Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Waiting for Fed-Ex

If I was stuck here waiting for Fed-Ex to deliver my new wig, then it made sense to get my Summer stuff out, so that I could pack for my upcoming cruise. And this was my game plan for the day.

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When I awoke this morning, my apartment was in a greater mess than usual. I had already started to pull my summer things out of storage, and had 5 dresses ready to go into my suitcase.  This year, I had a challenge - how much stuff could I fit into a single large bag?  Lili didn't like having to wait for me to find my large bag at the pier on our last 10 day cruise. So I figured that I'd try to pare things down, in order to make things a little easier for Lili on our return.

After taking my morning shower, I put my bag on the bed and dumped the 5 summer dresses I had into one side of the suitcase. But this wasn't everything I needed.  I have to bring twice as much underwear as the average cisgender woman, as I need my extra equipment to be tucked away as securely as possible. In addition, I must bring a miniature version of my full makeup kit, so that I can make my face presentable every day of the cruise. Being transgender, there is so much more I need to think about before I travel, and I have to plan accordingly.

While packing, Lili called. She wanted to shoot the breeze, and I wanted to focus on packing.  I'm glad that I had a slight distraction, as I almost forgot to bring the special chlorine resistant breast forms I would be inserting in my swimsuit's pockets.  That would have been embarrassing NOT to have these forms with me on the cruise.

Later on, GFJ called.  There is no way I could get ready to go out while she's on the line. And I knew that if I ended up doing something outside, that I wouldn't get the chance to chat with her again.  So, I accepted another delay - and didn't get out of the house until shortly before 7:30.

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My first stop for the evening was at The Avenue. When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by the store manager, and we gabbed for the better part of a half hour before I started browsing for things I'd like. Going to the shoe area, I saw the shoe above. And I think I'll wait until I see it on sale before buying it.  It would be perfect for a Summer wedding, wouldn't you agree?

Then, it was off to Stew Leonard's for some food to tide me over until the weekend.  I expect to be eating out tomorrow with Vicki, and spending the better part of Thursday at home while my car is at the shop having its idiot lights checked out. Since Thursday nights are spent in Yonkers, I may end up going to Panera Bread for dinner. It all depends on my cash supply.  At least, I know that I can still get cash from the ATM down the hill....

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Cat Lady, Lili, GFJ and a Little Bear, and a car that keeps wanting to visit the mechanic.

(In front of The Little Bear - Bearsville, NY)

The weekend started with Lili getting upset at me because I tried to set up a situation where I could find out whether The Cat Lady (TCL) was telling the truth about whether she was willing to meet Marian, and it took a strange course from there.

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Lili gets upset at me because I value friendships much differently than she does.  She needs a much more intense relationship with each of her friends, and doesn't have many people in what I call a second ring of friends. TCL is a person I want in that second ring, someone with whom I can go out to dinner, but not get emotionally of physically intimate. TCL knows about Marian, but requested that I present as Mario when we went out to dinner on Friday evening. And this put the kibosh on me going with Lili to a surgeon for a tummy tuck consult.

I left my house with what would normally be enough time to reach TCL's place. Unfortunately, I didn't account for a 3-day Weekend Friday rush hour. So I was using every trick in the book to get around rush hour traffic by using side streets that most commuters would never use. When I finally got to TCL's house, she was glad to see me. But I sensed something was off when she said that she was a little clumsy that day. And this would come home to give me trouble later on.

We drove to a new (for us) restaurant for dinner, and got a table in the back. It was hard to hear each other speak, as the place was crowded and the acoustics were terrible. Yet, we had an enjoyable dinner. And then a minor disaster struck. In reaching for something, TCL accidentally hit her wine glass (filled with RED wine) and got it all over my shirt.  This necessitated an immediate visit to the washroom, and a later use of stain remover to (hopefully) remove the stain.  TCL was very apologetic, and I was glad this happened at the end of the meal and not the beginning. So we split a dessert and went back to her place to chat before I left for home.

Reaching home, I found that Fed-Ex had made an attempt to deliver a new wig I wanted to bring with me on my upcoming cruise.  It's hard to know when the delivery guy is going to come, but what is worse is that the delivery required me to be there in-person. This is a big pain, as they give no idea about when they will come, so that you can arrange to be there. Instead, they will charge you for a scheduled delivery - something which turns me off from using their services. If someone is shipping to me, give me a 3 hour window to expect delivery and I can be there to sign for a package.  Otherwise, drop it off at my front door. If UPS can do it, why can't Fed-Ex?

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The next day, it was off to speech therapy. I could swear that the student being trained is learning more from me than I am from her. That's why I think I've reached the point of diminishing returns regarding my feminine voice. But I enjoyed this one short time I had in Marian Mode this weekend, and can't wait for my upcoming cruise to start.

After changing back to Mario, then a little bit of packing, it was off to GFJ's.  I stopped off at Walmart to pick up a cheap extension cord for my CPAP machine, and got the "3 idiot light salute" when I started up my car in their parking lot.  Since I knew that this is not a warning of a problem that would strand me in the middle of nowhere, I proceeded to drive up to GFJ's.  I was fortunate to get there before the snow started - I didn't want to drive through any more slop than necessary.

This was a stay at home evening, and she surprised me with some fresh ravioli and "home made" (I hate that easily abused term) sausage from a New Jersey Italian goods store.  YUM!  This is one time I can say that she really hit the spot with her cooking.  But I digress. Strangely, the best part of our evening was binge watching a show, "American Playboy" on TV. Both of us were finding the life of Hugh Hefner very interesting, and it added another person to my list of dead people that I wish I could have met in their prime.

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Sunday morning came, and we took our time getting up and moving.  Both of us wanted to go out while the sun was up, so we took a drive to Woodstock to see "Phantom Thread". But first, it was off to The Little Bear for dinner, and then to a cafe for dessert.  As usual, the Bear met my expectations for a good meal.  As you can see from the picture above, there was still enough snow along the banks of the stream to enhance the view from our table. (I couldn't help but focus this picture on the flowers on the table.) Once done, we drove back to Woodstock proper to get some dessert.

We found a little cafe in back of one of the restaurants in town and entered just before closing.  It was a nice place to kill the hour before the movie, and when the last person (besides us) left, we took our cue and left for the movie. Is Phantom Thread a great film? No.  Does it have some great performances?  I don't think so, albeit that Daniel Day Lewis makes his character come alive. But I'm glad we didn't spend the $13 we'd normally spend on the film had we gone to the multiplex.

After the movie, it was back home to binge watch some more of Hefner's story. I think I enjoyed the episodes of this show more than I did the movie earlier in the evening. And, like clockwork, I was out like a light within 5 minutes of the 3rd episode (of the night) starting.

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Presidents' day came, and we both had places to go. I was glad that there were no school buses on the roads, as this allowed me to make good time on the roads to the thruway. I made it home in less than 90 minutes (excluding a stop at Home Depot), and stopped by the mechanic to show him that the 3 idiot lights are again lighting up my dashboard.  They were trying to tell me that they were booked up for today, while I was trying to say that I don't need an appointment until later in the week. We both had the same goal, but I found it interesting how easy it could be to miscommunicate in a situation such as this.

When I got home, I started pulling out things I'd need for the cruise.  Given that I won't need my Summer dresses until we're in the Caribbean, I can do much of my packing well in advance of need. And I hope that I can fit everything into a single suitcase, so that I can keep Lili from bitching that I carry too much stuff onto the ship.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Amtrak and travel

Albuquerque, NM.  A nice place to stop on a cross country train trip, but I wouldn't want to live there....

