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....

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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...