that I had plans for both days.  Yet, I still had Saturday Afternoon and Evening free for myself.

- - - - - -

Since I already woke up early for breakfast with Maria, I started thinking - What do I do with the rest of my life?

In one sense, I've taken what has amounted to a three year sabbatical from my life.  Due to my failure at the former communications firm, I am no longer that interested in project management. But what do I do next?  It would be nice to get a job for the next few years. Yet, I also have to factor in the hidden costs of taxes, insurance, commutation, etc. that I will incur if I get work that provides a low salary without benefits. Volunteering would be OK. But this doesn't address the need for me to generate some extra income to pay for my remaining so-called discretionary expenses.  Weight loss has proven elusive, in part because I have not dieted or exercised, and because my natural testosterone levels have dropped (not a bad thing for a trans person). This means that I can't go on hormones, and that I can't go with the facial surgeries I would want.  Yet, I wouldn't have started to alter my body permanently until after my father died. So this is not yet a major issue. It only adds to my feeling of being stasis for the past three years.

- - - - - -

With all of this being said, having had three years to myself hasn't been bad.  I've been able to explore life as Marian, and I've been able to get a better understanding of who I am.  Will I move forward to both a complete social and medical transition?  I'm not sure yet.  I'd like to keep moving forward, but I'm the type of person who likes having a companion in life. And there are not that many cisgender women who want to live with a trans person like me.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Rain, Rain, Go Away! (And the same for our President!)

I have never been a fan of rain.  It gets in the way, and it is only useful for washing away dirt and for nourishment.  But is not something the average person is comfortable wants falling on her. With the "warm" and wet weather we're having today, I didn't feel like getting moving at all. So, I ended up staying in bed most of the day. That doesn't mean I didn't have something to say....

- - - - - -

Last night, I finally heard one of George Carlin's "7 words you can't say on TV" said on a mainstream newscast.  Our Anti-LGBT president, Donald Trump had just labeled several countries "Shit Holes" in public. I am offended, not by the fact that these nations are poor and places that no person wanting greater opportunity would want to remain. Instead, I am offended by the absolute bad taste that this president had in labeling these countries "Shit Holes" in public.

Why am I focusing on bad taste?  Well, America has traditionally prospered by accepting immigrants from the shit holes of the world.  In the 1600's, 1700's and 1800's, we accepted many poor immigrants from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  These people were the dregs of their societies, yet they made a good home for themselves here. Later on, came German, Italian, and Slavic immigrants, who were also on the lower rungs of their societies, and they made good homes for themselves here as well. But what still causes many people problems is the fact that America, in part, was built on the exploitation of people of color.

- - - - - -

Sane people should be offended by racism, especially that which still lingers in our society. But there is a class of people who still believe that the lowest white person should be valued higher than the best black person. Since they can't do this, many want to make America a white nation and expel blacks. Others want to restore the "right" to discriminate against people "not from their tribe" and promote hatred of others in the guise of "religious freedom." This is very sad.

What would have happened if we tried to send all the Blacks back to Africa?  How would we have sorted them out, so that they could go back to their ancestral homelands?  Could you imagine an America without the vibrant musical culture that Blacks gave this country (among other contributions)? I can't!  We forcibly imported slaves to America, so we as a nation are socially responsible for seeing that their descendants are fully able to function in our society with all the rights, privileges and duties of other Americans.

- - - - - -

I'm not going to advocate uncontrolled immigration such as what we had in the 1800's for people of European descent. We need to make sure that no group of people become so numerous that they don't need to assimilate into America as a whole. We also need to attract the best and the brightest from our competitors. But we are shunning the most worthy of immigrants because of racist fears. Immigrants tend to work harder than native born Americans and appreciate what we have to offer to people who work hard. They know there is no free ride, but most believe that hard work pays off.

Of all the immigrants of color that I've met, I have found that most are just as conscientious as I am regarding social responsibilities. Yes, there are some people who never assimilate into society. But we should be able to do a better job at keeping these people out before we approve their admission to this country.

- - - - - -

But what about native born Americans?  Years ago, the "Okies" left their Oklahoma homes for better opportunities in California. Today's unemployed blue collar worker lives in towns where the mill closed, the mine has been shut down, or some other calamity made it impossible for the town to have enough work for its workers. They no longer can afford to move from their small towns in search of opportunity. Unlike the Okies, they are stuck where work no longer exists and do not have the skills to find work where there is work to be found.