Today's post involves travel by train.  It's not what it used to be. But it can be a very rewarding experience. In many ways, it is like taking a cruise, because the trip and not the way-points is the reason for the mode of travel.

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So far, I have taken two cross country train trips (LA-Chicago-NY and SF-Chicago-NY), one trip along the California coast from Oakland to LA, one trip from Boston to NYC, one round trip between NY and Chicago (with a stop in Rochester, NY), and several trips between NYC and Washington, DC.  Of these trips,  the three that started in California were the best, because the views from my seat were unforgettable.

The first of these trips, on the Coast Starlight, was a run from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles. It started in Oakland, and paralleled US 101 for the entire trip to LA. In the North, the train ran through farm land, then made its way South for some unforgettable coastal running before reaching LA.  Although I had a sleeping compartment for this run, I didn't need it. All but the last hour of my trip was run in daylight.

The next trip, on the Southwest Chief, was from Los Angeles to Chicago. This train loosely paralleled Historic Route 66, but only because of its start and end points.  If one wants to see some beautiful Southwest scenery, this is the route to take. It is not a route to take is you want to see urban skylines.  Other than the Raton Pass, there's not much on this route that jumps out at me to report on. But it's a nice route to take if one wants to relax and see nice scenery.

The next Summer, I took the California Zephyr from the Bay Area to Chicago. This was the route I originally planned to take the year before. But a washout East of Denver diverted me to a Oakland-LA-Chicago trip in its place. If one if going to take a cross country train trip, this is the trip one should start with. Not only does it cross the Sierra Nevadas via a route along the American river, but it crosses the Rockies via a route along the upper Colorado.

In both cross country trips, I took the same train to the NYC area - the Lake Shore Limited. Unlike the first cross country trips, I didn't require a sleeper compartment for this leg of the trips. When one pays the extra money for a sleeper compartment, Amtrak supplies meals as part of their first class experience. But on this trip, the train leaves Chicago after dinner service would be provided. So the only meals I would get would be breakfast and lunch. In addition, since I do not travel to Penn Station, I can not get my baggage checked. So it makes much more sense for me to travel in coach, as I can always freshen up when I get home.

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I have done the broken round trip (with stops in Rochester) from NY to Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited.  And the sleeping arrangements were the most memorable in the Roomettes. Bunk beds are not a problem for me, as I can easily climb up to the upper bunk and enjoy the ride. But the step stool unfolds to reveal a toilet inside the compartment. This has to be a great stroke of genius, as it allows a woman to know she has a clean seat to sit on. Or, it has to be a great stroke of insanity to have a toilet in the same room where one sleeps.

Most of this trip is relatively boring, as half of the trip is made in darkness, while the other half passes through land best traveled on a better schedule.The Chicago bound run starts along the Hudson river, and hangs a left to parallel the Erie Canal to Buffalo. Some time after one reaches Albany, the sun will go down, and one will travel in darkness until the train reaches Ohio. At this point, there is not much to see until one reaches Chicago.  The New York bound train starts in darkness, and hits daylight for the run through New York State. The views of farmland and rivers along the way make this a nice trip. But it's not one to take if you want to justify it on the scenery alone.

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I'm told that the trip to Montreal has a stretch of beautiful running near Lake Champlain. One of these days, I expect to make that trip. Hopefully, I'll be able to take the remaining long distance runs on my bucket list before long.  I'd hate to miss any great American Railroad trip while I am able to take it....

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Links to Amtrak related videos:

Viewliner Roomette Tour

Superliner Sleeping Car Tour:

Dining on the Southwest Chief:

Coast Starlight - LA to SF:

Cross Country Train Travel Tips:

Empire Builder Trip:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Thoughts about Cruising as Marian

Cruising as Marian.  I get a little worried each time I do so, as the political situation is much different now than when I first started cruising with Lili four and a half years ago. I wonder whether I will be hassled when I take the above cruise in the next few weeks.

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Our first cruise was a 7 day Princess cruise from New York to Nova Scotia and back.  As much as I hated the idea of sailing out of Brooklyn, the price was right and so were the politics. Obama was just beginning his second term, and it was easy to find the TSA guidelines for transgender folk.

I can still remember the lady who checked us in making a comment on my nail polish.  She was stunned to say the least.  Later on, we reached Boston, and one lady made a comment seeing me on the bus and having what appeared to be a hot flash:

"You must be going through the change."  

And I responded in my best female voice:

"Ma'am, you don't know how true that is!"

When we got back to New York, I presented my ID to the customs agent and he started looking back and forth between me and my male ID.  Eventually I said in a baritone voice:

"Yes, that's me!"

And he responded with a wink and a smile:

"Get out of here."

- - - - - - 

Two years later, we finally got the chance to take another cruise.  This time, it was a 10 day NCL cruise which stopped in San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Tortola. By this time, my feminine presentation had improved enough that I didn't worry much about travel in touristy areas. But there was no way that I'd be going to places where I would be at risk from locals who think that transgender people are abominations.

This was the first cruise where I had a swimsuit and was willing to go into a swimming pool. But I realized that after this cruise, that I would need a mastectomy swimsuit with pockets in which I could place breast forms for swimming. And it was the first time that Lili mentioned to me that a lady behind us was openly commenting that she thought I was a guy.  Lili gave this woman the "evil eye", and the woman shut up.  If I had heard her comment, I might have suggested that we have a threesome and all of us could have some fun. That would have taken the wind out of her sails.

Unfortunately, I had one awkward incident when we returned to New York.  I was singled out for special processing, in part because my feminine presentation did not agree with my masculine ID.  And yet, I got through customs quicker than Lili did - even with an excess of luggage.

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Move the calendar ahead another two years. Both Lili and I had an itch to take another cruise, and we sailed on the last NCL 7 day cruise to Canada for the season. Lili had a craving for some Canadian tea, and this kept her busy in the two Canadian ports we visited. Luckily, I had no interest in another day trip to Peggy's Cove for picture taking. It's a beautiful place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

I was a little apprehensive about this trip, as the political situation had started to change in this country. Trump was in office, and his administration had already started to roll back protections for GLBT people. But I found out later that I had nothing to worry about on this cruise. In fact, this was also the first chance I had to wear my new swimsuit on a cruise. And I had the breast forms to give me the illusion of having breasts. By now, I developed enough confidence in my presentation that I could go anywhere I wanted without worrying - and it showed.

When we landed in Halifax, Lili started looking for King Cole Tea.  It's a flavorful blend, and only found in Canada. Lili was unable to find 5 large boxes to pack in her luggage and bring back for her own consumption. As I've said before, when Lili gets a bug in her craw, she won't give up until she succeeds in her quest. But she failed in Halifax. So she was hell bent to find this tea in St. John when we docked there, and eventually took a cab to a Canadian supermarket to buy this tea. To me, bringing back gifts for people is a nice thing, but not something wasting a day in which one could go sight seeing. So we parted for the day, and I went to the city's Police Museum - and had a wonderful conversation with a widowed lady there.

Our next stop was in Portland Maine. And this is where we encountered something we hadn't encountered before. On previous cruises, we touched no US soil before landing in New York. So both Customs and Immigration controls were performed at the same time. On this cruise, everyone had to go to the lounge where US Immigration inspected our passports before allowing us to get on with our day. This ended up being a blessing for me, as the agents in New York would have no excuse to prevent me from reentering when we returned to New York.

