Sunday, July 21, 2019

Quickie: The loss of a blog I enjoyed.

I always enjoyed Stana's blog, Femulate.  Sadly, and seemingly abruptly, she has decided to stop writing new entries.  No reasons were given why she decided to stop writing her blog, but clues were given over the years about her personal life that might indicate her reasons. I won't make any guesses or to explore my suspicions here. Stana deserves her privacy.  Instead, I will mentioned that I remember meeting her at a Fantasia Fair a long time back, and enjoyed her company.  Hopefully, she will also want to keep in contact....

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Why do I mention the loss of a blog?  Like Meg's blog, Stana's blog is still online for now, and people can read previously published articles. Also, like Meg, Stana's muse has moved on, and she had no need to write new entries.

Stana appears to have done a lot of work for her blog, finding at least one image of people femulating (yes, that is her word) to post with each entry.  She also found a model wearing clothes which she thought trans-gals could femulate well, as well as humorously captioning a photo (or image) for her femulating readers.  This probably takes much more time than it takes for me to write my average entry.  And I'll bet that her format and the time it took to write an entry were factors in her decision to stop producing new posts.

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Most of the time, the muse for people to start blogging comes when we need to talk to the world about things we are experiencing in life.  For me, I started blogging to journal the experiences I was having as I came out as trans.  This blog has morphed into a journal of my life in both genders.  Even though I have less to say now days, I still try to put out daily entries, and talk about things that concern me - especially today's politics.

There are still some roadblocks I continually encounter on my road to femininity, one of them is rejection.  And I will document these events (such as being pushed out of a meetup group for being trans) as they happen.  But I no longer fear the world, so my posts reflect the world as I see it - a place where I can move freely if I am careful.  So I can now focus some entries on the mundane things that happen (or don't happen) around me, such as Lili's wish to start a meetup group and dump the headaches of managing it on me.

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Posting daily entries is a discipline.  I have to plan for having entries ready for days I will not be able to write anything.  Additionally, I have to determine whether I should use a "canned" entry, or write something new to fill in for the day.  The act of writing has helped me have less to say, but to have more important things to say when I say them.  Although this may not show in my blog because I often need to write filler pieces, it has shown up in my off-line life, where I am better able to focus a thought in fewer words than in the past.  (I'm still wordy in my off-line life.)

My other blog suffers not from a lack of material, but from the lack of a regular publishing schedule.  To have a long lasting blog, I think the average blogger has to find a sweet spot between having enough interesting material to post on a regular basis, enough "filler" to use when the muse isn't striking, and enough regularly scheduled time to dedicate to writing the blog.  The blogs that I enjoyed most are ones that came from a person's need to bring out part of his/her soul and make that part public.  And once that need is sated, often the person stops blogging.

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Every blogger has his/her own reason for posting entries, and I have mine.  Right now, I enjoy writing these entries, as it is my way to show that a trans person can gradually shift from living life in one gender to living life in the other gender, and still get along well.  But I've waited the better part of 60 years to do so.  Younger folks have more and different problems than I did, and I hope that they take on the (now) tradition of blogging to make their voices heard....

PS: Stana changed her mind (for now) and has posted another couple of entries.  This makes me very glad, as I enjoy each post she makes....

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A rare weekday with GFJ up North

GFJ wanted me to look at the apartment she'll likely be renting in the near future.  It's going to take a while for her to get used to living in a 1 bedroom apartment which is a little larger than the studio apartments in my building.  But this senior housing comes with subsidized rent, and that is important to an almost 65 y/o woman who'll be living on savings and a limited income.

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This morning, I had to get myself out the door as Mario, and rush up to Kingston to view the apartment GFJ intends to rent beginning next month. We agreed to meet at a local diner at 1 pm.  Arriving in Kingston at 12:30, I decided to make a stop along the way to pick up a tape measure. This side trip delayed me for 30 minutes, causing me to arrive at the diner at the same time as GFJ.  She told me to park my car in the diner's lot, and from there, we'd take a 5 minute drive to her likely future residence.

