Saturday, December 12, 2020

Another time that dinner was the best part of my day.


When I got up this morning, I found that a text message never made it to JM, and she was no longer interested in me.  This is not as bad as it sounds, as we were not in each other's social class. As Vicki said to me later in the day, her former career might have taught her skills that prevented her from developing good relationships with men.  (I won't go into this any further in this blog.) If someone wanted to drop me because of a minor screw up, then I know she would run away if she ever were to find out about Marian.

Since I didn't get enough sleep the night before, I went back to sleep and finally arose for the day around noon. For the most part, I took it easy all day until I met with Vicki around 6.  Now that Covid-19 infection rates are going up, I'm starting to get concerned about doing things such as eating indoors at a restaurant. But Vicki and I will continue to eat out, at least until Gov. Cuomo says that the infection rates in the Mid Hudson region are too high to allow indoor dining.

Vicki and I met in a restaurant near Mohegan Lake. She had bought a $100 gift coupon for $50, and wanted to go out to this steak house.  Yum!  I haven't had Prime Rib in ages.  So I went to the cash machine, picked up my weekly supply of cash, and made it to the restaurant on time.  It took a few minutes to be seated.  But I always feel good when someone addresses me as a lady.  This was an evening to feast, and we split a raw bar sampler for 1 (more than enough for 2 to share), and then had soup with our prime ribs to follow. Both of us had leftovers that we took home with us.  However, Vicki noted one thing in our conversation that I never noticed before - I now have enough volume and pitch fluidity in my voice to sound much more like a cisgender female than I did 2 years ago.  Now, my voice isn't much of a giveaway anymore.  That's a great compliment!  Those lessons at Mercy helped, as well as my 10 months at the Census bureau.

As my readers might guess, the day started off on a down note, and ended on an up note. For this, I am grateful..... 

Friday, December 11, 2020

Secret Pen Pals



One of my meetup groups (Ambles and Adventures) has sponsored a "Secret Pen Pal" letter exchange twice this fall. And I have enjoyed participating in it.  It's a nice thing to do, as it allowed me to write to someone I don't know, and say something from my heart without feeling that I will be looked at strangely.  No, I'm not saying anything I wouldn't want known to the world. Instead, I'm opening up a part of myself that doesn't always get the chance to come out.

The first time around, I had two pen pals.  One was the woman I was assigned as my secret pal. The other was the hostess of the group, someone who couldn't have the secret pal because she knew everyone's partnerships.  The second time around, I had one woman, and I had fun writing to her as well.

I'm looking forward to the next round of letters/cards. I get to express myself as Marian, and enjoy doing so.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Hiking around Teatown Lake.


The other day, I went out with a friend from my Thursday night gaming group.  If I had met this woman as Mario, I'd have asked her out for a date a long time ago.  Even now, I sometimes wonder whether she'd be interested in Mario, knowing that I like to spend as much time as possible as Marian.

This week's hike (a very easy one) was the lake side trail around Teatown Lake. It's hard to believe that the last time I walked around this late was a little over 40 years ago, when I was a "youngster" in college.  The group I was in had no problems walking from a nearby retreat house late at night, and doing a 7 mile walk (my guesstimate) without thinking about it.  Today, I get a little nervous thinking of doing a 4+ mile walk.  And I've shied away from groups that I might have been welcome in, had I taken the chance to make the first move.

Now that the weather is about to get cold, I will miss these chances to be with my friend.  We don't talk that much when we are walking, but it's nice to have someone with me to be a catalyst for me to do healthy things with my life. Even if the weather weren't about to get cold, it looks like my friend has finally landed a job.  And I am very glad for her. 

When things warm up again, I expect that we will be getting together for our walks now and then - unless I am busy with a woman I'm dating.  Neither of us like hiking in excessive heat or cold.  So I think I'll have a hiking companion for those times I want to go out for a walk as Marian. 

- - - - - -

A while back, I read a book called "Moneyball."   It explained how the Oakland A's were able to use statistical analysis to figure out how to produce a division championship team by acquiring talent on the cheap, not assuming that certain needed talents had to be possessed by a single ball player.  The A's changed how baseball looked at producing winning teams, and it influenced me in how I looked for friendships after breaking up with my ex.

Knowing that I'll never get the bulk of what I want in a relationship from one woman, I decided to fulfill my needs in completely different ways.  For example, I used to enjoy regular, if not daily, calls with the ex.  Now, I have them with TCL, even though she is only friendship material.  I now enjoy going out to dinner with the women I have dated, but do not yet expect that I can share my soul with any one of them so far. (I certainly can't say much about the physical part of a healthy relationship.) None of the pieces in the aggregate yet make up for what I lost. But I think I'm building up something more durable, and more likely to last.