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My next cruise with Lili will be coming up soon, and we will be going back to the Caribbean. The political climate has gotten even more nasty, but I'm not going to worry about presenting my masculine ID while presenting as female.  My voice is much more feminine sounding than it was four and a half years ago, and I don't care much about what people say while I'm on the cruise ship.  I'll still be very careful when disembarking the ship in tropical ports, as the islanders tend to be very conservative with a low regard for transgenders (especially on islands of British and Spanish culture).

I don't expect any problems on this cruise, or I wouldn't bother taking it. Each time I cruise, I find that people generally treat me very well - simply as if I were an obese woman. One woman put it best - fat people become invisible to many. And this seems to be true for the most part. Each time I cruise, I find myself wishing more and more that I had all the appropriate feminine plumbing. I've gotten tired of "tucking" and I want breasts of my own to fill out my swimsuit. One of these days, I hope to be able to have my presentation, my legal identity, and my body in sync with each other. Until then, I deal with the risks of being openly transgender in this world.

Keep your fingers crossed....

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Quickie: Sometimes I create my own problems....

Previously, I told Lili that I'd accompany her to the doctor for her "Tummy Tuck" (skin reduction) consultation.  This time frame would slightly conflict with getting together with the Cat Lady (TCL). And I tried to hedge things with disastrous effects with Lili.

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The last time I was with TCL, she indicated that she might be interested in meeting me as Marian.  So I tried to make it possible.  Here is where I made my own problem.  Lili only wants to see me as Marian, and it looks like TCL only wants to see me as Mario.  Throw on a miscommunication regarding the long weekend, and I got myself into a minor mess with Lili - she's a little pissed off at me because I can't be with her for the doctor's visit if I want to be with TCL later on.

I will probably see Lili before the cruise and explain what happened.  My focus will be on the goal of having as many people as possible know me as Marian and be willing to meet me in Marian mode.  I think Lili will understand what I'm trying to do, even though she'll still be a little uncomfortable knowing that she's not my number one priority in life.

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On other matters...

It's interesting.  Wednesday's Florida High School killings are still in the news.  But the tone of the news reporting is a little bit different than usual.  What it is, I can't say for certain. But I think it has to do with these killings occurring in a solidly Red State, where gun ownership has few (if any) infringements.  People may be seeing that their representatives no longer represent them, but are representing the firms who pay lobbyists and contribute millions to their campaign coffers.

We've seen a president read a nice sounding script from his teleprompter, offering "Thoughts and Prayers" to the suffering.  But the script promises nothing.  No action will be taken, no discussions for change will be held, and nothing will come of his speech except for a waste of television air time. This is a damned shame.

It's sad when a high school has lock down drills attempting to prepare for a situation such as happened on Wednesday.  Fire drills are one thing. But drills to protect children from a mad gunman? Something is very wrong here. I may be a strong supporter of the second amendment, but even I am willing to participate in honest discussions to find ways to prevent problems like Wednesday's from happening again - even if it means surrendering a little part of my second amendment rights. I am willing to make some common sense trade offs, as long as the other side is willing to bend a little as well.

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Life is messy, but it's all we have.  So let's try to do it right....

PS: I talked with Lili later on.  She was very annoyed at me, and then got into her rant about me finding a woman who wants someone like me.  I'm tired of her projecting HER need to have someone who could live with her onto my life. I find it's nice to have someone who cares. But I also find it nice to be able to live my life with friendships, not romance as my focus for companionship.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sometimes, I feel as old as this Milestone.

Throughout the Hudson Valley, along the original route of the Albany Post Road (mostly Routes 9 and 9A), you'll find milestones such as the one in the picture above.  From what I can tell, it reads 44 Miles to New York - something that makes sense, given that the local train station is 38 miles from Grand Central Terminal.

This milestone was likely carved from sandstone, something that obviously didn't age well in our climate. I wish that when they affixed the plaque to the bottom of the stone, that they did something to have prevented the stone from decaying more than it has. But like many old things, it is meant to serve for a limited amount of time, and then be replaced at some future date.

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And this brings us to today's discussion....

My car had an appointment with the mechanic to finally eliminate the problem I was having with rough starts and idiot light displays.  Dropping the car off shortly after 10 am (I tend to wake up around 9 am these days), I decided to walk the half mile back home in today's dreary weather. And this walk showed me how much out of shape I am.

The mechanic is only a half mile from my apartment. But for the most part, it is an uphill walk.  In the past, I wouldn't think much about this walk, except that I'd have to go slower on the steeper uphill stretches. Today, I noticed that I was getting a little tired on the relatively flat stretches of the walk, and had to pause a couple of times after going uphill.  Obviously, I am no spring chicken.

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This is not the only thing that makes me feel old....

This morning, I got the following text from Patty saying how things have been for her lately.

I am okay, but there are a lot of family issues.  My brother in law had a stroke yesterday after having an angioplasty.  He is in ICU, and it will take some time to determine how permanent any damage is.

Patty's brother in law is at least 15 years older than Patty.  He is a very friendly fellow, and is one of the people I missed seeing after we broke up 15 years ago.  Hopefully, he will recover both quickly and fully.

- - - - - -

But it could be worse....

Yesterday (as I write this), 17 people lost their lives because of a gunman who went on a rampage at a grade school.  This is terrible.  As much as I support second amendment rights as a check and balance on government and a potential overreach for power, I support laws which check and balance these rights to protect innocent people from crazed gunmen.

In America, we are lucky.  Unlike most English speaking nations, our constitution enumerates rights, so that they can not be taken away by the whim of government. But this poses a problem.  What happens when an enumerated right (such as the right to keep and bear arms) is continually abused by a small minority of people?  How can we put limits on such a right when the constitution prohibits infringement of that right?  Obviously, there is a common sense tension between the right of an individual to keep and bear that gun vs. the right of society to preserve social order. And that is reflected in many of our laws involving firearms.

The most recent case in Florida is notable because people warned government in advance about this crazed gunman. Yet, our president signed a law upon coming into office which restricted the right of the mentally ill to buy firearms. Something is very wrong here when it is easier for a 19 year old to buy a gun than it is for him to buy a drink.

We never had to worry about such problems when I was young. And I feel very sorry for today's children, as they will never know the kind of innocence we experienced growing up in a less aware era.

- - - - - -

Of course, Trump and the Russians were in the news today.  Special Prosecutor Mueller handed down more indictments, this time identifying Russian nationals who "allegedly" conspired to manipulate our 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.  There is no way this scandal will go away until this traitor is removed from office. And the constant drip, drip, drip, of bad news regarding this man and his corruption only makes it worse for many of us.

In the past, I would look at Bush#43 and simply say that he is spinning things in favor of the GOP. I never thought him to be as evil as I thought him flawed.  However, we have a man in power whose administration is a threat to the republic. By tapping into the racist fringe elements of the GOP and bringing them into the mainstream, he has emasculated the GOP and made its leaders afraid to act with any conscience. And now, many of these leaders are forced to help him with his crimes, lest his loyal base vote these leaders out of office. They are caught between a rock and a hard place, and they deserve their discomfort.

Today, Trump left the White House for one of his trips to Mar-a-Lago.  The press was peppering him with questions regarding Russian election interference, as well as the abusers in his administration who function without security clearance. And he ignored everything, while looking very uncomfortable on his way to the helicopter. I can only imagine what could be going on in this man's mind when he finally had to admit that Russia has been meddling in our elections since 2014.  And it will get worse for him as more things get exposed in the weeks to come.  As a transgender person, I am worried that a Pence administration will be worse for us than a Trump administration already has been for us. And I can't wait until both people are gone from the political scene.

