Saturday, January 14, 2023

Sometimes, I wonder what some people are up to.


Sometimes, I wonder what some people from my past are up to these days.  With some people, like FCP, I will likely never know, and it doesn't bother me much.  With others, like FH and MWL, I don't mind knowing, but I don't try to find out much.  And with others, I try to keep in some contact, and learn about their lives through the filters of friendship.

Occasionally, I think of FCP, and quickly put her out of my mind.  She left enough breadcrumbs around for me to know what she and her family was doing without me doing any research.  The last time we were in contact, she was upset at me, because I sent a "Congratulations!" card to her son and daughter in law to celebrate the birth of their son. And then, she wanted to rub in the pain of the loss of a friendship by showing me more pictures of this son as if I'm estranged family.  Without knowing even the name of this son, how could I miss someone who wasn't even a part of my family?  But I think she has deeper scars than I do, and that dwelling on this part of my past doesn't help at all.

A few weeks ago, I was finally able to get in contact with Pat (my former hypnotist).  I would have thought that she (or her daughter) would have contacted me to let me know that she was moving to a care facility.  Once I found this out, I made it a point to visit her there, and to get her out of the facility for a bite to eat now and then.  This past visit, she invited her new boyfriend out to eat with RQS and I, and "expected" that we would take them out to a restaurant of their choice instead of mine.  Although I would later find out that their place wasn't that expensive, it still would have cost me 3 times what it cost to go to the pizzeria we went to.  RQS and I agreed that Pat doesn't realize that the little impositions she makes without thought are the same things which can alienate her from friends and family.

MWL and I have maintained very loose contact since I started dating RQS.  She will occasionally initiate contact to catch up on things and to let me know about the developments in her life (such as turning her storage room into a finished living room).  Given that we went nowhere in our relationship, and that we had little chemistry between us, I will not try hard to maintain contact.

Every so often, FH pops up to say hi.  She's seeing someone now, but I'm not sure of how well it's going, considering that she is in contact with me.  The last time we communicated, she sent me a picture of a status symbol handbag that a "special person" gave her.  When I mentioned this to RQS, we chuckled.  We both knew that if I made the mistake of bonding with this woman, that the relationship would have been a slow motion train wreck.

Yes, I still communicate with XGFJ now and then.  And her life has continued with the same routine that it followed when I was in it.  This relationship would have been another train wreck had it not ended, as she is incapable of communicating her needs, nor is she able to make the compromises needed to make a relationship work.  (I refer to incidents we had where it was a non negotiable requirement that we be with her family on the holidays.  I wonder if this is still true with the fellow that she mentioned seeing a while back.)  I wish her the best.  Yet, there will always be a part of me that wishes that I didn't waste 5 years of my life dating her.

On better and worse notes, I still am in contact with Vicki #2 ("Short Vicki").  It's good that we are in contact with each other.  But she has only had sad news to report lately, as one of her family is very ill and needs constant care.  If I were to say "hopefully, it'll be over soon", that could be taken as wishing some relief for her, or hoping something sad will happen.  So I say very little, and let her do most of the talking.  Hopefully, we will be able to get together for dinner soon, and catch up on things.

I haven't had much to say about BXM these days.  She's doing well, and has settled down into domestic life with her boyfriend.  It'll be nice to see her again, but she's not the type I easily warm up to.  It takes me a while to get into sync with her when we chat, and it's because we come from different worlds.

It'd be easy to go on and on about people who pop in and out of one's life.  Once one has a steady relationship, it subtracts one or two people from the wider circle of friends I might be visiting if I didn't have a girlfriend.  Although it's a normal and good thing, I still wish there were enough hours in the day to see these people, and money in the wallet to afford to have dinners with them.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Sometimes, being transgender can be quite boring.

One thing I tell most newly "out" transgender people (or, those who are thinking of coming "out") is that living as one's true gender does not erase any problem one is having.  If one is having family problems, living authentically may only make things worse.  (In the case of one TG woman I know, living an authentic life forced her into poverty, and put walls up between her and her family.)  But what should a TG person do?  Should one live a lie, and preserve a family and a career?  Or, should one make the decision to be authentic, and risk losing many of the things we value most?

