Saturday, June 30, 2018

A discussion with a Trump loyalist from the TG community.

Recently, I got into an online chat regarding why I didn't support impeachment.  I feel that Trump is the worst president we are likely to see in our lifetime unless he is removed from office.  And then, Pence will make things much worse if he gets to power.  Enjoy the discussion below, as I knew that there was no way for this person to consider the fact that Trump's propaganda machine may have blinded him to the obvious - which many GOP "Never Trumpers" have known for a couple of years now.

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Marian: If Pence were NOT the VP, I'd be calling for impeachment. Instead, I want a Democratic congress for the next 4 years - 2 to keep Trump in check, and 2 to undo the worst damage Trump did to this country. Mayne the next president, hopefully a moderate Democrat) can undo the worst, without pissing off the healthy left and health right wings. We need a truly centrist government right now, and that's something we haven't had since Trump took power.

Anne: What actual high crime or misdemeanor has Mr. Trump committed?

Marian: First, we have the violation of the Emoluments clause....

You'll note that I wasn't calling for impeachment yet. But any president (of either party) who acts like a French King who'd say "I am the State". is dangerous. I want a centrist who will undo the excesses of left and right to gain power and dismantle the "imperial presidency". Our founding fathers would be upset to see that power has shifted from the Speaker of the House (where they intended it to be) to the Presidency. But they could not have foreseen the shift of America from being a nation which cared most of what went on within its boundaries, to a nation running a global empire.

Anne: Imperial Presidency? Obama left office 1 1/2 years ago

Marian: The "imperial presidency" has been a term used to refer to the ever larger powers taken by the chief executive. If you look at how laws are written, congress cedes way too much power to the executive branch to interpret the law. A good current example is Trump using legislation allowing the president to implement tariffs (for military security reasons) without the consent of congress. Guess what - Congress now regrets giving the executive branch that much power.

You brought up Obama when these powers were being expanded through both Democrat and GOP administrations. It is an issue that is often discussed in politics, and is noted as the debasement of the checks and balances provided for by the constitution.

Anne: When you can demonstrate Mr. Trump acting like BHO in this matter, I'd be keen to read your argument. From where I sit, he is reducing the power of both his office and the Executive Branch

Marian: You are biased against BHO. I make my argument in the context of a series of presidents, each expanding executive branch power. Once a president says (in effect) "I am the state", saying he can pardon himself, he exceeds even the powers claimed by Nixon before he was forced from office.

Anne: It's a statement of fact. Normally, you don't shy away from truths.

I'll say this, though: Tweeting that may have been unwise, but it is FUNNY watching Liberals rend their clothing over it

Marian: Heck - Conservative anger about BHO is about the same as Liberal anger over Bush #43. Trump is radically different, and many conservatives are uncomfortable with him in office now. (I think McCain was right in his judgement of Trump.). The Liberals made the mistake of using ever more extreme language until the time they needed such language, and there was no way to escalate the warnings of danger, nor could they be believed any more by those who leaned right but were swayable....

Anne: I think much of the problem that the OS conservatives have with Mr. Trump is that they can't control him. he man has a pragmatic approach to life and he does not GAF if he ruffles somebody's feathers. McCain is an establishment politician (but an improvement over the stuffed shirts like McConnell and Ryan) and Mr. Trump is truly a maverick.

Something to consider with his bluster: Our problems aren't in and/or with the nations that we usually get along with and with whom diplomacy is the end all and be all of international relations. DJT can piss off the Western European powers and we will still be friends. OTOH, the nations where we do have real problems (that is, North Korea, and the Middle East, along with Russia and China) either don't respect diplomacy or use it as a sop to someone they hope to dominate (NK, Iran, Syria), or use it expecting force to be applied at some point. Many countries, especially w/i the Middle East respect force above all.

While we can probably agree that placing force above diplomacy is a rather archaic way of managing their international affairs. However, that is an attitude quickly dismissed and derided in those nations.

President Trump has a public persona as man not afraid of using force. That's how to treat with folks who prefer force to words. Thus far, it seems to be paying off as well as he manipulates the media to focus on minor things while he accomplishes big things. Looked at objectively, it's fun to watch.

Still....if he could put his phone down once in a while, a lot of us would appreciate it.

Marian: What has he accomplished?

Anne: I presume you refer to Mr. Trump?

Marian: Yup. You said he's accomplished a lot. Give examples.

  • Record low unemployment
  • US factories coming back to work
  • His new rule that requires that for every new government regulation, 2 old rules must be deleted (that one is yuge!)
  • The near annihilation of ISIS
  • Reestablishing the "Red Line" that Mr. Obama spoke of but lacked the will to follow-through
  • Ending many of his predecessor's unconstitutional E/Os.
  • Seeking to restore some sanity to the immigration process
Oh...the possibility of actual peace at last in a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Surely that must count for something

Marian: Low unemployment? That was trending down during the Obama administration, and Trump's policies didn't change much in the first year or so. The regulation rule? That only means that bureaucrats will lock in old regulations until things change.

ISIS was on its way out before Trump took office. And what "Red Line"? Most E/O's are questionable in nature because Congress gives the executive too much freedom in interpreting the laws. Most of Trump's changes have been thru E/O's.

Regarding immigration, nothing has really changed, save to kick out people who are temporarily here. DACA was a bargaining chip for him to get his wall, and we've seen that he really didn't care about a bipartisan bill that could have come to his desk because it didn't give him his wall.

And, regarding DPRK, it's the one area where I will give Trump some credit. One needs a bully to deal with another bully most of the time, and both men are masters of abusing power. So I'm happy with him there, even though I know his deal will be BS. The reason I don't mind this is that both sides will learn to talk with each other, and gradually find some form of detente....

Anne: Don't credit Obama for Trump's success. If you recall, BHO ridiculed DJT on bringing back jobs to the US. He said that for Trump's plan to work "it'd take a magic wand."

Well, abracadabra, bitch!
(Not you, amiga, Mr. Obama)

BHO similarly lamented that ISIS was "here to stay." Mr. Trump has proven that wrong, too.

The "Red Line" that Assad crossed when he used poison gas on people. BHO's dithering on that led directly to the more recent gas attacks for which Assad was indeed punished.