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The building GFJ was looking at was once a hotel.  There are two entrances into the building: a front door with a buzzer entry, and a back door with a key entry.  We parked in the rear, and were able to enter without a key.  (This caused me a little bit of concern, but not as much as it might have had things been going wrong for me today.)  Once inside, we met the building manager, and she showed us the apartment GFJ will be renting.   Many years ago, someone converted it into a residential building, combining pairs of hotel rooms into single apartments.  This meant that many apartments have unusual layouts, such as a single room with a tiny kitchen area and a tiny living area, a bedroom with more space than the living room, and both a bathroom and closet abutting the kitchen area. There is no central air conditioning.  Each apartment is supplied with a single air conditioner, whose cooling capacity is more than enough for both rooms. Management will install and remove the air conditioners on a seasonal basis.  If it weren't for the space and layout, I wouldn't mind living there.  She be going from living in a 2000+ sq.ft. house with 50 acres of property to living in an apartment with less than 450 sq.ft. and no land of her own in the heart of Kingston.  And yet, this may be the best thing to happen to her.  Most of the time, she'll either be at work, visiting friends and family, or somewhere other than her new home.  For someone who has used her car as a closet for several years, I know she'll be OK when she has finally settled into her new place.  But I digress....

GFJ took the measurements of the apartment so that she can figure out which furniture she is bringing to her new apartment, and what furniture she will be giving away.  Unlike me, GFJ was married for almost 30 years, and accumulated more stuff than I have accumulated. She may have a hard time letting go of things when her upcoming change of life becomes more real to her.  And shortly afterwards, she was chatting with the building manager and trying to figure out when she could sign the contract for the place.

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Our next stop was at the diner where we had a delayed lunch.  Both of us were filled to the gills. Lately, GFJ has been getting hungry, eating a little, and getting a little hungry shortly afterwards. So I wasn't that surprised that GFJ couldn't finish her salad, then started to feel hungry shortly after we left the diner.

When we left the diner, we dropped my car off at a local park so we could drive up to Shandaken to collect a couple of water samples for testing.  After my car was parked in a safe spot, it was time to drive West on Route 28.  In the past, my late wife and I used to take this route to Phonecia on a regular basis.  We had a pair of friends there that first I met when dating another woman prior to our marriage.  Unfortunately, I lost contact with these friends within a couple of years after losing my wife. So this drive ended up being a way to refresh old memories and to develop new ones.

Once we reached Shandaken, we turned off Route 28 and drove several miles uphill to a summer sleep away camp which is open 6 weeks out of the year.  (The picture at the top of this entry does not do the place justice.)  Our first stop was in the kitchen, where GFJ took a sample from one tap in the kitchen.  Next, it was off to the boys' dorms, where she took another water sample fed from a second system.  And then, we were able to leave the place and drive back to Kingston.

Before we drove to Kingston, GFJ suggested that we go to the Little Bear for a light dinner. Taking a side road into Phonecia, we followed it until we intersected with another side road into Bearsville. Even though neither of us had traveled these roads, it was a nicer way to reach the restaurant than taking Route 28 and circling back via Woodstock.

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Dinner at the Little Bear was exactly as expected.  We tried a couple of new items (for us) on the menu, but were not impressed by either of them.  The noodle dish was good, and we might order it again if we're in the mood.  But the pork wrapped scallions were overcooked, with an excessive taste of scallion.  At least, the chicken with cashews was tasty.  And then, we were off to the movies.

Most of the movies playing at Kingston's new movie theater were the typical Hollywood franchise film: Spider Man, Secret Life of Pets 2, Toy Story 4, etc...  Nothing I haven't seen said "Watch Me!"  So I picked a film I wouldn't normally watch - Stuber.  Without giving away too much, this film is about a temporarily blinded cop trying to catch a drug kingpin after commandeering an Uber car and its driver.  There are some entertaining parts in this movie, but it leads to a very predictable ending.

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All too soon, the day had to end.  GFJ will be staying at her place, so that she can catch up on her work for the biology class.  As for me, I'll be going to my weekly speech therapy session, then figuring out to do while in Marian mode.

PS: GFJ gave me a belated birthday gift - a couple of shirts that I was thinking of buying for myself.  I'm lucky to have her in my life, and I hope she knows that I appreciate this very much.

Friday, July 19, 2019

I delayed dealing with a problem I had for way too long.