As readers of this (and my previous) blog know, I lost a love (in part) because of my transgender nature.  I also found out what a former friend really thought of me, with her words of anger.  At least, I know that my immediate family and close friends would have stood by me had the ex carried through on her threats. But should anyone have to risk things like this?

Many of us worry about our jobs, as a large number of TG people live in states where we are not protected (or actually harmed) by law.  One inactive blogger I know lives in one of these states.  Although her family knows that she travels en-femme, she would have little protection in her state if her management took a dislike to her for this reason.  Because of this, she is careful when she comes out of the closet.

But what happens when one has paid the price to live an authentic life?

To answer the above question, I feel that the answer is best answered by the phrase: "It Depends."  In my case, I still have my foot in both the masculine and feminine worlds.  It's a trade off I'm willing to make to have a romantic life with a good woman.  I live on a pension, soon to be supplemented by income from social security and a 401k.  Yet, if things were different when I was much younger, I'd have rather lived as Marian for most of my adult life.

Now that I'm able to go out and about, my life has grown rather mundane.  I don't have that much to talk about at times - just like a "normal" cisgender person.  I still remember my former cruise partner getting mad because I mentioned too much about her life in my former blog.  Sadly, parts of her life were like a soap opera, and it was hard to keep on the correct side of the blogging line.  So, I'm much more careful in writing this blog, knowing that I might bore people from time to time with the mundane details of my life.

So what will I be writing about in the future?

Although I will continue to write about my mundane life, I will also be writing about my travels.  Some of these travels will be as Marian.  And other travels will be as Mario.  Hopefully, I will be able to continue my travels to more and more places and provide my readers with interesting stories based on my adventures along the way.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

New Year's Day has come and gone - What a Relief!


Normally, I am more relaxed after a weekend with RQS.  Today, I am both relaxed and a bit nervous, but for reasons I'll explain in the coming paragraphs.

- - - - - -

This weekend started off by RQS taking the train up to Croton.  RQS noted that the train was busier than usual, the train being crowded with people trying to get out of town early so that they would have more time at home over the weekend.  We decided to pick up some stuff from the supermarket and then go home for the night.  Before we got comfortable, my next door neighbor detected a small of cooking gas in the hall.  So I told them to contact our superintendent first, in order to avoid getting the fire department involved.  (They'd look to shut off the gas if the problem couldn't be resolved quickly, and that would be the worst thing to happen on a holiday weekend.)  Luckily, he was still on site, and one tenant shut off his stove.  Whew!  That was enough excitement for the weekend!  But it was not over yet.

Saturday came, and RQS was taking a bath.  My downstairs neighbor came to my door to tell me that water was leaking from his ceiling.  So I rushed to do two things: Get RQS out of the bath, in case she had overfilled the tun, and (2) Sent an email off to the managing agent to request that this issue be investigated.  Since this is a problem that could be fixed with time and money, I was not alarmed.  But I was very upset - especially, since RQS didn't realize how high she could safely fill the tub without problems.

After I had a chance to shower and dress (as Marian), it was off to Yonkers for a New Year's Eve party being held by the host and the hostess of our game night meetup.  It was nice to be able to introduce RQS to this group, as I'd like to have her with me on occasion when I go to play games with the group.  Hopefully, this will not affect my relationship with other people in the group.

- - - - - -

Sunday came, and the two of us slept until 11 am.  It was nice to have RQS by my side, as both of us seem to have deeper sleeps when we're together.  I was nervous, as I had no control over the aforementioned bath tub situation, and no progress could be made until Tuesday at best.  Although it was New Year's Day, it felt more like a typical Sunday than usual.  So we were surprised when we found that Trader Joe's was closed for the day.

It seems as it the two of us are more relaxed when we are together.  In the past, I might have chewed off RQS's head for (possibly) overfilling the bath tub (and losing her love in the process), I stayed completely calm over the weekend so far.  Yes, I was a bit nervous about what might happen in the next few days.  But I knew that the issue with my neighbor was something I could take care of with money and a little time - I just had to make sure that my neighbors knew that whatever happened was totally unintentional, and something that none of us could have foreseen.

- - - - - - 

New Year's Day (Observed) came, and it felt more like a Sunday than Sunday did.  Time flows strangely when one is retired, and the rest of the world is observing a holiday.  This was a day which we didn't do very much, save to go out food shopping for something to have in the evening.