Marian: No - Economic professors usually say that a president's economic policies take 1-2 years to start having an effect on the economy. So this means that Carter's failures lasted 1-2 years into Reagan's term, Reagan's failures and successes lasted 1-2 years into Bush #41's term, and so on. I'll consider 2018 as the year that Trump's policies start having an effect on our economy, and will judge him on the economy no sooner than a year from now. And yes, I believe Trump's policies will fail. But I can't judge him for that until they have had the chance to work or not.

Anne: Obama dismissed what Mr. Trump was going to do,and you want to credit him anyway.


Marian: No - I don't want to credit Trump positively or negatively until his policies have the chance to succeed or fail. I do give Trump for DPRK, as this is something that operates outside the world of economics.

Anne: Thus far, Trump's policies are succeeding and the employers are crediting him for the turn-around.

True enough, though, who knows what the future holds (other than the Shadow, I mean :p )

Marian: Which employers..... To be serious, it's better to look at macro economics. Most small businesses are led by people who believe the propaganda of their political tribes. Most CEOs of large multinational businesses have a vested interest in setting the agenda for their political tribes. But to see reality takes time and distance. Macro economics helps us do that, by studying large scale economic systems.

Anne: Where I live, "Help Wanted" signs abound and everyplace is paying over minimum wage. Colorado's overall unemployment is way down.

Marian: That was a trend that took a while to come. In the NYC area, we've had above minimum wage for a while. I avoid looking at local economies, because they reflect changes specific to regional issues. The big cities, such as NYC also are aberrations, as their economies reflect the long term demographic changes for people to live in areas of great congestion for greater opportunities.

In fairness to your view, Colorado is starting to boom because of several things - and I will include legal weed in that statement. A government that regulates wisely, removing restrictions on individual behavior will always attract the class of people who make an economy grow.

Didn't CO expand medicaid, unlike Utah? Giving people the chance to buy affordable healthcare on an exchange allows people to take greater risks with their jobs.... More risk equals greater rewards.

Anne: And none of can possibly be do to the President easing restrictive regulations on employers, eh?


Marian: Easing reasonable regulations makes sense. But one can go too far in the other direction. And I would have trusted Ted Cruz much more than Trump in regard to regulations.

Anne: Bit of a moot point now

Marian: True.... I trust people who are consistent in their positions.

Anne: Sometimes, that consistency is indicative of a lack of imagination and insight. Change, after all, is the essential energy for life and success.

Consistency is essential in knowing where a person wants to go. In great leaders, they lead by example and are consistent in what they expect from others.

Anne: I believe that Mr. Trump knows precisely where he's going.

Marian: I doubt that very much.

Anne: You don't achieve what he has by lacking vision and goals

Marian: Actually, it's very easy if you're a con man. Bernie Madoff was able to sucker a lot of people into thinking he was generating good economic returns for them. People want to think they are getting better things than they are paying for. They believe in the free lunch. Madoff only believed in the short term gain, and he was taken down when everything collapsed in his Ponzi scheme.

Anne: You're just going to gainsay everything and anything positive about Mr. Trump. Thus, this thread has become pointless and banal.

I'm out

Marian: And you are the same about Obama. I did say something good about Trump with DPRK. And I agree with you - neither of us will convince each other that they are right - but I didn't try to convince you of that. I just refuted your arguments.

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As you can see, Anne wanted to win the point instead of challenge her assumptions or test the validity of her beliefs.  I did say something good about Trump - he might be the right person to deal with North Korea, as both Trump and Kim are known to abuse their power. Anne gave up the discussion when she realized that she couldn't prove her point with facts. 

There are obvious weak points in my support for my position. But it shouldn't have been as easy for me to defend my position in this discussion.  One could have stated that more Conservative judges are being appointed to the bench, including the newest Supreme Court justice. And one could have stated that he is taking a new tack in negotiating trade treaties, saying that one size doesn't fit all. But Anne did not do this.  

Most knee jerk Trumpist conservatives are drinking the "Kool Aid" poured by Fox News' opinion personalities, and not challenging the claims.  And I'm surprised that a Transgender woman is drinking from the Trump fountain after all his administration has done to harm our community.  

We have a long way to go before our rights are fully protected by law, and we will need to deal with people like Anne in order to have our rights recognized by a super majority of Americans....

PS: Some post mortem comments on this conversation....
  1. We're now seeing problems with the DPRK "deal", as they are repairing their nuclear test site according to photographic evidence.  Yet, they have sharply toned down their anti-US propaganda.  So we know something is going on, but we don't know what.
  2. ISIS has had a lot of territory taken from it during 2017.  But it was losing land in 2016.  Trump may deserve some credit here - if only because he left well enough alone.

  3. Trump is known for being extremely flexible in defining success. He was in danger of going into personal bankruptcy from an inability to develop land over the former New York Central rail yards on the West Side.  He found outside money to bail him out, and was able to generate revenue by lending his name to their project. 

    He did not get his "Trump City". But he did get his names on the residential towers that overlook the West Side Highway.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday - The beginning of a weekend spent as Mario, and a thought about what went on this week.

Considering how late it was when I finally went to sleep last night, I knew I wasn't going to get moving until late in the morning.  And since it was Friday, it made sense to get dressed as Mario to go out in the world, as I would likely be meeting up with GFJ sometime tonight.

Not knowing when I'd be driving up to see GFJ, or whether she'd be coming down here was an important wrinkle in today's plans.  If I had wakened early, I could have spend the better part of the day out as Marian, then changed into Mario for when I'd see GFJ.  So I did virtually nothing other than do 2 loads of laundry for a daily accomplishment.

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It's hard to believe the news these days.  There is a long standing problem with refugees requesting asylum as they cross our Southern border.  Clinton signed a law which makes illegal border crossing a misdemeanor for a first offense. Yet, we did not bother to fund or acquire the staff needed to process people wanting to make border crossings (at legal entry points) who request asylum. So we allowed a problem to fester until Trump handled it in a ham fisted way.  Now, we're seeing the tent cities being erected in the desert.  And we're seeing a government refusing to let the press investigate what's going on, making sure that they can't show us what our leaders are ashamed of doing.

America often turns a blind eye to abuses done in its name.  We looked the other way when Blacks were lynched in the South just because of the color of their skin.  We looked the other way when our government put Japanese Americans in prison camps just because of the land from which their ancestors lived.  And we still look the other way when people who do not look like us are in need of help.  We can't fix the whole world - there are too many problems for even God to do that. But we can fix ourselves, and see ourselves and the world around us for what it is. Then we can go about fixing things one problem at a time.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hump Day - A relief for most folks. But for me, just another day.

