Saturday, December 23, 2023

One more night to go....


I got my Mani-Pedi, money from the bank, and I'm now almost done with packing for the cruise.  This will be the first cruise I've taken as Marian since my Hawaii trip.  And I'm looking forward to it.  Yet, I will likely NOT get off the ship, as none of the ports protect my right to go out as Marian.

So, why am I taking this cruise?

The answer is relatively simple.  I want to spend some time as Marian and try out a new cruise line at the same time.

Right now, I'm almost packed and ready to go.  I still have to find things such as a lanyard, and water shoes.  But that's about it.  Given the weather that's going to be coming up the coast, I expect that I must be prepared for anything.  One thing I'm sure of is that we're not going North or East.  South is the only practical direction at this time of year.

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Regardless of how well this new cruise line performs, I don't think I'll be a regular customer for their cruises.  This line sails out of New York and Florida (for the most part) for its North American routes, and I've seen enough of the Caribbean to last a lifetime.  If anything, I want to explore sites on the West Coast, something this line doesn't do yet.

The more I vacation as Marian, the less I want to go out as Mario.  Sooner or later, I'll have to do something about my legal ID to make it easier to travel as Marian.  Yes, I've said this before, and I'll say it again. It is very important to me that I be able to travel in any presentation that I see fit to be in.  This is one of the times I "sorta" wish that I still had FCP as a traveling partner.  She'd back me up if I were to go through a port with Mario's ID and got hassled by the local authorities.  But that chapter in my life is in the past, and we no longer are in contact.

- - - - - -

So, instead of making a long post, I'll get back to packing.....

Friday, December 22, 2023

Getting things done at the last moment


One more day to go before my cruise, and I figure that I've left too much undone.  Last minute bill paying has yet to be done, and I have yet to visit a nail salon for a Mani-Pedi.  Tomorrow will be the last day that I'll have the chance to take care of these things, so I'd better have a game plan set up to make sure that all of my tasks are completed on time.

This afternoon, I had a couple of tasks to take care of, and only dealt with one of them.  And that was taking a duplicate Amazon delivery to the UPS store for a return credit.  (See previous post for more information.)  The other task, left undone was to go to the nail salon for a Mani-Pedi.  That, along with getting some cash for the cruise and doing some last minute packing must be done as early as possible, as I'll need to be fully rested before an early morning trip to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

Once done with UPS, I went home and took a nap.  I had forgotten about the chicken in the refrigerator, and ended up stopping at Mickey D's on my way to Game Night.  Although I was late, they made way for me to join in a game, and I did well for a change.  But I was there for one reason - to give two kids their Xmas presents.  And both loved what I bought.  The hostess then brought out a gift for me - a nice bracelet with phosphorescent beads.  Although a little small, I was able to wear it - and may do so on my upcoming cruise.

On the way home, I chatted with RQS.  We're still making our arrangements for next weekend, as we're going to a concert that Sunday night.  Then, the next weekend will be the holiday - and I can't wait to get dressed to the nines with her again....

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Packing for another cruise - again.


Yes, I will soon be on another cruise, and I'll be taking pictures - of the ship.  It's not that I don't want to get off the ship.  Instead, it's because there's nothing new for me to see at the ports when I leave the ship.

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Today, I took care of some business for the co-op, and then attended our monthly business meeting.  Ever since we got our new site representative, things have been running well.  Instead of our meetings running 4-5 hours with the old site manager, they now run 90 minutes or so and are almost a pleasure to attend.  When someone commented about a mistake this new fellow made, I noted that this would be the price we pay to train this person to do the job in the way we want the job done.

Once the co-op board meeting was done, I proceeded to do a couple of loads of laundry before the cruise.  I figure that I'll need clean sheets for when I get back, as well as clean clothes I can take with me on the cruise.  And yet, I still have to pack the fancy dress I want to wear, along with the shoes I'll be wearing with it on gala nights.  It'll be nice to gussy myself up again, as its been a while since I've felt pretty - being stuck in Mario mode for too long can be hard to bear at times.

