Saturday, October 1, 2022

Although my cruise is a week away, I've already started packing


Getting ready for a cruise is always a pain.  However, I have taken New England/Eastern Canada cruises before at this time of year, and know that I'll need mostly long sleeve shirts, a couple of short sleeve shirts, a week's worth of trousers, and all the other things a guy might need.  (Yes, I'll be in male presentation for this trip.)

This is one of those trips where I have easier than my cruise partner, RQS.  She's digging out the clothes she wore last spring, while I can pick and choose any of the male garments I have in the closet and know they will be OK.  However, it'll be much easier for me to pack for my Hawaii cruise, as I have enough summer clothes (lightweight dresses, etc.) that I can choose from to wear in the Hawaiian climate.  Additionally, I have started to view YouTube videos on what to pack for a Hawaiian trip, and have learned a couple of things in advance of need.  (Thank you, RQS for the summer hat!  It will be a big help when I'm out in the sun....)

Luckily, I was able to install the ArriveCan app on my cell phone without any problems.  I'll have to update it with my Covid Test status within 3 days of my cruise's departure.  (I can only imagine what I'd have to deal with if I still cruised with FCP.  After she forgot her cruise documents on one of our cruises, I had to be extra careful to make sure that she remembered to print off her eDocs before cruising.)  RQS and I seem to be a better fit as traveling partners, as neither of us are making the travel mistakes that novice travelers would make, nor did we get each other upset when we encountered problems on out trip to Washington, DC.

As you can guess, I over pack, as I don't have to worry about weight limits when cruising out of New York.  However, I'll need to buy an electronic luggage scale before I take my Hawaii trip.  (And that's only one of the things I'll need to buy before that cruise.)  I only wonder if RQS will enjoy cruising after this first cruise together....

Friday, September 30, 2022

Thinking of things that were, things that are and things that could be.

The above picture was taken about 3 years ago - just before the beginning of the epidemic.  As much as I thought I had a decent female presentation, I realize that 50 years of testosterone have taken their toll on me.

Turning 65 makes me think that I must start losing weight by cutting back on caloric intake and by being more active. RQS has done so, and it shows.  She could gain a lot by one of the surgeries that FCP had - a skin reduction.  I hope that I can get to that point as well.  But once I do so, I will then consider partial facial feminization surgery (FFS).  According to one TG writer, having FFS on the lower face allows her to be seen as a female while wearing a wig, and as a male when the wig is off.  This is something I'd like to do if possible.

I have no plans to push RQS to accept any more than cosmetic changes to my appearance, save for those changes that make me more healthy.  If I get to the stage where partial FFS is an option for me, she will have a say in how far I go with it - if I go with it at all.  She's too good a person to risk losing for this dream of mine - especially when she is accepting me for who and what I am.

Eventually, RQS and I will need to discuss living arrangements.  But this assumes that we continue to get along as well as we do now.  Whatever place we live in must be near convenient mass transit, must have adequate parking for my car, and be appropriate for two people in their later years.  Most of all, this place must have enough room for 3 wardrobes - RQS's, Mario's and Mine.  Only one problem: Will we be able to find such a place at an affordable price?

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Sooner or later, I'll get back to being awake in the morning.

Over the  past few weeks, I have been unable to get up early in the morning unless there is an absolute need to do so.  This is frustrating to me, as I have missed being able to do things with people who are out and about at earlier times of the day than I have been.  I just can't find the energy to get moving unless I have a social engagement planned for the day.

Today was a typical example of this pattern.  Although the alarm first woke me around 8:00, I "hit the snooze button" and didn't get moving until noon.  Then, I lallygagged until 5:00, when I was reminded that I had a Zoom meeting with my friends from Texas.  At that time, I got showered, dressed, put some laundry in the wash, and off I went to the supermarket to pick up some food. Around 7:30, I met with my Texas friends, and then killed some time before talking with RQS.  Just before I called RQS, I remembered that I had clothes in the dryer and brought them upstairs.  

As you can see, this was a typical day for me.  I didn't get as much done as I wanted.  But I got as much done as I needed.  At least, I can say that I spent part of the day in Marian Mode - it was the first time I've been out as Marian in almost a week.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Cruising issues


I don't want to belabor something that frustrated me today - billing issues from my doctor's office caused by the office sending paperwork to the wrong insurance company.  So I'll talk about something more pleasant, and deal with this issue tomorrow....

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The above cruise route has already been changed to deal with the problem at Skagway.  Many ships originally scheduled to port at Skagway are now going to other Alaskan ports due to multiple rock slides making it unsafe to use the Railroad Dock.  Hopefully, they will be able to stabilize the land above the dock before next year's cruise season.

Skagway is my favorite port in Alaska.  The White Pass & Yukon Railroad is a must for any Inside Passage trip.  And I'd like to take this train again, if I can find a way to get to Alaska on another cruise.  However, I had no intentions of taking this "2 bucket list trip" cruise, and coming back with Covid-19 as my souvenir. (I also did not want to pay a high price for airfare, given both the high cost and inconvenience of air travel this year.)  Now, with the Railroad Dock unavailable to most cruise ships, ships are either stopping at Haines or Icy Strait Point, or they are adding an extra Sea Day to their cruises.

Assuming all goes well with my current relationship, I expect that we will be in Alaska and/or Hawaii sometime in the next few years.  Will we take a repositioning cruise like the one in the route map at the top of this entry?  Will we take a Hawaii cruise (from the West Coast or from Oahu?)  Will we take an Alaska cruise (Inside Passage or Northbound/Southbound to/from Denali)?  RQS has never taken what I'd call a bucket list trip, and it would be nice to share one with her.

