Saturday, November 2, 2019

Ending the week on an off note

I only had a visit to Arts Westchester on the docket for today,  Last week, I said that I'd be making a return visit - and my contact at AW forgot that I was coming.  So she wasn't prepared for me when I arrived.  Yet, there was work that I could do that involved miscellaneous office chores . And I did that work for a couple of hours, until there was no more work to do. On the way home, I got a call from WDJ telling me about the first meeting of her new meetup group.  It didn't go as expected, but what first gatherings go as planned?  I wish her a lot of success with the group, and then remembered to sign up for it when I got home.

As you can guess, there wasn't much to occupy my day.  Since I was very tired when I got home, I stripped off my clothes and took a nap.  GFJ would likely not be coming down tonight, as she wasn't feeling that good.  Hopefully, she'll feel good enough to go for her hike tomorrow (with dinner afterwards).  If not, I'd better start looking for a meetup to go to on Sunday.  Or, I should prepare to drive to Long Island (in male presentation) to see my family. No matter what happens tonight, I still have no idea about what I'll be doing come Sunday....

Friday, November 1, 2019

I started the day with some bad news

Last night, I sent an email just to touch base about the job interview I had a month ago.  This morning, I received my reply - I was no longer being considered for the position.  Since I didn't absolutely need the job, it shouldn't bother me much.  However, I do feel a little bit of a sting due to the feeling of rejection.  Whether I was rejected because I was transgender, or if they found a better candidate shouldn't be an issue.  But I'd love to know that answer if it was appropriate for me to ask it.

- - - - - -

Misplacing things has always been a problem for me.  I have often dealt with it by buying extra stuff, so that I can find what I need when I need it - without having to organize my environment beforehand. Now that I don't have "excess" money coming in, one of the things I have to do is develop better habits for where I temporarily store things that I bring into the house.  The other day, I brought in a prescription I took home from the drug store, and do not remember what became of it.  Did I combine the pills with the ones remaining from my old prescription?  Or, did I misplace them in one of my rooms?  If the former, I'll have no evidence that I did so.  If the latter, the pills will show up some time in the future.

Just before I left for my weekly speech therapy session at Mercy, I found the pills that "My Pooka" hid from me.  (I'm always joking about a mischievous pooka when I'm missing something I know I have in my apartment. Just don't call him "Harvey".  Harvey hangs out with Elwood P. Dowd.)  And I was able to leave for Dobbs Ferry with a more relaxed attitude.  While on the way down, I remembered that I had to schedule my yearly physical with my doctor.  Since his office closes at 3:00, I pulled off at a highway exit, made the call, and got back on the road, losing only a couple of minutes.

Arriving at Mercy a little after 3:00, I worked with the two student clinicians.  If my voice is recorded on the iPad they use, much of my masculine vocal resonance is captured and magnified.  But if recorded on a cell phone's voice mail, my voice almost sounds feminine.  There is still a lot of work that has to be done.  But I know that a reasonably feminine voice can come from my voice box, given the voice of a famous transgender woman who was well known when I was young.

I drove back to my apartment to kill a couple of hours, and then drove down to Yonkers for the weekly round of board games.  For once, I won a game - a round of "Exploding Kittens".  And I didn't do too badly in the other games either.  But my mind was elsewhere - I was checking the news and email quite a bit on the phone.  (It didn't help that the host's daughter wanted to join in a couple of games, and she was another distraction to deal with.)  Yet, I enjoyed myself, and will miss the camaraderie of the group for the next 3 weeks.  While playing games, I had a quick message exchange with JS.  Seems like our daytime get together this weekend is off - she is seeing a couple of real estate agents on Saturday.  I guess financial reality is catching up with her after all....

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Thinking about a friend's problems

Please note: I have edited a lot of the original information from this post, in order to respect the privacy of these individuals as much as I can.  However, the underlying problems are common to many families, as my brother's family is similar to the one discussed here.

- - - - - -

A while back, I participated in a three way phone call between me, JS, and her financial advisor.  If you could have seen JS over the past few days, she's been about a hair's breadth away from her own nervous breakdown.  And this is all because of a daughter who needs the help that her mother can no longer give.