Strangely enough, I think that being Marian is an important part of this rebuild.  Even though I expect that I will need to live much of my life as Mario, Marian is an essential part of me. There is a warmth that I could never show people when Mario crowded Marian out.  And whoever I end up with will need to accept all of me, for better and worse.




Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The only reason I left the house was to get some food.


General Tso's Chicken.  It's one of the tastiest foods you can order at a Chinese take out place, but it is neither healthy, nor is it Chinese in origin.   Several years ago, Jennifer 8 Lee gave a Ted Talk regarding the origins of this dish. And her talk gave me new insights into the origins of "Chinese Food" in America.

When I want comfort food from a Chinese take out place, General Tso's Chicken is one of the dishes I usually will order.  Lately, most places have been turning down the heat on this dish, as most Americans like bland food.  As for me, I usually want strong flavors in my food, save when I'm eating slowly and for taste.  Then, I want the subtleties in a dish's flavors to come out without assaulting me.  

Today was one of those days I wanted some Chinese comfort food. And you can easily guess what I ordered.  It was a good excuse to get showered and dressed for the first time in a couple of days.  Given that the pandemic will shut down California in the next few days (as I write this), I expect that New York will soon follow their lead. That means that I'll have to enjoy getting out now, while I can still do so.

- - - - - -

Before things started getting shut down, Andrew Sullivan mentioned  Camus' "The Plague"  in his blog.  Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to read this book before everything shut down in March.  So I put the book on hold, and waited until I could get it from my local library.  Towards the beginning of May, the library reopened.  But it was not business as usual.  One had to put all book requests on hold, and once available, pick up these books on a table inside the library's vestibule.  No one was being allowed to enter the library, save for the people who worked there.   After reading the book, I started to understand why my reactions to my ex (and she towards me) were so magnified.  More importantly, I started to understand why some people were likely to suffer pandemic fatigue - after a point, people stop feeling that they have any control over their lives.

After a summer and fall which allowed us to socialize with some degree of normalcy, it looks like the second wave of the pandemic is going to be worse than the first wave.  Before, the effects of the pandemic were limited to a handful of states.  Now, the pandemic is nationwide, with the worst effects in states who acted as if the pandemic was God's curse on the "Liberal" states.  Although there is a part of me that is enjoying a form of Schadenfreude, seeing many of the "Deep Red" states suffer as we did in the Tri-state area, I'd rather that no one go through what we went through in the spring. There are people I know who couldn't get essential health care because hospitals were flooded with Covid-19 patients.  No one should endure that.

I figure that most of us will be staying isolated until sometime in April, when things have started to warm up and vaccinations are being given to the general population.  By that time, the general populace of this country will start receiving their vaccinations.  Will the rest of the nation behave in ways described in Camus' novel?  One thing I know, take out restaurants will still be allowed to function, and I will still be able to get my General Tso's Chicken.








Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The best part of the day was doing the laundry



Years ago, this storefront was where the Whine and Dine meetup group used to meet.  Since then, the restaurant has closed, the meetup group shut down, and the owner moved to Texas to live a new life.  Why do I bring this up?  To answer this, I go back to the old phrase: "This too shall pass."

- - - - - -

Virtually everything now is being affected by the pandemic - even though we have a vaccine which will be available to most of us in the spring.  Most of us have 4 to 6 months before we are able to get vaccinated, and we will have one last season of being shut in our homes before we start the process of living lives that resemble the "normal" we remember from 2019. But those 4 to 6 months are a long way away, and the positive infection rates in New York are about 5% of all those people being tested for Covid-19 infection. 

Recently, several get-togethers I scheduled with some people have had to be postponed because of Covid-19.  First, I was supposed to meet with JM for a walk.  One of her friends that she met up with could have gotten infected, so JM waited until the results of her friend's Covid-19 test came in before risking new contacts with her friends.  Over the weekend, FL was in contact with two people, both of whom tested positive.  So FL cancelled dinner with me, and went to be tested for infection.  If she tests negative twice, then we will get together for dinner one week later than planned.

TCL and I try to talk with each other every day.  It's our way of making sure that there is someone there looking out for each other on a regular basis.  She's looking to adopt a new cat (or two) and I hope she finds one (or two) she likes.  As for me, I don't have that much to say in our conversations.  But the pandemic has affected both of us, as she is very concerned about letting anyone into her house.  Minor house repairs are being delayed, as she doesn't even want a handyman inside her house.  And I can't blame her.

Everyone I know is affected by the pandemic, and it looks like I'll soon have to become a hermit as well.  Now that people are retreating indoors, the high point of today became doing the laundry - as this got me out of my apartment for a while.  After a dinner with Vicki and shopping with FH over the weekend, I doubt that many people will be comfortable meeting with others inside their houses or indoors at a restaurant.  

