Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A pre-holiday night out with the Fun Time Friends

As I write this, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I couldn't help but think that I should rework the opening to Clement Clark Moore's famous poem as follows:

'Twas the second night before Christmas,
And through the Ale House,
Many creatures were stirring,
Including a spouse (or two).

I'll bet that the poet would be aghast if he could see what I've done to the poem.  But it fits the main theme of the day - a pre-holiday visit to the Orange Ale House to share a few drinks with the FTF meetup group, and enjoy some free bar food.

- - - - - -

The day opened with me noticing something about a meetup I signed up for.  I had planned to get together with a new group (for me) and found out that GFJ had just signed up for the same wait list. Since GFJ and I had an agreement that I would not show up as Marian at a meetup she would be attending, I promptly took my name off the wait list.  Later on, I sent a message to GFJ about this, and didn't have the chance to talk about this because her kids were in for the holiday.  (The last thing she needs is for them to find about me being both Mario and Marian.)  So we will probably need to develop new guidelines for meetups that we are both interested in. 

Around 2:00, I started to get ready to go to the Fun Time Friends meetup in Orange, CT.  I had figured that I'd get there a little early, and then boogie over to Catherine's for some last minute pre-holiday browsing.  That was not to happen as planned.  I left Croton at 3:00, and it took the better part of 2 hours to make it to the meetup on time.  While driving, I chatted with GFJ.  But one of her sons was nearby, so I couldn't chat about the topic I wanted to talk about.  So we chatted about some meaningless pleasantries and I wished her the best for her next couple of days in Connecticut with her family.

When I arrived at the meetup, I was the first person there.  Luckily, I met another meetup member and we shared the far end of the table in the picture above.  It was too noisy to have a meaningful conversation. But we tried to do so as the regular meetup gang ambled in. Eventually, I got the chance to chat with the Meetup organizer for a minute or two.  Yet, the noise level in the place got to me.  So I decided to leave around 6:30 and go home.

The drive home was uneventful.  However, the two beers and the bar food started to induce a little drowsiness in me.  The last thing I wanted to do was have an accident.  So I stopped for a while to spike my energy level in order to make it home safely.  And once I made it home, I crashed on my bed for a few hours before starting this entry.

Monday, December 30, 2019

I went shopping the other day.

No matter what happens between GFJ and I, I figured that I'd play it safe and buy her a Christmas present.  Shopping to buy her a gift is the one type of lie I will tell her.  But if things go totally sour, I can always exchange the sweater for one in my size.  (That is one advantage of being transgender - I am familiar with the offerings in stores that cater to women, and know when something good is on sale at a reasonable price.)

A common complaint among many plus size cisgender women is they have nowhere to shop for clothes in person.  Dress Barn is closing (at the time I'm writing this) by the end of the year. The Avenue stores have all closed down, though there is still an on-line presence for that store.  That leaves a diminished version of Catherines selling clothing staples, and Lane Bryant selling more trendy clothing targeted to the younger plus sized woman.  While at the store, one of the salesladies mentioned some of the complaints (not at Catherine's) that former Avenue shoppers have, now that that chain has closed up shop.  These women feel that they have nowhere to shop anymore.

In that conversation with the saleslady, she mentioned that she liked the coat I was wearing, and that she wished that her store carried such merchandise. Although the store was filled with coats, none of them had the look of the classic wool coat.  She complained that district management had no idea of what customers wanted in the stores, and that no one listens to what is going on where it counts - in the stores.  I'm afraid that if this company keeps ignoring its front line, that it will end up just like the Avenue.  And that'll be a damned shame.

As it stands, I have a large enough supply of women's clothes to last me for a while (in my present size).  Hopefully, the owners of Catherine's and Lane Bryant will figure out how to make more money from their stores and keep more of them open....

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Posted on a nearby Door

Sometime within the past couple of years, one of my neighbors vacated her apartment (supposedly) to live with her boyfriend.  Neighbor A had a contract to sell the apartment to Neighbor B, but things fell through, most likely due to Neighbor A's upcoming bankruptcy filing. Since bankruptcy is a matter of public record, I feel safe mentioning this issue, as long as I don't identify the former neighbors involved.

Around the time of the aborted sale, Neighbor B moved into Neighbor A's old apartment, and no one gave it any thought.  Several months later, we found out that the sale fell through, and told Neighbor B to move out - which they did.  (It's amazing that a family who could afford to buy an apartment here could fit all their belongings into a single pick up truck and move out in one day!)  The apartment sat empty for a while, and we recently found out that it was being put up for auction. (Again, another public record allows me to mention this event.)

The other day, I saw the above notice posted on Neighbor A's former door.  It appears that the mortgage company may have purchased the apartment at auction, and is preparing to sell it.  (Or, it may have already have been sold, and this notice is used to tell possible residents that they may have to leave soon.)  One way or another, it looks like we'll have new neighbors soon.  Let's hope that the new neighbors are better than the old ones....

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Sometimes, I'm stuck in the "wrong" presentation

Last night, my brother returned from England, and didn't text me to let me know he got in. He and his two adult children were doing a little sightseeing while visiting my niece's future in-laws.  I'm jealous of them.  But I'll eventually have the chance to visit my niece and her future husband in their new home.  So I have something to look forward to.  Until then, I'm just an afterthought for my brother and his family.  But more on that later....

Today is my dad's birthday.  That means I will need to be in my male presentation when I go to Long Island.  Because of this scheduling requirement, I was sure to schedule my annual physical for the same day, so that I wouldn't need to change from Marian to Mario. And this meant that I had to be ready to start my day early, then not know exactly when I'd be expected to be at my brother's place.

- - - - - -

The first thing I had to do was to go to the doctor.  And I arrived at his office at the same time as the doctor.  Since this was my yearly physical, he had a few more questions to ask of me, and suggested that I get my eyes checked and to schedule a colonoscopy.  Even though it is less than an hour after I left the office as I write this, I already forgot what I should be asking for with my eyes.  (I can ask the doc about that again when I see him in a month.)  But I'll have to see if the doc who performed my last colonoscopy is covered under my insurance and whether his assistant staff is also covered.  Otherwise, I will need to ask my internist for other recommendations of people who may be on my insurance plan.

When I got out of the doc's office, I got a call back after picking up breakfast - they forgot to ask for a urine sample.  So back to the office I went for 5 minutes, and then onto the house to rest.  Looking at the phone, my brother finally acknowledged my messages, telling me that he is back from England.  Unfortunately, he hadn't yet figured out what he plans to with my dad for his birthday.  So it meant that I would have to be ready for anything.  And I found out that my brother was going in to work today, then do something tomorrow.  As for me, I decided to drive to Long Island to see my dad in the daytime.

- - - - - -

It took me over 2 hours to reach my dad.  Traffic was much worse than usual, and I hit all the traffic jams that I could have expected and more.  But I made it there a little bit before my brother, and by 6 pm, we were on our way to the Japanese buffet to enjoy dinner.  Luckily, my sister in law did not join us, as she had a "meeting" to go to tonight. So the 4 of us felt free to each have a beer and to relax over a leisurely dinner.

Towards the end of the evening, my brother started showing photos of the family trip to England, and I started getting bored.  Yet, I didn't want the evening to end.  There are not that many family gatherings left in my dad's life, and I want to be there for as many as possible.

- - - - - -

Around 8:30-9:00 or so, we brought my dad back to the nursing home, and I started my drive back to my apartment. Shortly before I got home, GFJ returned my call and we chatted for a few minutes.  It appears that she will also be busy during the holiday season, so this will be the second straight holiday with us not being together.  Although I will make New Year's Eve open for her if she wants to be together, I have plans in mind if she were to make it a third holiday of being apart.  At that point, unless I am misinterpreting things, she will have sent a signal without saying anything definite....   Such is life.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Lunch and Gaming

Although I snapped this photo last week, it could have easily been taken tonight.  Other than the cold, the weather would have been perfect to visit the city.  As for me, I spent most of the day in the Northern Suburbs, then drove to Yonkers to play games this evening.

