Saturday, October 26, 2019

An Autumn Nor'easter is expected

When I started this entry, I was grateful that it isn't winter.  A storm like what was expected for this evening through Thursday afternoon would be a pain, but only consist of rain.  It would most likely get in the way of my daily events, but not cause me many problems after the storm ended.

Considering my lack of energy, I decided to bail out on volunteering for the day, and rested until it was time to get ready for dinner in Fishkill.  I expected that a few people would bail from the meetup because of the rain. But I didn't expect that I could be the only person there. So, I decided to brave the rain and drive to the Eleven-Eleven restaurant for a 6:30 dinner.  I arrived at the meetup a few minutes late, as it was hard to find a legal parking lot.  But there was nothing to be concerned about - no one's drink orders had been taken, and it would be a while before dinner orders were taken.

Sitting down at the far end of the table, I was able to chat with a new member of the meetup group.  But she wasn't my prime focus of conversation.  Instead, it was the two people to my right - a husband/wife couple who were interested in cruising.  And I had a couple of stories to tell.  However, it was hard to be heard over the noise.  This is not the place to go if you want a romantic meal.  Instead, this is a place to go when you want a pleasant night with someone, but aren't interested in heavy conversation.

As the gathering waned, WDJ came over to chat with me and this new member.  We were chatting for a while after most of our group left, and I chatted a bit more with this woman after WDJ left.  When the rain eased off a little, the two of us headed to our cars, and we headed to our separate homes.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Half and Half - It's not just a dairy product

Long before my most recent cruise, I scheduled both lunch as Marian and a Co-Op board meeting as Mario.  This was going to be a busy day, as I had to prepare myself to go out as Marian, then change into Mario - all before 5:00 pm.  However, things changed when I received a message from my lunch date that she couldn't make it today - she had a basement flood to take care of, and would be waiting for her plumber to come during the day.

So I was now free until 5:00 pm.  What should I do?

Yesterday, I started cleaning out some of the clutter in my bedroom.  Since my cleaning lady is expected to be here on Thursday, I figured that I'd stay in Mario Mode for the day.  (I'd have rather gone out for lunch as Marian, but one has to adapt to changing times.) So I cleaned up a little more of the mess I had in my bedroom during the afternoon.

Around 4:00, I started to get ready for my co-op board meeting.  This was an event that I always attend as Mario.  (I'll admit, that if we were to call a second meeting for the month for reasons I won't go into here, I'd have mentioned that I'd consider attending as Marian.  That would have shut down the calls for a second meeting.)  Luckily, there was only good news to report - all was well with our financial status, and we're in much better shape than I thought we'd be in about a year ago. (I can't go into any more detail than that.)  Just before the meeting ended, HWV said for me to call her after she got home.  HWV wanted to see what my availability was for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, and suggested that we go for dinner.

Later on, I finally got the chance to talk with GFJ.  She's home after a long weekend in North Carolina, and she's getting back to the daily grind again....

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sometimes, it's the little things that count

Sometimes, it's the little things that count.  As I reported in my prior blog, I had more unsatisfactory deliveries of my Freshly box than I had satisfactory deliveries.  All of the problems related to my Freshly deliveries were related to LaserShip and its Gig Economy business model - it is an Uber for last mile package delivery.  LaserShip is well known for poor quality delivery service, and the vast majority of its Yelp reviews only assign the company a single star - the lowest possible ranking.

So why do I start my first real post in this blog on something other than life as a Transgender person?  Well, not everything in a Transgender person's life focuses around gender identity, gender presentation, or gender manifestation.  Most of the time, our lives focus on the more mundane things such as commuting to work, buying groceries, getting together with family and friends, etc.  Once we start living our lives as our authentic selves, we continue to deal with our normal trials and tribulations in addition to the new headaches of people reaction to our authentic selves. Freshly delivery is one of those normal trials and tribulations - something I'd be dealing with whether or not I was transgender.

I had skipped a month's worth of Freshly deliveries, as I had a freezer full of both Freshly and Top Chef meals.  These meals needed to be eaten before any new meal deliveries were made.  Today was the first day in a month that a new Freshly delivery was expected at my door.  So I decided to check the Freshly site to track the delivery, and I found something that pleased me very much:

It looks like Freshly has finally decided to use another "Last Mile" delivery service to get their product to my apartment.  LaserShip would misdeliver my meals by roughly 12 noon.  CDL had not yet misdelivered my meals by noon, and I take this as a positive sign that CDL would rather its delivery men and women to get the job done right than to get the job done quickly.  However, only a track record of satisfactory deliveries will prove whether this is a positive development or not.  And today's delivery was a success - the Freshly box was found in front of my door at 3:00 pm, exactly where I wanted to find it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

I'm thinking about a Panama Canal Cruise, but can I afford it?

