Saturday, February 17, 2024

A nice weekend with RQS - a quick post


This weekend was a "half and half" weekend in more ways than one.  Although she came up on Thursday to spend the evening with me at game night, we drove down to her place on Saturday to spend the rest of the weekend in the city.  This was a nice change of pace.

But first....

Lately, I haven't had much energy to do much of anything.  But I had enough to get dressed and meet RQS at the train station in Marian mode.  From there, we were off to Lefteris Gyro, as we'd be heading towards Yonkers for game night.  Once done with dinner, we drove over to game night where RQS was warmly welcomed.  (I think that the host and hostess approve of my choice of girlfriend.😊)  We were in time for 2 games, and both of us did poorly - and had fun doing so.

On Friday, I had to return to Mario mode, so that I could test drive a car.  I'm very surprised that Buick has a compact SUV in my price range. Even though it has a 3 cylinder engine, the car had a bit of pep for a small car.  The way the car performed justified my visit to the dealership.

Saturday came, and we woke up late.  Instead of risking not getting a parking spot at her house, we skipped test drives of 2 other brands/models, and saved time by going directly to Ridgewood.  And this was a good thing, as after a bit of food shopping in her neighborhood, it took 15 minutes to find a parking spot.

Sunday was a sleepy day for us.  And the only reason for getting dressed was a visit to the local Bodega.  While out, we checked the alternate side of the street parking rules that applied to my car.  I could stay overnight!  Yay!  So that's just what I did.  It was nice to have an extra night with RQS.....

Friday, February 16, 2024

I find myself more interested in travel than before


When I was married, my late wife and I would take yearly vacations and not go too far from home.  The only places more than a day's drive away that we visited were California and Nova Scotia.  I think that had she lived (and our marriage had survived), we would have found a way to travel more.  However, that's one thing among many things that is impossible to know.

After my wife died, I had a good income and I found myself traveling to widows/widowers gatherings across the country, organized by AOL chat room hosts.  For the most part, I was looking to meet friends, while others were looking to find new mates.  That pattern continues today with me attending meetups.  But I digress....

Over the years, I found myself flying out to places such as Biloxi, MS; San Jose, CA; and Pigeon Forge, TN.  Yet, I only found myself traveling out of the country on the two cruises I took and on the trips I took to Niagara Falls and Toronto.  I never put my desire to travel into high gear, and visited places that were truly far and wide.  Without someone with whom to share my experiences, I feel that I might have been afraid to take the risk of leaving my comfort zone.

- - - - - -

When the Twin Towers were attacked on 9/11/01, two of my colleagues from the bank were caught outside the US.  One was North of the border visiting Montreal and the other was vacationing in Salzburg, Austria. They were stuck outside the US until our government figured out what to do. I could only imagine what they were thinking, not being able to come home when they planned to do so.  As for me, I was one of many people tasked with getting our bank up and running after losing our data center in that disaster.  Although I was safe at home, travel seemed a bit scary.  Yet, within 6 months, I went to another widows/widowers gathering in Las Vegas, NV.

It wasn't until my former cruise partner (FCP) suggested it in the 2010's that I took my third cruise.  And I found that I enjoyed the experience, as it was comfortable and allowed me to leave my comfort zone a bit, because I started traveling as Marian.  Yes, I got some strange looks.  But it forced me to learn how to overcome my fears and be the person I am today.

Although my upcoming Norwegian Fjord cruise will be done as Mario, I figure that it is time to get out of my comfort zone again (albeit, just a little) and experience overseas travel.  Who knows?  It could become addicting....

Thursday, February 15, 2024

One of these days, I'll have a "normal" sleep schedule


I've never been one to sleep when the rest of the world sleeps.  Yes, I'll get up early, so that I can make certain appointments.  But, when I have no critical appointments, I will sleep as long as possible.  In fact, when RQS comes over, she ends up syncing to my sleep pattern, instead of me syncing my sleep pattern to hers.  Normally, this wouldn't concern me, but it has lasted way too long this time around.