- - - - - -

It's been a while since I've seen SWD, and we agreed to meet at the Thai restaurant in Beacon.  Sometimes when we meet, lunch is short.  But today, we spent 3 hours gabbing at the restaurant.  We talked about many things: her husband (nothing negative), her family (typical issues, but mostly pride in her sons), a touch of politics (we are on the opposite sides of the political debate, but can talk civilly about things), and issues with my family (I still wonder what it will be like when we celebrate my dad's birthday).  It's amazing how much one can find to talk about when one is ready, willing and able to listen to someone.

Around 3 pm, I took off for the LGBT Center to do a volunteer stint.  By the time I got near the Croton reservoir, I veered off the Taconic for a bio break before continuing my southbound journey. By the time I made it to the center, it was 5 pm - not much time to do anything useful.  Yet there was enough for me to get 90 minutes of useful time in.  But my real reason for going there today was simple - I didn't want to commit to being there on Monday, and I wanted to stop by and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  I also wanted to say hello, in case I don't get the chance to say "goodbye" for a while when working for the census bureau.

A little before 7, I started my drive over to game night, and arrived in time for the first of several games.  The 2 children enjoyed the presents I gave them. And I was surprised to receive a couple of my own.  Even though I may have had the option to meet GFJ tonight (mentioned by her early in the week), I felt that I had an obligation to these kids.  Auntie Marian went out of her way to buy them gifts, and it was important that they get these gifts before Christmas.  (Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to chat with GFJ today, as she called while I was in the middle of my volunteer work.  I wanted to call her back before her meetup, but it met 30 minutes earlier than I expected.)

- - - - - -

Tomorrow, I'll be going to my doctor for my annual physical.  And then, I'll be driving to Long Island to see my family.  Hopefully, there will be no negative developments in either area....

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Today was to be my last day doing a volunteer stint

Over the past year or two, I've been an irregular volunteer for both of the places for which I help out.  My weekend schedule had gotten in the way of me attending many Arts Westchester events. And my declining interest got in the way of helping out at the LGBT Center.  I needed something to motivate me to get up and out on a daily basis, and that involved both a sense of purpose and a desire to earn money. 

Since it looks like I'll soon be working at the Census bureau, I doubt that I will have any free time to do any volunteering for a while.  And this is just as well - I needed a break from my old routine, as I was getting more and more inclined to stay indoors all day.  This is not a healthy thing to do, as evidenced by my dad's former home life before moving into the nursing home.

- - - - - -

By the time I got moving, it was late in the afternoon, and I didn't have the time to do a volunteer stint AND make it to the Fun Time Friends meetup in Wilton, CT.  So I sent an email to the LGBT Center's volunteer coordinator to tell him that I'd either be in tomorrow or on Monday.

When I finally made it out of the house, it was a bit late for me to make it on time.  There was no way that I was going to take Route 95 from here, as rush hour traffic would slow things to a crawl.  Instead, I took the roads to the venue and made it to dinner only a few minutes late. 

Arriving at the venue, I sat down next to the organizer and we had a great time.  There was one woman there who could have been my sister, and she recognized me as well.  This is a very friendly bunch of people - possibly more so than the folks in Beacon.  (Just don't tell the Beacon folks that....)  While chatting with the organizer, I found that she had an interest in visiting Chinatown in the Spring.  So I suggested we do so when it's convenient for her - and we may do that when the weather gets warmer.  I could use as many friends as possible who know me as Marian, and not as Mario.  It would be nice to add a "sane" friend to my address book.

- - - - - -

Earlier in the day, GFJ called me on her way home from Baltimore.  While on the call, she had to hang up, telling me to call back when I was on the road to the meetup.  I did just that, and didn't get an answer.  Could the problem have been to a nationwide problem with Verizon Wireless?  Who knows?  When I tried to reach her on the way home from my meetup, there was also no answer for me.  Since Facebook Messenger shows her as inactive, all I can think is that she has a problem with her phone connecting to the outside world.  Hopefully, she made it to her meetup OK....

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

I did plenty of nothing, and nothing's plenty for me!

Today was a day that didn't lend itself to going outside.  The forecast called for a wintry mix, with about 3/8" of ice being deposited on everything.  This was not weather to drive in, and this made it a good day to stay inside - which I did.

Although I could have done a load of laundry, that would have meant getting dressed.  That's something which was not in the cards for today.  So the hamper continued to hold a load of clothes which could get done at anytime this week.  Given the choice between getting out of a warm bed on a cold day or staying comfortable, you can guess what my choice would be.

Later in the afternoon, I got an email asking me whether an 11:45 start time for speech therapy would be good for me, and I responded with a "Yes."  When I checked my schedule, I noticed a meetup I had scheduled for a Saturday afternoon in January - I had a timing conflict.  Sadly, I will miss this foodie meetup.  But I will continue on my path to developing a more feminine voice - and that's the more important thing to do in my opinion.

- - - - - -

Watching the news today, I become more and more afraid that we are heading down the path to a not so civil war.  Most of us would admit that we are in the middle of a cultural war.  America is polarized as it has been in only one other period in history, and that ended with the Civil War.  Whether or not one is a Republican or Democrat, this is not a good sign for us transgender folk.

The more I find out about what's going on in Washington, the more I worry.  In the past, I'd merely get upset at the "opposition party".  But now it gets my blood boiling.  I have to change the channel as soon as I turn it on.  And that's not good.  We are in the cross hairs of part of the GOP's base, and many of their proposed laws are aimed directly at us.

How do I deal with it?  More and more, I seek the entertainment that I grew familiar with when I was younger - shows like the original Perry Mason still make me feel that there is some form of justice in the world.  Old Westerns also serve the same function for me - the difference between right and wrong was easy to see, and one knew that good would triumph over evil.  Even though John Wayne in real life was not a man I could easily respect, I loved what his "cowboy" characters stood for - especially when John Ford was the director of the film.

- - - - - -

Like many people whose views I disagree with, I also yearn for the simplicity of the 1950's.  Unlike these people, I support the ideals which America stood for back then, and not the reality of what America was.  When I look at the old TV shows, I see part of what America could be, as well as by omission, things we need to fix for our future.

Right now, I enjoy the idea of relaxing and doing nothing.  Reality has a habit of catching up with us way too quickly for comfort....


And if you've gotten this far....

Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

I woke up early this morning, and started to write.

Today was going to be an unscheduled day in the middle of days where lots of things were marked on my calendar.  So I decided to write another entry to be made public on a weekend, so that I'd have the freedom NOT to write about anything and yet have something for people to read that day.

Unlike my last blog, I don't intend to have 20 canned entries waiting to be published on days I can't write anything of interest.  Often, I let many of these pre-written entries go stale, and then had to perform major surgery on them to bring them up to date.  Then, still more were unfit for publishing because what was true at the time was made false by events that happened after the entry was written.

- - - - - -

Although my alarms woke me up at the usual time, I didn't start to get moving until after noon.  Remembering that I expected a package from Amazon today, I looked out my door to find it was delivered as expected.  So I opened the package, and wrapped the locking diary for Thursday night.  I expect that both parents and the girl receiving the diary will be very happy to see this Xmas gift.  As for their son, he'll get a gift card from Barnes and Noble, along with a package of Goldfish crackers.  (He said, "anything with goldfish", and his mom said my idea was perfect.)

Very soon, I'll have to shift my alarms to wake me up 2 hours earlier than they do now.  I expect that the census job will keep me busy, and that I'll want to keep working when this job ends.  So I'll make sure that I keep a record of what I'm doing, but make sure to reveal none of the data which I will be prohibited from revealing after I'm gone.

