Saturday, March 16, 2024

Lunch with an old friend (postponed), and dinner with a new meetup group.


Today, I was supposed to meetup with an "old" friend, and then attend a meeting with a new meetup group.  Well, things didn't work out as expected.  Just after I had gotten dressed to meet her for lunch, SJM texted me to postpone lunch, as her son was taken to the hospital.  (I won't say more than this here.)  But she had one hell of a day, and we'll catch up with each other in the morning.  So, instead of meeting SJM, I picked up an egg sandwich at the deli where I used to stop every day before going to work at the imaging firm.

It's amazing how some people remember you after a couple of years.  I was greeted warmly, with the "what happened to you?" question.  I mentioned that I had retired, then told not to make myself scarce.  (Of course not, they want my business and they like friendly faces.)  With sandwich in hand, I decided to drive up to Poughkeepsie to browse the spring offerings at Lane Bryant.  While on the road, I chatted with my friend Maria, and we caught up with what's happening in each other's lives. And before too long, I was at the mall.

It was nice being in Marian mode again.  It's been more than a week since I last presented as female.  Once inside the mall, I noticed my legs weren't used to walking any distance - something I have to work on before going to Norway later this year.  There were some nice things at the store, but nothing that said "Buy Me!"  And that's just as well.  I've spent too much on clothing lately, buying another unitard from Universal Standard, a denim dress from Eshakti, and some shoes from Woman Within.  (It's hard to pass up good bargains when these are things I want to have in my closet.)  Now, I have to buy some things to wear over the unitards I have when not in exercise mode.

Once I got home from the mall, I relaxed for an hour before driving to Yonkers for another meetup.  This time, it was at an informal pizza joint in a business park off of Executive Boulevard.  I was the second to arrive, and we were all seated at the bar in order to get separate checks.  And this is where another feminine experience comes in....

Last night, I mentioned to one of the people at the meetup that I had been shopping for a car.  Well, he offered to help me buy a car - and volunteered to be my masculine "beard" when I go back to the dealership.  (My feminine presentation must be reasonably convincing now.  Little does he know that I present as male when dealing with car issues.)  Once he saw me, he showed me the information he gathered from one dealership's web site, as well as talking about what he's learned from his experiences car shopping.  Are all men like this?  AARGH!!!!  In his own way, he respected me last night for what I knew about cars, but was treating me like a lady who needed a man in her life to deal with these things.  Am I like this when presenting as Mario?  I hope not.  Once I was ready to leave, he showed me his new car - with all the bells and whistles.  Typical male behavior....

Luckily, I was able to make a graceful exit after a few minutes and left for home.  It was nice to be able to strip off all of the garments that cisgender women hate so much!!!!



PS: My friend's son is OK, and is at home resting as I write this.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Lunch with a new friend, and dinner with an old meetup group.


Today was an interesting day, as I had two meals out.  The first was lunch with a new friend that left me with questions, and the other was with a group of people I know from a meetup group which I dine with from time to time.  

- - - - - -

On one of my recent trips into NYC, I met this new friend while waiting for the elevator at Croton-Harmon station.  We exchanged numbers, and agreed to meet for lunch one day.  Today was that day.  We met at a Mexican restaurant in Ossining and had a pleasant meal.  But one thing bothered me and I didn't realize it at the time - she was asking a lot of questions about me, and not sharing that much about herself.  Given that most people love to talk about themselves a little, I wonder if she was pumping me for information for nefarious purposes.  If this is so, I'll bet that she'll be a little shocked if she finds out I am not a cisgender woman.  

Why did I mention this?

Later in the evening, I was bothered by the nature of the conversation.  And I decided to talk about this with a friend I'll be meeting for lunch tomorrow.  If my radar has detected something wrong, she can help steer me to the right people who can help.  

- - - - - -

Later on in the day, I braved the rains and trekked to Eastchester for a dinner with the meetup group.  It was the usual cast of characters, and I'll bet that the men there were surprised about the knowledge I had from car shopping and my travels by railroad.  If I were a cisgender woman a generation younger than I am, I might have been interested in the more typically masculine one of them.  The other was a mousy looking fellow who I'll bet rarely attracts women.  

Why did I mention attractiveness?

Well, there were 5 people at my table: an average looking fellow at the far end of the table, a hefty fellow across from me, a mousy man catty corner from me, and a mousy woman to my side.  Ignoring myself, a trans woman whose size makes her look like a beached whale, only the fellow at the far end of the table fell in the normal range of attractiveness. And this led to a conversation I had with RQS later in the evening.  Although I attend meetups only to develop friendships, others attend these meetings as a way to kill time until they find a mate and have too little time to meet with casual acquaintances.  

- - - - - -

But, back to my lunch date....