I still felt a bit of dread, knowing that anything could happen the next day.  The worry about what will happen with the bathroom and its plumbing came and went several times, and all I could do was to try and put things out of my mind for a while.  Although RQS suggested that the next day would be a Marian day, I knew this would not be the case.  Instead, we chose to relax and watch YouTube videos until getting tired and going to bed.

- - - - - -

Today, RQS had to go home.  We got up and got dressed early, as we didn't know when someone would come knocking at my door to look at things.  However, our managing agent may be slow walking things (I don't know what's going on with him), as out superintendent told us that he knew about the issue and was looking for a time that everyone would be available for the plumbing inspection.AARGH!  This could have been a Marian day after all!

Well, I drove RQS to the station and I went home to relax. Later, RQS called me to let me know that PBS was airing "An Evening with Groucho", the Frank Ferrante one man show.  Even though I had seen this show in person with Vicki, it was nice to see it again on TV.  RQS and I then discussed how we could go and see this show in person, and it looks like we may be able to see it in June. ("Hooray for Captain Spaulding" is now an earworm for me.)  Hopefully, we'll get tickets for that soon.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

I'm trying to figure a way to travel often as a couple


I should have taken out the barrette and used a darker shade of lipstick before having this picture taken.  But it reflects the imperfections one lives with when traveling - one can't bring a full makeup kit along on a cruise and have room for other things that are needed even more.

- - - - - -

RQS and I have been trying to figure out a way for us to take another cruise that fills two requirements: (1) To allow me to meet with my 90 y/o uncle in Los Angeles, and (2) To allow RQS to meet with her cousin in San Diego.  There are not many options that fit both requirements, but I recently found one that does.  

The cruise I found is a 7 day round trip cruise out of Los Angeles that goes to San Francisco, then Monterrey, San Diego, and Ensenada, MX before returning to Los Angeles.  The drawback?  The airfare may be almost as expensive as the cruise.  RQS can't justify spending money for her share of a trip to DC, a California coastal cruise in the Spring, and a Bermuda cruise in late Autumn.  I don't want to travel without her, but I might do so in order to see my uncle while he's "vertical."

Assuming that I take this 7 day cruise instead of the 15 day Panama Canal cruise I once looked at, I might decide to take it in Marian Mode.  But I'd need to travel to and from LA as Mario, so that I have the freedom to meet my uncle in the way he knows me.  Otherwise, I'd do the whole trip as Mario.  And that would depress me.

So, what would you do in my shoes?  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Thoughts about Gender Non-Conforming Travel


One of the things that a transgender person might like to do is travel.  However, when the name and image on one's legal identification does not match that expected for one's gender presentation, this can get a person into a lot of trouble.  There is still a lot of prejudice against us out there, and I have been a worry wart about going places where I might not be welcome.

- - - - - -

I live in a relatively liberal area of the United States.  Yet, there are many people who would hate me simply for being transgender.  The closer to coastal metropolitan areas one is in this country, the more likely it is that transgender people are accepted.  (This doesn't mean that we don't suffer due to societal prejudices.  It simply means that most people tend to respect our rights as human beings.)  The further away one gets, the less we are accepted and the more we are subject to discrimination (and worse). So, I have learned to be very careful about travel outside my region, as I could get killed if I am in the wrong region.

Now, I've been told that I would be relatively safe in the Dallas, TX area.  But I can't be sure of this.  So I will avoid seeing my friends in the Dallas area until I look more feminine than I currently do.  Yes, I'd love to meet my friend Stephanie again, but it will be much more difficult now that I have RQS in my life.  Kim (of Traveling Transgender) has had few problems with her interstate travel (from the Austin, TX area), flying across the country on her business trips.  Sadly for her, she doesn't travel as much anymore, and she no longer posts about her exploits.

When I had FCP as a cruise partner, I had the pleasure of beginning to cross national boundaries while in gender non-conforming presentation.  At first, I worried about how people would treat me on the cruise, and I found that there was nothing to worry about.  However, I didn't know how I'd be treated when I left the safety of the cruise ship and landed on foreign soil.  In Canada, I found that my rights were protected by law.  And on islands part of the EU (St. Martin), I had no problems as well.  Yet, I feared getting off the ship in places like St. Kitts, as they are hostile towards the LGBT community. So, I developed confidence in cruising, but realized that I had to do some research before getting off the ship at foreign ports.

