Saturday, May 4, 2024

California Vacation - Day 01 (Arrival in Los Angeles)

 


Today was a day I'll remember for a while.  Not only did I have to finish packing (and I forgot a few things), but I had some experiences which were very enlightening.

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My plan was to finish getting ready for my trip, and catch a cab around 10 am to take me to the train station.  Well, I did just that, but forgot my "outdoor" glasses after I was halfway to the train station.  So, I asked the cabbie to bring me back home for a minute, and took the opportunity to pick up my glasses.  This detour cost me 15 minutes, but I was able to take the express train to Grand Central with all my luggage.

Before I go on too far, I have to mention that I have a carry-on suitcase, a 28" large suitcase, my CPAP, and a large personal bag in which I could stuff a lot of things if needed,  Since I'm travelling as Marian, all of my makeup, toiletry supplies and other needed items must me in the carry-on, and yet set up to go through TSA security.  So, I'm forced to wheel two heavy bags from one part of Grand Central (the original terminal) to another part (the LIRR addition) while getting some exercise in the process.  

Metro North deposited me near the escalators which connect to the LIRR zone, and I proceeded to buy a one way ticket to Jamaica ($5.50), where I would connect to the overpriced JFK Airtrain ($8.50) that would take me to Delta's terminal.  Once at terminal 4, I checked my bag and proceeded to TSA security where the first incident took place.

Lately, I've been finding that people seem to be treating me as a heavyset, tall, 60+ year old woman.  My presentation seems to be good enough that I am taken for a cisgender female much of the time.  So I was pleasantly surprised when the TSA agent said I was travelling with someone else's passport.  Once I opened up my mouth and spoke in a voice an octave lower than expected, he simply told me where to go to be scanned before entering the secure zone.

Two hours later, I was on the plane and headed to Los Angeles.  While on the plane, the flight attendant asked me if there was anything I wanted, and I said I'd like a winning lotto ticket.  This made her smile and we made some nice chit chat as two women would, but not as a man and a woman would with the same phrase.  She was very pleased to take care of my needs, and though it was purely professional, I have the feeling that in a different time and place, we'd have probably been good friends.

Once in Los Angeles, I met the fellow from Princess Cruises who took care of my bags and made sure that I got on the right shuttle bus to the hotel.  At the hotel, I was greeted by a fellow at the reception desk who was surprised to see me as Marian, but carrying Mario's ID.  We chatted, and he told me that he was also trans (showing me a picture of him in female mode).  However, he had to revert to male presentation, as his beard kept coming in with ingrown hairs.

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Tomorrow, I look for the people from Princess, as I want to make sure I know what the routine will be on Saturday morning when I take the bus to the cruise terminal....

Friday, May 3, 2024

I've finished packing, but am not ready to go....

 

I can only imagine what will happen if I forgot to pack anything important for my trip.  Right now, both my carry-on and large suitcase are virtually ready to go.  There are a couple more things that I will need to pack in the morning, such as my CPAP machine.  But I'll deal with that in the morning.

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This afternoon, I had lunch with SJM, and we talked a bit about everything.  I mentioned the tax headaches I had this year, and she mentioned her headaches in that area.  And then we got into the problems with the American medical system and how they are forcing her to make choices that she shouldn't have to make.  After that, we talked about the place where we both once worked, and noted that it was a mediocre place to work at best, that we are both better off for being out of the place.

Once I was finished with lunch, I got a mani-pedi before doing some last minute cosmetics shopping for my trip.  I can't seem to find the small perfume vials I bought a while ago, and this forces me to bring a full size bottle in my checked suitcase.  AARGH!  So many things I should have checked out a long while ago, and I didn't do so.  Such is life.

Tomorrow, I'll get dressed as a female and prepare to spend the next 10 days of my life as Marian.  It'll always feel strange presenting my legal (male) ID at the airports and at the cruise ports.  But I know from experience that TSA has no problem with this, and that the cruise line hasn't given me any problems with this in the past.