First, some background:
  • JS - A woman who turns 65 in a few weeks.  She is a widow of 12 years, has 2 adult children, lives in Connecticut, and has just taken a job in Brooklyn as a school principal. The school of which she's the principal has been mismanaged for years, and the board of directors wants her to clean the place up.
  • ES - JS's daughter.  She is 20, has done poorly in the few college courses she has taken, and has been an albatross around her mom's neck.  She throws temper tantrums whenever her mom tries to steer her towards taking on responsibility. 
  • FA - The financial advisor.  She's a CFA, and seeing her in action, I feel that she's giving JS good advice that JS is hesitant to act on.
JS barely has enough resources to retire, and she has been worrying about what will happen to her daughter if she pulls the ripcord and moves to Florida to retire.  Her daughter shows no signs of taking on any responsibility, avoids doing so after making commitments to do so, and will throw temper tantrums if one attempts to hold her accountable for her lack of success.

A therapist told JS that the best thing she could do for her daughter would be to "divorce" her.  She needed to hear this from more than one person she could trust. What can be done for ES when her mom moves to Florida?  What services are available to ES?  What remaining responsibilities does JS have, now that ES is legally an adult?  These are questions that must be addressed, and JS will need help to do so.

FA has figured out a way to extract enough money from JS's resources to allow her to enjoy retirement in Florida.  She also suggested that JS give ES an allowance to help bridge a gap between what ES may earn in a minimum wage job and what she'll need to pay her basic bills.  Loans may be taken from life insurance policies, money taken from annuities, and Social Security collected from her late husband's benefits.  FA is putting JS's needs first, over those of ES.  And this is the right thing to do.

- - - - - -

It will be a rocky path for JS and her family.  A mother's most important duty to her daughter is to see that her daughter can function without help from mom.  And if this means that the daughter is forever alienated from her mother, so be it.  Sadly, there is a dysfunctional codependency between mother and daughter.

I think that the daughter must be forced to grow up.  Does one keep enabling her as some people would suggest?  Or does one use "tough love" as her therapist and financial advisor would suggest?  I'd choose the latter and hope I'm right....

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Another meetup with the Fun Time Friends

I had two things on my docket for today, and I almost forgot the one I wanted to take care of the most....

- - - - - -

When I got up this morning, I didn't feel fully rested.  Instead, I felt like a battery that was charged to 90% of capacity, but needed a little more juice to bring myself to full alertness.  For a change, I awakened before 7:00, and was out of the bed for the day before 8:00.  If my 7 hours of sleep could be counted from the time I put my CPAP mask on, I'd have had a full night's sleep.  But I didn't start falling out until 1:30 or so, and that was reflected in how I felt.

Taking it easy all day, I didn't start to get ready to do a volunteer stint at the LGBT center until 2:00.  This meant that I'd get to the center around 3:30 for my shift.  And today, my tasks were a little more interesting than usual (but not much).  First, I had to do a Powerpoint slide, a flyer and a couple of calendar updates for an LGBT related movie to be shown next month at a community theater.  Once done with that, I checked all of the LGBT Center's resource website links, making sure that their site contains only validated links.  This took up the better part of my 2 hours there. And then the alarm pop-up came on my phone - I had a meetup scheduled in Southport, Ct. for dinner - OOPS!  I almost forgot that!!!.  So I walked over to my car, started to play some tunes, and off to dinner I went.

When traffic is running smoothly, driving from White Plains to Southport takes about 35 minutes.  However, if one is dealing with rush hour traffic, the drive can take 3 times as long. Tonight's drive took only twice as long - and I got to the restaurant shortly after 7:00.  I remembered this restaurant's location from years ago.  It is the former site of the Southport Brewing Company, a brewpub that an ex-girlfriend and I used to frequent a few years ago.