Some states have dealt with the problem of rural joblessness by building prisons in rural areas and shipping prisoners from their cities to these remote sites. It doesn't solve the underlying problem, but makes things even worse. The people who now have jobs in many rural areas are dependent on government transfers of wealth to maintain their local economies.  This is inefficient, as well as harmful. Rural residents have a strong incentive to promote laws to keep prisons full instead of enacting laws which promote real economic development.  Politicians in these areas also have incentives to keep people too poor to move away, as they lose political power when people leave their districts.

- - - - - -

But back to racism....

Many of our laws were written in ways to benefit whites at the expense of blacks.  For example, many of our drug laws were written to allow whites the mind altering substances of their choice (read: Alcohol) while denying people of color their mind altering substances (read: cannabis, coca, and opiates).  Once minorities were put in prison, they could be kept from competing for jobs with the white populations in many areas. And when finally out of prison, laws kept them from many occupations requiring clean records, reducing competition even more.  In roughly 90 years, we still have yet to address hidden racism in our laws.

When Trump labels nations as shit holes, and labels all Muslims as terrorists, he only feeds the racist base that helped get him elected. Ethical conservatives are offended by his rants, but many are socially powerless to challenge corrupt authority. Yet, there is a sign of hope. Even Fox News couldn't avoid covering Trump's use of the phrase Shit Holes.

Just remember - This too shall pass....

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Day with Lili and a Night Playing Games.

Lili and her family in Vietnam.  Considering what she went through to get her face lifted, she does look 10 years younger in the original photograph (which I don't have yet). And this leads in to today's discussion.

- - - - - -

I think the plastic surgeon did a very good job on Lili's face. And the imperfection in the surgeon's work doesn't show up on any of the photos taken overseas. Lili is happy with the overall results of the operation. But she wanted the imperfection (a little fat bump below her right eye) removed.  Today was her trip to Long Island to see her surgeon at his Long Island office.

We met at 10:00 at BJ's, and drove to the outskirts of Great Neck where the surgeon's office is located. One problem - we were 45 minutes early, and we had to kill time before the appointment. So it was over to H-Mart to do some grocery shopping. 20 minutes later, we finally drove to the doctor's office and had to wait to have our car parked by the valet.  (This building doesn't have enough parking for its tenants.) Then, it was upstairs to the doctor's office. Thirty minutes later, Lili came out of the office and the doctor came out to say hello.  It's nice that he remembered me.

- - - - - -

Next, it was off to meet Lili's friend and go to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. I liked her friend, and the three of us got along well.  Hopefully, we'll all be able to get together soon for a trip to Brooklyn for some burlesque.  Although I don't remember the name of the restaurant, one of its specialties was Soup Dumplings, and I intend to go there for those wonderful delicacies soon.  But today's lunch was common fare - Eggplant with Sliced Chicken. It was Yummy!  For me to say this about a dish I've had more times than I can count, the dish must be very good.  And maybe, I could even say it was better than that.

Eventually, lunch had to end and Lili's friend had to leave. So it was off to Lili's Mom's house to meet with her brother and tour the house for one last time.  They are finally in contract, and will finally be able to get their money out of this asset.  One thing that Lili and her brother should be thankful for is that the offer went into contract before the tax law changed. Had this happened later, I expect that the offer would have been 10% less because of the newly limited deductability of Mortgage Interest as well as State and Local Taxes.

Once done at the house, we fought rush hour traffic to get home. We exchanged Christmas gifts before we parted for the day, and I then drove down to Yonkers for game night.

- - - - - -

At game night, I shared some news about a Co-Op issue with the hostess, and she found it interesting that I could say "Thank You, Jeff Sessions!" after explaining the whole situation to her.  As much as I think the former DOJ advice made it easy for a statute to be abused, I think it very lucky for us that the DOJ advice is now gone - just at the right time. A little later, a new woman came to play games, and she stayed until 10:30.  After the new lady left, the hostess said to me that she never expects the newcomer to return.  Given our group's history with women, I feel she may be right.

The drive home was depressing.  There was nothing terribly wrong to cause me problems. But the depressing overly moist air kept me using the wipers (and spritzers) to keep the windshield clean, and it started to drizzle a little as I was nearing home. I hate driving in conditions like this, and I wished that someone else could have been behind the wheel tonight.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A little volunteering and a little shopping afterwards

It was all I could do to get myself moving today.  Right after the Co-Op board meeting ended last night, I was feeling a little ill, and retired to my bed to get comfy. Waking up the next morning, I was still very uncomfortable and feeling like I had a fever.  Yet, after a few more hours, I started to feel better and decided to go to the GLBT Center for my weekly volunteering stint.