- - - - - -

Do I think I'll be wearing everything I bring on the cruise?  No.  But I have the room in the suitcase, so why not bring a few things so that I have a few options when I'm on the ship.  While cruising, I hope that the have the "Inch of Gold" chains on sale, as I need to pick up some 24" gold and silver chains to use with some of the pendants I have bought recently.

Even if this cruise is not up to my standards, I think I'll have a good time.  Keep your fingers crossed for me....

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Holiday Planning - a quick post


Holiday Season is here.  And this year, my plans were not as simple as they might have been in years past.  My niece and nephew will not be coming to New York this year, and this means that my brother will not be doing anything special for the holiday.  RQS has no family to visit, leaving my family and friends as her options for people with whom to share the holiday.  This meant that I had something special for us to do together, and find someone who was also alone on the holiday.

Our original plans were for RQS to come up to Croton, and we would find a nice place to eat on Christmas day.  However, most of the places we looked at were offering Christmas Eve dining, but not Christmas Day dining.  So we regrouped.  Instead of being in Croton, I'd go down to Queens and we'd have a special dinner in NYC, specifically a high-class Chinese restaurant. (We joked that we were becoming "Honorary Jews" for the day, as it is a custom for many Jews to eat Chinese food on this holiday.)  Though we had found such a restaurant, our plans changed again.  TCL had no place to be on Xmas, as she couldn't make plans early enough to afford visiting one of her offspring for the holiday.  So, RQS and I agreed to have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner at a local restaurant (with me presenting as Marian - I can't wait to get dressed up for this), and then visit TCL for a Chinese dinner on Christmas (with me presenting as Mario).

When will I get to see my brother?  Who knows?  But I expect that it may be after my next visit to RQS's place in Queens.....

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Seeing work finally getting done


Several years ago, a former co-op board member reported that the retaining wall behind her building had failed, and that it needed repair.  We were in the middle of a financial crisis, as we were digging out from a heavy debt load and would have higher priorities until we refinanced the complex. This board member has since left the co-op, selling off al of her shares, and no longer has any interest in the complex.  However, the issue of the retaining wall remained.

Although we refinanced the co-op a year or two ago, gaining the funds to pay for this project, we hadn't been able to start it due to issues I am not at liberty to cover here.  This delay caused the repair work being done on the retaining wall to become a higher priority for us, and we were able to break through the log jam to solicit bids, approve a contractor and get work started.  A couple of weeks ago, we saw the delivery of materials needed to start work on this project.  I'd bet that the people whose parking spots were affected by the delivery of this material had their complaints, but I think they were also glad to see that work would finally be getting done on this project.  

- - - - - -

Getting this work done was one of my highest priorities, as I know what happens when infrastructure maintenance is deferred.  Too long of a delay will cause things to fall apart, causing repairs (or replacements) to become even more expensive.  Yes, I have been a voice for spending more money when many of the people in my complex (like myself) are living on fixed incomes.

Sooner or later, everyone has to take care of some form of deferred maintenance - to one's property, or to one's health.  I guess it's now the season the season to do this....

Monday, December 18, 2023

The effort to verify that a communication was legitimate.


As most of my readers know, I am of that age where I can start collecting Social Security benefits.  However, the path between applying for Social Security and collecting one's first benefits is fraught with risk.  In my case, it was verifying that a phone call and email came from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and nt from a scammer.

While I was on my recent Bermuda Cruise, I received both a phone call and an email from a person claiming to be from SSA, saying that I should call his office before December 7th in regard to my benefits.  Well, something seemed fishy, but I couldn't put a handle on it.  So I decided to wait until I returned from the cruise to start looking at things.

When I returned from my cruise, I decided to try and find out whether the communications I had received were legitimate.  First, I decided to check communications on the secure website, but I found nothing.  This didn't give me a good feeling.  Next, I looked at the email to see if the sender's address was spoofed in some way - and there was no evidence of whether this came from SSA or not, as the sender had a "do not reply" return address.  Things were not looking good to say the least.  But something said that I had to do more research.