The above shot was taken on one of my later trips to California, and one can see a newfound sense of confidence in who I am in my posture.  It's been a long while since I've worn this dress. It does nothing for my figure, and I never felt that feminine when wearing it.  Looking back, I think that part of the problem was that I had not yet developed a sense of personal style. Women are much freer to use color in their clothing palette than men are, and I was still thinking in terms of a muted palette.  Although I have developed a better sense of style, I still feel uncomfortable with things that are needlessly embellished.

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Most people in the "working world" feel that Wednesday is the middle of the week.  Get through Wednesday, and you've gotten past the worst of the week. In the picture above, I just got past the hump of getting out and about in the world as Marian. And by doing so, I conquered one of the biggest fears stopping me from being my authentic self.

Several years later, and I am very comfortable with who I am when presenting as Marian. Like most cisgender women, I have feel that I have problem areas with my body. My shoulders are too broad, my hips are too narrow, my butt isn't big enough, and so on. I've internally realized that these are the typical complaints a cisgender female would have, and deal with these issues accordingly.

Today, I had one thing on my schedule - going to the GLBT center and doing my weekly volunteer stint.  After waking up around 8:30, making breakfast, surfing the web a little, I decided to lay down in bed - and didn't get moving until 1:30.  And if I had my druthers, I'd have given in to being lethargic and stayed in bed all day. But I didn't, so I drove into the GLBT center and arrived at 4 pm.

Most of the time at the GLBT center, easy work is assigned to me. Today, I never got around to doing any work.  I got involved in a long conversation with two people there who found what I was saying educational.  (Whether or not it really was educational is something else.) But this took up the 2 hours I spent there, and I decided to get out, so that I could have the option of driving back to Catherine's and buying the blue dress I skipped over the other day.

The drive out of the GLBT center was easy, but the potential rain storm convinced me to go inside for the night.  (I can always go to Catherine's on the way to YGM's tomorrow.) So, it was a relaxed ride home, and a relaxed evening spent at home....

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Our story for the day: Did Lili get her Shoes?

The day started with only two things on my docket: Going shoe shopping with Lili and doing an Arts Ambassador gig for Arts Westchester.  Given that Lili doesn't know how to restrain her impulses, I expected that her shopping mission may interfere with my ability to prepare for the Arts Ambassador gig.

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I woke up before my alarms, and listened to commentary from the Morning Joe show.  Trump's separation of immigrant children from their parents (who have illegally crossed the border) is getting the attention of both conservative and liberal politicians, both saying this policy is appalling.  Yet, nothing yet is being done by the legislative branch to force this policy to end, as the GOP is afraid of its own base. The Palmer Report, a leftist blog, considers this policy to be the moral equivalent to the filling of concentration camps in the 1930's. And given how the children are being treated, with no plans for reuniting children with parents, I am not far behind in my disgust at everyone connected to this policy.  Sadly, this is going to get worse before it gets better. It's up to the democratic opposition to keep up their efforts. Any appeasement of this bully regime will only give it more power - and that's the opposite of what's needed right now.

But this blog is about a M2F Transgender's journey through life, and is meant to only touch upon politics now and then.  So back to my daily activities....

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The last time I went shopping with Lili, she was the definition of a person who could be distracted by "shiny things."  Once in shopping mode, Lili is unable to keep her focus on what she needs to buy.  As a result, she wastes a lot of time looking at things that she was not looking for, and loses track of her goal - to buy a specific garment or product. So I wasn't that enthralled by the idea of going shoe shopping today.

I got dressed in the outfit above and prepared to go to Lili's.  It's been so long since I've worn the the sheer floral top above, that I thought I'd surprise Lili by wearing it.  (It originally came with a black shell, and didn't work with much of the clothing I feel comfortable wearing.)  Would Lili recognize the top as something she gave to me?  Who knows?  But I figured that she should see me in something I felt would look nice on me.

Around noon, I drove over to Lili's, and we then went to the Danbury mall.  Our first stop was Macy's, and she was better behaved than the last time we shopped together. Nothing appealed to Lili, as the shoe styles were geared to the 25-34 y/o woman. Next was Lord and Taylor. This store had more interesting merchandise, but had a similar problem to Macy's. Then, it was off to JC Penney.  I decided to sit down outside the store while Lili was shopping and relax in one of those massage chairs. While Lili shopped, I received a call from YGM. She confirmed that she will be with me for Lili's Son's wedding. And we made a date to get together this week - which may be the last time I visit her in Connecticut before she moves to Florida. As my call with YGM ended, Lili came out of Penney's holding a pair of sandals she bought for $40.  They fit the bill for wearing with her dress, and her outfit will help make her very pretty for her son's wedding day.  (I'll be sure to try to get some pictures.)

I made the mistake of not using talcum powder today. So I told Lili that I couldn't walk much so I could avoid chafing.  She was a little upset, as this interfered with her plans of the two of us walking around as she shopped for more stuff.  However, this made it much easier for me to get home in time and relax before going to do my Arts Westchester volunteer stint.

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Around 6 pm, I drove to White Plains to attend a meeting of the Westchester Choral Society (WCS) for Arts Westchester.  The last time I tried to solicit signed signature cards, I was one of only five people watching the film that night - and it was a wasted evening, save for watching a very enjoyable film.  This time, I was very successful, having handed out many more cards and receiving twenty five filled in signature cards.  It was nice to listen to WCS perform Mozart's Requiem, and it made me want to listen to a professional performance sometime in the future.

After intermission, I left early as I was starting to get a headache.  So I got in my car and talked with GFJ for 45 minutes until I got home.  It'll be nice to see her this weekend. But I'll have to see if I can get together with my niece before we can firm up our plans.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A new frock

Recently, Lili told me that I should retire a dress that had become worn out. After thinking about this a little, I decided to do just that - and replace it with the violet dress above. I will still look to find a dress in a Lilac shade.  But I was in the mood to buy a dress now rather than wait until the summer is over.