Let's hope that I haven't forgotten anything....

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On other matters, I have ordered some outfits from Universal Standard.  What bothers me is that the day after I placed the order, I got a 20% off code that I could have used for this order.  Given that I spent over $350 for 2 garments, I would have saved at least $60 had I known to wait for a couple of days.  AARGH!

Next, I placed an Amazon order for a few things I'll need when I get back from my trip, knowing that my next door neighbor will hold them until I return home.  Couple this with a Lane Bryant order I placed (two slips that I'll wear as nighties), and there will be a lot waiting for me when I get home - including credit card bills....

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Today, I'm taking a breather.

 


The original post I made for today went missing, so I cobbled this together to make sure that my readers would have something that might be of interest to read today.

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Soon, I will travel from Croton to JFK Airport using mass transportation.  As much as this will not be as easy as using a cab service (or Uber) to get from my house to the airport, it will cost much less.  In some other cities, such as Chicago, one can get to the airport from downtown via a simple subway (EL) ride.  The premium to do this is an extra $3.00 added to the fare coming from O'Hare airport.  (The normal $2.00 fare applies on trips to the airport.) In New York, the Port Authority (who manages our airports) gouges passengers for an $8.50 fare to ride the Airtrain from the LIRR Station and NYC Subway station in Jamaica, or to the NYC Subway station in Howard Beach.  Yet, it's still cheaper for a solo traveler to pay this price than to hire a car service.

But first.... 

When I went to Hawaii, I didn't have the option of using mass transit to get to the airport.  So, I ended up spending $260 or so to spend one night at a hotel in Newark and to leave my car at the hotel for 13 calendar days.  Two years later, I refuse to spend $150 to reach JFK from my house.  Instead, I plan to spend $12 for a cab to bring me to the train station, $7.50 to reach Grand Central, $5.50 to get to Jamaica station, and $8.50 to reach the airline's terminal, for a total of $33.50.  That's over $100 in savings by the use of mass transit.  Please note that this only makes sense when travelling solo - it still makes sense for large families to use long term parking lots, as the cost to reach the airport is shared by more people.

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Do I think that this will be the way I will usually do things in the future?  Who knows?  But it's worth a try, and I have enough slack in my schedule to allow for minor hiccups....

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

I've started packing, as I don't have much time left.....

 

Packing for my trips isn't always an easy thing.  Even at this late date, I might still need to pack a single day's worth of male clothing because I might be corralled into seeing my uncle's friend.  Although I doubt this will happen, I have to keep this possibility in mind.

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California weather at this time of year is similar to that of New York. But this means that I have to prepare for both cold and hot weather.  San Francisco can be quite chilly, while San Diego can be quite warm.  Yet, there are ways I plan to deal with this on a 9-10 day trip.  First, I will select basic clothing that I can wear for 2 or 3 times before needing to be washed.  Then, I will plan my auxiliary items, such as sweaters, that will allow the basics to be practical in a wider range of temperatures.

Packing for a trip as Marian has always proven to be a complicated task.  I have to make sure that I have two sets (1 pair for each day, plus 1 pair to hold my "tuck" in) of undies, 2 bras, and appropriate tops/bottoms, dresses and socks to get me through a week or more.  If I'm gone for more than a week, I have to think about washing my wig in the sink. 

As much as I'm no longer excited about taking this trip, I will take it anyway, as it is a chance to present as Marian for more than a week at a time.  It should be fun to visit Venice Beach and Santa Monica in my authentic presentation, and make my around using the mass transit available in this city....


Tuesday, April 30, 2024

HVRW Restaurant Week - Tilly's Table w. RQS

 


Tilly's Table is a "Farm to Table" restaurant located on an old farm in Brewster, NY.  Normally, I couldn't afford to eat at this place for a casual weekend dinner with RQS.  But we were finally in luck - it was the Spring edition of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW), and the price was finally right.  So I made reservations for two, and made sure that RQS brought a nice dress to wear in her suitcase this weekend.
 