I have been salivating, considering breaking open my 401k a little to take this cruise.  If my balance breaks a certain level and stays there for a while, I may just withdraw enough cash to pay for this cruise (and the taxes on the withdrawal itself) to take this once in a lifetime cruise.

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So far, the people in my life are encouraging me to take this cruise.  I'd be away from home over 3 weeks, as I'd want to do some sightseeing in Seattle before going home.  Doing incomplete research (JetBlue prices for the return trip aren't posted yet), I figure that I should budget at least $4,000 for the trip, broken down as follows:

  • Base Fare          - $2298 (includes $1149 single supplement)
  • Port Fees/Taxes -     543
  • Gratuities           -     315
    Simple Cruise    - $3360
  • Trip to NYC Pier -     60
  •  from Seattle Pier -     40
    Simple land cost  -    100
  • Airfare (SEA-JFK) - 250
  • Trip JFK to Home   -  60
    Minimum Cost    - $3870

Of course, this cruise will cost more than that.  Add on a few shore excursions, a day or two in Seattle, souvenirs, and miscellaneous onboard expenses (such as drinks and laundry), and one will likely hit the $4500 price point for the trip.

If I don't take this trip next year, there may be another cruise I could go on.  A similar cruise to this one would have left NYC in January 2020, and deposited me in San Francisco.  This cruise was discounted last year, and it would cost me only $100 less than the cruise taking me to Seattle.

Ideally, the person who told me about this cruise would be on it.  However, she will be with her parents, as her mom is scheduled to have an eye operation then. (In Canada, they ration healthcare by forcing people to wait for non-essential healthcare procedures.  We ration healthcare by use of an irrational pricing and insurance structure.)  So she will not be able to take this cruise with her parents until 2021. 

Another consideration for this cruise is that it would be criminal of me to take this cruise, disembark in Seattle, and NOT see my nephew.  This means that I'd need to take one male outfit with me, so that I could see him shortly after I arrive.  (But where would I change clothes and remove my makeup and wig?)  Luckily, I'd be seeing him in less than 2 weeks, as my niece will be married in NYC towards the end of May.

- - - - - -

If I do take this cruise, I will need to hold my mail for almost a month and pay virtually all my bills in advance.  Can I afford this kind of hit to my pocketbook?  I'm not sure.  One expense that would go way down is food - I'd be able to skip buying anything to eat for almost a month.  There would be no Mickey D's, no diners, and no special dinners with friends. If I average $30/day on these expenses, I'd save about $210.  <mumbling "Big fat hairy deal."> So, my costs still remain in the $4000 - $4500 range.

Do I really want to take this trip?   Or, do I find a way to do a Hawaii cruise instead?

Note: As of 11/20/19, the price for the cruise has dropped $100/pp - a $200 savings for me.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A weekend with GFJ away for a wedding

Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Normally, I'd be figuring out what to do when GFJ arrives.  But she's away in North Carolina for a wedding, and I have the weekend free to be in Marian Mode.  YAY!  Now to figure out what to do.

- - - - - -

Looking at the picture above, I don't like what I see.  There is way too much meat on the bones, and I stand out by being a large person.  To be honest, I need to watch my weight, and that's going to become a priority for me.

Even though I was awakened around 9 am today, I didn't even bother getting out of the bed until the afternoon.  I was finally able to confirm that my weekend plans with LK and the former clinical supervisor were off - LK had to work the night before, and would be too exhausted to meet for brunch on Sunday.  This made me glad that I booked a meetup for Sunday.

Late in the evening, I got a call from GFJ.  Seems like she received an email from an ex-friend that should have been sent directly to me.  (I won't go into details here.)  I'll have to respond to it shortly, as it deals with a friendship that is over.  But it also means that I'll be switching over to a new blog with a new name.  (I will supply that name soon, when I make my last post here.)

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Saturday came and I had two things on my docket - Visiting my dad on Long Island, then going to my High School's 45th reunion.  Given the mood I was in from last night, I wasn't certain that I wanted to go anywhere.

The first thing I did was to start cleaning up the mess in my room from before I went on my ill fated cruise..  Clutter was to be found all over the bedroom, and it must be organized before the cleaning lady comes next week. One of the byproducts of this cleanup is that I was able to find some dress shoes I haven't worn in a few years - perfect for use in presenting as Mario tonight.