For most women, buying a dress is a non issue. A woman has an idea of what type of dress she wants to wear, and then she browses the racks at several stores until she finds something that fits her needs and desires.  If she's buying her dress via the internet, she will browse the offerings of several online outlets and order one or two for her closet.  In my case, and the case of other M2F Transgenders, we have to hide parts of the body that are not so feminine, as well as accentuate the parts of the body we have that helps define what femininity we have.

In today's case, the two above dresses (violet and blue) fit me well, and weren't snug enough to show off a frontal VPL. Whereas the dress below did.

If they had the above dress in a slightly larger size, I might have bought it. But with this dress giving me a frontal VPL (due to 2 panties I use to keep my extra equipment properly tucked), I knew I had to pass on it and choose one of the first 2 dresses.  And since the blue dress wasn't marked for sale at $40, I chose the violet dress - which I will often wear with a white shrug.

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Back to a chronological telling of today's events....

GFJ left the apartment so she could go swimming by noon.  If she had thought to look at her calendar, she could have left later.  But I was smart not to tell Lili that GFJ left early, as she would have expected me to go to the surgeon with her.  She had made the dumb mistake of disconnecting the drainage port from her stomach over the weekend, and needed to have the affected area on her body attended to. The surgeon said that this was the first time in 26 years that someone did something as dumb as Lili did. And then he covered the draining wound with gauze and is having Lili cover the hole with absorbent gauze to soak up her fluids until she visits him again to close up the hole. He noted that she was almost done with drainage when he read Lili the riot act, and I'm glad I didn't have to deal with her on the way home.

During the day, I ended up chatting with GFJ 3 times.  The first time was towards the end of my drive to Catherine's, and caused me to sit for a while in the parking lot chatting to her.  Next, it was after a stop at the Poughkeepsie Galleria, where I chatted about the 5 watch batteries that got replaced. And then, it was after I got home - where I related the following issues related to today's torrential rain storms.  
  • The Galleria's roof sounded like fire hoses were aimed at every inch when the rain came down.  This means that people entering or leaving the mall either rushed to get a coveted covered parking spot or decided not to drive until the rains had eased off.  I wouldn't drive in that much rain had I a choice not to do so.  
  • After leaving the mall, the heavens opened up again and I saw a sight I had never seen before: Cars pulled over to the side of the Taconic Parkway - even though there was no shoulder for them to pull off safely.  There was too much water in the right lane for people to drive on it safely, and I was limiting myself to 30 mph in the left until the rain eased off.
When I got near home, I had to relieve myself.  Unfortunately, the washroom at Mickey D's was a single stall that didn't free up. So I ended up driving over to BJ's to take care of a very pressing matter.  If I were presenting as a male, I might have found a secluded spot and did what needed doing. But as a female, I had to do what a female might do - rush to the first available stall.  And that's just what I did.

Finally, I made it home - and I started cooking some chicken in the slow cooker.  By the time it was ready to eat, it was close to midnight.  Since I don't have to get up early in the morning, this is not a problem....

Monday, June 25, 2018

Quickie: Father's Day weekend with GFJ

This is going to be a short post.  There are several reasons for the brevity.  But the most important one is that I don't have much to say today.

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Unlike many weekends, GFJ was scheduled to arrive on Saturday after spending the day with her mom and the rest of her family in Connecticut.  This meant that I had the day free to spend as Marian if I wanted to do so.  Instead, I hung out at home and did virtually nothing until GFJ arrived.

When GFJ arrived, we went out to dinner at a Chinese Restaurant near White Plains, then drove to Stew Leonard's to pick up some desserts for a Father's day visit to Long Island. (We would have gone to Trader Joe's if we were 15 minutes earlier. But we didn't finish dinner until 8:55, and it wasn't worth running to the other side of the strip mall to buy things at BJ’s)

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On Sunday, we trekked down to my brother's place.  Although there were crazies on the road, we didn't encounter any problems until we crossed the bridge. And then, all the traffic jams began.  Years ago, I could make it to my Dad's place in an hour or so.  Today, I have to allocate a minimum of 90 minutes for the trip.

Arriving at my brother's place, we found my dad and my brother in the back.  It was a nice relaxed day with too much food and too much dessert.  We found out that my niece will be spending at least 10 weeks in Great Britain, so I'll try to get together with her for a night out before she leaves for the summer. I'd have loved to show her the dress I'll be wearing to Lili's Son's wedding.  But that can wait until we get together one last time.

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As I said, I didn't have much to say today.  Nothing much related to my TG nature, nor did it relate to any of the issues I am facing.  So I hope that all of you have pleasant memories of this day that you can cherish....

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Some thoughts about going out and about as Marian

The above picture was taken in my early days of being out and about as Marian.  You'll note the smile on my face.  My niece said it is one of the rare times that you'd find me smiling in a picture.

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Becoming comfortable in a feminine persona takes a bit of time when one has lived over 50 years presenting as a cisgender male. There are many things one has to unlearn, such as the automatic use of male body language. (I was never too good with that, as I had the body language of a "Type B" male.  Could you imagine if I had gone into the military and learned "Type A" male body language?) One also has to unlearn male speech patterns, while developing the ability to speak in a pitch close to a cisgender female's natural pitch range. But what makes this process hardest of all is that I have to switch back and forth between male and female presentations. 

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How many of you, living in both presentations, make the mistake of responding in one gender's voice while presenting as the other?  I've done this both ways, responding as a male when presenting as a female, and responding as a female when presenting as a male. When one is comfortable and relaxed, it is easy to forget which gender's voice is appropriate for you to speak with - and this can get you into big trouble if this happens at the wrong time and place.  So I try to use extra cues to help my subconscious remember "who" I am on any particular day, and condition myself to always act and speak appropriately when wearing that gender's garments.

Conditioning one's self to act female when wearing a female wardrobe, and to act male when wearing a male's wardrobe takes time.  I am always aware of being Marian when wearing a female wardrobe, and aware of being Mario when wearing a male wardrobe. And I always act according to my gender presentation, such as sitting down when I go to the bathroom when presenting as female.  There are some pre-op M2F Transgenders out there that, when in private, still go the toilet in a masculine way - while wearing female clothes. This can lead to an embarrassing situation (as happened to Fran after putting on a stand-up comedy performance), or a dangerous situation (as can happen in some rural, conservative, religious communities).  So I feel that it is better to be safe than to be sorry, and act appropriately as others define for one's gender presentation.