- - - - - -

I wonder what the people who erected the milestone would say if they could have seen what America has become like today....

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A quick visit to the mechanic, followed by some time with GFJ.

It's hard to believe that I didn't have any pictures in my "2018 - Miscellany" folder until yesterday. But it makes a certain sense, as I didn't yet copy anything here because I hadn't yet anything worth capturing on disk.

- - - - - -

As you can see, my car made a quick visit to the mechanic yesterday. After chatting with him, and finding out that it didn't make sense to drop off the car until my three favorite idiot lights came back on, I didn't expect to see him again that same afternoon. But, as I started my car to go to GFJ's, the lights returned, and my car made a quick visit to capture diagnostic information before I went on my way.

There was a part of me that worried a lot about driving to GFJ. On the start that brought me to the mechanic's shop, the car felt as if it was running on 3 cylinders. When I started it up again, everything was back to normal. Although the idiot lights were still on, I was getting better mileage than normal all the way to GFJ's place. Once at GFJ's, we went for dinner, and then took a walk around the track. Neither of us wanted to take a long walk - we simply wanted to get our digestive juices running. Then it was back to her place to rest for the evening.

- - - - - -

Valentine's Day came, and neither of us wanted to get out of bed. I had to drive home, and she had to see the doctor in regard to how she healed from her recent operation. So we decided to have a late breakfast in New Paltz before parting for the day.  I knew it was going to be a long day for her. She had already been on a half hour call with the "Wasband" regarding work, and was still on another call (which lasted about an hour) when we arrived at the diner.

All too soon, we had to go our separate ways.  She got good news from her surgeon - she could again start lifting things, building up muscle strength that she lost in the 2 months since the operation. As for me, I got home in time to take care of an urgent matter, and then rest for a while.

Late in the afternoon, Lili called - and I told her that she had to complete her registration for the cruise.  She wanted me to enter this information, but I said NO.  Any error on my part (such as entering in the wrong passport number) could cause her not to go on the cruise. So I pushed this task back to her. And then, she sent me a link to a dress that she thought I should wear to her son's wedding in July.

What do you think of it?  Although a light coral might look a little washed out on me, it is appropriate for a Summer wedding.  I only hope that it doesn't make me look fatter than I am.

I didn't feel much like going out again. So I called it a day much earlier than usual....

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Quickie: Being on the Co-Op board

Being on a co-op's board of directors isn't always easy. If we're doing our jobs right, no one thanks us for doing the right things. If we're doing them wrong, there is no end to the complaints we receive. In our case, we are very happy that we have no active opposition from the outside and that we have a harmonious board.

Recently, one of our board members said that we should have backup for our two key positions: President and Treasurer. I agreed with her. However, this idea could also be seen as a threat. Wanting someone who could take over in case of an emergency is very important. But it could also be viewed as wanting to have an opposition slate ready to run things when the side in power is voted out. For a board as small as ours, we will need to take the systemic risk that comes with a small board, so that we can preserve the harmony we have in running things.

One of the tasks we now seem to be doing on a monthly basis is the vetting of new shareholders. We look at the financials of potential new residents and insure to the best of our abilities that new people will not become a financial drain to the co-op using objective standards. This is very important to us, as we can be sued if it can be determined that we broke the law in rejecting applicants.

There are mundane tasks that come up every year. For example, we have to develop yearly budgets, and monitor the performance of our vendors. Recently, we had to replace one of our vendors. Again, our decision was made focusing on finances and how the new vendor would best serve the needs of the co-op. Sometimes, a decision can be quick. And other times, a decision can take months to make and to implement. For example, changes which will be noticeable to (and that will affect) our shareholders are made carefully, as when we alter the internal or external appearance of our buildings.

Our co-op has one public meeting that is held every year. This meeting is the annual election of co-op board members. In the past, we had trouble collecting enough ballots to get a quorum to make the meeting and vote official. Now, we seem to have enough shareholders expressing an interest in the election to both send in their proxies or attend the meeting to cast their votes. As a form of providing answers to frequently asked questions, we have started to have yearly meetings where shareholders can ask questions of the board and other key people and get their answers. This is an important development. For example, shareholders unhappy with our board's inability to act on some issues can be told by our lawyer why we are forced to act as we do without us having to issue a reply that cause us problems in the future.

These public meetings can come at some personal risk.  A while back, I feared that my nosy neighbor could cause us problems by outing me as transgender at the public meeting. So I outed myself in private, and didn't have any problems either at the private meeting or the public meeting. Since I openly come and go as I please from my apartment as either Mario or Marian, there is not much this woman can do to me - especially now that she's moving out of the complex. Yet, I have to be careful, as my responsibilities as a co-op board member can affect her life. I must make sure that all my actions are taken with the best interests of the co-op shareholders in mind, and nothing more than that.

I could go on and on. But I'd rather finish off this entry and avoid the risk of going into any more details that could cross the line between public and private knowledge....

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A very tired Monday morning

Sleeping late can get to be a way of life.  Last night, I fell out a little before 3 am, and didn't wake up until almost noon today.  Considering that I've been living on a below average amount of sleep this week, sooner or later the sandman would catch up with me. And I feel much better for it.

- - - - - -

When I woke up, I thought it was earlier than the clock said it was. Being in a warm bed felt real nice, and I hated the thought of getting out from under the covers. If I didn't have to get up to relieve myself, I might have stayed in bed all day. Once I was up, there was no way that I was going to return to the bed.

Shortly after getting up, Lili called.  She wanted to discuss her issues with her boyfriend. He works mostly on the second shift, and leaves for work around 1 pm. Lili has been going to sleep late lately, so that they have no time to be intimate before her boyfriend leaves for work. Things are not going well for her, and I think that they will eventually break up because of physical incompatibility.

Once done with Lili, I started to organize things I would need for my cruise with Lili. We have some time to go before the cruise, but I wanted to be sure to have everything I need and to be able to get the little things I need while I have the time to get them.  Right now, I can't find my mini makeup bag, something which will be an essential thing for me to have on the cruise. There are other things I'll need, and I have to make sure I have a list of them in the next day or so, in order to be able to have them delivered in time for the cruise.  (I'm glad I placed the order for a new wig last week - It should be here well in time for the cruise.)

It wasn't until 6 pm that I decided to get out and about. And I figured that I'd drive down to Catherine's in Paramus to look at their new stock.  After gabbing with the sales ladies, I ended up trying on a couple of new outfits, neither of which I bought.  The first was a jumper which looked like a dress on the rack. This garment was totally impractical by its nature, as going to the bathroom would require me to strip off a garment which was too small for my torso. It also was too tight in the crotch area. Even with constructive use of belts, there way no way I'd look pretty in this outfit.  Then there was the polka dot dress.

Although the dress looked nicer in the mirror than it appears here, I chose not to buy it.  There are better things I could do with my $90 than to buy this dress. It was comfortable, but I didn't think it shows me off in the best light.  And I have learned not to trust sales ladies whose one goal is to move merchandise.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I chatted with GFJ for a while.  She had a busy day, and will have to deal with the "Wasband" tomorrow in her divorce hearing. So she warned me that she might not be in the best of moods when I come up to see her after my car leaves the shop again.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Who'll stop the rain?

As I write this entry, the rain is still coming down.  It has been a miserable weekend, weather-wise, and it's getting in the way of me going out - either as Mario or Marian.