Around 3:30, I started getting ready to drive to Long Island for my high school's 45th anniversary reunion.  And I left the house at 4:30, hoping I'd be able to make it to Roslyn by 5:40, so I could see my dad in the nursing home.  This was not meant to be.  Instead, I hit big time bridge traffic, and ended up killing an hour on Long Island before going to the reunion.

- - - - - -

I arrived at the reunion at 7:00, and accompanied several women on the way into the place. When we were young, the place was known as "Henry's" - a step up from being a dive bar, where the beer was cheap, the pool table  $0.25/game, and the grill sometimes open for a burger.  Now that it's known as the "Old Trading Post", it has gone upscale, and the food is of a much better quality.  We were one of two groups being hosted, and the only one under a tent to the side of the restaurant.  Even outdoors, it was hard to have a conversation, and that was just as well.  It was better to be forced to have lighthearted conversations than anything serious. 

Like my 40th HS reunion, I didn't remember anyone, save the class advisor.  But others remembered me for my intelligence.  At least two or three people commented on how they remembered me in class, and it made me feel good that others saw that quality in me.  Along with my voice, that was the quality that the class advisor remembered most about me.  But I got a kick out of meeting my "Name Doppelganger" (both of us share the same name, both of us use the same "familiar" form of our first names in addition to sharing the same last name) - she surprised me by sneaking up behind me to say hello.  While there, I got into several good conversations, including one with a former classmate who may try to connect me with one of his friends who might be able to connect me to a job.

All too soon, the night had to end before the place became quiet.  When I got in my car, I messaged GFJ, and she was bushed from her party.  So we agreed to chat sometime on Sunday.

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My alarms were set to wake me up around 8:00 on Sunday, so that I had the option of going to church before going to the Chuang Yen Monastery.  However, the night before, I didn't go to sleep early enough, so I decided to rest as long as possible before getting ready to go to the monastery - and I rested a little too long.  Once I got moving, I was rushing at a breakneck speed to get ready, and almost abandoned my plans to drive North so I could go back to sleep.

As you might guess, I went to the monastery, and arrived about 500 feet behind the meetup group.  So I was running a little to catch up - and did so, as they reached the lunch hall.  Once caught up, I paid for my lunch (a purely vegan meal), and sat down with our crew.

After 45 minutes, it was time to go on our tour.  Some of us (including myself) made the mistake of first going to the meditation room instead of the main temple.  But a few minutes later, we realized our mistake and joined the rest of the group at the temple.  And the tour guide (the same lady who guided us last time) gave a different presentation on how Buddhism "works".  She was very interesting, and I wish I had been in a better position to see her when speaking due to the sun being behind her.

When the tour ended, I decided to drive to Carmel and see what was playing at the local theater.  Luckily, "Joker" was starting just as I arrived in town, so I didn't have to wait for the movie to start when I arrived.  However, I did have to wait on line, as the ticket counter was also the concession stand, and the folk at the registers were doing double duty - selling both tickets and popcorn at the same time.  (This slowed down things for people like me who just wanted to see the movie.)  But I was able to get into the movie just before the film started.

For those who haven't read any reviews about the movie, "Joker" is a retelling of the origin of the Joker character in Batman films.  It isn't a pure retelling, as they change the origin story to reflect a mentally deranged person going off the deep end and turning into Batman's worst enemy. This is a better origin story than the original one, and I hope they reboot the Batman series with the look and feel of this movie.

Eventually, I had to return home.  Once back at my desk, I did a minor edit to a last email being sent to FCP, then sent it out.  I don't think there is any hope for a rapprochement between the two of us.  But if there is, she'll have to make the next move.

Monday, October 21, 2019

A busy Middle of the week.

The day of the dead is coming up, and it gave me the inspiration to use this picture taken at a recent meetup to start the post.    Next time I'm in the place, I'll get a better shot of the painting....

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Tuesday was a busy day for me.  Not only did I have a LGBT Career Fair in NYC that I planned to attend, but I also had dinner with the Beacon Dining Meetup group.  I'd be putting in a lot of miles on the car by the time I was home for the night.

My alarm woke me up around 8:00, but I didn't bother getting up quickly.  Yet, I was catching up with things on my computer when the second alarm rang 30 minutes later.  So when I turned off this alarm, I dismissed all waiting alarms for the day, went back to the computer, and sat at my desk until 10:00.  Then and only then did I relax for about 45 minutes before I started to get ready to go into NYC.