Recently, I took a Hawaii cruise.  And this time, I heard the dreaded "S" word, instead of the welcomed "Ma'am".  This was not true in most cases.  But it was true where my ID came into use - such as at the airport.  Yet, people took my dress in stride, and treated me with respect.  Did this mean that my biological gender was not an issue?  Who knows?  But I had no problems with gender presentation on my last trip.

But what about future trips?

I am thinking of taking at least one of the following cruises next year:

  1. Panama Canal, with stops in several Latin American countries, including Columbia.
  2. Norway (and Iceland?), with routes within the EU and also Great Britain.

The stops on the first cruise concern me, as I need to do research before deciding to travel in Marian mode.  Are my rights protected in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia and other countries along the way?  Since Cartagena is a port that I want to visit, I need to know this as soon as possible.  Although I've reached out to Rhonda (of Rhonda's Escape), I've yet to hear from her about documentation she used in her travels.  Hopefully, I will be able to get more information from more sources regarding transgender travel to these ports, so that I can be safe when I make this trip.

In the future, I hope to do more and more of my travel as Marian - even if I have to preserve my Mario identity for purposes I've discussed elsewhere.  But to do so, I'll need more information, and I will document what I find out in this blog to make travel easier for the transgender people who follow me.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Looking back at a long Christmas Weekend


RQS and I have talked about going to church together for a while.  With her, I think it's a form of curiosity about where I came from, and with me, it's a form of gaining comfort from old rituals from childhood.  So I was pleasantly surprised when she said "Yes" to going to Christmas Eve services.

But first....

It's been a while since I've been to RQS's place, so it was my turn to go to her place on Friday. Considering the frigid weather we were expecting, I didn't want to leave my car at Cortlandt station and have the engine fail to turn over when we got back there on Saturday.  The weather made my mind up for me - take a cab to Croton Harmon, and then take the train into NYC from there.  As usual, getting a cab wasn't as easy as it was before the pandemic, as no one was answering the cab service's main number.  I was lucky to find an alternate number, and then get my ride to the station.

Once at Croton Harmon, I found that I missed my train. There was a lady sitting next to me, and I chatted her up to kill time.  Seems like her Amtrak train to NYP was delayed for several hours, and that she was stuck waiting for it, as she had a linked connection to Boston.  If she took Metro North to GCT, then the subway to NYP, her second trip would be cancelled.  Hopefully, her daughter was able to make the itinerary change for her, as waiting for the tracks to get cleared between Poughkeepsie and Peekskill might take several hours more.

On the way to NYC, I saw the above "ship," and was unable to identify its purpose.  A couple of people identified it as a dredge.  But why is it being held above the water line?  Do any of my readers have an idea of what this is?

It's always a pain taking the subway to RQS's neighborhood, and on this trip it was no different.  When I got off the subway to take the bus to her place.  Boy, did I hate standing in the sub-freezing weather for the bus.  Once there, it was in for the night, and dinner came from a neighborhood pizza parlor.

- - - - - -

The next day, we trekked back up to my place, so that I could pick up a cheesecake from a local bakery. It was a much nicer trip going North, than it was going South.  However, I still had a minor problem getting a taxi to take us home to drop off our bags.  Usually, there is at least one cab waiting at Croton Harmon when trains come in.  This time, we had to wait about 20 minutes - and then, the driver had car problems.  AARGH!

Our next stop, after a pause for a bio-break was Homestyle Desserts in Peekskill for the Cheesecake.  This place has been here longer than I've lived in the area, and it is still going strong.  I was glad not to have left the car at the train station, as I had to clean ice off the car before driving it the 5  miles to the bakery.  After a quick stop at the bakery, then a stop at the local supermarket, we were home for a couple of hours.  Although it was tempting to stay warm and stay home, I changed into Marian mode and we went to church together.

People at the church know me only as Marian, and that's how I want them to know me.  I present as a tall, heavy 65 y/o woman, and want to be treated as such.  RQS was pleasantly surprised that this church experience was very similar to that she experienced as a child.  I chuckled that my mother would have mixed feelings about me going to church as Marian - she'd be glad to see me in a church, but be perplexed to see me as Marian.