- - - - - -

After yesterday's speech therapy session for Marian at Mercy College, I changed back into Mario mode for my overnight with GFJ in the Catskills.  We had planned to have dinner before seeing a movie, and I figured that I'd arrive in time to bring my bags upstairs and relax a little before we went out for dinner. Calling GFJ, I found out that the "Wasband"  was emptying his stuff from a back building on their property, and that she wasn't sure when he'd leave. So we made contingency plans to meet at the restaurant if he wasn't gone by the time I reached New Paltz.  Luckily, these plans weren't needed - he was gone well before I arrived.

Arriving at GFJ's house, we exchanged Birthday gifts (her birthday was earlier in the week) and Valentine's Day gifts. She made me wish I had bought a little more for her, as she can be generous to a fault on her limited income. We relaxed a little before going to dinner at the Red Brick Tavern, and I made sure that I would pick up the check (especially since it would be smaller than I'd have normally expected). Both of us enjoyed a Pastrami on roll with melted Swiss Cheese, and it was hard to eat because the meat and cheese were both plentiful and overflowed the buns.

Following dinner, we walked down the street to the local movie theater and watched Molly's Game.  The movie was better than expected, and the performances were solid. I was surprised to see Kevin Costner in the film, as the small, but crucial role he played could have been played by any journeyman actor without loss to the film. Yet, it was nice to see him doing a non-star role for a change, as a longer presence from him would have ruined the film by changing the focus from Molly to her father.

- - - - - -

The next morning, it was time for us to part.  Neither of us got much sleep the night before, and we were up and running before 7 am.  We were both on the road by 9 am, and went our separate ways.  On the way home, I saw a spun out car being lifted onto a tow truck, so I had an excuse to call GFJ to warn her about the road conditions. (The phone call also helped keep me awake for the rest of my drive home.)  She was hitting soupy fog on her way to her mom's and probably appreciated the conversational company until she was minutes from her mom's house.

Arriving home, I ended my call, brought my bags inside, and went to sleep for a little while.  For all practical purposes, my day had already ended and it wasn't even 12 noon.  And that's just as well on a day with this much rain....

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Quickie: My car will never stop surprising me. Or, is my voice "good enough?"

My car will never stop surprising me.  For the second time in two weeks, the idiot lights on my car's dashboard went on.  And for the second time, these lights reset themselves after a couple of days.  All I want is for my mechanic to get this problem resolved, and this means that the car's computer must be able to provide the error status when I bring the car in on Tuesday.

- - - - - -

When I woke up this morning, I was glad that I had set multiple alarms.  I needed the extra 10 minutes of rest before getting up, as well as to note needed milestones for my morning preparation that I had to meet on a timely schedule so that I could make it to Dobbs Ferry by 9:45.

Getting into my car, the idiot lights came on as expected and I drove the car to Dobbs Ferry without incident. However, after stopping into a quick mart for a buttered roll, the car started without the idiot lights coming on. AARGH!  Hopefully, enough information will have been preserved, so that my mechanic can resolve this issue.

This week's speech therapy session went all too quickly.  I feel that I have reached a point of diminishing returns. My speech is 90%-95% of where I want it to be, and it will just take a lot of practice to complete the process of voice feminization. This means that I will need to find ways of socializing with more females as a peer, and there are a limited number of meetup groups which may make this possible. So, I will likely need to take another tack and just start going to places (which may be co-ed) and start trying to socialize as my authentic self, Marian. Will I feel strange?  Yes. But I expect that it will be no worse than when I first started to go to gaming meetups.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Kvetch, Kvetch, Kvetch.

Kvetch, Kvetch, Kvetch.  Is that all she ever does?  (For those of you who don't live near New York, "Kvetch" is a Yiddish word that means "To Complain".)  And today's post is inspired by a neighbor who knows me as both Marian and as Mario.

- - - - - -

The first thing I did this morning was to take a quick shower and bring my car to the shop. This time, we had the evidence needed to diagnose the car's problem. But they didn't have the time to look at the car until Tuesday. This isn't that bad a problem for me, as I know what the issue is, and I know that the car will likely NOT strand me in the middle of nowhere.

When I was done for the day at the mechanic's, I went home and met a neighbor in the parking lot.  She was cleaning off her car, and stuck up a conversation. Almost everything she had to say was a complaint about something or someone. She wasn't looking for solutions. Instead, she was looking to vent.  Yes, it is the nature of a woman to Kvetch much more than a man. But men can and do Kvetch.

There seems to be a subtle difference between the use of the English word "Complain" and the Yiddish word "Kvetch".  Normally, "Complain" is used to get a problem corrected - I complain about something, and I expect you to correct it. "Kvetch" tends to be used to vent in regard to events or actions in the past, and I need to talk about what has been frustrating me as of late.

- - - - - -

Each culture handles adversity differently.  Some cultures tend to be stoic, and expect people NOT to complain about their lot.  Instead, suffering is seen as a test of character. Other cultures tend to be very vocal about their ailments, and deal with suffering by sharing their lot with others in order to lessen the effects of being frustrated by life.

Years ago, Henry Ford said: "Never complain, never explain."  I'm not sure of how right he was, but I know that he was a flawed individual who never Kvetched.  But with that being said, wouldn't you rather have a friend who isn't always dumping their problems on you?  Yet, you'd want someone you could share your problems with in a pinch.  This is the dual nature of being human - we all have a need to commune with others, while we also have a need to be alone at times.  Kvetching is a way some people fill that need for communication....

Friday, February 16, 2018

Idiot Lighting

Idiot lights - they are great to tell a driver that something is wrong with her car, but they are not meant to tell the driver much more than that. At least, I was warned to expect to see the three troublesome lights (Check Ignition, Check Power Steering, and Check VSA) come on again. And this time, I will leave the car running while I get the mechanic out to the car to see these light in person....

But first....

- - - - - -

When I woke up this morning, I figured that the only think I needed to worry about was when I would arrive at the GLBT Center and when I'd get to game night. So I took my time getting out, and arrived at the center at 3:00.  I didn't have that much to do, so I surfed the web in between tasks for dresses I could wear to the July wedding of Lili's son and (future) daughter in law.

I'm not sure, but I think any one of the 6 above dresses would look nice on me.  What do you think?

Around 6 pm, I decided to leave the center and meander over to game night with a stop at Panera Bread.  Dinner consisted of a half sandwich and salad, and I was sated on this amount of food.  (This didn't mean I couldn't eat more. Instead, if meant that I wasn't in the mood to have a larger meal.)  After I finished my meal, I went to the car and started it up. And again, for the third time in 2 weeks, the 3 idiot lights came on.  Damn!  I was hoping to spend most of Friday in Marian Mode, and I'll have to spend it as Mario, if only to talk with the fellows at Luposello's.

Next, it was off to game night, where I again lost at whatever game was played. But my mind wasn't into games tonight. Instead, I was thinking of car repair and other headaches I have to take care of before I go on my cruise.  Given that I have two weeks left before the cruise, I have to make a quick decision - do I replace my wig now and get a 20% discount from "list"? Or, do I conserve my cash. I also have to see about getting documentation to prove that I had health care coverage for 2017. This will be a pain in the ass.

And now to go to sleep, so that I can wake up early enough to bring the car into the mechanic and be done early enough to the the Cat Lady for dinner tomorrow evening.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Quickie: A sloppy day in the NYC Suburbs

As you can see, I'm not the only woman who will wear dresses and skirts in foul weather.  Let's hope that this lady didn't get more than a minor bruise when she fell....