My closet has never been this bad.  But it has come close at times.  There was way too much in the closet, and it kept me from using many of the useful items I've bought over the years.  In fact, having been forced to look at the contents today, I found a dress which I had forgotten that I owned, and that I intend to use soon instead of buying another little black dress.

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The calendar in my phone was telling me that my cleaning lady was due to come today.  Couple this with a planned lunch with BXM and a volunteer stint at the GLBT Center, and I had no time available to fix any problems around the house.  Of course, this meant that old man Murphy would pay me a visit this morning....

Around 8:30 or so, I heard a strange noise coming from my closet.  In my semi conscious state, I wondered whether something small had fallen.  Not with my luck.  After years of being overloaded, the old metal clothes rack bent a little too far and pulled itself from its mounting.  As a result, everything in the closet was on the floor, and all I could do was to keep the closet door closed until the cleaning lady left.

Instead of getting dressed as Marian and spending the day out as my authentic self, I got dressed as Mario and started making the rounds to Target and to Lowe's for a replacement clothes rod, mountings, and an electric screwdriver.  (I could have gotten everything at Lowe's, but I thought of Target first and was 90% of the way there when I thought of Lowe's.)  Once I was done purchasing things, it was back home to wait for my cleaning lady before starting work on my closet.

The usual time for my cleaning lady's arrival had passed, and I was wondering what was up with her.  I gave her a call, and she told me that she'd be here in 2 weeks.  (I'm not bothered by an extra 2 weeks between visits - it gives me more time to clean up my mess before she works her magic.)  This made it possible for me to start work on my closet about 2 hours earlier than planned.  So, I screwed in the new rod holders, then sawed off enough wood to get the new rod to fit into place.  And then, the fun began.  I still had to hang clothes back on the rod while sorting out stuff that either had to go into storage or out to the charity bin.  That task took me until 5:30 to complete.

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I was very lucky that I realized at the start of the day that BXM wasn't going to be available (she has turned into a little more of a flake since her dad died), and that I could skip out on volunteering for a week.  However, there might have been a small, delayed karmic payback for me, as I always was frustrated by my wife's overflowing closet - didn't she have enough clothes?  If there is an afterlife, I know that she's laughing at me right now - and I wouldn't blame her for doing so.

It's amazing that I was willing to shop for new things instead of raiding my closet.  The stuff I started to find made me realize that the sheer volume of what I already own has gotten in the way of me enjoying the stuff I already have.  It's probably time for me to aggressively prune my wardrobe.  But I think I'll do that after I clean out my basement storage compartment.  This will allow me to store a seasonal wardrobe and then prune the things I find I no longer want when their season returns.

Hopefully, I will soon make the time to do this cleanup.  I don't want to go through another day like today.  It wasn't that bad. But it hammered home the point that I am drowning in the clutter of my life.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Nothing to do until Dinner.

Once each week, the Beacon Dining Group holds its dinner somewhere in Dutchess County.  Dinner could be in a restaurant as far South as Garrision, or as far North as Poughkeepsie.  The general guideline is that a place for us to have dinner should be no more than 20 minutes away from the organizer's home, and that we should go to a different place each week.

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When I finally got moving for the day, I decided to cancel my Freshly delivery for next week.  Since my Freshly subscription provides me with 6 meals each week, it looks like I'll have 2 or 3 dinners I must put in the freezer on Friday, and I don't want to waste money by having too many uncooked meals waiting for me to eat or to store away for future consumption.  

While we're on the topic of Freshly, I received a survey from the firm to find out what options I'd like to see in the future.  For example, they asked whether I wanted the option of extra proteins (for an extra charge), whether I wanted to be able to choose the starch or vegetable to be included with the meal, and whether I wanted to be able to substitute a second vegetable for a starch. This would be kind of option that might make me want to stay with Freshly, as I already have these options with Top Chef Meals.

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Compared with yesterday, today's drive to Poughkeepsie for dinner is a short hop.  Yet, I'm racking up mileage on my car, as I will be driving to GFJ's place for the day on Friday, so I can see her new apartment.  She has qualified for a subsidized rental for seniors in the city of Kingston.  Luckily for her, they do not count her assets when determining affordability. The money she has from the sale of her office building and the money she will have from the sale of her house must last her for the rest of her life.  Given that she can't count much on Social Security, she has to plan carefully for important purchases - such as buying a new car.