- - - - - -

Since this is the season where I know that I'll both overeat and have excess food around the house, I had to develop a plan to keep from gaining too much weight.  After my uncle sent his yearly Xmas gift of fruit and snacks, I knew that much of the snack stuff would have to leave my apartment, lest it go to my stomach.  So I separated the fruit from the snacks, and packaged the snacks to go to this Thursday's game night meetup. 

When I finally got around to eating something other than snacks today, I ended up cooking some frozen lasagna.  Finally getting around to cooking this freezer staple allowed me to put some larger pre-made meals (for more than one person) in the freezer, so that they do not go to waste (or waist).  Thankfully, I had suspended my Freshly subscription until January 2020, or I'd not have the space in my freezer for the 2 packages.  I'm trying to have healthy food and snacks available to me when I want to nosh on something, and to have everything else inconvenient enough for me, so that I think twice before eating anything.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Thoughts related to several conversations I've had over the past few days

I've documented issues related to the loss of a friendship, the breakup of another, and thought's I've had about things in general.  Yet, I've never tied everything together for general consumption.  This is my attempt to put things into perspective.

- - - - - -

I've been dating GFJ for a little over 5 years. And we have hit some problems in our relationship. Since I'm writing this entry before Thanksgiving, I am making the assumption that both of us will be with our own families during holiday season. (This is now true.)  I'd have been happy to have had the same kind of relationship that Vicki #1's dad had with his girlfriend - two people in love with each other, but not sharing a common living space.  Each of us would have had the freedom to live our lives as we see fit, but would have had the knowledge that each of us would be there for the other.  I do not know where this will end up, nor do I know if this situation is permanent.  But I do think that we were better off with each other being in our lives, and I think that separating on a good note leaves us many more options than I have with my former cruise partner.

- - - - - -

To check whether I was going nuts or not, I described the situation with my former cruise partner to several of my other friends.  Several of these friends would have liked to see me find a way to patch things up with her, as she was a close friend for several years. However, other friends noted that this woman's actions were abnormally controlling, even though they could be viewed as simple caring from another perspective.

I react very poorly to being controlled by others, and I would push anyone away who'd try to do this to me.  I guess this goes back to childhood, when my mother didn't respect that other people (especially her children) had opinions that differed significantly from hers.  I can still remember being on the phone with a friend, saying that the fancy service at one Chinese restaurant we went to was a little off putting to me.  My mom got very upset at this, as my opinion was very different from hers, and started an argument which resulted in my dad telling her off for one of the few times that I remember him doing so.  Incidents like this created a situation where neither my brother nor I have any pleasant memories of her.  Nor do either of us miss her, almost 20 years after her death.

My former cruise partner is a control freak, but this never got to me until a series of incidents on our last cruise together (documented in my previous blog).  Describing these incidents in detail to my friends, the one I consider my main reality check told me that she was now very glad that she never met my cruise partner.  The little incidents would have been driven her nuts!  Then, this friend said that she understood why I severed contact the way I did - the relationship could no longer nourish me the way it once did, and I didn't want to cause either of us any more pain.

- - - - - -

I also related these events to HWV (in passing) when we went out for dinner the other night. She and HWJ started asking me about romance and my transgender nature - intimate questions that I have no problems answering, when asked by people I've gotten to know a little.  It's amazing how little the average person knows about gender dysphoria, gender presentation, gender identification, and gender preference.  For most Cisgender people, it's way too easy to take many things for granted.

This was an educational conversation, as much for me as it was for them, as I was in the proper setting to talk about things.  Could I have talked this way with GFJ?  Probably not.  This is the kind of conversation which would have her walking away to give me more space to live as Marian - even when I gladly make the trade-off to share my life with someone I love.  (Thankfully, my dysphoria is very mild, as it allows me to live in both genders as needed.)  In a way, I am very envious of one of my Facebook friends I met at Fantasia Fair. She has a healthy relationship with her wife, a relationship which would only break up if she decides to transition completely, both socially and medically.

- - - - - -

Now we get to my recent conversation with Pat.  As I've mentioned, she's an idealist who thinks she is a realist.  She's a person who believes in leftist conspiracy theories, and will only accept the idea of impossibly large changes without plans, and not the incremental changes that realists like me promote.  There are serious problems with the world right now, climate change being one of them.  Although I believe in climate change/global warming, I still consider it an incompletely proven theory - the same way Einstein's theory became useful, even if not proven completely.  Pat is the type of person who will get involved in every Liberal cause, including Black Lives Matter, and then think she is "Woke".  Often, she doesn't have much of a clue about what is really going on, as she seems to always be looking for her Lefty Gold Medal to be pinned on her chest.  This will never happen, as she has no clue about how to affect any change, because she doesn't know how to convince people that change is needed.

Years ago, I learned that politics is a skill of making possible things happen, and knowing what things are possible and what things are not.  To break down the idea of "Separate but Equal" in the courts, many smaller cases had to be brought before the Supreme Court, building up a foundation to overturn prior court rulings.  Pat has no clue about this technique, and would have blown it by putting everything together in a single court case - and then losing it.  Society needs time to process major changes, it needs a plan to implement those changes, and it needs time to sell those changes to a large enough population who will support it.  Pat would destroy the world we live in with her ideals, as she would not pay enough attention to the details or planning needed to get any meaningful changes done.

With all of this, Pat understands why I severed contact with my former cruise partner.  I've grown enough to live without an important crutch in my life.  Yet, she doesn't understand that my growth also allows me to see her for what she is, and accept her as such.  At the age of 78, I doubt that she ever will grow any further - her mind is set in its ways, she distrusts everything the world has been built on, and she can provide no meaningful or effective steps that will make this world a better place.  All she can do is tilt at her windmills and bask in her "wokeness".

- - - - - -

As with everything I write about, it all comes back to me.  Years ago, I searched for any romantic interest that would have me for a partner.  I settled for my wife, a good woman, someone who deserved someone better than me.  It took me years after I lost her to cancer to then be able to appreciate a good woman when she came into my life.  And yet, I wasn't able to read GFJ's mind and give her the relationship security she needed. (No, there is no way I could have read her mind.  But this is a problem with many relationships - not enough quality communication.)  Whatever happens with GFJ and I, I feel I have learned something I might be able to bring into another relationship (if I ever decide to pursue one again.)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

I hate rainy, foggy days.

Normally, I try to stay in a single presentation for the entire day.  This makes things much simpler for me.  Once I move my ID and money into the correct wallet, I can be sure that I'm carrying all 3 needed items I need to show a police officer if my car is stopped.  (I also move my AAA card, as I've been in need of a tow while in my female presentation.)  This was not going to be a "half and half" day, as I only needed to be out as Mario for an hour, and I'd be out as Marian until I returned home late in the evening.

- - - - - -

Last night, GFJ and I were chatting around 2 am.  We caught up on the past day, and then she asked a question - Did Patty know about me being TG?  I told her that she may have had some inklings when we were going together in the early 2000's, but I was not out and about way back when.  I have to assume that GFJ is still sorting things out in her mind, and that my TG nature is an important issue to her.  

When I finally got up late this morning, I knew I'd have to present as a male for part of it.  There was a book (on hold) waiting for me at the library, and there was a prescription waiting for me at the drug store.  Since I could not do these things without revealing my legal identity, I had to go out as Mario for a couple of hours before coming home to change into my female presentation and go out as Marian for the evening.

Once home, I started getting ready to go out as Marian.  Off came the boy clothes, with a plan to put on the girl clothes before seeing JS for a movie and a bite to eat.  While at home, I decided to wrap gifts for my family and for GFJ.  However, I couldn't find the locking diary in the stores for the daughter of Thursday night's meetup's Christmas Gift.  So I finally broke down and subscribed to Amazon Prime, so that I could get her gift in my hands before the next game night.