- - - - - -

When I saw the weather report for today, I decided not to go out in the sloppy weather. First, I'd have to clean the snow and ice from my car. Then, I'd have to deal with more precipitation coming down during the day and deal with idiots who don't know how to drive in this weather.  It was safer for me to stay home, and I think it was the prudent decision for me.

Shortly after I woke up, I received an email from the Cat Lady (TCL) to tell me that she decided to stay home today.  Given that she commutes to work through what has been ranked the most dangerous intersection in New Jersey, I can't blame her for staying home when she has a migraine headache. Lili then called, and told me the latest problems with her boyfriend. I won't go into details, but she is considering kicking him out of the house. Something is wrong, and they need to talk. But without talk, Lili's suspicions will get worse, and that will create a vicious circle of distrust.

Sometime after lunch, I looked outside my front door and saw that a package has been delivered. Out of the 4 items I ordered from Amazon, 3 have now arrived.  The first was a book called "Go the F*ck to Sleep."  (The highlighted link points to a YouTube recording of Samuel L. Jackson reading this book.)  The next two were a Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker and a DVD Movie called "The New Girl Friend." The movie is about a man who has a secret from his girl friend, one of interest to the transgender community.  The book and the speaker will be Birthday and Valentine's Day gifts for GFJ. Knowing that she will likely be moving out of her house once her divorce is finalized, I had to choose gifts that are small, enjoyable immediately, and won't cause her to get upset if she loses them in a future move.

- - - - - -

I expect that tomorrow will be a busy day.  Until I have confirmation one way or another, I'm assuming that my lunch with Vicki #2 is still on. And after lunch, I plan to go in for my weekly volunteer stint at the GLBT center, followed by game night in Yonkers. Hopefully, all will go off as planned....

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Do I really want to go out as Marian for less than half of a day?

 (A poor picture of me at the theater)

This past weekend was one spent as Marian.  However, all good things must come to an end, as I had to show up at today's co-op board meeting as Mario. This meant removing my nail polish, putting away my jewelry, and putting my legal identification in Mario's wallet for a couple of days.

- - - - - -

Last night, I had a conversation with my brother about the stock market. Although the long term market trend is always going to indicate growth, the periodic downturns in the market indexes will cause people a lot of grief if they pay too close attention. Ideally, a person should have a portfolio which doesn't need a lot tending, save for an occasional rebalance or two during the year.

This morning, the stock market resumed its volatility, and is likely scaring people who have stomach for risk - such as Lili. Although I had the news on in the background, I didn't pay close attention to everything that went on. Instead, I focused on issues which may need to be addressed at tonight's co-op board meeting.

By the time I was ready to go to the meeting, I forgot all about getting money out of the bank. So I made it a plan to go there after the meeting was over.  As usual, the meeting took way too long. And I was a little frustrated at some of the issues which took way too long to resolve. There is one issue I can't talk about that worries me, and will likely cause us a lot of grief until it is resolved.

After the meeting, I went to the bank.  While on the road, I chatted with GFJ for a while, and wondered about tomorrow's snow, sleet, and ice that's expected. She may get 8"-12", while I expect only 4"-6" of precipitation.  The cleanup of this mess will likely take place on Thursday, and it will screw up another Marian Mode day - in part because snowfalls never get cleaned up properly in the neighborhood where game night is held.  I'll hate missing games for a third week in a row....

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A visit to the plastic surgeon with Lili

Lili's plastic surgeon is much better looking than the "doctor" in this picture. And his work makes a woman's face look naturally young. But sometimes, a doctor has to do some touch-up work, and today was that day....

- - - - - -

Normally, I try to wake up around 9-10 am. Today, I had to wake up at 6 am, so that I could be at Lili's house by 8, so that she could be at her surgeon's office by 10 am. This meant that I'd have to try to go to sleep early the night before, and hope I got enough sleep for me to be alert the next day.  And believe it or not, I was out the door at 7:15 with a stop at Mickey D's for breakfast, and in her driveway by 8.

Lili took the wheel of her car, and we drove off to the City.  She had neglected to bring her sunglasses, and was getting fatigued quickly due to her hypersensitivity to bright light in her eyes.  By the time we made it to the Bronx, she was driving as if she was drunk, and needed me to take over the wheel.  One problem - she didn't ask me to do so until she could barely drive. So we ended up with her driving several more miles until we reached the 125th street exit and could pull over to switch seats.  And here is where I got a little annoyed at her - not only did at least one of her tires need more air (I saw the related warning message displayed on the dashboard), but her registration had expired sometime in September!  If I had known this before we started our drive, I'd have driving my car down and avoided the risk of having to explain things to a cop while in Marian Mode, and absorbing the risk of getting a ticket myself.

I eventually parked the car in the garage across the street from the surgeon's office, and we went in for Lili's appointment. Once Lili was called in for the doctor to work his magic at 11:00, I tried to take a short nap. But this was interrupted by a lady coming in for her 11:30 procedure.  So we chatted for a while until she was called in, and Lili was done with the doctor.  A few minutes later, I joined Lili, and soon we were off to the suburbs.On the way out of the city, Lili told me that the doctor had confirmed our guess - the Tesla Model S that we saw in the parking lot of his Great Neck office and in front of his NYC office was his. (He has that kind of elegant style.)

Getting out of the city was much easier than getting in, but now I was starting to feel fatigued.  I needed food and sleep.  Lili suggested that we go to the local diner before going to her place, and I was more than glad to do so. Although she shouldn't have been driving, she decided to drive the last leg of our trip to her place, and dropped me off in front of my car.

- - - - - -

What I didn't mention about out return home was Lili's constant worry and constant talking about the Stock Market.  I've set a limit where if broken, I will shift everything into cash from stocks. That limit was reached today.  Lili has no idea of what to do with her money, and is looking for answers from me, her broker, and anyone else who can give her advice.  She was totally absorbed by the news that gradually reported the biggest one day drop (in points, not percentage) in the stock market indexes. At 1 pm, it was down somewhere in the 250 point range. By 2:30, it was down around 450 points. And by the time the market closed, it was down 1175 points.  OUCH!  Lili was going nuts, and so was my brother.  But my brother had good reason. Several days ago, he instructed his broker to balance his assets ASAP - and this did not happen. So my brother took a giant hit because his new broker didn't do his job. If anything, I might be the only person who won't blame others for the money I lost. I didn't reallocate the money in my 401k, and I had only myself to blame....

Monday, February 12, 2018

Off Broadway with HWV

Times Square - The Crossroads of the World.  And my travels took me there to see a play today.

- - - - - -

HWV and I had scheduled a trip into NYC to see a play as part of the 20@20 Off Broadway specials being offered until February 11th.  Although I still didn't get enough sleep last night to do all the things I wanted to do, I made sure that I was up and running by 10 am, so that I could meet her at noon.

Although I was running a few minutes late, it didn't matter much, as HWV was 5 minutes behind me. So when I got to her place, it was off to NYC and a parking spot across the street from the theater where Jersey Boys was playing. We arrived at the garage around 1:20, and didn't have to wait long before the 20@20 line opened - about 10 minutes early.  Paying for our tickets, the man behind the window commented on my nails. It was nice to have someone comment on what was part of my feminine presentation.

As expected, the play started at 2 pm, and HWV enjoyed it very much.  I wasn't impressed with the beginning of the story. But around the 45 minute mark, the play started to pick up, as the music shifted to Four Seasons songs. Since I had seen the movie already, I knew what to expect from the story. And these performers did both the story and the music justice.