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It's a nice feeling when someone opens the door for you because you are seen as being a female.  But there is another side to this.  Our culture often expects females to defer to males in many situations, especially when males are in positions of authority, or are trying to gain positions of authority.  Ignoring what you might have thought about Hillary Clinton, she was at a disadvantage in the 2016 presidential debates against Donald Trump.  Females have a hard time exercising authority when dominant (by body language) males are present. And females have few methods to repel the dominant male while not looking weak or threatened.  As a result, females often have to put up with a lot more crap from males than they would from females.  (At this time, I won't get into females fighting among themselves for social position. It's a complex issue that I am still struggling to understand, as my male socialization has protected me from the cattiness of some females.)

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Unfortunately, as a pre-op M2F Transgender, I am not comfortable going into a woman's locker room, nor would I feel good in doing so.  But GFJ has noted that cisgender women are as casual as cisgender males about their bodies in private.  And I'd expect this to be the case. But I'll always wonder how much similarity there is between the subjects males and females discuss in these single sex areas. And I'll always wonder if females share a similar camaraderie that males share in private.

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I could go on and on with my thoughts.  But I think I'd run on and start to get boring quite quickly.  So I'll stop for now and continue at a later date.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A day in, and a night out - at Stew Leonard's

I got to sleep at my normal hour last night, and expected to get moving between 9-10 am.  Well, after turning off the alarm at 9, I didn't wake up until 1 pm. I figure that I got the better part of 10 hours of sleep.  This didn't leave much time to decide what to do, nor did I want to do much of anything.

By the time I finally got moving, I realized that this would my last Marian Mode day for a while.  So I showered, shaved, made my face up, and prepared to go out as Marian. It took me a while to decide on what to wear, as I wasn't sure if I wanted to go casual (Denim Skirt, and a T-Shirt), or more businesslike (Dress, hosiery, and flats).  And the businesswoman in me won out.  So I took out a fresh pair of stockings, and wore something I could have easily worn to an office.

Once I left the apartment, I saw the daughter or a mother-daughter pair living one doorway over.  I'm not sure if she recognized me or not, but I waved to her before she got out of the cab.  (They no longer own a car, and social services pays for the cab that takes mother or daughter to the doctor, or to go food shopping.)  And then I got to my car.  At that point, I realized that I was having an underwear failure and had to fix it politely.  (To keep my extra equipment properly tucked and flat, I usually wear both a comfortable cotton pair of panties, as well as a silkier pair usually used to hold a woman's fat in the proper locations.)  Since I wore 3 layers of undergarments today (panty, hosiery, shapewear panty), I dropped the outermost layer and found that I didn't need it.  (I still felt strange not having enough snugness to keep my extra equipment in place.) And then, and only then, did I drive off.

On the way down, I called Pat.  She wasn't in a good mood. Her daughter was in from California, and Pat was told that her crippled daughter would soon go in for an operation that might take away her limited ability to walk. So instead of seeing Pat, I decided to browse items at The Avenue in Yonkers, then go to Stew Leonard's.

As expected, I didn't see anything worth buying at The Avenue. So I drove over to the nearby car wash and finally got the car clean on the outside. Then, it was on to Stew Leonard's. I was surprised that I got out of there, spending less than $50. But this visit was worth every cent.  I finally got the breakfast sausage patties I need to make a properly cloned "Sausage Egg McMuffin."  (You can guess what I'm going to eat tomorrow morning.)

After this shopping mission, I ended up driving home for the night.  Will I go out for a few hours as Marian before GFJ comes over tomorrow night?  That's a question I will answer after I wake up - whatever time that may be....

Friday, June 22, 2018

It was time for my monthly....

Aunt Flo - That's one visitor that a transwoman is lucky never to have.  At best, a cisgender woman's monthlies are a mere annoyance. At worst, they can bring on hormonal changes that can bring on great discomfort and pain. But it is one experience, that for now, only a cisgender woman will have some time in her life.

But today's entry has nothing to do about that aspect of femininity.  Instead, it focuses on the monthly appearance of my cleaning lady, and what happened after she left.

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I was glad that the cleaning lady called me this morning to remind me that she'd be coming today - as I was able to remind her not to come before the afternoon.  And yet, I knew she was likely going to be a little earlier than I wanted, so I started my day by cleaning up the clutter in the apartment and taking my daily shower before 11 am.  So I wasn't surprised when she knocked on my door around noon. 

One of these days, I'll get rid of all the clutter in my place. Until then, she has an easy time of it working in the apartment.  I'm usually out of the way when she arrives, as I usually volunteer at the GLBT center on days that she's expected. But, I had things to do as Mario today, and it made sense for me to make an initial presentation as Mario, with a change into Marian later on in the day.

While my cleaning lady did her thing, I took an oversized belt and cut it down to fit me. (The belt is designed to be cut to size, and that's part of why I ordered it from Amazon.) Although we normally talk a little when I'm here on her workdays, I wasn't that talkative today. And this was just as well, because I needed a little rest.

- - - - - -

Eventually, I got ready to go to game night.  I found that I missed GFJ when she called.  Since she was going to dinner with the gals, I wasn't going to be able to speak with her until game night was over.  And even then, only if she was awake afterwards. So I trekked down to game night, and was lucky enough to get into a game when the rules were being explained by a newcomer. But I didn't like the game.  Instead of joining in a second game, I got into a chat with a fellow in line with my political bent - and we had a good time chatting about my ideas of how the Democrats could fix Washington if they get power again.  (I'll save my ideas for another post someday soon.) 

All too soon, it was time to leave. And I missed GFJ as she had already gone to sleep. However, the Cat Lady sent me a message that tomorrow night's dinner had to be called off due to back pains for which she will try to see a chiropractor after work. Strangely enough, I didn't mind this, as I wanted another day which I could spend as Marian.  And yet, I may just be back in the Cat Lady's area again, shopping at Catherine's....

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A long weekend with GFJ in AC (with a Philly side trip)

Atlantic City.  Most people think of the Glitz and "Glamour" of the boardwalk there. But I think of the city that is mostly dead on the other side of Atlantic Avenue.  Walk a couple of blocks away from the Boardwalk into a residential district, and you find an area which in its better days had already seen its better days long before that.  People with the skills to leave have already left, while those without skills are stuck there without much hope.