I wasted a lot of time preparing for the career fair, and didn't have that many dresses available to me that I'd want to wear on an interview.  And I settled on a black dress that, accessorized correctly, could be worn formally or casually depending on the nature of the occasion.  So, shortly after 11:00, I started in to NYC, and arrived at the LGBT Center a little after 1:00.

This year's career fair was more crowded than in years before.  This time, it was even more focused for the needs of young adults (which is what I'd want if I were running things) and not old ladies trying to reenter the workforce.  My old employer was there, and I was tempted to stop by and chat.  But, given that if I were to end up getting a job with them (an extremely unlikely event), I'd lose my pension benefits.  And that's not going to happen if I can help it.  Unfortunately, this visit to NYC was a waste of time, save for something unrelated to job searches....

If I decide to take the subway into NYC, I usually try to park near Ex-GF-M's place.  The neighborhood is safe (as far as I can tell), and nearby parking is usually available.  When I returned from Manhattan, I decided to look inside the windows of her old place.  Inside, I saw that the old oak floors had been torn up (3 dogs not walked enough did a lot of damage), and plywood was laid where solid oak floors once were.  Ex-GF-M's brother was right when he said that the entire building had to be gutted - the place was a disaster with I last saw Ex-GF-M alive, and I can only imagine the problems that he and his sister are having dealing with the estates of Ex-GF-M's mother in law and Ex-GF-M.  I'm glad that this is not my headache!

Next, it was home to get comfortable for an hour, and then to make it to the Meetup.  I was lucky enough to be seated near two new members, and had an opportunity to speak a bit with one of them.  This lady (who I'll call R for now) is a divorcee and attends a few meetups, one of them being GFJ's dining meetup.  I'll have to be very careful about what I say when with her, as I don't want to relate GFJ's story in any way - for her privacy and mine.  The second lady (who I'll call D for now) and I chatted on our way to our cars.  Hopefully, both ladies will be back soon.

All too soon, it was time to leave.  I tried to reach GFJ again, but her phone must have been in use.  If my former friend and I didn't have our blowout, I'd have given her a call.  But I'm not going to do that.  Instead, I'll remove her number from my car's speed dial, and then find a way to block her calls if she tries to call me.  I don't need her drama, and she doesn't really want my friendship on reasonable terms.

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Wednesday came, and I didn't bother going to the bank in the morning as I planned.  Instead, I didn't wake up until 11:00, and dillydallied until 2:00.  Then I got dressed and went to the LGBT center to do my volunteer stint.  This week, it was checking out the prices of books, so that the center could sell the "valuable" ones via Amazon.  I've done this before, and it's a time consuming, mindless task.  But it does help, as they make a few dollars each time they sell a book.  Every dollar helps....

When I was done at the center, I went home and took care of some long neglected laundry.  By the time I was done, it was a little after 9:00, and I laid down to rest.  GFJ called me around 10:00, and we chatted for a while.  I mention this, as she will be going away tomorrow morning, and it'll be much harder for us to chat while she's away attending a wedding in North Carolina.

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I was already awake for a couple of hours when GFJ called me on Thursday morning.  She called at the wrong time - just as Perry Mason was about to reveal "who did it."  But I was not annoyed.  Instead, I was glad that she thought of me before spending another 6-7 hours on the road with her sister.

Eventually, I started getting ready to go out.  Around 12:30, I got moving and took my shower for the day and started getting dressed.  However, I had to start the day out as Mario, as I had to visit a bank branch to take care of a matter that required face to face contact with a service representative.

I was dressed and out the door by 1:15 or so.  Since the bank is down the hill from me, I figured that I'd be back home with more than enough time to change into Marian mode and make it to speech therapy - and I was right.  I met with the platform officer, and the bank paperwork took me about 15 minutes. I had everything ready to go, and all I had to do was answer the usual KYC (Know Your Customer) questions used to make sure I'm on the up and up (no money laundering allowed) AND to get marketing information so that they can sell me new products.

After a quick change, I was out the door as Marian around 2:30, and down at Mercy at 3:00.  No matter how much I mark 3:00 in my schedule, I'm likely thin that the session starts at 3:30, as that was the original schedule for the start of the weekly session.  This week, the session used a computer, a microphone, and some software to help show me where my voice was going.  I was well into the androgynous pitch range, reaching some tones that typical cisgender males don't reach.  So I have gotten much better since I first started down the path to have a feminine voice.