- - - - - -

The play ended at 4:30, and we walked over to Bobby Van's Grill for a NYC Restaurant Week dinner. Dinners on the Prix Fixe dinner menu were $42 (excl. Tax/Tip) and I knew that I'd likely hit $80-$100 this evening. (Thankfully, I had gone to the ATM the night before.)  Unfortunately (for my wallet, that is) we had drinks with our dinner. Both the drinks and the food were very tasty, and I'd recommend the Flat Iron Steak to anyone wanting a perfectly cooked piece of meat. The service was perfect as well. By the time we finished our desserts (consumed along with Espressos and Anisette), we had racked up a bill of $270 (including Tax and Tip).  OUCH!!!   But every bite was worth what we spent and more.

Driving home was another issue.  By the time we got back to my car, the rain had started to come down and there were big puddles in the streets. Once on the road, the fog we hit on the Henry Hudson Parkway caused me to drive very slow and very carefully - as if I were a half blind person who shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car. (It was almost impossible to see the roadway near the location of the former tollbooths. And it stayed that way until we reached Riverdale.)  Given the condition of the roads, I decided to take local roads back home. And even then, I hit a few flooded spots which I would have avoided had I known about them in advance.

Eventually, I made it home, and got ready for bed.  The alarms are now set, and hopefully, they will get me moving in time to pick up Lili and get her into NYC in time for a minor "corrective" surgery to remove a bump of fat left over from November's operation.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Quickie: A bite to Eat before Speech Therapy

Normally, I never seem to have enough time to make it from my house to Mercy College. I wake up less than 2 hours before my appointment, and then get there with only a minute or two to spare.  Today, I had the chance to pick up breakfast on the way down - and discovered that I hate being directed to a machine to place my breakfast order.

- - - - - -

Since I had more than enough time to grab a bite to eat, I decided to stop at Mickey D's for something tasty, but not too nutritious. The drive in window line was way too long, so I decided to go inside. And that's where the "fun and games" began.  Instead of the woman behind the cash register taking my order, she directed me to enter my order on a touch screen display, then go to the counter to pay for my meal.  To me, this is off putting, as I prefer to deal with a human, no matter how much more accurate my order would be if I keyed it in myself.  Even worse, I ended up spending more time buying my meal inside, than if I had used the drive in window.  Sadly, this McDonald's experiment will likely succeed over time, and more people will be competing for fewer low skilled entry level jobs in the long term.

Once I got my meal, I continued on to Mercy, and continued drinking my coffee while in session.  This time, the therapist in training had something that showed me my vocal progress - and the supervisor (same lady as last term) was surprised at how high a pitch my voice could reach. Although I can hear the masculinity in my voice, it is less audible when I hear a recording of my voice.

- - - - - -

After I was done with Mercy, I went over to The Avenue in Yonkers and browsed the racks.  Although they have some new dresses there, there was nothing that held my interest - the styles wouldn't work for casual wear.  In fact, there was only one garment (a light denim dress) that appealed to me, but I wasn't going to spend any money buying something I couldn't use right now.

Only after I was finished browsing the merchandise did I go home to rest.  I napped a little and then called RO to see how she was recovering from eye surgery.  Hopefully, she will be able to go back to work soon. Then, I called HWV to firm up our plans for tomorrow. This is where my eyeballs caused me problems - I thought the play was at 3 pm, when it was scheduled for 2 pm. This meant that we couldn't go to the restaurant we wanted to eat at, nor could we eat before the play. Given the expected bad weather that will be coming in, I chose a place close to the theater and parking lot for our "Restaurant Week" dinner. Hopefully, we won't get anywhere near the precipitation expected to come in the afternoon.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The car just likes visiting the mechanic!

It feels strange being without a car, and only being able to look out my windows instead of getting around and seeing friends.  But my car is in the shop again, and I am forced to spend the day in Mario Mode, so that I can interact with my mechanic without showing him my transgender nature.

- - - - - -

Last night, I was so tired that I fell asleep without my CPAP mask on.  This meant that I'd get a lousy sleep AND would feel tired in the morning.  So when I first woke up, I put my mask on, set my alarms for 9 am, then went back to sleep for another 2-3 hours.

Waking up again at 9 am, I rushed into the shower, got dressed as Mario, and went out to my car. And then I found that I had to have spilled something sticky on my passenger seat (it could have been a Mickey D's shake from the other day) that had to be cleaned up. So I figured that I'd stop down the hill and pick up some upholstery cleaner and attack the seat before going to the mechanic.

Around 10 am, I arrived at the mechanic, and then was driven home.  When the driver started my car, the 3 idiot lights weren't on anymore.  Could they have already been reset? Probably not. I don't think they even touched the car at that point. So this was a mystery that would have to be explained later on.

About 6 hours later, I received a call telling me that the car was ready.  When I asked about the cost, the fellow on the end of the line said: "No Charge".  When he picked me up, again he said "No Charge".  Either they couldn't find anything, or they didn't do anything.  I prefer the former possibility. But if the problem happens again, I will drive the car over to the shop, leave the engine running, and show them that the idiot lights are on again - if only so say that I wasn't nuts the first time I saw this problem happen again.

- - - - - -

Once I dropped the fellow back at the shop, I decided to drive to Long Island and see my dad.  Normally, it takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to reach his nursing home if traffic is good.  But I was making great time all the way to the bridge, and I realized that I'd have to kill time until my Dad finished his dinner. So I overshot his exit on the L.I.E., and drove on some side roads to occupy my time until 7 pm. And then, it was off to the Nursing Home.

When I reached the home, I noticed that the parking lot was emptier than usual. Going inside, they had a notice asking people not to come in if they had cold or flu like symptoms. Since I had none, upstairs I went to see my dad. Walking down the hall, I noticed hallway doors shut that were normally open. So I walked through the doors and saw my dad.

It seems like they are trying to stop a flu outbreak before it starts.  My Dad called my sister in law to tell her NOT to come over until the outbreak ends.  Not knowing this, I came in, and my Dad was trying to shoo me out the door for my own safety.  So I kept 6' of distance between me and other people, chatted with him until my coffee was done, and then left.  I spent 3 hours of my life to spend 10 minutes with my Dad - and it was well worth it!  He looked much better than he usually does, and even my niece noticed this in her last visit.

- - - - - -

It was a better day than expected, and it's strange that I can say it for a day in Mario Mode.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Game night was cancelled. Now what to do?

Earlier in the week, I received a message that game night was cancelled for the week.  Now what to do?  As it stands, I had to shift a lunch with Vicki #2 to next week, I may have to postpone Museum Night with my niece for 2 months, and have to juggle a few more things to keep my schedule functioning normally with days fully spent as Marian with a few days fully spent as Mario.

- - - - - -

Lili and I had scheduled ourselves to meet at the local mall at lunchtime, and then go to get my ears pierced. Put the stress on the word "HAD".  When I started my car to drive to the mall, the car flashed the same 3 idiot lights that came on last week. So I called the mechanic in order to schedule a car appointment for tomorrow, and then told Lili that we should meet at a diner for lunch due to my postponement of the ear piercings.

We met at the diner in Mahopac, and afterwards it was off to the GLBT Center. I got there a little before 3:30, and ended up doing an hour's worth of work.  The rest of my time was spent with a F2M Transgender who was facilitating a support group in the evening. Though our conversation was a little longer than I would have liked (I was talking much too much), I think I made a new friend.