A few days later, I decided to call the number I had received, and find out what might be going on.  The announcement on the line said SSA, so I dialed the extension.  A person answered, and wanted my SS number before proceeding any further - something I would not give.  After a minute, the fellow gave me the number of the Peekskill office (which I could verify) to call and verify his number.  The next day, I called a different SSA number (1-800-772-1213) to get information.  Although it took 45 minutes to reach a human, I was finally able to verify that the original communication was legitimate.  What a relief.  Now to contact this fellow, finally knowing he was a legitimate contact.



PS: I spoke with the man today, and the reason for his call was that I could collect survivor benefits on my late wife's account for 4 months, then switch over to collecting benefits on my account when I'm 66 1/2.  It's a nice way to get an extra $2,700 pre-tax.  It's too bad that I didn't file to collect as a survivor on my late wife's account a year ago.  It'd have been nice to have an extra $10k+ in my bank.  But then, why be greedy?  I'm treating this as one of the last things my late wife can give me.  And, like 27 years ago, I am treating myself to a cruise with this money....

Sunday, December 17, 2023


I didn't know what to write about when I started this entry.  Do I write about what went on in my life this weekend?  Do I write some commentary about what is going on in the world? Or, do I choose a topic at random and pontificate on it?  After a full day of thought, I had few ideas, so here goes....

1. I recently received a call from an old friend.  Although we both had said that if we reached the age of 60 without a partner, that we'd consider having a relationship.  As readers of this blog know, I am very happy with RQS as a partner, as we are alike in so many ways.  And I consider myself lucky that we didn't get together, as she is a train wreck of a person.

This friend knows I am transgender, and talked about a conspiracy to take children who question their sexual identity and treat them as either trans or gay/lesbian.  Although there may be some people who have this as an agenda, most trans people (and most schools) would never consider doing this.  At most, we'd want to have the child see a qualified psychotherapist for evaluation before anything else is done.

Our conversation morphed into talking about "Welfare Cheats", as if there was a moral problem with most of the people collecting social benefits.  She then started to think with her feelings and not her mind when she said that we should put unskilled people to work babysitting working folks' kids.  I countered with a single question: Would she want someone who us unvetted, unskilled, and otherwise unsuited to babysit children to be responsible for her child's welfare in any way?  The last thing I'd want to see is a person prone to violence in charge of my child.  Yes, people who have this philosophy will often backtrack and make exceptions for the flaws in their plans.  But in the end, they do not have well thought out positions.

2. RQS and I were looking for a place to have a fancy dinner on Christmas day.  It's amazing how few fine dining places are open on Christmas vs. Thanksgiving.  So I joked with my friend Vicki that RQS and I will become honorary Jews for Xmas and eat Chinese!  Vicki chuckled.....   She knew why Jews tend to go to Chinese places on Xmas - "Safe Treyf!"  (i.e. Non kosher food that is tasty, that doesn't look like the forbidden food it is.)

3. This morning, I received a call from UPS to ask me about a claim I filed regarding an item they claimed was delivered, but did not show up at my door until the following day.  As I was getting home (and prepared to make a return phone call to UPS), I met the UPS delivery guy in the hallway.  We chatted for a minute, and I explained what happened.  He confirmed my suspicion that UPS often uses USPS for last mile service (claiming the item has been delivered to my door when it wasn't) and that holiday season extra hires often do not know the routes and deliver goods to the wrong addresses. I was willing to confirm what happened on paper, and he said that I did the right thing.

4. I'm still trying to think of what to get RQS for a surprise Xmas gift.  She already knows the "big" item she is getting.  But I want to surprise her with something else.  (Any ideas?)

5. Now that my ears are pierced, I'm finding that I want to buy coordinated sets of earrings and necklaces w. pendant.  However, I'm finding that I end up doubling much of the expense, as I need to buy a longer chain for the pendant, so that it hits at the right place on my neck.

6. Every time I think of my upcoming cruise, I find that I missed something I should be packing. Today, I figured that I should pack a swimsuit, as I'll be in the Bahamas, and might want to take a dip in the hot tub. Will I end up doing this?  I'm not sure, as I don't want to wear my new falsies into the hot tub.  But I don't want to bring my older, ill fitting pool-safe falsies to stuff in my swimsuit's cups.

I could go on and on with my thoughts.  But I figure that my readers might be interested in the random thoughts going through my head these days.



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...