Before I left, I sent the following to the professor in charge of my speech therapy at Mercy College, and described the most notable event regarding the cruise I'll be soon taking with Lili:

My friend is likely paying for our cruise with gambling comps. In short, because she drops about $400-$500 per day on most cruises, the cruise line casino comps her to cruise and only asks her to pay taxes and tips.  As for me, the casino is lucky if I drop $20 per day. The last time I cruised, I took out a $20 bill on day one, went to one slot machine and pulled the lever. About $5 later, 4 dancing girls appeared on the "Carnival in Rio" themed one armed bandit.  There was no way I can avoid looking at people (my original draft said "Scantily Dressed Women") dancing.  And by the time these scantily clad ladies finished dancing, I had another $360 in my pocketbook.  No wonder why they were scantily clad - they couldn't afford clothes after paying me off.  :-)

PS: I came home with $350 of that $360.  I didn't want to pay their dressmaker for new frocks...

Arriving at the GLBT Center, I chatted with the volunteer coordinator for 30 minutes, and then got to the task at hand: Putting announcements for activities at the center on to Facebook, and scheduling the sending of these announcements to members.  This took me about 30 minutes, but I really didn't have much energy to do more.  So, after another little task, I left for the week, and decided to take a drive.

My first stop was Catherine's in Poughkeepsie.  Unfortunately, I needn't have bothered, as I got to the store as it was closing.  (They close early in January, as it is a soft month for sales.)  There was nothing I was interested in, so the 5 minutes I spent in the store was just a quick look-see.  Next, it was off to The Avenue in Newburgh, where DD was on duty.  She is getting frustrated with the store's current manager and is thinking of leaving.  I'll miss her if that happens, but we now have each other's numbers and Facebook ids so we can keep in contact.

Strangely enough, I keep worrying about an antifreeze/coolant leak. And I keep "smelling" fluid where I see nothing leaking on the ground.  It could be a figment of my imagination, or it could be something very small and real.  Either way, I'll have to keep monitoring things with the car.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Paperwork and a Co-Op Board meeting

I had two things on my docket for today: Meeting with the fellow who assisted me in my health care insurance enrollment so that I could have current income certified, and a co-op board meeting.  Both involve paperwork, and both got in the way of me going out in the world as Marian.

- - - - - -

Although I woke up early (for me, that is), I didn't get moving until 1 pm. And this gave me just enough time to get dressed and prepare the paperwork I needed to have it scanned by my health insurance enrollment agent, so that the last item for Obamacare healthcare  subsidies was out of the way for 2018.  So I got in the car with paperwork and iPad in hand, and it was off to Ossining.

We arranged to meet at the Ossining public library at 2:30 pm, and I noticed that there were even more ladies playing Mah Jongg there than there was on the last time I visited. The enrollment agent was late, so I occupied myself by reading news articles on my iPad.  One of those articles had to do with actions Trump's Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, was taking. He was deleting much of the Department of Justice's "advice" on how to interpret the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal statutes related to formerly "protected classes" such as the LGBT community. And I had to pass this information onto my Co-Op's board of directors, which then passed it along to our lawyer and our buildings' managing agent. Shortly before 3 pm, the enrollment agent arrived and he processed my paperwork. Now, I likely won't hear from New York State until later in the year when I have to reapply for insurance subsidies.

- - - - - -

Next on my list of things to do was a 5:30 pm meeting of the Co-Op board of directors.  And this is where our co-op's president and I were thinking the same thought - "Thank you, Jeff Sessions!"  Neither of us like this man. And HWV, being black, has even less respect for him than I do. So we were surprised to receive this belated "Christmas Gift" which may help us manage one of the issues affecting our Co-Op.  (I can't go into any more detail than this - as much as I'd like to do so.) The co-op meeting lasted longer than expected, and HWV let me know which "20 @ 20" shows she is interested in attending.  I mentioned to her that I might be unavailable during this time, and that I wouldn't be able to schedule anything until my plans have firmed up.

As I noted before, would you ever believe that someone as left of center as I am these days would be thankful to Jeff Sessions for anything?  This doesn't change my opinion of the Trump administration, but it does prove a point - there are too many poorly written Federal Regulations.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A weekend with GFJ - with car problems to boot!