- - - - - -

On the way out the door, going home, I checked my messages.  My niece double booked our get together, and was going to a birthday party with one of her friends. She apologized profusely, and realized why I keep trying to meet at the Brooklyn Museum on the first Saturday of the month - it's their free night, and we both like that word FREE!  Hopefully, we'll get together before the first weekend of April. But I am also glad that my niece has a life, and is not afraid to make decisions that could be awkward.

When I arrived home, I got a note from the Cat Lady (TCL) that she had to postpone our dinner for tomorrow night. She was feeling a little under the weather, and wasn't sure how she'd feel after work tomorrow. I said that Saturday opened up, and if she wanted, we could postpone things until next Friday.  

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I'm going to try to talk to HWV before Sunday and suggest that we eat before the play on Sunday.  This is a change to our plans. With all the plays we want to see starting at 3 pm, this makes sense - especially when I have to be up by 6 am on Monday morning to take Lili to/from her plastic surgeon to fix a minor problem with his work.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

This space intentially left blank.

How many times have you wanted to do nothing, and couldn't afford to do so?  In my case, I didn't want to go outside, I didn't want to spend any money, and I didn't want to bother getting showered and dressed. And doing "Nothing" all day was the perfect thing for me to do.

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Being unemployed does have some benefits.  One of them is being able to take a "Jammie Day" whenever I want. But this has its drawbacks as well. The more idle I get, the more idle I want to be. And that is not good for anyone.

In order to figure out something I could do, I looked into my freezer and decided to throw out all food that I can't remember buying AND all food which has gone past an arbitrary expiration date.  If the food is undated and I can't remember buying it, it probably is not good to thaw out, cook and eat.  If the date on the freezer bag indicates that the food is no longer good to thaw, cook and eat - it gets thrown out as well.  It's all too easy to toss food in the freezer to be cooked later. It is very hard to plan for thawing this food on a regular schedule to get the most value out of what I've bought.

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There is a part of me that is afraid to move any further on my path towards social transition. I am a little ambivalent about doing anything that can't be reversed, and have always been afraid of surrendering any options to gain in other areas of my life. It was hard enough to reveal my transgender nature to my niece, GFJ, and the Cat Lady (TCL), and it would be much harder for me to risk revealing this part of me to my brother and the rest of the family.

What's even harder for me these days is losing weight.  Since I'm no longer as active as I once was when dating Patty, it's much harder for me to lose weight.  Couple this with the gradual loss in testosterone production in my body (something I don't miss), and weight loss becomes near impossible without "radical" steps taken by me.

Without weight loss, I can not even consider hormones or facial feminization surgery.  About the only thing I could consider is hair transplants, and even then, this might be problematic. But if I could accomplish all of this, would I still be able to find romance?  As much as Lili and her friends say there is a cover for every pot, statistics and demographics work against my interests.  How many cisgender women would be interested in a person like me?

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So on this day off, I did nothing but relax, think a little and take care of a task I should take care of more often.  On the whole, not a bad day after all....

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Quickie: Lunching as Mario

I don't often go to lunch as Mario, but when I do....

Earlier today, I had to explain a joke based around an advertising campaign mashed up with a Star Trek TV story device, In the ad campaign, "The Most Interesting Man in the World" does totally impossible things, such as bowling overhand. In Star Trek, "Red Shirts" are considered expendable cameo characters whose sole purpose is to get killed on "away missions." Some Star Trek fan found a shot of Jonathan Goldsmith playing a "Red Shirt" in the Original Series, and posted the following:

And his character didn't die!

So, when I mentioned this to Lili, I had to explain everything before she got it, and then she chuckled.

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And this leads me to today's quick post....

Today, I would have liked to stay home in bed and relaxed.  However, knowing that my ex-boss and I had a lunch appointment AND that he will be very busy until the end of tax season, I got out of bed early, got dressed as Mario, and out the door in time for a 12:00 lunch.

Like the Walrus and the Carpenter, it was time to talk of many things. But it was not of shoes and ships and sealing wax. Instead, we talked a little about our former workplace, taxes, politics, and family.  He doesn't know that I am transgender, and will not be told until I decide to go 24x7 some time in the future.  It was a long talk, and we didn't get out of the place until 3:30 - a very long lunch for us.  But it was good.

Afterwards, I firmed up things with Lili for Lunch tomorrow. I'm not sure of where I'll be eating, but I do know that I'll likely get my ears pierced.  Keep your fingers crossed....

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A weekend with GFJ as Mario, followed by a mini shopping trip to Yonkers as Marian

For the next 3 months or so, GFJ and I won't be getting together until I've had the chance to change back to Mario after my speech therapy sessions at Mercy College. Although it's a nice compromise, being able to spend some time as Marian each weekend, it's always going to be a little depressing to change back to Mario afterwards.

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Saturday came too early, and I barely had the time to get up, get showered, get made up, get dressed, and get out the door. I was very glad to have a 9:45 time slot this semester, as that makes all the difference whether I rush too quickly, or whether I have 5 minutes of wiggle room for my drive to Mercy.

Arriving at Mercy, I met the supervisor and the new student therapist. Unfortunately, I felt that she wasn't fully prepared to deal with someone with my needs. But she'll learn quickly, and I'll be glad to help her as her guinea pig.  Unlike the past two semesters, there is something about this student therapist which isn't clicking right. She has a good attitude. But I'm not sure if she is emotionally prepared to maintain a sort of distance between her and her client. And I'll bet that her supervisor will help her develop that skill, even while working with a gregarious personality like mine.

Once I was done with this week's therapy session, I went home and rested. I had developed a mild sinus headache, and didn't want to get on the road until it eased off. GFJ may have been mildly disappointed at not being able to go to the movies, but she was glad that she could get a little rest before I arrived.

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The next morning, GFJ and I didn't want to get moving too quickly. And that meant that we wouldn't be doing a long walk to stretch our legs and get some much needed mild exercise. Instead, we ended up resting a bit, and then going out to see a movie.

Before the movie, we went to the local Chinese Buffet, where we pigged out a little.  Although the food isn't as good as the buffet in Newburgh, it is tasty. And I found two items in the hot trays that I'd go back for again - the beef ribs and the string beans.  Both had lots of flavor, and both were worth second helpings.

When we finished dinner, we had an hour and a half to kill. So we killed a little time by driving up to Saugerties and looking at the storefronts as we drove by. And then it was back to the mall, where we killed a half hour walking around before going into the theater.  "The Shape of Water" got lots of good reviews. Even though it was a good film, it was a forgettable film. Take a character that looked like "Swamp Thing creeping out of the Black Lagoon", add a love story between him and a mute woman, then throw in some Cold War intrigue, and you get a movie which occupies you for a couple of hours that you might forget in a day or two.

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On Monday, it was time to leave.  GFJ was going to a deposition hearing for her divorce, and I was going home to rest. After I got home, I decided to rest a little before going out again as Marian. And it was on this trip to Yonkers that I went into The Avenue and bought the faux leather jacket pictured above.  At $100, the jacket wasn't worth the price.  At $70, the jacket was tolerably priced for a Fall purchase. But I didn't want to pay either price. Instead, I waited until the jacket went on clearance, and picked it up for under $30. I'm sure I might get some use out of the jacket in the early Spring and in the Fall. And I do have enough hall closet space to fit in one new jacket.

Next, it was off to Stew Leonard's to do some shopping. And I got out spending less money than usual. But it was a nice close to the day when the checkout clerk addressed me as a female and showed me the warmth that only women share with each other in such settings. Only a woman can know how hard another woman has to work for her money....