- - - - - -

Once done at Mercy, I decided to drive over to Central Avenue to see if the Yonkers Avenue store was still in business - it was not.  So I went over to the bookstore to get a cup of coffee and to kill time.  While there, I got into a conversation with a lady at a neighboring table, and our chat was going very well until her son called.  That was my cue to leave for game night.  So I bid her a fond adieu, and trekked over to Stew Leonard's to pick up something for the gang to nibble on. And then, it was over to play games.

As usual, I did poorly with the games.  But, I enjoyed myself.  Once done playing games, I chatted with the hostess about my recent interview and about my low-key job search.  She gave me some ideas of what to say in a cover letter, so that my resume would be seriously examined, in order to get me an interview.  If I could get that, I'd have a shot at getting the job.  After telling the hostess that I'm now interviewing as Marian, she noted that in many non-profits, that my transgender status would not be a problem.  Hopefully, she's right.  It'd be nice to get a job working as Marian on a regular schedule.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Back from the cruise, and dealing with withdrawal

As I started this entry, it has been 2 days since I last spoke with my former best friend - and I recognize my feelings are related to grief and withdrawal symptoms over the loss of a good friend.  But I've learned that processing some feelings takes time, and that one can't rush past feelings of grief. So I talk about things to help me process those feelings....

- - - - - -

When I got home on Saturday, I was not in the best of moods. I warned GFJ about how I was feeling, just in case she wanted an excuse to bail on me this weekend. Then I checked the balance in one of my bank accounts, so that I could move a joint account I share with my brother to my private account - and my brother closed the account earlier than expected. This meant that I'd have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to get my ATM card and to make withdrawals from the new account.  Luckily, I had enough money in the account to keep me well funded for the week.

After a bit of "rest" (I was catching up on my emails and blog entries), GFJ finally got here.  (Earlier, she was at a meetup in Fort Montgomery.) We decided to get a quick bite to eat while we both had energy, then come back to the house to rest.  Arriving at the local diner, we were very surprised that we could get a seat - Pumpkin Blaze Season had started, and this usually turns the quiet diner into a busy Fred Harvey restaurant when the Santa Fe passenger train arrived.

Although both of us were in the mood to see a movie after dinner, we both knew we were too tired to do so.  Instead, we went home for the night, and passed out by the time the evening news came on....

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Sunday was a much better day for us, but there was one problem - neither of us were in the mood to get moving until mid afternoon.  GFJ suggested that we go to Fort Montgomery and see the presentation she saw the day before, then take a walk in the area.  We started to do just this when it started to rain.  So we ended up turning around at the old toll booth on the "Goat Path", and headed to Pleasantville to see Judy, the bio pic about Judy Garland's London concerts.

Judy Garland is a very tragic figure.  Starved for the sake of maintaining an underweight body, she developed addictions to stimulants and depressants in order to get through her day.  She never knew true happiness in her relationships with men, as her multiple addictions got in the way of addressing her feelings.  The movie "Judy" shows Garland for the tragic figure she was, and yet presents her in a warm light.  Both GFJ and I enjoyed the film, and recommend seeing it while the film is in the theaters.

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

GFJ stayed overnight, but had to leave on Monday morning.  The only thing I had scheduled for the day was my attendance at the monthly Arts Westchester meeting.  And I got there a few minutes after the start of the meeting.

The purpose of the Arts Westchester meetings is to arrange volunteer coverage of events sponsored/funded by the organization and help make sure that Arts Westchester gets value out of their grant monies.  So, every month, a group of volunteers attends events across the county to perform event reviews.  Since I am usually busy with GFJ on weekends, I only volunteer for activities that take place during the week.  And I found one event that I'll be attending at the beginning of November.

After the meeting, three of us went for a late lunch at Bloomingdale's.  After 35 years of living in Westchester, this was the first time I entered the building and the first time I had anything to eat at their restaurant. Although a little pricey, it is not outrageously expensive, and it gives good value for the money.  (I'd go there again, if someone suggested it.)  We chatted over lunch for about 2 leisurely hours, and it was only the hour of the day that caused us to go our own ways.  Hopefully, the three of us will lunch there again.

Next, I was homeward bound, and I fell asleep shortly after I got there.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to connect with GFJ tonight, but I'll be sure to do so tomorrow....

An early dinner with a friend

  Last night, I mentioned to Pat that I wish I could have been born a cisgender female who looked like this when younger.  If I were younger...