A Honda Civic.  The car has proven itself to be very reliable, with none of the annoying minor or important flaws that plagued me on the last 3 American brand cars I've owned. And I had minor trouble this weekend that could have caused me great trouble if I didn't know what to do.

- - - - - -

Although I could have gone to see GFJ on Friday night, I decided to stay home and nestle under a warm blanket. With the weather expected to go into the single digits overnight, I wanted to stay warm in my own bad for one night this weekend.

Saturday came, and I packed up my bags to visit GFJ. But first, it was off to the movies to see "Murder on the Orient Express." I knew the basic plot line, but GFJ didn't. So I was able to focus on how they constructed the film instead of trying to figure out what was going on in the film. If I was to criticize anything in the film, I'd say that the railroad scenes seemed very fake to me. Most appeared to be generated via CGI graphics, and looked unrealistic - except when people were in the shots. Not wanting to spoil the story for people who haven't seen the movie yet, all I will say is that Professor Plum killed Mr. Boddy in the hall with the candlestick OR Mrs. Peacock killed the cook in the kitchen with the knife OR Colonel Mustard killed the motorist in the lounge with the wrench. (OOPS!  Those are solutions to the game/movie of Clue.)  To be serious, you will figure out who did the killing halfway through the film.

On the way to GFJ's from the theater, my car's display issued a warning: My engine was running hot!  The outside temperature was in the single digits. So I pulled the car over to the side of the road, let it idle for a few seconds until the message was no longer displayed, and then slowly made my way to GFJ's house. If the indicator would have come on again, I'd have turned the car off and called for a tow. But with prior experience with a water pump failure on a Datsun B-210, I knew that it was likely that my car's fluids weren't warm enough to flow properly or that an internal thermostat controlling coolant flow had failed in this weather. So I knew that I could slowly get the car into a safe space and have it towed either on Sunday or Monday if needed. When I reached GFJ's place, I decided to park the car for the rest of the weekend. And we didn't leave her house until Monday morning. But first, I made a call to my brother who gave me another idea to check out - did I have enough coolant in the car's radiator? 

I went to the car first thing Monday morning, and discovered that I probably didn't have enough coolant in the reservoir. So GFJ and I went to the Honda dealership in Kingston to pick up the correct coolant needed for the car. Unlike most of the Kingston area dealerships, the Honda dealership has its service department in in the original dealership's building, a few minutes away from its main sales area. So I was glad GFJ drove me there instead of me trying to drive my car and waiting for it to cool down before adding coolant. 

With coolant in hand, we went back to GFJ's place where I added coolant to the car's reservoir. And then I slowly drove off after giving GFJ a goodbye hug and kiss.  I was careful not to put a strain on the car for the first half hour of driving, and made it home safely home without incident. Do I have a radiator leak? Maybe. I wish I had a better clue to what happened with the car. But I'm glad the car has proven itself reliable in stressful circumstances. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Quickie: Thoughts about body image

Lately, when I go to look at myself in the mirror, I keep wishing that I had a woman's hips and fat development in the area.  There's not much that can be done about that right now. But when I lose weight, I will need to wear hip pads when in women's clothes to create the illusion that my body is better proportioned than it is at that time.

If I had gone on puberty blockers 50 years ago and then on estrogen, I would not have had to deal with a masculine developed body.  I also would not have developed many of the sexually dimorphic characteristics that identify my body as having been assigned male at birth.

Some of the things I wish I had would be a woman's hips, her narrow wrists, ankles, and neck, and of course, her breasts. Of all of these, the hips and breasts would be most important to me. Although I'd be tall for a woman, I'd still be in the normative range for females.

Even if I had the "Correct" body for a female, would I have the right internal image of myself?  All too many women are uncomfortable in their own skins.  They have been taught that they have to look young, and appear as if they never had a life. For example, many are embarrassed about having a post-pregnancy belly with stretch marks. I feel that these are the marks that a woman has had a full life. In this way, having been raised as a male has been an asset to me. But as I progress along the path to my feminine self, will I become insecure? Or, will I retain the typically masculine advantage of having a positive image of an imperfect body? Only time will tell.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Quickie: NYC Subway work crew.

(Two maintenance cars which may never have been in revenue service)

The New York City Subway system.  It is essential to the functioning of a metropolis of 8 million residents, and the businesses that double the population of Manhattan Island on a typical weekday.