As I try to remind myself, "This too shall pass."



Monday, December 7, 2020

More reports from the dating front - printer problems & someone overly inquisitive.


I figure that once someone wants to break up with me, that I should take her at her word.  Last year, my then girlfriend broke things off - and it hurt me much more than expected.  Our after-breakup dispute caused us to say and do things that hurt each other, ruining what should have developed into a solid friendship.  I'll always feel sorry about that.

Why do I mention this?

Well, FH is a nice woman.  But I think she's uncomfortable trusting me.  No, I'm not talking about dealing with my dual-gender life, though that is an issue. But it is something much more mundane - trusting me to know what I'm doing, when I don't know all of the details about what I'm doing.  Without a certain amount of trust in the person, neither a friendship or a romantic relationship can work for long.  But for now, it seems that we are filling each other's needs.

The other day, I was over FH's place, and she asked me to figure out what was wrong with her printer.  Details that should be coming in as solid black were being printed in a bluish gray.  Since she had replaced all 4 of the print cartridges a couple of weeks before, I had my doubts of whether a new print cartridge was needed. And if it was, I had to make sure which cartridge needed to be replaced, as color printing is an "additive process" and I didn't want to buy a new cartridge unless it was really needed.

When I started my diagnostic process on the printer, I was getting a little flak from both mother and daughter.  The error message they saw said that toner was needed.   Yet, the printer status reported that the black toner was at the 95% level.  FH overly depends on her daughter for anything related to technology.  In several ways, she's training her daughter to be the "man around the house", letting the daughter take the lead in things such setting up computers, assembling "kit" furniture, etc., when I feel that FH should have been using these opportunities to show some grit around her daughter instead of indulging her. (At times, the daughter seems to be 21 going on 15.)   So mother and daughter argued about whether they should buy more toner, while I wanted a little bit of peace to figure out what was really going on.  As a result, I was using my call phone the way people might use a fidget spinner - a distraction to keep from focusing on something frustrating me.

Once I finally started to make some progress, seeing what was really going on, I decided to find the printer's manual, and read an online copy.  In that copy, I found a section related to printer calibration.  So I decided to run that process, as they had installed new toner cartridges 2 weeks before.  About 5 minutes later, we were able to print a document - and the black areas printed as black areas, without a touch of the blue/gray print we saw before.  

Now that I was done, FH was very thankful.  Unfortunately, it was time to leave, and it was back to Croton for the night. 

- - - - - -

Before Thanksgiving, I "Swiped Right" on a woman in New Jersey.  I made the mistake of responding to her direct message.  She peppered me with questions, some I answered and others I didn't.  Overall, I got a very bad feeling about this woman.  She mentioned that black men seem to be very loving.  (So, what?  I identify as White, though I have Black ancestors from over 100 years ago.) Then, she peppered me with questions that she had no right to be asking at such an early stage of knowing each other. Add to this, she wanted my FB information (which I wasn't going to give), and it felt that she was trying to set her hook into someone who had a few extra bucks. She wanted to rush into a video chat, and yet, when I mentioned Zoom, she didn't bite.  Something was very far off. Once I found out that she had 4 rental properties in the Philippines, warning lights came on for me.  She may have lost her family's prior American "Sugar Daddy", and saw me as a potential mark.  Once I saw her using the English language in a very flawed manner, I knew that something was very wrong.  So, I unmatched her, and let her move onto another mark.

- - - - - -

As you can guess, there are other women with whom I communicate.  Until the pandemic lifts, I will have a hard time meeting any of them.  But if I do meet them and things work out, I'll be sure to let them know about my female side earlier, not later, in the developing relationship process. 


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sometimes, I like to find diamonds in the rough.


The above picture is one of many from a stock photo collection once issued by Corel on CD-Rom.  They didn't know the value of these photos when they sold the CDs, and now sell use of these photos on an image by image basis.  If I had known how pretty many of these images are, I'd have dropped a wad of cash and bought a complete set of 200 CDs.


These pictures seem to have been shot on the best of old Kodak film stock.  They have the warmth that today's photos often do not have.  (The images were saved in an obsolete format, and had to be converted to JPG.  As a result, they may need color correction that I won't bother with for my blog.)

Given that it has been the better part of 20+ years since I bought these disks, it will be hard to find individual disks I am interested in owning, such as for New York City, Washington, DC, and America's national parks.  So, if you know someone who still owns these disks and wants to sell them, please let me know.

Was she dead or alive? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

  I hadn't seen Pat in months, and I haven't been able to reach her by voice or text.  Given that she's 84 years old, I figured ...