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On Friday, GFJ had a meeting at her office to discuss the sale of the building in which her business resides. Although there is a contract out there, there are items which must be addressed before the final signatures are affixed to that document. Since the sale is her highest priority, our trip to AC was delayed until she could drive to my place from her home in the Shawangunks.

Around 1:00 pm, GFJ arrived at my place.  We packed my bags into the car, and headed to AC  via the Garden State Parkway - encountering each and every early Friday night rush hour traffic jam on the way to AC. Yet, even with these jams, we made it to AC by 5:00 pm, only to encounter a long line to check in to the hotel at the Tropicana.

While online, I saw the above young ladies waiting for their friend to finish their check-in process. They were attending a Japanese Anime convention being held elsewhere in town over the weekend.  (We would see many like these three during our stay at the Trop.)  When GFJ got to the head of the line, we were told that the only non-smoking room available in the West Tower was a handicapped accessible room with a walk in shower. So we said Yes (a mistake) and went up to our room.

The shower in our room looked much like the above room (but with not nearly as nice a vanity).  If you had to use a wheelchair and sit on the bench to take a shower, it would be almost perfect. (You'd still wish for better tools to get you from wheelchair to bench and back.)  But for everyone else, there is a major problem.  Water did not drain well.  Not only did the small drain in the center of the shower area not handle all the water coming out of the shower head, but the second drain in the center of the bathroom failed to do so as well.  This meant that the bathroom was flooded each time GFJ or I wanted to take a shower.  One reviewer of this hotel said the following:

Be careful about rooms. Nonsmoking room smelled of smoke and triggered asthma attack. Our handicap room (which we did not request) had the weirdest shower - handheld only and no lip on shower so water rolled off and onto bathroom floor - very slippery - and odd - we made a dam with towels the second day - still had a flood. The beds were comfy, very quiet. Downstairs were casinos, Starbucks, shopping, restaurants - very convenient. And right on boardwalk. Would stay again but not in that room.

GFJ and shared the same opinion about that room.  We also tried the towel damming routine with similar, but better results. One needs at least 4 towels to do a good job - the first to provide no-slip traction on the metal strip separating the shower area tile from the main bathroom tile. The other 3 towels are to be used to route water away from the rest of the bathroom and into the drain in the center of the room.  (As we left the hotel on Sunday, one of the bell hops said that all of the handicap accessible bathrooms have the same problem, as they were poorly designed and constructed.)

Luckily, the rest of the room suited our needs, and we decided to stay there for our Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night stays.

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Saturday morning came, and we decided to drive to Philadelphia to visit the Barnes Foundation Museum. I've wanted to visit this place for years, but never had the chance to go to Philly on my own, or to take the time to visit on the other two times in this city.  After a leisurely breakfast, GFJ and I decided to risk getting rained on and to to Philly for part of the day.

GFJ and I spent an hour driving from AC to Philly, and found it easy to get legal parking near the Barnes Foundation Museum.  Although the price to visit this museum was a little steep, I found it worth the $60 we spent on our visit. GFJ and I viewed an exhibition comparing the paintings and films of father and son Renoir - and I found this to be the best part of our visit.  Once done with this exhibit, GFJ and I viewed the permanent collection of the Barnes Foundation, not understanding its curator's method to his madness in displaying his collection. (Look at the metal work above the art and see in that metal what Barnes saw in the 1, 2, or 3 artworks below it. Barnes wanted to trigger discussions about the art in his collection.)  Only when we stumbled into the docent (above) did we start to understand Dr. Barnes' reasons for displaying art the way we did.

A good percentage of Barnes' collection was made up of Renoir's paintings. By the time GFJ and I left the museum, we were able to identify his paintings by style alone.  (Barnes was a patron of Renoir before his work became as valuable as it is today.) The one artist who threw me for a loop was Toulouse-Latrec (below), as I was unfamiliar with his work on canvas.

If you get the chance to visit the Barnes - do so.  As much as I can argue against the movement of his collection from Philadelphia's "Main Line" suburbs to the city proper, we'd never have been able to visit this collection if it were located elsewhere.  Shouldn't great art be accessible to all, instead of hidden away in private collections?

On our way out of the Barnes, we saw the main hall was being set up for a wedding reception.  It's nice to know that the museum can support such requests (and make money from them).  Today's museums need as many funding sources as possible, and with the current administration in Washington, government sources are under attack. So please support your favorite museums both by visiting them and by making donations for their continued existence.

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It started to rain again on our way out of Philadelphia, and we decided to eat at a chain "Italian Style" restaurant on our way back to Atlantic City. Unlike some chains, this one served a good meal at a reasonable price. So we were fortunate not to need to eat when we got back to the hotel, as the last thing either of us needed was another visit to the buffet.

So we walked along the boardwalk for a while and watched the above animated display projected upon the facade of the AC Exhibition Center on the Boardwalk. And then we walked back to the Tropicana for its fireworks display. After this I retired for the night, wile GFJ played the slots.  I figured that she was blowing through another $100-$200 she had saved up for gambling (I've never asked her how much money she gambles when in AC, but each of the 2-3 times we've stayed there, our rooms have been comped to us.  

However, I was pleasantly surprised when she came back with the above stack of bills.  It seems as if she hit the big jackpot on one of the slot machines, and she couldn't reach me (to escort her from the gaming area) as her cell phone's battery was dead.

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Sunday was the day of the big bicycle race - Philly to AC.  And luckily, we were asleep when most of the bicycles were blocking traffic in AC.  Yet, we did have the chance to see some of these people arriving at their destination.

But what surprised me most was that on a cool and overcast day, people were still spending time on the beach.  Our walk along the boardwalk took us past one defunct casino, and a second casino (both formerly associated with the same corrupt individual). The first property was improved by removing his name from the facade.  The second property was improved by removing this fellow's ostentatious displays of false status, then rebranding the property as the Hard Rock Cafe (and Casino).  Instead of walking back to the Tropicana, we took the jitney back to our hotel.  In the jitney, one of the riders (a resident of AC) told us about how this former casino owner helped to destroy AC by not paying his vendors.  (This would not be the only time on this trip that someone would besmirch this scoundrel's reputation.)

We both fell asleep for a while, and we ended up eating at one of the few restaurants open at the hotel at 9:30 - Hooters.  As expected, they served forgettable food - making both of us wish we had gotten moving an hour earlier, so that we could have had our choice of restaurants.