If one travels at odd hours of the day (or on weekends), one will often see unusual pieces of equipment never seen during a normal commuter's trip. This post is a quick posting of some of the more unusual shots I've taken of the subway, its denizens, and the work that goes into making this system work.

("Dumpsters" for use in hauling away construction debris.) 

(A work car similar to that carrying the dumpsters in the previous photo)
(You can see that they really wanted this engine to be seen.)

 (This is a view of a typical NYCTA engine used in the subway system.)
(Times Square below ground)

(More of Times Square below ground)

Years ago, a close friend of my family worked in subway maintenance.  He was a hard drinking person, but I never saw him out of control of his liquor.  When he was drinking, he and his wife were home enjoying their highballs. When he was working, he was cold sober. Over the years, he damaged the nerves in his hands by holding a jackhammer, and his fingers were always bent from the damage caused by jackhammers. Yet, I'd love to talk to him a little about the things he saw in the system, and to ask him to get pictures of the more interesting parts of his work.  Since I can't do that, I'll have to take photos when I can, then post them when I have enough to make an interesting entry from them.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Quickie: A frigid day, not good for doing much.


- - - - - -

Last night, I cleared the snow away from my car, assuming that I'd have to move it out of my spot for the plows to clear the area. This morning, my car started (YAY!!!) in the brutal cold, and I took it for a spin to charge the battery a little.

Returning home, I had very little energy.  Although it was a perfect day in many respects to have gone out as Marian, the cold kept me from doing so. Instead, a warm apartment, a cozy bed, and a working TV kept me comfortable throughout the day.  By the time evening came, I had little desire to go out in below zero weather (with wind chill factored in), and stayed inside.

Around dinner time, GFJ called and we had a long talk about nothing in particular, save for when I should arrive at her place tomorrow. Given the weather forecast, it might just be too cold for us to go to a movie. So it looks like it will be a night or two snuggling with each other. However, one thing of note was mentioned - she was doing something with the girls next weekend, and we would not be getting together on Saturday. (Yes, there's a part of me that's a little concerned about this. But this may give me the freedom to spend a weekend as Marian, so I'll deal with my concerns and take advantage of the free time given to me.)

- - - - - -

But back to the cold weather....

Saturday and Sunday look like they will be frigid days.  So I'll be sure to dress very warmly this weekend.  Even if my car gets stuck at GFJ's place Sunday night, I can always wait for the late Monday morning "thaw" that is expected.

I'm very glad that this cold spell will soon break, as my niece is returning home from Britain this coming Tuesday. I'm looking forward to seeing her again, and maybe going to another museum soon.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Quickie: Snow Day

Should I talk politics, or should I talk about the snow?  That is the question I have in front of me today, given the storm which is blanketing the Northeast with snow and the revelations coming from a soon to be released book on the first year of Trump's presidency.  Given how clean the snow looks outside, I do not want to deal with the ugliness of politics right now.

- - - - - -

Last night, around 2 am, I responded to an email from the Cat Lady (TCL) and said that I hadn't seen any snow yet.  She commented that she wasn't going to bother getting up until 7 am, and would likely call in sick if they were expecting school to be open today.  From what I can tell from the timing of her emails, she was able to stay home. 

As much as the snow hasn't accumulated that much at the time I started this entry, I hope that the final total will be around 3"-4" of snow in my area. (I'll add a postscript to this entry later on with more information about the total.) But due to the low temperature, the snow texture will be light and fluffy, making it easier to shovel when things clear up.

The further North and West of New York one is, the less snow will fall on the ground. The worst of the storm was expected to hit to the South and East.  So my brother will need to deal with more snow than I will be dealing with. Thankfully, I'm not in Boston, where they expect that a foot or more of the white stuff will be dumped up there.

- - - - - -

What makes this storm worse than normal is that the barometric pressure readings are similar to a Summer hurricane. And once the storm passes, we will see the daytime temperature drop into the teens and the single digits, making it worse for anyone who has to go outside.

Although I intend to clean my car off tomorrow morning, I am not sure if the car will start in the cold weather. Assuming it does, I will go out for breakfast at Mickey D's, and give the car a chance to warm up and recharge the battery before returning home. There will be a lot of people with similar ideas out there, and I'll hope that my parking spot has been plowed out before I return home.

But I'm not going to think too much about tomorrow right now.  Instead, I'm going to watch the news and see what's going on from the comfort of a warm apartment....