While writing the earlier parts of this entry, I got a message from JS - her dog had to go to the vet for a canine emergency.  It seems as if every time we agree to get together, some event gets in the way.  Yes, I have often been unavailable on weekends, as I have always given GFJ first claim on my time.  (She is a special woman to me, and I've said as much to her.)  But now, I have the freedom to schedule weekend time with JS, and she still has excuses.  Given what I've mentioned about her and her family in the past, I'll bet that she is having serious budget problems as well as problems with her daughter.  And these problems are getting in the way of her having a healthy social life.  (These problems are also the cause of her former financial planner abandoning JS to her own devices, as JS would not do the things needed to get her life in order.)  As for me, I'd rather not allow JS to lean too much on me, as I don't want to be in a codependent relationship with anyone.

Now that JS had to postpone our get together, I had to figure out what to do for the rest of the evening.  Did I continue my preparations to go out as Marian and see a movie?  Or, did I do something else?  I ended up staying in for the night.....

Saturday, December 21, 2019

I could have gone early and shopped, but....

I hate Christmas shopping.  It's a pain to find the things people really need, and even harder to find the things that people would like but wouldn't get for themselves.  When I asked the hostess of my Thursday night meetup what to get her kids, she mentioned that her son would like anything with Goldfish on it, and that her daughter would like a diary with a lock.  At this time, it looks very doubtful that the daughter will get what she wants (from me) for Christmas.  But I'll try to do so....

- - - - - -

One of the things I had to do for Christmas was a double gift - I usually get my dad a pair of sweatpants for his birthday, then a sweatshirt on Christmas.  There's not much he can use and safely keep in his nursing home.  So I take care of the clothing, and let my brother come up with the rest of the gift ideas.

Before I did anything today, I made sure to leave my cleaning lady's cell phone outside my door so that her son could pick it up on his way home.  This gave me the option of taking a drive to Jersey to do some clothes shopping, but would force me to do a longer drive to see Patty for dinner tonight.  Instead, I stayed in bed all day, and only started to get dressed when I had just enough time to make it to dinner on time.

The drive to Mamaroneck was god awful.  The rain and the headlights made the road hard to see, and I was wishing I had cancelled dinner for safety's sake.  But Patty and I made it to the restaurant on time and we spent 3 hours chatting about anything and everything.  It's too bad that her husband had the flu - it would have been nice to see him too.  We talked about New Years' plans, and she is going to the place that GFJ and I went a couple of years ago.  I made a joke about showing up as Marian, and she felt that no one would recognize me outside the context in which they knew me.  That's a good sign of how far I've come along in my path towards the feminine.

- - - - - -

All too soon, Patty and I had to part ways.  I decided to call GFJ on my way to Target in Mt. Kisco - but she was either asleep, or enjoying herself in South Jersey.  Again, I was wishing I had stayed at home.  But at least, I found sweats for my dad's year end presents.

Friday, December 20, 2019

It's all a matter of timing and location.

Softball and baseball.  Both are sports played with a bat and a ball.  And both depend very much on the speed of the ball in motion and the location of that ball.  If the subject ball is thrown to the catcher in the right location, it is a strike.  If not, it is a "ball".  But if the subject ball is thrown at the wrong speed in the wrong location, the batter can hit the ball in a way that disadvantages the pitcher's side.  Timing and location of the pitch become quite important in a game that is not played with a clock governing the game.

- - - - - -

Why am I opening up with "Timing and Location" today?  Well, almost everything in today's activities could have been a disaster if the timing and location were different.  For example, today was my monthly visit from my cleaning lady.  I was leaving the house at 12 noon to see BXM.  If I had waited any longer, my cleaning lady might have seen me leave the apartment in my feminine presentation.  Instead, she might have seen me in a feminine presentation, but she didn't see me come out of my apartment.  So she may not have put 2 and 2 together to get 4.

I reached BXM's place around 12:45, and had to wait a long while before she came out.  This habit of hers is frustrating now, because she doesn't have to care for an ailing father.  When we finally got moving, we drove to a little venue near her house, and then went to her favorite thrift shop to do some shopping.  And this is something that, in retrospect, was a total waste of my time.  There is a good reason why a lot of goods make it to the thrift shops - many garments are not stylish enough to keep in a woman's closet after a wearing or two.  Often, the garments are old enough that their style has gone in and out of fashion several times.  I was not impressed with the garments I saw there - my time is much more important to me than inspecting about 6 linear feet of hanging garments to find only 1 or 2 dresses I might consider trying on for size, much less buy for my closets.

Around 4:00, BXM and I left the thrift shop, and she decided to pick up some food at the market around the corner from the thrift shop.  She told me that she'd be 5-10 minutes, and it took her over a half hour in the place.  While waiting for her, the deliveries to the thrift shop started coming in, and I vacated my parking spot instead of being blocked in by the delivery trucks.  So I drove around the corner and across the street to wait for BXM.  After 20 minutes or so, I tried to ring BXM to no avail.  Another 5 minutes later, I tried to ring her again.  No luck.  A few minutes later, I saw her come out of the store.  But I was not going to yell in my male voice to get her attention.  Instead, I'd drive back to the parking lot (but not enter), letting her see that my car was not there.  (She had 5-6 bags of groceries in her hands.)  I figured that I could give her a taste of similar medicine by not being there where and when she expected.  She texted me after a few minutes, and I told her where I was.  When I brought up the 2 phone calls I made to her, she claimed that she has hearing loss (a possibility), but her excuse doesn't fully ring true to me - she was talking with her cousin before I arrived, and she didn't bother to cut that chat short to be on time for me. 

Once I dropped BXM off, I killed time before going to game night.  I had a fun time there, and expect that I will have good news to report to "the gang" next week.  As usual, I ate too many snacks, and this is something I'll have to learn to manage in the future.  Hopefully, I won't eat too many snacks next week, as I'll have a doctor's visit the next day for my yearly physical.

Arriving home, I found 2 messages on my machine.  The first was from the census bureau, looking to find out if I could make it in for a training session on Tuesday.  I'll give the person a call sometime in the morning to say "yes", as I expect that my tenure with the bureau will officially start that morning.  The second call was from my cleaning lady.  She left her phone on my dining room table, and she reached out to find out if she left the phone here.  Only one problem - she gave an 11 digit phone number, not repeating the number  for me to be sure that I got it right, or that she spoke it right.  So I'll wait for her to reach out again, so that I can get her phone back to her as quickly as possible.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

My day started with a chat while listening to Perry Mason

The one routine I try to keep every morning is to turn the TV to an "Oldies TV Station" and watch Perry Mason.  Occasionally, I'll sit at my computer desk and read my email wile the show is playing.  But I try to never get into a conversation while the show is on - it's a moment of sanity in the insane world I have to deal with.

- - - - - -

This morning, I was responding to email and messages while the show was on. And I got into an online chat with a friend while "my show" was playing.  I was not yet awake enough to chat on the phone, so I deferred the chat until later on.  And then, I went back to bed and rested for a while.Later on, I got moving and had a bite to eat.  Part of me wishes I didn't, as my scale says that I've gained a bit of weight since Thanksgiving and that I must get back in the habit of eating normally.

In the online chat, the subject of my former cruise partner (FCP) came up.  I mentioned that the main reason I cut off all communication with her was that I do not like being ordered to do things, and that she was trying to order me around as if I were her child.  You might recall (from my previous blog) that I got annoyed when she started to tell me how to cut a piece of steak. Well, I grew up in a household where my mother knew no limits of privacy nor where her limits of control were.  It is no coincidence that I moved over an hour away from my parents.  Unlike my brother, I never had to endure any unannounced visits from my parents, nor did I have to worry about my mother going into my closets, cabinets, or drawers when I was not around.  FCP pushed my buttons, and when she went too far, I knew that I would never go on another cruise with her again.