Both of us got dressed to the eights - RQS in one of her three Karina dresses, and me in a LBD from Universal Standard.  Needless to say, we both looked our best when we arrived at the restaurant.  Were we in the right place?  The sun had gone down, and we couldn't be sure of which building on this farm we were supposed to go.  So, I parked the car and chose one of the two possible buildings - and I made the correct choice, as I saw the "Tilly's Table" sign in front of the building's entrance.



Shortly after we entered the building, we were directed to our table and given menus.  RQS was lucky that fish was on the HVRW menu, as she had a dental problem which would be taken care of after the weekend.  So, RQS ordered the salmon and I ordered the prime rib.  YUM!  Both of us had only one complaint - the vegetables were not cooked enough.  They were too firm, especially for someone having a hard time chewing their food.

As you can guess, RQS caught me in the middle of showing her something when she snapped the above photo.  I felt good wearing the dress in the photo, and will be bringing it with me on my upcoming cruise.

All too soon, we had to go home.  I took my time driving back to Croton, as I'm still not used to all the electronics on this car.  For example, the car is equipped to work with Android Auto (AA).  But it took over 30 minutes for AA to fully connect on the drive home.  Obviously, there are some glitches with AA and the car's infotainment system.  But until I figure out how to stop them from causing me problems, I'll have to play debugger on my own again....


Monday, April 29, 2024

By the time you read this, I'll have returned from a cruise

 


As most of my readers know, I write blog entries between 7 and 14 days before they are made available to my readers.  Soon, I'll be posting a record of my most recent California cruise which sails from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Avalon (Catalina Island, CA), San Diego, and Ensenada Mexico before returning to Los Angeles. When I decided on taking this cruise, I had hoped to visit my uncle in his Los Angeles nursing home.  Sadly, he died 11 days before the cruise.  Since it was way too late to cancel the cruise, I decided to go on it anyway - if only to have 9+ days in a row where I could present as Marian and not Mario.  

Right now, I plan to enjoy a full day in Los Angeles, not knowing what I'll be doing.  I've found that my cell phone has NFC, so that I can use Google Wallet to pay for trips on LA's mass transit system.  So, I won't be needing to use Ubers to get around in the daytime.  (I'll still need to use them at night, as I don't want to inadvertently travel through high crime areas after dark.)  For the times I'm near the hotel, I might bring a swimsuit, so that I can get a tan near the pool.

In many ways, San Francisco is like a second home that I stayed in for only a short while.  So, if I can, I'll visit the place where I scattered my late wife's ashes before returning to the cruise ship.  Catalina Island will be new to me, and I'm not sure of what to do there.  But, I'll be visiting RQS's cousin in San Diego.  This is something I look forward to, as this will be the first of RQS's relatives to meet me as Marian,

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this trip will bring me only pleasant memories.  I'll let you know when I start writing posts upon my return.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Universal Standard - How quickly things sold out.

 


The other day, I visited Universal Standard's showroom to look at their new Linen Collection.  As much as I wanted to buy several items, I deferred any decision because I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend several hundred dollars on three garments.  By the time I made my decision (less than a week later) to buy two of these garments, they were listed as being sold out.  Were these limited edition pieces?  I don't know.  But I intend to make another appointment at their showroom the next time a new collection is made available.

This weekend, I plan to visit the same store for their sample sale.  I expect it to be chaotic, where cisgender females will likely strip to their undies to try on some of the garments put out for final sale.  As for me, I'll be wearing a unitard under a duster, so that I can try on clothes without stripping down to my unmentionables.  (This will be he same thing I'll wear when going to Flax's "Barn Sale" next month.)  Hopefully, this trip will be a worthwhile use of my time....

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 ...