GFJ has mentioned that the contract that has been keeping her company afloat will likely last another 2 years.  And then, it may continue a little bit longer if a public works project is not completed.  She has never mentioned any worries about this, but I have my concerns for her.  Several years before I met GFJ, she had a life with a "normal" set of worries.  Now, she lives with much more risk, with many fewer rewards.

It'll be good to see GFJ a day earlier than planned.  But I will have to drive back later on that evening, as I have speech therapy the next morning.  It'll be one day less that I spend as Marian this week.  Yet, I think it will be a nice way to close up the week.

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A little after 5 pm, I started getting ready for tonight's meetup.  Unfortunately, I had a minor GI Tract issue before getting showered, so I ended up being ready about 15 minutes later than expected.  Out the door I rushed, and I was at the meetup a few minutes after 7.  However, I had to spend a few minutes looking for parking, as the official restaurant lot was completely filled.  Giving up on nearby street parking, and not wanting to pay for the one public lot that charges a parking fee 24x7, I decided to park in the church lot next door.  And as I got out, another 2 women from our group also decided to park in the same lot.  (I later checked with the restaurant, and they told me that the church won't hassle anyone when not holding services.)  So 15 minutes later than expected, I took a seat next to Lili, instead of with the 2 ladies who came in with me.

Lili originally mentioned that her ex-husband would be showing up.  Unfortunately, his depression got to him today, and he wasn't able to make it there.  WDJ didn't show up either.  But most importantly, only half of the brother/sister pair (M & L) showed up.  Another meetup member, A, went up the mountain to pick her up, and later to drive her home.  It was nice to be able to talk with her without her brother getting in the way. 

We had the entire second floor of the restaurant to ourselves.  And yet, it was a bit louder than expected.  I guess that it was the other table causing the racket - they were a little bit more outgoing than the people at our table.  But this may have been related to the conversations going on.  Lili later told me that M was not happy with the house her brother wanted, and that L felt he was pushing her to buy the house.  Lili sees L as a nice woman who is being used by her brother for his own reasons.  As for me, I hope that A picks up L much more often, as she comes alive a bit when her brother is not around.

All too soon, our group started to break up.  Most of the people at my table left, and I went over to the other table to chat with the women who came in with me. One of these women and I exchanged numbers, and we will likely go to have lunch together soon.  Additionally, A and I arranged a dinner at a French restaurant we visited earlier in the year.  I'll have to watch my diet very carefully after that meal!

On the way home, I talked both with GFJ and with Lili.  With GFJ, it was to catch up with what happened later in the evening.  With Lili, it was to find out what she thought of L without her brother being around.  Lili has an uneducated feeling that L was misdiagnosed by her doctors.  But I reminded me that one of the symptoms of her ailment is the one that Lili thinks points away from the diagnosis.  As for me, I hope to see a lot more of L without her brother. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A visit to YGM in Connecticut that almost didn't come off.

My face looks like crap in the above picture. It's because both my makeup and I were fading after a long, hot day.  Yet the drive to see YGM was well worth it, as we haven't seen each other since this time last year.

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Since the beginning of the weekend, I was trying to get a confirmation from YGM that she'd be available today for a get together.  Her message stated that she and her family were leaving for Florida on Wednesday morning, so I had only one day which would fit into both of our schedules for a meeting.  When YGM finally called me on Monday, GFJ was still with me, and we confirmed today's meeting.

My alarms didn't wake me up this morning.  The internal alarm clock in my head got me moving before 9 am, and I was out the door by 10:30.  But it would be at least 2 1/4 hours before I reached YGM, as her Airbnb was 5 minutes from her old home in Colchester, CT.  So I made sure that I had something cold to drink before driving 120 miles on a hot Summer's day.

The drive out to YGM's place went smoothly, and I got there exactly when I expected.  It was if no time had passed since our last meeting, save that her family life had gotten a little more complicated.  It seems like her husband is not bothering to seriously look for work, as he has "lost his mojo" after mustering out of the service on a medical discharge. (You'll have to pardon me.  I'm trying not to give out too many details if either she or her husband ever reads this blog.)  Issues that YGM and I have discussed before are coming into focus, and they are the type that could seriously threaten their marriage and YGM's financial security.