Parking my car and entering the restaurant, I noticed that there were no seats available at the table in the background of the above picture (where the meetup's hostess was sitting). So I sat down with the ladies at the table in the above picture.  It was a pleasure being treated as one of the ladies, and even more of a pleasure when the hostess came over and greeted me very warmly.  (If I were presenting as a male, I'd interpret this woman's physically warm greeting very differently.  But I digress.)  She makes me feel that it is worth the effort to come to this group's meetings, as I know she remembers how long it's been since I've been around to one of the group's meetups.

Service at the restaurant was very slow.  We didn't have our orders taken until 8:00, and didn't even have food until 8:45 or so.  For a busy night (this was Fairfield County Restaurant Week), they didn't staff the place well.  And by the time we were finished with dinner and paying our checks, it was coming on 9:45.  Even our hostess was unimpressed with the place, and will likely never schedule another dinner there in the future.

Leaving the restaurant at 10:00, I called GFJ for the ride home, and we chatted for the next hour.  As much as neither of us had a lot to say, it was good to know that there was someone on the other end of the line who cares for me, someone to keep me company on a boring drive home.  She is the reason why I said in one email: "There are some things I want more than transition." Hopefully, GFJ knows that our relationship is that important to me....

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Beginning the week on a high note

I spent the weekend with GFJ, and had the pleasant opportunity to see "Raise Hell: The life and times of Molly Ivins" on Sunday night.  Usually, it's GFJ who falls asleep during the movie.  But I missed a bit of the movie because I couldn't stay fully awake.  (Having just eaten a heavy dinner didn't help.)  What I saw of the film, I liked. And I hope to catch it when it comes to cable sometime in the near future.

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

The next day, I accompanied GFJ to her dermatologist, so that a cyst could be removed from her left shoulder.  I'm glad I did so, as she didn't feel good about driving on the way back to her place.  She told me that the doctor had to dig deep to get all of the cyst out, and that she expected the wound to hurt a bit as it healed.

When I drove home in the afternoon, I could have called my GP to schedule my yearly physical.  I missed his office when I got home, as it now shuts down at 3 pm - and I got home at 3:45 pm.  (Dollars to doughnuts, based on his shrinking office hours, that he is readying himself for his eventual retirement. That's another story for another post.)  But I did make it to the drug store for my second shingles shot.  And this was something I had to do while presenting as a male.

Getting home, I played the messages on my answering machine that I couldn't play while away.  Once I got the phone number of the lady I had to contact for an interview, we scheduled an interview for next week -  an interview that I'll go to as a female.  Assuming that I work again, I intend to do so while presenting as Marian.  Although my legal identity may still be in Mario's name, I want to continue my path towards living my life as Marian and not as Mario.

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

Tuesday came, and I wasn't in the mood to do anything.  JS and I were supposed to get together, but she cancelled out.  Seems like she needed to earn an extra few dollars tutoring a child today.  In our quick online exchange of messages, I think it's fair to assume that nothing has changed in her life, save that the assumptions she made to take the job in Brooklyn were invalid - her costs are higher than expected, and the commute is sapping the energy out of her.  Too bad that she didn't take her financial planner's advice and move to Florida - she'd be better off down there. This left me with one thing on my docket - going to the dining meetup.  Did I really want to get showered, made up and dressed?  That was the big question I had to address, and I had to address it by 3:30 or so.

Around 4:00, I ended up taking my shower and getting ready for tonight's dinner.  GFJ called me as I was about to put on my makeup, and I chatter with her for about a half hour.  (There went the extra time I needed to arrive early at the restaurant.)  But it was worth the awkward timing, as she's been getting tired earlier in the evening than in the past, and I wanted to chat while both of us were able to chat coherently.

A little before 6:00, I ended up leaving for dinner, and I got stuck in slow moving traffic along Route 9.  It didn't help that the driver just ahead of me was impaired.  No, I'm not saying that the person was drinking or drugging.  Instead, I think that he didn't have a clear view of the roadway's edge due to the rain, and had trouble staying fully in the lane.  (If he had also been swerving over the center double line, I'd have thought the person was under the influence.)  Even I was having trouble driving, given the darkness and the drizzle.  A hard rain might have been better, as people may have driven more slowly and followed a path set by the leader of the pack of cars.