- - - - - -

PS: We got the 3"-4" around here. But other areas, such as Long Island, got 8"-12" of snow.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Stocking up before the big snowstorm

This is how my parking lot looked during the last big storm.  It was pretty for a while, and then the cleanup began.  Everything I did today was with this coming headache in mind.

- - - - - -

When I got up this morning, I had the following things on my docket:
  1. Volunteering at the GLBT Center
  2. Lunch with Lili

    Realistically, I should have included a third item in the list:
  3. Food shopping to get me through the next few days.
Although I have more than enough food in my freezer, I prefer eating fresh food to thawed food. And this meant that I'd make a run down to Stew Leonard's for some tasty grub.

By the time I made it out of my house, it was nearing 2 pm, and Lili hadn't yet called in regard to lunch.  I figured that she forgot about it (which she did), and that my day would be made less complex because I didn't have to exchange Xmas gifts today.  On the way down to the GLBT Center, the weathermen were predicting 1"-3" North and West of NYC, and up to 6" South and East of NYC.  This was going to change for the worse, and I'm glad that I was well prepared for the storm.

Once at the GLBT Center, I was given a couple of mindless tasks - both of which kept me occupied for the almost 2 hours I was there.  When I left, I was finally able to reach Pat (my former hypnotist) and catch up a little.  She had been away from Mid-December, seeing her daughter in LA, and then her sister in Denver. This was a big treat for her, as she is getting old, doesn't have any money, and may not have the chance to take a trip like this again.  We agreed that we'd try to meet next week, so that we can catch up on what has gone on in our lives since we last met.

- - - - - -

After talking with Pat, I decided to drive home.  So I called GFJ, and talked about her movie night with the gals, and I realized that it was in my best interest to avoid the Fishkill area while presenting as Marian.  So, instead of driving to Fishkill and walking through Walmart, and then seeing DD at The Avenue, I decided to drive back to Yonkers to window shop there and then go to Stew Leonard's.

As I expected, there was nothing new in the Yonkers store, especially since they were preparing for inventory inspection. My favorite worker there was too busy to even chat, and the sweater I bought for GFJ wasn't available there in my size. So it was off to Stew's for some food shopping and some damage to my bank account.  And damage, I did.... One thing about Stew's meats, they are not cheap. But they are good.  Today, I didn't see any bargains in the store. As a result, I ended up buying items from my typical Stew's shopping list - Pastrami, Lobster Rolls, Ready to bake Pizza, and fresh fruit. And yet, I still didn't get out of there with less than a few double sawbucks worth of wallet damage.

- - - - - -

I expect that tomorrow's game night will be cancelled. And this means I'll likely be doing laundry.  My late wife saying that word still rings in my ear, as she was so pleasantly childish how the spoke it.  No matter how old I get, how involved I am in a new relationship I become, my memories of the past will always come back when the snow falls and I'm alone in my thoughts. Luckily, these are pleasant memories for the most part, and I can enjoy that brief glimpse back in time through my memories.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Quickie: My first time en-femme in a week.

As you can see, I have a messy bedroom.  But I finally had a chance to go out as Marian after a week of going out as Mario.

- - - - - -

When I started this entry, the NYC area was in the middle of a cold spell.  The overnight temperatures were expected to hit the single digits in this suburb, and I wanted to go out dressed as a cisgender female would do.  So, instead of wearing a dress, as I usually would wear, I put on a pair of fleece lined tights and wore some women's trousers over them.  It's not as comfortable as what I normally would wear. But most women tend to avoid dresses and skirts in cooler weather, and I didn't want to stand out.

Given that I had a relatively empty refrigerator, I decided to go to the local buffet for a bite to eat. And I enjoyed the change of pace, knowing that I rarely go to buffets these days.  It was also nice to be addressed as "Miss" and not the dreaded masculine word.  Although I could have gone elsewhere afterwards, I decided to go home.  There wasn't much I needed to do outside the house, and I figured that I could get much more comfortable than if I had gone window shopping.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A few days and nights with GFJ

Normally, GFJ drives down to my place for the weekend.  But, with her unable to lift more than a bottle of soda, I knew that I would be driving up to GFJ's place this weekend. So it was my luck that I'd be driving up to see her on the coldest weekend (so far) of this Winter season.