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Monday was check-out day.  So we packed our bags and moved our car (with luggage) to the Tropicana's self park lot. Why?  We wanted to try out the Trop's lower tier frequent gamblers' buffet.  And I was very disappointed by the lack of variety.  If I had known better, I'd have suggested that we go to a nicer place for lunch.  But a comped meal is a comped meal, so it was worth the effort of moving the car from one lot to another.

We then headed over to the Borgata.  Of all the Casino/Hotel complexes I've stayed at (or visited) in Atlantic City, I enjoyed their "Water Club" hotel most. There is a simple elegance which makes this place worth the effort to visit in this section of town.  Although our room did not have a view of AC, I found that a view of the bay at sunset was very relaxing.

Like the Trop, the Borgata comped GFJ her rooms for a 2 night stay.  Unfortunately for me, she didn't gamble enough after the expiration of her "Black Card" to get comped a weekend stay there. Even more unfortunate was that she had none of the benefits of her former Black Card level, and this prevented us from going to the dining room where we enjoyed our last nice dinner at this complex.

Instead of eating a nice dinner, we grabbed a couple of sandwiches and played Bingo with two cards comped to us by the casino.  I can see why my grandmother was addicted to this game at the local RC church, and see why I'd never pay to play this game - it is very anti-social once numbers start getting called.

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The next day, I didn't want to get up early.  So, GFJ swam alone in the Water Club's Spa's pool before the spa opened. (This is a nice perk for those staying at The Water Club.)  So we ate a late breakfast at a restaurant on the other side of the complex.  (I've been getting in a lot of walking this weekend.)   And then, GFJ went swimming for a second time in the main pool while I stayed up in the room trying to take a nap. (I was unsuccessful.) While she was in the pool area, she met a second person who had a lot of bad things to say about the scoundrel mentioned earlier in this post.

- - - - - -

We made one mistake.  Comped tickets were waiting for us at the theater, but GFJ made a bad assumption about when the comedy show would start. Not knowing for sure when the comedians would start performing, we caught a quick (but overly filling) lunch and both of us took naps. We figured that we'd see the comedy show at 7:00, and then have dinner at a nice restaurant (either Wolfgang Puck's or Bobby Flay's) afterwards.  (GFJ wanted to celebrate winning her stack of bills, and was treating.) Well, we ended up having an even more filling (and expensive) dinner at Wolfgang Puck's at 6:30. As much as we both hated how bloated we felt, the meal was well worth the price charged for it. 

- - - - - -

Then, it was off to the comedy club.  Both of us were a bit sleepy due to too much food. So I was fighting to stay awake for the show.  As usual, none of the comedians got me to laugh, although I smiled a little.  Is this an indication of depression?  It could be for many people. But I once discussed this with my former therapist, and I got to believe that it takes a lot to get me to laugh. The punch lines should be totally unexpected, social norms must be twisted a little, and there has to be a touch of the absurd in what brings laughter to me. And I've found this in people such as Groucho Marx, Rita Rudner, and George Carlin.  (You can easily guess what I see in Charles Addams' work.)

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Wednesday came, and GFJ took her last swim in the Spa's swimming pool.  As much as it might have been a nice day to talk a walk along the Boardwalk, it was time for both of us to drive home.  So we grabbed a last breakfast at the Borgata and started our drive back to New York with a wrong turn.  GFJ missed the exit for the Atlantic City Expressway and we had to take Route 30 to get to the Garden State Parkway.

While driving home, Lili called.  She was a little nervous because her family homestead sale was finally being closed, and she wanted to talk.  I had to cut her short for a while, as GFJ and I wanted to pick up a quick lunch before coming close to NYC.  Once we reached my apartment, GFJ came up for a minute, and we parted until the coming weekend.  Both of us had a nice time, and one of us has a little bit more money in her pocket because of this trip.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Quickie: And now for something a little different than usual.

As you can see, the space from my desk into the living room was a total mess when this picture was taken.  I started to clean out the hallway closet and have been piling or dumping stuff all over the place at times since then.

It's amazing what one finds when one goes through closets. In my case, I found a large storage container's worth of clothing to give to charity, some old Trivial Pursuit games, wrapping paper that I'll never use, and stuff that hadn't been used since before my wife moved into the apartment over 32 years ago.

Going through the contents of closets is good therapy for me.  Not only am I able to free up space, but I am able to free myself of goods that I'll never really need again and have been too lazy to make the effort to take them to the dumpster or to charity.  Eventually, I'll get all the closets cleaned out in this place, and then I can tackle the big problem - the storage compartment in the basement.

My downstairs storage compartment has become the repository for the bulk of my vinyl record collection, two unassembled racks (bought over 30 years ago) to store much of this collection, boxes of  books that I haven't read in years, and lots of other stuff that needs to be sorted through and disposed of in one fashion or another.  

Upstairs, my dining table looks similar to the photo above. I'd like to clean off the mess here as well, finding new homes for what is on top and around it. And yet, this is better than it was a few months ago.  The need to clean things up has taken hold, and I've been doing a little bit each day.  

One thing I know: I will not be able to get this task done as quickly as I should be doing it.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

California Dreaming

It's been over 5 years since I was last in California. And I miss it.  Each time I go there, I try to visit the place where I scattered my late wife's ashes. As much as I feel the loss 20+ years later, I feel just as grateful that I have GFJ in my life right now.  GFJ is not a substitute for my wife, but she makes me feel just as comfortable as my wife did on the best days of my all too short time with her.

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My wife always wanted to live in California, San Francisco to be exact. I'm not sure if she could have dealt with pulling up roots and living in a city where she had no friends. I'm not sure if I could have done the same way back when. Strangely enough, we spent only two short weeks there, two short vacations there before she died. And that's where I scattered her ashes. I'll never know if this is what she would have wanted me to do. But without any directives from her, all I could go on were my feelings and the advice of friends.

Our first visit to San Francisco was a little bit of an exploratory visit. Neither of us knew our way around the area, and neither of us knew how we could visit the area cheaply. The saving grace for that vacation was that in 1991, the airlines had air fare wars, and we were able to snag a pair of seats for roughly $100 each. Couple this with a bargain basement hotel booking in the Union Square area, and we were ready to get to know the city.