- - - - - -

Christmas was special - this was the first one that RQS and I spent together, and the first one that she spent with my family.  After opening our gifts at home, we got ready to go to Long Island to my brother's place.  (I'm always in Mario mode for that.)  On the way down, I picked up a last minute gift for my step nephew.  None of us think much of him, as he's wasted his life.  But it would be a shame NOT to include him in the gift giving that took place that day.  (Thank god for Dunkin Donuts' gift cards and for CVS being open on Xmas.)  Traffic moved quickly, and we were at my brother's place in 90 minutes.  The gift exchange took place shortly after we arrived, and my brother gave me a gift for which I'll have a hard time finding a place - the Marx Brothers' Movie Poster (reproduction) above.  He loves finding things on action sites, and I'm pretty sure that he knew of my love for the Marxes' movies.  

We were at my brother's place for a few hours, and made plans to see my niece and her husband in NYC this week.  It'll be nice to see them again without other family members being present, and it will be nice for RQS to get to know them better.

- - - - - -

Boxing Day was one of relaxation.  However, we decided to make an unannounced run to Pat's place to take her out to dinner.  As usual, things aren't always as expected when seeing her.  She has latched onto the one available man at the care facility, and made sure to invite him to dine with us.  So RQS and I cleaned out my car to make the back seats available for 2 passengers, then met them at her place.  Pat suggested that we eat at a place that I was unprepared to pay for.  (I could afford pizza and beer for 4 people, but not a white linen tablecloth dinner for 4.)  So I headed to a local pizza parlor (not the place she wanted) and we had a nice dinner for a very affordable price.

After dropping Pat and her friend back at her place, it was time to go home.  As usual, the Tappan Zee was jammed, so we crossed at Bear Mountain.  And then it was time for bed.....

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Sometimes, the total price of a cruise can be so tempting....



For those who wonder how I can consider interesting long distance trips and cruises, I suggest that they look at the above trip and how I would book it.  The January 28, 2023 trip above allows for a couple of nights in Honolulu before a 7 night cruise around the Hawaiian islands.  If I were to budget $500 for hotels, and another $100 for meals while in Honolulu, I'd be able to take this trip for approximately $3,300 before the cost of excursions.  Add on $700 for excursions I haven't taken in Hawaii, and I could take this bucket list trip again for $4,000 or so.  But it takes flexibility in thinking and of scheduling to do this.

RQS and I have fun looking at cruise prices and enjoy trying to figure out whether a specific trip makes sense.  Lately, I've been trying to come up with a way for us to take a Panama Canal cruise from Los Angeles, just to be an excuse to see my 90 y/o uncle.  There are trips (such as a Norwegian Fjord cruise) that we have had to put off for this year, so that we could take a cruise from LA and see my uncle.  And we have settled on a Princess cruise that goes to San Francisco, San Diego and Ensenada, MX.  It's not the ideal cruise for me.  But it is a cruise on which RQS could accompany me.  And that is the most important thing.

People traveling solo have many problems, as the tourist world is designed for couples and for families. The only reason that the above cruise came to mind is that the price has dropped and that there is no single supplement.  Couple this with affordable airfare, and I'd spend half as much as I did on my most recent cruise to take this vacation.  Hunting these bargains is a must if one wants to travel on a budget.

- - - - - -

Last year, RQS and I took a second New England/Canada cruise because the base price was too cheap to ignore.  Although we spent twice as much for the cruise than it was advertised for (ads in the United States market do not include taxes, port fees, or gratuities), it was still well worth taking at the time.  Shoulder season is a great time to cruise, as fewer people want to cruise these routes at the beginning or end of a cruise season.  

Bargain hunting shouldn't be limited to things like shoulder seasons.  For example, I took a cruise at the end of 2021 that seemed as if there was more crew than passengers.  I was willing to take the Covid-19 related risk, as I was fully vaccinated.  And it was a great cruise!  So I look for bargains from United States ports, and see if I can make the overall price of the cruise (including the cost of airfare, if needed) fit my budget.  If so, I'm ready to pack my bags and go!  If not, I'll keep scanning the lists to see if there is something worth tracking.

Right now, I occasionally look at cruises originating in the Tampa area.  I have a friend who lives there, and RQS has family in the area.  One of these days, we'll find a way to get there inexpensively, visit our friends and family, and take the cruise.  Until then, this trip will have to wait until the temptation is too much.

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...