Just before 6:45, I arrived at the restaurant and found a seat.  This restaurant did not know how to handle late arrivals for a large group, nor did it staff our area properly.  I had to get up and ask the waitress for the Prix-Fixe menu, as she didn't bring me one on my arrival.  She shouldn't be given a hard time based on my writing- the waitress was doing the job of two people, and had to deal with the needs of 28 people. Unfortunately, the restaurant was too noisy for my taste, and I had a hard time chatting with people.  To keep myself busy, I started reading articles on my cell phone.  (Where would we be without these devices?)  But, I was glad to be drawn back into conversations by my table neighbors, as well as by WDJ.

Our meetup broke up a little after 9:00, and I drove home through the rain.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to reach GFJ again, so I was glad that I spoke with her before leaving for dinner.  Arriving home without incident, I stripped out of my clothes and got into something comfortable for the rest of the night.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Thinking about a conversation I had at a recent meetup

Sometimes, a wig is just a wig.  And sometimes, it is something more.  In the case of an Orthodox Jewish Married Woman, a Sheitel is an essential tool to "preserve modesty" in a subtle way.  According to an article in the Forward, "Jewish law calls for women to cover their hair after marriage, and many religious women see wigs as a more subtle covering than hats or headscarves."  To many women wearing Sheitels, spending between $1,000 to $5,000 is excessive.  And these ladies are going elsewhere to get their wigs.

A former friend kept pushing me to go to a store specializing in supplying sheitels for the Orthodox community.  I couldn't see spending $2,500 on a wig - even if it would last me 6 times as long as the wigs I now wear (assuming proper care).  As much as the wig would look better for a longer time, I don't feel comfortable putting an extra $2,000+ into buying a wig, and having something go wrong several months into its expected lifespan.  I'd rather buy a new wig every 3-6 months or so, and have that extra $2,000 in the bank earning interest for me.

WDJ says that I can get a human hair wig much cheaper than that by going the Chinese route.  I'm pretty sure that I could do that given the article I just read.  This would be a boon to me and other M2F transgenders, as most of us want to look as pretty as possible.  And a woman's hair will always be one of the first things a person notices about that woman.  If I could be sure I was getting a wig that fit properly and looked good on me, I'd consider the Chinese route for myself.

I don't think I'm giving away any secrets when I mention that WDJ enjoys wearing her wigs.  (Since she occasionally makes it known to people at the meetup, I don't think she'd mind me casually mentioning this fact.)  Both WDJ and I were chatting with a new woman at our dining meetup, and the subject of wigs came up.  Each of us had stories about our wigs, and WDJ talked about her experiences in Facebook wig forums, as well as some of the purchases she has made over the years.  Given her experiences with some vendors, I may consider going the Chinese route when I decide to go with a human hair wig - as long as I have a few extra dollars to gamble.  Since I am a conservative gambler, I expect that I will likely get a good deal on a wig once I've done all necessary research on going the Chinese route.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Doing the scales

Doe, a deer, a female deer....   Most of us know that song from "The Sound of Music".  But most of us never have to think of what has to be done to hit a note perfectly, all the time, at will, without thinking about it.  My feminine voice has been a work in progress for several years. And I am now on the cusp of breaking out of the habitual way that males sound like males, even when speaking in a pitch more associated with females.

As normal for this semester, my Thursday schedule called for me to visit the Speech and Hearing Center at Mercy College for my weekly speech therapy session.  Although the two student clinicians say that my voice has improved a lot and that I am consistently speaking in a feminine pitch, I am far from happy.  I do not have that melodic prosody that a typical female uses in everyday speech.

The latest "take home" exercise I have been given is to record myself doing the "scales" (by humming and singing the notes). I'm not exactly sure of what this will do for me, but I am game to try anything.  In the past, I have recorded myself reciting the full text of the poem "Jabberwocky".  And I still sounded like a male speaking the words.  Vowels were not extended enough, and the tone of my voice didn't vary as much as a normal female's would when speaking the same words.

My voice is still a work in progress. At least, it's not the dead giveaway for me being transgender as it used to be when I started down this path towards an authentic feminine self.

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...