- - - - - -

I got delayed in doing laundry this afternoon, as I got into a conversation with our co-op's superintendent.  He's a good fellow, and we found out that some information regarding his employment wasn't transferred to the new managing agent from the old agent.  This put the co-op in an awkward situation, as we were not aware of this issue before our end-of-year meeting.  So we will be addressing this issue next month, in order to resolve the issue in an appropriate manner.

Once my laundry was done, I drove to Beacon for the dining meetup.  I was 15 minutes late, and was not able to sit with the main group of people.  Instead, I ended up sitting with one lady, her husband, and a couple of their friends.  This was the first time I got the chance to speak to this lady without her brother being around, as well as the first time I've gotten the chance to speak with this woman's husband.  It might have been fortunate circumstance that I arrived at the restaurant a little late after all.

- - - - - -

On the way home, I stopped at Walmart to find some sweats for my dad.  Unfortunately, the Fishkill store was sold out of everything near my dad's size.  So I may have to order some sweats online and hope they get here before Xmas....

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

I really didn't need to do a "half and half day" today

Today's entry will be a short one.  There were only two things on my docket and I don't have too much to say about either one of them.

- - - - - -

The first thing I had to take care of today was to get my fingerprints taken for Census Bureau employment.  Since the paperwork said that my photo might be taken, I decided to go to New Rochelle in my female presentation.  It took me a while to find the room where fingerprinting was being done and found out that the photo wasn't being taken at the moment.  So I chatted with the fellow for a few minutes, and then drove home in the rain.

When I got home, I relaxed for a little while, then changed into a masculine presentation. Around 3 pm, I walked to our co-op's "board room" and attended the business half of the meeting.  When we were done there, we adjourned to a nearby restaurant for our end-of-year dinner meeting.  This was a very pleasant gathering, and likely the last board meeting I can guarantee that I'll be there for.

Around 9 pm, I returned home to find an email from the Census Bureau in my mail box.  They forwarded me the forms I'd need to fill out before I can be onboarded.  It looks more and more likely that I'll be employed soon, working as Marian.  I can't wait!  (I only wonder what GFJ will say when I tell her the news.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A quick stop at Arts Westchester, then off to a meetup in the rain

I feel that I photograph terribly.  No wonder why one of my ex girlfriends never wanted pictures taken of her.  Luckily, I have a couple of photos of her to remember the time we spent together.  However, I doubt that we'll ever bump into each other again.

- - - - - -

Just as I was about to leave for Arts Westchester, I heard two men working in the apartment downstairs from me.  From appearances, the two young people and child that occupied the apartment for 6 months did some damage to the place as they left, also leaving unwanted furniture behind.  Already in female presentation, I walked into the place and started to take pictures until I was asked to leave.  But there are some issues that will need to be taken care of before anyone moves into the apartment.

You'll note that the deck has rotted away.  We have a program to replace all failing wooden decks with more durable material.  However, with no one living in the apartment, there is no one who would complain about this safety hazard.  Therefore, I intend to report this to the co-op board for further action.

Here, you'll note that the glass has a crack, and the window will need to be replaced.  If we get extreme weather, it is possible that the window will fail, allowing outside elements to get into the apartment, causing damage to the building.

And finally, you'll note that the wires to the thermostat have been disconnected.  The light switch below it looks like an amateur installation, not being done by a licensed electrician.  Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to examine things further, as I was asked to leave after taking these pictures.

- - - - - -

I got to Arts Westchester just as the monthly meeting was ending.  Since my only reason to go there today was to drop off a review of the performance of the Westchester Collaborative Theater, I accomplished what I needed to take care of.  After a quick stop at Barnes and Noble for a cup of coffee, I decided to drive to Catherine's to see if I could pick up a second sweater. 

Driving along Route 95 wasn't too bad until I got to Stamford. And from there, it was one long traffic jam to the suburbs of New Haven.  I entered Catherine's while the two employees were taking their dinner break, telling them that they didn't have to stop their meal while I was in the store.  Looking around, I didn't find much that I was really interested in without discounts (I forgot my discount coupon at home - aargh!) other than the sweater I was looking for.  So I put the sweater on the counter and continued my browsing.  When I meandered over to the bras (there were two there that I should have bought while they were half off) the saleslady asked me if I wanted a bra fitting.  (I guess I passed well enough today to be taken as a cis female.)  I declined, but made sure to chat with her for a while before buying the sweater.

- - - - - -

Once done there, it was back to Norwalk for dinner.  While in transit, I stopped by a Mobil station for gas.  I mention the brand and the pit stop because I had problems paying for gas on the way to Catherine's.  When I selected "Pump 3", the phone app mistakenly opened up the pump on the other side of the highway and not my pump. (The location said Route 95 Southbound, where I was at a Northbound pump.) So I cancelled the transaction, and proceeded to drive to the store.  On the way back, I decided to buy gas at the Southbound pump - and everything worked correctly. 

Although I expected to be late for dinner, I was only a few minutes late.  Luckily, I saw the organizer of the meetup at the bar, and she told me where the group was sitting.  It was a smaller group today, but we were able to have better conversations.  All too soon, dinner had to end and I had to make the drive home. 

At least, I made it home safe, after driving on roads which I don't like driving on following heavy rains.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Weekends aren't what they used to be.

No picture can do this artwork justice - it is too large to be captured in a single picture.  To appreciate it, one has to get close to these giant pieces of rolled steel, walk around them and inside them to appreciate them for what they are.  As much as I think the artist (Richard Serra) is an asshole for his reaction to people who rejected his work (Tilted Arc) because it interfered with with their movement in a congested area of Manhattan, I will give him credit for having made interesting, engaging art with large pieces of steel.

You might be asking: why am I starting off with this picture?  It's because my weekend started off with a museum visit with GFJ.  And it's something we used to do more of in the early days of our relationship.

- - - - - -

GFJ and I planned to take the same train into NYC.  That meant that she had to make it to Beacon by 11:00 for an 11:10 train, and I would have to make it to Cortlandt 30 minutes later.  GFJ was expecting that I would meet her in Croton, and was very surprised that I got on the train 1 stop earlier.  We had a pleasant conversation on our way into NYC, with me making commentary on the little things I've noticed in my countless number of commutes into the city.

You'll note in the above picture, that the sign for the Museum of the American Gangster is almost an afterthought in the picture.  This is by design.  The museum is in a small part of the building which houses a Theater, a Bar, and a group of residences.  Who'd suspect the history that this building has unless s/he has taken the museum tour.

The museum of the American Gangster is a small museum with few artifacts.  If you were to go there and look at the main exhibit floor, you'd think you were being ripped off for the $20 admission fee.  And I wouldn't blame you for feeling this way.  I've been to museums which have had many more and better artifacts related to the American Mobs and Prohibition. (For example, one museum I visited has the car that Bonnie and Clyde were in when they were gunned down.  Another had bricks of grape juice, which when "improperly" stored and handled according to cautionary warnings on the box, would "accidentally" turn from grape juice into wine. And the Museum of the American Constitution in Philadelphia had a "Whiskey 8" motorcar on display.)

There are two redeeming things about this museum.  The first is that the is housed in a former brothel, and the tour walks you from the brothel area, through the speakeasy (now a legal bar), and ends in the ballroom of the speakeasy where the "Swells" danced the night away.  The other thing about the museum was the tour guide.  She gave a reasonably comprehensive history of the American Mob up to the 1970's in a 60 minute tour, and provided tidbits that my readings on the subject did not cover. (I love reading about vice in America, and enjoy visiting places such as "Miss Dolly's" (in Ketchikan, AK) for their immoral history.  (BTW - I missed "Miss Dolly's" on my trip to Alaska because of my then ignorance, and will go to that museum if I get there again.)