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Thinking about what is going right in my relationship with RQS makes me think about what went wrong in my previous long term relationship.  Strangely enough, learning the things that bothered XGFJ have made it possible not to make those mistakes with RQS.  All XGFJ needed to do was put me on the spot and make things clear.  Instead, she decided to take the "easy" way out and hint to me what her needs were - dooming the relationship via a lack of effective communication.  Yes, there are other issues I see in the rear view mirror. But I put the blame for our relationship's failure with a lack of effective communication - a mistake I intend to prevent myself or RQS from making in our current relationship.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022



In one sense, if you visit one Ikea store, you've visited them all.  There is a winding path through the furniture showrooms, and it's all geared to lead you to an area geared for impulse buys before picking out the unassembled furniture (in boxes) from the warehouse side of the store.  

But first....

Last night, I sat down on a plastic chair that RQS had placed in front of her desktop computer.  Sooner or later, the chair was going to break under my weight (it was a flimsy piece of molded plastic), and it did in a spectacular fashion.  As I moved to get up from the seat, my shifting weight caused the rear legs of the chair to collapse and break off, causing me to land on the floor in an embarrassing way. At that point, RQS came over to help me up and I knew that we'd have to replace the chair today.

Morning came, and RQS had to go to her gym for her weekly round with her personal trainer.  When I picked her up, I knew the perfect place for us to go to get the replacement chair - Ikea.  So, it was off to Hicksville, and to do some chair shopping.  RQS was surprised to see how big the store was, and got some ideas of what she could do in her place.  After trying out a couple of chairs, we settled on one model - and purchased it.  And then we went for dinner at a seafood joint I knew in Lindenhurst.

Once finished with dinner, it was back to RQS's place to assemble the chair.  Assembly of most Ikea furniture is relatively straight forward.  One looks at pictures in sequence, and assembles the parts to look like the images on each page in sequence.  And that is what we did until RQS almost stripped the screw head because of a flaw in its manufacture.  To prevent damage to the remaining part of the hex screw head, I decided to use a pair of pliers to get the screw down as far as possible, then try to use the provided Allen wrench to tighten the screw the rest of the way.  Luckily, I was successful where RQS wasn't. Now, RQS has a solid chair she can sit on - at a very reasonable price.

Monday, September 26, 2022



On Saturday, RQS found ourselves with not much to do save relax.  By the time we got moving, it was getting late and it was time to go and get something to eat.  So, I remembered a place that once had a Westport, CT outpost and figured that its Williamsburg site would be a perfect place to have a bite to eat. And RQS liked my idea....

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One of the things we have to deal with every week is choosing what and where to eat.  Since I was at RQS's place this weekend, we'd have the whole city from which to choose a restaurant to eat at.  Given that good "traditional" Italian restaurants seem to be a dime a dozen in NYC, it made sense to choose something a little different - such as The Meatball Shop.  

Williamsburg, Brooklyn is a great place to visit.  There are quite a few funky shops in this area of NYC that are well worth exploring.  And if this restaurant is a good example of what's in this part of town, it would be a crime for any tourist to miss going here.  As for me, I'm lucky that RQS and I can reach this part of town via a $2.75 subway ride, because we intend to explore it more often when the weather gets cooler.  The Meatball Shop (TMS) will be one of our go-to places in this exploration.

Now, I should say a little about TMS.  It does not look like a typical Italian restaurant - because it isn't.  Many types of meatballs are on the menu, and pasta can be served with them.  But the menu is not "Italian".  We had the pork meatballs, but could just as easily chosen, beef, chicken, or some other type on the menu.  If the other types are half as tasty as the meatballs we ate, we'll each gain a dress size or two by the time New Year comes along.

After dinner, we walked along Bedford avenue and found a cute little book store to explore - Spoonbill and Sugartown Books.  Sadly the store was closing at 9:00 pm - not giving us enough time to browse.  However, we will be back there again, as it had books that I will never find at your local neighborhood chain bookstore.

All too early, it was time to go back to RQS's place.  But one last place beckoned us - 16 Handles ice cream shop.  The ice cream was good, but expensive.  Don't go there if you are expecting Carvel.  Although everything is soft serve, it is yummy, but a little too expensive for my taste.  (We spent $32 for 2 medium/large cups, and RQS said - OUCH!)  I can only imagine how my sugar levels must have spiked after that dessert!

Once we finished our ice cream, it was time to return to RQS's place for the evening.  We were both glad that there was no repair work scheduled for the subway line we used to get back home....

Sunday, September 25, 2022

A place I want to get back to soon....


Peggy's Cove, NS.  Although I wouldn't want to live there, I'd like to visit there every few years.  It's a place that one can take many interesting photographs, and it's a place that never seems to change much over the years.

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The first time I was in Peggy's Cove was when I was a child.  It didn't impress me much then, as little makes an impression on a young child.  However, I later made it there with my late wife, and we both enjoyed making this the highlight of our Nova Scotia vacation.  I'll always remember an incident that happened in one of the hotels we stayed at in our travels - the warm water shut off unexpectedly while I was in the shower, I yelled "F**k!", and she came to my aid not knowing whether I was in need or not.  Although there are more details I don't mention to this story, it is the most memorable part of this trip.

The next time I was in Peggy's Cove was on a cruise with my former cruise partner (FCP).  She didn't come with me on this excursion.  But I was sure to get some pictures while there.  This visit impressed me more than my previous two visits, as I became aware of the rocky ground the town sat upon, and wondered how people get their water and deal with sanitary issues.  (I never did think like an average person.)  And still, I couldn't get the beauty of the place out of my mind.

So this time, I hope that RQS appreciates Peggy's Cove as much as I do.  Although I'll be in Mario Mode this time, it won't be much of an issue when I'm with her.

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 ...