My mom once told me that when I was very young, I would always be awake at night and would sleep during the day.  As I grew up, this unusual pattern would always come back whenever I had no fixed daytime routine.  When I entered the workforce, I was most successful when I could get into work later than the average person and leave later as well.

Now that I'm retired, this has become a liability, as I could easily sleep 16 hours a day if I wanted to. Being active is the best way to have a long life.  Without the imposed need to be active, it's too easy to fall into the bad habits which would shorten my life.

- - - - - -

At the beginning of the pandemic, I was depressed due to losing two of the people who were most important in my life.  On my days off from the census, I would occasionally go to various rail trails and walk two or three miles.  I'm not as motivated to do this anymore.  Yet, this would be the best thing to do.

Let's see what happens in the spring.  I might just get back into walking again, and stay in sync with the rest of the world.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Thinking about a friend - a short post


I have a friend whose life has been quite a disaster.  The other day, he came to me asking for advice as he had hit a low in his life.  The question I had was: Do I tell him the unvarnished truth and risk the friendship?  Or, do I try to soften things up, and help him continue along the erroneous path he's been taking in his life?  I decided to risk the friendship and go for broke.

It took me a while to compose a reply to this friend's request for help.  And I let him have my opinion, as if it were a gun shooting its load from both barrels.  Surprisingly, he took things well.  Whether or not he really thinks hard about what I said is something I can't determine.  But I now know he took it in the spirit in which it was said, as he trusts my opinion and my ability to see things clearly.

- - - - - -

Why do I mention this?

One of the things I mentioned in a follow up message was that both he and his partner need to go to couples therapy.  If 50% of marriages break up because of money, a good deal of the other 50% break up because of bad communications skills.  His partner has supported him through thick and thin, throughout a period of life where his health deserted him.  Without this woman in his life, he would likely be homeless - and he knows it.

A skill that I learned from my former therapist was to identify underlying emotions before they erupt as anger.  With my friend, he still needs to learn a similar skill - how to hold back from casting his die before he understands the consequences of that cast.  (See: Alea iacta est.)  Sadly, he didn't trust his partner to do the communications for him during one hospital visit, and it caused him a lot of grief afterwards.  Even now, he still has a problem judging the potential consequences of his actions.

Hopefully, my most recent communications with this friend will trigger him to get some help.  Yet, I can't help but think: There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

It's hard to believe that I booked another cruise already

I have a cruise coming up in 3 months, and both of us have another in 5.  Yet, RQS and I have just scheduled another cruise for the fall - this time to Bermuda, when both of us have a bucket list cruise to finish paying for.  AARGH!  Luckily, both of us can afford this cruise, but it forces us to think about the cruising/vacations we'll be taking in 2025.

- - - - - -

Normally, we don't see Free Pre-Paid Gratuities on NCL.  Its "Free at Sea" package does not cover gratuities - this means that we each would have to pay:

  • Beverage Service Charge           - $152.55
  • Specialty Dining Service Charge -  $19.80
  • Daily Service Charge                  - $140.00

However, the deal noted above with Pre-Paid Gratuities (Daily Service Charge) made it worth the while to upgrade to a balcony cabin.  Yet, it's money that I wasn't planning to put out until after we returned from Europe.  

- - - - - -

Now that we've committed the better part of $15k to travel in 2024, what does this mean for 2025?  I'm not sure if RQS wants to commit to another bucket list trip.  Additionally, I'm not sure if our bucket lists are fully in sync with each other. This is not a big deal, as I see room for us to heck off a few destinations on each of our lists.