 (A winter shot of the covered bridge we visited.)

(A summer shot of the covered bridge we visited.)

YGM and I discussed these issues over a long lunch, then went for a drive to see a covered bridge near where she was staying.  Eventually, we made it back to her place, and we started to discuss being cisgender, transgender, straight and gay.  Additionally, I discussed (in detail) issues regarded to medical transition for both Male to Female Transgenders and Female to Male Transgenders.  YGM was glad that I did so, as I was the only person she knew who could discuss this topic in detail with a touch of authority.

Sadly, my visit had to end, and YGM had to prepare for a long drive back to Florida.  I told her and her husband that they must avoid the Cross Bronx "Expressway" (Route 95) to the George Washington Bridge, and cross the Hudson no further South than the Tappan Zee Bridge.  If possible, they should also try to have dinner in Delaware, so that they can wait out the rush hour traffic jams in Baltimore and Washington DC on their way South.  Hopefully, they will take this advice.

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On the way back home, I talked with GFJ for an hour and a half (with a brief loss of connection due to a dead spot), then with Lili for another half hour.  It was a good way of staying awake on the way home.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The end of another long weekend

The last time I was to this place was over 20 years ago.  I had just lost my wife, and I was getting familiar with some Widows and Widowers I had known only from being in an online chat room.  This time, I decided to go to Lyndhurst with GFJ and have a relaxing day together before she went home for the night.

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GFJ and I spent the 4th watching fireworks at Charles Point (Peekskill).  But the ones she really wanted to see were at Trophy Point (West Point) on the 6th.  However, the forecast was for scattered showers that night, so the plans changed to have us see a movie on Saturday, then see Fireworks on Sunday. 

Saturday came, and I got prepared to go out as Marian while GFJ studied for her Biology class.  When I arrived at Mercy, I noticed that our usual therapy room was being repainted and recarpeted.  This meant that we'd be holding our session in a room next to where children were being treated.  In addition, the seating would not be as comfortable as that in the room we used in previous semesters.

A minute or two after I arrived, my senior student clinician (LK) came in, then the junior clinician (RV).  I then I knew that I was in safe hands.  The senior clinician took the lead, and was showing the junior clinician the ropes.  After our session, I ended up speaking with the senior clinician about what's been going on in her life.  And she's frustrated!  Now that she's doing her internship at a local school, she's finding that real life can bite her in the butt.  It seems as if the school supervisor has gaslighted LK, as she was never told that she'd need to be both fluent in ASL (American Sign Language) and in Conversational Spanish.  Although LK knows both, she's not 100% fluent, and the school supervisor is using this to give LK a very hard time.  The school supervisor has shifted from telling LK to "wing it, you know what you're doing" to submitting several lesson plans, all of which are rejected.  LK has never received a grade less than an A, and she's likely to get a "Gentleman's B" in the internship.  So I told her that her objective must be to pass the class, and to satisfy the requirements for the degree.  It's not right what's happening to her, but there are some wrongs that you must endure - and this is one of them.

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Once done at Mercy, I stopped over at the Avenue in Yonkers to browse the racks and to chat a little.  While there, the heavens started to open up.  But I was able to get to my car just before the drenching rain started.  So I drove home, and changed back into Mario mode as soon as I arrived.

After a needed nap, the two of us went out for a light dinner, and then to see the movie "Yesterday."  I could go on with a lot of cliches made of Beatle song titles, but this was simply a well made, enjoyable bit of fluff.  For me, the most enjoyable part of the film is where the main character meets up with a living, non-famous John Lennon and gets an important bit of advice.

When the movie ended, we picked up some food for the next morning and quickly went to sleep when we got home.  It was a nice day, even though some rain got in the way.

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(The view from our first site)

(The march of the Cadets of the Class of 2023)

(The view from our second site)
Sunday came, and GFJ's GI Tract wasn't doing so well.  (Mine wasn't doing well either, but a quick last minute run to the loo took care of my issues.)  We got out of the house a little bit late, and went to a late lunch before going to West Point.  We arrived at the concert grounds a little after 5:15, and settled down in a place near where we could get the best view of the fireworks to come.  However, we couldn't hear what was coming from the audio system.  So GFJ suggested that we move our seats to a new location, and I hemmed and hawed until the concert was about to start.