- - - - - -

Once we were done with the museum, we went to Chinatown, ending up at the Nom Wah Tea Parlor.  And that's where we gorged on Dim Sum.  YUM!   By the time we finished our meal, we had a single "meal sized" egg roll left, and I asked for it to be put into a doggie bag to go.  However, I wasn't really into bringing this treat home with me, nor was GFJ into doing it due to the length of our trips home.  If I had seen a trash receptacle, I'd have deposited the egg roll there.  But I ended up doing something that someone was grateful for.  There was a homeless person on the street begging for money - and he was very glad that I gave him that egg roll.  I guess providence was guiding me today without me knowing it.

Next, GFJ was interested in seeing Rockefeller Center's Christmas Tree.  So we took the train to Times Square, and walked to 50th street and over to 5th avenue.  The area was jam packed with people, and it was almost impossible to get a view of the tree.  But we were able to get a couple of pictures before moving on.  When we reached 5th avenue, we couldn't move any further.  Saks 5th Avenue's store Christmas Light display was causing people to pack themselves in like sardines to watch the animated display of lights.  When the active display ended, we could barely get into a position to make it to St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The last time I was at St. Pat's, the place was under renovation.  Tonight, I can appreciate why so many people consider the cathedral a special place (from a non religious viewpoint). It is a beautiful building.  But it is not a church I'd want to attend - if one were to attend services there, one is merely a face in the crowd.  This is not the feeling I want when I go to church.  About 20 minutes later, we left the church and went back to Grand Central for our train home.  We got there with about 10 minutes to spare before the train left - and had a relaxing ride up the river with nothing serious being said.

All in all it was a pleasant day, and it was the type of thing we should have done more often to keep things special between the two of us.

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

Sunday came early, and I didn't.  I should say that the sun came out, and I turned off all of my alarms then slept until the afternoon.  This, I expect, should screw up my sleep patterns for the next week or two.

There was a basket of clothes to be washed, a basket of clean clothes to put away, and a pile of folded clothes on the other side of the bed waiting to go into dresser drawers - all waiting for me to take care of them.  Since my cleaning lady would be expected to come this Thursday for her monthly visit,  this would be the perfect day to straighten things up, pick up a Christmas gift or two, and make some productive use of my time.  But did I do most of this?  Nooooooo!

For the most part, I lounged around all day until 6:30 pm or so.  Eventually, I made it to BJ's where I didn't find what I was looking for (a pair of sweats I could give to my dad on his birthday and on Xmas), but still ended up spending $90 or so.  On the way home from there, I chatted with GFJ, and then picked up stuff at the supermarket before going home for the night.

- - - - - -

I don't feel bad about today's inactivity because I have a busy week ahead of me.  Tomorrow, I'll have an Arts Westchester meeting followed by a Fun Time Friends meetup. Tuesday will have me seeing people for a Census Bureau position, then attending the last co-op board meeting of the year.  Wednesday will be relatively free, as I only have dinner with the Beacon Dining Meetup Group on my schedule.  Thursday is dedicated to Lunch with BXM, followed by games in Yonkers.  (I may use the gap between these two events to either see a movie or to pass my my brother's place to check on things.) And Friday will likely be my weekly stint at the LGBT Center, followed by dinner with Patty.  Now, if only I could find some time to see about applying for Global Entry (and scheduling an in-person appointment), so that I can get a TSA Trusted Traveler number and expedited customs clearance when I return on an international flight.


Sunday, December 15, 2019

It's hard to believe that after 30+ years, it may come to this.

Recently, I talked with my brother.  He has had a troubled marriage for a while.  Every time a major milestone in his life is about to happen, it seems as if his wife tries to sabotage things. The older they get, the worse the damage she cause to herself and to my brother.  He is at the breaking point, and is considering a legal action from which there is no return.

- - - - - -

About 31 years ago, my brother got married because his wife-to-be was slightly pregnant. (You can barely see her baby bump in their wedding pictures.)  From the beginning of their marriage, in retrospect one could see that they were sailing into stormy waters. There were the expected problems for a 25 year old man without a college degree on Long Island trying to make his way back then: jobs that didn't pay well enough to take care of his family, a career in a dead end industry, and real estate costs that were starting to go through the roof. But the worst problem was one that was not under his control - his wife's first son, his stepson.

My step-nephew is best described as a ne'er-do-well who got good at being a leech.  He is intellectually lazy, and his work ethic is less than nonexistent.  Even when given a job that paid well just to show up at the front door, he screwed that up.  He is an addict, and has hurt every one of his friends and family as a result of his addictions.  Every family member and friend who agreed to give him a place to live had to kick him out because he was stealing from them to feed his addictions.

During the course of their marriage, my sister in law developed her own addiction, and had to deal with the consequences of her actions.  Until recently, she was clean and sober for over a decade.  This is not an easy thing to do.  And then she took on the "responsibility" to house her eldest son again....

- - - - - -

You'll note that I have glossed over a lot of details.  If I stated too much, a casual reader might be able to identify my brother's family - and I want to respect his privacy.

This summer, GFJ and I went to a small gathering at my brother's place, and my sister in law did not show her face all day.  Supposedly, she was feeling sick, and needed to stay in bed.  With what I know now, I'd bet that she was nursing a hangover.

A few weeks ago, I'm visiting my dad in the nursing home and he tells me that there was trouble between my brother and his wife.  When I saw my brother afterwards, he opens up to me and says the same thing and more.  He's in a position where a divorce would ruin them both financially, and he's trying to avoid it.

My sister in law's addiction resulted in familial problems that have scarred my brother and his two children. In talking with my brother and my niece (in separate conversations), I have found that the love of a man for his wife and the love of a daughter for her mother has effectively been snuffed out.  My brother planned to do the "until death do us part" thing, because it was the right thing to do. And later on, he planned to do it, so that both he and his wife could avoid financial disaster.  My nephew went to the other side of the continent to escape his parents.  And my niece's choice of husband may have been a conscious way to live as far away from the fighting going on in the family homestead.  But now, I doubt the marriage will last more than another year or two.

- - - - - -

Divorce in late middle age is not something to be done on a whim.  GFJ knows this from her divorce settlement.  There was enough money saved and property owned to take care of 2 people together as they grew old.  But divided, those assets would provide for a less comfortable existence for each of the former partners. GFJ's financial status will likely be a concern for the rest of her life.  So when my brother mentioned divorce as a serious option, I knew that he was close to his breaking point.

My sister in law is destroying herself, and will take my brother down with her if he lets it happen.  I'll be there for my brother no matter what happens.  But I can't help but feel sad for my sister in law - her maternal instincts got in the way of her sobriety.  As for my step-nephew, he's a person better lost than found - and may he stay that way forever.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

My plans had me going into "The City" this evening, but....

This place used to have an outpost in Beacon, NY.  It served relatively good Dim Sum.  But they couldn't make a go of their suburban location.  Luckily the original establishment survived, and that it takes credit cards.  Otherwise I wouldn't be able to meet there with one of my Facebook friends.

- - - - - -

The other day, I confirmed getting together with one of my Facebook friends for a Dim Sum dinner.  However, she needed a place which would take credit cards.  Since I'm "old school" and use cash for many of my transactions, we couldn't go to the Nom Wah Tea Parlor as planned.  So I had to hunt around online for Chinatown restaurants that I am moderately familiar with AND which take credit cards.  Even though I've never been to Dim Sum Go Go in Chinatown, I was at their former Beacon location.  So I figured that they would serve an acceptable meal at a reasonable price.

Around 3 pm, I moseyed to the LGBT Center and did my weekly volunteer stint.  Today's assignment was to tag contact list entries as having attended the 2019 Transgender Forum. And if it weren't for a long winded conversation I had, I would have completed this task by 6 pm.  Instead, 1/3 of my list was left to be completed.