Several years later, we had the chance to visit the city again.  By this time, my wife's health was in decline. But the cancer which was causing her to lose weight also caused her to look better. And she ignored all the symptoms which, if heeded, would have given her a better chance to survive the cancer.  Sadly, the following picture is one of the few I have of her, and was taken only because I didn't want to get bird shit on my shoulder.

What isn't shown in this picture is a man in a pirate suit. A later shot has my wife holding a large parrot in her arms. (I am gradually working on photo shopping this picture to be something I can print and put into a small frame.) Within a year, my wife's health took a downward spiral, and she was gone by the end of 1996. Sadly, neither I, nor her friend Brenda have a copy of the last picture taken of my wife before her death. She looked thin, her hair was gone from her head, but her smile never left when she was with a friend.

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In 1997, I had started dating again, and took a cruise to Alaska starting from San Francisco. After the cruise, my then girlfriend and I explored the city to find that one place where I could scatter my wife's ashes. And that place was under the Golden Gate Bridge. The scattering of her ashes was easy, but the tear afterwards was a bitch!  Of all the people who swear "until death do us part," only 25% of us have to deal with the death of a spouse. Half of all marriages end in divorce, and the other half end in widowhood. And I wasn't even 40 when I became a widower.

For some reason, my then girlfriend and I went out to California the next year, and visited Yosemite.  If one visits the park but wants to stay outside the park, then one should stay in El Portal. We stayed at a hotel just outside the park's entrance, and had a room overlooking the Merced river. Our room had a Jacuzzi in front of a gas fireplace, and a shower built for two people. It was a very comfortable place to stay the night. But it was a pain in the ass to reach the main area of the park because the road into the park was rutted and needed repair.

Of course, this is one of the places which everyone should visit at least once.  I couldn't justify the price to stay at the hotel in the park back then. And I certainly can't afford to do so now. But I hope to do so in the future.

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Three years later, I again visited California. I was dating Patty, but vacationing alone. If I could change some of the things I did with/without her, it would be to have spend more time with her in travel - while I had the money to do so. 

Now that my wife had been gone for almost 5 years, it was time to explore this region of the state by myself. And I did just that. I was up as far as Napa and Sonoma counties, and was down as far as Monterrey.  All my driving was within 3 hours of San Francisco. Each day, I expanded my knowledge of the area, and everything was in Mario mode. I had yet to explore my Marian side in public.

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Move the calendar ahead a couple of years, and I was dating Ex-GF-M. We went out one year just to get out to the coast, and the next to go to a San Jose AOL Widows/Widowers gathering. On the first trip, we drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Highway; EX-GF-M was nervous on the Pacific Coast Highway all the way down from Monterrey to Morro Bay.

On the second trip, we left the Widow/Widower gathering and drove from San Jose to Santa Cruz to see Candye Kane in concert, and after the gathering, spent the rest of our vacation exploring San Francisco. My happiness with Ex-GF-M was illusory, and my food addiction was continually triggered by being with her.  So I knew that I had to leave her, and by 2010, she was gone from my life.

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So, in 2011, I went back to San Francisco with the idea of visiting the place where I scattered my wife's ashes, and then using the city as a base for day trips. This is when I started wearing women's clothes in public. On a visit to Sacramento, I visited the California Railroad museum where I got this shot of the kitchen in a dining car.

On the way back, I visited a Lane Bryant outlet store, and chatted up the saleslady.  She said that "Anything Goes" in San Francisco, and I decided to try it out by visiting the DeYoung museum wearing a skirt.  Nothing strange happened, so I figured that I would try out going as a female the next time I visited the city.

Unfortunately, I had to leave San Francisco a little early in order to make rail connections that would deliver me into Chicago for a prepaid 4 day stay at the "Hotel that Made Purgatory Worthwhile." So I boarded the train from Oakland to LA, and got to see the coast as only train travelers will see it.  Arriving in LA, I ended up staying at the "Hotel from Purgatory" and didn't get the chance to see this city for a few hours before I left on an Eastbound train.

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2012 found me wanting to take the same cross country trip that I had tried to take the year before. I booked this trip knowing that I would spend some time as Marian in California and in Chicago. However, all travel days would find me in Mario mode, as I wasn't comfortable riding trains while pretty.

You can see the smile on my face when I presented first in Androgynous mode and then fully as Marian. This visit was a visit of firsts. I drove out to Sacramento in Marian Mode and took the "Underground Sacramento" tour. I had a severe case of indigestion while in Marian mode and had to solicit the use of a local restaurant's loo (or soil my clothes). And I took mass transit around San Francisco while presenting as Marian.  No one batted an eyelash.

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Hopefully, I'll get back to California soon. And next time, I'll "Fly Pretty" while traveling, and maybe "return pretty by train." California is a place where I feel most free, and if I ever have the cash again, I'll listen to its siren's call....

Monday, June 18, 2018

Quickie: Being a tourist in the region in which I live.

Van Cortlandt Manor.  It's only one of the many historic homes within a reasonable drive from me, and well worth visiting during its annual Pumpkin Blaze.

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When I was young, I never took much of an interest in the historic homes in the Hudson Valley. My main interest was in programming computers, and I couldn't give much of a hoot about anything other than music, movies, and books. Art and history weren't that important to ma, nor was the historic significance of what remained from an earlier time.  Over the years, my viewpoint has changed, and I make it a priority to see the most important of these buildings when I can.

Historic Hudson Valley (HHV) is responsible for the preservation of several houses, including Van Cortlandt Manor, Kykuit, and others. Each has historical importance, and each is well worth visiting.  GFJ recently visited the above manor during the pumpkin blase, while I visited it about 15 years earlier while I was dating Patty. Hopefully, I will find the time to visit all of their houses, as it would be a shame not to do so when they are so convenient to me.

But HHV is not the only player in historic homes.  The National Park Service is in charge of both the FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt homes in Hyde Park. GFJ and I have visited them using her lifetime senior pass, which has already saved us the $20 she paid for it.  (Sadly, the current administration has hiked the price to $80, and I will gladly pay it when I turn 62.)  Even New York State is responsible for the maintenance of some of these houses, Staatsburgh being one I want to visit soon.

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There is so much history in the Hudson Valley, and one could easily take a vacation here without venturing South to New York City.  This is something for a resident of the valley to remember when s/he has nothing to do on a nice weekend day.