Hopefully, my radar has detected a false positive with the new friend.  But if I'm wrong, I want to be prepared for the worst.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Car Dealerships would rather haggle than make an honest deal


I'm coming close to inking a deal on a car.  Some dealerships have given me prices, and others keep steering me towards haggling with their sales people.  Of course, I will not play their game the way they want it played.  Instead, I may go with the salesman I liked most, only because I felt that he was giving me an honest, but high price.

Lately, I've been watching videos from the people who started, Ray and Zach Shefska.  I'm hoping that these guys are able to develop their business in a way that forces car dealerships to get real, and to stop depending on haggling.  I may even use their service soon.  Who knows?  

At the very beginning of the pandemic shutdown, dealerships were making good offers to get rid of inventory, as many wanted to stem the loss from floor plan financing.  During the rest of the pandemic and through the recovery, car prices shot through the roof due to supply chain issues.  Now, we're seeing signs that dealerships are choking on both new car and used car inventories, especially at Stellantis (Dodge, Chrysler, Ram and Jeep brands) dealerships. 

If my car were 2-3 years younger, I'd hold out for another 2 years before buying a car.  The last thing I want to have happen to me is to have my car die while I'm presenting as Marian.  There are many risks for me that I want to eliminate, and predictable mechanical failures of a car's old age are those I can eliminate by buying a new car.  By buying a car with modern safety features, I also reduce the risks of me getting into an accident.  It's worth the money to eliminate risk from my life.

But back to deals....

Out of the 10 dealerships I've visited, only 1 or 2 have given me the information I wanted.  I figure that a single car buyer may not be enough to affect major change.  But if enough of us start using my tactics, we can force big changes, a little bit at a time.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Sometimes, it can seem overwhelming.


Years ago, I used this tool to generate a more feminine version of my face, given the photo on the left. As of today, I'm still far from the surgery which would turn my face into a more androgynous version of the face I see every morning.  But first, I have to lose some weight.

- - - - - -

With that being noted, I try to focus first on the little things I can do now that will show a positive result quickly.  So I have taken this idea and started to apply it around my apartment.  Today, I started to restore the order that I destroyed when I moved media cases out of the way for the installation of my new refrigerator. By taking the CDs out of the storage containers I had temporarily placed them, sorting them back into some sort of order, and putting them back into the media shelves where they belong.  This took the better part of 2 hours, but it was worth every minute, as I gained a square yard in my living room that was formerly used by storage containers.

It'll take a long time for me to get my apartment in the shape I want.  But, by taking the approach of doing a little at a time when I can do something, I'll gradually see results.  If I focus on all the tasks that need to be done, I'll get overwhelmed and nothing will get done.  Soon, when my money supply has been refreshed, I think about more work to be done in my bathroom.  My vanity has seen better years, and I want to install both a new vanity/sink and a new toilet.  (My current toilet is in an ugly shade of yellow, and I want my new one to be in white.)  If I can, I'll ask about new electric wiring, so that I can replace the medicine cabinet (with built in lights and electric outlet) with something that looks nice and meets both my needs and the needs of current electrical code.

Once I'm done with the "easy stuff", it will be time to tackle something more difficult - redoing my kitchen.  I'm tired of 40 y/o linoleum, as well as ugly cabinets, an ugly counter top, and a poor placement of my refrigerator.  Reworking the kitchen layout could allow me to move my oven a little, and replace it with a full sized (30") unit. The only question is when this could take place, as I will not be able to live here while much of this work goes on.

I'll focus on the little things which will make this place more comfortable.  Many of those tasks will involve eliminating the clutter that wastes space.  I'll feel sad to get rid of perfectly good furniture.  But getting rid of things that no longer serve my needs will make life much more comfortable.  And isn't that what everyone should want in old age?

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A visit to see my brother


I don't get the chance to see my brother that often, and this was one time I knew he needed to talk with me. Without saying too much, he has both an important career decision to make and a decision that will affect his peace of mind.  So, I knew that I had to see him immediately after leaving RQS this evening.

Normally, I am not under any time constraints when leaving RQS's place, save that I have to be aware of alternate side of the street parking rules and on which side of the street my car is parked.  However, I knew I had to reach my brother's place by 5, so that we could get to dinner by 6.  Just as I was walking out the door, my brother called - and I told him I'd be there shortly.  

Arriving at my brother's place around 5, we chatted for a while, and then proceeded to a seafood restaurant in Oceanside, NY - Jordan Lobster Farms.  As much as I didn't need another big meal, it was hard to resist clams on the half shell, clam chowder, and a 1 1/2 pound lobster.  YUM!  We talked about many things:  career, family, friendships, and pastimes. We also talked about my uncle, who I will be visiting in April.  