From the LGBT Center, I drove to Pelham and missed another late train.  I wasn't worried, as the next train was expected around 6:30.  However, the train was not on time, as it was 15 minutes late. (BRRRR!!!!   It was awfully cold on the platform while waiting for the train.)   This was not the only problem.  Once on the train, we were further delayed by a situation which required police activity.  I felt lucky that my friend asked me to change our meeting time from 8:00 to 8:30.

Once I got to Grand Central, I took the express downtown and walked to the restaurant from the Brooklyn Bridge station.  Then I decided to wait inside the restaurant because I was 30 minutes early. And wait I did.  Little did I know my friend was trying to reach me on the phone I didn't carry with me, and wasn't going to leave her house until she reached me.  So I ended up giving up hope for a dinner for two, and enjoyed a Dim Sum dinner for one.  Because I figured that it was a typical signals crossed situation, I wasn't angry.  I wasn't even frustrated.  Instead, I realized that I screwed up a little, and it was a "no harm, no foul" situation.  So when I was done with dinner, I walked back to the subway and headed home.

I entered my apartment around 11:30 pm, and found a series of messages on my Facebook page.  My friend was trying to reach me, but this avenue was the one avenue I don't have available to me on my cell phone.  So I texted her, and we chatted online for about 30 minutes.

- - - - - -

Tomorrow, I'll be going into NYC with GFJ to see the American Gangster Museum.  After that, we'll go to eat.  I'm not in the mood for a serious conversation, as I expect to hear bad news.  And I don't want to deal with that bad news until after the Holiday season.  But if I have to deal with it, I will....


Friday, December 13, 2019

This was going to be a busy afternoon and evening

It's hard to believe that it's been over 8 years since I've seen Marilyn in proper perspective. Her fame was larger than life, but her life was shorter than she deserved.  Sadly, there is only one place this sculpture should be viewed, and I doubt it will ever make it to New York, where there are subways to give Marilyn a proper updraft....

- - - - - -

Today was the last day of this semester's speech therapy sessions, and I will miss them - even though they weren't as useful as prior semesters' sessions.  Coming off of two semesters with a mature student clinician and experienced clinical supervisor and now experiencing sessions with a pair of young ladies and an inexperienced clinical supervisor, I have become disillusioned to the process.  If I do this again, I will likely go back to having Saturday sessions, so that I can have the more experienced clinical supervisor monitoring my sessions.

Around 2:30, I drove to Mercy for the last time this semester, and had my last session with the w student clinicians.  It was pleasant but sad at the same time.  I won't go into too much detail about the session, save that they recommended full 1 hour sessions for next semester.  If this can be done at the same price I'm now paying, I'll consider it.

Next, was a trip to white plains for the Arts Westchester holiday party.  On the way up, I had the chance to speak with my brother before he flew to England.  Hopefully, he'll have a great time, because life in New York these days is becoming a disaster.  The holiday party was a pleasant diversion, as I got to meet several people I don't usually meet on a monthly basis.  However, I made sure to mention the possibility of getting the Census Bureau job to the volunteer coordinator, as I didn't want her not to know why I might not be attending meetings next year.

Once done there, it was down to Yonkers for some game playing.  Today, we played 2 rounds of Code Names.  It's not my favorite game, but it's nice to play once in a while. Again, I had the chance to relate my latest news to my friends there, and they are also keeping their fingers crossed for me.

On the way home, I chatted with GFJ.  We will probably fo into NYC on Saturday.  But the way she wants to go there precludes us resuming any closeness.  I feel she has made her decision regarding the two of us, and is waiting until after Christmas to drop the final bombshell.  It's sad.  If we had argued and got angry at each other now and then, I'd have been aware of her feelings and showed her how special she is.  But it looks like that ship may have sailed, and that I'd better soon get on with the process of experiencing my grief for something lost that shouldn't have been so.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Ambivalence is the order of the day

Lately, I've been caught in a web of ambivalent feelings.  Now that options are being made available to me, I have mixed feelings about my choices.  This may be a good thing, as 5.5 years of semi-retirement have taught me the value of having time to myself.

- - - - - -

Today started with a couple of calls, one of them being spam.  The other was a reminder that my iPad was ready to be picked up from the fixit shop, and that I should get there today. But I was tired from the night before, as I first went to sleep without my CPAP mask on, and then stayed awake until 5-6 am or so.  There was no way I'd be up and out the door around 10, so I let myself wake up when my body wanted to do so.

Around 1 pm, I moseyed over to the fix-it shop and picked up my iPad.  Then, it was over to the library to pick up some books that were being held for me. Unfortunately, only 2 of the 3 books were available.  But that should give me a head start in catching up on things, as 1 of the books looks like it'll be a heavy read.

- - - - - -

The other day, when I got the first call from the census bureau, I wasn't sure if I wanted the position.  My reason was simple - unless the money was too good to refuse, I didn't want to work as Mario again.  Instead, I wanted (and still want) to work as Marian.  But with the current anti-TG political regime in Washington, I wasn't sure about taking on the Office Operations Supervisor position. Did I want to go to work as Mario to earn a few extra dollars, or did I want to spend as much time as possible as Marian?

During the past week, I surveyed several people I knew from the TG community about whether I should: (1) Go to work as Mario for the duration of the job, (2) First go to work as Mario, and transition to Marian on the job, or (3) Start off going into work as Marian, even if it meant not getting the position in the first place.  Given that I knew of at least one cisgender male who goes to work in female garb, I figured that I needed to find out whether I could do so before starting the pre-employment process.
When I got home from today's errands, I returned yesterday's call asking whether I received paperwork. While on the phone, I took the opportunity to ask whether there would be any problems with me being gender non-conforming.  And I was told that this would not be a problem.  YAY!  Now, I am much more comfortable with the idea of taking on this position, as I can go in to work in female mode every day.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I really didn't want to get up and out early, but....

After I got home from Church on Sunday, I decided to hunker down and wait for the end of the expected snow storm.  At the end of the first wave of snow, GFJ had 4 inches on the ground, while we had gotten much less down here.  Since the weathermen were predicting another 6 inches or so around here, Monday's activities were postponed or cancelled. So I was prepared for the worst when I got up this morning - and the worst didn't happen....

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My alarms were set to wake me up before 8 am.  This would give me enough time to clean off my car, then go inside to shower, shave, and get dressed as Mario.  Around 10:30, I'd drive to the outskirts of Peekskill, so that I could have an interview for a technology administrator position that was scheduled yesterday.  By the time I got outside to clean off my car, there wasn't much snow on the ground, nor was there much on my car.  Instead, there was about .75cm of ice covering the glass surfaces, which I proceeded to melt with a bottle of alcohol spray I keep in the car for this purpose.

The clock hit 10:30, and off to Peekskill I drove, reaching a site down the road from the resource recovery center on John Walsh Boulevard. (This is a part of Peekskill not connected to the downtown business district, and to be safe, I used my GPS to get there.) Once upstairs, I ended up waiting for about 10 minutes before my interview.  Although the interview went well, I don't think I'm the person they want for the job.  My skill sets are rusty, and I don't feel I was at my best.  What I found most interesting about the interview was the use of a script explaining what the census was and why it is done.  (I'll bet that they've had too many people over the years asking dumb questions that they should have learned in a Civics class - if this class was still offered in schools.)  The 2 questions I had, they couldn't answer - When would I hear back from them? and When would they expect me to start if offered the position? The fact that they couldn't supply that information says their ramp up process is flawed.

Once I was done with the Census Bureau, I decided to bring my iPad back to the place that installed a new battery.  I said that it wasn't working, and let the tech take the device in for analysis. Although he said that he'd look at the iPad right away, I'd be just as happy if he didn't have it ready until tomorrow morning....