While in our first location, I struck up a conversation with the wife of an Army officer.  She has 3 children, and her husband does not want for his children to go into the military.  I'll bet that he's unhappy with the way this country is going, and doesn't want to see any of his kids used as cannon fodder.  GFJ had returned from the porta-pottys, and she said that she scouted out a good place where we could hear the music AND see the fireworks later on.  I figured that this was the best time for me to relieve myself, then pick up a quick hamburger before the festivities started. When I was about to scout out the area that GFJ suggested, the Cadets of the class of 2023 started marching by.  The spot GFJ wanted to move to wasn't that good.  But I found one that was a little better.  So when I returned, GFJ and I picked up our gear, said goodbye to the woman and her kids, and moved to our new location.

The concert wasn't as nice as usual.  More time than usual was spent saluting our military, and the music was a little too "urban" and "modern" for my taste.  Halfway through the concert, the fireworks started in nearby Cold Spring, and we were enjoying their fireworks more than the nearby music.  Eventually, our concert ended and our fireworks began. Towards the end of the display, they started playing Sing, Sing, Sing - and this was perfect accompaniment for the fireworks.  It was a shame that they switched to a Sousa march for the fireworks finale.

Once the show ended, we had an easy time getting back to our car.  Unfortunately, it took a bit longer than usual to get home, as the toll collection at the Bear Mountain Bridge couldn't handle the volume of cars passing through the toll gates.  At least, it was an easy drive for us once we passed the gates.

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On Monday, neither GFJ nor I had any plans.  She wanted to celebrate my birthday in advance, as I would likely be going to see YGM the next day, and that GFJ had to start doing the lab work for this unit of her Biology course.  So we decided to go to a museum today, and found out that Kykuit (the Rockefeller Estate) was only open on weekends. We ended up going to see Lyndhurst as a fallback, and got there in time for the last tour of the day.

Unlike some houses, this old home was very warm in the Summer heat.  Luckily, there were more than enough fans around the mansion to keep air moving and provide some sort of relief to the visitors.  The tour guide gave us a history of the mansion, as well as a talk about each of the 3 families that owned the place.  I appreciated the tour much more than I did the last time I was here, about 22 years ago.  This time, I was not distracted by the antics of our Widow/Widower gathering group.  Instead, we were a small group of 7 who went through the house at a leisurely pace and appreciated what was before us.

When the tour ended, GFJ and I went to look at the Bowling Alley on the lower part of the estate.  It must have been very nice to live in the style that the Goulds were accustomed to. But I'd have hated to see much of my wealth squandered by my male heirs.

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We left the grounds around 6:30, and went out to dinner at a local diner.  GFJ was still worried about her GI Tract, and had a plate of eggs.  She knew that eggs shouldn't bother her, and this was a safe choice for her.  After a stop home, GFJ packed up and left for home.  As for me, I started a load of laundry, and when done, packed it in for the night....

Monday, July 15, 2019

Quickie: Strangely enough, I ended up looking for some MEN'S shirts for a change.

Considering how much I spend on dresses, you'd wonder why I was looking at menswear today.  The answer is simple. I need to replace a few items, and the online catalog is the best place to find clothes in my size.

I have found that when wearing men's clothes, I miss the partial convenience of a handbag. If I don't have a pocket for everything I need to carry, I don't carry it.  This can be a big inconvenience when I need to carry a cell phone, reading glasses, a wallet and car keys.  But the funniest thing was having lunch the other day as Mario and looking to side for the handbag I use when presenting as Marian.

If I didn't need my reading glasses, I wouldn't bother looking for shirts that have pockets. It is more than acceptable for a man to carry reading glasses in his shirt pocket, even though it is not recommended in the book "Dress for Success".  (I wonder what updates would be made to that book today - it was easier to dress for success when one wore business suits to work.  Now, things are much more complex, and a revision to this book is probably needed.)  And as I age, I find that I need the reading glasses more and more every day.

Getting older is not the easiest thing to do.  And the choice of clothing gets more complex every day - especially for a transgender person who has to live on both sides of the gender line for now....