For example,  If one looks at the above chart that I maintain on a monthly basis, you'll see that I am looking to take either one of two Alaska cruises during the shoulder seasons.  Additionally, I am seriously looking at a cruise in Iceland, a cruise through the Panama Canal, and a Transatlantic crossing on the Queen Mary 2.  It's not practical to take more than one of these cruises in any one calendar year.  I'd like to take the Panama Canal cruise in 2025, as I expect that global warming will affect water levels in the Canal Zone. I can see us going to either Alaska or Iceland in 2026.  If we push the calendar into tracking 2027 cruises, I'll add a Hawaii cruise (or two) to this list.  Checking off bucket list destinations can get quite expensive, and I want to make sure that RQS enjoys the trips as much as I will.

- - - - - -

You'll note that we've also talked about river cruises.  These will cost even more than the ocean cruises we've been taking lately.  So instead, we might end up choosing to visit a city/region and exploring it for a week or so.  One of the places we've talked about going to is San Francisco before it implodes.  (A city that loses its tax base will soon neglect essential public safety and social services, and will be as crime ridden as New York was in the 1980's.)  Ideally, we'll find a place where I can go as Marian and both of our Texas friends would be willing to visit with us.  If not, we'll explore it on our own.  On our list of cities to explore are Seattle, New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.  (DC is always fun to visit, and it's a place where I've gone as Mario and as Marian.)

As you can see, travel is high on my list of things to do.  And I hope to do as much as possible while I'm healthy enough to do so.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Three Losses - one good and the other two sad.


Considering that my weekdays blur into weekends, and weekends blur into weekdays as of late, I often report on things that happen during the week on weekends and vice versa.  This weekend was one of those weekends where I celebrated one loss, and felt very sad about the other two.

- - - - - -

Most of my readers understand why I would buy a round of drinks for my TG friends if our most recent ex-president were to get convicted of a crime and get sentenced to prison.  Last week's award of $83,000,000 to E.Jean Carroll in her defamation suit against Trump made me almost want to buy that round of drinks.  The man is evil, and he won't stop until he is dead or in prison for life.  And in either case, he still poses a threat to this republic, due to the unhinged nature of his cult.   Hopefully, we will see a criminal conviction before the general election, if not before the GOP convention.  This way, we might see the GOP put up a candidate who is less likely to establish an authoritarian government.  Fingers crossed on that....

Next, was the loss of Melanie Safka.  Most of us know her by her first name, the singer Melanie.  When I was younger, I loved her music, especially the songs "Brand New Key" and "What have they done to my song?"  No reason was given for her death.  I only hope that it was painless and quick.  

Finally, the leader of one of the meetup groups I attended passed away.  From what I knew of her, she was a kind and generous person.  Sadly, she was found dead in her home this weekend, and I'll be sure to attend her wake this week.  Since she volunteered at one of the places I volunteered for, I know I might meet with some of the people I met at this organization.  She'll be missed both as a meetup organizer and (more importantly) all the people whose lives are better because she was involved in their lives.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Now, I have some plans for more than the next couple of days.


This won't be a long post.  But I know how I'll be dressed for the next week or so.  And it'll be nice to spend another week solely as Marian!

In the past, I have mentioned how I use a calendar to keep track of which days I'll present as Mario and which days I'll present as Marian.  Tomorrow, RQS and I are going to the nail salon - and that means that I'll be spending the better part of next week as Marian.  Yay!  Yes, it helps that RQS will be coming up for Game Night this week.  And I'm always glad that she can spend time with the people I call my friends.

When I dated XGFJ, there were people with whom I only socialized with as Marian.  This situation made XGFJ uncomfortable accompanying me to certain gatherings.  Now that we've been out of each other's lives for a while, we've been able to live our lives without encumbrances posed by each other's comfort levels.  And that's been a blessing for me, as I prefer to be out as Marian as much as possible.

The other day, I chatted with a friend about this, and she was glad that RQS and I are in a place where she's comfortable with me in either presentation.  Yet, I know that when V-Day comes, I'll likely be in Mario mode for that night - I think she'll be happy to see me that way on that special day.  Yet, it would be nice if we could both get dressed up in elegant red dresses and spend that night on the town.  One can dream, can't she....?

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...