- - - - - -

Thursday had me trying to buy a new battery without success. My car's battery is original factory equipment, and I was willing to sacrifice 20% of its expected life (and $150 or so) to be sure I'd be able to start the car in the coldest of weather.  Well, after a stop at Sears, this would not be the case - they couldn't install a new battery at 1 in the afternoon.  With "service" like this, I'm pretty sure that Sears will out of the car care business as well as out of business as a store within the next year or two.  So I decided to go home to find my jumper cables (and emergency charger) before driving up to GFJ's place.

Around 5 pm, I arrived at GFJ's place, and I was very grateful that she left the door open for me.  She was out picking up her prescriptions, while I got a picture of one of the very tame deer which inhabit her property. (See above picture.) We had a quick bite to eat when she got home, and afterwards both of us fell out a bit earlier than usual.

- - - - - -

The next morning, I woke up with a nasty back ache.  This was due to a mattress that is well beyond its prime, a mattress that should have been replaced more than 20 years ago. (Most mattresses tend to last for 10 years or so, and should be replaced before the springs cease to give adequate support.) GFJ had gone out to pick up food for the weekend, and I enjoyed having a quiet house to relax in.

When GFJ returned from her shopping trip, I had to carry several small bags upstairs, as she was instructed not to lift anything while she recovers from her surgery. Luckily, she parked her car near the basement door, and I didn't have to get too cold while unloading the car. After a quick lunch, we drove to the New York State museum in Albany.

It took us a while to navigate to the museum, as the instructions given by Google Maps were not as clear as I would have liked for a drive in this area of town. But we were able to find a free, dubiously legal, parking spot in a lot which was packed to capacity. Even with a walk of no more than 1,000 feet, we were freezing by the time we entered the museum.

Unlike most museums, the New York State Museum does not have people collecting admission fees.  Instead, there is a clear plastic container in front of each door where patrons are expected to make a $5.00 donation per person.  And I didn't mind doing this, as it is a more friendly way of extracting money from people who visit museums, while still allowing people who can't afford the $5.00 to visit by just walking in.

Around 4 pm, GFJ and I were getting tired, and we decided to have a bit to eat in Albany before driving home.  Next time, we will avoid driving to the Crossgates Mall area for restaurants, as there wasn't much worth going to along that strip which I've driven many times before.

- - - - - -

You'll notice that the cold weather had become an important factor in our level of weekend activity.  Saturday was a day where neither of us wanted to go out. Although GFJ suggested that I start my car, I figured that it made more sense to only start my car when I was going to be on the road for more than 30 minutes.  With temperatures going below zero at night, it didn't make sense to use any of the juice in the battery to start the car when it doesn't need to be started.  So we made it a "Jammie Day", and watched TV and Movies all day in the comfort of GFJ's house.

Lili called and told me she was going to buy me a tunic.  Although I don't need any more clothes in my closets, I will always accept a gift for Marian, as I am still working on a wardrobe that is both comfortable and works well for me and that is one a cisgender female would wear in every season and for every event that comes up during the year.

- - - - - -

By Sunday, we were getting a little stir crazy, and decided to go to a movie.  The timing of the films left a lot to be desired, and we ended up seeing "All the money in the world."  This movie is about the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty's grandson, and all the scenes originally shot with Kevin Spacey had to be reshot with Christopher Plummer to allow this film to reach the theaters instead of being shelved. I highly recommend this movie, but look the other way when a very graphic scene takes place....

Once we were done with the movie, it was back to GFJ's house.  Neither of us had ever cooked a pot roast, and I found that her cooking tools were not up to snuff.  Yet, I was able to make a facsimile of a good dinner, using what tools I had in the house to prepare this dish reasonably well.  (It's hard to cook some foods without a good "Dutch Oven", and she didn't have one which could be used both on a stove and in an oven.)  Although I can whip up a tolerable meal, I'll always miss what my late wife could have done in the kitchen.  But I digress....

Around 11 pm, we took the food out of the oven and had a late night dinner.  Watching the ball drop at midnight held only a minor appeal for us, and we were in bed by 1 am or so.

- - - - - -

New Year's Day came, and I knew that I would be driving home sometime in the afternoon. Since GFJ was doing some wash, I put my dirty laundry in with hers - and didn't get done until after dark.  Part of me was wishing I were already on the road, as I knew I'd be hitting traffic jams. But another part of me wanted to stay with GFJ as long as reasonably possible.

When I was about to leave, I loaded up the car and turned on the ignition.  With a very slight hesitation, the car started up, and I let the car warm up a little while GFJ and I explored part of the property where the Wasband likes to hang out.  No, he wasn't there. But he did sell off some of the remaining inventory from their joint business while he was on the property before the holidays.