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I left later than I should for tonight's dining meetup, and I was the last person there.  Everyone else was already seated, so I stood near a table or two, and chatted for a while with the groups at each table.  Unfortunately, there was one group that I didn't speak with much - and I'll be sure to catch up with them next week.  Because I was the only person sitting at a table with no one with me (about 7 or 8 people cancelled for the evening), the group at one table and I moved to a larger table, where we all had room to spread out.  I'm glad that the group's hostess thought of this - she is a nice lady.

On the way home, I called GFJ, and she called back just as I was hitting a Route 9 cell phone dead spot.  Once out of the dead spot, I called her back, and we chatted about things until I reached the Walmart in Mohegan Lake.  $20 later, I left the store and headed home for the night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Stepping Stones

When I first tried to enter the workforce years ago, I encountered a problem common to many young people.  In order to get a job, I first needed to have a job.  Now that I'm an older person, I have that same problem again.  It would be much easier for me to find work if I were already employed.  Well, it looks like this problem may soon have a resolution. 

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My alarms woke me up at 8:30, and brought me to full consciousness by 9:00. My TV was turned to my usual channel, and my favorite courtroom drama was playing when I got another call from the Census Bureau.  This time, they were calling me about the IT position that I really was looking for when I filed paperwork with them.  So when my TV show ended, I returned the call and now I have an interview scheduled for tomorrow morning.  Hopefully, I'll get an offer before I'd have to start the other position mentioned in an earlier entry

Even though the Census positions are temporary, they would be stepping stones I could use to find work outside of government.  Of course, I'd want to socially transition while on the job, so that I could interview as Marian and leave Mario behind when looking for work. So, I won't get too far ahead of myself.  Instead, I'll hold off from scheduling my planned cruise and assume that 2020 will be a year without a vacation for me.

Once I was done with the Census Bureau, I looked at today's weather forecast.  There was no way that I was going to go to today's Arts Westchester meeting, and even much less of a chance that I'd go to today's Fun Time Friends meetup.  (Note: By mid morning, I received an email from Arts Westchester's volunteer coordinator that the meeting was rescheduled for next week.) This freed up my day, and allowed it to be a Jammie Day.  And then, I received a text from SWD saying that she couldn't make lunch today.  Well, the expected snow became a fortunate coincidence, as I had our lunch scheduled for Wednesday.  I'd have hated to have crossed signals with her.  So we rescheduled our lunch for 2 1/2 weeks from now.

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Around 1:00 pm, the weather forecast predicted that 6" to 12" of snow would fall in my area. There was no way that I'd go out in this weather.  Instead, I decided to stay in and take care of things that I could take care of indoors - and prepare to get up early tomorrow to clean off my car AND to go to the interview that I scheduled before paying attention to the weather report.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A weekend whose plan changed before it really started

Considering how busy GFJ and I would be this Thanksgiving, we decided that we'd get together for a date sometime after her two sons left for home.  With the expected snow to come on Sunday, we changed our plans, so that we could see a movie on Saturday night, then go out to eat.

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Saturday came, and I didn't bother getting up until noon.  Not only didn't I have much to do.  But a couple of books that I placed on hold with the library had yet to come in.  So my original plan of spending the day as Marian was completely scotched because of the change of plans mentioned in the prior paragraph.  That was OK with me, as I hate getting dressed, only to switch into my alternate presentation for the second half of the day.

Around 3 pm, I left for Newburgh where Midway was playing.  It was the only film that the two of us could agree on - either she had seen the film before, or it didn't hold interest to her.  So we agreed to meet at 4 pm, and I started my drive at 3:10.  Why do I mention exact times?  Well, I got stuck behind a couple of tourists on Route 9, and couldn't push the speed limit as much as I'd like.  (This is just as well, as I know I drive a little over the limit at times.) But what bothered me is that when I crossed the bridge, there was a big traffic jam just beyond old exit 10.  So I bailed out before the jam, and took back roads to the theater.  Luckily, I had taken most of these roads at least once before, and knew enough to follow the convoy from old exit 10 to a spot near old exit 7a, ending up less than a block away from the theater.

I arrived at the theater 5 minutes late, and we sat down to watch the film just as the movie started.  Perfect timing - we didn't have to sit through the trailers.  Midway is an enjoyable war flick, but I have one unavoidable criticism: They had to use CGI animation for all of the external aircraft carrier, US/Japanese aircraft, and air battle scenes, as there are no longer enough aircraft from either side to simulate the air battles.  With this being said, I had to give the film makers credit for making things look as real as possible.  If I weren't so familiar with CGI renditions of real life objects, I wouldn't have thought about CGI being used in the film.

When the film ended, GFJ noted that the air battles had too much gun fire.  Part of me wanted to say "Duh!" but I didn't want to upset her - she probably compromised to find a film that I might like.  Instead, I said that we should go for dinner - and it was off to the Chinese Buffet nearby. All too soon, dinner ended and we had to go our separate ways. 

Later in the evening, my brother responded to a message I sent him.  And he surprised me by telling me that he finally bought a new phone - a Motorola Z4.  I think he'll be very happy with it.  If I didn't already have the Z3, I'd be buying the Z4 for less than I paid for the Z3.

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Sunday came, and I woke up early enough to go to church.  As much as I don't plan to be a regular church goer, there is something I like in the old rituals that gives me comfort.   Due to the nature of religion, change comes slowly to the traditional service structure, and it's easy to pick up where one left off.  If one is Catholic, you might remember when the church gave its approval for services to be given in the vulgar (read: common) tongue.  In my church, the idea of "sharing the peace" was cribbed from changes occurring in the Catholic church at that time. 

Sometimes, during a church service, my mind veers away from the service itself and onto simple ideas I wouldn't put together outside of a serene setting.  Today, my mind started focusing on the word "communion" and how it relates to "community."  From there, I connected the dots to the word "Communism" and I could see the disconnect between many "Conservative Christians" and the belief structure contained in the scriptures.

John Calvin posited that if you were going to be blessed by God in the afterlife, that God would be rewarding you in this life.  Prosperity would become an indicator of being blessed. In short, we have the beginnings of the false gospel of prosperity that many people believe in.  Today, many Evangelicals have given up the underlying message of Christianity (Feed the hungry, heal the sick, help the poor, etc.) and are doing the exact opposite. They are judging people without knowing the circumstances which affect those in need.

Communion, Community and Communism - What is the link connecting these words?  It is a community coming together to take care of its needy.  Sadly, the word "Communism" has been contaminated by the flawed political system and flawed economic theory that is associated with that word.  The Red Scare of the 1950's still haunts us today.  Use the words "Communism" or "Socialism" and one triggers up cultural memories of an era where America's propaganda machine labeled the Eastern Bloc as Atheists without morals or ethics. If one lived in this bloc before the Soviet Union fell, one would see his/her government as a problem, and see America's propaganda as just that.  They would feel that America has no soul - we were caught in crass commercialism and materialism.

When the service ended, I was again reminded of the healthy version of these words.  Communion - coming together to share ideas which make us better as individuals and as a group.  Community - being part of a larger group, and not needing to be alone in this world. Communism - the idea that we voluntarily share with others so that their needs can be taken care of.   No matter what that faith is, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc., a healthy faith teaches us that we are all part of something larger than we are, and that we should take an active part in improving that larger whole.

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After church, I took a quick trip to the grocery store in advance of the incoming storm.  Unlike many people, all I needed was enough stuff to get me through a day or two. When the storm passes, the roads will be quickly cleared, and I can go out again.  Until then, I might as well do another load of laundry.

Norwegian Fjord Cruise Vacation - 06/28/24 (Zeebrugge, Belgium)

Today is our last stop in mainland Europe, and our last shore excursion.  We have been choosing relatively low energy shore excursions, as n...