All too soon, this visit had to end.  I drove back to my apartment to find several things on my doorstep, one of which was a pair of large door stoppers which I'll be using to keep my refrigerator door closed until I can properly level the device.  (Too bad I forgot about the shims my brother had saved for me back at his place.)  Although there was more that I could have brought in at the time, I left some stuff in the hall to retrieve in the morning.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Jelly's Last Jam


Jelly's Last Jam tells the story (very loosely) of Jelly Roll Morton's life, as well as his contributions to the musical form we know as Jazz.  This was one of the better revivals in City Center's Encore! series. Given that I enjoyed Jelly Roll's music, I figured that this would be an entertaining diversion for both RQS and I, and gave her tickets to see this show on Valentine's Day.

A week and a half later, we braved the cold to go to City Center.  Weekend travel on the NYC Subway system can be frustrating at times, as many lines are shut down (whole or in part) for maintenance. For us, this meant that we had to deal with a larger than normal crowd at Union Square as we made our way outside to get a bite to eat.

Now, I don't keep any of my feminine wardrobe at RQS's house.  Even though it hovered near 32°f, the wind chill made it feel worse than that. So I was very fortunate that my feminine wardrobe was not available to me, as I would have braved the cold in a nice dress with tights on my legs.  Yet, if I did, I wouldn't have been the only person wearing a dress - we saw quite a few young (and older) ladies showing off their legs while on the subway, and later at city center.

Once done with food, we took the train to 57th street and then walked over to City Center.  After picking up our tickets, we had to kill 30 minutes in the lobby before being allowed to enter the theater and proceed to our seats.  Thankfully, we were able to take the elevator to the mezzanine where we had seats.

The play was nearly 2+1/2 hours long (with intermission) and RQS was tapping her feet and moving to the rhythm throughout the play.  I loved it too, and I'm not a big fan of musicals.  (Later on, I found this review in the New York Times while on the ride home - a nice coincidence.)  However, there was one minor fly in the ointment - we weren't able to make it home in time for SNL's cold open - one of our usual Saturday Night things to watch, along with Weekend Update.  At least, we were on time for a great fake advertisement for a love doll - Fugliana.  This was not a skit for everyone, but it was one of the show's best skits of all time. We watched the show until the second musical number started - then it was off to bed for the night. 

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Car Shopping - Weekend #4

Knowing me, I'd buy the above car again if it were available.  No, it's not practical by today's standards.  But it was fun to drive and a great first car.  Those days are long gone, and I have to think about what I need in a car, as I'll be using it for a long time.

Right now, my choices are a toss-up between the Honda HR-V and the Subaru Crosstrek.  Although I could see myself in the Mazda CX-30, I've ruled out that car due to the sparse dealer network in Westchester county.  (One of those dealerships ignored me when I visited, and I don't want to schlep to lower county for service.)  Surprisingly, I am leaning towards the Subaru, only because it was the one car in which I didn't bump my head getting into the car.

- - - - - -

Car shopping is a pain in the ass. Dealers want to haggle, as they know that customers do not know the true value of cars, nor do they have the tools/skills to strike good bargains with the dealerships.  As a result, most people would rather have a root canal than shop for a car.  I have found that when one is able to use emails to prod dealers' internet sales people to supply prices, they will do so - especially when one stands firm and refuses to come into the dealership and haggle with a professional haggler.

A couple of years ago, we were in the middle of the pandemic, and dealers could name the prices they wanted to make a deal.  It was easy for them to lie, adding fake line items such as "****** Complete" (thieving dealer name left out to avoid libel) to add $1000 profit to an MSRP deal.  Today, there is a surplus of cars on dealer lots (such as in the Yonkers lot of the dealer that ignored us).  So they are much more willing to make deals if (and only if) the potential customer controls how much information is given to the sales person at the dealership.

So, what information MUST you keep away from the salesman, and what information should you supply?  I've been going by these rules this time around:

  • Do your research before going to any dealer for a test drive, so that you can specifically state which car model/trim level/options you want to test drive.  (Trim levels do not mean much in most test drives.)
  • Do identify similar models/trim levels/options from other car brands, so that you can test drive those cars as well.
  • Do ask for an "Out the Door" price for the desired vehicle with all costs itemized.  This should cover the car, all charges, documentation fees and registration fees for the car.
  • Do NOT tell the salesman your budget for the car.  
  • Do NOT tell the salesman how much you plan to pay for a car on a monthly basis.
  • Do NOT tell the salesman whether you will finance the car or not.
  • Do NOT tell the salesman whether you want to trade in a car or not.
  • Do NOT tell the salesman what it would take for you to buy a car right away if asked.

Giving the salesman any information from the "Do NOT's" above will give him tools he needs to work a deal to extract as much profit for the dealership as possible, leaving less money in your pocket at the end of the day.  Ideally, one avoids salesmen altogether, as they are experts in reading body language. Thus, my preference for using emails as negotiating tools.

Will I get the car I want at the best possible price?  Who knows?  But I'm doing better this time around in getting a price I want....

RQS went home, and I got keys made - a quick post

  One of the problems with going about as a female is that almost everything one carries around during a typical day is carried in a handbag...