On the ride home, I encountered more traffic than usual.  The holiday Thruway traffic slowdowns happened below New Paltz for a change, and didn't delay my return home that much.  So instead of taking 90 minutes, it took 105 minutes.  This is not a big deal when I compare it to the traffic jams I encounter when driving to Long Island.

- - - - - -

It was a long weekend.  But it was enjoyable.  Now to figure out a schedule with GFJ, now that I have to make the drives up North for a change....

Monday, January 8, 2018

Twas Brilling and the Slithy Toves....

An illustration of the Jabberwock, from "Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there."  The poem, Jabberwocky, is one of my favorites, as the sounds of the words seem to give the poem more meaning than the meaningless words themselves.

- - - - - -

Why do I start off mentioning Jabberwocky?  Sometimes, events in my life seem to have no meaning at all, and yet the pace of these events lend even greater meaning to my life than those events themselves. If I looked at losing my job and having over 3 years of idleness, it would see as if my life has had little meaning since I lost a traditional routine. Yet, the ability I gained to explore life by living as Marian (albeit in a part-time basis) has enhanced what I've gotten out of life so far.

In the poem, the hero is being warned about the arduous task ahead of him, and the risks involved in his challenge. As for me, I knew that dealing with the issues of my transgender nature would be a big challenge. And I marched forward in spite of those risks.  Like the hero of Jabberwocky, I tackled my challenges and have continued to move forward in life. Have I completed my tasks?  No, but there had been measured progress so far.

I've suffered my fair share of failures.  Some of them could not be avoided. And others were caused by me taking too many risks.  Even the mistakes I've made have taught me things I would never have learned had I not been willing to step outside of my comfort zone.  but I still have a long way to go. For example, I have yet to focus on losing the weight that I need to lose, so that I can wear a greater variety of feminine clothes. Keeping the weight off would then allow me to justify the plastic surgery I'd need to have a face life that would either fully or partially feminize my face, to do a tummy tuck (getting rid of excess skin), and other procedures I'd want to be able to live more of my life as Marian instead of Mario.

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Eventually, I will have to make a very hard decision.  Do I sacrifice my likelihood of finding romance so that I can live my life as Marian 24x7?  Or, do I keep living life as both Marian and Mario, using prosthesis to appear as Marian when I am presenting as female? Given how attached I have been to GFJ, even for nightly conversations and weekend company, I'm not sure if I could easily give up the chance for romance. Is it ambivalence, or something else?  I doubt my problem is ambivalence, as I keep moving forward at a slow pace. Instead, I think I'm making sure that I don't apply a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Unlike many others in the Transgender community, my need to live as Marian doesn't depend on radical or quick changes to my body.  I can take my time to be absolutely sure that I really want to live as Marian.  One transwoman in my circle of Facebook friends went through social transition, then detransitioned, and then started the process anew. She lost her job in the industry she worked in for years, and is now trying to regain a foothold in that field.  I don't want to lose that much to gain 20 years of life as Marian.  I'm not sure. But I don't think a lot of things that I care about trigger urgent needs anymore.

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I will continue reporting my life on a day-to-day basis and hope you will find something of interest here to keep you coming back for more.  For new transgender folk who are starting their paths in this life, I also hope I can be an inspiration - as others have been for me. And for old-timers, I hope that you always fins something new here to make it worth your while to visit this site now and then.

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’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Quickie: One of the many things I miss

Over the years, I developed many habits which gave me pleasure.  One of them was spotting the Nina in an Al Hirschfeld drawing in the New York Times. The artist was known as "The Line King", capturing the spirit of a person with a minimum of lines, then filling in some of the white spaces once he left the theater.

It is obvious from the way this lady is drawn that she is very comfortable. you'll notice that she is wearing no shoes and is dressed informally. It's also interesting that she is holding either a paint brush (or cigarette holder) as a prop, given that her father was known to use pencils in his drawings.

Of all the Hirschfeld drawings, the original of this picture is one I'd love to afford to have in my collection. It is both typical and atypical of his work at the same time. I'd also love to have the body of a woman who looked this feminine and this comfortable in her own skin at the same time. There is a confidence in this woman that I never had when young, and am only now starting to gain, now that I am out and about as Marian.

I have an easy challenge for you today.  Can you spot the Nina in this picture?